The WIR: Sky Loses PGA Golf Rights, France’s New Publisher Co-op to Take on the Duopoly, Channel 4 Posts Record Revenue Despite Brexit Ad-Spend Decline


In this week’s Week in Review: Sky loses the rights to the PGA championship, digital publishers in France have launched a partnership to takes on the digital ad duopoly, and Channel 4 has posted record revenue despite declining ad-spend post-Brexit vote. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Sky Sports has lost the rights to next month’s US PGA Championship just days after the broadcaster announced the launch of a dedicated golf channel. The PGA of America, who organise the tournament, said that Sky’s deal has not been renewed because they want to distribute across new media channels. Jeff Price, the PGA of America’s chief commercial officer, said, “We had a good partnership with Sky but the 2017 US PGA Championship will not be on Sky. It was a multi-year deal that was up. Ultimately one of the key things for us is scale of distribution and obviously with all the new platforms that consumers are engaging with, we want to make sure we reach all of them.”  No new deal has been announced at the time of writing.

France’s New Digital Publisher Partnership Takes on Digital Ad Duopoly
French media and digital players are joining forces to deliver data-driven programmatic advertising, in a move to compete against the online advertising “duopoly” of Facebook and Google. Dubbed “Alliance Gravity”, the group plans to pool their members’ user data to boost the reach and effectiveness of programmatic advertising across their digital properties. Gravity Alliance participants will be paid for their data in addition to receiving revenues from ad sales. Founding member companies will hold joint stock in the corporation created to operate the network.

Digital ad-spending continues to expand in France, with display ad spending rising to €1.20 billion in 2016. With 38 per cent of that outlay invested in social media, according to Syndicat des Régies Internet and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Channel 4 Posts Record Revenue Despite Brexit Ad-Spend Decline
UK broadcaster Channel 4 made revenues of £995 million and spent a record £695 million on programming in 2016. However, the broadcaster revealed that it was forced to eat into its £495 million balance sheet, citing the “advertising market going into decline following the EU referendum”.

Channel 4 spend on programming is up ten per cent from 2015, with £501 million of it spent on original British titles produced across the UK, according to the broadcaster’s full-year financial results. The figures will make welcome reading for supporters of Channel 4, which is under government pressure to move at least some of its operations out of London.

The Week in Tech

Google Launches Gradient Ventures to Fund AI Startups
Alphabet has officially launched Gradient Ventures, a new firm within Google that will invest in, mentor, and develop early-stage AI start-ups. Gradient will invest in ten to 15 deals this year and will typically commit $1 million to $8 million in each, said Anna Patterson, founder and managing director of the firm. The companies will have access to experts from Google, including futurist Ray Kurzweil, design mastermind Matias Duarte and X lab leader Astro Teller.

BBC Considers App Cull to Better Tackle Netflix and Amazon
The BBC is considering a cull of its mobile apps in the next phase of its rearguard action against the growing influence of Netflix and Amazon, The Times reports. The PSB corporation has launched a review of its collection of apps to assess whether there should be a single entry point for licence fee payers on mobile devices. Currently there are separate apps for the iPlayer, radio, news, sport, music, revision and CBeebies, among others.

Sizmek Introduces Cross-DSP Frequency Capping for Media Plan Optimisation
Sizmek has announced the availability of Cross-DSP Frequency Capping, which will enable agencies and advertisers to maintain ideal ad exposure for each user, across media plans, and reduce wasted spend. Sizmek claims that its Cross-DSP Frequency Capping solution shows its commitment to reducing fragmented media buys, and provides advertisers with the ability to engage relevant and interested users across their entire media plan, ensuring ad spend is utilised efficiently.

SpotX Forms Consulting Arm to Aid OTT and Broadcaster Video Ad Strategies
SpotX has announced the formation of the Advanced Solutions Group, a global consulting arm focused on guiding advertisers’ and media owners’ video advertising strategies, particularly in emerging, high-value spaces like OTT. The Advanced Solutions Group will assist enterprise-level advertisers and media owners in planning architecture for their video advertising strategies. This includes designing end-to-end solutions for data activation, technical set-ups and product development.

