The WIR: Chrome to Block Bad Ads in February, AdColony’s CEO Ejected, and Facebook Signs Music Deal with Universal

In this week’s Week in Review: Google announces that Chrome will start blocking bad ads in February, AdColony’s CEO is removed from his position after a disappointing year for the company, and Facebook hints at music streaming ambitions with Universal Music Group content partnership. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Google to Begin Filtering Bad Ads in February
Google has revealed its Google Chrome web browser will begin filtering out certain ads from February 15th next year. The company announced earlier this year that it’s browser would begin filtering out ads deemed annoying and intrusive by the Coalition for Better Ads’ standards, in an effort to reduce the spread of wholesale ad blocking. Google claims that even ads it owns or serves itself will be blocked if they don’t meet the Coalition’s standard. Critics however are sceptical of whether this would actually ever happen in practice, and are concerned about the extra power the move gives Google over publishers to prevent monetisation of their content.

AdColony’s CEO Ejected After Disappointing 2017
Mobile ad tech company AdColony has announced the departure of CEO Will Kassoy, effective immediately, after a disappointing 2017. Otello Corporation, AdColony’s parent company, explained the decision saying that product delays and poor execution have hampered the company’s results and seen revenues dip, despite the strong growth of mobile advertising as a whole over the past year. Otello says it expects revenues in Q4 this year to be down by five-to-ten percent compared to Q3. Despite the disappointing year, the company remains positive about AdColony’s prospects, citing its SDK footprint and publisher and developer relationships as causes for optimism that it will return to growth. Lars Boilesen, Otello CEO, will act as interim CEO for AdColony while the company searches for his permanent replacement.

Facebook Signs Music Deal With Universal
Facebook has signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group allowing use of Universal owned music on its platform, and hinted at ambitions for building a music streaming service that might rival the likes of YouTube and Spotify. Initially, the deal serves to resolve tensions over widespread unlicensed publishing of Universal’s music on Facebook’s platforms, as it’s common for users to upload videos featuring Universal’s songs without the label’s consent. But Facebook appears to have further ambitions to move into the music streaming space, hinted at in Universal Music Group’s press release. “In time, functionality will expand to enable access to a vast library of music across a series of social features,” said Universal. “Going forward, the companies will experiment hand-in-hand to introduce new music-based products to these Facebook platforms, including Messenger, with the goal of catalyzing innovation to develop the next generation of music products that best engage social consumers.”

The Week in Tech

Coalition for Better Ads Launches Better Ads Experience Program
Coalition for Better Ads will roll out a new voluntary initiative in January, the Better Ads Experience Program, with the aim of improving the online experience for customers and promoting further adoption of the coalition’s Better Ad Standards. The programme will certify web publishers that agree not to use the most disruptive ad formats identified by the coalition, and will accredit browsers and ad tech companies to assess these publishers’ compliance and filter bad ads.

15 Percent of Publishers May be Losing Money Due to Ads.txt Implementation Errors
Errors in ads.txt implementation may be causing 15 percent of publishers implementing the initiative to lose out on revenue, according to ad tech company Data from the company’s Ads.Text Industry Dashboard tool charts trends and adoption rates for ads.txt, but shows many publishers making errors in their ads.txt files, which leads to legitimate sellers not being recognised and potential sales being lost.

EU Says Google Fine Was Deterrent to Tech Companies
The EU has said its €2.4 billion fine placed on Google for breaking antitrust law was aimed as a deterrent to stop other large tech companies from adopting similar practices. Google was found to have broken antitrust law by giving its shopping-comparison services preferred treatment over rival products on its search engine. The European Commission explained in a document detailing the investigation that when deciding upon the fine it considered not only the crime itself, but also “the need to ensure that the fine has a sufficiently deterrent effect not only on Google and Alphabet but also on undertakings of a similar size and with similar resources.”

Mobile Ad Prices to Increase by 45 Percent in 2018 Predicts Goodway Group
Mobile ad prices will shoot up by 45 percent over the next year, according to a report released by programmatic buying specialist Goodway Group. The group’s annual Guide to Programmatic Pricing says Goodway’s analysis shows mobile prices for banner and video ads increasing by around 4 percent each month. The surge in prices reflects the facts that mobile ads have long been undervalued, as well as consumers continuing to spend more time on mobile, according to the report.

