The WiR: The Trade Desk Reports Record $112 Revenue in Q2, Tribune Media Kills Off $3.9 Billion Sinclair Merger, and OpenX Releases Video Header Bidding

In this week’s Week in Review: The Trade desk reports record earnings, Tribune Media kills off a proposed merger with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and OpenX Launches its video header bidding solution. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

The Trade Desk Reports Record Earnings of $112 Million in Q2
Despite concerns over the impact GDPR would have on the ad tech sector, The Trade Desk reached record quarterly revenues in Q2, with a 54 percent year-on-year increase bringing earnings to $112.3 million. The Trade Desk has attributed its growth in recent quarters to strong performance of connected TV advertising, and this was the case once again with connected TV, audio, mobile and video cited as the key drivers of growth. Mobile video grew 156 percent year-on-year, while connected TV income more than doubled between Q1 and Q2 this year.

The business is hoping its new AI based product Koa, launched in June, will power further growth in the future by making it easier for advertisers to plan and activate cross-channel campaigns.

Tribune Kills $3.9 Billion Merger with Sinclair, Sues for $1 Billion in Damages
US Media company Tribune Media has withdrawn from a proposed $3.9 billion merger with rival Sinclair Broadcast Group and is suing for $1 billion in damages, claiming that Sinclair had not put in sufficient effort to ensure the deal was clear by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC chairman Ajit Pai had held concerns over the impact the merger would have on competition in the broadcast sector, and recommended that Sinclair divest certain television stations in order to secure approval. However Sinclair had refused to do so, instead engaging in what Tribune described as “belligerent and necessarily protracted negotiations” with the FCC and Justice Department.

“This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the Merger Agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable,” said Tribune CEO Peter Kern.

OpenX Launches Video Header Bidding Solution
OpenX on Thursday announced the general availability of its video header bidding solution, which it says provides partners with direct access to the company’s premium video exchange within the free and open-source management solution. The solution had previously been available to select partners during beta testing, and OpenX claims these partners saw an average revenue increase of 55 percent.

OpenX also announced it will be taking a seat on the Prebid board, and will be chairing the organisation’s new ‘Video Task Force’, which will be focused on making video fully supported across all Prebid projects: Prebid.js, Prebid Mobile, and Prebid Server.

The Week in Tech

Amazon Streamlines Ad Businesses into One Platform
Amazon is merging its three advertising businesses; Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Ad Platform; into one streamlined service according to a report from Digiday. The report says the change will make Amazon’s ad business easier to navigate, with buyers no longer having to buy different services depending on whether they sell their products directly to Amazon or are listed as third-party sellers. Amazon, regarded by many as the sleeping giant of the advertising world, will hope that the simplification of the platform will attract more ad spend and help it to compete more directly with the likes of Google and Facebook.

Viacom Licenses TV Ad Targeting Tech to Fox
Viacom agreed a deal with Fox this week to licensing its TV ad targeting product, Viacom Vantage, to Fox. Vantage is designed to help advertisers find which programmes will give them access to their target audiences, and Viacom hopes that licensing out its tech will help push advanced advertising into the mainstream. “This is a powerful validation of our leadership in the space, and as we work to secure additional licensing partnerships with publishers, we’re excited about the potential of this new business to accelerate the ecosystem and evolve into an incremental revenue stream,” said Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish.

Facebook Launches Playable Ads Aimed at Gaming
Facebook is launching playable ads which allow users to play a game in HTML5 before buying. Playable ads have been around for some time now and were first created by mNectar over four years ago and they have been scaled further still by companies like AdColony. Facebook also plan to launch new formats aimed at retention optimisation and “minimum return on ad spend” (ROAS) bidding—designed to help gaming marketers connect with “their most valuable players”. Read the full story on VAN.

