The WIR: CSA Intervenes in TF1/Canal+ Dispute, UK TV Ad Revenues Drop for First Time in Seven Years, and Taboola Forecasts $1 Billion Revenue in 2018

In this week’s Week in Review: TF1 makes progress on carriage disputes with Orange and Canal+, UK TV ad revenue drops for the first time in seven years, and Taboola forecasts a bumper 2018 with revenues exceeding $1 billion. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

TF1 Returns to Canal+ Following Carriage Dispute
Canal+ was ordered by French regulatory body the Conseil Supérieur de L’Audiovisuel (CSA) to resume transmission of TF1 on Wednesday. Canal+ had ceased broadcasting TF1 at the beginning of the month after the two failed to agree a new carriage deal, with TF1 asking for around €20 million from operators to carry its signals. The CSA’s intervention has seen Canal+ largely resume transmission, though TF1 is still not available on Canal’s IPTV service.

The news will be relief to TF1, which saw its average audience fall by 12 percent during the Canal+ blackout. More good news came on Friday as TF1 secured a carriage deal with Orange, which had also baulked at the proposed €20 million fee. This new deal will see Orange pay between €10-€13 million, and TF1 may now look to similarly compromise in negotiating with Canal+ and Free, another operator refusing the €20 million figure.

UK TV Ad Revenues Drop for First Time in Seven Years, but Revival Expected
TV ad revenues in the UK dropped for the first time in seven years in 2017, according to TV trade body Thinkbox, falling by 3.2 percent to £5.1 billion. Thinkbox’s data, which includes any investment by advertisers in commercial TV, found that spending was cut particularly sharply by food brands, where revenues fell by 11.6 percent. Thinkbox attributes the drop to ongoing political and economic uncertainty, and expects conditions to be more favourable in 2018 and that TV ad spend will return to growth.

“Post-recession, TV advertising in the UK had 7 consecutive years of growth. But TV hyper-reacts to the economy, good or bad, and recent uncertainty saw growth stall in 2017. That growth is now returning,” said Thinkbox’s chief executive Lindsey Clay. “TV’s strengths and unique assets have been thrown into even sharper relief recently following the much-publicised scandals and loss of trust in some areas of online advertising. Advertisers are re-assessing where they advertise and TV is well placed to capitalise.”

Taboola Projects Over $1 Billion Revenue for 2018
New York-based content discovery platform Taboola announced this week that it projects revenues for 2018 to surpass $1 billion, having managed to massively extend its reach over the past year. The company does not frequently disclose financial information, but reported revenues of over $200 million back in 2014, meaning it will have increased revenue by 500 percent in four years if its projection is correct.

Taboola now reaches 86 percent of all desktop users in the UK, representing 45 percent year-on-year growth, according to comScore’s Key Measures rankings last December. Globally the company reaches 44 percent percent of all desktop users worldwide, meaning Taboola’s global reach is even greater than Facebook’s.

The Week in Tech

Drawbridge Pulls Out of Europe over GDPR Concerns
Cross-device data company Drawbridge revealed this week that’s it’s ending its ad operations in Europe as it tries to reconcile its data business with the EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). AdExchanger reported on Wednesday that Drawbridge founder and CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan has confirmed the move, saying that while the company is exploring ways to make its business GDPR compliant, at the moment doing so would undercut the quality of its service.

Videology to Cut Six Percent of Workforce
Videology confirmed this week that it is undergoing a corporate restructure that will see it lose five-to-six percent of its global staff, affecting offices in the US, APAC and Europe. Videology’s chief revenue officer Ryan Jamboretz told The Drum that the restructure represents a streamlining of the company in which it will limit its investment in “edge cases” – customers and geographies which are least profitable.

Vimeo Gives Insight into OTT Platform
Vimeo released a report this week claiming that its over-the-top (OTT) platform has 3.6 million subscribers across hundred of services, with subscribers collectively watching over 10,000 hours of video via Vimeo-powered apps every day. Vimeo’s OTT platform enables customers to build their own subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services, and Vimeo’s “The 2018 OTT Revolution Report” highlighted some factors for SVOD service success. The report says that apps for SVOD services help drive sign-ups, and that content length should be tailored to the platform on which an app is served.

OpenX Takes Aim at In-Banner Video, Aims to Block “Bad” Video Ad Formats from its Exchange
OpenX has announced today that it will begin blocking the sale of “bad” video ad formats from its exchange, including the 300×250 format, which it says provide a bad user experience and are harmful for brands and publishers. The company says it’s targeting the 300×250 format specifically due to its use in ad fraud, but other as-yet-unnamed formats will also be blocked.

