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The WIR: Google and IAB Tests Show Widespread Digital Ad Fraud, ITV Prepares Bill for Virgin Media Under New Laws, Orange Starts Legal Action Against TF1

  28 July, 2017

In this week’s Week in Review: Google and IAB tests have shown widespread digital ad fraud, ITV is preparing a hefty bill for Virgin Media in time for a change in broadcasting laws, and Orange has started legal action against TF1. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Google and IAB Tests Show Widespread Digital Ad Fraud
Secret ad fraud tests by Google have confirmed the shocking extent to which companies are fraudulently selling ad space on premium websites they did not have access to, or on fake versions of real websites. Business Insider reports that fraudulent ad space is being sold through programmatic ad exchanges including Google’s AdX, AppNexus, Oath’s Brightroll, and PubMatic.

Google has been pushing IAB and industry led initiative ads.txt, which aims to wiping out the variety of ways ad buyers can be tricked into paying for space they’re not getting. It’s findings will go some way to promoting the ads.txt cause, especially considering that ad fraud will cost companies around the globe $16.4 billion this year, according to ad verification company Adloox.

ITV Prepares Bill for Virgin Media Under New Laws
ITV is getting ready to hit Virgin Media with a hefty bill for carrying its main channel, backed with a tacit threat of a blackout if it refuses to pay up, The Telegraph reports. The broadcaster will issue the demand under new laws that come into force next week, and scrap a copyright exemption that allows Virgin Media to carry its ITV’s main public service channel for free. The rule change coincides with a planned renegotiation of a pre-existing deal for ITV2.

ITV has been forced to act in order to recover its balance sheet, which has been hit by a sharp decline in advertising and subsequent drop in profits.

Orange Starts Legal Action Against TF1
French telco Orange has started legal action against broadcaster TF1, alleging an abuse of dominant power. Reportedly, TF1 issued an ultimatum to its distribution clients, including Orange and fellow-telco SFR, and allegedly threatened to end the distribution of its channels by Orange and SFR on their OTT systems. SFR has already asked French broadcasting regulator CSA to mediate in the squabble.

Meanwhile, TF1 have reported a first half-year current operating profit of €107.6 million, an increase of €50.1 million year-on-year, including €30.7 million of savings arising from the lack of any major sporting events during the first half of 2017.

Financials of the Week

Facebook Profits Up 70 Per Cent as Ad Revenue Almost Doubles
Facebook has beaten analysts’ expectations as it announced $9.32 billion revenues in Q2. Ad revenue surged by almost 46.8 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2017 to $9.16 billion, helping drive profits up 71 per cent. Mobile drove the majority of Facebook’s sales in the quarter, accounting for 87 per cent of advertising revenue, compared with 84 per cent in the same period last year.

Globally, the platform had an average of 2.01 billion users each month during the quarter, and 1.32 billion each day. The social network’s greatest growth came in the Asia-Pacific region, though 73 per cent of revenues are still made in North America and Europe.

Google Alphabet Ad Revenue Boost Driven by Mobile and Programmatic
For the second quarter 2017 Alphabet has reported a 21 per cent rise in revenue, to $26 billion, an increase largely driven by mobile ads and video ads, AI, and their cloud services. Alphabet had a net income of $3.5 billion. The profit would have been larger but for a record $2.7 billion European Union antitrust fine.

Overall, Alphabet’s ad revenue increased by 18 per cent to $22.7 billion. The latest results confirm that Alphabet already makes more cash from digital advertising than any other company worldwide. It is noteworthy that Alphabet has posted increased ad revenue in spite of its properties being embroiled in a brand-safety furore since early 2017.

Sky Profit Growth Despite Rising Football Costs
Sky PLC has reported a revenue increase of eight per cent, and profits up four per cent, in the fiscal year ended June compared with the same period a year earlier. Sky’s published KPIs show revenue increased to £12.9 billion and profit rose to £691 million. Operating profit decreased by 1.3 per cent to £964 million because of increased costs for the rights to broadcast games from England’s top soccer league, Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said.

Twitter Worse Than Expected Report Drives Down Share Price
Twitter has reported a lower-than-expected number of monthly active users in its second quarter earnings report, flat user growth, and advertising revenue down eight percent year-over-year. Ad revenue totaled $489 million, compared to $535 million in the same quarter last year. Twitter reported a net loss of $116.5 million, or a loss of 16 cents per share, compared with a loss of $107 million, or a loss of 15 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. In response to the statement, shares of the company dropped nine percent in pre-market trading.

ITV Report Shows Slight Easing in Ad Revenue Decline
ITV’s full interim report shows that its channels generated TV ad revenue of £769 million in the first six months to June 2017, down 8.2 per cent year on year. Overall, group external revenue also declined, down three per cent to £1.46bn in the six months to 30 June 2017. Profit before tax was £269 million during the half year, a decline of 16.2 per cent year on year.

ITV attributed the ongoing ad revenue declines to uncertainty on the economic outlook, as well as the weakening pound causing inflationary pressure and leading brands to reduce ad spend.