Roku’s Grab for Ad Money Pays Off with 57 Percent Growth in Q2
Over-the-top (OTT) platform Roku recorded 57 percent year-on-year growth to $157 million in its Q2 financial results as the company’s ramped up targeting of ad revenue appears to be paying off. Investors responded positively to the news, with Roku’s share price jumping over eight percent after the results were released. Read the full story on VAN.

Nielsen Launches Local Media Impact
Nielsen on Tuesday announced the launch of Local Nielsen Media Impact, a solution which it says will make local media planning and cross-channel optimisation streamlined and efficient across local TV and radio. Nielsen says the solution will draw audience segments from Nielsen Scarborough to help advertisers understand cross-media reach, frequency and duplication on a local scale.

The Week in TV

Disney Reveals Fresh Details of Netflix Competitor
Disney’s chairman and CEO Bob Iger has revealed fresh details around the media giant’s upcoming streaming service, touted to be a competitor to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Iger, speaking on a conference call after Disney’s Q3 financial results, spoke of the “tremendous potential” he sees in Disney’s direct-to-consumer services, particularly following the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Read the full story on VAN.

Hollywood and Wall Street Powerhouses Join Forces to Invest $1 Billion in Mobile Video Startup
Mobile video startup NewTV has raised $1 billion in funding in an investment round led by Madrone Capital Partners, and joined by a variety of Hollywood studios including Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate, as well as ITV, Alibaba Group and Liberty Global. The funding arrives roughly a year before the service, headed up by ex-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and ex-eBay and HP CEO Meg Whitman, is expected to launch. Read the full story on VAN.

US Government Argues AT&T Ruling Ignored Common Sense
The US Department of Justice argued this week that a judge ignored “fundamental principles of economics and common sense” in his ruling that AT&T should be allowed to merge with Time Warner. The statement came as the government appeals against the judges original decision, hoping to overturn the ruling which allowed AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner to go ahead.

Fox Shows Solid Broadcast TV Performance
21st Century Fox’s financial results released this week showed a rallying of its broadcast TV business, with broadcaster revenues for the quarter reaching $1.14 billion, up from $1 billion in Q2 2017. TV broadcast income was bolstered by higher re transmission fees and strong advertising revenue from the FIFA World Cup. Fox was somewhat unfortunate to not have seen even higher ad revenue in the period too, due to the US national team failing to qualify for the tournament after Fox had paid for the broadcasting rights, meaning interest in the tournament was lower than it might have been.

‘Friends’ Revealed as Most Popular Streaming Show in UK
Despite it being over 14 years since the show ended, and the fact that it’s seen heavy rotation  in the years since on broadcast channels, Friends is the most commonly streamed show in the UK according to Ofcom data. The finding reveals that while there is value to the large amount of money platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix are spending on content, there is also value in licensing already popular shows which have been broadcast elsewhere. The top ten list in full is:

  1. Friends (Netflix)
  2. The Grand Tour (Amazon)
  3. The Crown (Netflix)
  4. Stranger Things (Netflix)
  5. Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
  6. Black Mirror (Netflix)
  7. The Big Bang Theory (Netflix)
  8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Netflix)
  9. The Good Place (Netflix)
  10. Vikings (Amazon)

The Week in Publishing

News Corp Losses Hit $1.4 Billion
Publishing giant News Corp’s losses reached $1.4 billion for the 2017/18 year, more than doubling its losses for the previous year. However the company’s chief executive Robert Thomson remained upbeat, saying that much of this loss is due to accounting write downs such as the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports in Australia which cost the company around $998 million. Thomson also said the company’s digital news assets have been performing well, and provide a promising outlook for the future, with The Times, Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal all seeing strong digital subscriber growth. Overall total group revenue shot up 11 percent to $9 billion.

Psychologists Warn “Unethical” Techniques Used to Keep Kids Hooked on Social Media
Fifty US psychologists warned this week that “unethical” techniques are used by social media companies to keep children hooked on social media and video games. In an open letter to the American Psychological Association, the psychologists say hidden manipulation techniques increase kids’ overuse of digital devices, resulting in risks to their health and well-being.

