The WIR: Channel 4 Launches AI-Driven Linear TV Ads, Netflix Becomes Most Popular TV Platform in US, and IPG Acquires Acxiom Marketing Solutions for $2.3 Billion


In this week’s Week in Review:  Channel 4 launches a new AI-driven ad format for its linear TV channels, Netflix is found to be the most popular TV platform in the US by Cowan & Co., and IPG buys Acxiom Marketing Solutions. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Channel 4 Launches AI Driven Linear TV Ads
British broadcaster Channel 4 this week announced a new AI-driven ad format called ‘Contextual Moments’, which the company says will enable brands to buy ads next to relevant scenes in a linear TV show. Announced at Channel 4’s summer upfronts event, the tech will reportedly recognise scenarios within a TV show which offer an opportunity for contextually relevant advertising. The broadcaster gave an example of a tea brand’s ad being placed in an ad break after a scene in which a character is shown enjoying a cup of tea.

Channel 4 is currently seeking advertising partners to test the new tech later this year. Brands will reportedly be able to buy bundles of these ‘moment’ for categories such as food, drink, relationships and mobile phones.

Netflix Becomes Most Popular TV Platform in the US
Subscription streaming service Netflix is now the most popular platform of any kind for watching TV in the US, according to research from financial services firm Cowen & Co. In a study of 2500 US adults, 27.2 percent said Netflix was the platform they used most frequently to watch TV content, compared to 20.4 percent for basic cable and 18.1 percent for broadcast TV. Netflix’s digital competitors were quite a way behind, with Hulu on 5.3 percent and Amazon Prime video on 4.7 percent.

Netflix holds an even greater lead with younger audiences in particular. The study found that for 18-34 year olds, 39.7 percent said Netflix was their most used platform, with basic cable on 12.6 percent and broadcast TV on 7.5 percent.

IPG Acquires Acxiom Marketing Solutions for $2.3 Billion
Agency holding company Interpublic Group (IPG) on Monday announced it has reached a deal to buy data services company Acxiom Marketing Solutions  (AMS) for $2.3 billion. The deal will bolster IPG’s data-driven marketing offerings, with AMS claiming to recognise 2.2 billion connected consumers, also adding AMS’s 2000 strong workforce to IPG’s team. The Acxiom brand name will become part of IPG’s portfolio, though Acxiom’s LiveRamp is not included as part of the deal.

“Combining AMS with a range of IPG assets will help us shape the future of our industry,” said IPG’s chairman and CEO Michael Roth. “Acxiom’s leadership on data ethics is second to none, its business is solid and growing, and it has long played a foundational role in the marketing ecosystem. The company also boasts 2,100 associates with data and analytics skills that are at a premium in business today.”

The Week in Tech

Scope of Federal Investigation into Facebook Broadens
The scope of the US federal investigation into Facebook’s sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica has broadened, the Washington Post reported this week, with further agencies taking part in the investigation. Representatives from the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Department are reportedly joining with the Justice Department in the investigation, with questions focussing on what Facebook knew three years ago when the breach occurred and why the company didn’t disclose the information to users or investors.

Buzzole Introduces Automated Reporting on Instagram Stories
Influencer marketing platform Buzzole has released new tools to analyse campaigns run on Instagram Stories, a type of Instagram post which has so far lacked analytical tools for brands. Buzzole says marketers will now be able to see in depth analysis of views and comments of Instagram Stories on the Buzzole dashboard, and will be able to approve branded content before it goes live.

Defy Media Offers to Partially Pay Off Debts to Publisher
Digital media company Defy Media has offered to pay publishers back 20 percent of what it owes them, according to a report from Digiday. A number of publisher claim that the company hasn’t paid them for ads sold through Defy Media’s ad network with Topix claiming its owned $300,000. The offer seems to be an attempt by Defy Media to put the issue to bed, though Topix has already filed a lawsuit in an attempt to claim its money back.

