The WIR: Facebook Agrees Settlement Over Video Metric Inflation, Google Announces Cookie-Free Frequency Management Tool, and Publicis Shares Fall to Seven Year Low


In this week’s Week in Review: Facebook agrees a payout over inflated video metrics, Google announces a “privacy conscious” solution for frequency management, and Publicis posts disappointing Q3 results. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Facebook Agrees $40 Million Advertiser Payout for Video Metrics Inflation
Facebook has reached a settlement with advertisers over misreporting of video metrics on its platform, agreeing to pay out $40 million. The settlement ends a class-action lawsuit against Facebook which claimed that over 1.3 million advertisers could have been affected by an error which saw Facebook inflate metrics on the amount of time users spent watching video on its platform, over a period of 18 months. Facebook admitted the error, disclosing it in 2016, but denied claims made by the plaintiffs that it knew about the mistake earlier than it let on.

“This lawsuit is without merit but we believe resolving this case is in the best interests of the company and advertisers,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, according to AdAge.

Google Announces Third-Party Cookie-Free Frequency Management Tool
Google announced in a blog post on Tuesday that it is rolling out a new feature in its DV360 demand-side platform which it says will allow advertisers to manage frequency without using third-party cookies. “Using traffic patterns where a third-party cookie is available, and analysing them at an aggregated level across Google Ad Manager publishers, we can create models to predict traffic patterns when a third-party cookie isn’t present,” said Rahul Srinivasan, product manager, ads privacy. “This allows us to estimate how likely it is for users to visit different publishers who are serving the same ads through Google Ad Manager. Then, when there is no third-party cookie present, we’re able to optimise how often those ads should be shown to users.”

Publicis Shares Fall to Seven Year Low Following Q3 Organic Revenue Growth Drop
Holding company Publicis Group reported its Q3 results early this week as organic revenue growth hit minus figures, with the group lowering its overall forecasts for 2019 and 2020. Organic revenue fell by 2.7 percent, despite previous predictions from Publicis that it would be “broadly stable”. And the group lowered its overall revenue forecast for the year to -2.5 percent.

CEO Arthur Sadoun attributed the decline to continued cuts from US clients on traditional advertising, as well as “softer than expected” results from its media agencies. Shares in the company fell by nearly 15 percent following the announcement, reaching their lowest point in seven years.

The Week in Tech

Tremor Video Launches Self-Service DSP Advancements
Tremor Video this week announced it has implemented self-service DSP advancements for its platform which it says are designed to meet the growing demands of advertisers. Tremor Video says the changes allow media planners to execute and measure campaigns more effectively by providing them with an environment built for operational efficiency. In addition, Tremor Video has released new reporting enhancements which it says provide more actionable campaign planning and optimisation, increased granularity of insights and improved ease of use.

BidSwitch Adopts The Trade Desk’s Unified ID Solution
IPONWEB subsidiary BidSwitch has adopted The Trade Desk’s unified ID solution – an integration which aims to improve user match rates across the digital advertising ecosystem. As part of the integration, supply-side platforms (SSPs) that use BidSwitch can pass on the ID to all of the demand-side platforms (DSPs) who also use BidSwitch. BidSwitch’s unified ID integration enables SSPs using BidSwitch to improve cookie coverage without the need for a direct integration with The Trade Desk.

The Week in TV

4Sales Announces Restructure to ‘Accelerate Growth’
Channel 4’s sales division 4Sales announced this week it has completed a restructure “to increase the focus on client engagement, branded entertainment and growing its digital revenue success”. Among the changes are a tripling of the headcount within head of agency & client sales Matt Salmon’s client sales team, and the creation of three new roles within the digital sales team to deliver “a brand-new data matching product and improved programmatic capability”.

BBC Prepares for iPlayer Revamp
BBC executives announced this week that the broadcaster is preparing a complete revamp for its on-demand service BBC iPlayer. The changes will come as the BBC implements new plans to extend the availability of content on the platform following regulator Ofcom’s approval – most shows will now be available for up to a year, rather than the previous 30 day limit.

The BBC’s director of content Charlotte Moore said the company plans to change the way iPlayer looks and feels, and will develop a more personalised service for audiences. But perhaps more important than any specific changes to the platform, Moore said that iPlayer will for the first time be “at the heart of everything” the BBC does. “So much more than a catch up service, iPlayer will become the best place to watch all BBC TV,” she said.

OpenAP’s Video Marketplace Opens for Business
Broadcaster consortium OpenAP this week announced the official launch of its new video ad marketplace, just weeks after reports first emerged that it was gearing up to expand into ad trading. The marketplace, OpenAP Market, allows advertisers to buy and plan campaigns across its members’ entire TV portfolio – across linear, connected TV, set-top box on-demand, mobile and desktop. Current members of OpenAP are Viacom, NBC Universal, Fox and Univision.

The consortium launched with the aim of standardising audience segments across publishers, and these standards are integrated into the platform. “Because of the partnership and investment made by Fox, NBCUniversal and Viacom, this launch marks a significant milestone that we believe will fundamentally change the way TV advertising is bought and sold,” OpenAP CEO David Levy said in a statement.

