The WIR: Weborama Outbids Amazon for Sizmek, ProSieben and RTL Announce a New Joint Venture for Addressable TV, and IAS Launches a CTV Verification Solution

In this week’s Week in Review: Weborama outbids Amazon for Sizmek’s ad server, ProSieben and RTL announce a new joint venture, and IAS launches a CTV verification solution. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Weborama Outbids Amazon for Sizmek Ad Server and DCO
French tech company Weborama today announced that its parent company Ycor has decided to top Amazon’s bid for Sizmek’s ad server and dynamic creative optimisation (DCO). Amazon appeared last Friday to have closed the deal, announcing that it had signed an agreement to buy the two Sizmek businesses, but now it appears the deal was not final. Weborama itself has not claimed to have closed the deal, meaning there remains a possibility that Amazon could up its own bid.

Weborama says that the bid aims to keep Sizmek independent from the tech giants. Some of Sizmek’s clients chose to work with the company specifically to avoid being tied into one of the tech giants’ walled gardens, meaning the idea of Sizmek’s ad server being folded into Amazon’s tech stack drew ire from some. But Weborama’s CEO Alain Lévy said his company wants to keep Sizmek independent and neutral. “Obviously, we are conscious that, given how incommensurate Amazon’s resources are, it can bring “David versus Goliath” to mind,” he said. “Today, we make a financial commitment, taking into account what is at stake for the industry as a whole: prevent the advent of a duopoly. We do believe that no one should turn a blind eye on Sizmek Ad Server being possibly acquired by a global platform – be it Amazon or another. Choice must prevail.”

ProSieben and RTL Set Up Joint Venture for Addressable TV Advertising
European broadcasters ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland this week announced they’re setting up a new joint venture for addressable TV advertising in Germany, which will see addressable TV and digital video inventory from both companies made available via a common demand-side platform (DSP). The two says that advertisers will be able to target relevant audiences in the area of addressable TV and online video across the complete portfolio of ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, directly and individually, via the platform. The portfolio includes the digital offerings of both media houses as well as third parties.

Each broadcaster will hold a 50 percent stake in the joint venture.

IAS Launches Connected TV Verification Solution
Media verification and measurement company Integral Ad Science (IAS) this week announced the release of a new connected TV verification solution, which it claims to be a world first. IAS says the solution directly integrates with video publishers to validate that video ads are played to completion on fraud-free connected TVs. The company has already run a pilot test with media companies including NBCUniversal and CBS Interactive.

The solution comes as ad fraud specialist are increasingly viewing CTV as a potential weak spot in the fight against fraud, with two recent reports picking out CTV as an area of vulnerability.

The Week in Tech

FTC and Justice Department Plan Antitrust Investigations for Big Tech
The US Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are lining up antitrust investigations into Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, according to reports this week. The two bodies are reportedly coordinating their investigations, with the Justice Department taking responsibility for Google and Apple, and the FTC overseeing Facebook and Amazon. According to the Wall Street Journal the investigations would look into whether any of the companies have broken current antitrust laws, but would also examine if current laws are are sufficient, and whether they’re able to appropriately handle the tech giants.

Alphabet’s stock is down by almost six percent since the news broke, while Facebook’s is down 4.6 percent.

Firefox Begins Blocking Third Party Tracking Cookies by Default
Mozilla this week launched an update for its Firefox browser which will see third-party tracking cookies blocked by default for new users who download the browser. The new default settings will also be rolled out to existing users in the coming months. “We’re offering privacy protections by default as you navigate the web because the business model of the web is broken, with more and more intrusive personal surveillance becoming the norm,” the company said in a blog post. “While we hope that people’s digital rights and freedoms will ultimately be guaranteed, we’re here to help in the interim.”

Sublime Acquires Measurement Company Adledge
Sublime on Tuesday announced the acquisition of global measurement company Adledge, which it says will enable it to offer new advertising performance measurement capabilities, which will further support the company’s strategic development and global growth. Sublime says it will use Adledge’s enhanced algorithms to develop new algorithms based on ad quality and brand safety, to select the best inventory for each brand.

Nielsen Launches Global Measurement for YouTube Mobile App
Nielsen announced this week it has expanded advertising measurement on YouTube’s mobile app with Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings to 26 additional markets, including Belgium, Brazil, India, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland and Singapore. Nielsen says this will give media buyers and sellers access to age and gender demographics for consumers viewing advertising, as well as reach, frequency and gross rating points (GRPs).

The Week in TV

Channel 4 Launches Custom Data Targeting Product for VOD
Channel 4 this week announced the development of “Project Agora”, a proprietary solution which it says will enable advertisers to match their own custom audience segments across Channel 4 platforms in a cookie-less way. The broadcaster says that over 70 percent of revenues for its All 4 VOD service come from advertisers buying against first party registered viewer data, and that from autumn, they will be able to use their own data capabilities to create their own custom segments. “Not many publishers have the volume of registered data that we do and that means we can offer this data matching proposition to our clients,” said Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel 4. “We believe this will put us another step ahead of our competition and equal the offering that you can get from the pureplay digital platforms – but within a much safer and compliant environment.”