Eric Schmidt to Step Down as Alphabet Executive Chairman
Eric Schmidt has announced his decision to step down as executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. The former Google CEO will become a technical advisor to the company while continuing to serve on its board, and Alphabet anticipates it will replace him with a non-executive chairman.

The Week in TV

$2 Billion Offer Made for Time Warner’s CME
Chinese Energy group CEFC and European financial group Penta Investments have made a joint offer of $2 billion for Time Warner-owned European broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME), reports Reuters. A sale of CME, which runs TV channels in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia, has been on the cards since AT&T began its attempt to buy Time Warner, which is currently being blocked by the US Department of Justice.

NBCU Acquires Sunday Night Football Rights for Mobile
NBCUniversal has won the rights to stream NFL’s Sunday Night Football on mobile via its TV Everywhere service, beginning in the 2018 season. The deal also allows NBCU to extend these streaming rights to its cable, satellite and telecom partners, as well as virtual multichannel video distributors. “This is an exciting day for NBC Sports,” said NBC Sports’ executive vice president and general manager of digital media Rick Cordella. “We have been streaming Sunday Night Football on numerous platforms since 2008, but as a result of this agreement, 2018 will be the first time we can stream primetime television’s number one show on all digital platforms, creating a more seamless viewing experience for NFL fans.”

Netflix as Popular as Cable TV in US says PricewaterhouseCoopers
Netflix now holds as many subscribers in the US as pay TV, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report released this week. PwC’s survey found that 73 percent of respondents subscribe to pay TV (down from 76 percent last year), and 73 percent subscribe to Netflix. The report also highlighted the importance of live sport for cable TV, with 82 percent of sports fans saying they would trim or end their pay TV subscription if they no longer needed it to access live sports.

Adobe and ANA Predict Rise of In-House Programmatic Buys
Sixty-two percent of European brands plan to take all of their programmatic ad buying in-house within the next five years, according to a survey of its clients conducted by Adobe, with all brands polled planning to take at least some of their programmatic buying in-house by 2022.

The report released this week found that advertisers are keen to ramp up programmatic spending, with 86 percent of brands and 89 percent of agencies planning to increase their programmatic ad budgets in 2018. But as spending increases, brands hope to shift away from reliance on agencies for handling programmatic buys, and take on more responsibility for themselves.

Meanwhile in the US the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a study which found that 35 percent have reduced the role of external agencies over the past year as they’ve expanded their in-house programmatic buying capabilities. Read more on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

Bloomberg Launch Twitter Based News Platform
Bloomberg has launched a new social media news service, TicToc by Bloomberg, on Twitter. The service will deliver a live stream of news via live and recorded videos, data and graphics, as well as links to the Bloomberg main website. It’s designed to target those who consume news largely via mobile and social media. Opportunities will be available from brands on TicToc to have branded native content and integrations woven into the feed, with AT&T, Goldman Sachs and CA Technologies among those already signed on.

Facebook Vows to Fight ‘Engagement Bait’
Facebook is cracking down on what it calls ‘engagement bait’: spam posts on its platform focussed solely on pulling in likes and shares. “People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions. For example, ‘LIKE this if you’re an Aries!’” the social media platform said via a blog post. Facebook says it is using machine learning to identify these posts, which will make these posts, as well as any pages which repeatedly publish them, less visible in the News Feed. The change could hit small brands running competitions to spread awareness over the platform, as a post where a car dealer encourage users to share a post for a chance to win a convertible was given as an example of ‘share baiting’.

Twitter Begins Enforcing New Hate Speech Rules
Twitter this week began enforcing new rules to combat hate speech on its platform. Twitter’s rules on violence and physical harm have been tightened. meaning accounts that affiliate with groups that promote violence against civilians to further their causes, and content which glorifies violence or perpetrators of a violent act will now be taken down. The definition of hateful conduct has been expanded too to cover accounts that threaten others through their profile information.

