The WIR: Publishers Concerned as Facebook Announces News Feed Changes, WPP Launches Kantar Consulting, and New Ad Tech Fund MathCapital Announced

In this week’s Week in Review:  Facebook announces changes to its News Feed in a move that will hurt publishers, WPP merges four Kantar brands into a new consultancy, and new ad tech fund MathCapital is launched. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Publishers Worries as Facebook Announces News Feed Changes
Facebook announced changes to its News Feed this week which will prioritise content from users’ friends, at the expense of Pages and public content. The social network, announcing the changes via a blog post, said that within the next few weeks it will update its algorithm for ranking which content is prioritised on a user’s News Feed. Posts from friends and family will be ranked higher than previously, as well as posts which Facebook predicts will “spark conversations”.

The company acknowledged that these changes will see Pages and public posts become less visible as a result, which is bad news for publishers that use Facebook to promote their content. The company emphasised that this change is not the same as the one trialled a few months ago which relegated Page posts to a separate explore tab, and said that users will be able to choose to see Page posts higher up the news feed if they wish. It’s unlikely thought that many users would do this, since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the changes are based on community feedback.

WPP’s Kantar Restructured to Take on Consultancies
WPP’s data investment management division Kantar is launching Kantar Consulting, a merger of four existing Kantar brands which will be pitched as a specialist growth consultant. Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail will be merged to form the new consultancy, which counts Unilever, Pepsi, Tata and Amazon among its clients at launch. The launch is seen by some analysts as a fightback from WPP against consultancies encroaching on the holding groups’ territory, though WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has played down the consultancy threat in the past.

“We live in a new era of consumption. Growth can no longer be assumed, yet there are more, not fewer, opportunities to build breakout brands and new lines of business,” said Kantar Consulting CEO Phil Smiley. “Future growth exists, but beyond the comfort zone of most organisations; it is more granular, less siloed and more opportunistic. We will rewrite the rules of demand and the conventions of marketing and sales. Our ‘Whole Demand’ philosophy will help clients go beyond strategy to generate and convert demand and create long-lasting, sustainable growth.”

New Ad Tech Fund MathCapital Launched
MathCapital, a new venture capital fund aimed at financing ad tech companies, was launched this week by MediaMath founder Joe Zawadzki and Undertone co-founder Eric Franchi. While ad tech funding has somewhat dried up in recent years, Zawadzki and Franchi believe there is still room for startups to innovate in the industry. As well as funding, MathCapital will give its portfolio companies access to MediaMath’s over 4500 advertisers and 350 partners. The fund says its particular interests are:

  • Applications of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to marketing
  • Measurement and analytics to connect marketing with outcomes
  • Consumer advocacy, notice and consent solutions
  • New forms of digital connections including augmented reality, virtual reality, audio- and voice-based interaction

The Week in Tech

InMobi Acquires AerServ for $90 Million
Mobile ad network InMobi, who claim to be the world’s largest independent mobile advertising platform, this week announced the acquisition of AerServ for $90 million in cash and stock. The acquisition will beef up InMobi’s video and programmatic business, which will account for 35 percent of the overall company revenue. A statement about the acquisition also said that the companies aim to bring header bidding into mobile in-app environments for the first time. Read more on VAN.

Irdeto Launches ‘Next-Gen’ Piracy Control
Digital security company Iredto announced what it’s calling a “next-generation Privacy Control solution” at this week’s CES. The product will use data-driven web discovery tools, multi-language site searches, social media and search engine discovery and peer-to-peer stream discovery to help content owners track down and remove pirated content. Irdeto says it is able to identify content through a mix of logo detection, text and facial recognition and video fingerprinting.

Phoenix Buys Nielsen’s TV Brand Effect Product
Phoenix Marketing this week acquired Nielsen’s TV Brand Effect (TVBE), which measures memorability and quality of TV ads, for an undisclosed fee. Nielsen, which will continue running the product over a transitional year, said the product was no longer consistent with its portfolio strategy. The deal is expected to double Phoenix’s staff count and revenue.

Magnetic Launches News AI-Driven Media Buying Platform
Digital marketing and AI company Magnetic announced a new automated media buying platform this week, Magnetic Force. Powered by Magnetic’s machine learning and artificial intelligence platform, Magnetic says the new sales platform will be completely automated, and will give high levels of transparency to users including information on pricing, placement and AI decisioning.

