The WIR: Comcast Prepares $60 Billion Fox Bid, UK Public Broadcasters Discuss Joint Streaming Service, and The Trade Desk Hails Growth of CTV


In this week’s Week in Review: Comcast prepares to gatecrash Disney’s takeover of 21st Century Fox with its own bid, three British broadcasters consider launching a joint streaming service, and The Trade Desk highlights CTV as the most exciting thing in the US and Asia. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Comcast Prepares Fresh Bid for Fox
Comcast is preparing to gatecrash Disney’s $52 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s assets with its own offer of $60 billion, according to a Reuters report. Reuters claims that sources close to the matter say Comcast Corp is seeking financing in order to be able to make an all-cash offer for Fox’s assets. However, the same sources claimed that Comcast will only proceed with the bid if AT&T’s attempted acquisition of Time Warner is allowed by US regulators.

BBC, ITV and Channel 4 Plan Joint Streaming Service
The UK’s BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are reportedly in talks to work together on a new joint streaming service as part of an effort to help the three public broadcasters compete with the likes of Netflix, according to a report from The Guardian. America’s NBCUniversal is also claimed to be involved in the early stage talks, which are not focused exclusively on the idea of a joint streaming service, though this is understood to be seen as one of the strongest possibilities.

The three have previously held similar conversations around a video on-demand (VOD) service, known as Project Kangaroo, though these talks fell through. Ofcom group director and board member Steve Unger appeared to lend support to the fresh talks, saying at the DTG Summit in London that a “Kangaroo 2” might be necessary for British broadcasters to remain competitive.

The Trade Desk Hails CTV Growth “Way In Excess” of Expectations During Q1 Results
The Trade Desk reported that connected-TV (CTV) revenues on its platform grew by 21 times over the past 12 months, which CEO Jeff Green said was “way in excess” of expectations, during the company’s Q1 results announcement. Green said that while CTV still only accounts for a small proportion of The Trade Desk’s revenue, the company is impressed with its growth, calling CTV “the most exciting thing in the US and also Asia.”

The Trade Desk’s results beat expectations with revenue reaching $85.7 million, a 61 percent year-on-year increase, with the company expecting revenue to hit $103 million in Q2. Mobile video was a key driver of this growth, with mobile video revenues up 160 percent year-on-year.

The Week in Tech

Videology Announces Conditional Asset Sale to Amobee Alongside Bankruptcy Filings
TV and video advertising software provider Videology has filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code, and has agreed a conditional asset purchase deal with Amobee, the company announced on Thursday. The transaction was unanimously approved by Videology’s board of directors, though it is subject to court approval and other conditions before it completes. The Wall Street Journal reports the sale to Singapore-based Singtel’s Amobee is worth somewhere in the region of $45 million. However, the company said that other interested parties will have an opportunity to submit higher offers for Videology to evaluate before the deal closes. Read the full story on VAN.

Drawbridge Sells Media Arm and Quits Ad Tech
Cross-device ad tech company Drawbridge is selling its US media business to Gimbal, and shutting down its self-serve ad platform, according to a report from AdExchanger. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Gimbal will gain special access to Drawbridge’s graph tech as a result of the deal, having already been a customer of Drawbridge.

OpenX Launches Opt-In Mobile App Video Exchange
OpenX this week announced a full beta of a new opt-in mobile video exchange, after have successfully tested the exchange with over 100 apps in Q1. Opt-in video ads are video ads which users choose to watch in exchange for some kind of reward, and are most commonly found in mobile video games where players can choose to watch video ads in exchange for in-game rewards. OpenX says its new exchange delivered CPM rates that were 2.5x higher than average for mobile interstitial video, with completion rates 30 percentage points higher than average.

Coull Turns to Crowdcube for Funding
Video ad tech company Coull has turned to crowdfunding website Crowdcube in an effort to raise £350,000, running a campaign which will last 30 days. The company says on the website that it’s seeking funding to help it grow sales, from revenue of £0.5 billion last year, as well as to build upon its targeted marketing strategy and to continue with product development.

Google Joins Streaming Video Alliance
The Streaming Video Alliance, an industry forum which aims to solve challenges facing digital video, announced Google as its newest member in Thursday as it held a conference at Viacom’s headquarters in New York. “A lot has happened in the four years since the Alliance was founded. New industry technologies have been introduced and adopted, new alliance members have joined our ranks such as AWS and Google and the consumer demand for and consumption of streaming video continues to soar,” said Jason Thibeault, executive director of the Streaming Video Alliance.

