The WIR: Facebook Hit by Washington Lawsuit, More Broadcasters Seek EU Licenses as No Deal Fear Rises, and OpenX Confirms Staff Lay Offs

In this week’s Week in Review: Facebook faces fresh data troubles, more broadcasters seek EU licenses, and OpenX lays off 100 staff. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Facebook Hit by Washington Lawsuit as Initiative CEO Calls for Boycott
To cap off what has been an extraordinarily tricky year for Facebook, the company this week faced a series of fresh problems centring around its use of user data. To start, Facebook admitted last Friday that a bug might have given up to 1,500 apps improper access to photos belonging to up to 6.8 million users. The company said it wasn’t clear whether any apps had actually accessed these photos, and that the bug has since been fixed.

Then on Wednesday, the attorney general of Washington DC filed a suit against Facebook over the misuse of data during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, marking the first significant move from the US to punish the social network for the incident. A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC “we’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere.”

On the same day Max Baxter, CEO of Interpublic Group-owned digital agency Initiative, said he would advise advertisers not to buy ads on Facebook due to the company’s behaviour during data scandals. Baxter said in a LinkedIn post that its time for advertisers to “take a collective stand” against Facebook. “Hopefully, when they feel the pain of lost advertising dollars things might just change,” he said.

More Broadcasters Seek EU Licenses as Brexit No Deal Looms
More reports emerged this week that international broadcasters with headquarters in the UK are seeking broadcasting licenses elsewhere in the EU, as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the BBC is in contact with Irish and Dutch broadcasting regulators in order to obtain an EU-wide broadcasting license, should an Ofcom license no longer be valid after the UK leaves the union. Meanwhile Broadband TV News claims that both NBC Universal and Turner have been granted licenses by Germany’s regulator. The German regulator, BLM, reportedly says that both companies have pledged to bring new jobs to Germany as a result of the license being held there.

OpenX Confirms Lays Offs for 100 Staff
Ad tech company OpenX this week confirmed that it has laid off around 100 staff, which it said was part of a business review conducted as it looks to spur faster growth. While OpenX has not disclosed exactly how many people it employed before the cut, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that it held around 500 stuff, meaning as much as one fifth of OpenX’s workforce might have been laid off.

While conditions have been tricky for OpenX, a spokesperson emphasised that the company is still profitable, and that it is planning to invest $100 million in new products for advertisers and publishers next year.

The Week in Tech

The Trade Desk and Index Exchange Claim Match Rates of 99 Percent
The Trade Desk is claiming it’s achieving match rates of 99 percent  with trial partner Index Exchange through use of its Unified ID Solution, according to AdWeek. The Trade Desk is hoping its solution will provide an alternative to the walled gardens when it comes to reliably matching advertisers with specific users they’re trying to target, and is enabling other ad tech companies to use its solution for free.

Samba TV Buys Screen6
Cross-platform measurement company Samba TV has bought cross-device graph provider Screen6, AdExchanger revealed this week. The company has reportedly used a slice of its $30 billion raised during a fundraising round earlier this year to finance the deal. The acquisition is designed to help de-duplicate audiences, extend reach across platforms, and get a handle on frequency capping on OTT, according to Ad Exchanger.

Discovery Partners with SpotX For TV Everywhere Monetisation
SpotX this week announced a partnership with Discovery to power programmatic monetisation for TV everywhere (TVE) video during the holiday season. The collaboration has resulted in Discovery running Automated Guaranteed campaigns through SpotX. “Content consumption increases dramatically during the holidays with more people home binge-watching and new devices being purchased, the viewership numbers we see across Discovery’s properties absolutely explode,” said Bill Murray, VP, programmatic revenue and ad products at Discovery Inc. “SpotX provides a very streamlined approach to monetisation, and we’re excited to be working so closely with their team to connect more buyers to all of our inventory.”

Taptica Expands in China
Taptica this week announced that it has established a wholly-owned subsidiary in China, Taptica Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (“Taptica China”), to accelerate the expansion of its growing business in China. The company says that since opening an office in Beijing at the end of 2015, its business and operations in China have grown significantly. Taptica China aims to enable the company to work with local clients and media suppliers that are unable to engage with overseas companies or accept payments in foreign currency.

The Week in TV

Advertisers Boycott Tucker Carlson Over Immigration Comments
Several advertisers have pull spots from Fox News programme ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ after the right-wing pundit said that certain immigrants are making the US “dirtier and more divided” during his show. More than 25 brands including IHOP, Land Rover and have pulled ads, with CNN claiming the boycott is having a very noticeable affect and forcing Fox News to run fewer ad breaks during the show. Several liberal advocacy groups including Media Matters and Sleeping Giants have been leading the effort, calling out brands which are running ads during Carlson’s show.

RTL Group combines Divimove and UFA X
RTL Group on Wednesday announced the combination of Divimove and UFA X into what it describes as one integrated powerhouse for the production, aggregation and monetisation of short-form video content in Europe. “As part of our Total Video 2.0 strategy, we will bundle our MPN businesses – StyleHaul, Divimove, United Screens – to build a strong and profitable digital video group led by Sean Atkins,” said Bert Habets, CEO of RTL Group. “The combination of Divimove and UFA X is an important element of this strategy as it will significantly enhance the creative power of our MPN businesses and the variety of our offers to advertisers in the European markets.”

