The WIR: Nexstar Acquires LKQD for $90 Million, News Corp Launches New Ad Platform, and YouTube Plans Brand Safety Improvement

In this week’s Week in Review: Nexstar Media Group buys LKQD Technologies for $90 million, News Corp launches a new advertising platform, and YouTube outlines its plans to improve brand safety on its platform. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Nexstar Media Group Acquires LKQD Technologies
Nexstar Media Group announced this week it’s agreed a deal to acquire video advertising infrastructure company LKQD Technologies for approximately $90 million. LKQD claims its ad tech infrastructure, which provides end-to-end systems for ad serving, mediation, programmatic auctions and reporting for publishers and advertisers, reaches around 115 million US online video viewers across desktop, mobile-web, mobile-app and connected TVs. Nexstar says the LKQD acquisition will create new video opportunities for its clients and allow them to target ads across TV and digital video landscapes.

News Corp Launches News IQ
News Corp this week announced a new advertising platform, News IQ, which will combine its collective first-party data, media properties and data science tools into one unified advertising solution. News Corp claims to reach an audience of 140 million in the US alone, and is pitching this new offering as a way for advertisers to reach a large audience in a brand safe environment. The company says this News IQ will complement its existing video ad platform Unruly, which it acquired back in 2015.

“In a world of fake news and fraudulent metrics, News IQ offers advertisers a clear solution: quality audience, quality data, and quality environments,” said Jesse Angelo, News Corp’s Chief of Digital Advertising Solutions. “And that translates into three layers of brand safety for every campaign, protection from fraud, and the ability to effectively reach premium audiences at scale with precision inside a trusted and transparent ecosystem.”

YouTube Promises Brand Safety Improvements
YouTube has come up with a four-step plan to help restore brand confidence in its platform after brand safety scandals has hit confidence in YouTube’s ability to curate its content. CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged via a blog post that bad actors have been able to use to platform to cause harm, and said YouTube will try to stay one step ahead with ever-evolving enforcement methods. The four changes announced were:

  • More staff reviewing content: YouTube says it will significantly grow its human review team, aiming to bring the total staff number up to 10,000 in 2018, while also consulting more with outsiders for guidance.
  • Increased use of machine learning: The machine learning technology YouTube has used to flag extremist content will be trained for use on other problematic content, including hate speech and child abuse.
  • Increased transparency: YouTube says it will deliver regular reports throughout 2018 giving data about flags it receives and steps the company takes to remove harmful content.
  • Changes to ad management: YouTube plans to apply stricter criteria on which videos are eligible for advertising, to conduct more manual curation, and to strengthen its ad reviewing team to check that ads are only showing where they should be.

The Week in Tech

Tag Cuts Ad Fraud by 83 Percent says The 614 Group
The use of Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) verified distribution channels for digital advertising cuts ad fraud by 83 percent, according to a study conducted by The 614 Group. TAG says analysis by verification tech providers puts ad fraud at 8.8 percent in North America, but this figure falls to 1.5 percent when TAG certified channels are used. “This study validates TAG’s approach and sets a clear path for marketers that want to protect their brands and ad spend from fraud,” said Mike Zaneis, president and CEO of TAG. “Fraud thrives in the dark crevices of the supply chain, so we knew that we had to get the legitimate participants in the supply chain to adopt the same high standards for this effort to be successful. When the industry links its arms and stands together, there is no place left for the criminals to hide.”

Growth Catalyst Partners and PSP Capital Buy Beachfront
Private equity firm Growth Catalyst Partners (GCP) and private investment firm PSP Capital this week announced they’ve bought a majority stake in programmatic mobile video ad platform Beachfront Media for an undisclosed fee. Beachfront Media has been running for over ten years, and claims to process billions of ad requests per day worldwide across mobile, connected TV and desktop.

“We view Beachfront Media as a terrific company with a strong record of growth and execution and an incredibly innovative engine in the global economy’s migration to digital,” said Penny Pritzker, PSP’s founder. “Beachfront’s platform-agnostic business model and world class management team will play a pivotal role in the dynamic and fast-changing media industry landscape for years to come.”

smartclip Backs Complete Ads.txt Rollout for Programmatic Video Advertising
smartclip this week announced the successful roll-out of the ads.txt initiative for its Programmatic Multiscreen Video SSP, which it says will provide further transparency for its premium publisher inventory. “smartclip is taking action to fight against fraud and embraces the ads.txt initiative. We are well prepared for quality monitoring and able to block unauthorised impressions or impressions served through non-certified suppliers from publishers that have implemented their ads.txt files,’ said Kay Schneider, General Manager at SmartX Platform. ‘For ads.txt to reach its full potential, universal adoption across premium publishers is vital. We therefore encourage our partners to participate and to create a high quality media supply chain. In addition, we support standardisation of the text files themselves, as this would make the programme even stronger.”

