RTL Repositions Smartclip as an Ad Tech Development Hub for European TV

European media giant RTL Group today announced a reorganisation of its ad tech business which will see Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland take responsibility for all of RTL’s ad tech assets in all European markets except the UK, bundled under the Smartclip brand. The news comes as the group reported its financial results for the first half of the year in which group revenues were up 4.2 percent to €3.2 billion in H1, and profits rose 21 percent to €443 million, but earnings before interest, tax and amortisation fell by two percent.

RTL says that the ambition for this reorganisation is to “create an open ad tech development unit, based on the technology developed by Smartclip and custom-tailored for the needs of European broadcasters and streaming services”. The move will see SpotX’s offices in Europe, barring its UK hub, become Smartclip offices instead.

SpotX meanwhile will continue working closely with smartclip, and the UK will remain the central hub for SpotX’s operations in Europe. RTL Group also said it’s begun “reviewing strategic partnerships” for the SpotX Global business, though without giving any detail of which companies might be under consideration for partnerships.

Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, said the shake up of its ad tech units has two goals. “Firstly, it facilitates partnerships in Europe and the United States,” he said. “Secondly, it bundles efforts and resources to build a competitive European advertising technology platform.”

But the decision to bundle this unit under the Smartclip brand represents a change in direction for the company. RTL announced at the end of 2017 its plans to merge SpotX and Smartclip, with SpotX acting as the global brand, but the Smartclip brand being maintained in some European markets where it was particularly strong. This is no longer the plan – RTL now wants to clearly position Smartclip as a separate brand across Europe, with a specific focus on catering to European broadcasters and streaming services, while the SpotX brand will be more US focussed.

RTL Group also announced a few changes to its leadership structure. Björn Bauer, who has worked in other roles for RTL’s parent company Bertelsmann, has joined as chief financial officer, while previous CFO Elmar Heggen will take the new role of chief operating officer.

This reorganisation comes as RTL Group’s digital revenues, of which its ad tech revenues are a part, continue to drive growth. Digital revenues overall, which include income from RTL’s multi-platform networks (MPNs) and streaming services, grew by 21 percent to €513 million in H1. The streaming services’ growth was particularly strong – RTL Group said it has reached 1.2 million paying customers for its video on-demand (VOD) platforms in Germany and the Netherlands, up 46.2 percent year on-year.

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