SpotX has also announced that it has been chosen by STV to help manage programmatic video monetisation for the STV Player. Now, advertisers and their agencies can target Scotland-based viewers using programmatic techniques, including private marketplaces as well as Curated Marketplaces and leveraging data to target specific audiences.

Use of Personal Assistant Apps “Spotty” as Adopters Rationalise
The use of personal assistant apps on smartphones is showing stagnation and even a decrease in certain cases, partly as people pare-down from multi-app usage, and also start to use standalone home devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home instead of their mobiles to complete everyday internet tasks. According to Verto Analytics, in addition to stagnating popularity, the time spent using them has more than halved from 28 minutes a month to just over 12.

Live VR Sharing App from Facebook Spaces
Facebook users are now able to share live video on Facebook from Facebook Spaces, Mike Booth, Head of Product Management, has announced. When going live from Facebook Spaces you use a virtual camera that you can position in your space to capture the action. Whilst friends on Facebook can comment on your broadcast.

Three Signals Possible High Court Action Over Ofcom 5G Auction Rules
Mobile operator Three has threatened a court battle that would delay the crucial sale of the UK 5G spectrum, The Telegraph reports. The move comes after Ofcom refused calls from Three and O2 for a stricter cap on the the overall share of radio spectrum a single operator may control. Ofcom since published the auction rules.

Any legal action resulting in delay of the auction would damage Government plans to ensure Britain is in the vanguard nations moving towards 5G technology. Operators require access to more radio spectrum to upgrade their networks to deliver faster, more reliable mobile broadband. Three said it was considering all its options, including triggering a judicial review.

The Week in TV

Australian Watchdog Consults on Ten Bid
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking views on the potential joint bid for Ten Network by bodies controlled by Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon. In an issues letter released on July 7th the ACCC outlined potential issues including how ownership of Ten might affect Australian sports programming via any limitations on negotiating positions or commercial independence of sports bodies, audience reach or free-to-air broadcasting.

Мediaset to Relaunch VoD Offer in 2018
Mediaset is planning to relaunch its TV on-demand online offering in 2018, Advanced Television reports. Mediaset Play will offer free access to all programming aired by Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4, with viewers able to pause and restart them to watch from the beginning. Access to the service will be via the remote control of the TV set, with no decoder or satellite dish required.

Russia’s Channel 1 to Launch Network in China
Russia’s state-run Channel One TV and China Central Television have signed an agreement to launch a TV network with Russian content for Chinese audiences, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dubbed “Katusha”, the network will primarily target Chinese audiences, and will be allowed to run commercials from Russian companies. The deal was sealed at the Russian-Chinese media forum held on July 4th as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting Moscow.

Spire TV Launches Streaming Service
C Spire has launched a new in-home streaming TV service that delivers cable TV features in an app designed to run on streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Apple TV, with Roku availability expected in the near future. The C Spire TV service eliminates the need for a set-top box, and because it’s app-based allows customers to watch their favourite content on virtually any screen in the home.

Telefónica Launches Convergent Services with Added TV Functionality
MovistarTelefónica is to make its Movistar+ pay TV offering available to all customers of its Movistar Fusión bundled offering of broadband and telephony services and is launching new advanced TV features as part of the change. The operator is also launching new functionality including network-based DVR, restart, seven-day catch-up, download and go and multiscreen access.

NTV+ Teams and Eutelsat to Launch Satellite Internet Service
Russian pay TV operator NTV+ has teamed up with Eutelsat to launch a two-way satellite internet service, delivered via the Express-AMU1/Eutelsat 36C satellite. The service will be available throughout European Russia, the Urals and western Siberia, offering download speeds of up to 40Mbps and 12Mbps upstream, according to the pay TV operator.