ProSiebenSat.1 Expands Ad Tech Operations with esome Purchase and Jana Eisenstein Hire
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE is acquiring a majority stake in esome advertising technologies, a tech company specialising in social media advertising. The announcement today, alongside the news that ProSiebenSat.1 is expanding its ad-tech management team with the hiring of Jana Eisenstein, who has headed up Videology in Europe for the last six years, are the latest in a series of moves by the broadcaster to build a comprehensive ad tech stack, an effort to enhance the value of its TV ads. Read more on VAN

Amobee to Refund Clients for Ad Fraud
Programmatic platform Amobee is following in the footsteps of the likes of Adobe and Google with it’s announcement that it will refund advertisers for any money spent on fraudulent traffic. Tech fees and any media fees recouped from supply partners will be returned to advertisers who have been affected by fraud, as identified by a Media Ratings Council approved vendor, though only if the fraud accounts for more than three percent of a campaign’s traffic within a month.

Ligatus Launches Standalone Self-service Native Advertising Network
Ligatus this week launched a new standalone self-service network for native advertising called revenee which it claims will provide an easier way for small and medium advertisers and publishers to activate native campaigns.

The new ad network is initially being trialled in Italy ahead of being made available globally. The new offering is aimed at advertisers and publishers that have different needs and goals to their current clients, including those who don’t currently comply with Ligatus’ advertising quality guidelines. Ligatus says the platform will allow advertisers to create campaigns in as little as five minutes with multi-device and targeting capabilities such as location and language.

The Week in TV

Fox and Disney Resume Talks
21st Century Fox and Disney have reportedly returned to the table to discuss a potential deal which would see Disney buy a large selection of Fox’s properties, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fox is reportedly interested in shedding several of its broadcast channels, as well as its movie studio, in order to slim down and streamline its business. Any deal would almost certainly be subject to approval by US competition authorities.

DirecTV Now Passes One Million Subscribers
AT&T says it’s online TV service DirecTV Now has passed to one million subscriber mark, showing rapid uptake of its online offering. The service, which launched last year and had 787,000 subscribers at the end of last September, follows the increasingly popular ‘skinny bundle’ model, offering a slimmed down selection of channels for a cheaper price.

Tech Companies to Win Major Sports Rights in 2018 says Juniper
Juniper Research in its 2018 predictions says it expects tech companies to compete for, and win, major sports rights next year. Several of the tech giants, including Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, have already begun buying sports rights, but have yet to win exclusive rights for a major sport. Specifically, Juniper believes Amazon is most likely to win key packages for the English Premier League, which in recent years have been bought by Sky and BT.

OTT and Pay TV to Bring In $283 Billion
Pay TV and OTT revenues from 138 countires combined will reach $283 billion by 2022 according to a Digital TV Research report. OTT’s share of combined revenue is expected to increase from 15 percent in 2016 to 29 percent in 2022, representing a more than doubling of its revenues. Pay TV on the other hand is expected to decline in the same period.

The Week in Publishing

Google and Facebook Account for 84 Percent of Digital Ad Investment says GroupM
Google and Facebook will account for 84 percent of digital advertising investment in 2017, with Amazon also rapidly increasing its stake in the ad world, according to a report from GroupM. GroupM’s global ad investment forecast released today predicts healthy growth in ad investment of 3.1 percent this year and 4.3 percent next year, but that these ad dollars will increasingly be concentrated in the large digital companies. Read more on VAN

Facebook to Test Pre-roll Ads on Watch
Facebook is ending its longtime ban on pre-roll video ads as it plans to test the format for content on its video hub, Facebook Watch. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously maintained that pre-roll is unnecessary for a platform like Facebook where users scroll through a feed, but according to an AdAge report his thinking may have changed for Facebook Watch.