Vodafone Reports TV Subscription Drop but Grows Convergent Base
Vodafone’s report for the quarter to 30th June has seen its TV base hit by losses in Spain, but the group is claiming success from its marketing of fixed-mobile convergent offerings. The company said that it now had 3.8 million converged homes, those that took both fixed and mobile services, up 700,000 year-on-year. Vodafone also reports that its average revenue increased and churn fell for households that took its converged products.

Guardian Media Group Cuts Operating Losses One Third
Guardian Media Group has reported improving financial performance for 2017, and announced that it had slashed operating losses by over a third over the last financial year. Operating losses were £44.7 million, down a from £68.7 million. Whilst total revenue hit £214 million, up 2.4 per cent from the previous year. These improvements were thanks in part to a growing number of paying subscribers and one-off contributions from readers. Digital revenues rose by 15 per cent to £94.1 million, from £81.9 million.

The Week in Tech

ironSource Launches “Active Protect” Against Mobile Ad Fraud
ironSource has launched an Active Protect programme to help mobile advertisers address frequently used types of ad fraud across non-SDK traffic such as attribution and device manipulation. The programme has been designed to block fraudulent or manipulated traffic in real-time and re-credits advertisers for any spending that has been wasted on fraudulent traffic.

Glispa Rolls Out Self-Service Monetisation Platform Avocarrot
Glispa Global Group has launched an updated version of Avocarrot, its self-service monetisation platform for in-app ads, programmatic and performance-based formats. Avocarrot has been expanded to include functionalities from Ampiri, the mediation platform, as well as Glispa’s Audience Platform, the user data profiling platform. Glispa says that the new solution provides the potential to maximise monetisation by enabling developers to mediate between brand and performance sources.

Streaming Video Alliance Releases New Standards for Tech Specs
The Streaming Video Alliance has announced the immediate availability of two new technical specification documents from the Open Caching Working Group. The technical specifications were ratified by the Alliance Membership earlier this week. The two documents are concerned with:

  • Open Caching Logging Specification – for logging data to help track data acquisition and the delivery of it to the end user.
  • Open Caching Service Provisioning Specification – including the functional specification for information exchange to enable the delegation of CDN content requests.

Pixability Announces Two Products for Reach and Optimisation
Pixability has announced two new products to bolster its end-to-end video advertising solution. PlanAbility enables advertisers to identify audience groups at scale across walled gardens. Pixability’s proprietary machine learning constructs relationships between audience groups, and streamlines the identification of consumers receptive to an advertiser’s message. PerformAbility is an automated real-time optimisation engine, which uses machine learning to analyze performance, predict market conditions, and adapt bidding strategies.

MRC May Stretch Viewability Standard to 100 Per Cent of Pixel
The Media Rating Council (MRC) is reportedly considering toughening its display viewability standard, which sits at 50 per cent of pixels in view for at least one second, to match the baselines set by industry heavyweights like GroupM and Unilever that require 100 per cent of pixels to be in view.

Dynamic Yield Raises $31 Million to Drive Machine Learning for Retail Marketers
Personalisation platform Dynamic Yield has raised $31 million in Series C financing, bringing its funding total to $45 million. New investors Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and La Maison joined existing investors to support the company’s global expansion with new offices and staff. It will also double down on machine learning by employing 70 data engineers across its global offices.

Ford Trials Primesight and RadiumOne Collaboration
Ford is the first brand to try out a combined offering between Primesight and RadiumOne that integrates out-of-home and mobile advertising to target people based on both their location and their content sharing behaviour. Via the collaboration, whenever the target audience comes within a certain distance of a relevant Primesight billboard, RadiumOne serves a mobile display ad to those who’ve shared or engaged with content online relevant to Ford’s campaign.

The Week in TV

Scripps Favours Discovery, in Spite of Rumoured Viacom All-Cash Bid
In that latest twist to the Scripps Networks Interactive acquisition saga, the Wall Street Journal reports that Viacom is out of the running, as Scripps has decided to negotiate exclusively with Discovery after reviewing the rival bids. This follows a report the day earlier, from Reuters, that Viacom was eyeing one of the biggest all-cash takeovers in US media history by planning to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive for around $10.6 billion.

x-Mobility Adds TVPlayer to MVNA Offering
Mobile virtual network aggregator x-Mobility has signed a deal with UK TV streaming platform TVPlayer to add TV to its offering of voice, text and data services for brands that wish to become mobile providers. The agreement means that current or future MVNOs will be able to offer their customers live, catch-up or on demand TV from leading channels. TVPlayer’s 100 plus channels are now available for any brand to offer to its customers via x-Mobility’s aggregator services.

Hulu Rolls Out Live TV Service on Amazon Fire TV
Hulu has rolled out its live TV streaming service on Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices in the US. Hulu first introduced a new Hulu user experience and the beta of Hulu with Live TV in the US in May across Apple TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android mobile devices, and Chromecast. Hulu viewers who watch on Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices will now be upgraded to the revamped user interface and will have the option to subscribe to the Hulu with Live TV.

