This Week’s Tech, Digital and Business News: 12 – 16 April 2021

Stay up-to-date with tech, digital and business news by taking a look at our favourite highlights from this week. From funding for small businesses to upcoming product and feature launches, you'll find it all in on Localsearch.

Top Tech, Digital and Business News from 12 – 16 April 2021

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Monday, 12 April 2021

Spotify Announces New Ads for Podcasts, Including Paid Users

Audio giant Spotify has announced they will be releasing podcast advertising in Australia, even for paid users. Spotify Podcast Ads will allow Australian advertisers to use ads in podcasts for both free and premium accounts.

Advertisers can run their ads across preroll, midroll or postroll ad placements within a show’s episodes. However, listeners will be able to pause, rewind and fast forward through podcasts, including ads.

Spotify reported a 100% increase in podcast listening hours in Australia in 2020, with the platform looking into more expansions for Australia. These ads have already rolled out in other countries, with Australia being next in line.

New AANA Social Media Transparency Code Hands Out First Formal Breach

The Bachelor winner Anna Heinrich is the first case to breach the new Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics distinguishable advertising rule, which requires transparency of any paid or gifted product placements on social media.

Updated on the 1 February 2021, the new code states advertisers and marketing should be transparent on social media, using the preferred hashtags #ad, #advert or #paidpartnership.

It’s a reminder to businesses who gift or pay for influencers to display their products to ensure those they’re working with understand their responsibility under Australian Consumer Law.

Western Australia Opens Borders to the Rest of Australia & New Zealand, as of 19 April

Western Australia will open its borders to the rest of Australia and New Zealand from 19 April 2021. Interstate travellers and New Zealand arrivals will be able to go to WA without completing the two week quarantine.

Those wishing to travel to WA are still expected to register for a border permit and consent to a health screening at Perth Airport.

Major stadiums in Western Australia are also now allowed 100% capacity, as of tomorrow, while restaurants and bars will remain at 75% capacity.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Grants of Up to $25,000 Available for Business Events Run in Melbourne

The Victorian State Government has announced grants of up to $25,000 are on offer for business events held in Melbourne before 2022.

50% of the funds will be available upfront before the event has even started, with more information to be released by the Melbourne Convention Bureau in coming months.

Expressions of interest for the National Business Event Program are open now for conferences, exhibitions, workshops, seminars and more. Email [email protected] for more information.

Facebook to Launch Dedicated News Product in Australia By End of 2021

Facebook has announced during a senate hearing on Monday they plan to roll out a dedicated news product in Australia by the end of 2021.

The social media giant’s Director of Policy in Australia, Mia Garlick, also said there are deals already in the works, including letters of intent, between Facebook and Seven, News Corp, Schwartz Media, Private Media, Solstice Media and Sky News.

She also reiterated Facebook users were already referred to news websites 5.1 billion times in the last year, which accounts for nearly $407 million of additional existing value for the media.

A dedicated platform will help funnel users who want to see news content and pay contributors for their content.

Microsoft Buys Out Voice Recognition AI Pioneer, Nuance, for $19.7 Billion

Microsoft has reportedly acquired AI tech firm, Nuance Communications, for $19.7 billion, with the takeover to be completed by late 2021.

The takeover would help Microsoft further boost their software and artificial intelligence experience, particularly in the healthcare industry. Reports say more than 80% of U.S. hospitals are already Nuance customers, which would allow the tech giant to expand dramatically within the industry.

Nuance is also known as being a backend development Partner of Siri, a powerful insight for Apple competitor, Microsoft.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Podcast Downloads Up 7 Million from Last Month

In March, podcast downloads hit 50 million in Australia, up from 43 million last month, according to Triton Digital’s Podcast Ranker. 

This is the most podcast downloads in a single month, with more Australians consuming audio-based content than ever before. 

The podcast ranker displays the top 100 podcasts in Australia in addition to the top 10 publishers in Australia from the month of March, measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. 

It’s good news for businesses as new advertising options are rolled on various podcast platforms.

The Facebook Oversight Board will Begin Accepting Requests to Remove Harmful Content

On Tuesday, Facebook’s independent Oversight Board announced they would begin to accept requests to remove harmful content.

The Oversight Board was started by the social media giant to help resolve questions raised about content moderation in addition to better monitoring harmful content to protect human rights and freedom of expression.

Facebook’s independent panel’s new process will introduce procedures like privacy protections for users requesting content to be removed.

This is Not a Joke: Google Releasing Feature to Remind Android Users to Look Up

Google’s new Android feature, Heads Up!, will remind users to look up from their phones periodically and also detects when you’re walking while using your phone.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Square is Now Offering Loans to Aussie SMEs

Square has become the latest fintech company to roll out quick loan financing for small businesses in Australia, called ‘Square Loans.’

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Loans ranging from $300 to $250,000 available based on data it has on the business to determine maximum loan amount.
  • No interest rate.
  • Upfront fixed fee based on loan amount and risk factors. 
  • Repayments based on percentage of seller’s daily sales made via the Square payments platform.

This type of loan structure aims to help businesses better manage their capital and doesn’t increase their debt.

$50,000 Funding Available for SMEs in Victoria to Adopt & Develop Technology

The Victorian Government announced small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) will be able to apply for up to $50,000 in funding through the Technology Adoption and Innovation Program. 

The $5 million dollar initiative will award grants to businesses adopting and developing digital solutions and technology, like eCommerce, cyber security and data analytics. 

It will help businesses with their growth or to develop technology or digital products, helping both businesses and the state’s economy recover from the last 12 months.

NSW Small Business & NFPs can Now Apply for Rebates up to $1,500

The Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate Scheme was launched on 1 April 2021, giving eligible small businesses and not-for-profits (NFPs) in New South Wales access to grants of up to $1,500 until 30 June, 2021.

Eligible parties wishing to claim the $1,500 can make multiple claims until the full amount is reached. The eligibility criteria includes a wage bill of less than $1.2 million in the 2020/21 payroll tax threshold and proof of $75,000 minimum turnover per year.

Friday 16 April, 2021

LinkedIn is Developing New Ways for Users to Display Career Gaps on Their Profiles

Professional networking platform LinkedIn is rolling out new ways for users to be transparent about their career gaps, including showing life events like maternity leave, a sabbatical or due to the pandemic.

LinkedIn is making moves to improve user experience with more profile options, currently including making it easier for individuals to more accurately state their current career status, with new titles including self-employed, freelancer, stay-at-home parent and more.

This will also help businesses scout for potential employees easier on the platform.

Instagram will Let Users Decide if They Want to See Likes or Not

Instagram will be giving users the ability to decide if they want to see or hide likes on their posts. Users will be able to turn likes visibility on or off in settings in a new trial by the social giant.

The Facebook-owned platform has revealed they received mixed results from their ‘hiding likes’ experiment, which they’ve been testing since 2019 in multiple countries, including Australia, Canada and Japan.

While some users preferred hiding likes to reduce social pressures from the social media platform, others wanted to see post popularity on the app.

Tourism Australia to Provide Additional Support for the Business Events Sector

Tourism Australia’s Business Events Australia has announced they will be providing additional support for the business event sector, continuing their Bid Fund Program and Boost Program.

Both event sectors and national tourism spending have continued to feel the impacts of the pandemic, with no international travel and on-and-off-again state-by-state border restrictions when cases arise. 

Dan Tehan, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said the industry contributed $36 billion to the Australian economy before the pandemic and will continue to do so in the future. 

“Because Australia’s economic and health response to COVID-19 has been among the best in the world, Australia is well placed to attract more international events when travel resumes,” Mr Tehan said.

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