TIME Retail

Walmart Must Pay $188 Million to Settle Claims of Cut Rest Breaks

The company said it may appeal the decision

Walmart has been ordered to pay $188 million over claims by employees that the company regularly cut their breaks for meals and rest. The payment would be a settlement for a class-action lawsuit that went all the way to the Pennsylvania Supereme Court. The ruling would hurt Walmart’s earnings, the company said, by reducing its profits from continuing operations by 6 cents per share. Wal-Mart said it may appeal the decision.

The lawsuit involved 187,000 Pennsylvania-based Walmart employees. They worked at the retailer between 1998 and 2006.

[Reuters]

TIME Retail

These New Banks and Businesses Are Now on Apple Pay

TD Bank, Staples are among recent additions

The reach of Apple Pay continues to extend. The mobile payments system that launched on the iPhone 6 will be supported by ten additional banks starting Tuesday, including TD Bank North America and Commerce America Bank, according to the New York Times. Apple Pay will now support about 90% of credit card purchase volume in the U.S., up from 83% when the service launched in October.

Apple has also quietly been adding retailers to its roster of partners post-launch. Staples now supports Apple Pay at its physical stores, as does Winn-Dixie. The tech giant hasn’t released any firm numbers about the use of Apple Pay since announcing that 1 million credit cards were activated on the service in its first 72 hours. However, individual retailers have hinted that the service is seeing wider adoption than previous mobile wallets. McDonald’s, for instance, said in November that 50% of its tap-to-pay transactions are now made using Apple Pay.

[New York Times]

TIME Advertising

How Facebook Is Going to Battle With YouTube

Facebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming Week
In this file photo the Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in this arranged photo in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook is suddenly a serious player in video

Facebook is well on its way to developing its next big cash cow, and it has nothing to do with the social network’s splashy billion-dollar purchases of messaging and virtual reality startups.

This year, the company dusted off its oft-neglected video feature and quickly made auto-playing clips ubiquitous in users’ News Feeds (with a big assist from the wildly viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge). People are now watching videos uploaded directly to Facebook one billion times per day — and that big number is starting to whet marketers’ appetites. As the social network ratchets up its plan to lure brands to place video ads on the site, its efforts could eventually threaten YouTube, which has dominated the online video space for nearly a decade.

This holiday season, Facebook is partnering with brands such as fashion design house Kate Spade and retailer Gap to develop targeted video ads that play automatically in users’ feeds. The Kate Spade spot, a two-and-half minute short starring Anna Kendrick, has managed to rack up 1.8 million views and 49,000 likes, comments and shares since launching in November. A YouTube version of the commercial released the same day has about 150,000 views. (Facebook’s view metrics automatically lean in the social network’s favor because videos auto-play by default and only have to be seen for three seconds to register as a view; a Google spokesperson says a YouTube video must be watched “many times longer” to count as a view).

Kate Spade’s new spot was the first time the brand used Facebook’s native video player instead just posting a YouTube link onto Facebook. Chief Marketing Officer Mary Beech says the company is happy with the results, which came from a mix of paid promotion and organic sharing by users. Kate Spade now intends to launch another video ad on Facebook in the spring. “Facebook has been wonderful in terms of the shares,” Beech says.

Facebook’s video pitch to marketers is much the same as it’s always been: thanks to the social network’s massive trove of user data, Facebook believes it can show video ads to precisely those people who will be most receptive to them. “[Marketers] are looking at Facebook to deliver very personalized messages,” says Nicolas Franchet, head of retail and e-commerce on Facebook’s global vertical marketing team. “Video is now one of the ways they can do that.”

Videos also give Facebook another key data point it can use to try to ferret out its users’ intent. For example, Kate Spade was able to serve ads for certain products featured in the Anna Kendrick commercial specifically to users who saw the video. “If you’ve viewed a video, you’ve certainly formed some sort of interest in the brand and so the brand can capitalize on that,” Franchet says.

While Facebook has found fast success with video, YouTube continues to lead in the space by many metrics. An analysis of 10 holiday ad campaigns by the advertising research firm Unruly found that that the commercials earned 13 million views on Facebook, but about 32 million on YouTube. The YouTube versions of the videos were also shared more across the Internet, gaining 630,000 shares compared to 530,000 shares for the Facebook versions. And in terms of raw usage, YouTube is still king—the video site had 4 billion views per day way back in 2012, compared to Facebook’s current 1 billion (YouTube no longer regularly discloses overall viewcounts, but the amount of content being uploaded per minute to the site has quintupled since 2012). Compared to Facebook’s videos, YouTube videos are easier to find weeks or months after they’ve been posted, and they’re easier to embed on websites or competing social networks.

