The WIR: Amazon Plans New Ad-Supported Channels for Fire TV, Snap Launches an In-App Ad Network, and Discovery Secures BBC Content for Natural History SVOD Service


In this week’s Week in Review: Amazon reportedly plans new ad-supported channels for Fire TV, Snap launches a new ad network for apps, and Discovery aims to become the Netflix of non-fiction. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Amazon Plans Expansion for Ad-Supported Streaming on Fire TV
Amazon is planning a big expansion for its ad-supported streaming offering on Fire TV devices, according to a report from Cheddar. Amazon currently offers its ad supported service IMDb Freedive over Fire TV, but has ambitions to add new channels centring on news and various entertainment categories to its over-the-top (OTT) platform. Advertisers running campaigns on these new channels would be able to use Amazon’s first-party sales data for targeting, with measurement verification provided by Nielsen, according to the report.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly still hammering out content deals for these new channels, but is already asking advertisers to commit millions of dollars to the offering, which is expected to release this Autumn.

Snap Launches In-App Ad Network
Snap is launching a new ad network, the Snapchat Audience Network, to run ads on third party apps. The new offering, announced at Snap’s ‘Partner Summit’, will let advertisers buying ‘Snap Ads’ on Snapchat extend those campaigns onto other partnered apps. The company also launched ‘App Stories’, which will enable users to share their Snapchat content to partnered apps which have their own ‘story’ feature, and announced a new slate of ‘Snap Originals’ programming – claiming the amount of time users have spent watching Snapchat Shows has nearly tripled over the past year.

Discovery Signs $300 Million Content Deal with BBC for SVOD Push
Discovery Inc. and the BBC have signed a $300 million, ten year content deal which will see Discovery license the BBC’s entire library of natural history programmes for an upcoming subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service. The natural history-themed offering, expected to be released by 2020, is one of a number of SVOD services Discovery plans to release as it aims to become the Netflix of non-fiction. “Why can’t we be the Netflix of golf?” CEO David Zaslav said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “Why can’t we be the cycling Netflix? …Why can’t we be the natural-history Netflix?” The SVOD push will include the release of more interactive content, including what Zaslav describes as the ‘Peleton of food’, where subscribers can take live-streamed cooking classes with celebrity chefs.

Discovery and the BBC have also finalised their carve-up of UKTV, a network of British TV channels which the two jointly owned. Discovery will take full control of lifestyle channels Good Food, Home and Really, while the BBC will take ownership of the remaining seven channels, including Alibi, Dave and Gold.

The Week in Tech

Sizmek Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Sizmek, the advertising technology company acquired by private-equity firm Vector Capital for $122 million in 2016, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The buy-side advertising platform on Saturday announced that it has initiated voluntary proceedings under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to “preserve value and seek access to capital while the Company continues to review strategic alternatives”. Read the full story on VAN.

Mark Zuckerberg Calls for More Internet Regulation
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg this week added his voice to the tech regulation debate, saying he believes governments should play a “more active role” in regulating the internet. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Zuckerberg said he believes new regulation is needed in four areas: harmful content, election integrity privacy and data portability.

Zuckerberg’s call for regulation may initially seem surprising, but in many ways makes sense. With governments around the world calling for, and implementing, new tech regulation, Zuckerberg likely realises that more regulation is inevitable, and wants to have a say in how that regulation might look. Zuckerberg would also almost certainly prefer tighter regulation to one potential alternative – a break up of his company.

Comscore’s President and Chief Executive Suddenly Depart
Measurement firm Comscore’s chief executive Bryan Wiener and president Sarah Hofstetter have both suddenly left the company due to disagreements with the board over the company’s strategy. “I ultimately chose to leave as the Board and I had irreconcilable differences over how to execute the company’s strategy,” said Mr. Wiener in a statement. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time, and believe the company is strategically positioned to continue to take advantage of the rapidly evolving media marketplace with a core focus on advanced TV.” Hofstetter’s views about the company’s direction were aligned with Wiener’s according to the WSJ, leading her to give up her position as well. Board member Dale Fuller will become interim CEO.

