In this week’s Week in Review: UK publisher revenues fall, YouTube competes for TV dollars, and IAS buys ADmantX. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.
Video Income Grows, but UK Publisher Revenues Drop 3.7 Percent in Q2
Digital publishing revenues in the UK dropped to £113.1 million in Q2 this year, a 3.7 percent fall year-on-year, according to the Digital Publishers Revenue Index published by the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Deloitte. Online video revenues grew substantially, up 20 percent year-on-year, but this wasn’t enough to compensate for a 15 percent drop in display advertising revenues.
Richard Reeves, managing director of the AOP, said that publishers are increasingly looking to diversify revenue as ad income falters, and added that increased scrutiny from UK data regulator the ICO is putting extra pressure on ad revenues. “By working together we can create change and the examples of innovation I see every day give me confidence that we are on the path of a better, more secure future for our industry,” he said.
YouTube Adds Nielsen TV Data to Reach Planner
YouTube this week announced it is integrating Nielsen TV Data to the Reach Planner tool it launched last year. YouTube says the move will help advertisers optimise their mix of TV and online video to maximise reach, balance frequency and reduce waste (with YouTube presumably hoping the tool will direct advertisers to spend more with YouTube).
To push the new product, YouTube highlighted data from Nielsen which finds there are 31 percent fewer available weekly 18-49 GRPS (gross ratings points) available across broadcast and cable TV in the US compared to five years ago. “Advertisers can offset this decline and grow their business by adding YouTube to their overall video plan,” said YouTube.
Integral Ad Science Buys ADmantX
Digital ad verification company Integral Ad Science (IAS) this week agreed a deal to buy contextual intelligence solutions provider ADmantX for an undisclosed fee. ADmantX says it uses natural language understanding and machine cognition for comprehension of online content, and uses this information to match ads with contextually relevant content. IAS says the acquisition brings in patented technology, as well as new relationships with brands and publishers worldwide.
ADmantX’s tech will boost IAS’s own brand safety tools, which need to understand online content to assess brand safety. “The importance of contextual understanding has increased rapidly over the past few years,” said IAS managing director for EMEA Nick Morley. “We’re very excited to offer brands a solution that allows them to confidently place ads in a brand suitable environment at scale – and for publishers, they are now empowered to better optimise their content and improve revenue models.”
The Week in Tech
Google Cracks Down on Political Ads
Google this week announced its plans to limit the ways political advertisers can use audience data to target ads using its services. Google says it has never offered granular micro-targeting for election ads, but is taking further steps which will limit election ad audience targeting to age, gender, and general location at the post code level. The new policy will be enforced in the UK first, ahead of the upcoming general election, and then rolled out more broadly afterwards.
CTV Ad Personalisation Should be Limited says IAB UK
Trade body IAB UK this week released its first Connected TV guide, arguing that ad personalisation on CTV platforms should be kept subtle. “Using viewers’ personal data to tailor campaigns shouldn’t be done for the sake of it, but only when it offers viewers a benefit. Glaringly obvious use of data, such as using someone’s name, is a turn off for consumers,” said the report.
The report, based on findings from research conducted by Differentology and contributions from various industry players, also said that advertisers have to be mindful of binge watching, and make sure they’re not over-exposing audiences to the same ad within on sitting. They should also note that users might hop between different devices while watching the same show, and tailor creative to different devices accordingly.
Facebook Trials Whitelisting for Advertisers
Facebook is trialling controls which let brands create whitelists of publishers for in-stream video and Facebook Audience Network campaigns, AdExchanger reported this week. Facebook is also working on tools which let advertisers work with partners to create “dynamic content sets” of brand-safe content which can dynamically be updated, with OpenSlate, IAS and Zefr listed as initial partners for these tests.
The Trade Desk Joins Prebid
Demand-side platform The Trade Desk has signed up to join industry coalition Prebid, according to Adweek. Prebid, which is known for its open source header bidding technology, has a wider remit for developing open source tools and standards which drive publisher monetisation since launching as an independent body back in 2017. The Trade Desk’s membership is a mark of confidence in the organisation, and could encourage more DSPs to sign up, according to Adweek.
