The WIR: Channel 4 Says Ad Rebound is Better Than Forecast, French Ad Businesses File Antitrust Case Against Apple, and WPP Sees Growth in All Markets

In this week’s Week in Review: Channel 4 says ad revenues are better than expected, WPP sees growth in all markets, and French ad industry files antitrust complaint against Apple. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Channel 4 Says Advertising Rebound is Better Than Forecast
UK broadcaster Channel 4 this week reported it’s seen a strong recovery for its finances this year, with the company expecting to post a surplus at the end of the year.

CEO Alex Mahon said Channel 4 has seen a rebound in ad revenues which has matched “the better end of forecasts”. And the company’s cost-cutting measures have been effective too, leaving its balance sheet in a strong position. Channel 4 has added an additional £11m to this year’s content spend thanks to its savings, and says it plans to increase the 2021 content budget significantly versus 2020.

“2020 has undoubtedly been an incredibly challenging year, but Channel 4 is showing that we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever,” said Mahon. “The pandemic has underlined the vital importance that public service broadcasters like Channel 4 play in supporting, informing, connecting and entertaining our nation’s audiences when they need us most.”

French Ad Industry Files Antitrust Complaint Against Apple
A coalition of French associations representing the online advertising ecosystem this week filed an antitrust complaint against Apple, arguing that upcoming privacy changes on Apple’s operating system represent an abuse of the company’s market position.

Apple’s changes to its IDFA advertising identifier, which will require users to give explicit consent for apps to be able to track them, is expected to hit mobile ad revenues on Apple devices. And the coalition, which includes IAB France and the Mobile Marketing Association France, claim that Apple isn’t applying these same restrictions to its own services.

Damien Geradin, the competition lawyer representing the group, said Apple is using privacy concerns as a “fig leaf for anticompetitive conduct”. The group hopes French authorities will at least force Apple to delay its update to the IDFA while their claims are investigated.

WPP Sees Business Pick Up in All Markets
WPP said this week that it saw business pick up in all markets in Q3, as it began to see recovery from the worst of the pandemic. Like-for-like revenues were down 7.6 percent year-on-year for the holding group, an improvement on the 15.1 percent drop it saw in Q2.

But CEO Mark Read warned that further economic lockdowns could have a significant impact on the business. Read said that WPP hasn’t yet seen clients pull spend in any major way since the first wave of national lockdowns, but that the company is cautious about Q4, and the potential for further economic restrictions in major markets.

The Week in Tech

Tech CEOs Face Grilling in Congress
The CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Twitter were this week brought before a congressional committee to testify concerning a US law which protects platforms from liability for content posted by their users. But predictably much of the hearing was taken up by senators from both sides of the aisle criticising the CEOs for perceived political bias.

DoubleVerify Raises $350 Million
Fraud prevention and verification specialist DoubleVerify this week closed an impressive $350 million funding round, led by Tiger Global. The funding comes as DoubleVerify reportedly looks to go public next year, seeking a $5 billion valuation according to Bloomberg.

EU Will Give Itself Powers to Step in and Correct Failing Digital Markets
The EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager this week announced that the Union will grant itself stronger powers to “step in” and enforce its antitrust and harmful content rules, outlined in its proposed ‘Digital Services Act’ against the largest of the tech giants. Read the full story on VAN.

Italy’s Antitrust Authority to Investigate Google
Italy’s antitrust authority announced this week it is launching an investigation into Google, over concerns the company is abusing its dominant position in the Italian display advertising market. The regulator says it suspects Google uses the data collected from its various apps and services to prevent rivals from competing effectively.

LiveRamp Partners with The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0
Data onboarding and identity specialist LiveRamp announced his week it is partnering with The Trade Desk’s cookieless identity solution Unified ID 2.0. “Moving forward, Unified ID 2.0 will be made available to publishers via LiveRamp’s Authenticated Identity Infrastructure,” said the press release from LiveRamp. “Consequently, publishers that deploy LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) will see demand from advertisers using both LiveRamp’s pseudonymous, people-based identifier, and the Unified ID 2.0.”

