The WIR: UK’s Data Regulator Cracks Down on Cookie Consent, Ofcom says PSBs Need More Protection, and Apple News+ Underwhelms Publishers


In this week’s Week in Review: The UK’s ICO issues new guidance on cookies, Ofcom moves to protect PSBs against digital competitors, and publisher report disappointing revenues from Apple News+. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

ICO Cracks Down on Cookie Consent
UK data regulator the Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) this week released new guidance on the use of cookies. The ICO called out how some companies have interpreted cookie consent under existing law, and pledged to crack down on those who don’t clean up their act. The ICO’s head of technology policy Ali Shah said that cookie compliance “will be an increasing regulatory priority for the ICO in the future”, but added that action taken will be “proportionate and risk-based”. Among the practices explicitly called out by the ICO were:

  • Stating that continued use of a website constitutes consent
  • Pre-ticking boxes which give consent for setting cookies
  • Setting non-essential cookies if a user clicks away from, or ignores, the consent form
  • Denying users general access to content if they don’t accept cookies (certain content can be limited, though only where cookies are necessary for the service the user is trying to access – cookies for analytics services of digital advertising don’t count)

Ofcom Says PSBs Need More Protection from Digital Giants
The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom this week outlined new measures it’s taking to support public sector broadcasters (PSBs), saying that they face “unprecedented competition from global on-demand and internet services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube”. Ofcom says it is updating rules to ensure traditional PSB TV channels are easy to find in programme guides; recommending new rules to help ensure PSB programmes and players are also clearly visible on internet-connected devices; and launching a national forum to discuss the future of PSBs.

“Our traditional broadcasters are among the finest in the world. But they’re facing unprecedented challenges from competition and new technology,” said Ofcom’s group director for content and media policy Kevin Bakhurst. “So, we are ensuring their channels remain easy to find on TV guides, and convening a national debate on the future of public service media – including how we safeguard its benefits for future generations.”

Publishers So Far are Underwhelmed with Apple News+
Publishers are reportedly losing confidence in Apple’s News+ service, which was unveiled earlier this year, as revenues aren’t matching Apple’s projections. Apple News+ bundles multiple news/magazine subscriptions into one, with the content made available via the Apple News app. Some prominent publishers including The Wall Street Journal and Vox have signed up, while others including The New York Times and The Washington Post steered clear. But those who did sign up are unhappy with how revenue is distributed according to a Business Insider report, with one publishing executive reportedly saying that revenues from News+ were one twentieth of what was projected by Apple.

Apple has apparently pledged to make changes to the app to address the concerns, including simplifying how magazines are converted to Apple News’ format, and more clearly labelling paid articles.

The Week in Tech

Deutsche Telekom Starts to Roll Out 5G in Germany
Deutsche Telekom announced on Wednesday that the company has started the network rollout for 5G in Germany. The company says that by the end of the year, some 300 5G antennas in more than one hundred locations will be built and brought online. The rollout will start with six German cities: first, Berlin and Bonn, which will then be followed by Darmstadt, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich, and the 20 largest cities in Germany will be have access to 5G after 18 months. Read the full story on VAN.

UK CMA to Investigate Digital Advertising and Online Platforms
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, its competition watchdog, this week launched a new “digital markets strategy” which will include a market study of online platforms and digital advertising in the UK. “The market study will examine concerns about how online platforms are using people’s personal data, including whether making this data available to advertisers in return for payment is producing good outcomes for consumers,” according to a statement from the CMA. “Linked to this, the CMA will consider concerns about the market power of certain sites and examine whether the control they have over people’s data is making it harder for rivals to compete for business, to the detriment of consumers.”

MobiTV Secures $50 Million in Funding
MobiTV, a tech company which provides set-top-box free IPTV services for broadcasters, announced this week it has raised $50 million in funding. The company says that over 350 channels including those from A+E Networks, AMC Networks and Disney and ESPN Media Networks are available via MobiTV, which allows streaming via smart TV’s or external devices like Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV. The company says the funding will be used to expand internationally.

Facebook Reinstates Custom Audience Reach Estimates
Facebook this week restored to ability for advertisers to see reach estimates for Custom Audiences, after removing the functionality last year when it emerged the was a vulnerability in the system which allowed advertisers to infer information about individuals using their email addresses. Facebook has now fixed the problem, and reintroduced the tool to advertisers on a randomised basis, with the roll out continuing throughout the year according to AdExchanger.

Sony Network Communications Integrates Taboola News into Sony News Suite Services
Taboola this week announced a new partnership with Sony Network Communications which will see Taboola News integrated into Sony News Suite services. Taboola says the goal of the partnership is to enable Sony to bring personalised and relevant content from Taboola’s global network of premium publishers to News Suite services. “We are honoured to collaborate on the journey with Sony Network Communications, and power those ‘moments of next’ where users are open to discover things they may like and never knew existed,” said Taboola CEO Adam Singolda.

ironSource Launches Cross Promotion Solution for Mobile Game Developers
Mobile monetisation and marketing company ironSource announced this week the launch of a new cross promotion solution which it says will allow developers to run cross promotion campaigns using the full suite of capabilities of an ad network. The company said that currently, publishers using an ad network to run cross promo campaigns may be competing with themselves or paying over the odds for their existing users, and that its new solution helps overcome these problems.

The Week in TV

Sky Media Launches Self-Serve Planning & Analytics Tools
Sky’s ad sales arm Sky Media announced on Thursday that it is rolling out ‘Sky Analytics’ to brands and agencies, a new set of tools for planning, reporting and evaluating campaigns run with Sky via an online portal. The tools are at launch available only for Sky’s on-demand and AdSmart (Sky’s addressable TV advertising offering) inventory, but the plan is to expand the tools to all of Sky Media’s addressable, on-demand and linear inventory. Read more on VAN.