Google Requests Antitrust Probe Documents from Texas Attorney
Google is requesting that Texas’s attorney general hands over large numbers of documents relating to an ongoing multi-state antitrust probe into the company, CNN reported this week. Google has reportedly asked for essentially all documents relating to the investigation, including communications between attorney general Ken Paxton’s office and companies including AT&T, Comcast, News Corp, Oracle and AppNexus.
Roku TV Sets to Make UK Debut in Time for Black Friday
Roku confirmed this week that it’s TV sets will debut in the UK next week. The Hisense smart TVs, built on Roku’s operating system, will be the first Roku-powered TVs available in Europe. “We are thrilled to launch Roku TV in Europe, starting with the UK,” said Bart Bomers, VP EMEA at Roku. “Roku TV models have been incredibly popular in the US for years. Roku TV models simply offer a fantastic smart TV experience: are simple to use, packed with entertainment and deliver exceptional value.”
UK Martech Platform Ad-Lib Raises $6 Million
Ad-Lib, a UK-based marketing technology SaaS platform, this week announced it has closed $6million in Series A funding from San Francisco-based Fog City Capital. Ad-Lib says it will use the funding to further strengthen its technology platform, which uses AI to streamline creative ad production workflows, automate digital asset creation and optimise creative performance across display, video, social, native and mobile. The company will also build out its senior leadership team, expand further in EMEA and APAC and launch its US headquarters in New York.
The Week in TV
Vivendi Considers Cutting its Mediaset Stake to End Legal Row
European media group Vivendi is considering cutting its stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset as part of a deal which would end the long-running legal dispute between the two companies, Reuters reported this week. Vivendi’s stake has enabled it to put the brakes on Mediaset’s ambitions to create a pan-European broadcasting group (though Mediaset has used ‘creative‘ measures to try to block Vivendi’s influence).
Trouble in Streaming World as Disney+ is Hacked and Netflix Suffers Outage
Both Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ and Netflix faced issues this week, with thousands of Disney+ users reporting their accounts have been hacked, and Netflix faced a global outage. Hackers began breaking into Disney+ accounts just hours after the service launched last week according to ZDNet, with accounts then sold on the dark web for between $3-$11. And Netflix users around the world reported on Thursday that they received error messages when trying to watch content, with ‘#netflixdown’ trending on Twitter.
Thinkbox Releases Marketing Mix Platform
Thinkbox, a marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, this week released a new tool for advertisers to calculate their optimum cross-media marketing mix. The tool, called ‘Demand Generator’, draws on data from 50 Mediacom, Wavemaker and Gain Theory brands. Advertisers input data including their category, brand size, media budget and percentage of sales made online, and the tool will advise which proportion of their media budget should be spent on which media channels.
ARD and ZDF Begin Combining Their Catch Up Services
German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are taking steps to combine their catch up TV services in order to boost their popularity, Broadband TV News reported this week. The first step will was to introduce a cross-linking search function, which went live this week, but a joint login function is planned for the future too.
The Week in Publishing
TikTok Seeks to Assuage US Government’s Security Fears
Video sharing app TikTok is on a mission to prove to US authorities that it doesn’t pose any security risk, the company’s chief Alex Zhu told the New York Times in an interview this week. Reports surfaced earlier this month that the US government has opened a national security review, due to concerns around Chinese state censorship on the app, and collection of US citizens’ data. But Zhu in the interview maintained that he would refuse even personal requests from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to take down content or hand over user data.
New York Times Drops Social Media Trackers
US newspaper the New York Times said will no longer use tracking pixels from Facebook or Twitter, Axios reported this week, as it has created its own tool which will allow it to target potential subscribers on social platforms without seeing their browser history. The news publisher will continue using trackers on some marketing pages according to the report, but hopes to cut those out too in the future.
