In this week’s Week in Review: The UK’s ICO hits Facebook with the maximum possible fine for data breaches, MediaMath raised $225 million, and AT&T reveals its plans to turn HBO into a stronger Netflix competitor. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.
UK Watchdog Hits Facebook with Maximum Possible Fine
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on Tuesday announced that it is hitting Facebook with the maximum possible fine of £500,000 over the social media site’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fine is barely a slap on the wrist for Facebook, which in Q1 this year generated £500,000 every five and a half minutes, but is significant in demonstrating the ICO’s willingness to take a harsh line against the social media giant. Future breaches could be met with much more significant penalties under the new General Data Protection Act (GDPR), and could reach up to four percent of annual global turnover.
The ICO is also launching a criminal prosecution against SCL Elections, an organisation affiliated with Cambridge Analytica, and expanding its investigation into how data was used by both the leave and remain campaigns during the UK’s Brexit referendum.
MediaMath Raises $225 Million
Demand-side platform and data management platform maker MediaMath has raised $225 million in a new funding round, almost doubling the amount of money it’s raised so far and bringing the company’s value to over $1 billion. The funding, provided by investment firm Searchlight Capital Partners, will be partly used to buy out an existing investor, and also to fund acquisitions and invest in new tech developments. As the Wall Street Journal’s Lara O’Reilly noted, the fundraising is significant in how the amount raised is unusually large, given the turbulence and consolidation currently facing the ad tech sector.
CEO Joe Zawadzki said the company is looking to invest specifically in areas including artificial intelligence, connected television, and digital out-of-home advertising.
AT&T Reveals Ambitions for HBO
Warner Media’s new CEO John Stankey outlined his vision for HBO this week, saying he wants to substantially increase the network’s subscriber count and the amount of time users spend on the platform as he seeks to compete with the likes of Netflix. Stankey, who was appointed to the role after AT&T acquired HBO’s parent company Time Warner last month, said in a town hall meeting for employees that AT&T would invest more money in the business to spend on a broader range of new content, in an effort to drive up subscription numbers and engagement time. Meanwhile AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner itself has come under threat again as the US Department of Justice has said it will appeal the federal judges decision to allow the deal to proceed.
The Week in Tech
Operative Launches “Premium at Scale” Initiative
Multichannel management solution Operative on Monday launched a new technology initiative called “Premium at Scale” which it says is designed to enable media companies to simplify their ad offerings across digital and linear. To start the initiative, Operative has partnered with Comcast’s FreeWheel and NBCUniversal to help work on a unified sales system and unified ad decisioning system which will execute across linear and digital campaigns. “Premium at Scale is an industry initiative intended to deliver an answer to advertiser demand for audience-based advertising across channels and empower media companies to create massive multichannel marketplaces that delivers a premium product Facebook and Google simply can’t match,” said Lorne Brown, CEO of Operative.
AppNexus Grows Connected TV Marketplace 748 Percent Year-On-Year
Ad tech company AppNexus on Thursday announced that advertiser spend in its connected TV marketplace grew 748 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2018 versus the second quarter of 2017, and grew 69 percent quarter-over-quarter in the second quarter of 2018 versus the first quarter of this year. AppNexus claims it now sees over 20 billion monthly connected TV impressions across smart TVs, set top boxes and games consoles.
Flashtalking Debuts New Strategic Arm
Ad management and analytics tech company Flashtalking this week launched a new strategy consulting services arm to be led by John Mruz in the newly created role of SVP of strategy. The new consulting arm will support Flashtalking clients navigating the programmatic landscape, providing recommended approaches, solutions selection guidance and specific proprietary tactics. Flashtalking also recently announced a public beta of a new ad management platform called Campaign Manager, which the company includes multi-channel set-up, advertiser site tagging, campaign management, trafficking, quality assurance.
Sightly Announces Expansion in US
Video advertising platform Sightly on Tuesday announced it is opening two new offices in the US, one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles. The company is also adding several new hires which is says will help support increasing demand for video advertising. “We believe our commitment to transparency, performance branding and ad personalisation has allowed us to thrive at a time when many in the digital ad ecosystem are facing hurdles in establishing trust with advertisers,” said Sightly CEO Larry Harris.
