The WIR: Nielsen Sues comScore, The ASA Reports Record Ad Withdrawals, YouTube Strengthens Targeting

In this week’s Week in Review: the UK’s ASA reports a record number of ad withdrawals and amendments in the first half of the year, Nielsen files a lawsuit against comScore, and YouTube introduces new tool for advertisers to target audiences. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

ASA Reports Record Ad Withdrawals and Ammendments
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) withdrew or amended a record number of adverts in the first half of 2017 as the result of complaints it revealed this week. The advertising watchdog secured the amendment or withdrawal of 3,034 ads over the six month period, a huge increase from the 1,614 it recorded in the first half of 2016 which itself had been record breaking. TV remained the most complained about medium, where the bulk of complaints were on the grounds of offence, but across all mediums misleading advertising is the most commonly reported issue, accounting for 62 percent of complaints.

“We’re spending more time online, but the mass audience of TV ads means they continue to generate the most complaints,” said ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker. “Online ads account for the greatest number of individual cases, with the majority being companies’ own advertising claims on their own websites and social media spaces.”

YouTube Launches New Ad Targeting Products
Google announced on Monday four new products for video advertising on YouTube designed to make audience targeting easier and more effective. The four new features are:

  • Expansion of Custom Affinity Audiences: Brands will be able to use the Custom Affinity Audiences tool to target more refined audiences based on their searches.
  • Director Mix: The Director Mix will allow brands to upload the building blocks of an advert (e.g voiceovers, background, copy) and will then create thousands of versions of that advert to target different audience segments.
  • Video Ad Sequencing: Video Ad Sequencing will create adverts which unfold over time, delivering sequential content to tell a story, and reacting based on what is working for an individual.
  • Nielsen Matched Panel Analysis: Nielsen Matched Panel Analysis will be integrated into YouTube to show how video adverts have impacted offline sales.

Nielsen sues comScore
Nielsen Holdings, creators of the Nielsen ratings system used for TV audience measurement in the US, filed a lawsuit against rival comScore last Friday to block the launch of its Extended TV Service which makes use of Nielsen’s Portable People Meter data.

After Nielsen’s acquisition of Arbitron in 2013, the Federal Trade Commission Nielsen to grant access to some of its data in order to preserve competition in cross-platform measurement services. Nielsen agreed to allow comScore use of its Portable People Meter data for cross-platform services, but contends that Extended TV is not cross-platform, and that it could do “irreparable harm to (Nielsen’s) business”.

Nielsen has filed for arbitration, but is seeking an injunction in the meantime to prevent Extended TV’s launch.

The Week in Tech

Facebook Introduces New Cross-Platform Measurement Tools
Facebook announced two new cross-platform measurement tools last Friday, which will help advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns both on Facebook and on TV. Nielsen Total Brand Effect with Lift, made in partnership with Nielsen, is available now in the US and UK, and polls for TV ad exposure. Facebook Cross-Platform Brand Lift meanwhile will offer polling and results from cross-platform brand lift measurement for ads on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network, and is expected to be released in early 2018.

OpenX Buys Mezzobit and Pubnation
OpenX has completed the acquisition of two technology companies, Mezzobit and Pubnation, in an effort to strengthen its offering to publishers. Mezzobit allows publishers to track and control how third-party tags and pixels interact with their sites, helping understand which third-party vendors are touching their audiences and how their tags affect the user experience. Pubnation meanwhile help publishers detect and remove slow, resource-intensive and low-quality ads through real-time user feedback and automatic page scanning. Both acquisitions will have their technology integrated into the OpenX suite within the coming months.

Roku Secures $219 Million in IPO
Set-top box producer Roku raised $219 million in its initial public offering, with 15.7 million Class A shares priced at $14, the upper end of Roku’s proposed $12 to $14 range. Share prices rose to $23.5 on the Nasdaq by the end of trading on Thursday as investors responded enthusiastically, despite Roku’s net losses in recent years. The IPO has left Roku valued at over $2 billion, and money raised will be invested to help Roku compete with competitors like Apple, Amazon and Google.

