The WIR: TrustX Axes Tech Fees for Buyers, Verizon Shutters Oath Ad Server, and NBCUniversal Expands its ‘Prime Pods’ Format

In this week’s Week in Review: TrustX shifts its tech fees from buyers to sellers, Verizon announced plans to close the Oath Ad Platform ad server, and NBCUniversal says its seeing results from its reduced ad break ‘prime pod’ format. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

TrustX Shifts Buy-Side Tech Fees to Publishers
TrustX, an alliance of publishers and broadcasters that includes News Corp, Viacom, NBCUniversal, The Guardian and Hearst, announced this week it is eliminating buy-side fees from its exchange, instead shifting the 12.5 percent fee onto publishers instead. The move is designed to tempt more advertisers into trading through the TrustX exchange, with the participating publishers presumably hoping the resulting increase in ad spend will more than account for the additional fees they have to pay. US trade group the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) had reportedly requested the change last year, and TrustX CEO David Kohl told AdAge that he hopes other exchanges will follow suit.

Verizon Shutters Oath Ad Server
Verizon Media (previously Oath) plans to close its Oath Ad Platform ad server next year, according to a report in Adweek. The ad server struggled to compete with the dominance of Google’s ad server for publishers, and Verizon is choosing to shutter the business as part of a consolidation of its ad tech offering. “We are working with our customers to ensure they are supported as they migrate from the Ad Server platform,” a Verizon Media spokesperson told Adweek. “This does not affect our Oath Ad Platforms SSP business. Our goal is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers. This marks a strategic step toward the execution of our plans for growth and innovation into the future.”

NBCUniversal Plans to Expand ‘Prime Pods’ Format
NBCUniversal is planning to expand its ‘prime pod’ format released last year, which gives advertisers a 60-second slot of audience-targeted advertising during the first or last ad break of prime time shows. The format was introduced as part of NBCU’s efforts to cut down ad time on linear TV, and the broadcaster says its working well for brands, bringing 28 percent better engagement compared to traditional pods, 27 percent greater ad awareness, and 21 percent increased brand interest.

International Women’s Day

Women across social media platforms changed their names to ‘Dave’ to raise awareness around a lack of female representation in boardrooms – highlighting the fact that there are more CEOs named David in FTSE 100 companies than there are female CEOs.

The Media Trust is running its annual volunteering event, where 150 volunteers working in advertising, media, digital and PR agencies set aside time to work for various women’s charities.

Ad-Women, a search engine for finding female talent in the advertising industry, was launched. The site has registered over 300 women so far, and hope to link up women in the industry with more job opportunities, helping them find new work or pressure their current employers for better salaries.

Amazon launched a new programme called Amazon Amplify, aimed at increasing the number of women in tech and innovation roles across the UK. Amazon will build on existing diversity initiatives with the company, for example by doing more work to ensure interview panels are diverse.

Online retailer Notonthehighstreet partnered with The Prince’s Trust for a new programme which will see its employees give young female entrepreneurs help and support with running their own businesses.

YouTube has released some encouraging stats around use of its platform. In 2018 in the UK, politics videos featuring female personalities grew by 65 percent, while gaming content grew by 45 percent and science content grew by 30 percent.

The Week in Tech

Google Switches to First Price, Unified Auctions
Google this week announced significant changes to its publisher exchange and ad server Google Ad Manager, including a switch to first price auctions. In first price auctions, a buyer bidding for inventory pays the price they bid, whereas in second price auctions, they pay just enough to beat the second highest bid. This will also mean an end to “last look”, which allowed buyers on Google’s own AdWords and DSP to see the final winning bid in an auction, and pay a penny more to win it instead.

“Today the programmatic ecosystem has evolved into a much more complex marketplace where a single ad can pass through a mix of auctions, with different rules, before a winning bid price is selected and an ad is served,” said Google Ad Manager’s group product manager Sam Cox. “This complexity has made it difficult for advertisers and agencies to properly value programmatic inventory and it has driven our publishers and app developers to implement increasingly complicated ad monetisation  strategies, reducing transparency across the industry.”

Altice USA Launches New Addressable OTT Advertising Solution
A4, the advanced TV division of Altice USA, has launched a new addressable advertising solution for over-the-top (OTT) inventory. Altice says the new product will use IP-based targeting to deliver ads using “fully authenticated household level data”, though the company has not yet said which sorts of segments will be targetable.

Altice launched a4 last year as a multiscreen ad buying unit which it claims has a reach of over 90 million households. A4 uses a mix of data from different sources to enable addressability, including first-party data that advertisers on-board themselves, data from partnering multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs), plus de-identified Altice USA subscriber data. This same mix of data will be used for the new OTT offering. Read the full story on VAN.

Taboola to Acquire the Start Division of Celltick
Taboola announced the execution of an agreement to acquire the Start Division of mobile discover and engagement specialist Celltick which includes the Start and Start Magazine product lines. Following the completion of the acquisition, Taboola says the Start team and technology will integrate into the Taboola News division to bring personalised and relevant recommendations in the form of premium publisher content on mobile devices.

“Through the combination of our strategic premium publisher partnerships globally, our data and deep learning technology, we are able to provide users with a highly personalised content experience that can enrich their lives,” said Adam Singolda, CEO and founder of Taboola.

Tremor Video DSP Expands Its Connected TV Solutions
Tremor Video DSP this week announced the expansion of its suite of connected TV (CTV) capabilities that features its exclusive data partnerships. Tremor says its CTV solutions give brands access to over 34 million households on a one-to-one level via a partnership with Alphonso, and that brands can layer in their own data with a custom audience-building algorithm to find new customers and extend their reach. Tremor also gives brands and agencies access to its in-house creative studio.

