The WIR: Telaria Continues Turnaround, NBCUniversal Reduces TV Ad Load, and Spotify IPO Filings Reveal Substantial Losses

In this week’s Week in Review: Telaria’s Q4 results show massively reduced losses, NBCUniversal experiments with a reduced ad load for its prime time TV, and Spotify’s IPO filing shows revenue gains but heavy losses last year. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Telaria Continues Turnaround with 45 Percent Revenue Increase
Video-monetisation platform Telaria posted its Q4 results this week, recording revenue of $15 million, up 45 percent year-on-year. The results come after the company’s first full quarter as Telaria, having re-branded from Tremor Video last August, and show overall losses down to $0.1 million, a 98 percent reduction compared to Q4 2016. The company credits the improved performance to its new “conflict-free” business model, having sold off its buy-side operations to Taptica last year.

“I am very proud of our results this quarter, our first full quarter as Telaria,” said Telaria’s CEO Mark Zagorski. “We successfully completed the transition to an independent video seller platform and delivered exceptional results, including 45 percent revenue growth and 20 percent EBITDA margins. With our continued focus on premium CTV (connected TV) partners and our strong momentum in a fast-growing market, we are excited about our outlook for 2018 and remain committed to our long-term targets.” CTV is an increasingly important part of Telaria’s business, contributing to nearly 16 percent of the company’s revenue by the end of last year.

NBCUniversal Reduces Ad Load
US broadcaster NBCUniversal announced plans on Wednesday to cut the number of ads in its commercial pods by 20 percent, and to reduce overall advertising time by 10 percent across its networks during its original prime time programming. The change, which was one of the potential initiatives discussed at NBCUniversal’s media summit last year, is designed to improve the TV experience for audiences, thereby helping linear TV compete with online rivals.

“We promised some big swings last fall to move our industry forward and this is the first one. Now, NBCUniversal is advancing the TV experience as consumer behavior has evolved: lower ad loads, more innovation and more targeting. We’re reimagining the advertising experience for consumers, marketers, and the entire industry,” said NBCUniversals’ chairman of advertising and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino.

NBC is also launching a new 60 second format, ‘PRIME POD’, which it says will show up to two contextually relevant ads, and will be placed in the first or last ad break of a show.

Spotify Files for IPO, Revealing 2017 Losses of Over $1 Billion
Spotify filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, with the documents revealing that while the company has made steep revenue gains, losses exceeded $1 billion last year. The filings show that 88 million out of its 159 million total monthly users use Spotify’s ad-supported offering, and while the company described the ad-supported service as a “funnel” into its paid subscription, the company has  sharply increased its ad revenue over the past few years. Ad revenue increased 51 percent between 2015 and 2016, and a further 41 percent between 2016 and 2017. This is likely thanks to Spotify’s new ad offerings released in the period, including “branded moment” video ads and programmatic buying.

The Week in Tech

AudienceProject Enters UK Market
Danish marketing tech company AudienceProject expanded its services into the UK market this week, opening a London office on Thursday. AudienceProject says its proprietary ad tech stack and over 1.5 million panelists help brands, agencies and publishers to identify, target and validate audiences. The UK team will be headed up by Martyn Bentley, former managing director EMEA at Prohaska Consulting and former regional VP at Rubicon Project.

“I am very excited to lead the charge in the UK at this crucial time for the industry: calls for transparency, audience understanding and quality have  never been louder from publishers. agencies and marketers alike. And as more media channels are becoming addressable, AudienceProject is uniquely placed to empower the ecosystem to fulfill its potential through use of people-based data,” said Bentley.

Facebook Releases CPMs for 2016 Political Campaigns
Facebook hit back at allegations that it charged massively higher CPMs for ads from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election campaign than for ads from Donald Trump’s campaign by releasing what it claims to be the real CPMs. Facebook’s VP of VR and AR released a chart via Twitter on Tuesday which shows Trump’s campaign as actually having paid more for ads over the course of the election. The move was in response to a Wired article which claimed that Trump’s campaign, by creating ads which spurred more engagement, paid less for Facebook ads than Clinton’s campaign did. The article was retweeted by Trump’s digital campaign director Brad Parscale, who claimed that Trump’s campaign paid “CPMs that were pennies in some cases”, and that Clinton’s campaign likely paid hundreds of times more for the same ad space.