The Week in TV

Sky’s Darroch Calls for Tech Giants Regulator
Sky’s CEO Jeremy Darroch issued fresh calls for digital giants like Google and Facebook to be regulated, in order to ensure a level playing field with others in the media world. Writing in The Times Darroch called on ministers to create a regulator with “sharp teeth” to watch over digital platforms, decrying the fact that they currently don’t face the same sort of regulation that broadcasters have to comply with. Darroch has reportedly written to the UK’s minister for digital, culture, media and sport Matt Hancock outlining these concerns.

Amazon Job Posting Hints at Ad-Supported TV Ambitions
Amazon has dropped a huge hint that it’s working on an ad-supported TV service, releasing a job posting looking for a ‘head of Prime Video channels, free to air TV and advertising TV partner channels’. The job description, spotted by Facebook’s director of gaming Damian Burns, gives us some initial clues of how an ad-supported TV service on Amazon might look. Read the full story on VAN.

Study Finds 29 Percent of European TV Channels Based in the UK
Twenty-nine percent of European channels are currently based in the UK, according to a report released this week by the European Audiovisual Observatory, highlighting the extent of the impact Brexit could have on Europe’s TV landscape. Of these UK-based channels, 43 percent primarily target a different country, according to the report. As VAN has previously reported, some channels may consider relocating their operations out of the UK after Brexit if a deal can’t be reached to ensure an Ofcom license remains valid for EU-wide broadcasting.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook Buys Premier League Rights in SE Asia
Facebook has continued its foray into sports broadcasting by winning exclusive broadcasting rights for the English Premier League in South-East Asia for $200 million. Facebook has won the rights to broadcast 380 games in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, beating off competition form the likes of BeIN Sports and Fox Sports Asia, according to The Times. This is the first time Facebook has held rights for the Premier League, and could be preparation for a future bid for UK rights.

Quartz Sold to Uzabase for up to $110 Million
US publisher Atlantic Media has agreed to sell Quartz to Japanese media company Uzabase for a fee between $75 million and $110 million, depending on Quartz’s financial performance for the remainder of 2018. Uzabase says it will retain the Quartz brand and editorial team, and that the acquisition is part of an attempted global expansion. Founding editor-in-chief Kevin J. Delaney and publisher Jay Lauf will be co-CEOs of Quartz, and have said they will work on new paid products to drive further revenue growth.

EU Rejects New Copyright Law
A controversial new copyright law in the EU, the Copyright Directive, was rejected by European Parliament on Thursday. The proposed law was unpopular with many content creators as they would have faced strict copyright checks on everything they post online. It would have also forced online platforms to pay a fee if they linked to news content elsewhere, handing large publishers new rights but harming smaller start-ups in the process. Among those who had spoken out in opposition to the law were Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. MEPs said the bill needed further debate, so while the directive has been postponed for now, it has by no means been killed off yet.

Hearst Introduces New Branded Content Metric
Publishing house Hearst has introduced a new metric to measure the effectiveness of branded content which it’s calling ‘Engaged View Rate’, according to a Digiday report. The metric will reportedly calculate a score once a user has spent at least 30 seconds on a page, and scrolled to at least 75 percent depth. Hearst says the measurement is intended to prove the effectiveness of branded content, but also that it could potentially be used as part of a trading model for branded campaigns in the future.

Premium Environments Are 42 Percent More Cost Effective for Advertisers says GroupM
Premium digital environments which consumers have a deeper relationship with are 42 percent more cost effective for advertisers, according to research from GroupM UK and Newsworks. The research lists a host of benefits for advertisers of buying placements from higher quality environments, giving support from the industry world to the claims publishers have been making for a long time. It could spark significant action too, as GroupM has pledged to work on ways to take the research into account in programmatic trading. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week for Agencies

WPP and Martin Sorrell Come to Blows Over MediaMonk Bid
Marin Sorrell and his former employer WPP have comes to blows as the two have entered a bidding war for Dutch agency MediaMonks. Sorrell is targeting MediaMonks with his investment vehicle S4 Capital as he looks to build a new advertising empire, a company which WPP has also put in a bid for. WPP has responded by threatening to revoke a £20 million payoff which Sorrell was due to receive after leaving the company earlier this year if he doesn’t withdraw his bid. An S4 Capital representative described this to Sky as “a feeble attempt to destabilise its bid”, and Sorrell may be reluctant to relent as he seems determined to quickly build up his new company’s portfolio. A shareholder circular sent to S4 investors this week revealed that Sorrell is looking to raise $1 billion in total to fund a spate of acquisitions.

