Google launches short video series with Saudi content creator

Google is launching a new short video series to answer the top searched questions on AI on Google by users in the Middle East and North Africa. The six-episode short video series in Arabic which aims to demystify the most common misconceptions around AI will be hosted by popular Saudi content creator, Abdullah AlAlawi and will feature veteran AI experts from Google including Mehdi Ghissassi, Director of Product Management at Google DeepMind.According to Google, Arabic queries on AI by users in the Middle East and North Africa region rose significantly in the last 12 months, and many of them are related to its daily practical uses. The six episodes will address the top searched questions -Episode 1: What is Generative AI?Episode 2: How can I use AI in my studies?Episode 3: What is the difference between AI and Machine Learning?Episode 4: How can I use AI everyday?Episode 5: How can I protect my data while using AI tools?Episode 6: How can I use AI to be more productive and creative?Googleyat will be published every week starting February 5th and will run on Google Arabia’s channels on YouTube, Instagram and X, as well as the channels of Abdullah AlAlawi on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Pringles and Caviar become viral sensation on Instagram and TikTok

The collaboration between Kellanova's Pringles and The Caviar Co. is a unique example of a high-low snacking trend, blending upscale caviar with the popular, mass-market appeal of Pringles. The partnership began at the Interscope House during Coachella, where guests were served The Caviar Co.'s Kaluga Hybrid caviar alongside various Pringles flavors. The event gained significant attention on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, prompting the companies to explore a more formal collaboration.Mauricio Jenkins, US Marketing Lead for Pringles, said: “To satiate the craving of the TikTok community, we quickly joined forces with The Caviar Co. and united our culinary genius to expertly curate a new way for fans to enjoy the crisp flavours they know and love and provide the best experience for them to enjoy this trending combination,” Described as the "epitome" of the high-low snacking trend, the collaboration resulted in the Crisps and Caviar Collection, a limited-edition online shop launched in September. The collection features three different kits, each pairing Pringles flavors with different caviars. To enhance the experience, the kits include a gold collectible caviar key chain for opening tins and two spoons for enjoying the snack at home or on-the-go.The collaboration gained additional momentum when a July episode of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York" showcased cast member Erin Lichy serving Pringles and caviar at a party. The moment went viral on the internet, particularly on TikTok, amassing over 10 billion views as of late August.Jenkins emphasized the role of TikTok in fueling cultural trends and how authentically leveraging these trends with the brand helps Pringles stay relevant among its fan base and the wider audience. The collaboration not only taps into social media trends but also builds authentic connections with fans by aligning with what's popular in culture.

