Snap launches Spotlight prize entertainment platform in MENA

Snap launches Spotlight prize entertainment platform in MENA
Snap aims to capitalize on the audience by allowing them to share their creativity on the platform. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 May 2021

Snap launches Spotlight prize entertainment platform in MENA

Snap launches Spotlight prize entertainment platform in MENA
  • Spotlight allows users to share their creativity, gain rewards

DUBAI: Camera company Snap Inc. has launched its new entertainment platform Spotlight throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

With 75 million regional users, Snap aims to capitalize on the audience by allowing them to share their creativity on the platform and be rewarded for it through an incentive program paying out millions of dollars to users every month.

A Snap spokesman told Arab News that Snapchatters had a desire to use the Snapchat messaging app as a “social platform” where they could share their creations with a community, not just with friends.

Snap did not want to lose users to other platforms and had been thinking for “quite a while” about how it could cater for this need.

Hussein Freijeh, general manager of Snap Inc. in the Middle East, said: “We’ve seen from our platform that Snapchatters are super creative and looking for more ways to share snaps with the larger community. We want to help empower them to express themselves and share their experiences through the Snapchat Camera.”

The answer came in the form of Spotlight, which features the most entertaining snaps from the community. These snaps will be tailored to each user over time based on their preferences and favorites.

Anyone on the app can share snaps on the platform – either anonymously or through their profile. The content is then moderated by a computer and a person before being published on Spotlight.

Comments are also turned off in order to avoid offensive and inappropriate content on the new platform. “So, rather than relying on content being reported, it’s pre-moderated before it goes live,” said the spokesman.

He added that with other content-based platforms, there were always a few users who racked up followers and soon enough started creating professional content, which served as a deterrent of sorts to amateur users of the platforms.

“Our hope was that Spotlight lowers the barrier to content creation and we have already seen this taking place in countries where we have rolled it out so far,” Freijeh added.

The new platform had garnered more than 100 million users as of January, just two months after its initial release. Part of its success has been attributed to the incentive program that is now being launched in the MENA region.

The spokesman said that when any new platform came up, influencers switched to it taking their followers with them, resulting in “a closed circle of people who get wide distribution,” because most platforms rewarded content creators based on the number of followers. “We did not want to do that,” he added.

On Spotlight, the incentive program is not based on the number of followers or celebrity status of a user, but rather on the engagement received on a snap.

He likened the incentive program to a football tournament. “It’s like the World Cup of content. At the group stage that they (users) start off in, they compete against each other and the snaps that are the most engaging and get watched through will unlock more distribution, where they will go against other content, which has gone through that previous stage.

“And then the most engaging piece of content in that subset will unlock more distribution with the ones that get the most (distribution), earning money directly from Snapchat.”

Spotlight sounds and feels quite similar to platforms such as TikTok, as several users have pointed out. However, the spokesman said there was a “huge difference” between the type of content that did well on Spotlight versus TikTok. “You can accidentally create an amazing Spotlight, but I don’t think you can accidentally create an amazing TikTok,” he added.

“Most content creators (on other platforms) rely on sponsorships from brands and huge follower counts. It’s a closed circle to most people, so we wanted to open it up to more people.”

However, Snap is continuing to develop new creator tools for more professional creators, and “they will have really good opportunities to earn money on Spotlight as well,” he said.

Spotlight was launched in 11 countries in November and has been slowly introduced to other markets since then. The reason for the slow rollout, the spokesman said, was the moderation of each piece of content before it appeared on the platform – especially in local languages.

It is now available throughout the MENA region in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestine, Libya, and Iraq.

“Looking ahead, we’ll continue to learn from our community as we continue to evolve Spotlight and see what resonates among Snapchatters,” said Freijeh.


Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday
Updated 54 sec ago

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday
  • Racim’s art helped revitalize Algerian pride, playing an instrumental role in the North African country’s independence movement

DUBAI: Google has created a doodle to celebrate the life of Algerian artist Mohammed Racim Thursday, marking 125 years since his birth on June 24.

The doodle can be seen in Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Lebanon and Algeria.

Born in 1896, to a family of established artisans in Algiers, Racim’s first exposure to art was a stint working in a colonial drawing office when he was 14, where he copied the designs of carpets, Arab embroideries, copper ornaments, and wood sculptures.

While these helped develop his art, it was an introduction to the ancient form of illustration -  Persian miniatures – that became the foundation for his work.

From then onwards he developed his own personal hybrid form of expression through miniatures – combining traditional materials, classical arabesque and calligraphic styles - but used them to frame figurative inserts that had modern features.

He was still a teenager when he became established, decorating with calligraphic plates.

Racim’s main customers were businessmen and government officials.

By 1930, Racim's vibrant miniatures were making the rounds, elevating him to a major figure in Algerian culture.

Racim reinvigorated Maghrebi cultural customs while redefining the global perspective of the Arab world through art. 

Racim’s art helped revitalize Algerian pride, playing an instrumental role in the North African country’s independence movement.

As with most of his work, Racim's “Women at the Cascad” illustrates an imagined past, before the arrival of the French colonizers at a time when the indigenous people ruled their lands freely.    

His memory lives on today, with much of Racim’s personal collection displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Algiers. 

And the Algerian School for Miniature Painting he founded with his brother, Omar – remains open.


ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC
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Updated 23 June 2021

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC
  • Census represents biggest global cross-industry collaboration across 27 markets

DUBAI: In a move to assess the scale of the diversity challenge facing the marketing and advertising industry, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has launched the first-ever global diversity, equity and inclusion census.

The census is a collaboration between the WFA, VoxComm, the European Association of Communication Agencies (EACA), Campaign, Kantar, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The Effies, with the goal of generating the largest and most representative sample possible.

“This is an unprecedented act of unity by the global marketing industry. With over a hundred participating organisations, this is the biggest industry collaboration ever,” WFA CEO Stephan Loerke said in a statement.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the effort is being led by the Advertising Business Group (ABG), a non-profit organization advocating for responsible advertising and communication​.

People from across the marketing industry — including brands, agencies, media, tech, consultancies and marketing services providers in 27 countries — can fill in the survey until July 2 by providing socio-demographic data about themselves and perceptions of their workplace.

“The data from so many markets will be incredibly powerful in helping the industry focus its efforts on where they are most needed, helping us become a better, more diverse and more inclusive industry,” said Tamara Daltroff, director general of EACA and president of VoxComm.

The survey will assess where the global advertising and marketing industry stands in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion by investigating workforce composition across the industry as well as people’s perception of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The findings will be presented at leading global industry events in October this year, and published publicly for the benefit of global, regional and local groups.

The results will also be used to inform an action plan devised and led by the WFA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which is a global platform of the world’s top marketers.

A follow-up survey will be conducted after 18 months to track progress.


Facebook expands Shops to WhatsApp, Marketplace in commerce push

Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

Facebook expands Shops to WhatsApp, Marketplace in commerce push

Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
  • Facebook Inc (FB.O) is expanding its "Shops" feature to its messaging app WhatsApp in several countries.
  • Users will be able to use this search from content on the app or on photos on their own camera rolls.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) is expanding its "Shops" feature to its messaging app WhatsApp in several countries and to Facebook Marketplace in the United States, the company said on Tuesday as it announced changes to its commerce tools.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said it would also introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior.

The social media giant, which launched Shops last year as a way for people to find and buy products on Facebook and Instagram as part of its push into ecommerce, said it has more than 300 million monthly Shops visitors and about 1.2 million monthly active Shops.

Zuckerberg said during Facebook's last earnings release that e-commerce is one of the company's three key areas of focus, along with working on augmented and virtual reality and helping content creators earn money on Facebook's platforms.

The company said it would in the coming months test an artificial intelligence tool called 'visual search' so users shopping on its photo-sharing site Instagram can click on items and find similar products in Shops.

Users will be able to use this search from content on the app or on photos on their own camera rolls, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook is also working on ways using augmented reality that shoppers can try on items, including from ads, Zuckerberg said, speaking in a live audio room on Facebook.


Twitter opens applications to test new content subscription features

Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

Twitter opens applications to test new content subscription features

Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter users can apply to get first access to "Super Follows," which will let them sell exclusive content to paying subscribers.

Twitter Inc said Tuesday it will seek applications from users who want to be the first to test new content subscription and ticketing features, as the social platform works to build more ways for users to earn money. 

Twitter users can apply to get first access to "Super Follows," which will let them sell exclusive content to paying subscribers, and "Ticketed Spaces," to charge for entry into audio chat rooms they host on the platform.

Both features are part of Twitter's plan to compete with other social media companies to attract more influential content creators by letting them earn money from fan followings.

Users must have at least 10,000 followers on Twitter to be eligible to apply for Super Follows, and at least 1,000 followers to apply for first access to Ticketed Spaces.

The company aims to select "a diverse set of voices," from the applications, said Esther Crawford, senior product manager at Twitter.

The company will take a 3% cut of a creator's revenue until the user hits $50,000 in earnings, after which Twitter will keep 20%, in order to help up-and-coming creators earn more money at the start, Twitter said.

Crawford added that Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations which have built an audience on Twitter.


British minister urges same rules for streaming services, broadcasters -Times

British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

British minister urges same rules for streaming services, broadcasters -Times

British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
  • British government draw plans to make streaming services follow the code of British regulator Ofcom, says Culture Secretary.
  • The government will consult on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as is done for traditional broadcasters

June 23 : Britain’s streaming services and broadcasters should be on a level playing field, as traditional broadcasters now compete with “one hand tied behind their backs,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday.
Dowden is to unveil plans for a white paper on broadcasting that aims to make streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ follow the code of British regulator Ofcom, he said in the Times newspaper “Every “linear” broadcaster — BBC, Sky and so on — has to comply with stringent content and audience protection standards,” Dowden said in an article published on Wednesday.
“You might assume the same is true of video-on-demand services such as Amazon Prime and Disney+. You’d be wrong.”
The government will consult this summer on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as is done for traditional broadcasters, he added.
“The white paper will also set out proposals on how we ensure public service broadcasters are given sufficient visibility...online, and ensure viewers can continue to find and watch original and high-quality British programs.”
Separately, Britain’s Conservative government said it plans to sell Channel 4, launched 39 years ago as an alternative to the BBC and ITV, to help secure its future as a public service broadcaster.
“In summer I will consult on the sale of Channel 4,” Dowden wrote, adding that he would proceed on the lines that an alternative ownership model retaining the broadcaster’s public service remit would better serve both it and Britain.