The Week in TV
COBA Calls for Brexit Clarity
The UK’s Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) this week appealed to the government for “urgent clarity” over the UK’s Brexit strategy, and how it will affect international broadcasters based in the UK. COBA, which represents broadcasters including Disney, Fox and Discovery, is after more information on whether there will be a transition period after the UK leaves the EU during which an Ofcom license will remain valid for broadcasting across Europe. As VAN has previously reported, broadcasters would like the UK to reach a deal for Ofcom licenses to remain valid across Europe after Britain leaves the EU, but COBA says broadcasters can’t afford to wait much longer to see if such a deal is reached. As such they would like reassurance that if no deal is reached, there would be a transition period after the UK leaves the EU to give broadcasters more time to restructure their operations.
Disney Brings Esports Into Prime Time
Disney this week announced it has secured the broadcasting rights for the Overwatch League, a competitive esports league based around popular video game Overwatch, with games to be broadcast across Disney’s networks including ESPN and ABC. The multi-year deal is significant as it marks the first time esports will be broadcast during ESPN prime time slots, and the first time a competitive esports league is broadcast on ABC. Esports have long drawn large audiences on digital platforms like Twitch, and the esports industry was valued at $1.5 billion last year. Some commentators say this deal demonstrates mainstream media companies putting faith in the long-term value of esports broadcasting.
Comcast and Fox’s Bidding War for Sky Heats Up
Comcast and Fox’s ongoing bidding war for Sky escalated this week as the two raised their offers for the British media company. On Wednesday, Fox raised it’s bid for the portion of Sky it doesn’t already own to £14 per share, valuing the company at $32.5 billion. Comcast quickly responded, raising its own bid to £14.75 per share, valuing Sky at $34 billion. Meanwhile Comcast remains locked in a separate bidding war for Fox itself with Disney, though Disney’s offer for Fox at the moment seems preferred by Fox’s shareholders.
Brightcove Finds UK’s Most Watched-On-Repeat Shows
Eighty-seven percent of UK adults rewatch their favourite episodes of TV shows after stumbling across them on streaming platforms, according to a study by video ad tech company Brightcove. A further 45 percent said they have rewatched entire boxsets after finding them on on-demand services. While streaming services invest heavily in original content, the study demonstrates the value in older, non-original TV shows. The study says the 20 most re-watched TV shows in the UK are:
1. Only Fools and Horses
2. Dad’s Army
4. Fawlty Towers
6. Mr Bean
7. The Inbetweeners
8. The Simpsons
9. The Good Life
10. Top Gear
11. Blue Planet
12. Big Bang Theory
13. Men Behaving Badly
14. Gavin and Stacey
15. Absolutely Fabulous
16. The Office
17. Last of the Summer Wine
18. Little Britain
19. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
The Week in Publishing
Facebook Tests AR Ads
Facebook has begun testing augmented reality ads in the News Feed, the company revealed this week. The ads appear as regular ads within the News Feed, but include a “tap to try it on” option which opens up the AR capabilities. The most common use for these ads seems to be for brands to show how their products might appear in the real world, for example a sunglasses brand allowing customers to virtually ‘try on’ their products, or a homeware brand showing how their products might look in the customer’s home.
YouTube Commits $25 Million to News Initiatives
YouTube this week committed $25 million to news initiatives as it seeks to establish itself as a trusted source of news and quality journalism. Part of the Google News Initiative launched earlier this year, the money will be spent on developing new product features and improving the news experience on YouTube, with Vox Media, Jovem Pan and India Today partnering on the initiative. Money will also be spent on supporting news organisations working to build sustainable video operations across 20 (unnamed) global markets, and on expanding YouTube’s team specifically dedicated to supporting news organisations.
Twitter Cracks Down on Fake Followers
Twitter purged millions of accounts on its platform this week as it sought to crack down on ‘fake followers’. The social media site specifically removed accounts which had previously been ‘locked’ due to suspicious-looking sudden changes in account behaviour, this resulted in some of the most popular users losing millions of followers. Twitter’s legal, policy and trust, and safety lead Vijaya Gadde said the move was designed to maintain transparency and trust in Twitter as a platform for conversation. However, the move frightened investors when news first broke on Monday, with shares falling nine percent and $3.1 billion wiped off the company’s value, though stocks have since partially recovered.
The Week for Agencies
S4 Capital Wins Bidding War for MediaMonks
Ex-WPP CEO Martin Sorrell’s new investment vehicle S4 Capital won a bidding war sparked last week with his former company for Dutch digital content business MediaMonks, securing a deal worth around $350 million according to various reports. Lawyers representing WPP have since claimed that Sorrell has broken a non-disclosure agreement he had with his former employer, and as such has jeopardised future payouts he was entitled to from WPP, though Sorrell disputes this claim. MediaMonks marks S4’s first acquisition, though more will be expected soon, with the company saying future acquisitions will focus on “further platform development, data analytics and digital media buying, run on a single P&L basis, as clients are increasingly demanding”.
