The WIR: Google Pauses Autoplay Video Blocking, CBS Takes Shari Redstone to Court, and UK Sports Publishers Form Outstream Video Alliance

In this week’s Week in Review: Google temporarily suspends its blocking of autoplay video with audio on Chrome, CBS takes Shari Redstone to court in an effort to block a potential merger with Viacom, and three UK sports publications announced a new alliance centred around outstream video. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Google Pauses Blocking of Autoplay Video
Google temporarily suspended its blocking of autoplay video with audio on its Chrome browser after it emerged that the update had broken a sizeable number of web apps and games. Google first rolled out the feature last month, with the aim of tackling loud, unwanted autoplay video ads and content, but the change cause problems for a series of apps and games, preventing them from playing audio for alerts and other elements. Google says the removal of its autoplay policy is temporary, intended to give developers time to update their code to ensure their apps aren’t affected by the feature, and that the policy will be reapplied with the release of Chrome 70 in October.

CBS Blocked By Judge in Court Attempt to Block Viacom Merger
CBS took its power struggle with the owners of its largest shareholder National Amusements to court this week, attempting to strip Shari Redstone of her voting rights within the company to prevent a merger with Viacom. CBS sought to file a restraining order against Redstone in order to prevent her from blocking a special dividend which would have reduced her voting powers within the company, but Delaware Judge Andre Bouchard ruled that he was not convinced Redstone presents a threat of irreversible harm to the company, and denied the request. CBS says it will continue in its efforts to prevent a merger with Viacom, with CBS chief executive Les Moonves set against the idea.

UK Sports Publishers Unite for Joint Outstream Marketplace
News UK’s talkSPORT and Dream Team are joining with fellow UK sports publication Give Me Sport for a united marketplace for outstream video ad inventory, powered by Unruly. The companies say the new offering, the UnrulyX Premium Sport Marketplace, will also give advertisers unique access to ad placements across the three publications. Like many of the other publisher alliances that have formed in recent years, the new marketplace is partly aimed at providing greater scale for advertisers, but is also pitched as a way for the three publishers to mitigate the risks posed by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Many expect an increase in contextual targeting post-GDPR, and the three companies say that uniting their similarly-themed inventory allows advertisers to buy contextually targeted ads at greater scale. fan. “Contextual relevance is becoming more prevalent particularly considering the pending GDPR legislation; this will assist us, the advertisers, and provide relevant ads to our users,” said Ryan Skeggs, general manager of Give Me Sport.

This Week at the Upfronts

It was TV upfronts week in the US, with the country’s biggest broadcasters pitching themselves to the world’s advertisers. Here’s our roundup of the key upfronts:

  • NBCU: NBCU’s ad chief Linda Yaccarino took aim at digital competitors, emphasising the family-oriented entertainment TV provides which social media doesn’t and parodying Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony. She also spoke of the need for changes in TV measurement, bemoaning the fact the currency of TV advertising has remained effectively unchanged since 2007.
  • Fox: Fox introduced its new ‘JAZ Pod’, an ad pod comprising of two 30 second ads, which ad sales chief Joe Marchese pitched as “among the most powerful ads in television”, alongside a host of other new ad formats. Marchese also spoke about the broadcaster’s decision not to provide guarantees of ads leading to outcomes such as in-store visits or web traffic, saying promising such attribution doesn’t make sense when Fox works with a mix of competing brands.
  • ABC: ABC placed a lot of focus on the success of its revival of “Roseanne”, with TV group president Ben Sherwood claiming it to be the number one show in the 18-49 demographic. On the advertising front, head of ad sales Rita Ferro spoke about the company’s efforts to “break down silos” at ABC, Freeform and Disney, claiming that significant progress has been made since last year.
  • CBS: CBS president and CEO Les Moonves received a standing ovation as he walked out on stage, a mark of support amid his ongoing legal battle with Shari Redstone, owner of CBS’s largest shareholder National Amusements. CBS ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross meanwhile pitched a new data product, CBS DNA or “Data Enabled TV”, though not much further detail was given.
  • Turner: Turner’s president of ad sales Donna Speciale emphasised the broadcaster’s reach beyond the TV screen, pitching the company’s AudienceNow platform which lets advertisers buy inventory across TV, mobile and digital devices. Speciale also highlighted the company’s limiting of commercial interruptions, participation in OpenAP and opening of branded content studios as ways in which Turner is escaping from being “trapped by C-3 ratings”.