RTL II to Produce Content for Facebook Watch
German free-to-air channel RTL II has agreed to create content for Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. Around 100 hours of RTL II content will be available via Watch, and the company will also produce exclusive content for the platform including live-streams and interviews. The news follows from the announcement last month that fellow German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 will also create content for Watch.

Audiences Fall Back to Linear TV When They Don’t Know What to Watch
US audiences who are signed up to one or more subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services tend to fall back to linear TV when they’re not sure what to watch, according to Nielsen’s Q1 Total Audience Report. The report found that seven in ten US homes have a subscription to at least one SVOD service, and that two-third of the time they’re watching TV or video content, they know exactly what they want to watch. For the times they don’t know what to watch however, Nielsen found that consumers tend to fall back to linear TV. Respondents said tuning into their favourite TV channels is their most frequent solution when they don’t know what to watch, while scanning through linear TV channels is their second most common action. The findings demonstrate that there is still work for SVOD services to do when it comes to highlighting content for users who are casually browsing.

The Week in Publishing

AOP Sees Boost in Publisher Confidence Despite Revenue Decline in Q1
UK digital publishing revenues shrunk by 11.2 percent in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018, but publisher confidence rose, according to the latest Digital Publishers Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Deloitte. But despite the overall reduction in revenue, AOP board member confidence on financial prospects for their company increased by a significant 56 percent in Q1 2019 compared to the previous quarter. “Once again we are seeing an increase in multi-platform revenue as advertisers shift to campaigns which target users seamlessly across devices,” said AOP managing director Richard Reeves. “We also continue to see a trend for digital publishers to explore alternative revenue streams to advertising, with subscriptions performing particularly well. There are some fantastic examples of innovation in this area, with publishers offering consumers options on how to consume content that best aligns with individual preferences, all pointing to the need for tailored, personalised user experiences.”

G20 Leaders Call for Urgent Action on Tackling Terror Live Streaming
World leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka have issued a statement calling on online platforms to do more to counter live streaming and distribution of terrorist attacks and violent extremism conducive to terrorism (VECT), as a number of platforms have agreed to new safeguards against live streaming of violent content. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who was the driving force behind the G20 statement, separately announced that several of the major digital platforms have committed to new anti-terror measures as proposed by the Australian Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online. Read the full story on VAN.

TikTok Under UK Investigation Over Child Data Handling
Short-form user-generated content app TikTok is under investigation in the UK over its handling of children’s data. The UK’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham told a parliamentary committee that her office is conducting an active investigation looking at how the app collects children’s data as well as how its messaging system might pose safety issues for young users, given how adults are able to message children. Denham added that the company may be in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation, since it’s not clear there are sufficient specific protections for children.

Hearst Launches SVOD Fitness App
Magazine publisher Hearst has moved into the subscription video on-demand (SVOD) space with the launch of a new fitness app called All Out Studio. The subscription service will cost $15 per month, or $100 for a year’s subscription, and will host video content from Hearst fitness brands like Men’s Health and Runner’s World. The content will be based around guided workout programmes, with a Hearst survey having found that 75 percent of respondents wanted “guided health content”, according to Digital TV Europe.

The Week for Agencies

WPP Refuses Accenture-Led Ad Pitches
Holding group WPP will begin refusing to participate in any media pitches supervised by consultancy Accenture starting in 2020, according to Digiday. Accenture’s move into programmatic media buying last year drew consternation from some in the industry, due to the fact that that it also acts as an auditor, creating potential conflicts of interest. This is WPP’s concern according to Digiday – Accenture in its role as a media auditor could get access to WPP’s media data, which it could then use while competing with the holding group on other media pitches.

Publicis Groupe Completes $3.95 Billion Epsilon Acquisition
French holding group Publicis Groupe this week completed its $3.95 billion takeover of data business Epsilon, which was announced earlier this year. “We are very pleased to have finalised the closing of the Epsilon acquisition in record time, at a very compelling price, creating immediate value for our shareholders,” said Publicis chief executive and chairman Arthur Sadoun. “This acquisition completes our sets of assets harmoniously, with data capabilities that are second to none, and propels the Groupe as the global leader of personalised experiences at scale.”

WPP Sells Stake in Chime, While Kantar Rumours Continue
WPP this week sold its stake in communications group Chime for £54.4 million, as the holding group continues to slim down its operations. The move follows the recent sale of film studio The Farm, and comes as reports are emerging that Bain Capital is preparing to buy a majority stake in WPP’s market research unit Kantar Group.

Hires of the Week

Verizon Media Hires Monica Majumdar as UK Head of Strategy
Verizon Media this week announced Monica Majumdar as its new UK head of strategy. Reporting into UK managing director Anna Watkins, Monica will lead and build holistic strategic solutions for advertisers across its content brands and advertising platforms, according to a company statement.

MediaCom Picks James Mackenzie as CIO
MediaCom UK has promoted James Mackenzie to the position of chief investment officer, following the departure of chief commercial strategy officer Phil Hall. Mackenzie joined MediaCom as head of investment two years ago, joining from PHD UK.

This Week on VAN

We Need to Simplify Addressable TV for Advertisers, read more on VAN

G20 Leaders Call for Urgent Action on Tackling Terror Live Streaming, read more on VAN

Taboola News Wants to Own the Minus 1 Screen on Android, read more on VAN

Deutsche Telekom Starts to Roll Out 5G in Germany, with the UK’s BT to Follow Suit in the Autumn, read more on VAN

Sky Media Launches Self-Serve Planning & Analytics Tools, read more on VAN

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