“For example, the desire for social acceptance and the fear of social rejection are exploited by psychologists and other behaviour change experts to pull users into social media sites and keep them there for long periods of time,” the letter said. While the addictive nature of social media is widely discussed, the claim of the letter that psychologists are explicitly hired to manipulate users to spending more time on platforms may well be concerning for parents who allow their children to use social media.

YouTube, Facebook and Apple Permanently Remove InfoWars Channels
YouTube, Facebook and Apple this week all permanently removed the majority of content posted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his digital publication InfoWars. The platforms variously cited breaches of policy and spreading of disinformation as hate speech as the motivation for the removal of Jones’ content, with the incident sparking fresh conversation around the role these platforms should play in combating fake news.

The Week for Agencies

Dentus Mulls Restructure
Holding company Dentsu said this week it is considering an internal restructure as it looks to adapt to an evolving market and changing client need. “It has become essential to establish a governance structure that is not restricted by the current framework of each operating company and enables expeditious decision making from a medium and long-term perspective taking into account the group as a whole,” the group explained. It said more information will be given in the coming months, but so far the restructure sounds similar to other holding companies’ efforts to pool talent across agencies, for example through the ‘horizontality’ promoted at WPP while Martin Sorrell was still CEO, or through Publicis’ AI platform Marcel.

Mars Picks MediaCom After Media Review
Mars Inc. has chosen GroupM’s MediaCom to handle global media buying and planning after a media review was conducted by the company. MediaCom, Starcom and OMD were invited to pitch for Mars’ business, worth $3.5 billion annually back in 2016. “GroupM created a custom operating model for us which enables us to put data at the heart of our decision making, drive speed at a global, local and campaign level, and use our resources efficiently,” said Mars’ global media director Rob Rakowitz.

Partnerships of the Week

Eleven Sports to Stream La Liga and Serie A on Facebook
Eleven Sports struck a deal with Facebook this week which will see the sports broadcaster stream one free-to-air match each week from Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A football leagues to UK users via the social network. Broadcasts will be hosted on Eleven Sports’ own UK Facebook page.

BroadbandTV and PBS Collaborate on YouTube Content Management
Digital entertainment company BroadbandTV (BBTV) on Thursday announced a new collaboration with US public broadcaster PBS which will see it manage fan-uploaded conent on YouTuve for shows including NOVA, FRONTLINE, Nature, and Various PBS KIDS series. “We’re helping PBS control their premium IP across digital, opening up new opportunities, and further connecting them to their digital fans,” said Lewis Ball, VP of interactive, e-commerce and professional services at BroadbandTV.

Hires of the Week

Discovery Picks Peter Faircy to Lead Direct-to-Consumer Business
Discovery Inc. has hired former Amazon executive Peter Faircy to head up its direct-to-consumer business as its new CEO, global direct-to-consumer. The role will involve overseen Discovery products including Discovery’s GO TV Everywhere products, Eurosport Player, and Discovery Kids.

Dominic Williams Promoted in Daily Mail Ad Sales Unit After Rush Exit
The Daily Mail’s ad sales unit Mail Metro Media has appointed Dominic Williams to take over Clare Rush’s responsibilities after Rush left her role as chief revenue officer. Williams has been given the newly created role of executive director of advertising, where he will oversee digital direct sales and client relations.

Sightly Appoints Nichola Karp as Chief Product Offer
Sightly, a performance video advertising and analytics platform, this week appointed Nichola Karp to the role of chief product officer. Karp, who has formerly worked as director and group lead for Nielsen Marketing Cloud’s DMP, will lead Sightly’s product, engineering and data teams.

Ad of the Week

KFC, Sitcom Colonel, Wieden + Kennedy Portland
KFC sticks with its off-the-wall style in this spot which parodies 80’s sitcom intros, getting weirder and weirder as it progresses.

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