The Week in Tech

Grapeshot Releases Video Solution for Brand Safety and Contextual Relevance
Grapeshot announced a new solution this week which it says will bring brand safety and contextual targeting to digital video, extending the company’s capabilities beyond its display offering. The company says the new solution will use contextual data and transcripted audio to determine a video’s relevance and safety, which can be used to inform dynamic ad distribution decisions. The product will support 21 languages at launch, and will be available across a variety of as-yet-unnamed platforms, with connections to other platforms available via the video context API (application programme interface).

Kargo Pivots Towards Pure-Play Programmatic with Sublime Skinz Deal
Mobile ad tech company Kargo is pivoting towards a pure-play programmatic business model as it cut around 40 staff, and plans to transfer the majority of its UK workforce to Sublime Skinz. The Drum reported that around three quarters of Kargo’s twelve London-based staff will move to Sublime Skinz, with the remainder serving to manage the relationship between the two companies, meaning Kargo will no longer be running revenue in Europe. Meanwhile the company is restaffing in the US in order to accommodate a shift in focus towards programmatic buying.

Tealium Releases New Privacy and Consent Management Tool Features
Tealium announced on Monday that it’s added new features for its privacy and consent management tools for the Tealium Universal Data Hub, which it says will log consent changes as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Tealium has added a consent request manager, which it says allows companies to configure the prompt presented to users to request consent and allows users to grant or withdraw their consent via this prompt, and a consent preferences manager, which it says allows companies to configure the categories of tracking offered to users that give consent.

Gracenote Releases Features for Content Search and Discovery
Nielsen’s Gracenote unveiled a new product which it says will make linear and on-demand TV content more searchable and discoverable. The company says the new TV metadata and electronic programme guide solution will enable smart TV and streaming device manufacturers to integrate enhanced search features, which it says will present search results for a given programme across a range of network TV apps and over-the-top (OTT) services.

The Week in TV

Mediaset and Atresmedia Face Potential €5 Billion Compensation Claims
Spanish competition regulatory body the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia launch an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices by Mediaset and Atresmedia, with the two companies facing compensation claims of up to €5 billion if found guilty. El Español reported this week that the two broadcasters are accused of manipulating the market and blocking access for third parties, thereby distorting competition in the advertising market, and that the two could be fined heavily if found guilty. The two operate an effective duopoly in the Spanish TV advertising market, taking 94 percent of all TV ad revenue last year.

RTL Reports Growing TV Ad Revenue in Q1 Results
RTL Group posted underlying growth of 2.6 percent in its Q1 results released on Wednesday, though the company said this gain was offset by negative exchange rate effects. Digital revenue grew 6.7 percent to €190 million, and RTL said TV ad revenues grew in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The group expects ad revenue to be higher throughout the rest of the year too due to major sporting events like the FIFA World Cup occurring over the summer, and said it forecasts ad revenue in 2018 will be more back end loaded than in prior years.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao Steps Down
Vodafone’s CEO of ten years Vittorio Colao announced this week he is to step down in October, when he will be replaced by the company’s current chief financial officer Nick Read. Colao is credited by many for his transformation of the company, with the FT noting that what was a decade ago a pure mobile company has now become the largest provider of high-speed broadband and cable services in Europe.

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Announces Music Streaming Service and Updated Premium Subscription
YouTube officially announced on Thursday its long-anticipated music streaming service, YouTube Music, as it seeks to take on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. The new mobile app and desktop player will host a mix of music videos and audio-only songs, and offer both a free ad supported service and as a premium ad-free service which will cost $9.99 per month. YouTube says the new product will offer personalised playlists based on listening history and current location, and will also host a search engine which it claims will enable users to find songs they don’t know the name of, for example by searching the phrase “that hipster song with the whistling”. YouTube Music will be rolled out in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea on Tuesday, and then more broadly in the coming weeks.