Sublime Skinz Launches New Mobile Formats
Sublime Skinz launched two new mobile ad formats, called ‘The Capsule’ and ‘The Video’, at this week’s Mobile World Congress. Both formats will be displayed when users swipe across the screen to pull up the ad: the video format will display a full screen video, while the capsule format will open up a story-like format which can be scrolled through. Both formats will be sold directly and programmatically, and Sublime Skinz claims tests have shown both have an engagement rate of 4-5 percent.

Pixability Launches Self-Service Ad Buying Platform for YouTube, Facebook and Instagram
Video advertising software company Pixability has launched a self-service ad buying platform for YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram which will enable advertisers to plan, buy, and measure their video advertising in a single interface. Pixability says the software uses data science and machine learning to help advertisers forecast campaigns, and will have an integrated brand safety component which will combine technology and human review.

“With this technology at their fingertips, advertisers can finally stop buying walled garden video ads in silos, and instead approach their campaign planning, buying, and measurement holistically,” said Pixability’s chief product officer Alan Beiagi.

The Week in TV

Comcast Makes £22.1 Billion Bid for Sky
US cable giant Comcast has put in a £22.1 billion bid for Sky, an attempt to gatecrash 21st Century Fox’s ongoing takeover attempt which has found itself help up by the UK’s competition authority. Comcast’s offer of £12.50 per share represents a 16 percent premium to shareholders over Fox’s bid for the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t already own. The move is framed by Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts as a way for the America’s biggest cable company to establish itself further in Europe. Read the full story on VAN.

Formula 1 to Launch Subscription Service
Formula 1 will launch an over-the-top (OTT) digital platform called F1 TV early this year, which will give subscribers access to ad-free live streams of F1 races, as well as additional content such as footage from on-board driver cams. The top tier monthly subscription, available in English, French, German and Spanish, will cost $8-12, and F1 will also offer a less expensive non-live subscription. Formula 1 says F1 TV is its biggest investment in digital transformation to date.

ITV’s Profits Fall as Ad Revenue Drops Five Percent
British broadcaster ITV saw profits fall in 2017 as advertising revenue fell by five percent, its steepest drop in almost a decade. The company, which announced its full year results for 2017 on Wednesday, blamed falling ad revenue on economic uncertainty, and expects a stronger 2018. ITV’s net advertising revenue, which accounts for over half of its total earnings, fell by £81 million overall to £1,591. Digital ad revenue remained strong, with earnings from video on-demand achieving double-digital growth, but this was not enough to offset the drop in linear TV ad income. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

Vice and Vogue Put Collaboration on Hold
Vice and Vogue announced this week that they are putting their content collaboration project on hold, after months of turbulence at Vice sparked by allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. The two publishers announced plans last October to work together on content which would be hosted on a new site over a 100 day period, but the project has now been suspended, with no date given for when it might resume. “Both Vogue and Vice are committed to creating the most relevant, innovative content experiences for audiences, and at this time, have mutually decided to delay their content collaboration,” the two said in a joint statement.

Facebook Ends Explore Feed Test
Facebook announced this week that it is ending its tests of a separate ‘Explore’ feed, which relegated publishers’ content to a secondary feed separate from the News Feed, and confirmed that it won’t roll out the Explore feed globally. The tests had been carried out since last October in six countries, with Facebook describing it as a possible solution to complaints from users that they weren’t seeing enough content from friends and family in their news feeds. The tests went down poorly with publishers, who saw engagement with their Page posts massively decline, and Facebook says users weren’t keen on the change either.

Senior Editors Leave Express Newspapers as Trinity Mirror Completes Takeover
A number of senior editors departed from British publisher Express Newspapers this week as Trinity Mirror completed its takeover of Northern & Shell’s publishing assets. Hugh Whittow has resigned as editor-in-chief at the Daily Express, being replaced by ex-Sunday Mirror editor Gary Jones, and the Daily Star’s editor Dawn Neesom has also departed, to be replaced by former Daily Mirror associate director Jon Clark. The transition is being overseen by an interim management team appointed by Trinity Mirror, which Mark Hollinshead, Andrew Round, Paul Wilks and Neil Benson all serve on.