ITV Gets Rid of Late Booking Fees for Second Year
ITV has reportedly scrapped late booking fees across all of its channels for a second year as it seeks to attract more ad spend, according to a report from Campaign. The change is in effect until the end of July, which coincides with the release of popular reality show Love Island. ITV’s managing director for commercial reportedly said in a note to media agencies and brands that she hopes buyers “see this as a great opportunity for all of your brands to invest across these months or indeed increase their current investment to supercharge sales”.

Ofcom Declines to Investigate UKTV Deal
British media regulator Ofcom this week announced it has decided not to conduct a formal competition assessment of the deal between BBC Studios and Discovery on UKTV. In April, BBC Studios and Discovery announced an agreement on the future of their UKTV joint venture which will see Discovery take full control of UKTV’s lifestyle channels, while BBC Studios takes control of UKTV’s entertainment channels. Ofcom said it believes existing trading and separation regulation sufficiently safeguards against potential competition risks.

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Cracks Down on Hateful Content
YouTube this week revealed it is updating its hate speech policy, banning any content which “[alleges] that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status”. The platform also announced it will remove content which denies well documented violent events, including the Holocaust and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Further to this, YouTube says it will be more actively reducing “borderline content” – content which stops just short of violating its policies. This will include limiting recommendation of borderline content, and demonetising creators who repeatedly brush up against its hate speech policies. One immediate example of this is conservative YouTube personality Steven Crowder having his videos demonetised due to his use of homophobic language.

Vice Expands Newsroom for 2020 Election
Vice News is expanding its news desk as it gears up for coverage of the 2020 election, according to a report in Digiday. The publisher has added seven new staff to its digital news operation, and is looking to fill two more positions in preparation for next year’s presidential election. The move comes as Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc seeks to invest more in five core areas of the business as the company seeks to reverse a troubled financial period.

YouTube ‘Prankster’ Gets Prison Time for Cruel Stunt
A Spanish YouTuber has been handed a 15 month prison sentence and ordered to pay €20,000 in “moral damages” after targeting a homeless man with a cruel ‘prank’ in one of his videos. YouTuber Kanghua Ren, or ‘ReSet’ to his followers, filmed himself scraping the filling out of an Oreo cookie and replacing it with toothpaste, before giving a homeless Romanian man €20 to eat the biscuit. The video sparked a backlash after it was uploaded to YouTube and was taken down a few days later. Judge Rosa Aragonés ruled that Ren had “humiliated and harassed a much older, vulnerable, homeless person […] to attract the sick attention of his followers”.

Jungle Creations Pivots to Burgers
Social focussed media business Jungle Creations this week announced the launch of five new sites for Twisted London, a delivery-only restaurant born out of its Twisted Facebook page (known for its birds-eye view recipe videos). The media company has been building a reputation recently for its creative monetisation strategies – which also include selling personalised socks – and launched the first Twisted restaurant back in 2017. The company says insights gained from its social media content give it “unrivalled knowledge and insights into what its customers really want to eat”.

The Week for Agencies

European Digital Ad Spend Hit €55 Billion in 2018
IAB Europe announced at its annual Interact conference today in Warsaw that digital advertising grew 13.9 percent in 2018 to €55.1bn, driven by strong growth in video, mobile and social spend. This is the fastest growth since 2011 and has seen the market more than double in size since 2012. Outstream video grew particularly impressively with revenues rising by 44.7 percent.

Ad Market Growth

Instagram Influencer Under Investigation for P&G Posts
Instagram influencer Sophie Hinchliffe is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a series of posts promoting P&G cleaning products. The posts drew complaints due to the fact that they weren’t labelled as ads, despite promoting P&G products. The news comes as part of a wider crackdown by the ASA on undisclosed influencer advertising, which saw a number of influencers earlier this year agree to being more transparent with their promotional activities, or face heavy fines or prison sentences.

US Political Advertising to hit $9.9 Billion in 2020
Political ad spending in the US will reach $9.9 billion in 2020, the year of the next presidential election, according to a new report from GroupM. This would make spending $3.6 billion higher than 2016, the previous presidential election year, and $1.2 billion higher than 2018, when midterm congressional elections were held.

Hires of the Week

SpotX Appoints Neal Richter as First Chief Scientist
SpotX this week announced the appointment of Dr. Neal Richter as its first chief scientist. Richter will head up SpotX’s new Salt Lake City, Utah office which will serve as a hub for research and development teams. Reporting directly to J. Allen Dove, SpotX’s CTO, Richter will invest in SpotX data science and machine learning efforts as well as the greater RTL Group’s work in artificial intelligence.

Barry Cupples Joins MadHive Board Of Directors
Former Omnicom Media Group CEO Barry Cupples has joined blockchain-powered ad tech company MadHive’s board of directors, it was announced this week. “Barry has been a strong partner and supporter for our efforts at MadHive for some time,” said Adam Helfgott, CEO at MadHive. “Our belief in bringing greater accountability and transparency to bear in programmatic for advertisers and agencies alike has been an agreed objective since we first met.”

This Week on VAN

How Affiliate Links are Supplementing Video Revenues, read more on VAN

The Buy-Side View: Q&A with OMG’s Tom Fryett, read more on VAN

How Big is the DTC Opportunity for TV? Q&A with Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan, read more on VAN

Why Don’t More Publishers Switch Ad Servers? read more on VAN

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