The WIR: YouTube Trials Back-to-Back Ads, Visto Finds a Buyer Following Bankruptcy Filing, and French GDPR Ruling Sparks Consent Mechanism Concerns

In this week’s Week in Review: YouTube trials a new ad format, Visto announces a conditional sale to Zeta Global, and a French GDPR ruling calls the validity of the IAB’s transparency and consent framework into question. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

YouTube Tests ‘Ad Pods’
YouTube announced this week it is trialling ‘ad pods’ in its videos, where users are served two skippable ads back to back. The new format, which will be served on longer content (over five minutes in length), will allow those users who engage with the ads to experience few interruptions later in the session.

If the user opts to skip the first ad, they will automatically skip the second ad too and go straight to the content. Those who choose not to skip will see less ads later on. YouTube seems to hope that by giving audiences the choice to engage with multiple ads in exchange for a lighter overall ad load, they can bump up ad completion rates. The company says during early experiments, voluntary ad views on skippable ads were up by ten percent, and site abandon rates were down by 3-5 percent.

Visto Announces Conditional Sale to Zeta Following Bankruptcy Filing
Programmatic media trading business Visto has had an offer from Zeta Global to acquire its assets as part of a voluntary Chapter 11 restructuring process filed with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Visto, previously known as Collective, said that despite the bankruptcy filing, it still believes it has “substantial market value” for strategic buyers, and that the offer from Zeta Global provides a good baseline from which to evaluate future offers. Visto will remain in discussion with Zeta Global and other interested parties as part of a competitive auction process proposed to the bankruptcy court, which is expected to conclude in January next year.

French GDPR Ruling Raises Questions Over IAB Consent Framework
A ruling by French data regulators against ad tech company Vectuary sparked concerns this week about the validity of the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. New York Times journalist Robin Berjon picked up on the decision by French regulator CNIL, claiming that the ruling decreed that data controllers must be able to demonstrate the validity of consent obtained for data usage (as opposed to simply getting data processors they work with to verify consent). Berjon said that this renders Google’s consent mechanism, as well as the IAB’s Consent Framework, invalid.

The IAB has since responded, saying it disagrees with Berjon’s conclusion.

The Week in Tech

Amazon Demands Thirty Percent Cut of Advertising on Fire TV
Amazon has begun demanding thirty percent of commercial space from TV networks and publishers which distribute content over its Fire TV connected TV devices. Amazon previously allowed publishers to sell all their own inventory and keep all the money from it, but the company now mandates that it gets to sell thirty percent of each publisher’s inventory itself, according to AdAge. While AdAge reports that some network executives have been irritated by the decision, it is the same deal that Roku has with publishers on its platform, and seems to be fairly standard in the over-the-top (OTT) space.

BT Sport and EE to Demo Live 5G Broadcast
British mobile network operator EE demonstrated what they say was the first ever live sports broadcast with remote production over 5G during the EE Wembley Cup this week. The trial saw a match taking place in Wembley Stadium broadcast directly to the ExCeL Exhibition Centre, with production taking place in BT’s Studios in Stratford. EE now plans to broadcast the final game of the tournament over EE’s 5G network to YouTube on Sunday.  “This trial is another showcase of what our 5G network can do, and is a big part of our continued investment in using 5G across the whole of BT Group,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s customer business.

UK Competition Regulator Approves Nielsen Acquisition of Ebiquity Ad Intelligence
The UK’s competition and Markets Authority this week gave the all clear for Nielsen’s acquisition of Ebiquity’s advertising intelligence unit. The watchdog found that the deal, announced back in February, would not have negative consequences for competition as the two businesses do not closely compete.

The Week in TV

Amazon Bids for Fox’s Regional Sports Networks
Amazon has reportedly put in a first-round bid for all of the 22 regional sports TV networks being sold by 21st Century Fox. The move would mark another significant step by the e-commerce giant into the sports broadcasting space, which already streams a number of live sports events over Amazon Prime Video.

As one of the conditions set by federal regulators for Disney’s takeover of Fox, Fox’s portfolio of 22 regional sports networks must be sold off, with Disney having now received a first round of bids. While the networks might be split up and sold separately to different groups, Amazon has put in a bid for all 22, according to CNBC.

Viacom Beats Expectations in Q4 Results
Viacom reported revenues of $3.5 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter earnings report, up five percent year-on-year, beating Wall Street expectations. While net earnings were down, CEO Bob Bakish said the company has managed a ‘pivotal year’ in which the business has undergone substantial change. “We successfully turned around our core business, with dramatic improvements across our networks, at Paramount and in distribution,” he said. “We also took important steps to evolve Viacom for the future – investing in our portfolio of advanced marketing solutions, digital and experiential offerings and global studio production business. As we head into 2019, we are excited about the company’s evolution and expect to return to topline growth.”

Netflix Trials Mobile-Only Subscriptions
Netflix has begun trialling mobile-only streaming plans in several markets including Malaysia, which allow users to only watch content via mobile devices for half the cost of a regular subscription. Netflix had previously said it would experiment with lower cost models in international markets, in an effort to accelerate growth. “We are always looking for ways to make Netflix more enjoyable and more accessible to people all over the world,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. “In this case, we are testing to understand consumer interest in a mobile-only plan in some countries.”

