The WiR: NBCUniversal to $1 Billion of Data-Driven Inventory, YouTube to Kill Off 30 Second Unskippable Ads, ITV Ad Revenue Down for First Time in 8 Years

In this week’s Week in Review: NBCUniversal announces audience Symphony, YouTube to kill off 30 second unskippable ads, Fox to request EU approval for Sky takeover bid. To receive a weekly summary of industry news and other VAN interviews and videos, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

NBCUniversal Opens Up $1 Billion of Inventory via ‘Audience Symphony’
NBCUniversal and Comcast have incorporated their Symphony strategy in advance of the 2017-2018 Upfront marketplace. Marketers are reported to have said Symphony would allow them to leverage NBCUniversal’s size to reach the consumers who watch its programming, go on its websites and visit its theme parks. Industry analysts, however, say the real appeal for both the advertiser and NBCUniversal may be much simpler: money. As part of the strategy, the company will expand its Demand Side Platform (DSP) partners beyond the current platforms: Tube Mogul, AOL and Videology.

YouTube to Kill Off 30 Second Unskippable Ads
Starting in 2018, YouTube will stop allowing the 30 second unskippable ad on its platform and will focus on shorter formats. In an official statement to Campaign, Google explained that its aim is to provide a better advertising experience for online users. “As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” said a Google spokesman. Ads shorter than 30-seconds, including the 20-second spots, can be made unskippable.

ITV Ad Revenues Drop for First Time in Eight Years
ITV has reported its first fall in annual advertising revenues since the 2009 recession, but stronger production revenues helped its pre-tax profit rise four per cent to £847m. The UK’s biggest broadcaster blamed economic uncertainty for the three per cent drop in ad revenue to in 2016 and is forecasting a six per cent drop for the first four months of this year. The company disclosed that increased demand for advertising online had helped its online, pay and interactive revenues climb 23 per cent. Audience consumption of video on demand rose by 42 per cent.

Mobile World Congress Highlights

BT and Nokia Explore Incorporating 5G into Virtual Reality Services
BT and Nokia will team up to explore the use of 5G to support Virtual Reality services. The two companies are showcasing how 5G-type technologies can be used to transmit high-quality VR footage.

Ericsson, Telstra and The Fox Innovation Lab Launch New Content Delivery for Movie Consumers
Ericsson, Telstra, and The Fox Innovation Lab will unveil their joint developed content delivery solution at Mobile World Congress 2017. The platform will pre-position personalised movie content directly onto consumer devices, which the partners claim will have no impact to device performance or consumer data plans.

O2 Considers Giving Users More Control to Block Ads
Mark Evans, Chief Executive of O2, said that users should have the right to block ads if they feel “plagued by advertising”. Evans confirmed that the mobile operator has the capability to increase user control, and would consider deploying it, based on customer preference.

AOL Platforms Adds Geo-location Mobile Data with Adsquare
AOL has signed a deal with mobile data exchange, Adsquare, that will plug location and purchase data for 12 markets into AOL’s advertising platforms.

The Week in Publishing

Snap’s $20bn Flotation Sparks “Investor Stampede”
Snap’s much anticipated IPO just managed to score within the company’s revised target valuation of $19.5bn-$22.2bn (£15.88bn-£18.08bn) this week, at $17 a share. The messaging app’s listing is the biggest since Alibaba in 2014 and the richest since Facebook in 2012.

Shine Transitions from Ad-Blocker, Rebrands to Ad Verification Service, Rainbow
Shine has announced that it is changing its business model and rebranding, to become Rainbow. The new approach from Shine/Rainbow is to function as an ad verification layer, hosted at network level to help enforce industry standards.

Almost One in Three of Programmatic Ads Breach IAB Guidelines
Almost a third of programmatic ads violate guidelines set by International Advertising Bureau (IAB). A study of programmatic ads across 50 popular publisher sites found that 28 per cent of the ads did not follow industry standards during Q4 of 2016 and into the first month of 2017, reports Ad Lightning.

Oculus Facing Ban on VR Code

The video game publisher that recently won a case against Facebook’s Oculus, ZeniMax, has asked a judge to block the firm from using its code in virtual reality products. If the ban is enforced, it could limit the number of games available for sale with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A spokeswoman for Oculus said that the company was continuing with its appeal, deeming the verdict “legally flawed and factually unwarranted”. This week, the company also announced it was cutting the price of the headset by $100 in order to boost sales.

Snapchat Changing Video, Say Analysts
Snapchat is unlike any other social media video platform in the way it impacts viewing behaviour, and in terms of the audience it attracts, according to research from Ampere. The analysts say that the social platform delivers a young audience who rely on their mobile phones for viewing, and whose viewing preferences are very different from their older consumers, perhaps explaining the company’s huge IPO valuation.