Criteo Posts 10 Percent Revenue Drop in Q3
French ad tech business Criteo reported in ten percent fall in revenues year-on-year in Q3, as it continues to deal with the impact of the pandemic. Criteo also faces the challenge of transforming its business away from a reliance on third-party cookies, and on the earnings call Criteo execs said they’re positive Criteo is well placed to navigate the challenge. Criteo is working with The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 as an alternative to third-party cookies, but is also investing more in its cookie-free retail media business.

Facebook Announces Cloud Gaming Product and Sets its Sights on AAA Titles
Facebook on Monday announced it is launching beta testing for cloud-streamed games on its video game hub Facebook Gaming. The move will allow Facebook to run much more complex games within its Android app and on browsers. And Jason Rubin, VP of Play at Facebook, said the move could lead to a future where premium AAA games are playable within Facebook’s app and website. Read the full story on VAN.

Facebook Pauses Political Advertising in Run Up to Election
Facebook this week stopped allowing new political ads to be submitted to its platform in the week leading to the next US election, in an attempt to halt the spread of misinformation.

The Week in TV

TF1 Sees Ad Spend Recovery
French broadcaster TF1 reported this week it saw a recovery of ad revenues in Q3 as lockdown restrictions were eased in France. Ad revenues reached €346.5 million, a 7.5 percent rise year-on-year. But finance chief Philippe Denery warned that uncertainty remains, with France now entering into a second national lockdown amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

T-Mobile US Unveils New Streaming Service
T-Mobile this week revealed its new wireless TV service which will stream cable channels in bundles, the cheapest of which will cost $10 per month. The various bundles will be available through an app on the likes Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google TV, as well as through a dedicated $50 hub.

Comcast Reports 22 Million Peacock Sign-Ups
Comcast’s streaming service Peacock, released earlier this year, was one of the bright spots in Comcast’s Q3 earnings this week. Comcast reported that Peacock has attracted 22 million new sign-ups since launch.

DAZN Sets December 1st Date for International Expansion
Sports-streaming service DAZN has set December 1st as the date for its international rollout, where it will expand worldwide into over 200 markets. The expansion was planned for earlier in the year, but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple Signs Jon Stewart for Apple TV+
Apple scored a significant coup for its Apple TV+ subscription service this week, signing former Daily Show host Jon Stewart to host a new current affairs series.

M6 Reports 2.6 Percent Ad Revenue Bump
French broadcaster M6 said this week that ad revenues in Q3 were up 2.6 percent year-on-year, reaching €226.2 million.

The Week in Publishing

BuzzFeed Expects to Break Even This Year
Digital publisher BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti said this week that the company is on track to break even this year, for the first time since 2014. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, revenues are down this year compared to 2019, and the move towards breaking even comes as a result of substantial cost-cutting.

TikTok Partners with Shopify for Shoppable Ads
Social video app TikTok this week announced a new partnership with e-commerce tech company Shopify, which will enable shoppable ads within TikTok’s app. “The TikTok channel allows merchants to create and connect their TikTok For Business account and deploy in-feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify,” says Shopify. “Merchants select which product they would like to feature, and video ads are automatically generated that drive to their Shopify stores for checkout.”

Pinterest’s Revenues Up 58 Percent
Social sharing site Pinterest reported revenues in Q3 were up 58 percent year-on-year, with the company reporting it was aided by the summer advertiser boycott of Facebook. For comparison, Pinterest saw revenue growth of four percent year-on-year in Q2.

US Lawmakers Move to Protect Local Newspapers
Senate Democrats in the US are looking to empower regulators to protect local news outlets from the threat posed by the tech giants, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. A report released by the senators laid out potential remedies, including forcing tech companies to negotiate with local news publishers to make sure they’re paid for their content.

