The WIR: WFA Launches Data Transparency Manifesto, Axel Springer Loses AdBlock Plus Court Case, and AppNexus Reports 200 Percent Revenue Growth for Microsoft Video Inventory

In this week’s Week in Review: The WFA launches a manifesto for online data transparency, Axel Springer loses its legal case against AdBlock Plus, and AppNexus reports strong monetisation growth for Microsoft. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

WFA Launches Manifesto for Online Data Transparency
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) yesterday released a manifesto which calls for advertisers to push for a recalibration of the way data is used for advertising. The manifesto calls for strong governance to ensure data is handled appropriately, increase consumer control and choice over how their data is used, active management of the data supply chain to introduce more accountability and transparency, and data minimisation, where only the minimum amount of data necessary to deliver quality advertising is used. The WFA says it will provide a platform for companies to exchange ideas and best practices, and will also play a role in advocating for responsible data practices within the industry. Unilever, Mars and Shell are among the advertisers who have signed up to the agreement.

Axel Springer Loses Adblock Plus Court Case
German media group Axel Springer lost its legal case against Adblock Plus this week, as the federal court in Karlsruhe ruled on Thursday that there is no legal basis for banning software which allows customers to avoid adverts. The court found that harm done to publishers like Axel Springer is cause not by Adblock Plus’ maker Eyeo, but rather by users who download the software, and that Axel Springer could defend itself by simply not allowing users of ad-blocking software to access its content. “We believe the decision of the federal court is wrong,” said Axel Springer’s head of media law Claas-Hendrik Soehring. “Programmes like Adblock Plus endanger the quality and pluralism of information providers and thus hurt the general interest. This is a blow to the core of the free media landscape.”

AppNexus Reports 201 Percent Growth for Microsoft Instream Video Monetisation
Microsoft’s use of the AppNexus supply-side platform (SSP) to monetise its video inventory has seen revenues for its instream video increase by 201 percent, while eCPMs have risen by 29 percent compared to Q1 2017, AppNexus announced today. Microsoft leverages three different video formats to monetise its inventory including instream pre-roll and outstream in-article, and uses AppNexus’ multimedia superauction technology to enable these multiple media types to participate in a single unified auction. AppNexus says this style of multimedia superauction can generate revenue lift of up to 60 percent in select markets.

“Microsoft’s success in AppNexus’ video marketplace has provided high-quality liquidity and driven powerful network effects,” said Eric Hoffert, SVP of video technology at AppNexus. “With more than six billion available impressions each month, their scale supports a high degree of audience buyer match and we see more than 150 daily active video buyers purchasing Microsoft’s supply, including major marketers, agencies, and external demand partners.”

The Week in Tech

Teads Expands UK Reach to 43 Million
Outstream video specialist Teads announced on Tuesday its UK reach has grown to 43 million consumers, 90 percent of the UK’s online population, growth it attributes in part to a backlash against fake news. The company says it its reach across quality publishers has grown by 32 percent overall in the past three years as consumers have become increasingly wary of news they see on social media, and are turning more to trusted premium news sources to try to avoid fake news.

Chrome Begins Blocking Autoplay Video with Sound
Google Chrome released an update this week which sees autoplay videos with sound now automatically muted, meaning that both video ads and any other autoplay video units should now be automatically silenced. The feature, which had been previously announced and has been in development since last year, will not affect autoplay videos which don’t include sound, nor cases where the user has indicated they are interested in the media, for example if it’s found on a site which the user frequently uses to play media (meaning YouTube won’t be affected).

Digital Remedy Acquires CrowdHere
Digital Remedy, a white-labeled ad operations and sales solution for publishers, advertisers and influencers, this week announced the acquisition of CrowdHere, which describes itself as a curated collective of new media filmmakers and creative futurists. As part of Digital Remedy, CrowdHere can scale to support more advertisers with access to the company’s seasoned sales team coupled with its product and technical teams, according to the press release.

XITE Networks and SpotX Launch Solution for Programmatic Advertising on Linear TV
SpotX announced on Thursday it’s partnering with music television network XITE for what it’s calling a programmatic advertising solution for linear TV. XITE integrates on-demand services with its linear music TV offering, and this partnership will see SpotX enable targeted ads based on gender, geography or music preference run on XITE’s services. “This step is a true evolution from audience-based planning to audience-based buying across the television ecosystem. I’m proud that together with SpotX we have developed an integrated approach from an audience-first perspective that ensures effective and efficient advertising campaigns,” said XITE founder and CEO Derk Nijssen.

Below the Fold Ads Nine Times More Engaging than Above the Fold, finds Sovrn
Below the fold ads (ads which a user has to scroll down a web page to see) are up to nine times more engaging than above the fold ads, according to research released by Sovrn this week. Sovrn says it used a new measurement, Viewable Engagement Time (VET), to measure specifically the extent to which a user is engaged with a website when seeing above the fold (ATF) and below the fold (BTF) ads. The VET metric showed that BTF ads were seen for 2.6 times longer than ATF, and results also found that BTF ad users were actively engaged for 27 percent of viewable dwell time, whereas ATF ad users were actively engaged for just three percent of viewable dwell time.