YouTube Viewers Watch One Billion Hours Daily
Almost five billion videos are viewed globally on YouTube each day, with more than a billion hours of YouTube videos being viewed daily, according to YouTube statistics. Artificial intelligence is credited with boosting viewing hours on YouTube since 2012, when the platform started making personalised recommendations based on previously watched videos.

Murdoch’s Fox to Request EU Approval for Sky Takeover Bid
Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox will seek approval from the European Commission for its $14.4 billion (11.7 billion pounds) bid for European pay-TV firm Sky, reports Reuters. Notifying the European Commission will also give Britain’s Department of Media ten working days to decide whether the bid should be examined by UK media regulator Ofcom to see if it would damage media plurality. Analysts and lawyers expect the bid to be referred to Ofcom.

Mobile App Usage Grows Across Europe
App usage grew by 23 per cent across United Kingdom, France and Germany, according to Flurry Analytics 2016 mobile app usage report. Messaging and Social apps saw session growth of 96 per cent in Germany and 46 per cent in the UK. Plus, many of the most successful apps in 2016 are those relying on live data, such as Business and Finance (up 43 per cent globally in time-spent) and Sports (up 25 per cent globally). Time-spent on gaming apps declined by eleven per cent across the UK, Germany and France.

67 Per Cent of Media Buyers Want More VR & AR Ads
67 per cent of media planners and buyers (67 per cent) want more AR and VR ads incorporated into digital marketing campaigns, according to research from Vibrant Media. The research found that the primarily reason given is to improve consumer engagement; half of media agency executives expect the interactivity of AR and VR ads will help to reduce ad blocking.

Millennials Prioritise Personalisation, AI, and Quality Streaming in Mobile Services
Millennials have clear priorities for their near future mobile services, according to survey results reported by CSG Systems. Specifically they want personalisation, artificial intelligence (AI), and as high-quality and intuitive experiences when it comes to streaming entertainment on mobile devices.

Web Site Traffic Data Confirms Mobile Viewing Trend  
Smartphone web-traffic continues to rise, supporting the theory that users are relying on smartphones more, and tablets and desktop less, according to Adobe Analytics. Smartphone visits have grown 69 per cent since 2014 and desktop and tablets have lost ground, 23 per cent and 19 per cent respectively, in the past three years.

The Week in TV

Broadcasters Warn Against EC Proposed Changes to AVMS Directive Changes
A coalition of Europe’s commercial broadcasters warn that proposed changes to the AVMS Directive are a step backwards that risks damaging growth, audience choice and investment in European content, instead of delivering the European Commission’s stated aim of fostering Europe’s digital economy. The broadcaster group argues that the proposals will increase restrictions – jeopardising investment in European content, increasing unfair competition with online players, and undermining the freedom to broadcast.

UK Broadcasters Win TVCatchup Ruling
Legislation in EU member states should not state that broadcast copyright is not infringed when it is immediately retransmitted by cable where it was initially broadcast. The ruling from the the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the latest move in a dispute between UK free-to-air commercial broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, and UK-based streaming service TVCatchup (TVC).

Spain’s TV Duopoly Maintains Dominance
The FTA TV duopoly of Mediaset and Atresmedia remains strong in Spain, controlling a combined 85.4 per cent of the TV ad share between them. Recent figures from Infoadex show they took €1.811 billion out of the total €2.122 billion TV ad revenues in 2016, with only €100 million going to other TV channels with nationwide coverage.

Italian TV Ad Market Worth €3.8bm in 2016
The TV advertising market in Italy in 2016 showed a 5.4 per cent growth, totalling €3.8 billion, according to figures from Nielsen. Overall, TV and radio broadcasting accounted for 51.4 per cent of the total advertising market in Italy last year. 56 per cent of the TV ad-spend in 2016 were directed to commercial broadcaster Mediaset, while 21 per cent went to public broadcaster RAI.

UK TV Ad Spend £5.28bn in 2016
TV ad revenue in the UK totalled £5.28 billion (€6.21bn) in 2016, according to figures given to Thinkbox by the UK commercial TV broadcasters. This makes it the seventh consecutive year that UK TV advertising revenue has grown, though the figures suggest a deceleration due to uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the EU. The figure comprises all the money invested by advertisers in commercial TV across all formats and on every screen.

2016 a Record Year for Ad Spending in Sweden
Total media ad spending in Sweden climbed six per cent in 2016 to reach an all-time high of SEK34.9 billion ($4.08 billion). Digital was a major driver of growth, with ad spending in that category rising 21 per cent, according to Institutet för Reklam-och Mediestatistik (IRM).