Accenture, Deloitte, IPA and AA Outline Post-Brexit Demands to UK PM
Consultancies Accenture and Deloitte, alongside advertiser trade groups the IPA and the AA, this week sent a letter to UK prime minister Theresa May outlining what the industry needs to continue thriving after the UK pulls out of the EU. Forty representatives from the Professional Business Services Council (PBSC) co-signed the letter, saying that failing to implement the demands would put UK businesses at “distinct competitive disadvantage”. The letter called for:

  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications, products and operating licences;
  • Mutual recognition of the regulatory frameworks and regulators, from data protection to audiovisual media policy laws to statutory audits;
  • The ability of our service providers to fly in-fly out to facilitate advice across the EU27 and trade across Europe;
  • Mutual recognition of judgments so deals across EU27 countries can proceed with legal certainty;
  • Continued co-operation in areas that facilitate trade – such as data sharing;
  • The ability to educate and recruit the best talent from overseas, whether from the EU or beyond; and
  • Reduced uncertainty through any transition period.

WPP and KOÇ Launch New Digital Agency Ingage
WPP and Turkish industrial and services group KOÇ have partnered to launch a new digital agency called Ingage. Ingage will service the demand for digital marketing and offer clients agile solutions that bring together GroupM’s global innovative communications services with Zer’s industrial and technological expertise, according to a statement from WPP.

Hires of the Week

Rob Blake Joins Realeyes as CRO
Emotional analytics company Realeyes has hired Rob Blake as its chief revenue officer. Blake has worked in leadership roles previously for AOL, Rocket Fuel and MediaMath, and will be responsible for driving revenue growth globally according to a company statement.

Geir Magnusson Jr. Joins fuboTV as CTO
Sports-first live streaming service fuboTV has hired Geir Magnusson Jr. as its new chief technical officer. Magnusson, who will join be stationed in fuboTV’s New York office, has previously worked as CTO for both Sourcepoint and AppNexus.

SpotX Grows Italian Team
SpotX this week announced an expansion of its Italian team, bringing in Martina Zavagna from Freewheel as supply account manager. The company is also relocating Ilenia Barnabé from its Amsterdam office to the UK and Southern Europe office in London.

Inskin Media Names New Senior Staff
Ad tech company Inskin Media named a number of internal promotions this week which it says will support company growth. Evan Russell has become commercial director, Julia Burton-Brown has become international sales director, Matthew Newcomb has become group publisher director and Bart Dabrowski has become creative director.

The Week on Van

Brands Mustn’t Forget TV’s Traditional Strengths When Running Addressable Campaigns says Amplifi’s Jacobs, read more on VAN

Amazon Job Posting Hints at Ad-Supported TV Ambitions, read more on VAN

Premium Environments Are 42 Percent More Cost Effective for Advertisers says GroupM, read more on VAN

Meet the Google Intern Who Left to Start His Own Business and Kept Google as a Client, read more on VAN

Finecast are Seeing Digital Investment Being Shifted Back into TV, read more on VAN

Majority of Attribution Models are Fundamentally Flawed says EBX’s Le May, read more on VAN

The Challenge of Direct to Consumer is the Progress of Technology says Discovery’s Fisher, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

NHS, We Are the NHS, MullenLowe London
In this spot released to coincide with the NHS’s 70th anniversary uses footage of real doctors, nurses and patients to portray the work the organisation does and to capture the pride many in the UK feel towards the service.


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