The WIR: Quibi Considers a Sale, Facebook Says it Could be Forced Out of Europe, and Social Platforms Agree on New Standards for Tackling Harmful Content

In this week’s Week in Review: Quibi explores its options after a difficult first few months, Facebook said it could be forced to close operations in Europe due to data transfer laws, and GARM makes progress with social platforms on harmful content. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Quibi Considers a Sale After Early Struggles
Mobile-first video streaming service Quibi is exploring multiple strategic options, including a possible sale, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, after a disappointing first few months. The heavily-backed app launched earlier this year, but struggled to make much of an impact, reportedly losing the majority of its subscribers once its generous thirty-day free trial period ended. Quibi’s founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has said the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the project, since the app was partly designed to fit small gaps in the working day which don’t exist when most people are working from home.

A sale is not the only option however, with the company also considering further fundraising, or a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Facebook Says it May Shut Down European Operations Over Data Transfer Ruling
Facebook this week said it could be forced to shut down its platforms in Europe, if a ruling from Ireland’s data protection authority preventing it from sending EU users’ data overseas is upheld.

Facebook uses an agreement between the US and EU called the ‘privacy shield’ as the legal basis for transferring EU users’ personal data back to the US. But Europe’s top court struck down the privacy shield earlier this year, saying it doesn’t provide sufficient safeguards against US authorities which may want access to EU users’ data. Consequently, Facebook was ordered to cease data transfers by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.

And in a court filing, Facebook’s associate general counsel Yvonne Cunnane said that “in the event that [Facebook] were subject to a complete suspension of the transfer of users’ data to the US, it is not clear […] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU.”

Advertisers Agree Steps with Social Platforms to Curb Hateful Content
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) this week announced it has agree steps with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to help tackle the spread of hateful and harmful content on those platforms. The three social platforms have agreed a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content, and have agreed to help develop and use a common set of standards for reporting harmful content. The platforms have also committed to open themselves up to independent oversight on brand safety operations, integrations and reporting, and to develop and deploy tools to better manage advertising adjacency.

“The issue of harmful content online has become one of the challenges of our generation. As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements. A safer social media environment will provide huge benefits not just for advertisers and society but also to the platforms themselves,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers.

The Week in Tech

Trump Lends Provisional Approval to Reworked TikTok Deal
President Trump this week gave his provisional approval for a deal between TikTok, Oracle and Walmart which will give Oracle and Walmart a significant stake in the company, and see Oracle handling US TikTok users’ personal data. But the deal is still awaiting approval from authorities in China, where TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is based.

DOJ Seeks Changes to Internet Platforms’ Legal Immunity
The US Department of Justice is seeking to weaken laws which protect internet platforms from liability for content posted by their users. Reuters reported the plans, as the DOJ prepares to file and antitrust case against Google in the coming week. Reports also surfaced this week that the focus of the antitrust case is likely to be Google’s dominance in search.

SpotX Launches New Programmatic Solutions for Addressable Linear TV
SpotX this week launched new programmatic solutions which it says will enable linear spot replacement. The solutions are in part built in support of the Project OAR open standard, which enables ad replacement on smart TVs, and will also work with partnered set-top boxes owned by multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).

Samsung and LG Hit by Smart TV Patent Suits
Samsung and LG have both been hit by patent lawsuits over technology used in their smart TVs. DivX LLC, a developer of video codec technology, claims both TV manufacturers have infringed on four of its patents.

IBM Partners with Nielsen for Weather-Based Ad Targeting
IBM this week announced the launch of Watson Advertising Weather Targeting, a new suite of triggers designed for marketers to help them make the connection between weather and product sales actionable at scale, without the use of third-party cookies or identifiers.

Comscore Partners with Samba TV
Comscore this week announced a new partnership with Samba TV to expand its TV measurement footprint. The launch of international smart TV measurement capabilities will begin in select European markets.

The Week in TV

E.W. Scripps Agrees $2.65 Billion Deal for ION Media
E.W. Scripps, this week agreed a deal to buy independent broadcaster ION Media for $2.65 billion, in a deal backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. ION Media operates over 60 TV stations across the US, as well as digital streaming services.

NBCU’s Peacock Arrives on Roku
NBCUniversal’s standoff with OTT platform Roku came to an end this week, as the two reached a deal to bring NBCU’s Peacock streaming service to Roku devices and TVs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two had reportedly been grappling over Roku’s demands to take a significant cut of ad inventory.

Streaming Viewership has Overtaken Linear in the UK says Samsung
Viewership of streaming content on Samsung TVs has overtaken linear viewing in the UK, according to a report from Samsung Ads released this week. Data from Samsung Ads’ ‘Behind the Screens‘ report shows that for the first half of 2020, streaming accounted for 59 percent of viewing time on Samsung TVs, compared to 41 percent for linear. Read the full story on VAN.

WarnerMedia Kills Off DC Universe Platform
WarnerMedia is shuttering its DC Universe subscription streaming service, just two years after launching. The service hosted films and TV shows relating to comics owned by DC Entertainment. This content will now be moved to HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s new streaming service released earlier this year.

EPCR Launches an OTT Service
European Professional Club Rugby, the rugby union league which runs the Heineken Champions Cup, this week announced the launch of a new OTT service. The service will stream games in all markets where rights haven’t been bought by a broadcasters. Read VAN’s interview with EPCR’s François Vergnol.

Western Europe to Add 101 Million More SVOD Subscriptions by 2025
Western Europe will clock up 101 million more subscriptions to SVOD services by 2025, according to Digital TV Research. This would mean total SVOD subscriptions would have doubled since 2019.