Oglivy Fires CCO
Oglivy this week fired its global chief creative officer (CCO) Tham Khai Meng, following an internal investigation into complaints filed by employees about Meng’s behaviour. “After carefully reviewing the investigation’s findings with several of my partners, we concluded that Khai’s behaviour was a clear breach of our company values and code of conduct,” said an internally circulated memo written by CEO John Seifert. “I have decided to terminate Khai’s employment with the company with immediate effect.”
Nearly Half of Agencies Exclusively Use Their Own Tech for Programmatic Buying
Nearly 50 percent of agencies exclusively use their own tech to enable programmatic trading, according to a research released by IPONWEB and ExchangeWire, though a slim majority still use third party tech to some degree. The study predicts more agencies will shift to only using their own tech in the coming years too as they seek to improve upon the way in which third parties have handled issues like ad fraud and brand safety, issues which they say are tempting clients to in-house the process themselves. Read the full story on VAN.
Artificial Intelligence is the Next Industrial Revolution According to Digital Ad Industry
Eighty percent of those within the digital ad industry see artificial intelligence as “the next industrial revolution”, according to a study from IAB Europe and Xaxis. Improved productivity, more effective targeting and increased competitive advantage were some of the key business objectives that respondents said AI helps them achieve. The survey of over 1000 people from across the industry also found that 80 percent believe they have a good understanding of AI, with intermediaries the most confident in their understanding.
Partnerships of the Week
Google Selects IAS as Brand Safety and Viewability Preferred Measurement Partner
Integral Ad Science (IAS) has been selected as a preferred partner in Google’s ‘Measurement Programme’ for both brand safety and viewability, the company revealed this week. IAS has partnered with Google to provide viewability measurement since 2016 and began providing brand safety starting in 2017. Being a chosen partner with Google allows IAS access to more data and insights, which IAS says will allow it to build reliable and robust solutions that ensure marketers their ads are protected.
GeoSpock and Tamoco Partner to Scale Location Data Insights
Data integration company GeoSpock has secured a deal with sensor-driven location data network Tamoco to carry out data processing for the company. GeoSpock will package Tamoco’s data into tangible and actionable visualisations for clients, according to the press release. The two companies say partnership will provide a solution that allows clients to make faster, data-driven decisions about how consumers move and behave in the real-world.
Hires of the Week
Havas Group Picks James Wright as PR Chairman
Havas Group this week announced it has picked James Wright as its global chairman of Havas PR Collective, as well as CEO of Havas PR North America. Wright currently serves as CEO of Havas-owned Red Agency Australia, as well as chief commercial officer for Havas Group New Zealand/Australia.
WPP’s Mirum Appoints Amanda Seaford as US CEO
WPP-owned agency Mirum has appointed Amanda Seaford as its first ever female US CEO. Seaford has previously worked at Critical Mass for over a decade, including a role as chief client officer.
Unlimited Group Promotes Sarah Shilling to Group CMO
Agency network Unlimited Group has promoted Sarah Shilling to the role of group chief marketing officer. Shilling moves from her previous position as managing partner, having first moved to Unlimited in 2013 from PR firm Fever Unlimited.
The Week on Van
Introducing the First Three Speakers for New Video Frontiers 2018, read more on VAN
No Reason Agencies Shouldn’t be Thriving says The Exchange Lab’s Dobson, read more on VAN
Exclusive: ITV Joins European TV Giants in Bid to Buy Videology, read more on VAN
Traditional TV is Facing an Existential Crisis but There’s Still Hope says Omnicom’s Hopwood, read more on VAN
Sky’s Hutcheson on Creating AdSmart’s “Transactional Layer”, read more on VAN
Inventory Levels have Declined but Third Party Data is Strong Post-GDPR says Omnicom’s Hopwood, read more on VAN
Nearly Half of Agencies Exclusively Use Their Own Tech for Programmatic Buying, read more on VAN
Ad of the Week
After being asked by my bank over the phone last week to recall my ‘favourite word’ which I set as a password roughly 13 years ago, this spot from Apple spoke to a very real issue which is fresh on my mind. This ad dramatises the struggle of remembering password, and presents the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology as a more stress-free solution.