The WIR: Amazon’s Video Ambitions Change Course, Facebook Tries to Woo Creators, and Oath Lays Off 560 Staff


In this week’s Week in Review: Reports emerge of Amazon scrapping its cable bundling ambitions and planning an ad supported version of Prime, Facebook launches new tools for creators to boost its video platform, and Oath lays off 560 employees while eyeing expansion with internal changes. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Amazon Scrapping Live Cable Streaming, but Considering Ad-Supported Prime
Two reports emerged this week about Amazon’s plans for it’s online video services. News spread on Thursday claiming that the retail giant has scrapped plans for a new online streaming service, which would have bundled large US broadcast and cable networks into one live streaming package. The decision reportedly is due to a failure to convince key broadcast and cable networks to sign up, according to Reuters.

This news followed reports earlier tin the week that Amazon are planning to launch a free ad-supported version of Amazon Prime. According to anonymous source, Amazon is considering a model where ad revenue will be shared with content creators dependent on the number of hours audiences watch it for, according to AdAge. Amazon has trialled ads in its video content before, with ads inserted into its NFL games this season, but the rest of its content currently remains ad free for Prime members.

Facebook’s Video Ambitions Pick Up Pace
Facebook on Thursday revealed a series of new tools for creators, the next step on its path to creating a community centred video hub. The social media platform has released a new app for creators which provides various tools for recording video and live streaming as well as for community engagement and analytics. Sitting alongside this will be a new website which will give creators tips for creating content and provide a forum for asking questions and engaging with other creators. Facebook recently shed light on its video strategy, saying it believes the majority of content on Facebook Watch will be paid for through an ad revenue share model, more akin to YouTube than Netflix, and these new tools look to be a way to encourage video creators onto Facebook’s platform.

Oath Rings the Changes as it Lays Off up to 560
Oath are laying off up to 560 employees, following the addition of Yahoo to Verizon’s portfolio in June this year, representing just under four percent of Oath’s global staff. These cuts follow the 2,100 layoffs it made straight after the Yahoo deal, and come as the company streamlines its amalgamation of AOL and Yahoo.

Elsewhere Oath has made further changes as it gears up for 2018, appointing Tim Mahlman as president of advertising and publisher strategy and Rohit Chandra as head of search, ad platform engineering and product management. Oath also marked Singapore as its base of operations in Southeast Asia for its creative shop RYOT Studio, part of a global expansion of RYOT which will see it base offices in 14 countries across Europe, APAC and the Americas.

The Week in Tech

Switch Releases Header Bidding Latency Solution
Switch Concepts released a solution this week which it says will reduce latency problems caused by header bidding, by using ‘Edge Side Includes’ (ESI) calls. Switch says that tests carried out with major UK news publishers found that Switch’s platform was multiple times faster than traditional header bidding setups.

“Using ESI calls, the CDN or edge servers call Switch’s platform to initiate the ad auction at the same time as returning the web page to the user’s browser. When the browser requests an ad upon rendering the web page, the auction and decision will have already been completed by Switch’s platform and the bid price is returned almost instantaneously. Calling for the ad earlier in the process in this way significantly reduces the timeout required to just a few milliseconds,” said Switch’s head of business development Mark Duncan.

Choozle Secures $6 Million in Series B Funding
Self-service programmatic ad platform Choozle announced this week it has raised $6 million in a Series B funding round which it will use for further general growth across global markets.
“This additional investment enables us to continue our expansion in the US and abroad, while aggressively investing in our product to ensure Choozle remains the most innovative and intuitive platform on the market” said Choozle CEO and co-founder Andrew Fischer.

Suggestv Closes Seed Round with $1m Investment
Suggestv, a video discovery platform for publishers which inserts contextually relevant video content into news articles, closed a seed investment round on Monday where it has raised a total of $1 million. The funding round was led by Mark Pearson at Fuel Ventures, and the money raised will be used to help propel the company further into global markets, as well as expanding its UK business. Suggestv also announced the hiring of David Ayre, previously of Teads, as head of business development.

Receptiv Launches LEAN Compliant Out-Stream Video
Receptiv has revealed a new mobile web outstream video product called Reveal, built specifically to comply with IAB’s LEAN (light, encrypted, ad choice supported and non-invasive) principles, as well as the Coalition for Better Ads’ initial standards. The new product is deployed across 40 mobile publishers at launch, according to Receptiv.