The tool, TAFI (Twitter and Facebook Interface) uses machine learning to deduce which articles perform well on social media, and which users are likely to be receptive to them. It uses data including which Facebook pages users like, or which Twitter accounts they follow, to help discern this.
Snap Launches TrueView Style Ads
Snapchat this week launched what it’s calling ‘Extended Play Commercials’, six second unskippable ads which mirror YouTube’s ‘TrueView’ format by letting advertisers extend the ad beyond six seconds. After the first six seconds have played, the ad will continue running, but users will be able to skip the rest and jump straight tot the content. The ads will run mid-roll on Snapchat’s Discover section.
Reach Pulls Out of Race for JPI Media
UK publishing group Reach has decided it wont buy JPI Media, a regional newspaper publisher which has been put up for auction by the consortium of hedge funds which own it. Reach had been one of the front runners to buy the group, but had become frustrated by the drawn out sale process, according to The Telegraph.
The Week for Agencies
MediaMonks Merges with WhiteBalance
S4 Capital-owned MediaMonks announced this week that it has agreed a merger with Indian production company WhiteBalance, which produces content including feature films, ads and documentaries. The merger will see MediaMonks add 50 staff to its team, as it plans to ramp up its business in India. “This fast-growing market offers a wealth of talent and significant growth opportunities, and the merger with WhiteBalance is the next step for us to build a leading creative content business here. At the same time, we’re strengthening our position in the APAC region,” said S4 Capital executive chairman Sir Martin Sorrell, according to Campaign.
The news was a welcome diversion for S4 from reports earlier in the week that Sorrell has slapped Superunion CEO Jim Prior at a trade convention in Lisbon, apparently over comments Prior had made about S4 Capital in an interview. Sorrell denies the claims.
GroupM Disbands [m]Platform
GroupM is scrapping the [m]Platform brand, its technology arm launched in 2016, as part of an organisational shake up. [m]Platform’s staff and operations are being merged with those of Essence’s tech company 2Sixty. GroupM is also launching GroupM Services, a new team which will be focussed on “supporting services consistency in search, social, programmatic and ad operations”, according to the company.
Agencies Consider Leaving 4A’s
Agencies are rethinking their membership of US trade association 4A’s (the American Association of Advertising Agencies), according to an AdAge report. Agencies including Interpublic Group’s McCann Worldgroup are considering pulling out given the cost of membership – with McCann spending $250,000 per year in dues according to AdAge.
Hires of the Week
Mark Giblin Joins Telaria as Head of Demand
Telaria this week announced that Mark Giblin has joined as head of demand, as part of the company’s continued European expansion. Giblin joins from Unruly where he was VP of business development, and has also worked at PubMatic, the Financial Times, and the Telegraph.
Steve Bignell Joins Publicis Media Exchange as UK CEO
Steve Bignell has left his role as ITV’s director of advanced advertising, joining Publicis as UK chief executive of Publicis Media Exchange. The move marks a return to the agency world for Bignell, who started his career at Publicis-owned Zenith.
NBCUniversal Hires Ryan McConville to Oversee Ad Platforms and Operations
NBCUniversal Advertising & Partnerships this week announced the appointment of Ryan McConville to the newly-created role of EVP, ad platforms and operations. NBCU says McConville will build a team dedicated to developing technology driven strategies that support the future vision of NBCU’s Advertising & Partnerships division.
This Week on VAN
Broadcasters Are Increasingly Using Media for Equity Deals to Bring New Money to TV, read more on VAN
The ICO’s Cookie Consent Rate Dropped 90 Percent After Implementing its Own Best Practices, read more on VAN
Meet the Contextual Targeting Solutions Ready to Capitalise on the Death of the Cookie, read more on VAN
XITE is Bringing Linear TV’s Channel Flicking to OTT, read more on VAN
Ad of the Week
QLED, QLED + 6 Underground + Ryan Reynolds, Adam&EveDDB