Ex-CBS CEO Moonves Denied Severance Payments
CBS announced this week that its ex-CEO Les Moonves won’t receive any severance payments, following a probe into allegations that he had sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women during his career. Moonves was forced to resign earlier this year after the allegations were launched against him, but had been in line to receive a nine-figure exit package due to the severance of his contract. However CBS now says that Moonves breached his contract due to improper behaviour, and that there were grounds to remove Mr. Moonves for cause.

TV Most Popular Device for Streaming Content says Brightcove
TVs are the most commonly used devices for streaming content according to a survey commission by Brightcove and conducted by YouGov, with 58 percent of consumers streaming via TV at least once a week. Fifty-one percent said they stream via mobile at least once a week, and fifty percent said the same for PC/laptops.

OTT Subscription Revenues to Overtake Box Office in 2019
Global revenues from over-the-top (OTT) subscription services will overtake box office revenues next year, according to Ampere Analysis. Ampere predicts that OTT subscription revenues will reach $46 billion next year, while box office revenues will be just under $40 billion.

The Week in Publishing

Wannabe Influencers Posting Fake Sponsored Content on Instagram
Wannabe Instagram influencers are posting fake sponsored content in order to look more successful than they actually are, according to a report in The Atlantic this week. The Atlantic spoke with several aspiring influencer who said that since the first brand deal is the hardest to land, they resorted to creating posts designed to look like sponsored content, in order to make it easier to sign real brand deals.

Verizon Confirms Oath Brand Is Being Retired
Verizon this week confirmed that its Oath brand is being retired, and will be renamed to ‘Verizon Media Group’. Verizon did not give any specific reasoning for the name change, but with the struggles Oath has recently faced as ad revenue has fallen short of expectations, it seems the company is hoping the Verizon name will help turn the business’ fortunes around.

The re-branding follows the news last week that Verizon has written down Oath by $4.5 billion, valuing the business at just $200 million.

Eight in Ten Publishers to Prioritise Non-Advertising Growth Next Year
Over eighty percent of digital publishers are making non-advertising growth a priority next year, according to the latest Digital Publishers Revenue Index produced by the Association of Online Publishing (AOP) and Deloitte. While digital ad revenues are still strong, publishers are exploring other revenue streams as ad growth is starting to slow down, and confidence is falling. The report found overall confidence from both company and industry perspectives are down significantly, by 27 percent and 44 percent respectively year-on-year. Read the full story on VAN.

YouTube Removed 7.8 Million Videos in Q3
YouTube removed over 7.8 million videos, 1.6 million channels, and 224 million comments from its site in Q3 this year, according to its latest community guideline enforcement report. The quarterly transparency report sheds light onto the extent of task YouTube faces with cleaning up content posted to its site, and ensuring inappropriate videos are promptly removed.

The Week for Agencies

UK Home Secretary Urges Advertisers to Help Fight Child Exploitation Online
The UK’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid has urged advertising agencies and brands to do more to help prevent sexual exploitation of children online. Javid’s call followed the release of research which found that one in ten websites involving sexual exploitation of children hosts ads from legitimate brands. An investigation commissioned by the Home Office and conducted by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found that out of a sample of 100 child sexual exploitation websites, 57 ran ads. While the majority of these ads were for other (legal) pornographic or adult dating websites, ten percent ran ads for mainstream brands including gambling companies, a tech firm, a travel agent, a clothing brand, and an online gaming platform. Read the full story on VAN.

Dentsu Acquires Digital Agency DEG
Dentsu Aegis Network this week acquired digital agency DEG for $150 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. DEG will reportedly be integrated into Dentsu’s Isobar, whose CEO Deb Boyda said the acquisition will expand Isobar’s business capabilities, to help it compete with consultancies moving into the agency space.

TV Still Top Display Ad Platform By Far says WARC
Linear TV is still by far the top platform for display (in this case display includes both display and video) ads, according to WARC’s latest Global Ad Trends report. The medium attracted $140 billion in ad spend across 12 key markets which WARC tracks, with this success attributed to its unparalleled reach. However the report stated that TV is at a crossroads, with time spent viewing TV falling, but new opportunities opening up thanks to addressable TV advertising.

Hires of the Week

Netflix Brings in Channing Dungey for Original Content
Netflix has taken on Channing Dungey as its new VP of original content. Dungey previously worked as president at ABC Entertainment, and is the latest in a series of migrations from Disney-owned ABC to Netflix, as Disney and Netflix’s budding rivalry seems to be heating up.

AdLib Hires Patrick Collister and David Phillipson
Creative tech company AdLib has announced the hires of Patrick Collister and David Phillipson, who will both serve as advisory board non-executive directors. Collister was most recently the lead Creative at The ZOO, Google’s ThinkTank for brand and agencies, while Phillipson is known for founding AdX-tracking, which he sold to Criteo.

This Week on VAN

Cross-Industry Cooperation is Required to Accelerate Addressable TV says AudienceProject’s Bentley, read more on VAN

Eight in Ten Publishers to Prioritise Non-Advertising Growth Next Year, read more on VAN

Are Direct-to-Consumer Brands Really so Different? read more on VAN

UK Home Secretary Urges Advertisers to Help Fight Child Exploitation Online, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Google Assistant, Home Alone Again

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