The WIR: Market Share of UK TV Channels Falls Pre-Brexit, the ICO Warns Against Complacency, and AppsFlyer Raises $210 Million

In this week’s Week in Review: The market share of UK TV channels falls as broadcasters migrate abroad, the ICO threatens that it might start handing out punishments if companies fail to comply with its guidance, and AppsFlyer completes and impressive $210 million funding round. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Market Share of UK TV Channels Falls Five Percent as Brexit Looms
The UK saw the market share of TV channels based there drop by five percent year on year in 2019 as a number of channels migrated abroad in anticipation of Brexit, the European Audiovisual Observatory reported this week. The fall was mainly led by the migration of localised versions of TV channels, but also of standalone TV channels addressing foreign markets, as international networks seeking to maintain distribution after Brexit migrated at least a portion of their businesses abroad (including Discovery, Viacom, Sony, SPI International portfolio brands and others). The most popular destination for those moving out of the UK was the Netherlands, which has been actively pitching for broadcasters to base their operations there in order to maintain their EU-wide broadcasting licenses.

The shift weakens thr UK’s position as Europe’s primary hub for international broadcasters (though it is still the biggest contributor to the overall supply of TV channels in the EU28), and creates a more fragmented supply of TV channels in Europe according to the Observatory.

Some “Still Have Their Heads in the Sand” About Need for RTB Reform says ICO
The UK’s data regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) this week reaffirmed that it will seek to use the powers available to it to punish those not working to abide by privacy laws in their handling of user data for advertising. The ICO has been taking a somewhat patient approach, seeking to engage with the industry and giving companies plenty of time to update their practices and comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And while it says so far it’s seen a lot of positive progress, the ICO’s executive director for technology and innovation Simon McDougall said that some are still falling far short. “While many organisations are on board with the changes that need making, some appear to have their heads firmly in the sand,” he said in a blog post. “It is now clear to us that engagement alone will not address all these issues (…) Those who have ignored the window of opportunity to engage and transform must now prepare for the ICO to utilise its wider powers.”

AppsFlyer Raises $210 Million
Mobile attribution specialist AppsFlyer this week announced it has completed a $210 million funding round, an extremely impressive figure at a time when funding and investment in ad tech has been hard to come by. The round was led by private equity firm General Atlantic, and brings AppsFlyer’s total valuation to $1.6 billion according to the tech firm. AppsFlyer co-founder and CEO Oren Kaniel said the money will be used to power growth across Asian, African and Latin American markets, and to expand the company’s engineering and security teams.

“Attribution is becoming the core of the marketing tech stack, and AppsFlyer has established itself as a leader in this fast-growing category,” said General Atlantic managing director Alex Crisses. “AppsFlyer’s commitment to being independent, unbiased, and representing the marketer’s interests has garnered the trust of many of the world’s leading brands, and we see significant potential to capture additional opportunity in the market.”

The Week in Tech

MGI Buys Verve for Undisclosed Fee
German investment holding company Media and Games Invest (MGI) announced on Thursday that it has agreed a deal to buy American ad tech company Verve for an undisclosed fee (expected to be in the low double-digit million euros range). Verve, founded in 2005, bills itself as a mobile data platform for location-based programmatic video and display marketing. The company will join MGI’s media and advertising division alongside previous acquisitions Pubnative, Applift, ReachHero, Adspree, and Mediakraft.

The news comes at a time of increasing consolidation within the ad tech space, following the news earlier this month of Tremor’s acquisition of Unruly. MGI’s deal in particular is interesting due to its business model – MGI believes there is synergy between its gaming and media/advertising holdings, using its ad tech companies to help market games produced by the developers it owns.

BARB to Begin Measuring Unduplicated Cross-Screen Programme Reach
UK TV measurement body BARB announced on Tuesday that it will begin measuring TV shows’ unduplicated reach across TV sets, tablets and PCs, as well as total time spent viewing in the UK across these devices; a significant step as it seeks to meet the industry’s need for better cross-screen measurement. The announcement marks the completion of the third phase of Project Dovetail, BARB’s initiative designed to help advertisers and broadcasters better understand how viewers are watching television on devices other than the TV set. Read the full story on VAN.

