In this week’s Week in Review: The MRC releases the finalised version of its cross-media measurement standards, Amazon eyes up Europe for a Fire TV expansion, and YouTube gets an FTC fine over handling of children’s data.To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.
MRC Releases Final Version of Cross-Media Audience Measurement Standards
The Media Rating Council (MRC) this week released the final version of its ‘Cross-Media Audience Measurement Standards’, a set of standards designed to help advertisers better measure video campaigns delivered across linear television, over-the-top (OTT) and digital on both desktop and mobile. The standards include provisions for viewability (which upgrades the requirements to 100 percent of pixels visible on screen for at least two continuous seconds), duration, and sophisticated invalid traffic filtration.
The final version of the standards come after an eight year industry effort, with more than 175 companies involved in the consultation. “With the release of these standards, the industry now has clear path to produce cross platform metrics that will allow for greater analytical insights into video audiences, both within and across platforms, and to better facilitate cross platform advertising commerce,” said George W. Ivie, executive director and CEO of the MRC.
Amazon Fire TV Spread Across Europe
Amazon this week announced plans to expand the footprint of its Amazon Fire TV over-the-top (OTT) platform in Europe, with a number of new product launches. At an event in Berlin, Amazon announced 15 new smart-TV models with manufacturing partners, which will be available in the UK, Germany and Austria, the first time Fire TV smart TV’s have been available outside North America. And Amazon Fire TV sticks were made available for the first time in France, Italy and Spain, bringing the Fire TV platform into new markets.
Amazon and OTT platform rival Roku have both built strong presences in North America, but neither had firmly cemented themselves in Europe yet. Amazon overall holds a slim lead in the connected TV platform race according to Motley Fool, and establishing itself in Europe would help build this lead further.
YouTube Handed $170 Million Fine Over Children’s Privacy Violations
The US Federal Trade Commission this week announced a $136 million fine against YouTube over its collection of children’s personal data, with a further $34 million to be paid to New York state in a related case. US law offers special protections to children under 13 years old, requiring parental consent for companies to be able to collect and share their personal information. YouTube’s terms of service require that users must be over 13 to use the site, but the FTC said YouTube was perfectly aware it was benefiting from under-13s using the platform. “YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” said FTC chairman Joe Simons, but “refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids,” when it came to complying with privacy laws.
The FTC’s fine is the largest it’s ever levied against Google, but small in comparison to the $5 billion fine it handed Facebook earlier in the summer over privacy violations. And many believe the fine is too small to really hurt Google, which reported revenues of over $38 billion in the last quarter.
YouTube knowingly broke federal law by tracking kids in order to rake in advertising dollars without the requisite notice to and permission from parents. But the FTC let Google off the hook with a drop-in-the-bucket fine. Not a single Google executive or investor will bat an eye. https://t.co/h2lfrv3QiG
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) September 4, 2019
The Week in Tech
Xandr Introduces OTT Header Bidding with ‘Xandr Monetize’
US telco AT&T’s advanced advertising division Xandr on Thursday announced the launch of ‘Xandr Monetize’, a new selling platform which it says is geared towards premium TV and digital media companies. The company says Xandr Monetize is built on AppNexus’ sell-side offering and will offer the same features including an ad-server, a sell-side platform (SSP), and yield analytics.
One of the new features is what Xandr is calling programmatic OTT (over-the-top) with Prebid. Xandr says this will allow sellers to take in simultaneous programmatic demand through multiple SSPs while still enabling features which are essential to TV advertising, like competitive separation (where broadcasters leave an agreed amount of time between adverts from competing advertisers). It will also give greater control over over brand safety and frequency capping. Read the full story on VAN.