Verizon Media Adds DOOH to DSP
Verizon Media on Thursday announced the release of digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory for its omnichannel demand-side platform (DSP), enabling customers to programmatically serve ads on digital screens in public spaces. “Interest in DOOH is growing, and we know consumers want to connect with brands through multiple channels before purchasing,” said Jeff Lucas, head of North American sales and global client solutions at Verizon Media.

Programmatically Traded Ads Outperform Direct Buys on Viewability says IAS
Buy-side pressure for better media quality from programmatically traded inventory is paying off according the verification and measurement company Integral Ad Science, which found that programmatically traded ads are now outperforming direct buys for viewability in the UK for the first time. For video specifically, programmatically traded ads still lag behind direct buys, though the gap is closing according IAS’s H2 2018 Media Quality Report. Read the full story on VAN.

Amobee Selected by Univision as Linear Television Optimisation Platform of Record
Amobee this week announced an agreement with Univision Communications Inc to be its linear television optimisation platform of record, which the two say will allow advertisers to plan and transact against their custom strategic target audiences or proprietary first party data. “Bringing data to the top of the marketing funnel provides better targeting and addressability to television investments, with overall television advertising spending slated to surpass $200 billion by 2020,” says Kim Perell, CEO of Amobee. “With this next-generation solution, Univision is helping advertisers better reach consumers across an increasingly fragmented media landscape by applying the power of programmatic advertising to linear television.”

The Week in TV

ITV Launches New Programmatic Sales Platform with Amobee
UK broadcaster ITV announced on Thursday a partnership with SingTel-owned ad tech company Amobee to build a new programmatic trading platform for video ad inventory on ITV’s on-demand platform, ITV Hub. ITV already offered targeted advertising on its digital video inventory, but ITV says the new programmatic trading platform “will give advertisers the opportunity for customer-controlled fully-programmatic buying, with advanced data-enabled targeting”. And while to begin with it will exclusively sell ITV’s digital inventory, ITV’s managing director of commercial Kelly Williams says that other broadcasters will be invited to join the platform in the future. Read the full story on VAN.

Viacom Signs Up to T-Mobile’s Mobile TV Service
Viacom has become the first media partner for T-Mobile’s upcoming mobile TV service. The two have struck a deal which will see Viacom channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central available for live-streaming on T-Mobile’s service, as well as Viacom content made available for on-demand viewing. “Viacom represents the best of the best, most-popular brands on cable, so they are an amazing partner for us!” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

Hulu Caps Ad Loads
US streaming service Hulu has begun capping ad loads at 90 seconds, cutting them back from 180 to 240 seconds long. The move cuts commercial time on the service by half according to AdAge, but is designed to make for a better viewer experience, making commercial pods more consistent across shows.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook Hints at News Tab
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg hinted this week his company may launch a dedicated tab for high-quality news, saying that Facebook might pay news publishers to have their content hosted there. Facebook has historically had a strained relationship with news publishers who have complained that the social network benefits from sharing their content without paying to do so. Facebook also early last year began deprioritising news content on its News Feed, which has hit some publishers hard as their posts have become less visible.

But Zuckerberg said in a conversation with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner that his company has “talked about the role quality journalism plays in building informed communities and the principles Facebook should use for building a news tab to surface more high-quality news, including the business model and ecosystem to support it”. The news tab would likely be free to users if it were to be released, according to Recode.

Apple News+ Signs Up 200,000 in First Two Days
Apple’s new paid news service, Apple News+, signed up 200,000 subscribers within 48 hours of its release last week according to the New York Times. The service provides digital access within the Apple News app to publications including the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, and Condé Nast magazines including The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair. It’s been seen as something of a risk by those taking part as users may choose to dump more expensive direct subscriptions (the WSJ costs $39 per month for digital access) in favour of Apple’s $9.99 per month subscription. But as The New Yorker’s digital editor Michael Luo tweeted, partnered publications may choose to not make all of their content available on Apple’s service.

