The WIR: Trinity Mirror Buys Express and Star for £200m, Twitter Reports First Quarterly Profit, and IAB Sees Promise in Blockchain for Video Advertising

In this week’s Week in Review: Trinity Mirror buys the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers for £200 million, Twitter posts its first ever quarterly profit thanks to video advertising, and the IAB releases a white paper calling blockchain a ‘natural fit’ for video advertising.  To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Trinity Mirror Buys Express and Star for £200 Million
UK publisher Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, People, and around 240 regional papers, has bought the Express, Star and OK! magazine from publishing magnate Richard Desmond in a deal worth £200 million. Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox has pledged that the papers will remain editorially independent, but the company plans to cut costs by pooling resources and has suggested that in areas like sports. Fox suggested that a single team might produce content for all titles, with each paper choosing which content it wishes to use; Trinity Mirror hopes to make £20 million worth of savings through this sort of cost cutting. As part of the deal, Desmond has agreed to spend £32 million over the next five years on advertising for his other businesses in Trinity Mirror titles.

Video Ad Sales Help Twitter Turns First Every Quarterly Profit
Twitter’s Q4 result for last year show the company posted its first ever quarterly profit, which it attributes to higher than expected ad sales, and in particular video ad sales. The company made a net profit of $91.1 million in Q4, compared with a $167.1 million loss in the same period in 2016, and generated $732 million in revenue, up two percent year-on-year. Twitter said that revenue was boosted by better ad targeting and higher video ad sales, which it put down to the growth of its Video Website Card and Video App card products. It expects 2018 to be profitable in every quarter too, and says it will look to improve measurement of its core ad offerings and introduce new ways to buy ads on Twitter, including alpha testing of programmatic buying, to drive further growth.

IAB Touts Blockchain as Strong Fit for Video Advertising
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released a white paper stating that blockchain technology is a “natural fit” for the video advertising supply chain, saying that it sees strong use cases for blockchain in digital video advertising. The IAB acknowledged that cryptocurrencies have generated a lot of hype around the tech, but concluded that blockchain could add genuine value to the supply chain, and the IAB’s endorsement could help alleviate some of the doubts around blockchain.

The IAB sees blockchain’s value in its ability to increase efficiencies and create a more trustworthy supply chain, as well as reduce costs and fraud for both publishers and buyers. The report says these benefits have seen venture capital funding funneled into blockchain applications, which it predicts we will start seeing rolled out across digital and cross-screen video advertising this year, with broad adoption of these technologies coming in 2019. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week in Tech

Programmatic Spending to Account for Over a Quarter of Digital Ad Spend in 2017/18
Programmatic trading is set to increase from 17 percent of all digital media spend to 28 percent of all digital media spend over between November 2017 and November 2018, according the the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). The WFA’s Future of Programmatic study asked 28 major multinationals about their spending intentions over the period, with 87 percent saying they plan to increase their programmatic mobile spending, 68 percent planning to boost their video spend, and 77 percent planning to spend more on new programmatic channels like advanced TV and digital out-of-home (DOOH).

Snap’s Q4 Results Beat Wall Street Expectations
Stocks in Snapchat creator Snap soared this week after the company’s Q4 results beat industry expectation by a sizeable margin, following efforts to build the app’s user base and make it a more attractive platform for advertisers. Snap made $285.6 million in Q4, a 27 percent increase on the previous quarter, with its daily user count increasing to 187 million, nine million more than Q3. Chief strategy officer Imran Khan said that programmatic ad sales is the fastest growing element of the business, which has driven down its pricing but bought in more customers. The company’s share price increased by up to 23 percent in the wake of the announcement.

PubMatic Announces Zero Buy-Side Fees
Sell side platform (SSP) PubMatic has announced that it doesn’t charge advertisers any fees for buying ads on its platform, part of its push towards a simplified pricing model. PubMatic says it is trying to provide greater visibility into pricing models so both publishers and advertisers in order to help buyers bid more efficiently on its platform, which it believes will benefit both publishers and advertisers.

“We have always been a publisher-first company and have been outspoken about the need to bring greater transparency to programmatic. At PubMatic, we continuously evaluate shifting industry demands so that we can provide the best level of service and product innovation to our clients. It is important that our pricing models reflect this position,” said Rajeev Goel, co-founder and CEO of PubMatic.