Ofcom Reports Widening Difference in Viewing Habit by Age
UK media regulator Ofcom has reported a widening age gap in UK viewing habits, as children increasingly reject traditional TV viewing. The UK broadcast regulator said that while overall viewing is “resilient”, 16-24 year olds watched an average of 1 hour and 54 minutes per day in 2016, 43 minutes less than in 2012. Viewers aged 65 and over watched an average of 5 hours 44 minutes per day in 2016, just three minutes less than in 2012.

Although Ofcom did not publish relevant data, it noted that watching on-demand TV is “increasingly popular, especially among younger viewers”.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook Messenger to Host Ads
Ads are coming to Facebook Messenger, the WSJ reports. The company plans to “slowly and carefully” sandwich ads between messages, as Facebook cannot physically increase ad load in its news feed. Messenger has 1.2 billion active users for marketers to target, and those users reportedly tend to message back and forth even more than they use social networks, according Mark Zuckerberg.

Google Bars AdSense Publishers from Using Pop-Under Ads
Google is shoring up its AdSense policies regarding pop-under and pop-up ads. In a blogpost Google explained the basics of the updated policies to be that Google ads may not be loaded as pop-ups or pop-unders; and sites using pop-unders may not carry Google ads on any pages. The gist of the change is that publishers using pop-unders will not be able to monetize their sites with AdSense. Additionally, AdSense publishers can’t use more than three pop-ups on their sites.

Illegal Streaming Tech Threatens ‘Copyright Progress’
Adapted set-top boxes that let users illegally stream premium content risk undermining progress in copyright infringement, according to a UK government report. The study for the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found that streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify keep infringement levels stable. However, it labelled devices like fully loaded Kodi boxes, as a threat and published a call for review.

French Court Throws Out Google’s €1.11 Billion Tax Bill
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has won a reprieve from one of its biggest legal battles in Europe on Wednesday, when a Paris court threw out a €1.11 billion bill that France’s tax authority has sought from the search giant for five years of back taxes. The administrative court backed Google’s contention that its ad business has no taxable presence in France.

WeChat Users in China Will Surpass 490 Million This Year
Messaging service WeChat, owned by Tencent and known as Weixin in China, will total 494.3 million users in China this year, according to eMarketer. Adoption of the platform is widespread among smartphone users, with an estimated 79.1 of handset owners accessing the app regularly in 2017.

George Osborne Tells Adland to Make Itself Heard
George Osborne, the editor of the London Evening Standard and ex-Chancellor of the UK, has told the advertising industry to make its voice heard during Brexit negotiations. Speaking at the Advertising Association’s summer drinks reception at J Walter Thompson London, Osborne said the advertising sector is an “incredibly important industry” and “shouldn’t be shy about making your voice heard”.

TVT Acquires AMC’s Distribution Services Arm DMC
Media services company TVT has fully acquired AMC Networks International’s distribution division, Digital Media Centre (DMC). Amsterdam-headquartered DMC provides content owners and media companies with cloud-based media logistics and distribution services and becomes part of TVT with immediate effect.

Online Publishers can Boost Overall Ad Revenue by Reducing Ads
Publishers including LittleThings and Dotdash have discovered that lowering the number of ads forced on their users has resulted in larger ad revenue gains, The WSJ reports. LittleThings Chief Digital Officer Justin Festa said that while his site now generates less revenue from each individual page, overall ad revenue has increased. And users are viewing more pages and are more likely to see and click on the ads that remain because there’s less clutter.

Google Hits Back Over Report it Paid Millions to Academics for Public Policy Support
An investigation by the Campaign for Accountability has reported that Google directly or indirectly funded 329 studies between 2005 and 2017. In two-thirds of the reports, the funding was not disclosed.

Leslie Miller, director of public policy at Google, responded in a blog post outlining its principles for funding research, explaining that the funding helps academics take their research further. She also highlighted the irony that the Campaign for Accountability “consistently refuses to name its corporate funders”.

