The WIR: News Corp Considers Selling Unruly, ICO Calls for Faster Progress on RTB Privacy Improvements, and Facebook Wins Appeal Against German Data Collection Restrictions

In this week’s Week in Review: News Corp is reportedly planning to sell Unruly, the ICO’s Simon McDougall tells the FT there is still a long way to go on improving privacy in RTB, and Facebook wins its appeal against the German cartel office’s restrictions on its collection of data. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

News Corp Reportedly Planning Unruly Sale
Murdoch-owned media giant News Corporation is planning to sell Unruly, its video ad tech business which it bought for £115 million four years ago, according to Sky News. Sky claims that News Corp has received a number of unsolicited approaches around potential buyouts of Unruly, and so had hired bankers to oversee a potential auction for the business, though it has not yet made a definite decision over whether to sell. No specific suitors for Unruly were named.

ICO Calls Out Ad Tech’s “Vague, Immature and Short” Answers to Privacy Concerns
The UK’s data regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) earlier this year published a report on ad tech and real time bidding (RTB) in which it said that RTB as it currently operates “presents challenges to good data collection practices”, and gave the industry until the end of the year to clean up its act. But in an interview with the Financial Times this week Simon McDougall, who is running the ICO’s investigation, said that “absolutely nothing has been solved or resolved” since the warning was issued. McDougall said that answers from the industry to the ICO’s concerns have been “vague, immature and short”. He did, however, add that conversations with Google and the IAB have been productive, saying that he was “really happy” with the level of response and engagement so far. McDougall will be discussing the ICO’s approach to privacy and data requirements in the advertising industry om stage at New Video Frontiers in October.

Facebook Wins Appeal Against German Data Collection Restrictions
Facebook won its appeal against restrictions imposed on its data collection practices by Germany’s cartel office earlier this year. The Federal Cartel Office back in February ordered Facebook to change the way it collects user data and shares it between its various properties, arguing that the social media site has abused its market position to coerce users into handing out personal information without their knowledge or voluntary consent. But Facebook appealed, and the Higher Regional Court in Duesseldorf ruled this week that Facebook doesn’t have to implement the decision for the time being, saying it has serious doubts about the legal basis for the cartel office’s decision.  The Federal Cartel Office says it will appeal the decision to Germany’s highest court.

The Week in Tech

Google’s Exchange Bidding to Become ‘Open Bidding’
Google announced this week that it is renaming Exchange Bidding, its response to header bidding, to Open Bidding, which it says aligns Ad Manager with AdMob’s Open Bidding. “This name change will roll out gradually in the help center and in-product over the next few weeks,” Google said in a blog post. “You can continue to work with the same exchanges and networks through the yield groups functionality while we improve the product and move to unified branding.”

PubMatic Receives Compliance Certification for IAB Tech Lab’s Open Measurement SDK
PubMatic this week announced that it has achieved certification for IAB Tech Lab’s Open Measurement SDK Integration Validation Compliance (IVC) for display ad formats.  Open Measurement SDK (OM SDK) is the IAB Tech Lab’s solution for a single SDK to cover all in-app viewability and verification. It is designed to facilitate third-party viewability and verification vendors to measure impressions for ads served to mobile app environments without requiring their own SDK. By achieving this compliance certification, PubMatic says it is continuing to focus on driving more effective mobile advertising and helping advertisers realise the potential mobile can offer.

Lotame Sees 1,200 Percent YoY Growth in Second-Party Data Adoption Globally
Lotame yesterday announced 1,200 percent year-over-year growth in second-party data adoption from April 2018 to April 2019 based on usage of Lotame’s second party data marketplace. Evgeny Popov, head of global data solutions at Lotame, said the growth demonstrates the impact of privacy regulation. “With the use of second-party data, marketers and publishers gain a much needed sense of security since they know the source and trust the reliability. In a transparency-driven marketplace, data buyers require assurances as to the quality and precision of the data they purchase for campaigns and activations,” he said.

Bidstack Integrates with The Trade Desk
In-game advertising platform Bidstack announced a new partnership with The Trade Desk this week, which it says will bolster its programmatic offering for in-game advertising. Bidstack’s inventory has been trading programmatically since 2018, but it says this new partnership with The Trade Desk will make its inventory even more accessible to advertisers.

The Week in TV

Disney Unveils New Content and Aggressive Pricing for Disney+
Disney made several announcements for its upcoming subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service Disney+ at its D23 event in California this week. Disney made several content reveals, confirming that Ewan McGregor will be returning as Obi-Wan Kenobi for a Star Wars series, and announcing that Hilary Duff will feature in a Lizzie Maguire reboot. But the company also revealed an aggressive pricing strategy. The base price of $6.99 per month was already significantly below the likes of Netflix, but subscribers who sign up for three years will pay a price equivalent to $4 per month. The offer proved popular – Disney’s fan club website, where the pre-order could be bought, crashed on Tuesday as users overloaded the site.

RTL Repositions Smartclip as an Ad Tech Development Hub for European TV
European media giant RTL Group this week 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. Read the full story on VAN.