Pierre Choueiri outlines key challenges facing Arab media

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: On the second day of the recently held Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi, Choueiri Group’s Chairman and CEO, Pierre Choueiri, was interviewed during an insightful fireside chat with Lenah Hasaballah, Editor CNN Business Arabic (U.A.E.)The interviewer highlighted the traditional role of the media sector in preserving Arab culture and delivering vital news and content to millions of viewers across the Arab region and around the world, before reiterating how technological advancements, digitization, and social media’s rise to becoming the primary platform for content consumption are posing formidable and pressing challenges.Responding to these developments and sharing his thoughts on the impact of digitalization and social media, Mr. Choueiri set the stage by stating that: “Before we delve into the challenges facing Arab media, it's crucial to identify our target audience. Who are we addressing? The Arab population of 350,000,000 or specifically 150,000,000 individuals? With a notable 60% of this population (approximately 200,000,000 people) under the age of 30, the major question for Arab media becomes, are we effectively engaging with this demographic? It appears that Arab media is not effectively communicating with this demographic in their language, as these are individuals who predominantly communicate via Tik-Tok, Facebook and Instagram and make decisions within the first 6 seconds of a news segment. They prefer content that lasts around 2 to 2.5 minutes. Furthermore, this demographic is predominantly mobile-first and "on the move." Consequently, content should be tailored to their needs.Questioned on the significance of content, Mr. Choueiri emphasised the importance of “continuous evolution in order to align with ever-changing requirements”. He also said that “Achieving this requires access to sufficient data and research, whether it's through monitoring viewership, analysing reading patterns, or adopting various learning methods that facilitate adapting the content to what resonates. Moreover, in discussing technology, it's essential to recognize that the key is not just having access to technology but adopting it effectively. We must stay abreast of technological advancements and employ methods that leverage these innovations. Finally, as for the distribution of content, it's a matter of staying responsive to current trends while anticipating future developments. It involves using distribution methods that are effective in the present and being adaptable to embrace new approaches as they emerge”.With the interviewer focusing the conversation on the impact of social media across the Arab media landscape, and the dominance of foreign platforms and companies across the sector, Mr. Choueiri expressed great hopes for the development of local and indigenous platforms: “We have the capability to create an Arabic version of TikTok, and there's no reason why we shouldn't utilize it for our content. These platforms exist and can serve as a channel for our content, particularly in the short-form format. Currently, we have long-form content, such as streaming services, which compete with foreign platforms. I'd like to emphasize the importance of surrounding ourselves with legislation. However, it should be protective, without negatively impacting us. As media serves as the fuel for advertising. Protecting the sector is crucial. For instance, in France, they have implemented taxes on Google to support the publishing sector. Finally on the way to manage the Arab Entertainment Media, I want to convey a clear message – it needs to be managed as a private company, focusing on results and performance on profit and loss as this will be key to generating premium quality content for our region.”.He also elaborated on the significance of investment per person ratios: “Most GCC countries spend around $100 per person, while in the United States, it's ten times more at $1000. In contrast, the entire Arab world invests only $14 per person on media, indicating a very low investment that directly impacts the quality of content. Another point to consider is that with a total spending of $5 billion in the region, 65% goes to digital and 35% to non-digital channels. In the Arab world, 80% is invested in digital, which, in my opinion, is not balanced. Most of these budgets go to major international companies like Meta, Google, TikTok, and Snap. The remaining amount for investment in local content is insufficient. Here, we need to focus on and protect local investments. In Arab countries, we already have successful streaming platforms like Shahid or Starz Play, which are more successful than Netflix in the Arab world. To stimulate investment growth in the region, it should ideally be five times larger ($5 billion should become $25 billion). Achieving this requires increasing media spending in the Arab world, focusing on content, distribution, and data. Additionally, adopting technologies like AI is crucial. The most significant aspect is ensuring that the results are on par with international platforms. If we can achieve this, media investment will naturally experience significant growth”.Expressing optimism for the future of traditional media, Mr. Choueiri stated that “The idea that traditional media is coming to an end is not accurate. Instead, it's evolving and adapting. While it's true that physical newspapers are diminishing, they are transitioning to digital platforms such as mobiles and tablets. For instance, the viewership of traditional television networks like CBC and ABC in the USA has evolved to individual networks adapting to technology. G42 for instance is working on AI in the Arabic language, highlighting the need to evolve while incorporating technology. At an event which I recently attended, the CEO of Netflix stated that TV is dead, and interestingly, he began his presentation with the question, "Is radio dead?" This emphasized that TV is not dead; rather, it's the content that remains paramount, as content is everything”.On enhancing the collaboration between media and advertising, Mr. Choueiri concluded his interview by saying that “In my opinion and based on my experience, the media, especially in the UAE, has been successful. This success suggests that Arabic producers have the capability to enhance their productions, and I believe we are on the path to achieving even more success stories in the very near future”.