“The genesis for Reveal came from a brand’s need for scalable premium mobile video coupled with publishers lacking the right solutions to meet that brand demand,” said Receptiv’s VP of product innovation JT White. “We wanted to take our in-app, human focused formats to the mobile web environment – creating a real opportunity for brands to engage their users and create interactions with them in real-time.”

The Week in TV

Channel 4 Becomes Exclusive UK EBX Partner
Channel 4 has revealed it is investing in the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX), a pan-European trading platform for digital video advertising set up by ProSiebenSat.1, TF1 and Media set earlier this year. Channel 4 announced at its upfronts in London that it will be the exclusive UK partner in the joint venture, with the four partners set to each take a 25 percent stake in the business, subject to European competition authorities approving Channel 4’s participation. Read the full story on VAN.

Disney’s Streaming Service to Undercut Netflix
Disney’s upcoming streaming service will be price lower than Netflix when it launches, according to chief executive Bob Iger. “I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume,” Iger said in an earnings call. The streaming service, set to launch in 2019, will host Disney’s content, in many cases exclusively, meaning rivals like Netflix could lose access to franchises including Star Wars and the Marvel universe.

US Pay-TV Lost Over 400,000 Subscribers in Q3 says LRG
Research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) found that the largest pay-TV providers in the US collectively lost 405,000 net subscribers in Q3, a rapid acceleration from the 250,000 net loss in Q3 last year. The six largest cable companies in particular have been hit by an increase in cable cutting, as they lost 290,000 subscribers last quarter, compared to 90,000 a year earlier.

Amazon to Create Lord of the Rings TV Show
Amazon confirmed reports this week that it has secured the global TV rights to The Lord of the Rings, with Amazon Studios planning a multi-season show based off the IP. The new show will be set in the Lord of the Rings universe, but will be based off of previously unexplored stories from JRR Tolkien’s writings, rather than the Lord of the Rings itself.

“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honoured to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth,” said Amazon Studios’ head of scripted series Sharon Tal Yguado.

OTT Co-viewing Generates Brand Discussion
An IAB report on OTT co-viewing shows that OTT is more effective than linear TV for generating brand discussions in a co-viewing context. Reportedly 56 percent of co-viewers talk about the brands and products they see on OTT, with 69 percent reportedly paying moderate to full attention to OTT ads.

The Week in Publishing

EU Reportedly Preparing Second Google Antitrust Fine
The Telegraph reported this week that the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is preparing a second antitrust fine against Google to be handed out in a matter of weeks, after hitting the internet giant with a £2.1 billion penalty earlier this year. The new case concern’s AdSense, claiming that Google uses its ad service to tie customers into exclusivity arrangements, giving Google an unfair competitive advantage. A case concerning Google’s Android mobile OS is also known to be in the work, though this case is now expected to run into next year, according to the Telegraph report.

Musical.ly Reportedly Bought by Bytedance for $1bn
Lip-syncing social media app Musical.ly has reportedly been bought by Chinese tech company Bytedance for a sum close to $1 billion as it looks to expand its reach global reach, according to the BBC. Musical.ly boasts over 60 million monthly active users and has proven popular with teens in Europe and North America. “(By) integrating Musical.ly’s global reach with Bytedance’s massive user base in China and key Asian markets, we are creating a significant global platform for our content creators and brands to engage with new markets,” said Zhang Yiming, Bytedance’s chief executive. Musical.ly is partly funded by in-app microtransactions, but has been increasingly experimenting with advertising options.

The Week for Agencies

GroupM Cuts Out Hidden Fees for Middlemen
GroupM has said this week it is looking to cut out hidden fees paid to middlemen by pursuing supply path optimisation. Sarah Warner, digital investment lead for programmatic and video at GroupM, told AdExchanger that GroupM is rerouting spending to exchanges with lower fees, whitelisting a set group of exchanges it will work with. Warner said GroupM will be monitoring both scale and pricing to analyse the impact the move has.

