The WIR: UK’s Data Watchdog Condemns RTB, YouTube Faces an FTC Child Protection Probe, and Quibi’s Ad Sales Top $100 Million Before it’s Even Launched


In this week’s Week in Review: The ICO condemns RTB, YouTube faces an FTC investigation over child protection issues, and Quibi books $100 million in ad sales before it’s even launched. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

UK’s Data Watchdog Takes Aim at RTB
The UK’s data protection watchdog the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has released an update on its investigation into ad tech and real time bidding (RTB), in which Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that ” the creation and sharing of personal data profiles about people” which takes place in programmatic auctions “feels disproportionate, intrusive and unfair, particularly when people are often unaware it is happening”. The report also said that “the adtech industry appears immature in its understanding of data protection requirements,” suggesting that RTB as it currently operates may be breaking a number of data protection laws.

The ICO is not taking any action yet – the report says the regulator will continue targeted information gathering and engaging with industry stakeholders. But it does serve as a strong warning to ad tech companies that some of their current practices may be illegal, and with the ICO continuing to investigate, we may see action taken in the future.

YouTube Faces Federal Investigation Over Child Protection Issues
The US Federal Trade Commission is in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube over potential breaches of children’s privacy laws, according to a report from the Washington Post, with the video platform facing a potential hefty fine. The FTC reportedly received numerous complaints from privacy groups over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as well perceived insufficient efforts to protect children from harmful content. The investigation could force YouTube to update its policies, and the WSJ reported that the company is considering moving all children’s content onto the separate YouTube Kids app as part of an effort to appease the FTC.

Quibi Secures $100 Million in Ad Revenue Before it Even Launches
Advertisers are committing significant sums to Quibi, the upcoming mobile-first video service founded by ex- Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and headed up by ex-HP CEO Meg Whitman. The service is set to launch next year, and will feature TV shows and films broken up into sub-ten minute episodes (‘Quibi’ is short for ‘quick bites’), with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro signed up to produce content. This appears to have been enough to attract advertisers including P&G and PepsiCo to buy into the concept – Whitman said that the sales already made account for two-third of inventory which will be available for the first year, according to the WSJ.

The Week in Tech

Weborama Withdraws from Race for Sizmek Ad Server
French ad tech company Weborama has withdrawn from the race to buy Sizmek’s ad server and dynamic creative optimisation businesses, according to The Drum. After Amazon appeared to have wrapped up a deal to buy the businesses at the end of last month, Weborama announced a few weeks back that it had submitted a higher bid in an effort to keep Sizmek independent from the walled gardens. But given the disparity in resources between the two companies, it was always clear that Amazon would be able to squeeze Weborama out of the race if it wanted to, and indeed Weborama CEO Alain Levy cited this as the reason for his company’s withdrawal.

Uber Sues Five Ad Networks for Fraud
Uber is suing five ad networks; Hydrane SAS, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi and AdAction; for fraud, alleging that they bought nonexistent, non-viewable or fraudulent ads on its behalf. Uber previously sued its agency Fetch over the same issue, but withdrew its case late last year – and now Uber is targeting the ad networks involved in its campaigns instead (AdExchanger has a copy of the filing here).

MediaMath and Rubicon Partner with Havas for “Accountable, Addressable Supply Chain”
MediaMath announced this week that it is working with Rubicon Project to build “a direct and transparent programmatic delivery structure” which it says will result in a “reimagined supply chain that works better for the entire industry”. The new delivery structure features end-to-end fee transparency, direct connections between buyers and sellers, and focuses on the availability of brand safe, fraud-free, viewable inventory according to a MediaMath statement. Havas is signed up at the first agency to join the effort.

Google Adds New Interactive Formats to DV360
Google has added two new interactive ad formats to its DV360 demand-side platform. The first, ‘Swirl’ , is designed for mobile web, and enables users to rotate a 3D model of a product in all directions. The second format will let brands and advertisers run YouTube live stream campaigns in display ads across screens and devices.

Google Swirl

Connatix Launches New Online Video Platform ‘Elements’
Video tech company Connatix this week launched a new online video platform called Elements, which it says unifies editorial and revenue goals through an integrated technology stack. The new OVP will operate primarily on a revenue-share model, with no up-front cost commitment or hosting fees, which Connatix says is unique to other OVPs.

MediaMath Partners with White Ops to Fight SIVT
MediaMath and White Ops this week announced a new partnership aimed at combating sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) before it can be purchased. The two will pair their identity and fraud detection solutions, saying that impressions served on the MediaMath platform will be guarded against SIVT through White Ops’ Human Verification technology. The two will co-locate servers globally which cover MediaMath’s entire footprint, with the intent that White Ops’ tech will evaluate every impression MediaMath bids on.

The Week in TV

CBS Lines Up a Bid for Viacom
CBS is lining up a bid for Viacom to be made in the coming weeks, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. There have been multiple attempts to reunite the two companies after they were split apart over thirteen years ago, with ex-CEO Les Moonves proving an obstacle during the most recent attempt. But with Moonves forced to step down last year due to allegations of sexual assault and harassment, it appears another attempt is now on the cards.

ProSieben and Discovery’s Joint Streaming Service Joyn Goes Live
Joyn, an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service launched by ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery, went live on Tuesday. The new service is designed to be the German equivalent of Hulu, and the two founders have inked content deals with a number of other German media companies, though Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland is a notable absence. The service is free and ad-supported at launch, with a premium subscription due to debut later this year.

