The WIR: Amazon Runs its First Premier League Live Streams, TikTok Faces a Privacy Lawsuit, and GroupM Forecasts Strong Growth for UK Ad Market


In this week’s Week in Review: Amazon steps up its ad game with its Premier League Debut, TikTok’s privacy concerns continue, and GroupM sets out a bullish forecast for the UK ad industry. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Ads Arrive on Amazon Prime with First Premier League Broadcasts
Amazon this week ran its first broadcasts of Premier League football matches, after buying the rights for 20 premier league matches last year. The streams ran ad breaks, something Amazon Prime Video has so far refrained from doing, even for other live sports broadcasts. Digiday reports that the ad load was lower compared to those typically run by Sky and BT, who also broadcast Premier League games. But Amazon was said to be charging two-to-three times the prices charged by Sky and BT.

Many see these initial Premier League streams as a trial run, as Amazon may consider competing for more expansive rights packages in the future. By most accounts the streams themselves were fine, though some users reported low quality footage and lag (as can be generally expected with internet streams). But some fans took issue with the fact that kick-off times for matches had been adjusted to accommodate Amazon. Some Crystal Palace supporters attending their game against Bournemouth unfurled a banner reading “Kick offs sold to the highest bidder. Amazon profits. Fans suffer.”

TikTok Faces Lawsuit in US Over Leaking User Data to China
TikTok’s privacy and security woes continued this week as the social video app was hit with a class-action lawsuit in California accusing the company of sending private user data to servers in China, despite denying that it does so. Plaintiff Misty Hong claims to have downloaded the app earlier this year, but without creating an account, only to find months later that TikTok had created an account on her behalf. Hong says this account was then used to transfer personal information to two servers in China.

There have been significant concerns around safety and security on the app. It is already facing a government probe in the US over fears TikTok might share user data with the Chinese government, or censor content on behalf of Beijing. TikTok vociferously denies these claims, with one of its executives Alex Zhu stating that he would refuse to hand data over to the Chinese state, even if asked directly by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

GroupM Forecasts Strong UK Ad Revenue Growth, but says TV Will Remain Flat
WPP’s media agency GroupM this week forecast a strong performance for the UK advertising industry over the next few years, projecting that the UK ad market will have grown by 7.8 percent this year, and will grow a further 6.7 percent in 2020. Despite economic uncertainty created by the UK’s pending withdrawal from the European Union, GroupM says the media industry has held strong, placing it as “unambiguously the fourth largest market on Earth”.

Digital advertising is accountable for much of the growth, up 15 percent in 2019. Traditional TV advertising meanwhile is expected to be flat next year, though this is an improvement on this year’s projected 2.3 percent contraction.

The Week in Tech

The Trade Desk Overtakes DV360 as Second Most Popular DSP
More advertisers are now buying through The Trade Desk’s demand-side platform (DSP) than through Google’s Display and Video 360 (DV360), according to Advertiser Perceptions’ quarterly tracking report. Amazon’s DSP is the most popular according to the report, having surpassed Google’s back in 2017, according to AdExchanger, with 46 percent of ad buyers using Amazon, compared to 33 percent for Google. As AdExchanger reports though, Advertisers Perceptions’ survey uses subjective, sentiment-based questions, which could lead to Google’s market share being understated if respondents were keen to support alternatives through the answers they gave.

European Commission Launches Antitrust Probes into Google and Facebook
The European Commission has launched two new antitrust inquiries into Google and Facebook, looking at how the two collect and monetise data. The EU says it has sent out questionnaires as part of preliminary investigations. The probes come at a time where antitrust investigations are becoming an increasing threat to the US tech giants.

Mobile Ad Tech Company Ogury Raises $50 Million
Mobile ad tech company Ogury announced this week that it has raised $50 million in Series C funding, which it says will be used to accelerate product innovation and customer growth in the US, as well as Europe and APAC. Ogury, which describes its marketing engine as ‘consumer-consent driven’, says its product is GDPR and CCPA compliant by design, and hopes to “lead the advertising market shift from purely data-driven to consumer-choice first”.

Google Co-Founders Page and Brin Leave Executive Roles at Alphabet
Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their management roles at Google parent company Alphabet, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai taking over as Alphabet CEO. The two are not selling their shares in Alphabet, maintaining their board positions and their majority voting power via Alphabet’s dual-class share structure.

Tremor Video Expands Data-Driven ACR Solutions
Tremor Video this week announced it has renewed its partnership with Alphonso to expand its exclusive automatic content recognition (ACR) solutions, which it says enables brands to reach TV audiences more precisely and effectively across video devices. “We’re continuously looking for ways to adapt to the ever-evolving digital landscape, while also improving performance for our clients,” said Anthony Flaccavento, chief revenue officer at Tremor Video. “We have grown through our recent acquisition of RhythmOne, and now through this evolving partnership, we will be able to offer exclusive solutions for advertisers looking to succeed with TV retargeting.”