Alongside this launch, YouTube is re-branding its paid, ad-free video service YouTube Red, renaming it to YouTube Premium. YouTube Premium subscribers will also have access to YouTube Music, and the price of a subscription is increasing to $11.99 per month for new members, though it will remain $9.99 for existing members for now at least.

Facebook Suspends Over 200 Apps Due to Data Concerns
Facebook has suspended over 200 apps on its platform over concerns they may have misused users’s data, the social network revealed this week. The company has been conducting an investigation of apps which have access to large quantities of user data, following Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of Facebook data, and says it has investigated thousands of apps so far. Those which have been suspended are awaiting an investigation into whether they actually did misuse data – those judged to have done so will be banned and their users will be notified.

The company also gave insight into the numbers behind its removal of fake accounts and content which violates its community standards. Facebook says it took down 585 million fake accounts in Q1 this year, while also preventing the creation of millions of fake accounts every day. The platform also removed 21 million pieces of adult content, 3.5 million pieces of violent content, and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech in the same period.

Tencent Announces Ramping Up of Social Ad Load in Strong Q1 Results
Chinese tech giant Tencent announced today a steady increase of the ad load on its social media platform WeChat today as it released Q1 financial results which exceeded investors’ expectations, with the company delivering record quarterly profits. The results demonstrate continued growth of the company’s core offerings, with WeChat surpassing one billion users, but also outlined the increasing importance of digital advertising, and specifically video advertising, to the company. Tencent recorded a 61 percent year-on-year increase in net income, with profits rising to 23.3 billion yuan ($3.7 billion), a figure roughly 33 percent greater than investors had anticipated. Read the full story on VAN.

Snapchat Begins Showing Unskippable Ads
Snapchat rolled out its new unskippable video ad format this week, after confirming last month that it planned to introduce the change. Snapchat has long held an aversion to forcing ads on its users, but has been softening this stance as it seeks to become more advertiser friendly. The unskippable six second ads only appear in Snapchat Shows, the professionally made TV-like content hosted on the app, and appear in the middle of the content.

Teads Study Shows Fake News Driving Audiences to Premium Publishers
The rise of fake news is driving UK audiences towards news sites they consider to be trustworthy, according to a survey commissioned by Teads and carries out by Censuswide. The survey of 16,000 consumers found 75 percent of consumers are more likely to seek out news sources they trust thanks to the rise of fake news in recent years. The data also found that audiences’ trust of social media is dropping, with 26 percent of those surveyed associating the word ‘fake’ with social media, and only 11 percent saying they trust advertising and branded content they see on social platforms.

The Week for Agencies

WFA Issues Demand for Reform of Digital Ad Ecosystem
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), a trade body which aims to represent the interests of marketers worldwide, today issued a ‘Global Media Charter’ in which it demands reform of the digital advertising ecosystem. The charter calls for players across the industry to work together to create “a safer, more transparent, more consumer-friendly environment.” The charter outlines eight specific calls to action, which the WFA says build on the complaints and calls for change issued by Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard in 2017, and Unilever’s Keith Weed earlier this year. Read the full story on VAN.

Dentsu Reports Revenue Growth, but Declining Profits
Dentsu Inc. released its financial results for Q1 2018 on Tuesday, in which the company reported revenue growth of 5.7 percent, but an underlying profit decline of 13.3 percent.  The company says the profit drop was due to planned investments in “working environment reforms”, and that at Dentsu Aegis Network, the year-on-year decline reflects planned investments in global platforms and systems which it hopes will support future growth.