SpotX Partners with Nielsen in Europe
Nielsen this week announced that it is partnering with SpotX, in a deal which will see SpotX utilise Nielsen’s data management platform (DMP), Nielsen Marketing Cloud, for targeting and analytics. The two say these data insights will allow agencies to benefit from more detailed campaign reporting as well as provide a deeper understanding of all video advertising investments on the SpotX platform. “Nielsen’s real-time DMP offers strong data and analytics capabilities which will complement our own campaign reporting,” said Graeme Lynch, VP of demand facilitation at SpotX. “Working with Nielsen will enable SpotX to build better data knowledge and layer it on top of other third-party data resources. We look forward to offering this service to our clients in the future.”

DoubleVerify Announces Programmatic Platform Certification Program for Connected TV Fraud Protection
DoubleVerify this week announced the launch of a new connected TV targeting certification for programmatic platforms, designed to protect advertisers from fraud and invalid traffic in the CTV space. In order to be certified by DV for CTV Targeting, a platform must demonstrate the ability to prevent fraud and IVT by applying DV’s pre-bid app and device fraud protection for CTV inventory transactions. To date, certified partners include Amobee, MediaMath, SpotX, The Trade Desk and Xandr.

The Week in TV

BBC Director General Tony Hall Steps Down
The BBC’s director general Tony Hall announced this week that he is stepping down form his role after seven years in the job. Hall said the timing of his departure will give the new boss time in the role before the BBC’s 2022 mid term review of its royal charter. “The BBC has an 11-year charter – our mission is secure until 2027. But we also have a mid-term review process for the spring of 2022,” he said. “As I said last week, we have to develop our ideas for both. And it must be right that the BBC has one person to lead it through both stages. Hall will remain in the role until the summer, giving the BBC time to find his replacement.

The new director general will be tasked with facing up to a somewhat hostile government – UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said he’d consider decriminalising non-payment of the license fee which largely funds the BBC, and culture secretary Nicky Morgan has said she’d be open minded to replacing the fee with a subscription-based system.

Netflix’s US Slowdown Continues Despite Strong International Performance
Netflix’s overall Q4 results this week came in above expectations, with the service adding 8.8 million new subscribers globally. This significantly beat its own guidance of 7.6 million, and analyst expectations of 7.9 million, according to the FT. But its domestic performance disappointed, adding just 420,000 subscribers in the US, below its guidance of 600,000. The relatively low growth suggests that Netflix might be coming under pressure from new competitors like Disney+ and Apple TV+, and this pressure will likely only increase with WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock set to be released this year.

But Netflix played down the significance of the ‘streaming wars’ in a letter to investors. “This is happening all over the world and is still in its early stages, leaving ample room for many services to grow as linear TV wanes,” the company said. “We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years – pleasing members. We believe if we do that well, Netflix will continue to prosper.”

Disney Brings Ahead UK Launch for Disney+
Disney this week announced it is bringing forward the UK launch date for SVOD service Disney+ by one week, meaning it will now release on 24th March. Disney also confirmed the service’s UK price of £5.99 per month, or £59.99 per year, meaning it will match Netflix’s cheapest UK price.

UKTV Agrees £1 Million Airtime for Equity Deal with ClickMechanic
British broadcaster UKTV announced on Monday it has agreed a £1 million ‘airtime for equity’ deal with online marketplace ClickMechanic. The deal was secured by UKTV Ventures, a fund launched by UKTV back in 2018 dedicated to airtime-for-equity deals, as the broadcaster seeks to bring new money into TV advertising. ClickMechanic, which lets customers book car repairs and service from a marketplace of mechanics online, will receive £1 million worth of airtime across UKTV’s channels: Dave, Gold, W, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Yesterday. In return, UKTV will take a stake in the start-up, though the size of the stake was not disclosed. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week in Publishing

The Athletic Valued at $500 Million After $50 Million Funding Round
Digital sports publisher The Athletic this week announced it has completed a $50 million Series D funding round, Axios reported this week, bringing total fundraising to $139.5 million, and The Athletic’s total value to around $500 million. The Athletic has positioned itself as a quality sports publisher, focusing on detailed commentary and analysis rather than short and simple sports reporting. It has been expanding overseas recently, launching in the UK last year, and poaching a number of high profile football journalists from local and national papers in the process. The company expects to become profitable this year, according to Axios.