The Week in TV

NBCUniversal Aligns with OpenAP for Unified Advanced Advertising Standards
US broadcaster NBCUniversal announced on Thursday that it’s aligning with OpenAP, a broadcaster consortium made up of Fox, Turner and Viacom, to work on the development of new platforms for automated buying, advanced formats and cross-platform measurement and currency for TV advertising. The partnership firstly means that NBCUniversal will align with OpenAP’s standardised datasets. OpenAP was founded back in 2016 with a view to making it easier for advertisers to target TV audiences by enabling cross-publisher audience targeting, as well as independent measurement. NBCUniversal’s addition means the same standardised datasets buyers can use for Fox, Turner and Viacom can now be used for NBCUniversal too. Read the full story on VAN.

Sky Reports Strong Growth in Q3 Results
Sky reported five percent growth in like-for-like revenue to £10.1 billion in its latest financial results, for the nine months ending 31st March 2018. Meanwhile the company’s statutory operating profit reached £857 million, a 22 percent year-on-year increase. Sky reports that it is continuing to grow its customer base, adding 480,000 new customers in the last year, and 38,000 in Q3 specifically, and is continuing to roll out its Sky Q set top box. Sky Q is now reportedly in 2.5 million homes across the UK, Ireland and Italy, and will be launched in Germany and Austria from May 2nd. “Looking ahead, we have the right strategy and abilities in place to provide customers with the best content, products and service. Whilst we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging, the business is in good shape and we remain on track for the full year,” said group chief executive Jeremy Darroch in the press release.

AT&T Reveals Plans for New Skinny Bundle
US Telecoms giant AT&T revealed it is launching a new skinny bundle over-the-top (OTT) TV offering, which will be available for $15 per month, or free of charge to AT&T wireless subscribers. CEO Randall Stephenson revealed the new product while giving evidence in court as part of his company’s legal battle with the US Department of Justice over its attempted takeover of Time Warner. Stephenson claimed that the new product, AT&T Watch, shows that a takeover of Time Warner would not harm consumers or stifle innovation.

BBC Plans to Reinvent iPlayer
BBC chairman David Clementi said his company is looking to reinvent its online streaming service, BBC iPlayer, in an attempt to stay relevant for the 16-34 age group. Clementi, speaking at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Spring Conference, said the BBC will aim to provide a more personalised service, giving more suggestions for content to its audience and making it a more attractive destination for browsing and finding new content, rather than for just catching up on TV shows viewers already know.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Continue Massive Growth
Netflix and Amazon Prime both unveiled data showing continued rapid growth this week, with Prime revealing it now has over 100 million subscribers, and Neflix reporting Q1 net income of $290 million, up from $178 million a year ago. Netflix says it added 7.4 million new subscribers in the first quarter, beating expectations, and expects to add a further 6.2 million in Q2. The company says it will invest more in unscripted series like its recently released Queer Eye reboot, and will also spend more on marketing its original titles. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos meanwhile attributed Prime’s growth in part to its continued content expansion, saying Prime Video “continues to drive Prime member adoption and retention.”

The Week in Publishing

Nearly 50 Percent of Buyers are Suspicious of Publishers Without Ads.txt finds Oath
Over 50 percent of buyers say ads.txt makes them more comfortable buying programmatic, and nearly 50 percent are suspicious of any publishers not using ads.txt, according to an Oath study which polled over 220 ad and agency executives. The study also found that one third will only advertise with publishers using ads.txt. However, while this study suggests that ads.txt is seen as crucial by many buyers, a substantial portion still haven’t even heard of it, with nearly 20 percent of those polled saying they weren’t aware of the initiative.

YouTube Faces Fresh Brand Safety Concerns
YouTube has been running ads for major brands on channels promoting white nationalists, Nazis, paedophilia and North Korean propaganda, according to a CNN investigation. CNN says companies including Adidas, Amazon, Facebook and Under Armour were among those affected, and Under Armour has paused its campaigns on YouTube after being informed by CNN. The fresh brand safety issues might once again raise concerns about YouTube’s ability to filter our inappropriate content, but previous crises have not hit YouTube’s income too hard as brands have temporarily suspended campaigns before returning to the platform. The affected brands which CNN contacted by and large said they are working with YouTube and investigating the issue, but did not say they planned to suspend their campaigns.