AppNexus and Brightcove Trial Software to Reduce Video Header Bidding Latency
AppNexus and Brightcove are trialling a new solution to reduce the load time of video ads auctioned off via header bidding, in an effort to combat latency, according to The Drum. The pair are reportedly testing an open source plug-in to Prebid.org, with availability for publishers expected by the end of June.

The Week in TV

Vodafone to Buy Liberty Global Assets in Germany and Eastern Europe for €18.4 Billion
Vodafone has struck a deal with Liberty Global to buys its cable TV and broadband businesses in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, the two companies announced on Wednesday.The deal marks a substantial gain for Vodafone, with these assets accounting for 28 percent of Liberty Global’s consolidated operating cash flow last year. Vodafone claims the convergence of assets will mean it serves the largest number of mobile customers and households across the EU, and will help it to challenge dominant domestic players in these markets. Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao said the transaction will create “the first truly converged pan-European champion of competition,” providing cable/fibre services to 54 million homes with a total reach of 110 million homes and businesses. Read the full story on VAN.

Tencent Signs Up to Develop Content with BBC
China’s Tencent will work with the BBC to co-produce and develop content as part of a new trade deal with the UK. The deal, signed between Tencent and the UK’s Department for International Trade, covers a range of industries, and partly involves Tencent’s Penguin Pictures partnering with the BBC for the creation and distribution of documentaries.

ITV Digital Revenue Grows by 41 Percent
ITV posted its financial results for Q1 this week, showing overall revenue to have grown by five percent year-on-year to £772 million, driven by 41 percent growth in online revenue and 11 percent growth in ITV Studios revenue. Total advertising revenue was up three percent year-on-year, and is expected to be up two percent over the first half, caused mostly by strong growth in digital. “While the economic environment remains uncertain online advertising continues to grow strongly,” said ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall. “Over the full year we are on track to deliver double digit growth in online revenue and good organic revenue growth in ITV Studios.”

BT Loses 16,000 TV Subscribers in Q4
BT’s TV subscriber base was reduced to 1.74 million as 16,000 subscribers left the service during Q4 of BT’s fiscal year (which it counts from January 1st to March 31st). BT Sport however continued to perform well on all platforms, with total viewing figures up 19 percent year-on-year. The company also announced an overall reduction in headcount of over 13,000 as the company restructures, which it describes as part of a move to “drive sustainable long-term growth in value”.

The Week in Publishing

Apple Blocks Apps Which Share Location Data Without Consent
Apple this week removed a number of apps from its App Store which share their users’ location data with third parties without the users’ consent, according to a report by The Drum. Such data sharing was already against the App Store’s terms of service, but Apple has been re-evaluating apps which it had previously sanctioned, and deleted those it’s found to be in violation of the terms.

Social CPMs Decline After Facebook News Feed Change
Facebook’s deprioritisation of Pages on the News Feed, as well as its data scandals, have resulted in a clear dip in CPMs and click through rates (CTRs), according to Marin’s Digital Benchmark Report for Q1 2018. CPMs decline by $0.06 in Q1, compared to an average quarterly growth of $0.4, and CTRs have decreased from 2.1 percent in Q4 2017 to 1.9 percent in Q1 this year.

Cisco Pulls All Ads from YouTube
Tech conglomerate Cisco has pull all its ads from YouTube over fears they may appear alongside inappropriate content, Cisco’s chief marketing officer Karen Walker revealed in a blog post on Wednesday. The post said the company was wary that its ads might “accidentally end up in the wrong place, such as on a streaming video with sensitive content,”, though Cisco will still use YouTube as a platform to share its own video content.

Nielsen Study Puts Playbuzz in Top Ten Percent of Global Digital Brand Effect Campaigns
Branded content specialist Playbuzz’s campaigns are in the top ten percent of all Nielsen global Digital Brand Effect campaigns, according to a Nielsen study commissioned by Playbuzz. The study found that Playbuzz campaigns generated an average brand lift of 91 percent, compared to Nielsen’s norm of eight percent. “In a world where the average time spent on a digital piece of content stands at a sobering 8 seconds, brands must utilize engagement and interactivity to capture the ultimate – and most scarce – commodity: the human attention span,” said Daniel Fisher, managing director of Europe at Playbuzz.

