The WIR: Sports Cancellations Continue to Hit Broadcasters, IGTV Confirms Plans to Run Ads, and Media Consumption Rises Amid Coronavirus Isolation Measures

In this week’s Week in Review: Sports broadcasters have continued to grapple with the fallout of sports cancellations, IGTV confirms plans to run ads, and various media companies report rising consumption as consumers are increasingly home-bound. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Pressure on Sports Broadcasters Continues as Euro 2020 is Postponed
Europe’s football governing body UEFA announced this week that it has postponed its flagship European Football Championship tournament until 2020 due to coronavirus, dealing a hard blow to broadcasters holding rights for the event. Broadcasters, including ITV in the UK, BeIN Sports in France, and ZDF and ARD in Germany, have paid hefty sums for the rights, and would have banked on strong ad sales in return.  Though how hard each broadcaster is hit will depend on the deals they secured – ITV for example said it will see no loss of sponsorship revenue as the tournament was pre-sponsored.

Broadcasters, advertisers and sporting bodies around the world are continuing to figure out how they handle commercial deals given the cancellation of sporting events. Sky and BT in the UK this week both said they will allow customers to pause their subscriptions, given the cancellation of the Premier League and other sports events. This will put pressure on their own finances, but reports suggest they will look to put the financial burden on the league itself, threatening a £750 million fine if the season doesn’t finish on time.

Meanwhile, other sporting events are going ahead behind closed doors. In the US, wrestling brand WWE is continuing to run shows without a live audience (making for slightly surreal viewing), and will run its flagship event ‘Wrestlemania’ as a two night event, again without a live audience.

Instagram to Start Running Ads on IGTV
Instagram confirmed this week that it will begin allowing some of its users on IGTV, its home for mid-to-long form video content, to run ads on their content. IGTV had begun testing IGTV ads earlier this year, and confirmed to Bloomberg this week it plans to roll the product out. Instagram’s chief operating officer Justin Osofsky described the move as “another step forward to help creators monetise with IGTV,” adding that “To be sure we get this right, we are talking to a few emerging creators to help us test this and plan to expand slowly.”

Those invited into IGTV’s monetisation programme will receive a 55 percent cut of revenues according to Bloomberg, the same rate as YouTube offers. And indeed, many see IGTV as Instagram’s effort to compete more directly with YouTube. The new ad offering might tempt more creators who built their profiles on Instagram but turned to YouTube for monetisation to concentrate their video efforts back on Instagram.

Media Consumption Climbs as Coronavirus Isolation Measures Set In
TV and streaming services’ viewership is beginning to ruse as isolation measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak set in around the world. Nielsen this week released some of the first data its see from US TV households, finding growing viewing figures across the US. The company said that in previous crises, it’s seen TV viewing climb by as much as sixty percent, as consumers have become increasingly engaged with news sources, or sought out entertainment for comfort. And while it’s not seen these sorts of spikes yet, it is seeing viewership climb – last Wednesday in the Seattle/Tacoma area, viewing was up by 22 percent compared to the previous week, for example.

Separately, other media companies have reported growing consumption too. Social news site Reddit, for example, has said it’s seen a “surge” in traffic amid the crisis, while live streaming platform Twitch said on Wednesday that it had seen a 15 percent jump in viewership over the previous few days.

Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycle, and most stories and events have been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, but here are some of the biggest stories of the week directly related to COVID-19:

Big Tech Companies Ramp Up Efforts to Tackle Coronavirus Issues
The US big tech companies continued with their efforts to prevent the spread of misinformation and misleading advertising related to the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon held meetings with White House officials last Sunday to discuss ways in which they can aid efforts to slow the spread of the disease, according to the Wall Street Journal. And each continued with their own individual efforts; Google launched a site designed to aid with testing, Facebook announced plans to put a coronavirus info hub at the top of the News Feed, and Google launched a coronavirus map to help track the spread of the virus.