Google Pulls YouTube from Amazon Fire TV
Google has announced it will pull YouTube from Amazon Fire TV devices from the start of next year, the result of a row between the two companies. Google has complained of a “lack of reciprocity” and that Amazon refuses to give customers access to its services, as Amazon doesn’t sell Chromecast or Google Home and doesn’t make Prime Video available to Google Cast users. Amazon has responded, saying that “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”

Viral Content is a Warning Sign of Ad Fraud says AppNexus
The most likely publishers to be engaged in ad fraud are those whose businesses centre around ‘viral content’ according to a new report from AppNexus published today. Publishers who rely on their content being shared over social media to boost their traffic experience huge peaks and troughs in volume, which incentivises them to buy potentially fraudulent traffic to keep ad revenues high. AppNexus found necessary viral content a warning sign that a publisher might be a beneficiary of ad fraud. Read more on VAN.

The Week for Agencies

Bain Buys Asatsu-DK
Bain Capital announced this week that it has finally completed a deal to privatise Asatsu-DK (ADK), Japan’s third largest ad agency. ADK had grown dissatisfied with its relationship with previous stakeholder WPP and saw privatisation as the best way forward, though WPP initially felt Bain’s offer undervalued ADK. WPP relented last month though, allowing the deal to proceed. “We look forward to working closely with ADK’s management over the coming months to accelerate its transformation efforts while we continue to work towards the end goal of privatising the business, so it can realize its full potential more quickly,” said Yuji Sugimoto, managing director of private equity at Bain Capital.

Havas Confirms Staff Cuts
Havas this week confirmed an unspecified number of cuts to its staff, according to an AdAge report. “We can confirm some changes in staff today at Havas. As our industry continues to change, we must respond and adapt the skills within our business. We continue with our ambition to be the best partner to the Modern CMO and we’re deeply invested in the future of our agency, our staff and our clients,” said a statement released by Havas.

Partnerships of the Week

Liberty Global Selects SeaChange for Cloud-Based Video Offering
SeaChange International this week announced its Adrenalin multiscreen video solution will be integrated with Liberty Global’s new video platform that supports its Horizon 4 services. The SeaChange Adrenalin software, running as part of Liberty Global’s video service platform, will provide the content information and transaction support for Liberty’s viewers across both broadcast and IP video delivery networks on Liberty’s latest Horizon set-top boxes (STBs). Liberty says that Adrenalin’s flexibility supports each affiliate’s need to independently deploy and control their own multi-vendor platform and editorial catalogues, while at the same time gaining the operational efficiencies of shared, visualized resources.

Connekt Integrates T-commerce into Hisense Smart TVs
Connekt this week announced integration of its t-commerce ShopTV application into new smart TVs made by Hisense. Connekt says its ShopTV service offers over-the-top (OTT) video and brand channel opportunities for advertisers to create interactive experiences for connected TV viewers. Hisense smart TV owners will be able to personalise their interactions by opting to receive offers and deals from the featured brands, and can purchase the products that interest them through the ShopTV app.

“Hisense is a great partner for Connekt,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Connekt. “Together, we’re offering brands and advertisers more meaningful ways to engage with their targeted TV audience. For viewers, we’re giving them the power to browse and buy what they see on TV, the largest screen in the home.”

NBCUniversal Channels Added to TVPlayer
A selection of NBCUniversal’s channels have been added to TVPlayer’s digital live TV streaming service. Universal Channel, E!, SYFY and Movies 24 have all been added to the service, which lets audience stream partnered TV channels online for a monthly subscription fee.

Hires of the Week

Turner Promotes Molly Battin to Global CMO, CCO and Executive VP
Turner this week announced that it has promoted Molly Battin from her previous role as chief brand strategy officer, to the roles of CMO, CCO and EVP. Battin will be responsible for brand reputation across all platforms, internal and external strategic communications, media planning and buying, media relations and publicity according to Turner.

Group Nine Media Hires Christa Carone as President
Christa Carone, previously of WPP and Xerox, was announced this week as president of Group Nine Media, a holding company which owns digital content specialists Thrillist, The Dodo and NowThis. Carone’s role will include oversight of Group Nine’s sales and marketing teams.

The Week on Van

Google and Facebook Account for 84 Percent of Digital Ad Investment says GroupM, read more on VAN

ProSiebenSat.1 Expands Ad Tech Operations with esome Purchase and Jana Eisenstein Hire, read more on VAN

Facebook’s News Feed Tests Worry Small Publishers who have Few Alternatives, read more on VAN

Viral Content is a Warning Sign of Ad Fraud says AppNexus, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Plus, Christmas, J Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Dutch supermarket PLUS picks a unique angle for its Christmas ad, focusing on a girl whose parents are separated. The ad shows the emotional strain Christmas can put on divided families, but still delivers a feel-good Christmas moment at the end.

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