Mobile Ad Spend Wavers as Coronavirus Persists; WorldGaze Sets to Boost AI Context

In today's EchangeWire news digest: Pixalate report reveals how Coronavirus has impacted mobile ad spend; new software WorldGaze promises to optimise context awareness for on-device AI; and Carousell unveils a new initiative to assist non-profits that are helping the most vulnerable amidst COVID-19.


Mobile ad spend wavers as Coronavirus persists

Pixalate has released a report detailing how advertisers have responded to the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus. The Programmatic Ad Spend in the Age of COVID-19: Mobile App Advertising, examines how programmatic advertisers in the US altered their spending plans from the first until the last full week of March in order to weather the effects of the outbreak.

The report found that mobile in-app ad spend fell by 14%, with sports apps being hit particularly hard: ad spend fell by 99% for ESPN: Live Sports & Scores and by 95% for NBA: Official App, both on iOS. Social media platform Tumblr also saw ad spend for its Android app fall by 95%.

Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the report found that some apps experienced a boost in ad spend over the same period: textPlus saw an 88% rise in Android ad spend, whilst iOS spend for Crosswords With Friends increased significantly by 576%. WKYT News iOS spend experienced a staggering 1,635% rise, a reflection of consumers’ desire to find out the latest about the crisis.


WorldGaze seeks to improve AI context awareness

The Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a software to improve how AI understands context. WorldGaze is an on-device software that adds visual details to a user’s interaction with the device’s AI assistant: it uses the front camera of the device to track and measures the user’s head position and then matches this to a location within view of the device’s rear camera.

Whilst WorldGaze promises to optimise AI, making it a more accurate and easier to use for smartphones, it could also prove to be hugely beneficial to businesses: by making relevant information on their companies from across the internet more readily available, businesses could find capture more prospective consumers far more quickly than before.

Carnergie Mellon’s Gierad Laput, Chris Harrison, and Sven Mayer are the creators behind WorldGaze, and have developed a prototype. The software is similar to eye-tracking technology that has been introduced to augmented reality and virtual reality headsets to create a more immersive experience for users.


Carousell gives free ad inventory to charities in the fight against Coronavirus

Carousell has launched the “COVID-19 free ads for charity” initiative to help in the effort against coronavirus. The classified ads platform is donating over USD$2m (£1.6m) of advertising inventory to charities and non-profits that are helping those hit hardest by the outbreak, including single-parent households, older people, and vulnerable people.

Organisations across Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines will receive most of the inventory: “As Southeast Asia’s leading classifieds marketplace across eight markets, we want to mobilise our reach of tens of millions of users across our 8 markets to help these non-profit organisations in need,” said JJ Eastwood, Carousell's managing director of advertising.

The platform is already partnered with some charities, which will be among the first to benefit from the initiative. These include Singapore Red Cross, Give.Asia, and Habitat for Humanity (Hong Kong), among others. Any suitable non-profits and charities can apply for assistance from the scheme via the Carousell website.