The WIR: Facebook Launches Upfront Style Ad Sales, Channel 4 Trials SVOD Service, and Sky AdSmart Launches in Germany

In this week’s Week in Review: Facebook targets upfront budgets with ‘Facebook Showcase’, Channel 4 trials a new ad-free subscription streaming service, and Sky launches its addressable TV advertising product AdSmart in Germany. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Facebook Launches Upfront Style Video Ad Sales
Facebook will begin running upfront-style ad sales for inventory on specific shows and categories on its Watch video service, it announced this week. ‘Facebook Showcase’ will enable advertisers to buy placements in advance at a fixed cost, and guaranteed against Nielsen demographics, on certain eligible content across Watch, Newsfeed and Pages. Advertisers can also buy on the same terms for certain categories including sport, fashion/beauty and entertainment, and can pay to be the exclusive US sponsor for specific shows.

Facebook is hoping that its more premium content can take a slice of brands’ budgets during upfronts season. “Showcase gives online video and TV ad buyers participating in the upfront selling cycle new opportunities to reach their target audiences within the highest-quality videos on Facebook,” the company said.

Channel 4 Trials Ad-Free SVOD Service
British broadcaster Channel 4 relaunched its All 4 video on-demand service this week, releasing a trial paid subscription tier which runs programmes without ads in commissioned content. The subscription tier, called All 4 +, is being offered to an expanded group of subscribers, following a small-scale test last year. And while the broadcaster has not yet said All 4 + will definitely get a universal rollout, head of All 4 Richard Davidson-Houston said that “the scaling-up of the All 4 + trial shows that we’re getting serious about a paid upgrade to the free service.”

The announcement follows hot on the heels of ITV and the BBC revealing plans to launch their joint ad-free streaming service Britbox in the UK. ITV boss Carolyn McCall said that other public-sector broadcasters were in conversation with ITV about joining Britbox, with Channel 4 seeming one of the more likely candidates.

Sky Launches AdSmart in Germany
Sky has launched its addressable TV advertising product AdSmart in Germany, Broadband TV News reported on Thursday. AdSmart, which enables advertisers to target ads based on a range of household attributes, has been undergoing a gradual European roll out following its initial launch in the UK in 2014. The product seems to have been successful in the UK, with Sky Media announcing back in 2017 that it had run over 10,000 AdSmart campaigns, and that 64 percent of advertisers that used it returned for another campaign. But in each new market AdSmart launches in, Sky has to grapple with region-specific regulations, and tailor the product’s capabilities to each country.

The Week in Tech

LiveRamp Gives DSPs Free Access to IdentityLink
Identity resolution provider LiveRamp this week announced that it is making its IdentityLink identity graph available to demand-side platforms (DSPs) for free. LiveRamp says the new offering, IdentityLink for RTB, will give customers reduced data loss, enhanced consumer privacy features and people-based frequency capping. IdentityLink was already available to supply-side platforms (SSPs) for free via the Advertising ID Consortium.

Dataxu Launches New Advanced TV Marketplace
Programmatic marketing software maker Dataxu this week announced the launch of a new advanced TV marketplace, TotalTV Marketplace. Dataxu says the new marketplace, accessible via its TouchPoint demand-side platform (DSP), currently reaches 40 million unique connected TV households in North America each month. Read the full story on VAN.

CTV Helps Telaria Reach 26 Percent Growth
Programmatic video ad tech provider Telaria this week announced that revenues in 2018 were up 26 percent year-on-year, reaching $55.2 million. Total profits meanwhile were up 20 percent to $16.8 million. CEO Mark Zagorski attributed the growth in large part to an increase in connected-TV ad sales, which now account for over a third of overall revenue, having risen from just one percent two years ago.

TabMo Adds DOOH, CTV and Audio to Mobile Ad Platform
TabMo’s demand side platform (DSP) Hawk has added access to connected TV, digital out-of-home (DOOH) and programmatic audio inventory. “Brands can now complement their mobile advertising by amplifying their message across additional channels, strengthening their interactions with the audience and increasing the impact of campaigns. Hawk is unique in enabling users to plan fully integrated cross-channel advertising campaigns through one platform”” says Chris Childs, managing director at TabMo UK.