OpenX says that 300×250 video ads are one of the most commonly sold video ad units on its exchange, and it accounts for over 30 percent of all video sold programmatically according to a Pixalate study.However the company sees the format as problematic since it is not well suited for video, meaning ads are often squashed into too small a space, making for a poor user experience. OpenX says the majority of 300×250 ads are in-banner video (IBV), a format which OpenX’s head of marketplace quality Johh Murphy says “needs to be stopped in its tracks.” The 300×250 ad unit, commonly known as ‘MPU’s’, were originally intended for display advertising. Read the full story on VAN.

Improve Digital Launches First Price Auction Option for its Header Bidding Solution
Improve Digital announced on Wednesday that it is introducing a first price auction option for its header bidding solution, meaning clients will now be able to choose between running either a first or second price auction as part of the bid request. “Allowing the option of a first-price auction will open up advertising budgets to embrace more programmatic trading,” said Improve Digital’s CEO Sebastiaan Moesman. “A first-price auction scenario can give advertisers more confidence in a programmatic ecosystem in which the price is predictable and stable and content providers benefit from a clear insight into what their inventory is worth. This ‘you get what you pay for’ first-price auction model can provide a transparent, predictive and more reliable marketplace.”

The Week in TV

Discovery Completes $14 Billion Scripps Acquisition
Discovery Communications this week completed its $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, following the move being given the all clear by the US Department of Justice and other regulatory bodies. The company has renamed itself as Discovery Inc., and will now own Scripps channels HGTV, Food Network, and Travel Channel, expanding the broadcaster’s portfolio of unscripted content. Discovery plans to distribute these channels overseas, whereas previously Scripps only operated in the US and Poland.

“As a new global leader in real life entertainment, Discovery will serve loyal and passionate audiences around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains across every screen; deliver new ways for advertisers and distributors to reach highly targeted audiences at scale; and leverage our leadership position to create new value and growth opportunities for all of our stakeholders,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav.

Channel 4 to Move 300 Staff Out of London
Channel 4 revealed on Thursday that it plans to move a third of its staff out of London as it tries to help achieve a better distribution of media jobs throughout the UK. The broadcaster currently only has around 30 staff employed in UK regions outside of London, but will now move 300 of its 800 staff out of London into locations around the country. Speculation had arisen over the past year over whether Channel 4 would move out of the capital entirely after being given an order to relocate a material part of its business, but it will instead open up a new national office and two new creative hubs, with bidding for locations beginning in April.

“As a public service broadcaster with diversity in its DNA, Channel 4 has a unique ability to reflect our society. This is a significant and exciting moment of change for Channel 4 as we evolve to ensure we are best suited to serve all of the UK,” said Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon.

RTL’s ‘Total Video’ Strategy Pays Off as Digital Revenue Grows by 23 Percent
German broadcaster RTL Group released its financial results for 2017 on Wednesday, showing digital revenue growing 23.3 percent to €826 million. This helped the company maintain overall revenue growth of 2.2 percent, reaching €6,373 million, despite facing challenging conditions in its TV advertising markets. RTL says the results are a vindication of its ‘total video’ strategy which has seen it diversify its business into areas like TV production and ad tech, and the company plans to accelerate this strategy going forward. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

Newsweek Sites Blacklisted by Ad Tech Firms Over Web Traffic Manipulation Allegations
Ad tech companies including AppNexus and SpotX have both ended their relationships with Newsweek Media Group due to concerns about traffic manipulation on Newsweek properties. The two cited allegations of invalid traffic on Newsweek’s International Business Times websites, according to the Wall Street Journal. Newsweek says it has fired two employees connected with ad fraud flagged up by DoubleVerify, but that will likely have little impact on the company’s wider problems, as Newsweek’s parent company is already under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office for suspected bank fraud and advertising abuses.

YouTube Gets JICWEBS’ Brand Safety Certification
YouTube has been awarded brand safety certification by JICWEBs, an independent UK standards body, it announced on Tuesday. Auditing firm BPA verified that YouTube’s processes comply with JICWEBS’ ‘Good Practice Principles’ for minimising the risk of ads being served alongside inappropriate content.

“Providing more transparency and visibility to our advertising partners remains important to us, so we are pleased YouTube has achieved certification for brand safety by JICWEBS. We remain committed to listening and working with the industry on cross-industry standards for digital advertising,” said Ronan Harris, MD of Google UK and Ireland.