Google Accused of Avoiding GDPR Obligations
Privacy-focussed browser Brave this week submitted new evidence to an ongoing complaint filed against Google with the Irish Data Protection Commission, accusing the tech giants of circumventing its privacy obligations under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “Google claims to prevent the many companies that use its real-time bidding ad (RTB) system, who receive sensitive data about website visitors, from combining their profiles about those visitors. It also announced that it had stopped sharing pseudonymous identifiers that could help these companies more easily identify an individual, apparently in response to the advent of the GDPR,” said Brave’s chief policy and industry relations office Johnny Ryan. “But in fact, Brave’s new evidence reveals that Google allowed not only one additional party, but many, to match with Google identifiers. The evidence further reveals that Google allowed multiple parties to match their identifiers for the data subject with each other.”
Tremor Video Adds AI Enhancements to DSP
Tremor Video on Thursday announced it has expanded its demand-side platform’s (DSP) advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning technology. Tremor says the DSP evaluates high-value opportunities for brands and agencies to improve their cross-platform video and connected TV (CTV) campaign performance, which it believes will both delivering a better user experience and ensure greater efficiency.
“Tremor Video understands that no two campaigns are alike, and each deserves its own neural network to act on its behalf in real-time, consistently ensuring the best price per performance, and providing advertisers with the most effective platform in the market,” said Tal Mor, CTO at Tremor Video.
The Ozone Project Partners with Lotame for Audience Data
The Ozone Project this week announced a new partnership with Lotame, whereby the data company will help the programmatic platform connect and unify publishers’ audience data into a single view. In addition, the partnership will support the platform in delivering unique customer insight to individual marketer’s including intent analytics and trending interests, according to the two companies. “Marketers have made clear their demand for well-defined audiences at scale,” said Danny Spears, commercial director at The Ozone Project. “Our partnership with Lotame underlines our commitment to deliver scaled and privacy-compliant targeting across the UK’s most trusted publishers.”
The Week in TV
Channel 4 Reportedly in Talks to Join Sky’s AdSmart
Channel 4 is in talks with Sky around making its channels available on Sky’s addressable TV advertising platform AdSmart, according to a Campaign report this week. The move would significantly increase AdSmart’s scale – Channel 4’s ad sales house 4 Sales handles over a quarter of the UK TV advertising market according to Campaign.
Mediaset Shareholders Approve Merger with Mediaset España
Mediaset shareholders this week voted to approve a proposed merger with with its Spanish sister company, Mediaset España, with the combined entity to be held within a Dutch holding company called Media for Europe. Mediaset hopes, through Media for Europe, to create a pan-European broadcasting giant, with other broadcasters investing in the holding group and collaborating on content and advertising, the FT reported.
The proposal was strongly opposed by Vivendi, which holds a 29 percent stake in Mediaset. But 19.1 percent of its stake is held in a separate trust, as ordered by an Italian court due to competition concerns, and that trust was blocked by Mediaset’s board from voting on the merger. Vivendi decried this decision, and said it will “use every legal recourse at its disposal” to challenge the merger.
ProSiebenSat.1 Explores Sale of Red Arrows Studio
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 is exploring a potential sale of its production unit Red Arrow Studios, with US investment bank Morgan Stanley having been taken on to handle the sale, according to DWDL. “We have started a strategic review of Red Arrow Studios – our international content production business,” a ProSiebenSat.1 spokesperson said. “We are evaluating all different kinds of scenarios, and a sale of the business would be just one option of many.”
STV Pins Falling Ad Revenues on Brexit
Scottish broadcaster STV said it expects Brexit to have a substantial negative impact on its national advertising revenues, which it expects to be down by between six and seven percent for the first three quarters of 2019. In its H1 financial results this week, STV said that continued uncertainty around Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is causing advertisers to pull back ad spend on linear television, hampering what would otherwise be a strong year for ad sales for the company. Read the full story on VAN.
The Week in Publishing
Vice Media Makes Another Round of Cuts
Vice Media has made another round of job cuts, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, cutting 15 people from its cable channel Viceland across departments including programming, marketing and research. The cuts come as part of an effort to pivot Viceland away from entertainment and lifestyle programming, and to make it more news-focussed, according to the WSJ.