Daily Mail Revenues Rise Thanks to Strong Performance of Digital
Daily Mail owner Daily Mail & General Trust (DGMT) reported group underlying revenues up by one percent in its Q1 financial results this week (DMGT counts the three months ending December 31st as its Q1). Revenues for consumer media specifically were up by two percent, both on an underlying and reported basis. While print circulation revenues continued to fall, down by six percent on an underlying basis year-on-year, advertising revenues were up nine percent. Digital advertising revenues specifically were up by 17 percent.

CMA Launches Competition Inquiry into TI Media/Future Plc Merger
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week announced it is launching an inquiry into the merger between magazine publishers TI Media and Future Plc. Future announced last year it had reached a deal to buy TI Media for £140 million, but the CMA clearly feels there’s a risk the merger would be anticompetitive. The first stage of the investigation is an invitation for comment from industry players, which the CMA hopes to complete by 16th March.

The Week for Agencies

UK New Agency Appointments Fell by 12 Percent in 2019
New agency appointments in the UK fell by 12.2 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, according to data from AAR. The previous year had also seen a fall, but only by 0.5 percent. AAR said Q4 in particular was unusually quiet for new appointments. “The shape of the new business market is what is most interesting, with the biggest drop in ‘Integrated’ pitches and the biggest rise in CRM/Performance pitches,” said AAR CEO Victoria Fox. “In our view, this is the new ‘integration’ with brand owners looking holistically at their data driven marketing and breaking down these silos as they put the customer firmly into the driving seat. This focus on customer centricity is also seeing more capabilities being bought in-house and accounted for the substantial drop in digital pitches year on year.”

Ninety Three Percent of Advertisers Turn to Blacklists for Brand Safety Finds IAB Europe Poll
Digital advertising trade body IAB Europe this week announced the findings of its brand safety poll of ninety senior European leaders from across the digital advertising value chain. The results reveal that brand safety and privacy remain important, with 77 percent of respondents saying that brand safety was a key priority. Fifty-seven percent of respondents agreed that brand safety was top of mind to a greater degree than in previous years, citing increased understanding and knowledge of brand safety by advertisers. IAB Europe says the results show that brands are asking more questions than ever about where their ads are running, and are becoming more conscious and stringent in their media plans, highlighting the importance that the industry enable brand-safe environments.

When outlining how the buy-side protected against brand safety concerns, the poll indicates that blacklists and keyword targeting remain the dominant methodology, with respondents claiming the following solutions:

  • 93.8 percent use blacklists
  • 91.0 percent use keyword targeting
  • 87.8 percent use whitelists
  • 83.9 percent use verification partners

UK Online Retailer Spend to Rise 30 Percent by 2024
UK spending with online retailers will rise by over 30 percent by 2024, reaching £75 billion per year, according to data released this week by GlobalData. This jump will see online retailers take nearly one fifth of all retails spend in the UK. Online grocery shopping is forecast to see a particularly large jump, rising from £5 billion in 2019 to £16.2 billion in 2024.

Hires of the Week

Will Harrison Chosen as BritBox UK MD
BritBox, the BBC and ITV’s joint SVOD service, has appointed Will Harrison as UK managing director. Harrison joins from TV and film investment firm Ingenious Media where he was also MD, and has previously held roles at Warner Bros., HBO Europe, Disney and Turner Broadcasting.

YouTube Hires Alex Okosi as EMEA Emerging Markets MD
YouTube has appointed Alex Okosi as managing director of EMEA emerging markets. Okosi joins from ViacomCBS Networks Africa where worked as EVP and managing director.

This Week on VAN

UKTV Agrees £1 Million Airtime for Equity Deal with ClickMechanic, read more on VAN

BARB to Begin Measuring Unduplicated Cross-Screen Programme Reach, read more on VAN

The Buy-Side View: Q&A with Reckitt Benckiser’s Russell Ball, read more on VAN

What is RCS: The Mobile Operators’ Fightback Against Instant Messaging? read more on VAN

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