People Magazine’s TV Show to Go National
Meredith Corp said this week that the syndicated TV show inspired by its People Magazine brand has proven successful in the local markets its been trialled in, and will be aired across the US thanks to a deal with Sony.

Quibi Targets December 1st Shutdown
After announcing last week that it is shutting down and selling off its tech and content assets, mobile-first streaming service has said it is aiming to formally close down its app on or around December 1st.

The Week for Agencies

Omnicom Revenues Fall 11.5 Percent in Q3
Omnicom Group reported this week that global revenues were down 11.5 percent year-on-year in Q3, an improvement from the 25.7 percent fall it saw in Q2. But CEO John Wren warned that there’s still uncertainty ahead, saying that he doesn’t have “any clues as to how Christmas will work out,” given the spike in coronavirus cases currently being seen in Europe.

UK Ad Industry Forecast to Return to Growth in Q2 2021
UK’s advertising industry is expected to return to growth in the second quarter of next year, according to the latest Expenditure Report from the AA/WARC. The report found that the UK’s ad market contracted by a third in Q2 this year, during the height of lockdown measures.

Lake Capital Considers Selling Engine
Lake Capital is reported considering a sell off of agency group Engine Group, following a £100 million buyout six years ago. Lake Capital previously sought to offload Engine three years ago, but was unable to find a buyer willing to meet its reported £400 million asking price.

WPP Retains Walgreens Boots Alliance Account
Agency holding group WPP has successfully retained global advertising duties for Walgreens Boots Alliance, an account which was worth $139 billion to WPP in 2019 according to Adweek.

Mother Spins Off New Indie Creative Agency ‘Other’
London-based independent agency Mother has launched a new agency called Other, Adweek reported this week. “What kept me and my partners going when we started Mother 24 years ago was a simple philosophy about our culture, and a belief that great creativity lives best in an independent environment,” Robert Saville, Mother co-founder, told Adweek. “Other has a great team with shared values who all bring their own unique way of doing things.”

Hires of the Week

Innovid Names Dale Older as Chief Product Officer
Innovid has announced the hire of Dale Older as its first chief product officer. In this role, Older will set and oversee the execution of Innovid’s product vision including strategy and management across Innovid’s suite of omni-channel solutions, according to Innovid.

Integral Ad Science Appoints Tom Sharma as Chief Product Officer
Integral Ad Science (IAS) this week announced that Tom Sharma will join the company as chief product officer, replacing Dale Older (see above). IAS says the new hire will accelerate IAS’s global product expansion, including plans to enhance its industry-leading Connected TV (CTV) solution.

Amazon Hires Soumya Sriraman for Prime Video Channels
Amazon has hired Soumya Sriraman to lead its Prime Video Channels in the US. Sriraman was previously BritBox’s CEO in the US and Canada.

This Week on VAN

Facebook Announces Cloud Gaming Product and Sets its Sights on AAA Titles, read more on VAN

Perceptions Don’t Match Reality of Linear TV’s Reach with Young Audiences says RTL AdConnect’s Coruble, read more on VAN

Do Brands’ Social Boycotts Really Make an Impact? read more on VAN

The World is Watching the UK’s Progress on Cross-Media Measurement says ISBA’s Halton, read more on VAN

Media Agencies are Still Missing Dedicated CTV Experts, read more on VAN

Is There Value in European CTV Beyond the Broadcasters? read more on VAN

No One Identity Solution is Going to Fix Everything, read more on VAN

France is on the Cusp on an Addressable TV Revolution, read more on VAN

TV Has an Opportunity to Fulfil Programmatic’s Original Promise, read more on VAN

There’s Still Not Much for Advertisers to Test in Google’s Privacy Sandbox, read more on VAN

EU Will Give Itself Powers to Step in and Correct Failing Digital Markets, read more on VAN

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