The Week for Agencies

Accenture Strengthens Personalisation with Clearhead Acquisition
Accenture has acquired digital optimisation company Clearhead for an undisclosed sum, in a move to improve the way it builds personalised, online experiences for its clients’ customers. Accenture said it plans to bring Clearhead into its Accenture Interactive agency, and combine Clearhead’s larger team with Accenture’s existing personalisation business. The deal is part of the firm’s aggressive play for the digital advertising space, having acquired Media Hive, The Monkeys, Maud, and Karmarama since last November.

Havas Launches In-House Influencer Division Within Socialyse
Havas is launching a dedicated influencer division within Socialyse, the ad network’s social media division. A newly-created team will focus on two key strands: influencer marketing for brands, and growing business leaders to become influencers. The Socialyse Influence team will work across all Havas clients, and have been tasked with ensuring influencer campaigns are highly targeted, brand aligned and accurately measured. Influencer marketing is expected to be worth more than £18.6 billion globally by 2019.

MullenLowe Group Buys Salt to Better Integrate PR and Advertising
MullenLowe Group has acquired PR and strategic comms agency Salt as it adds public relations to its “hyperbundled” offering in the UK and Asia. Campaign reports that Alex Lekikh, the Interpublic ad agency’s global chief executive, says that the move reflects his belief that the disciplines of creative advertising and PR needed to be “smashed together” as clients required a more integrated offering. Salt will be renamed MullenLowe Salt.

Digital Agencies Increasing Share of Ad Industry New Business
Creative spending is going deeper into digital, according to R3, and its New Business League report on global advertising industry accounts. Despite reports of marketers returning to TV as a more reliable investment, recent creative account wins in the U.S. demonstrate a clear advantage for digital-first agencies pitching new business.

WPP to Acquire Thjnk AG
WPP has agreed to acquire German creative agency group Thjnk AG. WPP has linked the move to Brexit, saying that: “As a result of UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union, WPP is placing an even greater emphasis on growth in Western Continental Europe”.

Partnerships of the Week

1XL Partners with AudienceProject for Audience Transparency
Local news publisher co-operative 1XL has teamed up with AudienceProject to launch an audience transparency initiative. The partnership aims to enable 1XL to verify that their inventory reaches the right audiences, providing agencies and ad buyers with insight into regional media audiences at scale.

Visual IQ Integrates Lotame Audience Data
Visual IQ has partnered with Lotame to deliver people-based marketing insights. Lotame’s press release claims the integration will mean clients have additional insight into their marketing campaigns and tactics to help drive better ROI across all channels, including paid search.

Teleste and Antronix Partner for North America Market
US tech co Antronix and Finnish video and broadband tech provider Teleste have partnered to offer Gigabit cable access network solutions to the North American market. The joint venture will operate under the name Teleste Intercept LLC and combine Teleste’s expertise in DOCSIS 3.1 compliant network technologies in the European cable broadband space and Antronix’s Intercept eHFC line of products.

Hires of the Week

Xstream Names Rasmussen New Chief Exec
Xstream has promoted Michael Rasmussen from CFO to CEO. Rasmussen, who joined Xstream in 2015 from Ericsson, takes over from Simon Høgsbro.

Twitter Appoints Segal CFO
Twitter is hiring former Goldman Sachs executive Ned Segal as its CFO. Segal joins from Intuit Inc.

Mother Taps Craigie Atherton
Mother has appointed Matt Craigie Atherton to join the agency’s leadership team in the newly-created role of chief production officer. Joins from Adam & Eve/DDB.

Havas Hires former Droga5 Creative Swinburne
Matt Swinburne, former creative director at Droga5 New York, has joined Havas London in the same role.

This Week on VAN

Upfronts and Analytics: Opening Up a New Advertising Front, read more on VAN

Blockchain can Deliver Proper Attribution and Enhance Innovation says MadHive’s CEO, read more on VAN

OTT is Becoming an Increasingly Important Part of Vevo’s Revenue, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: Unilever, Bullish Boss, MullenLowe Singapore

A stylish and slightly disturbing ad that gives you yet one more reason to resent a horrible boss: They give you dandruff.


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