Comcast Launches New Addressable Advertising Initiative
Comcast Advertising this week launched a new initiative, ‘On Addressability’, which aims to create standards for addressable TV advertising, partnering with Charter Communications and Cox Media for the project. “TV is often looked at as the lowest common denominator medium (in advertising), and unless addressability is achieved at scale, we’re going to fall short,” said Comcast Cable’s president of advertising Marcien Jenckes in an interview.

NBCUniversal Debuts New Ad Formats
NBCUniversal announced this week the launch of two new ad formats. The first, ‘Picture-in-Picture 2.0’, will involve interactive elements like real-time fan voting or augmented reality experiences which run as an ad plays. The second, ‘Must Hear TV’, will play “iconic brand sounds coming out of contextually relevant programmes” as the screen fades to black in the transition between a TV show and the ad break.

Amazon Rebrands Freedive to IMDB TV
Amazon has rebranded its ad-supported video service, previously IMDB Freedive, to IMDB TV, as it plans to triple the number of TV shows and films it carries. An Amazon spokesperson said that the new brand is designed to give customers a clearer understanding of the service.

The Week in Publishing

Reddit Partners with Oracle for Brand Safety
Oracle Data Cloud this week announced a partnership with Reddit to provide new brand safety controls for advertisers. Reddit has been ramping up its ad offering over the past few years, but the nature of the site, which revolves around users submitting original content or links to third-party sites, has been somewhat problematic from a brand safety perspective. Reddit will use Oracle’s Contextual Intelligence solution, which looks at terms used within a post, but also their context, to help measure brand safety.

Snap Stocks Surge After Investors Boost Confidence
Shares in Snapchat parent company Snap grew by over ten percent on Tuesday after analysts at BTIG told investors that the company’s comeback has been somewhat ignored by the market. Snap had a troubled 2018 due to an unpopular redesign and stagnant user growth, but the BTIG analysts said that the positive moves the company has made since have not been fully appreciated by traders. New features like a popular gender-swap filter and a new gaming platform are said to be helping drive user engagement, while an upcoming ad network should help boost monetisation.

News Corp Considers Selling Off News America Marketing
News Corp this week announced that it is “evaluating strategic options” for its News America Marketing business, an in-store ad and coupon specialist. “We believe this strategic review will result in enhanced shareholder value, as we seek to streamline our company, with the aim of greater transparency and profitability,” said News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson.

The Week for Agencies

Brands Partner with Social Platforms to Fight Unsafe Content
A host of big advertisers, agencies and social media companies have teamed up to launch the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, a new industry effort designed to tackle hate speech, bullying and fake news online. The group aims to “identify specific collaborative actions, processes and protocols for protecting consumers and brands from safety issues”, according to the announcement. “Alliance members will work collaboratively to identify actions that will better protect consumers online, working towards a media environment where hate speech, bullying and disinformation is challenged, where personal data is protected, and used responsibly when given, and where everyone is, especially children, better protected online,” it continued.

Among those signed up are Facebook, Google, GroupM, Publicis Media, Omnicom Media Group, P&G, Unilever, Nestlé, ANA, 4A’s, and IAB.

WPP’s Read Not Keen on Big Tech Breakup
WPP’s CEO Mark Read doesn’t see a way that big tech companies like Google and Facebook could be broken up which would benefit consumers, he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week. However he did say they need to be more transparent about what they do, and better understand their own responsibility. In the interview Read also said that he doesn’t think a breakup makes sense for his own company, despite speculation. “I constantly hear from our clients that they want us to come closer together,” he said.

Unilever CEO Calls Out ‘Woke-Washing’
Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope called out ‘woke-washing’, ad campaigns which promise to make positive changes in the world but aren’t followed up with substantial action, at Cannes this week. “There are too many examples of brands undermining purposeful marketing by launching campaigns which aren’t backing up what their brand says with what their brand does,” he said, adding that woke-washing “threatens to further destroy trust in our industry, when it’s already in short supply”.

Free The Work Launches to Increase Diversity in Film Making
Alma Har’el this week launched Free The Work, an initiative following on from her Free The Bid scheme which asked ad agencies to include a female director every time they put three directors forward for an ad. Free The Work launches with a broader scope as a database of underrepresented creators in film making, aiming to help surface untapped talent, and help companies track the results of their diversity efforts. P&G, AT&T, Facebook and Amazon Studios are founding partners alongside Har’el.

Hires of the Week

OMG Makes Two Senior UK Appointments
Omnicom Media Group made two new senior UK appointments this week, with Dan Clays picked as the new chief executive of OMG UK, and Tim Pearson chosen to replace him as chief executive of OMD Group UK.

Publicis Group Picks Ben Mooge as UK CCO
Publicis Group this week announced it has hired Ben Mooge, previously executive creative director for Havas, as its new chief creative officer for its UK group.

This Week on VAN

2019 Cannes Lions Preview: The Video and TV Highlights, read more on VAN

The Buy-Side View: Q&A with Pernod Ricard’s Thibaut Portal, read more on VAN

How Jungle Creations Used Social Analytics to Launch a Restaurant Chain, read more on VAN

From Fiction to Reality – A Look at the Emerging Use Cases for Blockchain in Advertising, read more on VAN

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