The WIR: Mediaset Raises its Stake in ProSieben, Google Strips Contextual Content Categories from Bid Requests, and Disney+ Reaches 10 Million Subscribers at Launch

In this week’s Week in Review: Mediaset continues investing in ProSieben as ProSieben dispels merger rumours, Google announces plans to remove contextual content categories from bid requests, and Disney+ has a mixed debut. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Mediaset Raises its Stake in ProSieben, but ProSieben Dismisses Merger Rumours
European broadcaster Mediaset this week raised its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 15.1 percent. Chief financial officer Marco Giordani said it could raise its stake further still to 20 percent, as it continues with its ambitions to create a pan-European TV platform. The acquisition means that Mediaset group is now ProSieben’s largest investor. “The transaction confirms Mediaset’s commitment to invest in the future of free TV development in Europe and to unlock growth potential in Germany, Europe’s largest media market,” Mediaset said in a statement.

But while some saw the increase stake as a hint at a future merger, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze dismissed the notion. “I worry that if you spend your time in combining pretty unwieldy and big companies, you’re going to get sucked into years of structural work that doesn’t really build the future,” said Conze at the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media and Telecoms conference in Barcelona.

Google to Strip Contextual Content Categories from Bid Requests
Google announced in a blog post this week that it will no longer include contextual content categories in bid requests sent to buyers, starting in February next year. “Content categories are descriptions of the type of content on a specific page, website or app. For example, these categories may indicate whether the content is about news or weather, and are intended to provide contextual information to advertisers about the site or app where the impression may appear,” said the post. Google senior product manager, user trust and privacy Chetna Bindra said the decision came after engagement with data protection authorities, and is designed to stop advertisers building user profiles which link individuals with sensitive content.

But while the move may protect privacy, some are worried it tightens Google’s control over data in advertising. Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint told the FT that the move will drive up the value of first-party data, which Google owns in abundance.

Disney+ Reaches 10 Million Users as Technical Errors Mar US Launch
Disney’s new paid streaming service finally went live in the US this week, with the company announcing the day after launch that it has ten million registered users. While this number suggests a solid start for the company, it’s been boosted by a mix of heavy marketing and discounting to encourage new users – including free year-long subscriptions for Verizon customers. But Disney’s hope will be that once these discounted customers begin using the service, they’ll be happy to start paying full price once discount periods end.

Impressive subscription figures aside, Disney+ had a mixed start. Star Wars show The Mandalorian, one of the service’s flagship originals, received high critical and audience acclaim, currently sitting at 9.1/10 on IMDb. But the launch was marred by technical issues. Some customers reported service failures leaving them unable to watch content, and some shows including The Simpsons appeared in the wrong aspect ratio, resulting in cropped or distorted visuals.

The Week in Tech

Sharethrough Pulls Out of Europe Over GDPR Concerns
Ad tech company Sharethrough is the latest to close its European operations due to GDPR concerns, according to a Digiday report this week. CEO Dan Greenberg said the company’s operations were severely hit by Europe’s data laws introduced last year. The closure will see 11 employees from Sharethrough’s London office let go, according to the report.

Facebook Announces Online Payment Tool Facebook Pay
Facebook this week announced Facebook Pay, a system which will allow users on its services to send payments directly through those apps. The company says that its users already use its apps to shop, make payments to each other, and donate to charitable causes, and that Facebook Pay will make this process easier. But it means Facebook will ask users for more sensitive information, at a time when the company is working to build public trust in its ability to protect privacy.

Discovery Partners with Inscape for TV Viewing Data
Discovery this week announced a strategic partnership with Inscape, a smart TV viewing data provider, to enhance TV measurement across the media company’s TV footprint in the U.S. The two say the partnership enables Discovery to utilise screen-verified, opt-in viewership data from more than 12 million Smart TVs in the U.S. for a variety of measurement and campaign optimisation use cases, including enhanced ratings, holistic cross-platform audience insights, and tune-in measurement.

The Week in TV

ITV Unveils New Addressable Advertising Platform ‘Planet V’
UK broadcaster ITV on Tuesday revealed the first solid details of its upcoming programmatic addressable TV advertising platform, announcing that the platform will be called ‘Planet V’, and will launch in February next year. The new tool, developed by Singtel-owned ad tech company Amobee, will be trialled in an initial concierge period next month, prior to its full roll out in 2020.

ITV says the platform, first announced in April this year, will allow advertisers and agencies to buy inventory across ITV Hub, the broadcaster’s on-demand platform. Planet V will enable advertisers to optimise and monitor campaigns in real time, and will allow targeting based on audiences built with a mix of ITV’s first party data and the advertisers’ own data. Read the full story on VAN.

Mediaset and Atresmedia Hit by €77 Million Fine for Anti-competitive Practices
European broadcasters Mediaset and Atrestmedia have been hit with a €77.1 million fine by Spanish regulator CNMC for anti-competitive practices. The antitrust watchdog said the two have, through unfair practices, established an 85 percent market share of TV advertising in Spain. These practices include imposing high minimum investment quotas on advertisers, and paying media agencies incentives to sell advertising for packages of their channels where ads are simulcast.