“With YouTube watch time up 50% [year-over-year] and data showing that people are watching more ads than ever, advertisers are finding that their campaigns have staying power on YouTube,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

But Facebook’s video ambitions are still young, and the company has some key advantages that previous YouTube competitors lacked. With more than 1 billion monthly users each, Facebook and YouTube already boast similar scale globally. Facebook also drives some portion of YouTube’s traffic and could use its control of the News Feed to give its own videos preference over YouTube ones (Facebook videos are already the only ones that auto-play, and they appear as larger posts within the News Feed). And Facebook has reportedly been trying to use its substantial amount of cash (its annual revenue now exceeds $11 billion) to poach YouTube stars to get them to make Facebook-exclusive content.

Still, experts say the two sites currently offer different video viewing experiences. “If you go to YouTube, you’re kind of in a serach mode. You kind of want to sit back and watch something,” says Debra Aho Williamson, a social media analyst at eMarketer “On Facebook, it’s all about discovery–almost serendipity. It’s kind of a different mindset.”

Brands will likely continue to experiment on both platforms. Kate Spade, for instance, used portions of that Anna Kendrick ad to create pre-roll spots to place on YouTube. But with finite ad dollars available, companies will have to make a conscious decision about where they spend their online video ad money. And for the first time in a long time, the answer isn’t necessarily YouTube by default.

TIME Web

The One Celebrity We Couldn’t Stop Googling in 2014

Thanks to a pair of blockbuster movies, a Golden Globe and a photo hack

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence tops Google’s list of the top trending searches of people in the U.S. in 2014, the search giant announced Tuesday.

The 24-year-old star was in the news — and, inevitably, the Google search bar — for a lot of reasons this year. She starred in two blockbuster sequels, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, and picked up a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle. Lawrence was also at the center of the celebrity iCloud hack, in which dozens of famous women had their nude photos stolen and posted online.

Following Lawrence on the list was Kim Kardashian, who tried (and failed) to “#BreaktheInternet” by appearing nude on the cover of Paper in November and released a hit mobile game this year. In third place was 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan, who was involved in a serious bus wreck over the summer, while NFL running back Ray Rice, who was suspended from the league after punching his fiancée-turned-wife on camera, ranked fourth. Rounding out the top 5 was Tony Stewart, the NASCAR driver involved in the on-track death of fellow driver Kevin Ward in August.

The list is not necessarily the most-searched people of the year, but rather the people that had searches for their name spike the most compared to 2013. Here’s the entire top 10:

Top 10 Trending People in the U.S.

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
  2. Kim Kardashian
  3. Tracy Morgan
  4. Ray Rice
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Iggy Azalea
  7. Donald Sterling
  8. Adrian Peterson
  9. Renee Zellweger
  10. Jared Leto


Read next: The Top 10 Everything of 2014

TIME Web

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

Robin Williams
Art Streiber—CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Robin Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Robin Williams topped Google’s list of the top trending searches in 2014.

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. The list of actual “most searched” terms is actually pretty boring, Google says, because it includes generic terms like “weather” and website names like “Google.”

Overall, the list reflects the way global crises co-mingle with pop culture phenomena on the Internet. Second to Robin Williams was the World Cup, which sparked widespread discussion across the Web. Third was Ebola, the viral epidemic that sparked scares in West Africa and elsewhere around the world as it emerged in different locales. Fourth was Malaysia Airlines, which was in the news first for a plane that mysteriously disappeared in March and later for a second plane that was shot down over Ukraine in July. Rounding out the top five was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people recorded themselves being doused in cold water to raise money for charity.

Check out the full Top 10 below:

  1. Robin Williams
  2. World Cup
  3. Ebola
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Flappy Bird
  7. Conchita Wurst
  8. ISIS
  9. Frozen
  10. Sochi Olympics
TIME Media

HBO Go Is Coming to the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV - a new device that allows users to stream video, music, photos, games and more through a television - is displayed at a media event on April 2, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

And it's coming to the Fire TV Stick soon

Amazon’s Fire TV is finally getting HBO Go.

The retailer’s set-top box will begin offering HBO’s streaming service Monday, the two companies announced. For now, this version of HBO Go still requires customers to authenticate their cable or satellite subscription in order to use it. HBO is planning to launch a standalone version of its streaming service that won’t require cable sometime in 2015, but the network hasn’t yet announced which platforms will offer the service.

