Everything You Need To Know About iOS 9’s New Content Blockers

safari-iosOne of the lesser-known, but potentially groundbreaking, features arriving in the new version of Apple’s next mobile operating system, iOS 9, is support for “content blocking” extensions in Safari.

While that label doesn’t sound too dazzling in and of itself, users who install content blocking apps will see dramatic speed improvements when surfing the mobile web, thanks to the apps’ ability to block things like advertisements, trackers, scripts and other content that can slow down the loading of web pages.

Blockers also promise to protect user privacy as well as reduce data usage (and therefore preserve battery life), while allowing you to focus only on the website content that’s important to you.

Read full article. 

Move over, squares: Instagram now supports landscape and portrait modes


Ever since Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram five years ago, Instagram has favored square-shaped photos. Not anymore.

In a significant change, the popular photo-sharing app announced native support for landscape and portrait-shaped photos. The update will roll out to all iOS and Android users through the day on Thursday.

Previously, if you wanted to upload a photo or video captured in landscape or portrait mode, you usually had to share a compromised version: a letterboxed version that cropped out part of the shot to fit.

“For the average Instagram user as they’re scrolling through their feed, 1 in every 5 moments that they’re seeing, essentially feels like it’s not natively supported on their platform,” Instagram product manager Ashley Yuki told Mashable. “That’s something we really want to make better.”

To be clear, Instagram is not allowing you to capture photos or videos in landscape or portrait mode using the app, but photos and videos captured by other means are now shared in all their glory. Horizontal and vertical pics will appear in your feed without the telltale white space that shows you imported the pic from a separate app.

Read full article here. 

Hulu Teams With Facebook’s LiveRail and Oracle to Sell Ads This Fall

difficult-people-hulu-hed-2015After emulating traditional, linear TV networks by returning to a weekly release schedule for its new series, Hulu is also following their lead when it comes to advertising.

The streaming-video service, owned by Fox, NBCUniversal and Disney, is partnering with Oracle Data Management Platform and Facebook-owned video-ad platform LiveRail to offer programmatic advertising options—automating the buying, placement and optimization of ads—for the first time.

The rollout will happen this fall and won’t be specifically tied to any of Hulu’s major fall premieres. (The Mindy Project debuts Sept. 15, new comedy Casual premieres Oct. 7 and RocketJump: The Show begins airing Oct. 21.)

“The marketplace has shown that data is overwhelmingly the new currency,” said Peter Naylor, svp advertising, Hulu, in a statement. “With this new offering, Hulu is at the forefront of defining ‘programmatic’ for the digital video ecosystem and will increase efficiency and ROI for marketers.”

The Oracle DMP will combine first-party and third-party data, which Hulu says will help it increase reach, scale and efficiency for marketers as they personalize their Hulu campaigns. And LiveRail’s Video Private Exchange will allow Hulu to complete direct deals with advertisers programmatically.

The news comes as Hulu is also prepping an ad-free option, which would reportedly launch this fall and be priced between $12 and $14 per month. That would be at least $4 more than Hulu’s current $7.99 monthly subscription free, which includes ads but fewer of them than Hulu’s free version.

Hulu still isn’t commenting on its ad-free plans. While advertisers undoubtedly won’t like being shut out of Hulu’s priciest tier, the streaming service hopes its new programmatic offering will help them get the biggest bang for their buck.

Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers

flash-crossesIt’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.

Not too long ago, Flash powered a high percentage of the Internet’s vast array of video content. Today, that number is lower. But make no mistake, there are still many Flash-powered multimedia items on the web, including graphics, videos, games and animations, like GIFs, a preferred method of expression for millennials and adults alike.

We’ve been watching HTML5 impede on Flash for a while, and it’s now taking center stage, establishing itself as a predominant creative format, validated by the recent moves by Google and Mozilla that are only helping to accelerate that transition.

Over the years, Flash has become famous for a few less-than flattering features that can all play a role in hindering user experience, including intrusive experiences, increasing page-load times, lowering a site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and security flaws.

Despite all these grievances, the digital-video advertising industry has been forced to use Flash because of VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface Definition), a standard that allows a video ad and a video player to communicate with each other. VPAID provides a way to dynamically swap or customize video-ad creative based on ad decisions, and has long been used for Flash-based video ads on desktops.

When you consider the fact that Flash needs to be installed (as opposed to HTML5, which requires no installation), it’s easy to see why in the long term, it didn’t stand a chance. Some would argue that Apple’s refusal to ever support it should have been a sign of things to come.

However, it’s important to remember that Flash was developed in a time where the desktop was king. The long load times it commands simply aren’t conducive to mobile environments — a deal-breaker for today’s mobile-first world.

Read full article here. 

Instagram and Pinterest both doubled users over the last 3 years

Pew-ResearchSocial media dynamos Instagram and Pinterest nearly doubled their users between 2012 and 2015, according to a new study — and Pinterest is winning.

Pew Research Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, surveyed 1,907 adults this spring to learn about their social media habits. Among the discoveries: 31% of all adults who go online now use Pinterest, versus just 15% three years ago. Meanwhile, 28% of all adults who go online now use Instagram versus a mere 13% in 2012.

Twitter also saw significant user growth over the same period, just not quite on the same level as Instagram and Pinterest. LinkedIn was the only social media platform studied that actually saw its user base decrease slightly from 2014 to 2015.

Get all the stats here.