The Week for Agencies

Martin Sorrell Resigns as CEO of WPP
Sir Martin Sorrell resigned from his role as CEO of WPP last weekend  in the midst of an internal investigation into allegations of personal misconduct. Sorrell has continually denied claims of improper personal behaviour, but says he’s stepping down for the good of the company.  “As I look ahead, I see that the current disruption we are experiencing is simply putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business, our over 200,000 people and their 500,000 or so dependents, and the clients we serve in 112 countries. That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside,” said Sorrell in a memo to employees. As a stop-gap, Chairman Roberto Quarta has taken on the role of executive chairman while a replacement is found, and Mark Read and Andrew Scott from WPP’s Wunderman will act as joint chief operating officers to run day-to-day operations.

Publicis and Omnicom Post Promising Q1 Results
Publicis Groupe and Omnicom both posted their Q1 results this week, with Publicis achieving 1.6 percent growth in net revenue compared to the previous year, and Omnicom managing net revenue growth of 9.2 percent, reaching $264.1 million. While there were caveats on both sets of results, with Publicis’ total revenue down 8 percent on the previous year, and Omnicom revealing it’s still struggling in North America, the CEOs of both companies were upbeat on earnings calls. Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun called his company’s streak of wins in 2018 “unprecedented”, and Omnicom’s CEO John Wren said he is “cautiously optimistic that the back half of year will be stronger than the first half.”

IPA Bellwether Report Predicts Muted 2018 Growth for UK Ad Spend
UK ad spend is set to rise by just 0.8 percent this year according to the Institute for Practitioners of Advertising’s (IPA) Q1 2018 Bellwether Report. Despite many agencies predicting more favourable conditions this year leading to a recovery in ad spend growth, the IPA predicts that growth will actually drop in the UK, having reached 1.7 percent last year. The prediction appears to demonstrate the pressure Brexit is putting on the UK’s ad industry. The large holding groups have pointed to an increasingly healthy global economy, as well as a number of large advertiser-friendly events (including the FIFA World Cup and the royal wedding) as causes for optimism that ad spend growth will be high. But Brexit uncertainty appears to be putting a damper on UK marketing budgets. Read the full story on VAN.

“Brand Purpose” Key for Accelerated Brand Growth says Kantar
Genuinely ‘purpose-led’ brands stand to grow at twice the rate of those without any higher-order societal aim, according to Kantar Consulting’s new Purpose 2020 research released on Wednesday. Kantar’s research found that brands with a high sense of purpose have seen their brand valuation increase by 175 percent over the past 12 years, compared to a median growth rate of 86 percent for those with a low sense of purpose. While 78 percent of marketing leaders believe their brand has a defined purpose, only one in ten have a corporate purpose statement which is actually backed with meaningful action, according to the press release.

Partnerships of the Week

IBM and Salon Media Partner for Blockchain Based Ad Tech Solution
Salon Media Group revealed this week it is working with IBM and AdLedger on a blockchain-based project to cut down ad fraud and introduce more transparency to its ad inventory. The solution will be used for ad campaign reconciliation, recording contract conditions to a blockchain ledger, meaning it will be immutable and auditable. “This proof of concept will not only help publishers like us regain more control over our inventory, but will also illuminate where inefficiencies exist within the long and complex supply chain,” said Salon Media’s COO Ryan Nathanson in a press release.

Dailymotion App Arrives on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
Dailymotion’s over-the-top (OTT) app will now be available on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, the company announced this week. The Vivendi-owned company had already rolled out its app on Apple TV, Android TV and XBox One, and this latest integration “provides yet another opportunity to connect new audiences with fresh content from the world’s best publishers,” according to Dailymotion’s chief product and technology officer Guillaume Clément.

Hires of the Week

Yannick Bolloré Appointed Chairman of Vivendi
Yannick Bolloré has been appointed to take over as chairman of French media giant Vivendi, succeeding his father in the role. Bolloré is also chairman and CEO of Havas, which Vivendi bought last year, and will continue in these roles going forward.

Gerry Boyle Becomes CEO of EMEA and APAC at Publicis Media
Publicis Media this week appointed Gerry Boyle to serves as CEO of EMEA, alongside his existing role as CEO of APAC, bringing the teams for the two regions closer together. Nicole Pruesse, EMEA COO, has similarly had her remit expanded to cover APAC.

The Week on Van

The Industry Reacts to Martin Sorrell’s WPP Exit, read more on VAN

More Brand Safety on YouTube is Possible with the Right Controls says OpenSlate’s Jimmy Butchart, read more on VAN

IPA Bellwether Report Predicts Muted 2018 Growth for UK Ad Spend, read more on VAN

NBCUniversal Aligns with OpenAP for Unified Advanced Advertising Standards, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

OnePlus, The Never Settle Film, Above+Beyond
Smartphone maker OnePlus’ ad for the launch of the OnePlus 6 uses a very interesting idea, starting with a spot consisting of a random collection of clips, and asking for users to comment on changes they’d like to see. The ad will then be incrementally updated based on user suggestions, the idea being that this mirrors OnePlus’ responsiveness to customer feedback. Campaigns based on audience suggestions always carry risk as there’s not guarantee the idea will catch on or generate interesting suggestions, but this one gets points for originality.

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