Fox’s Regional Sports Networks Sold Off
Fox’s regional sports networks (RSNs) were formally sold off this week, as mandated by the US Department of Justice following Disney’s takeover of Fox. Of the 22 RSNs, 21 were bought by broadcast group Sinclair, for $10.6 billion. The final network, New York sports focussed Yes Network, was sold to an investor group which includes Sinclair, as well as Amazon and Yankee Global Enterprises fir $3.47 billion.

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Premium Begins Lowering its Paywall
YouTube Premium, YouTube’s paid subscription service, has begun removing premium content from behind its paywall, as part of its plan to start making the bulk of its originals available for free with ads. YouTube this week brought Cobra Kai, it’s highly rated spin off of The Karate Kid, out from behind its paywall, alongside several other shows, while also announcing plans to produce more region-specific content. “Today, we are welcoming a global audience to enjoy our award-winning series and specials,” said YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl.

YouTube isn’t completely dismantling its premium service – YouTube Premium will still give subscribers ad-free viewing, and directors cuts and bonus content for its original shows will be kept behind the paywall. And YouTube, for now at least, is windowing some of this original content for non-Premium users – Cobra Kai’s first season for example is only available for free until mid-September.

TikTok Experiments with Audience Network
TikTok is trialling an audience network in East Asia, which allows advertisers to target ads at TikTok users while they’re on apps outside of TikTok, Adweek reported this week. The tool, which is currently undergoing beta testing, is similar to those already debuted by Facebook and Snapchat for off-app targeting. While TikTok has not begun selling ads on the western version of its app yet, there have been multiple reports that it will do so soon, and if it does, this audience network could carry over to Europe and the US too.

Amazon’s IMDb TV Seeks Out Exclusive Content
Amazon’s IMDb TV, its ad-supported streaming service which launched at the beginning of the year under the name ‘Freedive’, is seeking out original content, according to a WSJ report this week. Amazon’s move into ad-supported video on-demand (AVOD) had a rather slow start, as Freedive had a very limited library of content at launch. But now the service is seeking out exclusive content, and reported contacted Vice Media to discuss licensing “Vice News Tonight”, a news show which was dropped by HBO earlier this year.

Hearst UK Creates Brand Showroom
Hearst UK has created a brand showroom within its HQ, designed to help brands and agencies build relationships with editorial staff at Hearst’s media brands. “It has become increasingly difficult and costly for brands and agencies to facilitate hosting and meeting key journalists in central London,” Effie Kanya, director of PR and communications at Hearst UK told The Drum. “With Hearst Showroom, we’ve created a premium, but cost-effective space that no other media company in central London can offer.”

The Week for Agencies

Dentsu to Buy DTC Specialist MuteSix
Dentsu this week agreed to buy direct-to-consumer marketing agency MuteSix for an undisclosed fee. Post acquisition, MuteSix will join iProspect and be rebranded “MuteSix, an iProspect Company.” Dentsu says the agency’s addition will extend iProspect’s suite of performance marketing solutions for both enterprise and DTC marketers, and is well aligned with the Dentsu Group’s growth strategy for the U.S.

WPP is Looking for Acquisitions says Read
After shedding more than 40 of its businesses since ex-CEO Sir Martin Sorrell stood down, WPP is now looking at possible small acquisitions, CEO Mark Read told the Financial Times this week. Read said that he believes “the size and scale of WPP is right” following the sales of several major units, including data and research division Kantar. But he added that companies including Ogilvy and GroupM will be looking at small acquisitions in the coming years to strengthen their technological capabilities.

Social Influencers can be More Effective than Celebrity Endorsements
While some may be sceptical about the ability of small-scale social influencers to push products, they can actually be more effective than mainstream celebrity endorsements, according to research from Harvard Business School. “People used to watch celebrities on the red carpet talking about what they were wearing, or they would flip through magazines and look at celebrities in makeup ads, but that has lost its traction, especially among younger consumers,” said Alessia Vettese, who surveyed consumers for the research project. “Now, people want to go online and get an at-your-fingertips experience. They want to ask an influencer questions and get personal responses.”

Hires of the Week

RTL Reshuffles Leadership
RTL Group also announced a few changes to its leadership structure this week. 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.

Essence Promotes Steve Williams to Global COO
GroupM-owned media agency Essence has promoted Steve Williams, currently North America CEO, to the role of global chief operating officer. Jason Harrison will replace Williams as NA CEO.

Konrad Gerszke Chosen as MediaMath’s President
MediaMath this week announced that it has chosen Konrad Gerszke, who has previously worked at Nielsen and McKinsey, as its new president. Gerszke says one of his focuses will be expanding MediaMath’s CTV operations.

This Week on VAN

How Adobe Advertising Cloud is Rebuilding its Relationships with Media Agencies, read more on VAN

RTL Repositions Smartclip as an Ad Tech Development Hub for European TV, read more on VAN

Why Does Video Header Bidding Still Lag Behind Display? read more on VAN

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