To celebrate the arrival of HBO Go on Fire TV, Amazon’s offering the streaming box for just $79 until Dec. 28, whereas it’s normally $99. HBO Go will also be available on the Fire TV Stick, Amazon’s Chromecast-like streaming dongle, this spring.

One catch here: HBO Go won’t work on Amazon Fire TV if you’re a Comcast subscriber, the Wall Street Journal reports.

TIME Advertising

Apple’s New Winter Holiday Ad Will Hit You Right in the Feels

A young woman gives her grandmother a very personal gift

Apple often serves up its most heartwarming commercials just in time for the winter holidays, and this year is no different.

The company has just released a new ad in which a young girl discovers a love song that her grandmother wrote for her grandfather decades ago. After hearing the song, the girl decides to record her own version — using a MacBook, of course.

She mixes the two versions together and delivers the new song to her grandmother on an iPad Mini, complete with nostalgic photos of their family over the years.

Check out the full spot in the video above. Here’s Apple’s ad from last winter:

TIME Investing

This New App Makes It Way Cheaper to Trade Stocks

Robinhood
Robinhood Robinhood

Robinhood wants to convince Millennials to dip a toe into the stock market

Next up for disruption by the Silicon Valley set: Wall Street.

A new startup is aiming to convince Millennials to dip a toe into the stock market by making it cheaper and easier to buy securities. Robinhood, a new mobile-first brokerage that launched its iOS app today, lets users buy U.S.-listed stocks without paying a commission, a cost that typically runs individual investors $7 to $10 per trade.

The app’s slick interface lets users buy securities, track stock performance and keep tabs on their overall portfolio. Users don’t even have to maintain a minimum account balance, a common requirement of similar stock-swapping services.

“People in our age group were not being exposed to what we consider a pretty useful tool for building your wealth,” says Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev. He and co-founder Baiju Bhatt launched Robinhood in beta for a few thousand users earlier this year. Already half a million people have signed up to request the app, indicating a heavy appetite for cheaper trades. These users will begin being on-boarded to the app today, and newcomers can download the app to join the waitlist and view different stocks.

The company, which has netted $16 million in venture funding from backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures, plans to make money by letting investors trade on margin (basically issuing loans to let customers buy additional stock).

Whether or not young investors really need a service that lets them buy stocks “as quickly as you can call an Uber,” as Bhatt puts it, is an open question. Most active stock pickers fail to outperform the overall stock market. During the first 9 months of 2014, only 9.3% of actively managed mutual funds outperformed the S&P 500, according to the Wall Street Journal — and those funds are managed by people whose job is to be good at picking stocks.

Tenev argues that stock-picking is a good way for young people to learn about investing. “It makes a lot of sense for a first-time investor who is an early adopter of technology and discovers companies through using their products and services,” he says.

That advice flies in the face of a lot of collective wisdom about investing, including from famed businessman Warren Buffet. But for those that are still confident they can beat the market and would like to attempt it more affordably, Robinhood will also be available on Android and on desktop soon.

TIME Media

We Hope YouTube Launches This Cool New Feature Worldwide

YouTube
A businessman browses Google Inc.?s YouTube website using an Apple iPhone, made by Apple Inc., in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Thursday, Aug.19, 2010. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some countries are getting offline viewing

Google is rolling out a neat new feature for YouTube users — but only in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

People in those markets will now be able to download select YouTube videos for offline viewing for 48 hours, the company announced Thursday.

Google is targeting these markets first because data connections there are less consistent than in other parts of the world. “Making these popular videos available for offline playback will help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of their favorite content,” the company wrote in a blog post.

While YouTube offline viewing is a feature people in other markets would probably enjoy as well, Google’s post makes no mention of a global rollout. Considering offline viewing is a paid-for feature in YouTube’s new subscription streaming service, we may never have such functionality offered for free in the U.S.

TIME Media

Spotify Now Makes Playlists Based On What Your Friends Listen To

Top Tracks in Your Network chart will show popular songs among your friends Spotify

New trending list shows most popular tracks among people you follow

Spotify is making it easier to keep tabs on what your friends have been listening to.

The music streaming service announced a new feature Thursday that lets users see a ranking of the most-played songs by people that they follow. Called “Top Tracks in Your Network,” the new chart can be found under the Browse tab and will be refreshed daily.

Spotify already let users see an ongoing stream of the songs friends were playing in real time, so this new feature seems to be a way to aggregate that data. The company is also updating artist and album pages to include info about which of your friends have been listening to the same music recently.

The Top Tracks in Your Network feature is available on mobile platforms now and will come to the desktop soon. Updated album and artist pages are now on desktop and will hit mobile within a few weeks.

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