Disney Bans Netflix Ads from its TV Networks
Disney has stopped running ads for Netflix on any of its TV networks, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, as it prepares to launch its own competing subscription video on-demand (SVOD) platform. Advertising for SVOD services in general is expected to ramp up over the coming year as new products including Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Peacock launch, all competing with the established players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as well as each other. Disney will run ads for other SVOD services, but not Netflix. This is in part because Netflix doesn’t run ads itself, so there is no mutual business or advertising relationship, according to the Journal.

The Week in Publishing

Group Nine Buys PopSugar
Digital native publisher Group Nine, which owns Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker, this week added women’s lifestyle publisher PopSugar to its roster in a deal which reportedly values the title at over $300 million. The move comes during a time of consolidation in the digital media industry – just last week Vice bought Refinery29, another women’s lifestyle title which Group Nine itself had reportedly previously looked into buying.

“PopSugar hugely expands our reach within an important demographic, bringing us a community that deeply loves the PopSugar brand and a company with the proven ability to diversify their revenue across premium advertising, affiliate, direct-to-consumer commerce, licensing, and experiential channels,” said Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer.

Twitter Apologies for Leaking User Data to Advertisers
Twitter this week apologised after it emerged that the microblogging site had inadvertently leaked sensitive data to advertisers for ad targeting on the platform. The company said users’ phone numbers and email addresses, which it uses for two-factor authentication on Twitter accounts, had been made available to marketers via its tailored audiences tool. Twitter said the issue was addressed by September 17th, and it doesn’t know exactly how many accounts were affected.

G/O Media Closes Splinter and Lays Off Staff
G/O media, owner of digital titles including Gizmodo, Kotaku, The Onion and Jezebel, this week announced the closure of news vertical Splinter, a move which will see all the site’s staff laid off. Paul Maidment, editorial director of G/O Media, said in a note to staff that “establishing a steady and sustainable audience for a relatively young site has proved challenging in a fiercely competitive sector,” according to Adweek.

YouTube Vies for More Political Ad Money
YouTube has released a new tool this week which allows buyers to programmatically reserve ad slots months in advance, a move which the WSJ says is likely designed to entice political ad buyers ahead of next year’s US elections. Prior to the release of the ‘Instant Reserve’ tool, buyers could reserve slots in advance, but only through coordinating directly with salespeople at YouTube. The Journal reports that campaign staffers in the US woke up at 3.00am when the tool was released specifically to beat out rivals for key ad slots.

The Week for Agencies

S4 Capital Buys Indie Agency Firewood for $150 Million
Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital this week bought silicon valley digital marketing agency Firewood for $150 million. The deal will see Firewood merged with S4’s MediaMonks, adding a substantial US presence to the company, and will see a further $37.5 million paid out if Firewood reaches its full-year earnings target. “Firewood embodies our four core principles: purely digital; first-party data fuelling digital content and programmatic media; faster, better, cheaper and our unitary model,” said Sorrell in a LinkedIn post.

Zenith Cuts Ad Spend Forecast Due to Slowing Global Economies
Zenith cut its global ad spend growth forecast for 2019 from 4.6 percent to 4.4 percent, citing weaker global trading and slowdowns in Europe and Asia, with recession fears in the UK and Germany posing particular threats. This marks a significant drop from 2018, when Zenith’s figures find ad spend grew 6.7 percent. Zenith also forecast that ad spend growth in 2020 will be even lower at 4.3 percent, despite the summer Olympic Games, the US elections and the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament. “Given current political and economic uncertainty, brands are being cautious about committing to extra spending at the moment,” said Zenith’s report.

WFA Launches Drive to Establish Cross-Media Measurement Principles
Industry trade group the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has launched a global initiative to help establish cross-media measurement principles. The group, named the ‘Cross Media Working Group’, aims to find cross-industry consensus on key global principles for measurement, with broadcasters, digital platforms and measurement companies also involved in the initiative. The group includes the WFA itself and advertisers from WFA’s Global Media Board, including EA, Mastercard, P&G and Unilever. The effort will also include input from the ANA (US) and ISBA (UK),  ACA (Canada), OWM (Germany), Swedish Advertisers, Union des Marques (France).

Hires of the Week

MediaCom Promotes Gladdis to EMEA CSO
MediaCom’s UK head of strategy Steve Gladdis has been promoted to chief strategy officer for EMEA. Gladdis’ previous role will be filled by Geoff de Burca, who as worked in MediaCom’s UK strategy team for the past ten years.

The Trade Desk Appoints Swadia as Chief Trust Officer
The Trade Desk has chosen Sandeep Swadia as its first EVP, chief data and trust officer, it announced this week. Swadia was previously CEO of White Ops.

Telaria Appoints Jenny Antoniou as Publisher Account Director
Telaria this week announced it has hired Jenny Antoniou as publisher account director, ad operations for its EMEA team. Antoniou will be responsible for the growth of Telaria’s EMEA publisher and broadcaster business.

This Week on VAN

Broadcasters Must Digitise Ad Buying, or Risk Losing More Money to Social Platforms, read more on VAN

How Can AVOD Cater to Audiences who are Accustomed to Ad-Free Viewing? read more on VAN

Why CTV is the Linchpin of Multichannel Strategies, read more on VAN

Can Probabilistic and Deterministic TV Analytics Co-Exist? read more on VAN

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