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Facebook begins testing Stories on the desktop
Great news, folks. Facebook Stories, the shameless Snapchat clone that sits above the News Feed on Facebook’s mobile app, is now rolling out to Facebook’s desktop site. Here, the Stories feature is no longer at the top of the page, but is instead off to the right side, where it’s at least a bit less intrusive. A small question mark icon appears in the Stories module, as well, which will explain the feature’s purpose, when hovered over with your cursor.
The explanation simply states that Stories consist of photos and video that are visible for 24 hours before they disappear.
Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch the Stories launch on desktop is still considered a test, but notes that a wider rollout is expected soon.
The company chose to bring Stories to Facebook, after seeing its success on Instagram, where Stories had debuted in summer 2016.
With the first five months, Instagram Stories soared to 150 million daily users. It now has 250 million daily users, compared with Snapchat’s 166 million. Half of the businesses on Instagram created a story in the past month, Facebook also announced this week, and Instagram’s average usage has climbed to 32 minutes per day for those under 25, and 24 minutes per day for those 25 and up, it said.
The feature arrived on Facebook at the beginning of 2017, initially in Ireland before expanding to other countries, including the U.S.
The company has credited Snapchat with pioneering the visual communication format, but believes the pivot into Stories goes beyond simply copying a competitor’s popular app. Like Facebook’s News Feed – a format that went on to become the standard across social apps – Stories are a new way to share. That’s led to the format being broadly adopted across the industry.
Facebook itself has added Stories to Instagram, Messenger, and its flagship app. It even tried a Stories-like feature in WhatsApp. Elsewhere, Stories is inspiring redesigns of other top apps, including most recently, Tinder, Match, and Skype.
However, on Facebook, the feature hasn’t seen as much traction.
In fact, there were so few people using Stories on Facebook’s mobile app, that the company in April began to display grayed-out icons of your most frequently contacted friends instead of blank spaces in the Stories feature that no one much was using.
It’s unclear that bringing Facebook Stories to the desktop web will impact its usage significantly. Perhaps, after all, there are only so many places users want to post this sort of ephemeral content, and for the time being, people have chosen Instagram. It makes one wonder at which point Facebook will acknowledge this, and choose to swap in or sync Instagram stories to Facebook’s Stories feature instead.
Facebook hasn’t yet confirmed what percentage of users are seeing Stories on the desktop, but it’s not broadly available. However, we are aware of users seeing the module outside the U.S.
Google said to launch AMP-based Snapchat Discover-like feature
Google is creating a visual publication format for media companies similar to Snapchat’s “Discover,” based on its AMP mobile optimization technology for webpages and called “Stamp,” according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
The program is said to be announced as soon as next week, and could include a range of publishing partners including Vox, CNN, The Washington Post and more. The “Stamp” name is said to be a portmanteau of AMP, and “St” from “Stories,” the report claims, which is a term commonly used now for one-to-many short form expiring visual content among social service providers, including Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
The WSJ describes the product as offering slideshows composed of “swipeable slides” incorporating text as well as photos and videos, which is basically what you get out of Snap’s own Discover stories in Snapchat. Stamp stories would be available broadly on the mobile web, and surfaced directly in Google search results, which could help considerably in terms of increasing their appeal vs. platform-specific products like Discover that require a user to already be within a specific app.
It sounds like we’re likely to hear more about this sooner rather than later in terms of official details.
Now it’s Snapchat copying Facebook’s ads Power Editor
Snap Inc desperately needs ad revenue to redirect its sinking share price. So after a year of getting mercilessly copied by Facebook, Snapchat is returning the favor by launching its take on the Facebook ads Power Editor. This new “Advanced Mode” for its Snapchat Ads Manager lets big advertisers rapidly deploy complex ad campaigns with tons of creative variants.
By allowing big ad agencies and brands to efficiently target, test and update their ad campaigns, they may be willing to spend more money on Snap. While the benefits won’t kick in in time for Snap’s pivotal Q2 earnings call next week, Advanced Mode could help the upstart put a dent in the Google/Facebook ad duopoly down the line.
Snap launched its self-serve Ads Manager in May, and added vertical video creation tool Snap Publisher in July. With the addition of Advanced Mode, advertisers will be able to:
- Automate multiple ad campaigns with a permutation builder so they can quickly create hundreds of ad creative and targeting variants
- Utilize Snap spreadsheets for bulk design and editing of campaigns
- Save targeting audiences to use on future campaigns
- Employ performance metrics that can be grouped and ordered by different metrics with data exportation
- Automate campaign naming
Snap also got an ads boost today that has perked up its share price when the world’s largest ad agency WPP’s CEO Martin Sorrell told CNBC that WPP was doubling its Snap ad buy from $100 million in 2016 to $200 million in 2017. Though he contextualized that, noting that WPP will spend $2 billion on Facebook ads this year, and had previously told online video news channel Cheddar about the increased buy.
Facebook debuted its Power Editor in 2011 (which I covered the launch of because I’ve been doing this forever). It was the last piece of its ads suite that started with direct ad sales, then self-serve ads and then a self-serve API. Snap launched direct ad sales in 2014, then an Ads API in 2016, before testing its self-serve tool in May, and now launching Advanced Mode.
The similarities in strategy aren’t too surprising considering Snap’s first COO Emily White was recruited from Facebook-owned Instagram, and it later hired Facebook Audience Network head Sriram Krishnan to work on its ad tools.
These Advanced Mode tools could help Snapchat get to the ad load and scale necessary to monetize its slow-growing audience. If it can’t add tens of millions of new users per quarter, Wall Street will want it to prove it can earn a higher average revenue per user. That means squeezing as much money as it can from each user with these improved ad targeting options.
While Facebook might be running Snap’s product playbook, Snap is making progress by running Facebook’s monetization playbook.
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