Pay TV Networks Air Channels for Free
A number of pay TV groups and networks announced this week that they are making their channels temporarily free to all user, with many around the world stuck at home and turning to TV for entertainment. France’s Canal Plus is making its channels free to all audiences for two week as the French government has announced strict lockdown measures across the country. In the US meanwhile, Fox has partnered with pay TV distributors to offer its local channels and national Fox News channels for free, while AT&T-owned streaming service Sling TV is making a selection of its content free to all users.

DoubleVerify Urges Brands Not to Block Coronavirus Content
Measurement and verification company DoubleVerify this week urged advertisers to avoid overly strict coronavirus-related keyword blocklists, with many choosing to steer clear of all coronavirus-related content. While advertisers may understandably be concerned about funding misleading content relating to the pandemic, DoubleVerify said that the coronavirus challenge is a unique news incident, and that advertisers should ensure trusted news sources’ coronavirus coverage isn’t defunded.

“In general, we encourage all brands to advertise across trusted news sites as broadly as possible, unless there is a direct connection between a news incident and their brand,” the company said in a blog post. “At the end of the day, if a brand is advertising on the nightly news during the coronavirus crisis, or the front page of a major newspaper, then The New York Times homepage is no different and should be supported.”

The Week in Tech

The Trade Desk Inks Deal to Sell TikTok Video Ads Programmatically
Demand-side platform The Trade Desk announced this week it has inked a deal with short-form video sharing platform TikTok to sell its in-feed video ads programmatically in 11 Asia-Pacific markets including Japan, India, and Australia, as well as Russia. The Trade Desk says buyers will be able to access TikTok inventory directly via its media buying tools, making TikTok the first short-form video platform to open up its inventory to The Trade Desk. The Trade Desk has already begun selling TikTok inventory, with Pepsico having run the first campaign in Thailand, working with media agency Mindshare. Read the full story on VAN.

PubMatic Launches Audience Data Tool ‘Audience Encore’
PubMatic this week announced the launch of Audience Encore, a new solution that it says significantly changes the way publishers monetise their audience data. PubMatic says through the new solution buyers and sellers transact via deal IDs, creating process designed to offer more control and monetisation potential for publishers and data companies across the platform, without data leakage. Partners including National CineMedia (NCM), Investing Channel, Audigent, H Code, and Lotame have already signed on to use Audience Encore.

PubMatic says Audience Encore delivers more control for publishers and data companies over their audience segments by offering granular control of permissions and pricing in a safe environment. Publishers and data companies can also activate their data across the entire platform, which it says sets the course for better monetisation of first, second, and third party data for the companies that have largely been overlooked in the ecosystem.

VideoAmp Buys Attribution Specialist Conversation Logic
VideoAmp, an LA-based video ad tech company specialising in optimisation and measurement, has announced a deal to buy cross-platform attribution company Specialist Conversion for an undisclosed fee. VideoAmp says the acquisition will bolster its own optimisation tools, particularly around TV attribution. The deal will see Conversion Logic’s tools integrated into VideoAmp’s own platform. Conversion Logic’s tech includes a simulation and optimisation engine, and machine-learning attribution models which are designed to measure the incremental impact and lift of advertising on business outcomes such as sales, in-store visits and subscriptions. Read the full story on VAN.

Disney Considers Selling Off TrueX
Disney is reportedly considering selling off TrueX, an ad tech platform it picked up through its acquisition of the majority of 21st Century Fox’s assets, according to the Wall Street Journal. Part of TrueX’s offering is based around asking users to interact with an ad before a piece of content plays, in return for fewer or no ads within the content itself. Fox initially bought the tech as part of a push to reduce ad load on its assets, and Disney currently uses TrueX to help monetise Hulu. But Disney sees it as a non-essential asset according to the Journal’s report, and it hasn’t been integrated into Disney’s sales or tech divisions since the Fox acquisition.