Instagram Ad Revenue to Reach $10.9 Billion by 2019 says eMarketer
Instagram’s monthly active user base will swell to just over 789 million in 2019 according to an eMarketer forecast released this week, bringing revenue up to $10.9 billion. Instagram is projected to reach 594 million monthly active users by the end of this year, reaching 928 million in 2021 (Instagram claims its user base to already exceed 800 million, but eMarketer believes this is an overestimate due to duplicate accounts and fake users).

“Instagram’s exponential growth in popularity over the past two years is a direct result of new product updates and features including Instagram Stories, live video, geostickers and face filters that have kept its user base active and engaged,” said Cindy Liu, forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

Mobile Now Accounts for Half of US Video Ad Spend
Mobile video revenue has caught up with desktop video revenue for the first time in the US, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) revenue report for H1 2017. IAB finds mobile advertising is powering the overall growth of digital ad revenues, which grew 22.6 percent to $40.1 billion compared to H1 2016. But while mobile’s impact on digital ad revenues powers continued impressive growth, other forms of media are still struggling: despite the strong growth of digital, Nielsen finds total media revenues decreased by two percent across all platforms. Read more on VAN.

The Week for Agencies

Dentsu Buys DWA
Dentsu has made B-to-B digital marketing agency David Wood Associates (DWA) the latest addition to the Dentsu Aegis Network. The San Francisco based agency, founded in 1996 and holding offices in six countries, will become part of Dentus Aegis Network’s Merkle Group, its performance marketing agency.

Oglivy Acquires Majority Stake in ARBA
WPP announced this week that its subsidiary Oglivy & Mather has acquired a majority stake in Hong Kong based digital consultancy ARBA. ARBA’s clients include FWD, Prudential and Hang Seng Bank, and its revenues were around £1.6 million last year. WPP says the acquisition advances Ogilvy’s existing capabilities in digital strategy and creative through the technical and production strengths of ARBA, which include enterprise mobile apps, responsive web and intranet, as well as CRM and predictive analytics.

Partnerships of the Week

YouTube Signs Content Deal with Universal and Sony
YouTube has signed deals with Universal Music Group and Sony to secure content for its upcoming music streaming service, according to Bloomberg. The paid service will reportedly host some songs and videos not available on YouTube itself, and YouTube has agreed to improve its programme for identifying and removing copyrighted content on unlicensed channels as it seeks to repair relationships with music groups, the report says.

Lotame Partners with AudienceProject in Nordics
Data management platform Lotame and marketing tech company AudienceProject have agreed a new integration that will see AudienceProject’s data become available for Lotame’s Nordic clients. AudienceProject’s segments are based on around 180 million profiled device cookies and include a range of socio-demographic segments based on affinity as well as intent, ownership, lifestyle and family life cycle segments, and it claims to be the largest panel in the region. “By offering AudienceProject data inside Lotame’s DMP, we further improve access to a valuable source of high-quality data across the Nordics,” says Chris Hogg, Managing Director for Lotame EMEA.

Hires of the Week

Rauxa Hires Preeti Patel as Vice President of Technology
Independent agency Rauxa has hired Preeti Patel, previously of IPG agency Huge, as its new vice president, technology. Preeti has been in the industry for over 20 years, also previously working for 360i.

Wochit Picks Colm Curneen as Director of Business Development
Social video creation platform Wochit has taken on Colm Curneen as director of business development. Curneen joins from News Corp owned Storyful, and will be tasked with managing strategic partnerships and growing Wochit’s client base in his new role.

Genuine Picks Up Adam Kasper and Mitch Blum
Genuine, a digital creative agency owned by IPG, has hired Adam Kasper previously of Havas and Mitch Blum previously of DigitasLBi. Kasper joins as executive media director, while Blum takes the role of senior vice president of strategy and planning.

The Week on Van

The Ad Industry CEOs Make Their 2018 Predictions, read more on VAN

62 Percent of Brands Plan to Take Programmatic Buying In-House by 2022, Claims Adobe, read more on VAN

How VideoAmp Uses Digital Audiences to Plan Linear TV, read more on VAN

Mobile Now Accounts for Half of US Video Ad Spend, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Nokia Mobile, Be the gift

It’s unusual for a brand to tell you to stop using their product, but that’s what Nokia does in this ad, showing the audience how smartphones can be great for staying connected, but can’t replace being with someone in person.

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