Nearly 75 Percent in US Use CTV Devices Daily, Finds YuMe
Around 74 percent of US consumers use their connected-TV (CTV) devices daily, according to a YuMe study on adoption and use of CTV devices. CTV ownership has double in the US since 2013, to an average of three devices per household, with 60 percent of households owning at least one. The study also found that large screens are still preferred for TV and film viewing, with only 28 percent of people using their tablets and 19 percent of people using their phones to watch TV shows and movies.

The Week in TV

Amazon Prime and Now TV’s Growth Rates Both Outpace Netflix in UK
Netflix’s subscriber growth rate in the UK was surpassed by both Amazon Prime and Now TV this year according to UK measurement body, the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). Netflix remains the dominant subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service in the UK, but its growth rate is slowing down, while rivals are gaining pace.

Netflix is still far and away the dominant SVOD service, with the company’s 7.5 million UK subscribers more than those of Amazon Prime and Now TV combined. Netflix’s growth rate of 22 percent however was outpaced by both rivals, with Amazon Prime seeing 51 percent growth and Now TV seeing 70 percent growth over the past year. Read more on VAN.

Hulu’s Ad Revenue Reached $1 Billion in 2017
Hulu’s ad revenue last year topped $1 billion for the first time, with the digital video platform’s subscriber count reaching 17 million. The company, which has often kept its subscription figures under wraps, says this is a 40 percent lift on its subscriber count in 2016. Its total audience reached 54 million unique viewers, with those not subscribed viewing content through Hulu’s ad-supported option instead.

Average Viewer Spends 4.4 Hours Per Day Watching Video, Finds TiVO
The average global viewer spends 4.4 hours every day watching video content, equivalent to 20 percent of their daily life, according to TiVo. TiVo’s study of 8,500 pay-TV and over-the-top (OTT) subscribers across the US, Europe and Latin America also found that 90 percent of households still pay for a traditional pay-TV service, but over 60 percent are also subscribed to a streaming video service.

The Week in Publishing

RTL Expands Multi-Platform Network Portfolio with €12.4 Million United Screens Purchase
German broadcaster RTL Group announced today it has bought United Screens, a multi-platform network (MPN) founded in 2013, for €12.4 million. United Screens, based in the Nordics, joins an existing portfolio of MPNs owned by RTL, and represents another step in the group’s ‘total video’ strategy whereby the company is diversifying its revenue streams and investing in areas such as video production and ad tech. Read more on VAN.

Facebook to Bring Instagram Stories to WhatsApp
Facebook is trialling making Instagram stories postable on messaging app WhatsApp. Instagram Stories, short video clips which expire after 24 hours, have been available on Facebook since last year, and may soon be integrated with Whatsapp too, according to TechCrunch. Analysts see the tests both as a way to cement the lead Instagram stories have taken over Snapchat stories, and as a way of encouraging users to subscribe to all of Facebook’s owned services.

News UK Reports $1 Million Per Month Domain Spoofing Losses
British publisher News UK says it looses just under $1 million in ad revenue to domain spoofing, according to a report by Digiday. The publisher conducted a blackout test in December to gauge how many impressions from News UK’s brands The Sun and The Times of London still appeared on supply side platforms, and found 2.9 million bids per hour made on fake inventory through two SSPs. News UK estimates that translates to around $950,000 of spending on domain spoofed inventory every month.

Snapchat and Twitter to Host World Cup Content for FOX Sports
FOX Sports has agreed a deal with Twitter and Snapchat which will see the companies collaborate on content for this year’s FIFA World Cup. FOX will produce a 30 minute live show and near-live video highlights for Twitter, and a ‘Publisher Story’ for Snapchat featuring highlights and analysis. Snapchat itself will also produce World Cup Stories using content provided by FOX, as well as reaction clips from fans. FOX will be keen to get as much value as possible out of the World Cup after paying $400 million for broadcasting rights, only for the USA team to fail to qualify for the tournament.

YouTube Red to Release in New Markets This Year
YouTube’s paid subscription service YouTube Red will launch in multiple new markets this year, according to a Les Echos interview with chief business officer Robert Kyncl. The service is currently only available in the US, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea, but can now be rolled out globally after YouTube secured a licensing deal with Universal Music, explained Kyncl. He said it will be launched in dozens of markets in 2018, though did not specify which ones.

Twitch Agrees $90M Esports Streaming Deal with Blizzard
Amazon-owned live streaming platform Twitch has agreed a deal with game developer Blizzard for exclusive rights to stream The Overwatch League (OWL). The deal, believed to be the biggest in esports history, will see Twitch broadcast every regular-season and postseason contest for OWL, Blizzard’s competitive league for its popular first person shooter Overwatch.

