At Harvard we stay up to date with the latest news and trends shaping the tech world by rounding up the top stories each week. We’ve recapped our favourite stories from the last few weeks to create April’s news round-up.

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Snapchat goes mass market

TV isn’t dead. That’s the lesson from Snapchat’s first TV ad which came out this week. Now that Snap is a public company – and investors demand constant user growth – it’s untenable to stay niche, mysterious and complicated. Thus the mainstream marketing to a broad audience – and no channel is better for that than TV. Snapchat has even set up a “What is Snapchat?” website to explain itself better to potential users. Its messaging emphasises that Snapchat is a new kind of camera – essentially a messaging tool to communicate genuine emotions, rather than a traditional social network with carefully manicured public posts.

P&G re-thinks its agency model

Earlier in April Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer and one of the most powerful people in the marketing world, announced the launch of a “people first” agency made up of talent from rival agency groups Publicis, WPP and Omnicom, to work on P&G’s North American fabric care brands. The new model is aimed at solving the perceived structural problems within agencies. “We can’t have eight people in charge. There has got to be one person in charge … That’s the kind of discipline that we’re pushing for,” explained Pritchard. The new agency model places all agency partners under one roof while introducing internal initiatives and training schemes to break down old barriers between different disciplines and encouraging people to mix more. It’s a sign of the power clients have to dictate terms to agencies now – even sworn enemies have to play nice to keep clients on their books.

Jeff Bezos’s latest letter to Amazon shareholders

Jeff Bezos’s letter to Amazon shareholders has become something of an annual tradition within tech circles. His first letter, back in 1997, propounded Bezos’s philosophy of long-term, customer-centric thinking. His 2018 version talks about how businesses set high standards in their organisations – as always, it’s worth reading for what it reveals about Amazon’s culture and ambitions. The letter also includes a range of new stats, revealing among things that Prime has 100m customers globally (a figure Amazon have refused to reveal for years), and that its AWS cloud service is a $20bn revenue business in its own right.

Ofcom’s media use report shows WhatsApp booming

This week Ofcom released its latest annual survey of British adults’ media usage and attitudes. As ever, this is a treasure trove of statistics and insights into how we behave online. Particularly interesting for us was the boom in use of WhatsApp. One in six of us consider WhatsApp to be our main social app now, compared to just one in 20 of us two years ago. As other social feeds become busier and more algorithmically sorted, it seems more of us are starting to prefer the one-to-one direct communication of messaging apps.

Video boosts Twitter’s results

After a tough few years, Twitter is starting to see improved revenues. Its latest Q1 results were up 21% year-on-year, boosted primarily by more revenue from video ads. Daily active users were also up 10% on the previous year. Perhaps some of its recent product tweaks, such as expanding to 280 characters, are making it a bit easier to use.


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