Samba TV and The Trade Desk Expand Partnership Globally
Samba TV and The Trade Desk this week announced the expansion of their US partnership to international markets beginning in Australia. The two companies say the integration of Samba TV’s data in The Trade Desk platform will provide Australian clients with cross-screen planning and targeting capabilities to find specific TV audiences across every addressable screen based on their prior television viewing behaviours. “We’re delighted to deepen our partnership with a market leader like The Trade Desk that shares our mission to enhance the impact of programmatic advertising using the power of advanced capabilities of our TV viewership data and audience insights,” said Dan Ackerman, chief revenue officer at Samba TV.

Mobile Users Prefer Non-intrusive In-game Ads Over Web Banners says Adverty/Dentsu Data Labs Research
Display advertising placed in natural contexts within games are the favoured ad format among mobile users, according to new research carried out by Dentsu Data Labs and in-game ad platform Adverty. Fifty percent of the participants who were presented with a series of adverts in different online environments said that ads which blended seamlessly into the gameplay experience were the type they would prefer to see – compared to thirty percent favourability for a banner ad on a news website. Of those who participated in the study, 84 percent were aware they had seen ads within the game, while 78 percent of those seeing the ad were able to recall the brand they had seen.

The Week in TV

Fox Buys Tubi for $440 Million
Fox Corporation announced this week it has agreed to buy free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platform Tubi for $440 million. Fox says it it financing the deal by selling its stake in OTT device and platform maker Roku. Fox had been rumoured to be lining up a deal for Tubi, which sees one of the few remaining major independent FAST platforms snapped up . Fellow FAST platform Pluto TV was bought by Viacom for $340 million at the start of January last year, while XUMO was acquired by Comcast for an undisclosed fee just last month. Read the full story on VAN.

RTL Buys 50 Percent Stake in M6’s Bedrock Streaming Tech Unit
RTL Group announced this week it has agreed a deal to buy a fifty percent stake in subsidiary M6 Groupe’s streaming tech business Bedrock. Bedrock’s technology platform is currently used by M6’s 6Play, RTL Belgium, RTL Hungary and RTL Croatia, and will also be used by TF1, France Télévisions and M6’s upcoming SVOD service Salto. RTL and M6 say that Bedrock aims to license its technology platform to further European broadcasters, including broadcasters outside of RTL Group, and that together they hope to create a European leader in streaming technology.

Half of US Households with Children Under Ten are Subscribed to Disney+
Disney’s new subscription video on-demand service Disney+ has seen strong uptake in US households with young children since its launch last November, according to research from Ampere Analysis. Ampere says that around fifty percent of households with children under ten years old are now subscribed to the service, while 42 percent of households with kids 18 and under report they are signed up to Disney+.

Part of Disney+’s success has come through the distribution deals it secured with multiple partners, offering discounted initial access to the service, and Disney has been busy negotiating similar deals in Europe as it prepares to launch in new European markets later this month. The company announced this week that new and upgrading O2 mobile customers will get six months of free access to the service.

The Week in Publishing

UK’s Competition Authority Outlines Competition Concerns from Future/TI Media Merger
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week gave an update on its investigation into the £140 million merger of media companies Future and TI Media, saying it is concerned that competition could be restricted in some areas as a result of the merger. The CMA said there is limited overlap in the two companies’ overall business, but that the two complete closely in photography and football magazine publishing, and in technology websites. It said it is “therefore concerned that customers who read football or photography magazines, or who use or advertise on technology websites, could face higher prices or lower quality products”. However, if the two are able to address these concerns, the CMA said it will not refer the merger for a more in-depth investigation.

Playboy Goes Digital First as it Shuts Down Print Edition
Playboy magazine said this week it is ending its print edition, going digital only, having struggled for profitability in recent years. The publisher had already scaled back its print edition in 2017, dropping from ten releases per year to seven. And Playboy Enterprises chief executive Ben Kohn said in a post on Medium that the extra strain put on the print business by coronavirus has accelerated conversations which were already happening internally around shutting down primary print operations completely. “We will move to a digital-first publishing schedule for all of our content including the Playboy Interview, 20Q, the Playboy Advisor and of course our Playmate pictorials,” he said, adding that the company would still release occasional special print editions.