ProSiebenSat.1 Launched Vertical Content Division
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 this week announced it has opened a new vertical content division to create video content specifically for mobile phones. The new division, VERT, will sit within its Studio71 digital content unit, and will offer “a full-service range for the implementation of successful influencer campaigns for all brands seeking to present their messages in a high-quality form in the aesthetic world of Instagram,” according to the broadcaster.

The Week in Publishing

BuzzFeed Founder Suggests Merger with Rivals
BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti this week suggested he would be interested in merging with other large digital-first publishers, in order to be able to negotiate better terms with Facebook. BuzzFeed had a tough year in 2017, announcing a series of layoffs as it failed to match its revenue expectations. The company’s fortunes have begun to turn around again as its ramped up its ad load and introduced a membership model, but Peretti sees these largely as stopgaps. He instead thinks a merger with “five or six” top internet publishers like Vice, Vox Media and Group Nine could be the best option, according to an interview with the New York Times.

YouTube Begins Showing Ad-Supported Hollywood Films
YouTube has begun showing ad-supported films for free on its platform, it emerged this week. YouTube has allowed users to pay to watch films for quite a long time now, but last month quietly began offering selected movies for free, according to AdAge. “We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user?” YouTube’s director of product management Rohit Dhawan told AdAge. “It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers.” The platform is reportedly planning to increase the number of films available for free in the future.

LinkedIn Launches ‘Stories’ Style Feature
LinkedIn is launching its own take on Snapchat-like ‘stories’ with a new feature called “Student Voices”, made specifically for US university students. Student Voices will allow users to post short videos to their Campus Playlist, where they will remain for one week. However unlike stories on most other platforms, which are deleted after a certain amount of time, Student Voices will remain visible on the user’s profile permanently. A LinkedIn spokesperson told TechCrunch the feature is designed to help students share their academic experiences in a way which builds their personal ‘brands’, and can help them show off to recruiters.

Johnston Press Bought Out by JPIMedia
British local newspaper publisher Johnston Press was bought out newly-formed company JPIMedia this week, following the business going into administration. JPIMedia is made up of Johnston Press’s bondholders, who have agree to wipe out £135 million of the company’s debts in exchange for control of the business. They have also agreed to extend the repayment period for the remaining £85 million of debt to 2023. Former Johnston Press chief executive David King is continuing on as CEO of JPIMedia. “The sale of the business to JPIMedia is an important one for the Johnston Press businesses as it ensures that operations can continue as normal, with employees’ rights maintained, suppliers paid, and newspapers printed,” he said.

Facebook to Fund Trainee Local News Journalists
Facebook announced this week it will pledge £4.5 million of funding to support 80 jobs with local newspapers in the UK, in a scheme which will be overseen by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). The move is in line with Facebook’s general push to promote local news more generally, including by giving it more prominence within users’ News Feeds on the Facebook platform.

The Week for Agencies

Sixty-Five Percent of Digital Media to be Traded Programmatically Next Year
Programmatic ad spend will have grown by 24 percent over the course of this year, and will grow a further 19 percent next year, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts published this week. This will mean that in 2019, 65 percent of all digital media will be traded programmatically. But while the growth of programmatic trading continues to be strong, Zenith says it’s slightly slower than expected, due to a mixture of new data laws and investment patterns within the industry. Read the full story on VAN.

Omnicom’s DDB Wins US Army Ad Account
Omnicom-owned agency DDB won a major account this week from the US Army, running over ten years and worth $4 billion. DDB replaces Interpublic Group’s McCann, which had held the account for over a decade. DDB will set up a dedicated business to handle the account called Team DDB.

Hires of the Week

Nielsen Hires David Kenny as CEO
Nielsen has taken on IBM Watson chief David Kenny as its new CEO. Kenny, who has also been CEO of The Weather Company, was recently linked with the CEO position at WPP, though that role was eventually filled by Mark Read.

Karina Wilsher Picked as Anomaly’s Global CEO
Karina Wilsher has been promoted from global COO of Anomaly to global CEO and partner of the agency. Wilsher replaces Carl Johnson, who becomes chairman of the agency group.

RTL Deutschland Appoints Bernd Reichart as CEO
RTL Deutschland this week announced Bernd Reichart, previously managing director at Vox, as its new CEO. Reichart replaces Anke Schäferkordt, who has worked for RTL for nearly thirty years.

This Week on VAN

Sixty-Five Percent of Digital Media to be Traded Programmatically Next Year, read more on VAN

Outcome-Driven Media Will be More Popular Than Ever in 2019 says Spotify’s Danzis, read more on VAN

Amazon Bids for Fox’s Regional Sports Networks, read more on VAN

Buy-Side Input Can Improve Publisher Alliances says Nordic Entertainment Group’s Rasmusson, read more on VAN

Video Platforms Need Content, Customer Relationships and Tech to Thrive says IPONWEB’s Mryasova, read more on VAN

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