The WIR: Cadent Buys 4INFO, Comcast in Talks for XUMO Acquisition, and CCPA Comes Into Force in California

In 2020’s first Week in Review: Cadent buys identity solutions company 4INFO, Comcast enters talks to buy XUMO, and California’s new privacy laws come into force. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Cadent Buys ID Solutions Company 4INFO
Advanced TV advertising specialist Cadent announced yesterday it has bought identity and media solutions company 4INFO for an undisclosed fee. 4INFO’s data activation platform incorporates patented audience graph technology which it says resolves multiple TV devices back to a household, helping TV advertisers to de-duplicate audiences and map audience segments.The two companies were already tech partners, and Cadent says 4INFO’s data activation capabilities have become more tightly integrated into its own TV planning and activation services over the past year.

Cadent CEO Nick Troiano said that the integration of 4INFO’s household graph and OTT capabilities will bolster Cadent’s own platform and create a “unified platform for all forms of data-driven television”, including broadcast, addressable STB, OTT and connected TVs.

Comcast in Talks to Buy XUMO
Comcast is reportedly in advanced talks to buy free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service XUMO, as it prepares to launch its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service Peacock later this year. Talks between the two companies are exclusive, according to the WSJ, though there are no guarantees a deal will be reached.

XUMO is one of the better known FAST platforms, which provide linear channels much like regular STB-delivered TV, only delivered via an internet connection instead. Comcast-owned NBCUniversal already provides content to XUMO via its NBC News channel which is available on the service, and if it did buy XUMO, it would likely look to use it for further distribution. One of XUMO’s main competitors, Pluto TV, was bought by Viacom (now ViacomCBS) last year.

CCPA Comes Into Effect in California
California’s new privacy regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), came into effect on January 1st, introducing new laws regulating the sale of personal information. CCPA is seen as a parallel to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force back in 2018, placing new requirements on online companies when it comes to informing users of data collection and monetisation, and giving them straightforward means of opting out of their data being traded.

A number of industry bodies, including the IAB and Digital Advertising Alliance, have created tools to help businesses comply with the new laws. And there will be a six-month grace period for companies to make sure they’re compliant before California’s Justice Department starts enforcing the law.

The Week in Tech

Gracenote Unveils Global OTT Guide Offerings for On-Demand Video Streaming Services
Nielsen-owned Gracenote this week announced it is working on new services to help on-demand video streaming services, Smart TV makers and traditional cable and satellite operators deliver next-gen content navigation, search and discovery capabilities. Gracenote will leverage its experience powering linear broadcast electronic programme guides (EPGs) to help create new guides which bring together linear TV and native OTT apps. “While much of the focus in the ‘Streaming Wars’ conversation has been on the largest catalogues and original content, the winners will also understand how to successfully integrate with a diverse set of video platforms,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer at Gracenote.

CES Draws Criticism for Ivanka Trump Keynote
Tech trade show CES has drawn fire after announcing that US president Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka will serve as a keynote speaker at the event. CES has faced criticism in previous years over a lack of female speakers and representation on stage. Many have therefore taken issue with how one of the few keynote slots to be given to a woman has been handed to someone with no real experience or expertise in the tech industry.

The Week in TV

BBC’s ‘Gavin and Stacy’ Christmas Special Becomes UK’s Most-Watched Scripted Show of the Decade
The BBC’s Christmas special of sitcom ‘Gavin and Stacey’ has attracted over 17.1 million viewers in the UK either live or via catch up, making it the UK’s most-watched scripted show of the decade. The one-off episode attracted an average of 11.6 million viewers during its initial airing, making it the most popular Christmas Day programme of the decade too. The figures will be well received by the BBC as it continues to invest heavily in content in order to compete with digital competitors for audiences.

Apple TV+ Reaches Content Deal with ex-HBO Chief Executive
Apple has reached a deal for Richard Plepler, ex-chief executive at HBO, to create content for its Apple TV+ SVOD platform. Plepler’s newly launched production company, Eden Productions, will create TV series, films and documentaries for Apple TV+. Plepler headed up HBO in a time when big successes including Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Veep were developed by the broadcaster, and Apple will be hoping he can create similar successes for its own service. Apple TV+’s library has so far been relatively thin, given its decision only to host original content rather than licensed content.

The Week in Publishing

Spotify Pauses Political Advertising for 2020
Spotify has announced it will pauses sales of political ads on its platform, as the company currently feels unequipped to properly moderate political advertising. “At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” a Spotify spokesperson told Reuters, saying that the company will reassess the decision as it evolves its capabilities.

The move comes at a time where many of the big tech companies are reevaluating their political ads policies in preparation for the upcoming US presidential election. Twitter announced in October that it is banning political advertising completely, while Google has begun restricting the data political advertisers can use to target ads.

Vox Launches First-Party Data Offering
Vox this week launched a new first-party data offering called Forte, which it says brings together first-party data across its 125 million monthly unique visitors across, including data on audience intent and behaviour, as well as creative ad performance against consumer mindset. “Forte is a next generation solution in how marketers can reach audiences, moving away from a reliance on third-party data,” said Vox Media CRO Ryan Pauley. “It can optimise to the needs of any marketer in real-time and it serves as an immediate solution to browser policy changes and privacy regulation.”

Forte will initially be available on Vox Media’s owned and operated platforms, but will eventually extend to Concert and Chorus, two publisher alliances that Vox is involved with.

BuzzFeed Says it’s Nearing Profitability
BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti told the WSJ this week that the digital media company is nearing profitability, after posting a rumoured $50 million loss in 2018. Peretti said new lines of business brought in $200 million last year, and that every business unit except for Buzzfeed News is now profitable. The turnaround has not been easy, with BuzzFeed laying off 250 staff last year to cut its costs, which contributed to a brief staff walkout in June.

The Week for Agencies

Publicis Leads JP Morgan’s New Business Rankings in 2019
JP Morgan’s annual rankings of new business wins for the ad agency holding groups placed Publicis Groupe top, estimating that the group saw a net increase of $2.23 billion in billings in 2019. Interpublic Group came in second with a net increase of $1.1 billion. Publicis got some substantial wins in 2019 including a healthy portion of Disney’s $3 billion media account, as well as new business from LVMH and Nivea.

OTT Ad Prices Could Rise as Demand Increases
Prices for ad inventory on OTT services are set to rise in 2020 according to Digiday, as demand from advertisers continues to increase while supply remains constrained. Digiday’s report says that relatively light ad loads on streaming services, as well the relative scarcity of ad-supported services (compared to paid services) is keeping supply low, while buyers increasingly look to reach audiences on OTT.

Hires of the Week

Amobee Appoints Samba Natarajan as CEO
Amboee has chosen Samba Natarajan as its new CEO after previous chief Kim Perell announced she was stepping down. Natarajan previously headed up Amobee owner Singtel’s Digital Life group.

Prohaska Consulting Appoints Flock and Spoto to Executive Team
Prohaska Consulting announced this week the hirings of Ward Flock and Glenn Spoto to its executive team. Flock will be global VP of Prohaska’s Magnify division, while Spoto will be CFO and global VP of investor client strategy.

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