The Week in TV

Sky X Launches in Austria
Sky is making it’s entire pay-TV offering available in Austria without cable or satellite distribution, through a new over-the-top (OTT) streaming service called Sky X. The app offers live access to linear Sky channels and some third-party channels, as well as on-demand content.

CNN Begins Offering Comscore Campaign Ratings to Clients
US broadcaster CNN has become the first company to offer Comscore Campaign Ratings to its advertising partners after a beta trial, Comscore announced this week. Campaign Ratings is designed to give unduplicated measurement of video ad reach across linear TV, OTT, desktop and mobile, giving advertisers a clearer view into the audience their campaigns have actually reached.

Digital Sales Aren’t Compensating for Falling TV Revenues says ProSiebenSat.1
Group revenues in 2018 were down for German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, as growth digital ad sales aren’t enough to compensate for declining TV revenues. But the company says it is confident that increased investment in its digital properties and non-advertising businesses will pay off in the long run.

“2018 was not a year we can be satisfied with as the weakness in TV advertising was not yet sufficiently counter-balanced with digital and commerce growth,” said CEO Max Conze. Overall group revenues for 2018 were down by two percent to €4.009 billion, though revenues were up one percent when adjusted for consolidation and currency effects. This was largely attributed to a decline in ProSieben’s ‘Entertainment’ segment (which includes ad revenues), which fell by four percent. Read more on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

Axel Springer Forecasts Falling Profits in 2019
Share in German publisher Axel Springer SE fell by over seven percent this week as the company predicted flat earnings growth for 2019. The publisher expects revenue growth to be in the low-to-mid percentage range, but says adjusted earnings per share would likely decline as it invests in future growth. Springer has seen online classified ads become an increasingly important revenue source in recent years, and the high investment may be in response to competitors moving into this area, including Google which will launch Google for Jobs later this year, according to the FT.

YouTube Might Never be Completely Brand Safe says Google
YouTube might never be able to guarantee 100 percent brand safety Nishma Robb, UK marketing director for Google Ads, said this week at the ISBA annual conference. Robb said that while YouTube is working to make its platform as safe as possible, “the reality is the internet has dark pockets”, and 100 percent brand safety may not be realistic.

Instagram Releases Branded Content Ad Format
Instagram is launching a new ad format, ‘branded content ads’, designed to help brand-sponsored posts from celebrities and publishers reach a wider audience. While brands have obviously been running branded content campaigns on Instagram for a long time, the new format is designed to help brands push these posts to people who don’t follow whichever influencer or publisher puts out the content.

The Week for Agencies

Scotland Yard Calls on Advertisers to Help Tackle Terrorist Content on Smaller Platforms
While social media sites have made progress in tackling the distribution of terrorist propaganda on their platforms, more of this content is now popping up on newer, smaller ad-funded sites says Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command. Speaking at the ISBA conference this week, Jarrett said that while defunding content is just one small part of the fight, anything advertisers can do to help prevent the spread of terrorist propaganda can be very important. Read the full story on VAN.

AA Unveils Five Point Plan to Restore Trust in Advertising
The Advertising Association (AA) this week released a new report ‘Arresting the Decline of Public Trust in UK Advertising‘, and launched a five point plan alongside fellow trade bodies the IPA and ISBA to restore trust in advertising. The five actions are:

  • To reduce advertising ‘bombardment’
  • To reduce excessive advertising frequency and re-targeting
  • To ensure that the ASA is “best in class”
  • To ensure that data privacy matters
  • To show that advertising can drive social change

More details on these points can be found here.

UK Digital Ad Spend Set to Pass £15 Billion in 2019
Double-digital growth in UK digital ad spend will push total spending above £15 billion this year, according to Barclays’ ‘Adtech Ascendancy’ report. Digital out-of-home (DOOH) is forecast to be particularly strong, with digital DOOH spending having overtaken traditional OOH spend last year.

Publicis Media Merges Spark Foundry and Blue 499
Publicis Media has merged two of its agencies, Spark Foundry and Blue 499, into one unit under the Spark Foundry brand. The merged company will be led globally by Spark Foundry’s global brand president Chris Boothe, except for in France, the US and the UK where the Blue 449 brand will be retained, led by Simon Davis in the UK, David Ehlers in the US and Pascal Crifo in France.

Hires of the Week

Accenture Interactive Operations Hires Caspar Schlickum and Peter Kolster Hansen
Accenture Interactive Operations has hired two industry veterans in new roles – Caspar Schlickum as regional managing director for APAC, and Peter Kolster Hansen as managing director and worldwide lead for next-generation content services. Schlickum, known for launching and running Xaxis in Europe, joins from Wunderman, while Hansen joins from Adobe.

WarnerMedia Rejigs Leadership Team
WarnerMedia announced a number of senior changes this week ahead of the launch of its new streaming service later this year. Robert Greenblatt has been named chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, and Gerhard Zeiler, previously president of Turner International, has become WarnerMedia CRO. Meanwhile Jeff Zucker has become chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports and president of CNN.

Nick Thexton Appointed Chief Technology Officer of ProSiebenSat.1 Group
ProSiebenSat.1 has appointed Nick Thexton to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer. Thexton has worked for over 30 years as a developer and manager in the international entertainment and telecommunications industries, and will join ProSieben in June this year, when he will also join the recently announced extended Executive Board of ProSiebenSat.1 Group.

This Week on VAN

Altice USA Launches New Addressable OTT Advertising Solution, read more on VAN

Scotland Yard Calls on Advertisers to Help Tackle Terrorist Content on Smaller Platforms, read more on VAN

Is TV Buying Next In Line For Brand In-Housing? read more on VAN

Digital Sales Aren’t Compensating for Falling TV Revenues says ProSiebenSat.1, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Axos Bank, Don’t Get Robbed by Your Bank, Cutwater

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