Trinity Mirror Rebrands as Reach
Following the completion of its acquisition of Northern & Shell publishing assets last week, Trinity Mirror will rebrand as Reach after its Annual General Meeting on May 4th. CEO Simon Fox says the new name better reflects what the company does and its ambitions, given its reach across print and digital.

Facebook Tops YouTube for Branded Video Ads says Clinch
Brands are creating more branded video ads for Facebook than they are for YouTube, according to a new report released by ad tech company Clinch. The study, which found that 78 percent of marketers surveyed plan to increase spending on video advertising this year, claims that 46 percent of brands create ads specifically for Facebook, while 41 percent create ads specifically for YouTube.

The Week for Agencies

Time to Kill the Mad Men Model says P&G’s Marc Pritchard
P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, speaking at ISBA’s annual conference in London on Tuesday, called for the reuniting of creative and media agencies, saying that he any many others “rue the day” that the two were split. Pritchard said that he is pleased with progress that had been made in the industry since his landmark talk at the IAB Annual Leadership conference last year, but that now P&G is seeking “mass disruption”, part of which involves reinventing agency relationships. Read the full story on VAN.

Martin Sorrell Plays Down P&G’s Agency Shakeup
Following Marc Pritchard’s aforementioned agency shakeup speech earlier in the week, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell played down the severity of Pritchard’s intentions. Sorrell, speaking at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit, said that Pritchard had clarified his points with him personally, and that P&G is not threatening to pull back large amounts of spending from WPP. “Yes the model has to change; what Marc Pritchard was actually talking about is how P&G is changing its own model,” he said. “The agencies it works with, which are principally ourselves and Publics, are changing our models in the same way but we’re doing so at an accelerated pace because the need for us to do so has got stronger, and the pressure and speed of response have really heightened.”

Accenture Picked for Disney Emerging Technology Initiative
Accenture continued its march into marketing territory this week as it was picked by Walt Disney Studios as “innovation partner” for StudioLabs, an emerging technology initiative. Accenture will use emerging tech to create “entertainment experiences” to promote Disney films and properties. Its first work for StudioLabs is expected to release some time later this year.

Partnerships of the Week

Tru Optik and ZypMedia Partner for Local Targeted CTV Ads on Sinclair Network
Data management platform (DMP) Tru Optik has paired with enterprise software company ZypMedia to power an over-the-top (OTT) marketplace for connected TV (CTV) advertising on the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Local advertisers will be able to use ZypMedia’s platform to created tatgeted campaigns across CTV screens using thir party demographic data, as well as the advertiser’s own first party data.

Hires of the Week

Quantcast Hires Meredith Long as CRO
AI-powered measurement platform Quantcast has hired form Time Inc. executive Meredith Long as its new chief revenue officer. Long’s appointment is the latest in a series of executive hirings, following the recruitment of Rob Horler as COO in January and of Steven Wolfe Pereira as chief marketing and communications officer last September.

Scott Kewley and Nick James Join TVPlayer
UK online TV platform TVPlayer has hired former Virgin Media executive Scott Kewley as its new COO and former TalkTalk executive Nick James as CTO. The appointments follow the news that the platform now has over two million active subscribers in the UK, and saw revenue increase 600 percent year-on-year in 2017.

Preetham Mallikarjuna Rejoins Simulmedia as Chief Product Officer
Simulmedia on Wednesday announced that Preetham Mallikarjuna has rejoined the company in the newly created position of Chief Product Officer. Mr. Mallikarjuna rejoins from ESPN, where he had been linear ad product lead, and had previously worked for Simulmedia from 2012 to 2016. Simulmedia says Mr. Mallikarjuna will direct the unbundling of the company’s proprietary Video Advertising Marketing Operating System from Simulmedia’s Audience Network.

JustPremium Recruits 10 New Members for German and UK Team
Programmatic rich media and video ad marketplace JustPremium announced this week the recruitment of ten new staff to its Germany and UK teams. Key recruits include former Undertone EMEA director Rob Garber, who joins as UK managing director, and new Germany country manager Joerg Schneider.

The Week on Van

TV Can No Longer Avoid The Viewability Challenge, read more on VAN

Time to Kill the Mad Men Model says P&G’s Marc Pritchard, read more on VAN

RTL’s ‘Total Video’ Strategy Pays Off as Digital Revenue Grows by 23 Percent, read more on VAN

OpenX Takes Aim at In-Banner Video, Aims to Block “Bad” Video Ad Formats from its Exchange, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Snickers, Confession, BBDO New York
Snickers continues its long-running theme of hunger leading to uncomfortable situations with this spot, which tells a short and simple joke very effectively.

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