The WiR: Comcast and Fox Head to Auction for Sky, Ofcom Outlines Case for Regulation of Online Media, and Amazon Set to Become Third Largest Digital Ad Seller in US

In this week’s Week in Review: Comcast and Fox’s battle for Sky concludes with an auction, Ofcom outlines the case for regulation of online media, and Amazon is set to overtake Oath and Microsoft in US digital ad sales. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Comcast and Fox’s Battle for Sky Goes to Auction
Comcast and 21st Century Fox’s tussle to buy Sky will be decided by an auction starting today, after a ruling by the UK Takeover Panel earlier this week. Given Disney’s agreement to buy the majority of Fox’s assets, including the 39 percent of Sky it already owns, the battle is effectively between Disney and Comcast, and at present it’s unclear how interested Disney really is in owning all of the UK broadcaster. Given Fox’s ownership of a large number of Sky’s shares, its in the companies interest to drive up the sell price of Sky, especially if its considering selling its 39 percent stake to Comcast further down the line. Bidding will conclude tomorrow, after a maximum of three rounds, with the third round to be decided by sealed bids if it comes to it.

Ofcom Outlines Case for Regulation of Online Media
British regulator Ofcom this week released a report outlining the ways in which regulations currently applied to broadcasters could be extended to cover online media, in order to combat harmful content. The report outlined how there are significant disparities in whether and how online content is regulated, and current regulations mean the same piece of content can face very different requirements depending on where it is shown. While Ofcom said that existing frameworks could not be transferred wholesale to the online world, a number of principles from broadcasting regulation could be applied. These principles include upholding of freedom of expression, adaptability over time, enforcement against bad behaviour through proportionate and meaningful sanctions, and independence of decision-making.

Amazon to Overtake Oath and Microsoft in US Digital Ad Revenues This Year
Amazon’s US digital ad revenues will have doubled over the course of 2018 according to data from eMarketer, meaning it will surpass both Oath and Microsoft to become the third largest digital ad seller behind Facebook and Google. Amazon is predicted to bring in $4.61 billion in digital ad revenue by the end of the year, though eMarketer notes that a lot of this growth is due to an accounting change made by Amazon.

The Week in Tech

Adobe Buys Marketo for $4.75 Billion
Adobe confirmed on Thursday that its buying marketing software maker Marketo from Vista Equity Partners for $4.75 billion, Adobe’s largest ever acquisition. Marketo’s B2B marketing engagement solution will be integrated into Adobe’s Advertising, Analytics, Commerce and Marketing Clouds, a move which  joint customers of the two businesses had been calling for according to Adobe CEO Sahntanu Narayen.

In a blog post explaining the move, Adobe executive vice president Brad Rencher claimed the combined product will help businesses using Adobe to acquire more customers through targeted advertising, improve campaign creation, and help deliver cross-channel campaigns. The acquisition follows Adobe’s purchase of e-commerce company Magento earlier this year for $1.6 billion.

Dataxu Announces TotalTV for Planning and Execution Across TV Platforms
Dataxu this week announced TotalTV for Advertisers, a unified planning and buying solution for agencies and brands investing across linear, connected TV and addressable TV. TotalTV includes a unified planner for TV which dataxu says helps advertisers reach de-duplicated audiences across over 120 million households. Buying across TV platforms meanwhile is enabled through a new partnership with Sorenson Media. “By utilising Sorenson Media’s addressable TV technology alongside dataxu’s TotalTV solution, linear TV can be purchased programmatically and activated immediately through a self-service platform, adding a new level of speed-to-market and targetability to linear television,” said Sorenson Media’s EVP of advanced advertising James Shears.

Xaxis UK Launches New Six-Second Ad Format
Xaxis this week announced the launch of a new six-second video ad product which will run across a number of partners including Twitter, Snap, Spotify and Global. The company claims that early trials of the format found that 70 percent of ads were viewed through to completion. “We’re pleased to launch the first product of its kind that delivers a cost-effective way to extend digital video advertising reach and frequency across premium social media channels, while complementing longer-form video content,” said Xaxis UK MD Harry Harcus.