TikTok Launches Advisory Council to Oversee Content Decisions
Short-form video sharing app TikTok this week announced it has launched a ‘Content Advisory Council’, which will guide the company’s decisions around content moderation. TikTok says the initial Council members draw from the technology, policy, and health and wellness industries and will be led by Dawn Nunziato, a professor at George Washington University Law School and co-director of the Global Internet Freedom Project, as chair.

“The Council members we’ve assembled represent a diverse array of backgrounds and perspectives, and spent much of their lives researching, studying and analysing issues relevant to TikTok and the space we operate in, such as child safety, hate speech, misinformation, and bullying,” the company said in a blog post. “We will call upon our Council to provide unvarnished views on and advice around TikTok’s policies and practices as we continually work to improve in the challenging area of content moderation.”

The Week for Agencies

PHD/Omnicom Media Group Wins $350 Million Diageo Media Account
British alcoholic drinks maker Diageo has handed its roughly $350 million media account to PHD, with support from parent company Omnicom Media Group. Diageo had called a review last summer, and revealed earlier this year that it had narrowed down its choices to incumbent Carat and Publicis Media. “After a closely contested review of our global media business, we are delighted to appoint PHD as our media agency of record across the majority of our business,” said Isabel Massey, global media director at Diageo. “The move encompasses both planning and buying and draws on top talent and leadership from across Omnicom Media Group.”

Cannes Lions Postponed Until October
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity announced this week that the event has been delayed until October this year, as the global coronavirus pandemic has made its original June dates untenable. “As always, the health, safety and well-being of our community is our priority,” the event’s organisers said in a statement. ““The decision was made following productive talks with our valued partners and customers and following consultation with public health officials, the City of Cannes and the French Authorities. We have worked with the City of Cannes to make sure that the move from June to October is a smooth transition for everyone.” All sponsorships, tickets and bookings already paid for will remain valid for the October event.

UK Ad Exports Hit £7.9 Billion in 2018
The UK’s advertising exports reached £7.9 billion in 2018, marking 15 percent year-on-year growth, according to the Advertising Association’s ‘UK Advertising Exports Report 2020’ released this week. This means that advertising has overtaken telecommunications and engineering services to become the second largest services sector export behind computer services, according to the report.

“This new report demonstrates the continued strength of the UK as a global centre for advertising and marketing services,” said the Advertising Association’s chief executive Stephen Woodford. “To have jumped into second place as an export among comparable industries is a genuine demonstration of UK advertising’s strategic, creative and technological strengths.”

Hires of the Week

Channel Factory Hires Paco Panconcelli to Lead New Munich Office
YouTube brand suitability and ad performance specialist Channel Factory announced this week the launch of a new office in Munich, Germany, which will be led by Paco Panconcelli as managing director, DACH. Channel Factory says Panconcelli will be charged with managing the rapidly expanding German client base and grow the team across the DACH region.

Adjust Hires Ville Mikkola As Head Of The Coalition Against Ad Fraud
Adjust this week announced a new senior hire to spearhead its Coalition Against Ad Fraud (CAAF). Ville Mikkola, previously director of network operations at Glispa, joins as head of CAAF, an industry-wide alliance founded by Adjust to tackle ad fraud.

This Week on VAN

Media & Advertising Shares Continue to Fall as Coronavirus Prevention Measures Intensify, read more on VAN

Is Contextual Targeting Safe in a Privacy-First World? read more on VAN

VideoAmp Buys Attribution Specialist Conversation Logic, Fox Acquires Tubi, read more on VAN

The Trade Desk Inks Deal to Sell TikTok Video Ads Programmatically, read more on VAN

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