Sling TV Launches Watch Party Feature
Sling TV, a US live TV streaming service, became the latest streamer to launch a ‘watch party’ feature this week, allowing multiple users to co-view the same show at the same time via different devices. Netflix, Disney+ and Facebook Watch have all released similar features this year.

eMarketer Predicts 6.6 Million US Households Will Cut the Cord this Year
eMarketer this week predicted that by the end of 2020, 6.6 million households in the US will have cut the cord, as more and more consumers ditch traditional pay TV subscriptions. This would represent a record number of subscription losses for pay TV in a single year.

The Week in Publishing

Variety and Hollywood Reporter Link Up in Joint Venture
PMC and MRC, the parent companies of Variety and Hollywood Reporter respectively, have announced a new joint venture called PMRC. PMRC will run both publications, as well as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Vibe, and Music Business Worldwide. The two parent companies will also work together on content based on IP from PMRC brands.

Snapchat Launches ‘Snap Select’ Platform in UK
Snapchat this week extended its ‘Snap Select’ ad buying platform to the UK, having first rolled out the product in the US earlier this year. Snap Select allows advertisers to buy most the popular shows in Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ section via a fixed CPM with predictable delivery in Ads Manager.

Reddit Launches New Brand Safety Categories
Social sharing site Reddit has introduced three tiers of brand safety for advertisers, allowing them to choose the type of content they’re comfortable appearing next to. The three categories, limited, standard, and expanded, will let brands either choose a wider range of content with a greater reach, or a more limited set of safer content, with lower reach.

TikTok Bans Ads for Diet Pills and Fasting Apps
TikTok has banned ads for diet pills and fasting apps from its platform, and says it will prevent other weight loss related ads from reaching users under 18 years old. “These types of ads do not support the positive, inclusive, and safe experience we strive for on TikTok,” said Tara Wadhwa, TikTok’s safety policy manager.

Instagram Extends Reels’ Time Limit
Instagram this week increased the maximum length of Reels, its TikTok like feature, to 30 seconds. The change will give creators and brands more flexibility in the content they create. “We continue to improve Reels based on people’s feedback, and these updates make it easier to create and edit,” said Tessa Lyons-Laing, product director for Reels. “While it’s still early, we’re seeing a lot of entertaining, creative content.”

CNN Closes Down Great Big Story
CNN this week announced it is shuttering Great Big Story, a video hub geared towards younger audiences who increasingly consume news via video on social platforms. “Challenging times call for difficult decisions, and it is with a heavy heart that we are announcing today that we will be closing the doors of Great Big Story,” the unit said in a statement.

Meredith Lays Off Over 100 Staff
Meredith announced this week it has cut around 130 staff, its first round of layoffs since the start of the pandemic. The layoffs have been targeted towards the parts of the business which have struggled most during the pandemic.

IMC Buys Majority Stake in DAZN’s Goal
Integrated Media Company, a media investment company owned by TPG, has bought a majority stake in Goal, a football publication owned by sports streaming service DAZN. “Goal has long been an innately global platform for the soccer fan, with a strong journalistic tradition and a brand that’s synonymous with the sport. We see a significant opportunity to expand the platform’s reach and engagement through new content verticals, products, and experiences,” said Ori Winitzer, IMC’s managing director.

The Week for Agencies

P&G’s Pritchard Calls for Change to Upfront Format
P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard called for changes to the TV upfronts, saying that the current model capitalises on the ‘fear of missing out’, and leads marketers to buying more airtime than they need. Pritchard said P&G is negotiating directly with TV networks as much as possible, trying to stay in control of when and how it buys TV.

Ebiquity Sweeps Up Accenture’s Old Media Auditing Accounts
Ebiquity has picked up 20 new clients this year which were left looking for a new media auditor after Accenture exited the business. These accounts include BMW, Daimler, Orange, Unilever and Walgreens, according to Campaign.

OMD EMEA Launches Intentional Inclusion Planning Initiative
Omnicom’s OMD EMEA this week launched ‘Intentional Inclusion Planning‘, an initiative which will see it help clients to improve diversity within their communications.

T-Mobile Puts its $1.6 Billion Media Account Under Review
Mobile operator T-Mobile is putting its $1.6 billion media account under review. Current incumbents include Publicis and WPP, and all incumbents are expected to take part in the review according to MediaPost.

GroupM Gives US Staff Election Day Off
GroupM became the latest agency group this week to offer US workers to take election day off in November, in order to make it easier for staff to vote.

Hires of the Week

Bob Ivins Joins TVSquared as Chief Strategy Officer
TVSquared, the global leader in unified cross-platform measurement, announced today that Bob Ivins has joined as chief strategy officer. Ivins joins TVSquared from Ampersand, where he was chief data officer, leading the development of its advanced TV and media offerings.

TeraVolt hires Wolfgang Jauer as Director of Business Development
Wolfgang Jauer has joined German TV agency TeraVolt as director of business development, driving the agency’s expansion into international markets. Jauer previously worked for sports marketing company Infront Sports as head of development and synergies.

This Week on VAN

‘Voice Giving’ Ads Seek to Plug Charity Funding Gap, read more on VAN

Streaming Viewership has Overtaken Linear in the UK says Samsung, read more on VAN#

How COVID Sports Rights Renegotiations Pushed EPCR into OTT, read more on VAN

Are We Heading Towards a Splinternet? read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Fistful of Bourbon, High Noon, Tool of North America

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