The Week for Agencies

WPP Results Show Disappointing 2017, Publishes Data saying Consultancies Aren’t to Blame
WPP’s full 2017 financial results released on Thursday confirm that last year was a difficult one for the agency holding group. The company also produced data which it says illustrates that consultancies aren’t to blame for the holding group’s struggles. The results show flat like-for-like top-line growth and stagnant operating profits, with WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell acknowledging that 2017 “was not a pretty year”. The group plans to continue consolidating its subsidiaries into a more streamlined offering, and expects better economic conditions to produce better results this year. Read the full story on VAN.

ISBA Updates Media Services Contract Template
The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) has made updates to its media services contract template which it says will help better accommodate agencies. The template is designed to encourage more transparency in media deals by requiring agencies to give details about where money is spent, and by addressing topics like fraud, viewability and verification. The first draft of the document was crticised for having been written without consulting agencies, and ISBA says the update comes after agency feedback and incorporates suggestions made by agencies. ISBA reiterated that the document is meant to be used as a template, and brands should tailor it to fit each specific media deal they negotiate.

Social Becomes Most Popular Form of Advertising for UK Travel Advertisers
Social has overtaken search to become the most popular method of paid advertising among travel advertisers in the UK, according to Marin Software’s ‘State of Digital Advertising 2018’ report. Of all paid social investment, 42 percent went on Facebook, with Twitter and Instagram behind on 22 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Partnerships of the Week

Sky and Netflix Enter European Distribution Partnership
Sky and Netflix announced what they describe as a “pioneering” partnership this week which will see the full Netflix service included in a new Sky subscription package. The new package will grant access to Sky and Netflix content side-by-side on the Sky Q platform, with customers able to access Netflix content using the Sky Q menu and Sky Q’s search and voice search functionality.

Vewd Selects SpotX as Programmatic Video Partner
TV streaming tech company Vewd has selected video ad serving platform SpotX to power the monetisation of all its over-the-top (OTT) products and services. As its first programmatic video advertising partner, Vewd will use SpotX’s video supply side platform (SSP) and ad serving tools, which it says will allow media companies to optimise video advertising strategies and maximise revenue.

“Vewd is one of the world’s largest players in the connected TV ecosystem and we’re delighted they’ve chosen our technology to support their mission to connect consumers with entertaining content across all connected TV platforms. By making addressable OTT inventory available to buyers through SpotX, they are in a unique position to enable advertisers to target audiences across TV screens at scale,” said SpotX CEO and co-founder Mike Shehan.

Hires of the Week

Trinity Mirror Appoints Mark Hollinshead to Oversee Northern & Shell Properties Integration
Trinity Mirror has tasked former COO Mark Hollinshead with overseeing the integration of The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, The Daily Star and OK! magazine into its structure. Trinity Mirror completed the takeover of the publications from Northern & Shell this week.

JWT Hires Simon Pearce as CEO of North America
J. Walter Thompson made a series of C-suite hires this week, including the appointment of Simon Pearce as CEO of North America. JWT also promoted Ben James to chief creative officer of JWT New York, Susan Kim-Kirkland to chief marketing officer of JWT worldwide, and Stefano Zunino to the newly created role of chief transformation officer.

Havas UK Makes Three Senior Hires
Havas UK made three senior hires this week to its creative digital and production arms. Patrick Cahill joined Havas London as joint head of integrated production, Shirin Majid joined Cake as executive creative director, and Sally Barr joins both as head of social.

The Week on Van

“Crawlers, Generators and Validators,” A Guide to the Ads.txt Tools Online, read more on VAN

Comcast Makes £22.1 Billion Bid for Sky, read more on VAN

ITV’s Profits Fall as Ad Revenue Drops Five Percent, read more on VAN

WPP Results Show Disappointing 2017, Publishes Data saying Consultancies Aren’t to Blame, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Nike, Choose Go, Must Be Something
Nike’s latest spot features a zany scenario where the world stops turning, and humanity takes to running to try and get it started again. The ad, as sports brand ads tend to, has cameos aplenty, but it’s the twist at the end that make the spot work.

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