TV4 extends its relationship with Yospace
TV4 has agreed an extension with Yospace to provide server-side ad insertion (SSAI) across its TV Everywhere service, TV4Play. Yospace’s SSAI solution (also referred to as dynamic ad insertion) allows advertising to be stitched into live and VoD content watched via over-the-top (OTT) devices.

Outbrain Acquires Ligatus
Native advertising and discovery platform Outbrain this week announced it has acquired fellow native ad specialist Ligatus for an undisclosed fee. Outbrain says its acquisition of Ligatus, which claims to deliver over 37 billion impressions per month, will strengthen its position in Europe, and add access to Gruner + Jahr-owned publications (Ligatus is a subsidiary of G+J).

BurdaForward Switches to AppNexus Publisher Adserver
German publishing house BurdaForward and Xandr-owned AppNexus this week announced that BurdaForward will adopt the AppNexus Publisher Adserver, as well as the AppNexus SSP and Yieldex Analytics.  “AppNexus’ solution gives us significantly more technological freedom and, above all, room for innovations that we can implement even faster and more efficiently in the future. The innovative cooperation already gives us an outlook on how we will jointly develop completely new approaches for advertising delivery this year,” says Martin Lütgenau, managing director of BurdaForward Advertising.

The Week in TV

ITV and BBC Plan to Bring Ad-Free SVOD Service ‘Britbox’ to UK
ITV on Wednesday announced plans to launch Britbox, an ad-free subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service featuring British produced content, in the UK. Britbox was launched as a collaboration between ITV and the BBC in the US back in 2017, and ITV now says it is in negotiations with the BBC to launch the service domestically. A UK launch would be particularly significant – there have long been calls for UK broadcasters to collaborate on a domestic SVOD service to better compete with the likes of Netflix, but a previous attempt (dubbed ‘Project Kangaroo’) was shut down by regulators before launch in 2009. Read the full story on VAN.

Disney in Talks to Buy WarnerMedia’s Stake in Hulu
Disney is in talks with WarnerMedia to buy out its ten percent stake in US streaming service Hulu, Variety reported this week. Disney already owns thirty percent, and will pick up a further thirty percent assuming its acquisition of 21st Century Fox clears. WarnerMedia executives have said before that they’re willing to sell their stake, as WarnerMedia prepares to launch its own streaming service.

Disney is also launching a new streaming service later this year, but CEO Bob Iger has said he sees Hulu as one part of a three-faced streaming strategy. Disney plans to keep the upcoming Disney+ service reserved for family friendly content, while more adult content will sit on Hulu, and sports content will be held on ESPN+.

Discovery’s Next D2C Play: Niche Content and Owning the Connected Home
Discovery Inc.’s focus on non-scripted content (i.e. documentaries, cooking shows etc.) in niche categories is helping its Discovery Go direct-to-consumer streaming service compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, CEO David Zaslav said on an earnings call this week. And the company sees an opportunity to use its specialism in niche categories to be a major presence in the connected home. Discovery expanded its catalogue of non-scripted content last year with the acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive for $14.6 billion, which helped drive revenue growth of 54 percent in 2018. Read the full story on VAN.

US Justice Department Loses Appeal Against AT&T/Time Warner Merger
The US Department of Justice this week lost its appeal against the court ruling which cleared AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. The DoJ had been attempting to block the merger citing competition concerns, taking the case to the US Court of Appeals last July, but the department now says it won’t contest the case any further.

The Week in Publishing

TikTok Fined $5.7 Million Over Child Privacy Violations
Video-sharing app TikTok has been fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal information from children under thirteen years old. The fine is relatively small for the company, worth around $75 billion, but TikTok has agreed to update its data collection practices as a result. TikTok allowed children under thirteen to create accounts without parental consent, collecting their names, email addresses and other information in the process.

“This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children that we take enforcement of Coppa [the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act] very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law,” said Joe Simons, the FTC’s chairman.