The Week in TV

Viacom and CBS Complete Merger
US media giants Viacom and CBS formally completed their merger this week, reuniting the two thirteen years after they split. The deal brings together a number of high profile media assets. CBS owns the CBS television network, CBS News, and Showtime cable networks, while Viacom owns MTV Networks, the Paramount film studios, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

Sky Plans New TV and Film Studio
Sky this week announced plans to build new TV and film studios in Elstree, projected to cost around £3 billion over the next five years, and to create 2,000 jobs. The studios will be used by Sky and other media companies owned by Sky-owner Comcast, as well as third parties.

The development comes at a time where media companies are putting increased emphasis on producing their own content, and owning the rights to that content. Sky says the studio will boost its capacity to create high quality content and meet consumer demand.

Vivendi and Mediaset Fail to Resolve Legal Dispute
European media giants Vivendi and Mediaset failed to reach an agreement to bring their long running legal disputes to an end, as they missed a court-imposed deadline last Friday to reach a deal. The two have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, most recently Mediaset’s plans to merge its Spanish and Italian businesses and create a pan-European broadcasting company. Vivendi, a shareholder in Mediaset, disapproves of the plan, and attempted to block the effort. An Italian judge is now set to hear Vivendi’s case today, according to Reuters.

RTL and ProSieben’s Addressable TV Venture Goes Live and Eyes Up European Expansion
D-Force, a joint venture for selling addressable TV advertising announced by ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland earlier this year, on Thursday formally begun operations in Germany. Through d-force, both broadcasters will make their addressable TV and digital video inventory available via ProSieben-owned demand-side platform (DSP) Active Agent. While this will initially be limited to the Germany market, d-force plans to quickly expand into other European markets. Read more on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

Daily Mail Buys the i from JPIMedia for £49.6 Million
Daily Mail owner DMGT last Friday bought UK national newspaper the i from JPIMedia for £49.6 million, more than double what JPIMedia’s forerunner Johnston Press paid for it. “The business will benefit from DMGT’s long-term approach and commitment to investing in editorial content,” said Lord Rothmere, chairman of DMGT. “We also see good opportunities to develop inews.co.uk, a growing digital media asset.”

The i joins the roster of a publisher proving relatively successful at navigating testing times for the news media industry. The DMGT reported this week in its full year results that underlying revenues were up two percent, with profits before tax rising by 19 percent.

Bloomberg Renames its Social Video Service TicToc to QuickTake
Financial publisher Bloomberg has renamed TicToc, its social video news network, to QuickTake. The service, launched on Twitter in 2017, runs short form news-focussed video content designed specifically for social platforms. Bloomberg says the rebranding comes alongside a renewed focus on the venture, as it prepares to launch a streaming news channel next year. But the new name is almost certainly designed, at least in part, to avoid confusion with the much better known TikTok.

The Week for Agencies

Peloton Stocks Fall After Controversial Christmas Ad
Shares in direct-to-consumer exercise bike brand Peloton fell sharply this week, as the company’s Christmas ad stirred controversy on Twitter. The ad was seen as just cringeworthy and weird by some, while others described the ad as sexist. Peloton itself claims to have received an outpouring of support amid the backlash.

Some have directly linked the drop in Peloton’s share price (down 15 percent since Monday) to the advert, while others have questioned whether the ad alone is responsible for the fall.

Publicis Media Moves Ahead with Spark Foundry and Blue 449 UK Merger
Media agency Publicis Media this week gave the go ahead to a proposed merger between Spark Foundry and Blue 449 in the UK, set to take place at the beginning of next year. “This feels like the perfect time to bring Blue 449 under the Spark Foundry brand in the UK,” said Lindsay Turner, CEO of both Spark Foundry and Blue 449 since April. “The two agencies have been naturally coming together both in its leadership team and in the cross-pollination of agency strengths, so this feels a very natural next step.”

M&C Saatchi Issues Profit Warning
M&C Saatchi’s share price plummeted by nearly 50 percent this week as it issued its second profit warning in three months, as the agency continues to deal with accounting inaccuracies discovered earlier this year. M&C discovered in August that it has previously misreported revenues and costs, which may have stretched back to 2014. The extent of these errors is worse than previously thought, with M&C admitting this week the cost is around £11.6 million, following an internal review with auditor PwC.

Hires of the Week

Conny Braams to Replace Keith Weed as Unilever CMO
Keith Weed’s replacement as Unilever chief marketing officer was announced this week, with Conny Braams appointed as chief digital and marketing officer. Braams previously worked as EVP of Unilever Middle Europe.

MainAd Appoints Roberto Pizzato as Head of Marketing
MainAd, an ad tech company specialising in global ad display and video retargeting solutions, this week announced the appointment of Roberto Pizzato as its head of marketing.

This Week on VAN

The Industry’s Diversity Debate Rewards People for Not Doing Very Much says POCC’s Nana Bempah, read more on VAN

The UK Market Needs to Learn from America’s CTV Successes, read more on VAN

Will Big Tech be Broken Up in 2020? A Guide to the Antitrust Cases Facing GAFA, read more on VAN

RTL and ProSieben’s Addressable TV Venture Goes Live and Eyes Up European Expansion, read more on VAN

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