SpotX Announces 100 Percent Ads.Txt Compliance
SpotX this week announced that it has reached 100 percent compliance with the IAB’s ads.txt specification version 1.0.1. SpotX said that to reach 100 percent compliance, it has ensured since July that when an ads.txt file is present, all bid requests to a demand side platform (DSP) are only from sellers within an ads.txt file. “SpotX is committed to working with publishers and advertisers to ensure the industry benefits from the positive results of ads.txt. A crucial trend we have observed is the growing support of DSPs including dataXu, MediaMath, and The Trade Desk whose increased implementation is driving industry-wide adoption,” said SpotX co-founder and CEO Mike Shehan.

Integral Ad Science Verification Available for Snapchat Inventory
Integral Ad Science (IAS) announced this week that following a six-month beta, it will be offering advertisers viewability and ad fraud measurement solutions across Snapchat’s in-app video buys. “For advertisers, the reassurance that their video advertising campaigns can now be verified across Snapchat is a key development, offering greater transparency into campaign performance,” said Nick Morley, EMEA MD at IAS. “The beta proved to be so successful that it was immediately clear how much brands and agencies value the ability to advertise where their audiences are, while effectively protecting their digital advertising investments.”

The Week in TV

BBC and Discovery Planning UKTV Breakup
The BBC and Discovery, the current joint owners of UKTV, are plotting a breakup of the company according to a Guardian report. The BBC had been exploring a takeover of the full company since Discovery’s acquisition of Scripps triggered a clause in the joint venture, but the BBC was unable to find a partner for the takeover and was unable to complete it itself. The proposed breakup would split UKTV’s channels between the BBC and Discovery, and could be an important step in British broadcasters’ moves towards creating a joint streaming service – uncertainty over UKTV had reportedly put the breaks on talks over such an initiative.

ITV Enters Bidding for Endemol Shine
ITV has entered the race to buy Dutch production company Endemol Shine, which is valued at around £3 billion, according to The Times. The bid fits ITV CEO Dame Carolyn McCall’s strategy, outlined earlier this year, of making value-creating mergers and acquisitions, and of expanding the broadcaster’s production capabilities. Other bidders reportedly include All3Media and Banijay.

Sky Gives Fresh Details for Programmatic Trading of TV Ads
Sky will begin programmatically selling TV ads within the next 12 months, though the company is taking a cautious approach given confusion among buyers around what they actually want from programmatic trading of TV inventory, according to a report from Digiday. Programmatic trading will first be introduced on Sky’s video on-demand services, and then onto its addressable TV advertising platform AdSmart, before finally being released for linear broadcasts, according to Sky’s director of digital and AdSmart Graeme Hutcheson. The broadcaster is reportedly currently building its own supply-side platform (SSP) in order to be able to control and manage how its inventory is sold.

Global OTT Revenues to Reach $129 Billion in 2023
Global over-the-top (OTT) revenues will climb to $129 billion in 2023 according to research from Digital TV Research, more than double revenues generated in 2017. The US is predicted to remain the dominant territory for OTT, though its share of global revenues is expected to fall from 43 percent last year to 37 percent in 2023.

The Week in Publishing

Salesforce Founder Buys Time for $190 Million
Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff are to buy Time magazine from Meredith Corp for $190 million, it emerged this week. The pair are buying Time personally, and the sale is unrelated to Salesforce itself according to Meredith. The Benioffs say they won’t be involved in journalistic decisions made at Time, and the the current executive leadership team will continue in their positions. “We are honoured to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” said the Benioffs. “TIME has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.”

Twitter Begins Delivering Ads Off-Site
Twitter has begun deliver ads off-site according to a report from Business Insider, by running ads in Twitter feeds embedded in publishers’ sites. The move is currently being trialled with a number of local news publishers and blogs, including The Street, and Twitter is splitting revenue generated by these ads equally between itself and the publishers. Twitter has also made changes to its own platform this week as part of its push into focusing more on video, as it will star putting live streams and broadcasts from accounts users follow at the top of their timelines.