Reach Posts Pre-Tax Loss of £120 Million
British publisher Reach (previously Trinity Mirror) announced an annual pre-tax loss of £120 million in its most recent financial results, falling from a profit of £81.9 million the previous year. Overall revenue was up by 16.2 percent to £724 million after Reach bought Express and Star from fellow publisher Northern & Shell, but like-for-like revenues were down by 6.6 percent. The company said that while digital ad revenues grew by 23.5 percent, the company was hurt by algorithm changes made by Facebook and Google at the start of the year.

Mobile Operators Could be “Sleepwalking into 5G Nightmare” says Openwave Mobility
Video on mobile networks is growing at an average rate of 50-60 percent year-on-year according to Openwave Mobility, with some operators seeing growth of 100 percent annually. But traffic patterns are “highly irregular”, making it hard for operators to deliver high quality of experience, and the problem will get worse with the advent of 5G putting more focus on VR and AR. “QoE [quality of experience] is already hard to manage, and immersive video services are 33x more data intensive than 480p video,” said Openwave CTO and head of engineering Matt Halligan. “So, unless operators have a robust strategy to differentiate their service, they could be sleepwalking into a 5G nightmare.”

The Week for Agencies

WPP Profits Drop But Shares Rise Amid Restructuring
Ad agency holding group WPP saw pre-tax profits drop from £2.11 billion to  £1.46 billion last year, the company revealed in its financial results this week. Revenues are continuing to continue to drop, down 1.3 percent year-on-year, and spending is high as the group invests in restructuring following ex-CEO Martin Sorrell’s departure last year. WPP also predicts a challenging 2019 following client losses last year.

But stocks rose by nine percent, with investors relieved as WPP’s results came in at the upper end of guidance it gave last year. And CEO Mark Read is (at least outwardly) positive, saying that the company “is showing early signs of success in attracting new business and talent to WPP”.

Walmart Gives Fresh Details of In-Housing Pitch
Walmart, which revealed last week it is cutting ties with WPP-owned Triad and handling ad sales in-house, gave fresh details this week on its in-housing proposition. Walmart is trying to build up its brand as an ad business which can challenge Amazon for marketing budgets, according to the WSJ, using its own ad space and shopper data. “If I’m the CMO of a large branded manufacturer I now think about Walmart as a network I can go advertise on,” said Walmart US’s chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies.

MediaMonks Picked by Avon for Digital Content Creation
MediaMonks, owned by Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital, has been picked by Avon to build and run ‘digital content creation hubs’, according to Campaign. The hubs will be used to create branded content at scale for Avon products, including videos, gifs, and gamified content, with hubs being launched in the UK, Brazil Mexico and Russia.

Hires of the Week

WPP Hires Jacqui Canney as Global Chief People Officer
WPP has hired Jacqui Canney, previously EVP, chief people officer at Walmart, as its own global chief people officer. Canney replaces Mark Linaugh in the role, who departs this summer.

Dentsu Aegis Network Picks Will Swayne as Global President of Client Solutions
Dentsu Aegis Network has chosen Will Swayne as its new global president of client solutions. Swayne was previously global president of Dentsu-owned agency Carat.

IPONWEB Hires Moritz Wuttke for Programmatic TV
IPONWEB announced this week it has hired Moritz Wuttke as SVP of commercial for its new TV solutions group. Wuttke will be responsible for developing, leading, and managing all TV commercial opportunities globally.

This Week on VAN

How is Europe Regulating FAANG? An Overview for Those Struggling to Keep Up, read more on VAN

Discovery’s Next D2C Play: Niche Content and Owning the Connected Home, read more on VAN

ITV and BBC Plan to Bring Ad-Free SVOD Service ‘Britbox’ to UK, read more on VAN

Dataxu Launches New Advanced TV Marketplace, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Nike, Dream Crazier, Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Subscribe to Weekly VAN Newsletter

Ad ExchangesAd of the WeekAd TechAgencyBrandsConnected TVEuropeLegalMediaMobile VideoNative AdvertisingOTTProgrammaticPublishingTechTVUS