The Week for Agencies

Digital Video Revenues Hit $11.9 Billion in US
US digital video ad revenue reached $11.9 billion in 2017, according to the IAB’s Internet Advertising Revenue Report, a 33 percent year-on-year increase. Overall digital ad spend meanwhile reached $88 billion, $49.9 billion of which was mobile, meaning mobile accounted from 57 percent of digital ad spend. As mobile advertising continues to grow, mobile video specifically is becoming increasingly popular, with mobile video revenue growing 54 percent year-on-year to $6.2 billion.

However, this strong growth may be a better indicator of the health of Google and Facebook than anything else. Pivotal Research’s Brian Wieser said on the webinar announcing the results that by his analysis, Google and Facebook probably accounted for 90 percent of overall growth in digital ad revenue.

ANA Chief Denies Nothing Has Changed After Rebates Uproar
Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), this week denied the claims of a McKinsey & Co. report which said that not much has changed in the ad industry in the three years since industry uproar erupted over undisclosed media rebates. Writing in AdAge, Liodice argued that the McKinsey & Co. report was wrong, writing that “over the past two years, scores of clients have updated their media agency contracts, which serve as the foundation for transparency,” and that “clients have been increasingly taking back control of their media investments via greater supervision of their agencies.”

Martin Sorrell Says He’ll Start Again Post-WPP
Ex-WPP boss has said he will “start again” in the ad industry, and that he is not going into voluntary or involuntary retirement. Speaking at the Techonomy event in New York on Tuesday, Sorrell spoke of his fondness for the ad industry, and suggested that he will start afresh elsewhere. “I love the industry,” he said. “It was serendipity when I met the Saatchis in 1975. That was chance. I was looking for an industry where the barriers to entry were not significant. I thought they were very low and extremely open, Over the years since then that we’ve operated in, I found it an extremely attractive industry to make a career in.” Sorrell stepped down as CEO of WPP last month after allegations of personal misconduct, which he denies.

Partnerships of the Week

Outbrain Partners with IAS for Brand Safety
Outbrain and Integral Ad Science (IAS) announced a new partnership this week to brind IAS’ brand safety solutions to Outbrain’s brand marketers. IAS will now provide brand safety data to content discovery placements powered by Outbrain, enabling marketers to exclude non-safe categories through controls on their Outbrain campaign dashboards. “A trusted brand-safety partner like IAS is a core component of our strategy of giving brands 100 percent confidence in telling their story across our publisher network,” said Gilad de Vries, SVP of strategy at Outbrain.

Simplestream Partners with Nice People At Work
Simplestream, a provider of live and on-demand service, this week announced a partnership with video business intelligence company Nice People At Work (NPAW). with Simplestream choosing NPAW as its data analytics technology provider for its VOD-in-a-Box service, as well as other OTT projects.

Hires of the Week

AppNexus Restructures EMEA Team
AppNexus made a series of executive appointment this week as it restructures its EMEA team. Jerome Underhill as been chosen as SVP of EMEA, Nigel Gilbert has been appointed chief market strategist EMEA, and Kathry Schlieben has been romoted to president EMEA commercial development.

Havas Group Media Promotes Greg James to Chief Strategy Officer
Havas Group has promoted Greg James to the position of chief strategy officer for Havas Group Media, prom his previous role as chief strategy officer of North America.

Dentsu Aegis Network Names Michael Russell as Chief Growth Officer
Dentsu Aegis Network has hired industry veteran Michael Russel as its new chief growth officer for Dentsu Aegis Network US. Russell was previously working as interim CMO for Edelman Financial, and has also previously worked for iCrossing, Huge, MSLGROUP and MXM.

The Week on Van

Digital Element’s Charlie Johnson on How Broadcasters can Beat VPNs, read more on VAN

AI Could be Key to Breaking up YouTube’s Video Monopoly – Fireside Chat with Vevo’s Kevin McGurn, read more on VAN

How Viber Monetises Messaging Without Mining Chats for Data, read more on VAN

Vodafone to Buy Liberty Global Assets in Germany and Eastern Europe for €18.4 Billion, read more on VAN

Videology Announces Conditional Sale to Amobee Alongside Bankruptcy Filings, read more on VAN

American Media, Inc. Blocks EU Traffic in Response to GDPR, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

FIFA World Cup on ITV, Forget, ITV Creative
The FIFA World Cup has inspired some great ads over the years, tapping into the emotional significance of the sport that so much of the world holds dear. In this fast paced, frenetic spot advertising its World Cup coverage, ITV highlights some of the competition’s most iconic moments while telling the audience to forget what has come before, and to look forward to what might happen this year.


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