SpotX and smartclip Begin Merger
SpotX and smartclip, both properties of RTL Group, announced on Thursday they have completed the first steps of their merger which was first announced last year. The two are now one global company under the SpotX brand, with a joint management team headed up by SpotX co-founders Mike Shehan and Steve Swoboda, and SpotX says the merger will allow it to focus significant resources on expanding investments and scale innovation. RTL Group will begin rolling out its new joint SpotX  platform in Europe, starting in Germany next month.

Pixability Launches Brand Safety YouTube Solution
Pixability this week announced a new tool which is says combines AI and human verification to allow guaranteed brand safe ad buys on YouTube. The will also ensure viewability via a collaboration with Moat, and contextual relevance too. The offering will be two-tiered, with the pricier option claiming to guarantee 100 percent brand safe ad buys, and the lower-priced offering providing refunds for ads shown in non brand safe environments and not including customisation for individual campaign goals.

Third Party Data is Driving Audience Buying on OTT, finds SpotX
Third party data is one of the primary factors driving an increase in audience-based buying and selling on OTT platforms, according to a survey commissioned by SpotX and run by Kagan. The report, which asked players across the industry which trends are affecting them most and how they view data-driven advertising, also found that increased mobile streaming is seen as the biggest change in consumer behaviour over the past year.

SpotX commissioned research group Kagan to conduct the survey of 41 US-based multichannel video service providers (MVPDs), pure-play OTT providers, content owners and advertisers, to gauge their attitudes towards data-driven TV advertising.

The study found that the majority believe third party data is the biggest factor causing increased adoption of audience-based buying and selling on OTT, with 85 percent of respondents and 100 percent of advertisers listing it as a ‘strong driver’.

Nielsen Launches Brand Placement Measurement Product
Nielsen launched a new product this week for measuring the effectiveness of brand placements across screens and devices. Nielsen says the new solution, Branded Integration Intel, will be the industry’s first standardised metric for valuing brand exposures, and will work across linear TV and digital video. The product will analyse effectiveness based on a number of factors including size, location, duration, brand hits and impact to give a picture of how individual integrations perform, and also how well different types of integration work.

Videology Sees CTV Ad Requests Increase 175 Percent Since 2015
Ad requests for Connected TV (CTV) through Videology have grown by 175 percent since 2015, according to the company’s U.S TV & Video Market at a Glance Q4 2017 report. The company also saw the number of impressions running exclusively on CTV grow by 230 percent from the last quarter according to the data, while spending on linear TV campaigns in the Videology platform has grown nine times over the past three years.

The Week in TV

Vodafone in Talks to Buy Liberty Global European Assets
Mobile operator Vodafone has entered talks to buy parts of European cable group Liberty Global in a deal that could exceed €14 billion, according to the FT. Vodafone is particularly interested in Liberty’s cable assets in Germany, as well as its holdings across eastern Europe. Vodafone confirmed the talks, saying that it was interested in “overlapping continental European assets”, though it stressed that the talks are preliminary and there is no certainty that an agreement will be reached.

Sky, Adobe, Alphonso and TVbeat Unite for ‘Cross-Platform, Cross-Border’ Data Consortium
Sky, Adobe Systems Inc, TVbeat Inc and Alphonso Inc are launching a consortium which they say will explore opportunities enabled by developments in cross-border and cross-platform data. The four plan to work alongside the European TV industry to explore and give advice on how new tech can best be used for TV audience targeting and profiling, viewability measurement and attribution.

The new initiative pitches itself a response both to the need for better ability to apply data and measurement across screens and borders, and to the opportunities for new and better forms of targeting and analytics enabled by new technology. It says it will facilitate a programme of research, dialogue and engagement around any opportunities opened up by developments in measurement, metrics and data, and has given a few concrete examples of what this will look like. Read more on VAN.

Super Bowl Suffers Live Streaming Troubles
Sunday’s Super Bowl was by all accounts very entertaining, but several online live streams experiences technical hitches, demonstrating some of the problems the tech giants will face if they do buy big ticket sports broadcasting rights. NBC’s Hulu feed and PS Vue’s stream were both interrupted during the action, causing viewers to miss parts of the game. Recent research from Phenix found that technical problems like interruptions, buffering and lag are key concerns stopping customers from live streaming sports, and they’re problems companies like Amazon will need to avoid if they are to hold exclusive rights for the likes of the Premier League.