BBC iPlayer Comes to Sky Q
The BBC and Sky have reached a content and tech deal which will see BBC’s iPlayer on-demand app made available on Sky Q’s red button service. The deal will also see the BBC make use of Sky’s addressable AdSmart technology for a product called PromoSmart, which will be used for personalised content promotion for BBC viewers.

The UK is Quickly Reaching its SVOD Saturation Point
Sixty percent of UK consumers say £20 is the maximum they’re willing to pay per month for TV streaming services, according to research released on Thursday by The Trade Desk, with over a quarter (26 percent) saying that £10 is the most they’re willing to spend. The study, carried out by market research company Appinio, suggests that as the ‘streaming wars’ heat up in the UK, there will be plenty of opportunity for ad-supported streaming services where consumers reach their spending limits. Read the full story on VAN.

US TV Ad Spend to Fall by Nearly Three Percent This Year says eMarketer
Total US TV ad spend will be down by 2.9 percent year-on-year in 2019, according to an eMarketer reports this week, dropping to $70.3 billion. TV ad spend is forecast to rise one percent next year thanks to the Summer Olympics and Presidential election, but long term decline is expected to continue into the future. Upfront sales however are expected to rise 2.4 percent this year, as TV companies continue raising their prices, reaching $21.25 billion in total.

The Week in Publishing

Daily Mail Pulls Away from MailOnline
UK newspaper the Daily Mail is pulling away from online partner MailOnline with the release of its Mail+ digital subscription service, the FT reported this week. While the Daily Mail and Mail Online are both owner by the Daily Mail and General Trust and have a content sharing agreement, they are run as separate businesses. And faced with print struggles, the Mail has been pursuing a digital subscription model, hiring around 40 people to create exclusive content for Mail+. MailOnline has resisted these plans, according to the report.

Jimmy Wales Launches Ad-Free Social Media Platform
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has launched an ad-free alternative to Facebook and Twitter called WT:Social, which he says is designed to avoid problems around fake news and social media addiction which have plagued other platforms. “As social networks have grown, they’ve also amplified the voices of bad actors across the globe,” says WT:Social’s home page. “Fake news has influenced global events, and algorithms care only about ‘engagement’, and keeping people addicted to platforms without substance”.

In lieu of ad dollars, WT:Social will be funded by donations. And the site says users will have more control over what content they see, with the ability to directly edit misleading headlines and flag problematic posts.

Instagram Launches TikTok Rival ‘Reels’ in Brazil
Instagram this week launched a new feature called ‘Reels’ in Brazil, which appears to be a move to take on TikTok. Reels lets users make 15-second videos synced to music and share them as stories, which may then be featured in a dedicated ‘Top Reels’ section. Music is available thanks to licensing deals with major record labels, avoiding copyright problems.

Vevo Launches on Pluto TV
Music video platform Vevo has reached a deal with Pluto TV to create ten linear channels on Pluto’s platform. The channels will be genre specific, and will host a mix of original content and music videos. “Pluto TV is a leader in the over-the-top market that offers the opportunity for music videos to return to the living room alongside great film and television offerings,” said Kevin McGurn, Vevo’s president of sales and distribution.

The Week for Agencies

Kimberly-Clark Chooses Accenture Interactive for Baby and Child Care Products
Personal care product maker Kimberly Clark has chosen Accenture Interactive as the lead creative agency for its baby and child products in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia, switching from WPP according to the Wall Street Journal. WPP held on to responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific region and Canada. The account is Accenture Interactive’s first big win since its acquisition of agency Droga5 earlier this year, according to the WSJ.

Nestlé Launches Internal Programmatic Unit
Nestlé has launched an internal unit, the Global Digital Media Center of Competencies, according to AdExchanger, a move its programmatic supply and analytics. The team will be made up of internal talent, as well as senior individuals from agency holding groups the brand works with.

Mark Read Says Acquisitions Back on the Menu at WPP
Agency holding group WPP will be looking at potential acquisitions after shedding a number of its businesses including research arm Kantar, CEO Mark Read said this week. “Now we have the Kantar situation nearly behind us, we can start to think more tactically – not go crazy – about how acquisitions can add to what we are doing in those areas,” Read told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference, according to Reuters.

Hires of the Week

Viacom Consolidates Leadership Roles Pre-CBS Merger
Viacom this week announced a raft of leadership changes in anticipation of its merger with CBS. Chris McCarthy, chief of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo has now been named president of entertainment and youth brands. David Nevins, chief creative officer of CBS and CEO of Showtime, will also take responsibility for BET Networks.

Glewed TV Names V Paul Coyne CEO
Glewed TV, a video on demand (VOD) discovery, distribution and monetization management platform, has appointed V Paul Coyne as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Coyne joins Glewed TV from Warner Music Group, where he was SVP, and has also worked as chief technology officer at NBC.

This Week on VAN

Turning TV Habits into Richer User Profiles, read more on VAN

ITV Unveils New Addressable Advertising Platform ‘Planet V’, read more on VAN

Is Europe Making Progress on OTT Measurement? read more on VAN

The UK is Quickly Reaching its SVOD Saturation Point, read more on VAN

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