The Week for Agencies

Accenture Buys Droga5
Consultancy Accenture Interactive this week made its biggest push into the ad agency world so far with the acquisition of creative agency Droga5. Terms of the deal were not announced, but Accenture will likely have paid a sizeable sum – the company said the agency is its biggest acquisition since its founding in 2009. Droga5 has won a number of awards over the years for its creative works, including the Cannes Lions Independent Agency of the Year award for three years running between 2015-2017.

“Today’s news represents an evolution in Accenture Interactive’s journey to build a new agency model—one with the power to engineer transformative brand experiences, and infuse those experiences with the emotional and inspirational power of brand thinking and creativity,” the company said in a statement.

Publicis Confirms It’s Exploring $5 Billion Epsilon Acquisition
French holding group Publicis Groupe this week confirmed it’s sizing up a potential acquisition of marketing services company Epsilon, which could be worth around $5 billion according to Bloomberg. Publicis is reportedly competing against a joint offer from Goldman Sachs and Advent International to buy the business from current owner Alliance Data Systems.

“Epsilon is a major player in data and targeted marketing solutions (mass personalisation) operating mainly in North America,” said a statement released by Publicis. “The Group’s governing bodies feel an obligation to study any possibility to strengthen its position thanks to assets that could fit the Group’s strategy and bring an enhanced service to the Group’s clients while reinforcing its competitiveness for the future.”

Dentsu Aegis Network Pledges to Make Progress After UK Gender Pay Gap Worsens
Dentsu Aegis promised to make progress this week after reporting that its UK overall median gender pay gap of 17.6 percent in April 2018 had widened since the previous year by 3.5 percent. Dentsu attributed its figures to fewer women in senior roles, fewer women in specialist digital roles and more women in part-time positions compared to men.

“We will continue to review and monitor these trends closely and develop and embed new approaches to further strengthen ourselves as a progressive and fair employer, such as a commitment to better learning and development opportunities and access to flexible working,” the company said in a statement.

Liberty Mutual Claims 30 Percent Fall in Agency Fees After In-Housing
Insurance company Liberty Mutual joined a number of brands claiming their in-housing efforts are bearing fruit, saying it’s seen agency fees fall by 30 percent after bringing 80 percent of its creative work in-house. Liberty Mutual’s CMO Emily Fink told Business Insider that its in-housing strategy has been “both efficient and effective”, enabling faster decisions to be made as well as cutting costs.

Hires of the Week

RTL Group CEO Bert Habets Replaced by Thomas Rabe
RTL Group CEO Bert Habets stepped down this week unexpectedly, citing personal circumstances, and has been replaced by Thomas Rabe, CEO and chairman of RTL Group’s parent company Bertelsmann.

Condé Nast Appoints Roger Lynch as CEO
Magazine publisher Condé Nast has appointed former Pandora chief executive Robert Lynch as its first global CEO, with Lynch heading up both Condé Nast US and Condé Nast International. Lynch replaces Bob Sauerberg, who was previously CEO of the US arm of the company.

IPG Mediabrands Promotes Dani Benowitz to US President
IPG Mediabrands has promoted Dani Benowitz, previously global executive vice president, director of investment, to the role of US president.

Dataxu Names Ed Montes President & GM, TotalTV
Dataxu has named Ed Montes as president and GM of TotalTV. Montes, who previously served as president of solutions and CRO, will oversee all TotalTV sales, marketing and product management in his new role.

This Week on VAN

Sizmek Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, read more on VAN

Video Ads Feel the Force of 5G, read more on VAN

Programmatically Traded Ads Outperform Direct Buys on Viewability says IAS, read more on VAN

ITV Launches New Programmatic Sales Platform with Amobee, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

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