The Week in Publishing

UK Government to Review Whether Publishers Receive ‘Fair Share’ of Online Ad Revenues
UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday that the government will conduct a review into the sustainability of the UK’s newspaper industry, at a national, regional and local levels. The review will examine whether publishers currently get their fair share of online ad revenue, and could result in the government taking steps to protect the industry. May specifically referenced the supply and distribution chain, suggesting that the government might makes moves to ensure that companies like Facebook and Google share more ad revenue with publishers, which is something that several publishers have been calling for recently. Read more on VAN.

YouTube to Label State/Public Funded Videos
YouTube will begin labelling videos uploaded by news organisations which receive state or public funding, it announced last Friday. The company says the move is designed to give users better insight into the sources of news content they watch on YouTube, part of the platform’s push to fight fake news. A notice will appear on appropriate videos detailing who the news organisation is funded by, and giving a link to a Wikipedia page for more information.

The Week for Agencies

Publicis Chief Athrur Sadoun Predicts Agency/Consultancy M&A
Publicis Groupe’s CEO Arthur Sadoun said this week that he expects to see more mergers and acquisitions between ad agencies and consulting or IT services companies this year, as the industries move closer into each other’s territory. “The future of our business lies in the convergence of marketing and business transformation,” said Sadoun. “The big trend will be IT services companies who try to qualify themselves on the marketing side, and marketing groups who try to qualify themselves on the tech side . . . There will be deals.”

Sadoun gave the prediction on Thursday as Publicis released its Q4 results, which saw revenues dip  by 0.4 percent, though organic growth was up 0.8 percent. Sadoun spoke positively about Publicis’ own ‘digital transformation’ business, which advises other companies on their digital strategy, and hailed a few significant account wins for the company over the past year.

Partnerships of the Week

Yospace and Seven Extend Partnership for DAI in Live OTT
Server-side dynamic ad insertion (DAI) platform Yospace and Australian broadcaster Seven have extended their existing partnership, which will see Yospace provide DAI into Seven’s OTT channels. Yospace’s tech allows ads to be inserted into ad breaks on the fly, which the company says enables addressability at scale. Yospace’s tech has already been used for Seven’s OTT broadcasts of the Australian Open and Rugby League World Cup last year.

QYOU and iflix Partner on Global Content Initiative
Emerging market oriented over-the-top (OTT) service iflix and QYOU, a curator of web video for multiscreen distribution, are partnering for a global distribution deal. The agreement will see iflix distribute exclusive localised QYOU programming in 25 global territories including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

Hires of the Week

Fox Names Jeff Hughes New Digital President
Fox Networks Group has chosen Jeff Hughes, a former Sky executive, as its new president of digital. Hughes previously worked as president of technology for Fox, and now replaces Brian Sullivan, who was promoted to COO last year.

Sky Appoints Debbie Klein Group Chief Marketing and Corporate Affairs Officer
Sky has taken on Debbie Klein, previously chief executive at Engine Europe and Asia Pacific, for the newly created role of chief marketing and corporate affairs officer. Klein will report to Sky chief executive Jamie Darroch, and will be tasked with leading Sky’s brand marketing efforts, as well as its Bigger Picture programme.

The Week on Van

What Does it Take to Make a Publisher Alliance Work? read more on VAN

Sky, Adobe, Alphonso and TVbeat Unite for ‘Cross-Platform, Cross-Border’ Data Consortium, read more on VAN

UK Government to Review Whether Publishers Receive ‘Fair Share’ of Online Ad Revenues, read more on VAN

How Jungle Creations Seeks the Right Balance for Branded Content, read more on VAN

IAB Backs Blockchain as Natural Fit for Video Advertising, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Tide, It’s a Tide Ad, Saatchi & Saatchi New York

This spot, or rather series of spots, has been most people’s pick of the Super Bowl ads, but for good reason. This premise, that every ad can be seen as an ad for Tide given how clean everyone’s clothes are, is clever, and its the type of concept that gets people talking. It’s memorable, quotable, and couldn’t have come at a better time for Tide, which has been fending off bad press over the “Tide pod challenge” internet trend which encouraged people to eat the highly toxic detergent. Plus, the ads feature David Harbour, currently flavor of the month thanks to the popularity of Stranger Things and his social media activity. What more could you ask for?

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