Fyber RTB Introduces new DSP-facing UI
Supply side video platform and RTB exchange Fyber RTB has introduced a new DSP-facing user interface and an enhancement of its optimization algorithm. The UI is designed to help DSPs better optimize their bidding strategies by identifying problems that may lead to a lower win-rates. “In spite of the fact that Fyber RTB is a supply-side platform (SSP), we wanted to give DSPs a tool to gain full transparency over the performance of their ads and help them make data-driven decisions to improve their buying strategy,” said Fyber RTB CEO Erwin Plomp. The algorithm meanwhile has gained new queries per second throttling technology, helping to reduce erroneous traffic received from multiple exchanges.

Facebook and Google Might Face Government Regulation says Martin Sorrell
WPP CEO shared his thoughts on to growth of the tech giants of advertising in an interview with New Yorker columnist Ken Auletta at Advertising Week on Monday, speculating that Facebook and Google might one day face government regulation. Referencing decisions being taken by European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and comments made by ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon that Facebook and Google are utilities which should be regulated, he said the companies should be worried by governments, and that political pressure may have help them become more “flexible friends” than “frenemies”. He also shared his belief that the large Chinese tech companies Tencent and Alibaba should stand alongside Google, Facebook and Amazon as companies to “watch out for”.

JICWEBS to Provide Anti-Fraud Certification
The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland has launched a new certification for anti-fraud products to verify they are effective in reducing the risk of fraudulent ads being served. Companies can sign up with JICWEBS for an independent audit from ABC, where it must be demonstrated that their products deal with the 16 different sources of fraud listed in JICWEBS’ taxonomy of online fraud in order to pass.

HIRO Media Launches New SSP
Programmatic advertising company HIRO Media launched on Wednesday a ‘’Safe SSP’ to help publishers filter out malicious advertisers in real time. The SSP will integrate HIRO Media’s ad filtering technology and the ability to implement secured VPAID-based collaborations. Publishers including Outbrain and Apester have partnered with HIRO Media, with Apester’s CEO Moti Cohen saying the new SSP “provided the confidence marketers need to continue increasing their investment in digital, while also understanding consumer attention and business outcomes that are important to publishers like us”.

Beeswax Introduces Programmatic Cloud
Beeswax on Wednesday announced the Beeswax Programmatic Cloud, an extension of its Bidder-as-a-service which will help more clients create custom bidders by integrating a number of commonly used customisation options into their existing software. Clients with the technical ability have used Beeswax to create customised bidders in the past, but doing so required inputting their own code into the Beeswax platform. Now, through partnerships with a number of ad tech specialists, clients will be able to access a number of commonly required capabilities without the need to design them themselves. The new integrations are:

  • Metamarkets – for bid and win level data visualization
  • Spongecell – for dynamic creative optimization
  • Cognitiv – for mobile deep learning optimization models
  • MediaGamma – for custom optimization algorithms
  • – for header bidding capabilities

The Week in TV

Pressure Group Files Legal Challenge Against Ofcom Decision on Sky/Fox Merger
Activist group Avaaz filed a legal challenge at the British High Court of Justice today against Ofcom’s ruling on a potential merger between 21st Century Fox and Sky. Ofcom ruled in June this year that Sky would remain “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting licence in the UK were it to be taken over by Fox, a conclusion which Avaaz wishes to see overturned.

“Repeated, large-scale scandals in the Murdoch empire indicate that something is very rotten at the core of their businesses,” Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks said in a statement. “Ofcom didn’t dig deep enough before declaring the Murdochs fit to own even more of our media.”

Fox’s takeover of Sky is already under investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, and Fox will hope legal challenges are resolved quickly as according to the terms of the deal it will be obliged to pay Sky an additional £200 million if regulatory scrutiny is not completed by Aug. 15 next year.