Facebook, Instagram roll out ad-free experience in Europe

Meta has announced the introduction of a new subscription option in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. This is in response to the evolving European regulatory landscape.This initiative, set to launch in November, allows users of Facebook and Instagram in these regions to make a choice between continuing to access personalized services for free with advertisements or opting for a subscription to enjoy an ad-free experience while ensuring their information is not utilized for ad targeting.Under this subscription model, users in the specified regions will have the opportunity to subscribe for a fee and access our products without advertisements. The pricing structure will vary depending on the platform: €9.99 per month when using the web, and €12.99 per month for iOS and Android. It's important to note that this pricing variation takes into account the fees imposed by Apple and Google through their respective purchasing policies. Until March 1, 2024, the initial subscription fee will cover all linked Facebook and Instagram accounts within a user's Accounts Center. However, starting from March 1, 2024, an additional charge of €6 per month on the web and €8 per month on iOS and Android will apply for each additional account listed in a user's Account Center.But why is Meta implementing this new subscription offering? The company says it is committed to maintaining an ad-supported internet, ensuring that people from all walks of life can access personalized products and services, while also facilitating small businesses in reaching potential customers and driving economic growth in Europe. While advocating for an ad-supported internet, Meta is equally committed to complying with evolving European regulations and respecting their spirit and purpose.This decision aligns with Meta's earlier announcement in August, in which the company expressed its intention to transition users in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland to the "Consent" legal basis as per GDPR for processing data collected on their platforms for advertising purposes. This change was made in response to emerging regulatory requirements in the region, including the interpretation of GDPR by the Irish Data Protection Commission following a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the forthcoming Digital Markets Act.The introduction of the subscription model is aimed at balancing the needs of European regulators, providing users with choices, and enabling Meta to continue serving the people of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland. The Court of Justice of the European Union has explicitly recognized the validity of a subscription-based model as a form of consent for an ad-supported service.For users who opt to continue using Meta's products for free, their experience will remain largely unchanged, with ongoing support for tools and settings that empower individuals to control their ad experience. These tools include Ad Preferences, which offer a range of controls allowing users to influence the ads they see and the data used for ad targeting, as well as tools that explain "Why am I seeing this ad?" and help manage ad preferences.Meanwhile, advertisers will continue to run personalized advertising campaigns in Europe for those who choose to avail of the free, ad-supported online service. Meta remains committed to investing in the development of new tools that preserve the value of personalized advertising for both users and businesses while giving users more control over their ad experience on Meta's platforms.It's important to note that the subscription for an ad-free experience is available to individuals aged 18 and above, and Meta is actively exploring ways to provide teenagers with a useful and responsible ad experience in light of the evolving regulatory landscape.This new subscription model has been factored into Meta's most recent business outlook and guidance. This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding Meta's business outlook and the evolving regulatory landscape. These statements should not be considered as predictions of future events. More information about potential risks and uncertainties related to Meta's business and financial results can be found in the most recent Form 10-Q. Meta undertakes no obligation to update these statements based on new information or future events.

Meta Mulls Paid Ad-Free Facebook, Instagram for EU Users

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is reportedly considering introducing ad-free paid versions of its social media platforms for users in the European Union. Under this proposed plan, users could pay around 10 euros (approximately US$10.46) per month for an ad-free experience on Facebook or Instagram on desktop, with an additional charge of about 6 euros for each linked account. On mobile devices, the cost for a single account would increase to around 13 euros due to fees from Apple's and Google's app stores.This move comes in response to evolving regulatory requirements in the EU, as Meta seeks to address concerns about user data and advertising practices. Earlier this year, the company was fined 390 million euros by Ireland's Data Privacy Commissioner and was instructed not to use the "contract" legal basis for delivering personalized ads based on users' online activities.Meta has informed European regulators of its intention to launch this ad-free subscription plan, referred to as Subscription No Ads (SNA), in the coming months. While the company emphasizes its commitment to providing free services supported by personalized ads, it is exploring these options to ensure compliance with evolving regulations.Both Meta and relevant regulatory bodies, including Ireland's Data Protection Commission and the European Commission, have not provided additional comments on this matter as of now. The New York Times initially reported Meta's consideration of paid ad-free versions for EU users, though pricing details were not disclosed.This potential shift underscores Meta's efforts to adapt to changing privacy and data protection regulations in the EU and provide users with more choices regarding their online experience.