The Marketing Group Launches Blockchain-based Agency Truth
The Marketing Group has launched a new blockchain-enabled agency called Truth that claims it will give advertisers 100 percent transparency. Truth, built on blockchain based platform Ethereum, will use smart-contracts to give a view into the path of a media buy from the advertiser to the publisher. Truth will be headed up by global chief executive Mary Keane-Dawson and COO Adam Hopkinson.

Havas Posts Flat Growth in Q3
Havas’ Q3 results show a slight improvement on Q2, with revenue of €525 ,o;;opm and organic growth of 0.1 percent. The group attributed the low growth to low revenue in Europe, particularly in the UK, where spending among Havas’ clients has been low. In the US results were more positive, with organic growth of 2.9 percent in North America, which Havas Group CEO attributed to the company’s new organisational structure.

Only 1.4 Percent of Advertisers Have Taken Programmatic In-House says Infectious Media
Research from Infectious Media conducted by third-party research first Qualtrics released today finds that while the majority of advertisers (84 percent) want more control over their programmatic buying, only 1.4 percent have actually taken it in-house. Advertisers seem frustrated with agencies, with 71 percent saying they believe agencies have struggled to adapt to programmatic, but there ares still significant blocks to in-housing and the vast majority of advertisers would favour a hybrid approach in the future where agencies still play a role. Read more on VAN.

Almost All CMOs Have Overhauled Digital Strategy in Past Year says Teads
New research from Teads has revealed how CMOs at large brands have reacted to concerns around brand safety, transparency and fraud in digital advertising, with 95 percent of CMOs saying they’ve overhauled their digital strategy in the past 12 months. Of those surveyed, 44 percent said they are reviewing relationships with suppliers and 43 said they are reviewing agency relationships.

Partnerships of the Week

Nielsen and Comcast Agree Deal for STB Data
Nielsen and Comcast have agreed a deal for Comcast’s set-top box (STB) data to be integrated into Nielsen’s measurement service. The anonymised data will be included in Nielsen’s service in 2018, alongside other cable and satellite providers Nielsen has agreed deals with, which included AT&T.

Tabmo and ADYOULIKE Partner for Native Programmatic Ads
SSP ADYOULIKE and mobile DSP Tabmo announced a new partnership this week which the two say will enable agencies and brands to service audiences with more personalized and highly targeted native advertising on mobile devices.

“This partnership is a big step for us in terms of accessing new mobile demand for our publishers, while expanding our own footprint across the advertising ecosystem,” said ADYOULIKE US managing director Francis Turner in a statement.

The Trade Desk and SintecMedia Collaborate To Deliver Audience Extension For Publishers
SintecMedia is partnering with The Trade Desk for a new managed services offering with audience extension media buying for publishers. The companies say the audience extension programme will allow a first-party audience targeting option for publishers to serve targeted ads across multiple channels through the DSP.

Sizmek Partners with Tapad for Global Cross-Device Reach
Tapad and Sizmek have agreed a new global partnership that will see the Tapad Device Graph integrated into Sizmek’s buy-side advertising platform. The partnership will allow Sizmek’s data enablement and media execution capabilities to be targeted at individuals across devices. Sizmek’s customers will have access to Tapad’s datasets across EMEA, the Americas, and APAC.

Hires of the Week

M/SIX Brings Anna Foster and Adrian Parris Into Leadership Team
M/SIX announced two new hires this week, with Anna Foster joining from TMW Unlimited to become global chief data and customer officer, and Adrian Parris, previously of MEC, becoming global chief financial officer.

Enrique Rodriguez Picked as TiVo CEO and President
Enrique Rodriguez, who most recently was VP and CTO at AT&T’s Entertainment Group, has been appointed president and CEO of TiVo. He succeeds Thomas Carson, who will stay on in an advisory capacity and to help assist the transition until Q2 next year.

The Week on Van

GroupM Identifies Several Things the TV Advertising Industry Should be Worried About, read more on VAN

Channel 4 Becomes Exclusive UK EBX Partner, read more on VAN

Only 1.4 Percent of Advertisers Have Taken Programmatic In-House finds Infectious Media Research, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Aldi, The More The Merrier, BMF

Some Christmas ads become lost in their grand narratives, weaving a product or two into the tale but not really saying anything about the brand itself. Aldi’s Australian Christmas ad tells a quirky story, but still has a point to make about its products, saying that even the most resolute can’t resist an Aldi Christmas spread.


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