NBCUniversal Launches Self-Serve Programmatic TV Offering
NBCUniversal announced on Wednesday that it will be making national television inventory available for purchase via a self-serve programmatic platform. The solution is launched in partnership with Target, which will now have access to NBC’s entire linear TV inventory for buying on an audience targeted basis. 4C, specialists in self-service technology for marketers to plan, buy, and measure premium ads across TV and social media, are providing the technology for the new offering, and NBC says their service will work in the same way as 4C’s existing social media campaign buying platform.

FreeWheel Report that OTT and Set-Top Boxes Account for Half of Premium Video Ad Views in US
FreeWheel’s quarterly Video Monetization Report released this week shows that 49 percent of ads attached to premium content in the US were viewed via OTT and set-top box delivered VOD services in Q2 2017. FreeWheel’s reports have tracked the growing importance of connected TVs and set-top boxes to advertisers; they accounted for only 1 percent of premium ad views in Q2 2013, and demonstrate that a huge shift towards the living room for watching on-demand content.

Europe has seen less of a shift, where only 31 percent of premium video advertising is shown on living room devices. The report also highlighted the growth of premium video as a whole, with premium ad views growing 17 percent year-over-year, which FreeWheel attributes to strong double-digit growth of full-episode and live stream monetisation.

Less Than 80 Percent of US Homes Subscribe to Pay TV
The Leichtman Research Group ‘Pay TV in the US 2017’ report shows a continuing trend of a decline in the number of households signed up for pay TV services in the US. Of the households surveyed, 79 said they subscribe to some form of pay TV service, down from 88 percent in 2010 and 84 percent in 2014. “The decline in pay TV penetration is not solely a function of recent disconnects,” said LRG president and principal analyst, Bruce Leichtman. “Among those that do not currently get a pay TV service, about one-third subscribed in the past three years, one-third subscribed over three years ago, and one-third never subscribed.”

Binge Watching Entrenched in UK
A report from YouGov released this week sheds light on TV viewing habits in the UK, showing that while the amount of TV watched per week has remained broadly consistent over the last ten years, binge watching has become entrenched. Almost a third of those surveyed said they tended to watch three or more episodes of the same show in a row when watching TV. The results also showed that those who binge watched more were less likely to remember having seen any television ads in the past week.


The Week in Publishing

Facebook Agree Deal to Show NFL Highlights
Facebook’s new TV-like video service Watch will show game highlights, recap clips and weekly shows from the NFL after agreeing a two year deal which will see ad revenue shared between the two partners. Facebook Watch was announced in August as the new home for video content on the social media site, part of Facebook’s move towards hosting original episodic content to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. Under the deal’s terms, Facebook will pay the NFL a guaranteed amount upfront and will take all ad revenue until it has earned this amount, after which any further ad revenue earned will be split between the two companies.

FT Reports High Levels of Domain Spoofing
The Financial Times has reported to advertisers that it discovered high levels of domain spoofing while working to implement ads.txt, advising that any FT inventory not bought via Google AdX or TrustX risks being fraudulent. FT Chief Commercial Officer Jon Slade described the results of the test as “shocking” in a letter to advertisers, reporting the test’s results finding that the equivalent of one month’s supply of genuine video inventory was fraudulently appearing in a single day.

The Week for Agencies

GroupM Launches New Addressable TV Advertising Company Finecast
WPP-owned media investment body GroupM announced on Wednesday the launch of Finecast, a new addressable TV advertising company that provides advertisers with a single access point for buying targeted ads across multiple TV environments (on-demand, linear and live streaming) with standardised measurement. Finecast will be headed up by GroupM’s Jakob Nielsen who will be taking on the CEO role, and offers distribution via Sky, Virgin Media, Samsung, YouView, Amazon Fire, Roku, and games consoles including Xbox at launch. Read the full story on Video Ad News.