Programmatic Ad Spending Up in France
More than half of all digital display ad spending transacted via programmatic methods in France in 2016, according to a recent report from the Syndicat des Régies Internet (SRI).

Netflix Denies PAYG Streaming Service Plans
Following a report in the Daily Telegraph, Netflix has rejected reports that it has been in talks with mobile operators to introduce a ‘pay as you go’ option. Netflix released a statement to confirm that it intends to remain a flat fee subscription service, rather than introducing “pay as you go” services.

The Week in Ad Tech

Protected Media Joins Trustworthy Accountability Group to Fight Online Ad Fraud
Protected Media has been verified by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). The company’s solutions are designed to eliminate suspicious and underperforming traffic before it reaches the marketplace enhancing ROI for advertisers and maximising yield for publishers.

Channel 4 Takes Stake in VR Start-up Parable
Channel 4 has taken a minority stake in new British virtual reality (VR) business Parable, focussing on innovative content creation with storytelling at its heart. Launched this month, Parable will create VR and 360° content across the entertainment, brand marketing and training sectors.

The Week for Agencies

Xaxis Starts Global Product Team
Xaxis has set up a global product team, to be headed by Bob Walczak, most recently the chief executive of Light Reaction. In his new role as a Xaxis executive vice president, Walczak will lead product management, global partnerships and supply across Triad Retail Media, Light Reaction and Plista, the specialist brands under Xaxis. Walczak told Campaign Asia-Pacific that a global product team will allow Xaxis to centralise its product focus to better allign with [m]Platform which was launched late last year.

Partnerships of the Week

AppNexus Partners with Goldbach Digital Services to Power Video Monetisation for Independent Publishers
The AppNexus Supply Side Platform (SSP) has been selected and deployed by Goldbach Digital Services, to help monetise independent publishers’ digital video inventory in Germany, Swiss and Austria.

ironSource Integrates with Google’s AdMob Network
ironSource has expanded their integration with AdMob as a network partner of their Supply Side Platform. Publishers using the ironSource Mediation SDK can now leverage AdMob as a demand source for rewarded video in addition to interstitials. This incrementally increases competition for their video inventory, and maximises global fill rates and eCPMs.

AOL Partners with DoubleVerify to in Search of Ad-Tech Assurance
DoubleVerify and AOL have announced an expansion to their relationship. DoubleVerify will integrate ad quality data to AOL’s platforms meaning programmatic ad buying tech can assess the quality of their inventory before they actually bid on a particular impression.

Protected Media Joins Trustworthy Accountability Group to Fight Online Ad Fraud
Anti-fraud ad platform Protected Media has announced that it has been verified by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). The verification program is part of TAG’s efforts to address issues such as fraudulent traffic, and transparency, across the digital advertising supply chain.

Perform Group Expands Partnership with Improve Digital to the Nordics
Perform Group, host to the likes of,, and, has expanded its collaboration with video advertising platform, Improve Digital, to the Nordics. In their partnership Improve Digital is now also the partner to monetise Perform’s ePlayer in the region.

Hires of the Week

Rob Reed Joins Shareability as Partner and Chief Revenue Officer
Rob Reed has been appointed Partner and Chief Revenue Officer at Shareability. Reed comes most recently from MomentFeed, where he was CEO.

Sizmek Names Andrew Morsy UK Managing Director
Sizmek has promoted Andrew Morsy to the newly created role of UK Managing Director. He was formerly Associate Vice President of Sales for UK & Northern Europe at the company.

Teads Appoints Marc Zander
Teads has hired former Mars Chocolate’s Global Media Director, Marc Zander, as Global Vice President of Client Partnerships.

Shareability Appoints Rob Reed
Shareability has appointed Rob Reed in the role of Partner and Chief Revenue Office, overseeing Sales & Marketing. He joins them from MomentFeed.

Ffitch to Step Down as Telegraph Advertising Chief After a Year
Robert Ffitch is to step down as director of advertising revenues at Telegraph Media Group after only a year in the role.

This Week on VAN

Innovid Plans to Push Out the Full Video Stack into EMEA Markets, read more on VAN

Google Enters the Pay TV Market with YouTube TV, read more on VAN

Meeting P&G’s Standards on Transparency Will Lift All Boats, read more on VAN

Roku Continues to Hold its Own as the Leading Independent OTT Platform, read more on VAN

Europe Follows the US with Decline in App Installs: But Why? Read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: Swedish Railways, Paul’s Journey, TBWA\Stockholm

A train company for whoever you are and whereever you’re going. This piece’s focus on human stories and interactions is something special.

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