Advisory Group says WPP Chairman Roberto Quarta Should Step Down
WPP’s chairman Roberto Quarta should be removed from his role for his handling of ex-chief executive Martin Sorrell’s departure, advisory group Glass Lewis said this week according to The Guardian. Glass Lewis said in a note to investors that it holds “severe reservations” over Quarta’s refusal to publish the results of WPP’s internal investigation into claims of personal misconduct by Sorrell, as well as what it describes as poor succession planning. “Despite previous assurances we believe the nomination committee has failed to adequately prepare for the replacement of Sir Martin. Our concerns are heightened by the opaque nature of the investigation into Sir Martin [and] his ‘good leaver’ status,” said Glass Lewis.

CMO Council Warns of ‘Decade-Long Rut’ as Marketers Admit to Not Maximising Revenue Potential of Customers
The CMO Council warned this week that chief marketers are stuck in a “decade-long rut” as they struggle to optimise the lifetime value of existing companies. The warning is based on a survey, conducted alongside Sendwithus, which found that 77 percent of respondents felt brands weren’t fully realising the revenue potential of customers; when the CMO Council asked the same question back in 2008, 76 percent gave the same answer.

Publicis Media Moves All UK Agencies to London Complex
Publicis Media this week announced the decision to move all of its UK agencies into one complex in White City, London, as it seeks to encourage collaboration between its holdings. Zenith, Starcom, Blue 449, Digitas, Performics and Spark Foundry will all move into the former BBC Television Centre, with the transfer expected to be completed by Q2 2019. “The space will provide our people and our clients with the expertise and agility that such a proposition provides by bringing together the brand and practice model in one location,” said Publicis Media UK’s CEO Sue Frogley.

Partnerships of the Week

Brave Bison and Unruly Launch Partnership for Data-Driven Creative Campaigns
Brave Bison and Unruly announced a new partnership at Advertising Week Asia this week which the two said will see Unruly’s data, insights and distribution combined with Brave Bison’s creative ideation and production. The companies said they have worked independently on the same brand campaigns across the Asia-Pacific market over the past four years, inspiring the two to partner formerly and offer what they consider to be a unique proposition.

CBS and Nielsen to Join for DAI in Live Broadcast
CBS and Nielsen will work together on a collaboration for dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in CBS’ live linear national broadcast channels, the two companies revealed this week. The new solution will be powered by Nielsen Gracenote ACR (automatic content recognition) for ad detection and content insertion in live TV, which CBS says will enable it to offer impressions segmented by behavioural attributes beyond just age and gender.

Hires of the Week

‘New Fox’ Chooses Lachlan Murdoch as CEO
Fox announced this week it has chosen Lachlan Murdoch to lead the ‘New Fox’, which would be created when Disney purchases Fox assets later this year, assuming the deal goes through. Lachlan will serve as CEO and executive chairman, while Rupert Murdoch will take up a position as co-chairman, and John Nallen will take the role of COO.

Lisa De Bonis Joins Accenture Interactive
Lisa De Bonis has left her role as executive digital director as Havas London to take a managing director role with Accenture Interactive. De Bonis has been with Havas since it acquired Work Club, of which De Bonis was a founding partner, back in 2014.

Edwin Rozells Joins Colenso BBDO
Edwin Rozells has joined Colenso BBDO as head of digital transformation, departing from his role as digital strategy lead for Accenture in the ASEAN region. Rozells has previous experience in the agency world, having worked for both Oglivy and XM Asia Pacific before joining Accenture.

The Week on Van

Publishers Banked on Facebook for Too Long, and Now They Can’t, read more on VAN

Realeyes’ Dorota Smaggia on the Value of Six Second Ads, read more on VAN

Tencent Announces Ramping Up of Social Ad Load in Strong Q1 Results, read more on VAN

WFA Issues Demand for Reform of Digital Ad Ecosystem, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

J-B Weld, Scooter, TBWA\Chiant\Day New York
J-B Weld’s latest campaign features actor and comedian Nick Offerman silently judging those who throw out broken products, rather than using J-B Weld’s adhesives to fix them; Offerman passive-aggressively riding a fixed scooter in front of the child who originally owned it is the highlight of the campaign.

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