In this week’s Week in Review: The US Department of Justice takes action against ad fraud, Ofcom’s Sharon White calls for UK broadcaster collaboration on a joint streaming service, and the Advertising ID Consortium releases a proof of concept. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.
US Justice Department Charges Eight People with Ad Fraud
The US Justice Department this week charged eight people with running digital ad fraud operations, thought to have cost advertisers tens of millions of dollars. The charges related to two operations, 3ve and Methbot, both of which primarily targeted video ads. 3ve allegedly infected computers with a virus which would then create traffic on fraudulent websites, while Methbot used servers and data centres to create fake ‘bot’ traffic.
Law enforcement launched coordinated raids across Europe to take down the fraudulent operations. Three of the eight charged were caught and arrested, while the others remain at large.
Ofcom Calls for British Joint-Streaming Service
Sharon White, head of UK media regulator Ofcom, this week called for British broadcasters to club together and create a joint streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix. Speaking at the Outside the Box conference on Wednesday, she said “if the growth of Netflix and Amazon tells us one thing, it is that viewers will flock to single destinations that offer a wide variety of quality content […] a common platform could combine the pulling power of Broadchurch, Blue Planet and Bake Off. It would make it easier for viewers to access content across a range of devices, with a single login.”
Broadcasters in Germany and Spain have already begun work on similar initiatives, but a previous attempt in the UK, dubbed ‘Project Kangaroo’, was struck down by competition authorities.
Advertising ID Consortium Releases First Proof of Concept
The Advertising ID Consortium, made up of LiveRamp, dataxu, Index Exchange and The Trade Desk, on Thursday released its first commercial proof on concept. The Consortium hopes to create a solution to match the identifies of online audiences, in order to allow advertisers access to large amounts of user-specific data without having to go through the likes of Google and Facebook. The proof of concept saw dataxu leverage LiveRamp’s people-based identifier Identity Link in the bidstream, making it the first company to do so.
If the initative takes off, it could provide an alternative to cookie-based targeting, which has become more difficult due to a combination of strict privacy laws and initiatives like Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). However, the Advertising ID Consortium has had a tricky start, with both MediaMath and AppNexus leaving the consortium since its launch last year.
The Week in Tech
Facebook Admits Taking Money for Foreign Ads Targeting Irish Abortion Referendum
Facebook this week admitted to receiving large sums of money from foreign groups for ads targeting Irish voters in the run up to the abortion referendum earlier this year, according to The Times. Facebook took the decision two weeks before the vote to ban foreign adverts, with Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions Lord Allan of Hallam confirming it was related to concerns over foreign influence in elections.
It also emerged this week that Facebook at one point considered selling access to its user data. Internal emails seen by the Wall Street Journal suggests that discussions were held around charging for access to data, despite the fact that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated very clearly in the past that doing so would be against the company’s ethos.
Yospace Claims Breakthrough in Reducing Ad Load for OTT
Yospace says it has successfully demonstrated how a reduction in ad load combined with addressable advertising offers a viable model for broadcasters in the over -the-top (OTT) space. The server-side ad insertion (SSAI) specialist developed its Non-Linear Startover (NLSO) technology to accommodate increased interest among broadcasters to reduce ad load in order to improve viewer engagement. Yospace says that while ad breaks are shorter, precise per-viewer decisioning means broadcasters are able to command a premium for advertising. Belgian broadcaster Medialaan reported an increase in capacity for long-form views, alongside increased ad revenues, as a result of using the service.
Conviva Acquires Delmondo
Video measurement and analytics company Conviva on Wednesday announced it has acquired fellow video measurement company Delmondo for an undisclosed sum. Delmondo specialises in social video analytics, covering Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.
Video to Account for Three Quarters of Mobile Traffic in 2024
Mobile video will account for 74 percent of mobile data traffic in 2024, up from 60 percent this year, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report. This will be partly driven by the growth of 5G, which Ericsson predicts will reach 1.5 billion subscriptions by 2024.
The Week in TV
LOVEStv Goes Live in Spain
LOVEStv, a collaboration between Atresmedia, Mediaset and RTVE in Spain, went live this week. The joint venture is an HbbTV-based platform which allows users to stream catch-up content from the broadcasters’ channels, and to watch currently airing programmes from the start. The three broadcasters now plan to work on a joint over-the-top (OTT) platform, which is set to include additional content.
Fox News Launches New Streaming Service
Fox News this week launched ‘Fox Nation’, a new streaming service designed to appeal to Fox News’ most hardcore fans. Fox Nation will host exclusive online content featuring Fox News staples like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. A lot of the content will be the sort of news commentary found on Fox News, but there will also be a selection of documentaries all aligned with Fox News’ right-wing stance.
Ireland Receives First Brexit-Related Licensing Application
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) chief executive Michael O’Keefe this week claimed it has had its first licensing application from a broadcaster taking precautionary measures against Brexit. As VAN has previously reported, broadcasters have been concerned that the UK government may fail to secure a deal with the EU which will mean an Ofcom license remains valid for EU-wide broadcasting. As such, some have been starting to look for alternatives.
