Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Anannya Parekh, Aarthi Ramnath & Rhea Saincher
The great Google fake out
According to a new study, Google is fudging the number of views an advertisement receives—on third-party apps and websites. Here’s how this works: TrueView inserts ads that you can skip after five seconds. These ads are also placed on third party websites/apps via the Google Video Partners:
Google charges a premium, promising that the ads it places will run on high-quality sites, before the page’s main video content, with the audio on, and that brands will only pay for ads that aren’t skipped.
The catch: “Users can skip the ad after five seconds, but an advertiser only gets charged if a user watches 30 seconds—or the length of the ad.” But Google’s definition of a view is a bit, well, fuzzy:
“[S]ome ads that were run in small video players in the corner or at the side of the screen, some which were fully muted, had no actual video content between ads, or ran with little interaction or activation from the user.
Apparently, the company violated its own definition of the rules around 80% of the time. Also: the report suggests that Google doesn’t really tell brands how many of its ads run on YouTube—as opposed to third party websites and apps. Google’s response to the report: It “makes many claims that are inaccurate and doesn’t reflect how we keep advertisers safe.” (Wall Street Journal, paywall, Quartz)
Moving on to Meta: The company will offer new parental supervision tools for kids. The catch: they have to opt-in. Like that’s ever going to happen with teenagers. Quartz has more on how it works.
Moving on to FTX: The infamous cryptocurrency company—whose founder Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested for orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud—is plotting a comeback. In the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, the CEO is planning a “reboot” of its crypto exchange—and has been holding early talks with investors. Yes, FTX still has interested investors. File that under ‘lessons never learned’. (Wall Street Journal)
Good news about foreign travel
The context: The government recently announced that it will slap an automatic 20% Tax Collected at Source (TCS) on all overseas spending on credit cards. There was a great hue and cry from citizens. And banks and travel companies pointed out that it would be impossible to track each transaction—to figure out which one qualifies for the tax.
What happened now: The government says it will no longer impose a tax on credit card payments you make while you travel abroad. And plans to charge a 20% tax for foreign remittances—like booking a tour in Italy while you’re in India—has been canned, as well. These will only attract a 5% tax if they remain below the Rs 7 lakh threshold. (Indian Express)
Flipkart’s new recycling policy
The platform will allow customers to turn in their dud electronic appliances—which will count as cash as long as they buy a new version of electronic products like television, refrigerator, washing machine, laptops, smartphones, and feature phones. What happens to your junk machine: “Depending on the condition of the defunct product, it will be refurbished, recycled, or disposed off responsibly by authorised vendors.” Why this is good news: “India is the third largest e-waste generator in the world (with 3.2 million tonnes in 2019); however, only 10% of the waste is collected for recycling.” (The Hindu)
The great tamatar panic!
Every year, some staple vegetable becomes insanely expensive. And within months, it becomes so cheap that farmers start throwing away their harvest. This time, it’s the turn of the tomato—which apparently is “red hot” and now averagely costs Rs 46 per kg—though that rises up to Rs 80 in places like Delhi. The problem is exactly this whiplash trend in prices. In April/May, their prices plummeted—and many farmers abandoned their crops. Then it was far too hot in April/May. FYI: this is how insane our farm market is: “The average price in March was Rs 5-10/kg, and in April it was around Rs 5-15/kg. In May, farmers were forced to sell for between Rs 2.50-5/kg.” Indian Express has a good explainer.
PS: This The Hindu investigation shows a sharp increase in the prices of other staple food items over the past one month—including onion, potato, rice, dal and even tea.
A disastrous loss of Indian heritage
Delhi’s Old Fort or Purana Qila is a valuable archaeological site—with artefacts that span centuries—from the pre-Mauryan to the Mughal era. That’s roughly from 1200 BC to 600 BC. Apparently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) entirely failed to protect the site from the rains:
According to sources, temporary arrangements such as tarpaulins failed to protect the sites and several remains, including the unburnt bricks of the Kushana period, were damaged due to rainwater.
Officials claim they did their best but “some water had dripped in.” Sad. (Times of India)
Speaking of destroying heritage: Some love-struck tourist carved the name of his bae on the walls of the Colosseum: “The unidentified tourist engraved “Ivan+Haley 23” onto the almost 2,000-year-old structure in Rome. He could face up to five years in prison and a fine of about $16,400.” Yup, we’re fine with that. See the vid of this travesty below. (Washington Post)
Hollywood actors threaten strike
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is a union that represents around 160,000 actors employed across film and television in the United States. The members voted to authorise a strike earlier this month—if no deal could be reached. Now, leading actors have written a pointed letter to the union chief—underlining their willingness to strike. These include Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and others. What they want:
The signatories specifically called out their interest in instituting a “seismic realignment” of minimum pay rates, streaming residuals and exclusivity provisions. The letter called for a transformation of self-taped audition practices and major regulation of artificial intelligence, making sure that the deal “protects not just our likenesses, but makes sure we are well compensated when any of our work is used to train AI.”
Reminder: The writers have already been on strike since May—because they want a fairer cut from streaming royalties. What this means: don’t expect new seasons of your series to drop anytime soon—and at least some movies. (Hollywood Reporter)
Also making LA waves: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs—aka Puff Daddy, P Diddy… ok, JLo’s rebound boyfriend back in the 1990s when she broke up with Ben. In any case, he is feuding with the liquor brand Diageo—which he sued last month. The reason: he doesn’t think the company is doing much to promote his booze—which includes the vodka brand Ciroc. Diddy says that Diageo is giving all its love to white folks like George Clooney and his tequila brand Casamigos:
Combs, who is Black, said Diageo leadership told him that his race was one of the reasons it limited distribution to “urban” neighbourhoods and stunted sales growth of his brands. According to the suit, which seeks billions of dollars in damages in other legal proceedings against Diageo, Combs was also told that some Diageo leaders resented him for making too much money.
The Associated Press has lots more details.
Get ready for Superman!
Get ready for David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan to play Superman and Lois Lane in the upcoming ‘Superman: Legacy’. Hollywood Reporter has lots more on the reboot. To be clear, it isn’t releasing until 2025. Anything can happen before that. TBH, we’re not that excited.
Four things to see
Two: Want the earliest evidence of our very human love for pizza? Behold this 2,000-year-old fresco of something that kinda looks like it. Except there is no tomato or mozzarella—because no one knew they even existed at the time. FYI: you are likely looking at a silver plate with focaccia covered with fruit and spices or a type of pesto. (Associated Press)
Three: Hai, Barbie mania is everywhere—as director Greta Gerwig gets ready to release her already-legendary ‘Barbie’ movie on July 21. Eager to cash in on this passing trend: Xbox—which is offering a free Barbie game console. They look like this—which may be appalling or cool based on your feelings about Barbie and/or gaming. Please don’t make us describe it. (Mashable)
Four: Haw, nothing is going KJo’s way right now. His first movie after seven years is slated to drop on July 28—titled ‘Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani’. But the first song from the film ‘Tum Kya Mile’—starring Ranveer and Alia—has landed with a serious thud. The song is meh—and so is the chemistry. Then again, we are not huge KJo fans anymore. (Indian Express)