Waymo Wins Approval for First Driverless Ride-Hailing Service

The first U.S. commercial ride-hailing service without human drivers has been approved. Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc., got a permit in late January from the Arizona Department of Transportation to operate as a Transportation Network Company, according to Ryan Harding, a spokesman at the state agency. The designation lets Waymo's fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans pick up and drop off paying riders in Arizona through a smartphone app or website, the spokesman said on Friday. Uber Technologies and Lyft are good examples of transportation network companies in the state, Harding added. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Facebook, Google Could Face Tighter Rules on Political Ads

Facebook, Alphabet Inc.'s Google and other online platforms would face stricter rules for political advertising according to a proposed framework that will be considered by the Federal Election Commission. The proposal, written by Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat and vice chair of the commission, would require online advertisements to carry the same disclaimers from their sponsors as do radio, TV and print ads. The commission will consider the framework, known as a notice of proposed rule making, at its next public hearing on March 8. The move comes as tech companies face growing scrutiny in Washington ranging from concerns about market dominance to concerns that online platforms are used for sex trafficking of children. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Russia Spent $1.25M on Ads, Acted Like an Ad Agency: Mueller

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the details of an allegedly widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, delivering on his initial mandate by the Justice Department. In an indictment announced Friday in Washington, Mueller describes a years-long, multimillion-dollar conspiracy by hundreds of Russians aimed at criticizing Hillary Clinton and supporting Senator Bernie Sanders and Trump. Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities and accused them of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with the political process. Those involved spent some $1.25 million per month on ad campaigns and measured their efforts much as an ad agency would, according to the indictment. It says the group kept track of metrics like views and comments, and measured engagement. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Amazon, YouTube, Twitter Are Said to Eye Bids for NFL Rights

Amazon, YouTube and Twitter are all weighing bids for streaming rights to "Thursday Night Football," according to people with knowledge of the matter, providing the latest evidence of technology companies' growing interest in live sports. The three are bidding as much as hundreds of millions of dollars for rights that will run for as long as five years, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the negotiations. The NFL is getting help in the talks from 21st Century Fox, which acquired the TV rights to the games through 2022. The NFL is looking for a tech company to offer an interactive stream with social-media commentary and statistics that entice kids raised on video games and Snapchat, the people said. Amazon already does this with the G League, a minor-league version of the NBA. The TV audience for the NFL has declined for two years in a Continue reading "Amazon, YouTube, Twitter Are Said to Eye Bids for NFL Rights"

TBS Debuts Animated Series ‘Final Space’ on Reddit Before It Hits TV

A new cartoon from TBS called "Final Space" is going after "Rick and Morty" fans with a livestream premiere on Reddit. TBS is running an ad campaign on Reddit to give viewers an early look at the animated sci-fi show two weeks before it debuts on TV. It's the first time a TV show will stream on Reddit, a site with thousands of fandoms and user-generated communities, adding up to more than 50 million monthly U.S. visitors, according to ComScore. TBS could have streamed "Final Space," created by Olan Rogers, on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, but Reddit users are known aficionados of cartoons and science fiction. TBS's sibling network Cartoon Network has cultivated a rabid following for its own hit sci-fi animated series "Rick and Morty," which has a community of 750,000 fans on Reddit. Continue reading at AdAge.com

‘Star Trek’ Streams Up Profit as CBS Asks Who Needs Ads

CBS Corp. overcame a slump in TV advertising to report higher sales and profit in the final quarter of 2017, buoyed by offering programs to online providers such as Netflix and attracting subscribers to its own All Access service with shows like "Star Trek: Discovery." CBS boosted sales from licensing programs by 33 percent and subscription fees by 20 percent, according to a statement Thursday. The company said its two paid streaming services have reached almost 5 million subscribers. CEO Leslie Moonves is trying to sustain momentum at the company he has led for more than a decade while his board explores a merger with Viacom, which like CBS is controlled by the Redstone family. Viacom owns cable networks including MTV and Nickelodeon, as well as the Paramount Pictures studio. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Salon Aims to Start a Publishing Revolution by Spinning Ad Blocking Into Cryptocurrency

Jordan Hoffner, CEO of Salon Media Group, is not surprised at the attention his site is suddenly getting. Salon is likely the first publisher to ask users running ad blockers to either turn them off or make up for it by letting Salon use their computers' processing power to mine cryptocurrency in the background. The Financial Times (which has itself gotten creative with readers who run ad blockers) reported the news on Monday. The media world turned its head. "Being a journalist, I knew it was going to be a big story," Hoffner says. "But that's not why we did it. We have a profound problem in the industryad blockingand this was one way to bring light to it." Continue reading at AdAge.com