Netflix to Scale Up European Production
Netlfix plans to increase the number of films and TV series it produces in Europe by a third in 2019, from 141 this year to 221 next year. Erik Barmack, VP of international originals, says Netflix is ramping up European investment in anticipation of increasing demand for non-English language content. “There will come a time when half of the top ten shows globally won’t be in the English language, and shows with a multinational cast – and often in multiple languages – will become the norm, as long as technology can get the right story in front of the right person in a language they can understand,” he said.
The Week in Publishing
Majority of Daily Mail’s Ad Revenue Now Comes from Digital
Ad revenues from Mail Online have overtaken revenues from the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday for the first time, the Daily Mail & General Trust revealed in its financial results this week. Mail Online’s readership has fallen by almost two million over the past year, but nonetheless digital ad revenues grew by an underlying five percent, accounting for 51 percent of total ad revenues. Overall, revenues for DMGT fell by seven percent.
YouTube Plans to Make All Its Original Content Ad-Supported
YouTube this week announced a significant shift in its original content strategy, announcing that it will make all of its original programming ad-supported from 2020. Original content was previously restricted to subscribers to YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red), but the company said the decision to make this content free is designed to help it reach a larger audience. Read the full story on VAN.
Condé Nast CEO Steps Down as Publisher Restructures
Condé Nast’s CEO Bob Sauerberg has stepped down amid a company restructure, with no immediate successor named. The publisher is merging its US and international businesses, having merged the US and international teams for Condé Nast Traveller a few months back. The point of the merger is to consolidate business and back-end operations amid a challenging environment for publishers, according to the FT.
Facebook Watch Pivots to Targeting Older Users
Facebook’s premium video hub Watch is changing tack and targeting older users, according to a CNBC report. Citing media companies working with Facebook, CNBC claims Facebook is commissioning content designed to appeal to over-30s, featuring traditional celebrities rather than influencers, as Facebook’s younger users are flocking towards Instagram. One media company claimed that only around a quarter of Watch shows with advertising enabled are targeted at users in their early 20s.
The Week for Agencies
WPP Merges JWT and Wunderman
WPP this week announced its decision to merge J. Walter Thompson, which it claims is the world’s oldest ad agency, with digital network Wunderman. The new company will be called Wunderman Thompson, and will be based in JWT’s offices in Manhattan. Mel Edwards, CEO of Wunderman, will be CEO of the new company, while JWT global CEO Tamara Ingram will serve as chairman. “To achieve transformative outcomes, clients today need inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight. I am really excited to be able to deliver that within one agency,” said Edwards. “Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills. I couldn’t be more honored to lead this new organization and its exceptional people.”
IPA Secures Funding for New Industry Apprenticeship
This Institute for Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) this week secure funding from the Institute for Apprenticeships for a new apprenticeship standard. The standard, developed by employers within the industry, is for an 18 month level 3 apprenticeship which is designed to fit around the new recruits’ day jobs, and incorporates the IPA’s Foundation Certificate.
Privacy Groups Accuse FTC of Being Digital Ad Industry Lapdog
A coalition of privacy groups have accused the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of being a ‘lapdog’ for the digital ad industry in a joint letter to the agency seen by Bloomberg, claiming that the regulator’s chairman Joe Simons is failing to properly protect consumer privacy. The accusations come following a statement released by the Commission earlier this month, in which it warned the government against creating new privacy laws which require consumers to ‘opt-in’ to use of their data. The collection of privacy groups, which includes the Center for Digital Democracy, the Consumer Federation of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the FTC that the agency’s latest position on privacy laws “removes what little credibility the FTC under Chairman Simons has”. Read the full story on VAN.
Deals of the Week
Disney Consolidates Video Ad Serving with Google
Disney this week announced a new deal with Google, which will see the media giant bring its entire global digital video and display business onto Google Ad Manager, which will serve as its core ad tech platform. Disney had previously handled some of its ad serving through Comcast’s FreeWheel, but has now decided to consolidate all operations with Google.
Hires of the Week
WarnerMedia Hires Brad Bentley for New Streaming Service
WarnerMedia has hired Brad Bentley as general manager and executive VP for direct-to-consumer development, where he will oversee the development of WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. Bentley joins from WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T where he took charge of launching AT&T’s own streaming service, DirectTVNow, back in 2016.
Jodie Stranger Chosen as Chief Client Officer at Starcom
Jodie Stranger has left her role as chief executive at Starcom UK to become global chief client officer for the company. Starcom UK is now searching for a replacement for Stranger.
MAD Network Brings in Jeremy Steinberg and Bill Schild
MAD Network, the blockchain and cryptography solutions company for the advertising industry, on Thursday announced that it is bringing on Jeremy Steinberg, Chief Revenue Officer at Yieldmo, and Bill Schild, a 25-year industry veteran and former Executive Vice President at Viant Inc., to its advisory team.
Mediacom Appoints Christine Fang as Global CFO
Mediacom this week announced it has appointed Christine Fang as its global chief financial officer. Fang currently works as CFO for GroupM China.
This Week on VAN
Preventing VPN Abuse is “A Game of Whack-a-Mole” says Digital Element’s Johnson, read more on VAN
Privacy Groups Accuse FTC of Being Digital Ad Industry Lapdog, read more on VAN
YouTube Plans to Make All Its Original Content Ad-Supported, read more on VAN
How Figaro Group is Getting 40 Percent of Digital Revenue from Video, read more on VAN
Ad of the Week
The Childhood Trust, The Real Story of Christmas, Aesop