The Week for Agencies

Wavemaker UK Opens For Business
Wavemaker, the agency formed by a merger of GroupM properties MEX and Maxus, continued its global launch this week as it opened the doors of its UK office. The company, which has offices in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, launches with a team of 700 led by CEO Jason Dormieux, and counts L’Oreal, Vodafone, BMW and Morrisons among its current clients.

Marginal Improvement in UK Agency Staff Diversity, But Still a Long Way to Go Finds IPA
UK agencies made slight improvements in staff diversity last year, but both women and people from BAME backgrounds are still underrepresented, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s (IPA) annual Diversity Survey. Some of the increases have been very marginal; for example, the proportion of women in C-suite roles crept up from 30.3 in 2016 to 20.9 percent in 2017, and the proportion of BAME staff overall increased from 12.0 percent to 12.9 percent in the same period. However, IPA president Sarah Golding noted that the number of women and people from BAME background in junior roles have significantly increased, and that actions taken now will have long term payoffs.

Partnerships of the Week

SpotX Announces Interoperability with Amazon Web Services for Video Monetisation
Video ad serving platform SpotX this week announced interoperability with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power server-side insertion for streaming video advertisements with the AWS Elemental MediaTailor service. SpotX says the partnership provides scalable and cost-effective means to convert and package streaming video content into various formats and, through the use of advertisements, monetise this content.

“As we continue to lead holistic inventory management in the over-the-top video space, our integration with media services from AWS Elemental allows our clients to fully monetise streaming video across platforms,” said Jeremy Straight, SVP of strategic partnerships at SpotX.

CBS All Access Available on Amazon Prime
Content from CBS’s subscription video on-demand (SVOD) platform CBS All Access will be made available on Amazon Prime for an extra cost thanks to a new deal between the two. All Access will be available through Amazon Channels, where Prime hosts content from partnered broadcasters for extra subscription fees.

Hires of the Week

New Roles for Nick Theakstone and Tom George as GroupM Reshuffles Management
GroupM has promote Nick Theakstone from UK chief executive to global chief investment officer, with Tom George stepping into the UK chief executive role. The moves comes during a period where parent company WPP is restructuring its agencies, and GroupM itself its merging its own MEC and Maxus brands.

Karen Blackett Appointed WPP’s First UK Manager
Karen Blackett, current chairwoman of MediaCom UK, has been appointed as WPP’s first UK manager, where she will seek opportunities to boost the holding group’s market share in the UK. Blacket will remain in her current role for a six month transition period.

Quantcast Hires Robert Horler as COO
Agency veteran and former CEO of Dentsu Aegis US Robert Horler has been taken on as Quantcast’s new chief operating officer. Horler’s responsibilities in the newly created role will include oversight and leadership of global commercial operations as the company prepares for a new stage of growth, according to Quantcast.

Unruly Picks Paul Gubbins for Programmatic Lead
News Corp’s Unruly has hired Paul Gubbins as its UK programmatic lead. Gubbins, who has previously worked for both publishers and ad tech vendors including Reuters, The Telegraph, and The Rubicon Project, joins from Oath where he provided programmatic guidance and training.

Corey Ferengul Hired as Magnetic CEO
Ad targeting platform Magnetic has picked Corey Ferengul as its new CEO, replacing the outgoing James Green. Ferengul, who previously sat on Magnetic’s board, will oversee expansion of the company beyond its current retargeting focus.

Sharethrough Chooses Dina Roman as Chief Revenue Officer
Native ad exchange Sharethrough has appointed Dina Roman as its new chief revenue officer. Roman, who has previously worked for IDG, and Brightcove, will lead Sharethrough’s global advertiser sales team across three continents.

The Week on Van

RTL Expands Multi-Platform Network Portfolio with €12.4 Million United Screens Purchase, read more on VAN

Amazon Prime and Now TV’s Growth Rates Both Outpace Netflix in UK, read more on VAN

InMobi Acquires AerServ for $90 Million, read more on VAN

CES 2018: What’s Going On in Video, VR & TV, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Nike, Play Less Nice, Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Nike’s ‘Play Less Nice’ campaign, to be aired over the course of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships, celebrates hockey’s reputation for meanness and aggression. This campaign uses an interesting trick to engage the audience, airing nine different versions of the same ad over the nine day tournament, with the main character getting a little nastier in each one (below are the first and last ads of the series). This ‘spot the difference’ trick is an interesting way of making the ads stand out.

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