Overwatch Esports League Begins TV-Style Measurement
The Overwatch League, a competitive esports league for popular Activision Blizzard game ‘Overwatch’, began releasing Nielsen viewership reports earlier this year which include the ‘average-minute audience’, or the average number of people who watch any minute of a game, alongside other Nielsen stats. These metrics are commonly used for mainstream sports broadcasts, and the Overwatch League says the move is designed to make it easier for advertisers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between it’s esports streams and regular sports broadcasts, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Facebook Tests Hiding ‘Likes’
‘Reverse-engineer’ Jane Manchun Wong revealed this week that Facebook is testing hiding like counts from content and posts shared on the site, following similar tests on Instagram. Such a move would be welcomed by those critical of the negative impact on users’ mental well-being of social media like counts. But it would prove problematic for influencer marketing, where likes are frequently used to measure campaign success.
Facebook is working to hide like counts, too!https://t.co/WnUrM12aZg
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 2, 2019
The Week for Agencies
Two-Fifths of Marketers are Unaware of Ad Fraud Risk
Forty-one percent of marketers don’t believe mobile ad fraud poses any risk to their ad spend according to a study commissioned by AppsFlyer, despite the fact that mobile ad fraud is estimated to have cost around $2.3 billion in the first half of this year alone, The Drum reported this week. And out of those aware of the risk of mobile ad fraud, only half said they have put comprehensive protections in place. Buy 37 percent of those aware of the risks said they’d gone as far as to hire dedicated anti-fraud specialists.
ASA Hints at Tougher Stance on Influencer Marketing Transparency
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week indicated it might take a tougher stance on labelling of paid influencer ads, saying that “our current approach of requiring influencers to use a prominent reference, such as #ad, is necessary as a minimum”. The comments came after the body posted a report of influencer marketing which found that labels such as #ad are crucial for consumers to be able to tell when a social post is a paid advertisement.
But on the bright side for influencers, separate research released this week suggested that disclosing paid ads isn’t necessarily a bad thing for brands or influencers. A Harvard study found that consumers’ attitudes towards brands aren’t really affected by whether they’re aware if influencer posts relating to that brands are paid ads or not.
IPA and ISBA Help Brands Find Agencies
Industry trade bodies the IPA and ISBA this week jointly published a new best-practice guide, ‘Finding an Agency’, which they say will help clients navigate all aspects of the review and pitch process. “The jointly produced guide was commissioned to help clients to develop fair and transparent process that provides them with a breadth of knowledge to engage with agencies without asking them to incur excessive costs,” the two companies said. “This would also allow agencies to make informed decision on which pitches to take part in based on a clear understanding of the client’s requirements and invest their efforts accordingly.”
Hires of the Week
AT&T Names John Stankey President and COO
AT&T has announced that it’s appointed John Stankey as its new president and chief operating officer (COO). Stankey currently works as CEO of WarnerMedia, and will maintain this position while also taking on the new role.
AMC Networks Chooses Kim Kelleher to Lead Ad Sales
AMC Networks has hired Kim Kelleher as president of advertising sales and partnerships, it announced this week. Kelleher most recently worked as chief brand officer at Condé Nast.
Discovery UK Picks Katie Coteman as VP Advertising and Partnerships
Discovery UK has chosen Katie Coteman as VP of advertising and partnerships, promoting her from her previous role of senior director of commercial operations, the company announced this week.
This Week on VAN
Smart TV Manufacturers Have a Huge Opportunity in Advertising. Do They Know It? read more on VAN
STV Pins Falling Ad Revenues on Brexit, read more on VAN
The VAN Guide to Video@DMEXCO 2019, read more on VAN
Xandr Introduces OTT Header Bidding with ‘Xandr Monetize’, read more on VAN
Ad of the Week
WWE, We’re All Auperstars, Wieden+Kennedy New York