Summer Cyber-Attack Cost WPP £15 Million
WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell revealed that the cyber-attack which hit the agency earlier this year has cost it up to £15 million before insurance, in an interview with The Drum. The global attack which hit many large organisations around the world at the end of June affected WPP for around 10 days, and resulted WPP holding a summit with around 50 chief to assess what had happened. Even though WPP invests around £10m-£15m a year in preventative measures, Mr. Sorrell stated in the interview that these sorts of attacks will never be completely preventable, and that companies must be ready for them.

Wieden+Kennedy Invests in Austin Start-Up Callen
US ad agency Wieden+Kennedy has it is for the first time investing in an independent creative agency; the soon-to-open Austin-based CALLEN. CALLEN is being launched by departing W+K group creative director Craig Allen alongside marketing and advertising consultant Holly Petitjean and former Droga5 director of interactive production Niklas Lindström. CALLEN will maintain autonomy over how it runs its business, but W+K has conditioned its minority investment on the basis that CALLEN can never sell, and must remain independent.

Partnerships of the Week

GroupM and Alibaba Form Strategic Brand Marketing Partnership
WPP’s GroupM and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have formed a strategic partnership which will see them collaborate in areas including data, resources and strategy. This will create additional mileage for GroupM’s clients and enable their brand marketing efforts to be more relevant to consumers, according to the press release. The partnership will utilise GroupM’s [m]PLATFORM and Alibaba’s Uni Marketing products.

Twitter India Partners With Httpool
Httpool has joined with Twitter in India as an ad sales partner to help bring more advertisers to the platform. This deal expands an existing relationship between the two, work work together in 20 other countries. “India is an important market for Twitter as a platform” said Chandan Deep, head of reseller partnerships for APAC Twitter. “We are committed to investing in revenue growth in this market. With this partnership, we look to upscale our level of service to our clients in India.”

Hires of the Week

MediaMath CMO Joanna O’Connell Returns to Forrester
MediaMath’s CMO Joanna O’Connell is to depart at the end of the month and return to Forrester, where she has previously worked as an AdExchange analyst. She will lead Forrester’s digital advertising coverage in her new role, replacing Richard Joyce.

Annette King Leaves Ogilvy & Mather for Publicis
Ogilvy UK’s CEO Annette King has left the agency to take the top job at Publicis UK. King’s departure reportedly came as a shock to Ogilvy & Mather, where she has worked for 18 years; chairman and chief executive EMEA Paul O’Donnell will take over the role while they search for  replacement.

Dr. Aee-Ni Jaskolla Joins Improve Digital as CPO
Dr. Aee-Ni Jaskolla, previously of Xaxis, has joined advertising platform Improve Digital as its Chief Product Officer where she will work to amplify the company’s product 360 Polaris. “With her excellent skills and ability to build bridges between product, business and engineering, as well as building high-performance teams, Aee-Ni is a perfect fit for our company” said Improve Digital CEO Sebastiaan Moesman about hiring.

OMD India Appoints Priti Murthy as CEO
OMD India, an Omnicom Media Group-owned agency, has taken on Priti Murthy as CEO, who joins from GroupM’s Maxus where she was Chief Strategy Officer. “Priti’s appointment will ensure OMD’s accelerated growth that will not only take OMD to the next level, but also stay at the forefront of change” said Omnicom Media Group CEO Torie Henderson of the appointment.

The Week in VAN

Broadcasters Should Flick the Switch on HbbTV says smartclip’s Sebastian Busse, read more on VAN

EBX is Open to New Partners say TF1’s Olivier Abecassis and Publitalia ’80’s Paola Colombo, read more on VAN

GroupM Launches ‘Finecast’, a New Addressable TV Advertising Company, read more on VAN

Exclusive Video Content Doesn’t Guarantee an Audience says glomex’s Michael Jaschke, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: LG V30, A Day in the Life

Game of Thrones and Westworld cinematographer David Franco shows off the video capabilities of LG’s new handset the LG V30 in a hand shot film of home footage recorder entirely on the phone’s camera. Putting the phone in the hands of a professional and letting them loose with it tells you more about the phone’s abilities than any number of technical specifications could.

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