YouTube Revamps Gaming Hub
YouTube this week announced the creation of a new destination for its gaming hub, YouTube Gaming, at, and announced it will stop supporting the YouTube Gaming app next year. The reworked hub will have more focus on personalised content and live streaming, and new tools to help surface smaller creators. Alongside the announcement, YouTube revealed some stats behind gaming content on its platform, claiming that 200 million users watch gaming videos and streams on YouTube every day.

BuzzFeed Cuts Podcasting Team to Double Down on Video
BuzzFeed News is cutting its in-house podcasting team in order to invest more in original video production, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The majority of Buzzfeed’s podcasts will be shutting down according to the report, with efforts instead focussed on creating more original shows similar to those its created for Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.

The Week for Agencies

Ad Agencies Cut Ties with Actors Unions
Creative agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty has cut ties with actors union SAG-AFTRA, following a trend of agencies cutting ties with acting unions as a way of cutting costs according to a Wall Street Journal report. New agencies which have opened doors over last last decade or so have tended to avoid becoming tied into agreements with actors unions, according to the report, helping them to establish a competitive advantage. Now as established creative agencies come under pressure to cut costs, more may follow suit in freeing themselves of ties to unions.

M6 Group Acquires Ctzar
Influencer marketing agency Ctzar has been acquired by M6 Group’s sales house M6 Publicité, it was announced this week. Ctzar, launched ten years ago, claims to have an international network of over 15,000 influencers. The agency designs influencer campaigns for brands, and runs the SOCIADDICT platform which it says provides real time campaign performance data.

Partnerships of the Week

ProSiebenSat.1 Selects MPP Global to Support Discovery JV
MPP Global, a billing and subscription platform, has been chosen by ProSiebenSat.1 to drive their OTT platform, which also supports their new joint venture 7TV with Discovery Communications. The joint venture was set up to launch a new, premium entertainment streaming service in Germany, with the two having invited other German broadcasters to participate in order to create a German SVOD powerhouse.

Sky/Netflix Partnership Details Unveiled
Sky and Netflix this week revealed details of how their partnership announced earlier this year will operate. The pair say they will launch a combined service which will enable Sky Q customers to access Sky and Netflix content from one unified platform, without having to switch between apps. Customers will get access to both via a £10 extension to their existing subscription.

Taboola and Unbounce Announce Partnership
Native advertising specialist Taboola on Thursday announced a new partnership with Unbounce, a landing page and conversion platform for marketers and agencies. Taboola partners will now have access to the Unbounce Landing Page Analyser, a platform which provides reports on the performance of landing pages and gives recommendations for improvement.

Kelkoo Announces Launch of Google Shopping Ads Partnership
Pan-European ecommerce advertising and shopping comparison service Kelkoo has announced the launch of its partnership with Google Shopping Ads as a Premium Partner. Google Shopping Ads by Kelkoo Group offers retailers an average saving of 32 percent on total ad spend by bypassing the premiums faced by retailers on Google Shopping, according to the company.

Hires of the Week

Axel Springer CEO Appointed to Netflix Board
Netflix has appointed Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner to its board of directors. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Döpfner will brind “invaluable perspective and insights” given his experience in European business and digital media.

ITV Hires Reemah Sakaan to Lead SVOD Project
ITV has hired Reemah Sakaan, previously SVP of creative and editorial for Britbox, to head up its subscription video on-demand (SVOD) project as group launch director. Sakaan will remain involved at Brtibox, overseeing its SVOD play in the UK.

This Week on VAN

How JCDecaux Are Chasing After Programmatic Budgets for DOOH, read more on VAN

Broadcasters Need to Scale Beyond Their Local Markets says TF1’s Boscher, read more on VAN

Viewability Rates Are the Industry’s Dirty Little Secret says Spotify’s Danzis, read more on VAN

Personalisation Shouldn’t be the Preserve of the Tech Giants says IRIS.TV’s Hyden, read more on VAN

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