YouTube TV Launches in Ten More US Markets
YouTube has rolled out its recently launched US subscription TV service in ten new metro areas. The YouTube TV service, which offers 40+ channels including US broadcast networks ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN, is available across devices and includes a cloud DVR with “no storage limits” for recording TV shows.

beIN Sports Back on UAE Screens
beIN Sports channels have returned to screens in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The channels have been dark since the June 5th diplomatic dispute started between the UAE and Saudi Arabia with fellow-Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Vivendi Looking to Launch Italian Version of Canal+
Vivendi to launch a premium channel, named Canale+, with Telecom Italia as the majority owner, according to French Les Echos. According to the paper, Vivendi has decided the service will be an Italian version of the French Canal+ offering series, sport and live programming.

beIN Sports Wins Spanish Champions League Rights
beIN Sports has won the rights to broadcast all matches from the Champions League and Europa League in Spain over the next three years, on an exclusive basis. Starting in the 2018-2019 season a weekly free-to-air match from the Champions League will be abolished, and all matches will be aired on a pay-TV basis through beIN Sports.

Scripps Expands HGTV to South Korea
Scripps Networks Interactive is expanding its home and lifestyle channel HGTV with a launch in South Korea. HGTV will be immediately available in the region, on TV channel KT olleh, as what’s being billed as the first-ever regional channel dedicated exclusively to the home and lifestyle category in Korea.

The Week in Publishing

Global Mobile Usage to Hit 5.5 Billion Users by 2022
Mobile phones are expected to be in the hands of 66 per cent of the world’s population by 2022, with mobile device usage forecast to reach 5.5 billion users, according to Forrester. Up to 3.8 billion new users are predicted during the next five years, crossing the 50 per cent mark for smartphone use by population in 2017. Forrester’s report notes that smartphone use is expected to increase most significantly in Asia and Latin America.

One Third of World’s Population Accessing Social Media Platforms Monthly
Around one third of the world’s population, and 71 per cent of Internet users are now accessing social media networks once a month, according to eMarketer estimates. The figures represent an increase of 8.2 per cent since 2016, growth that eMarketer says is driven by mobile phone adoption, rather than each platform’s new features or upgrades.

Mobile messaging apps are a huge driver of growth, with the number of WhatsApp messages sent per day now exceeding standard text messages. According to the latest estimates 1.82 billion mobile device owners worldwide will be using apps such as Facebook Messenger or WeChat in 2017, a rise of 15.5 per cent the year over. Meaning an additional 243 million mobile Internet users worldwide adopting messaging apps in 2017.  

Facebook Tightens Link Editing Rights to Battle Fake News
Facebook is attempting to tackle fake news by only offering verified publishers the ability to edit headlines and meta descriptions for their verified links. The social network has announced a change that will disallow non-publisher Facebook pages from being able to edit or modify the link previews on Facebook. Now pages not deemed a publisher will be unable to overwrite link metadata, the headline and description, within the API or in Page composer.

Men “More Responsive” to Digital Video
Men view digital adverts for 0.4 seconds longer than women, according to Shutterstock and Lumen. According to their findings, men tended to look at ads for around 0.9 seconds compared to women viewing them for 0.5 seconds. In addition, men noticed around 33 per cent of adverts, whilst women noticed a quarter of adverts.

The Week for Agencies

Publicis Returns to Growth
Publicis has reported a return to growth in the second quarter, compared with a 1.2 per cent fall in the first quarter. In its first set of results since Arthur Sadoun took over as chairman and chief executive last month, Publicis showed organic growth of 0.8 per cent in second-quarter revenues to €2.52 billion, helped by strong performance in North America. Sadoun said the group’s simplified “Power of One” business model, which brings under one roof its main divisions covering advertising, digital, media and healthcare, was beginning to pay off.

Interpublic Blames Political Uncertainty as Group Q2 Earnings Lag
The Interpublic Group of Companies has reported poor second-quarter 2017 results with adjusted earnings of $107.8 million or 27 cents per share compared with $137.2 million or 33 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. While US revenues increased by 0.5 per cent to $2.27 billion, IPG’s international revenues dropped 2.4 per cent to $1.37 billion. The group attributed the revenue decline to clients ‘increased caution’, rather than evidencing ‘a broad-based economic downturn’.


Hires of the Week

Flashtalking Taps Google Veteran Peter Falcone as EMEA Analytics Director
Flashtalking has announced the hiring of Peter Falcone as Analytics Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Falcone most recently served as Google’s Analytical Lead in EMEA for the Google Analytics 360 Suite.

John Piccone Rejoins Simulmedia as President and Chief Revenue Officer
John Piccone has rejoined Simulmedia as President and Chief Revenue Officer. He previously held several senior roles with Simulmedia from 2010 to 2016.

Discovery Appoints Twitter TV’s Graver
Discovery Communications has confirmed the appointment of Fred Graver as Senior Vice President, Digital Content and Social for Discovery Digital. Graver most recently served as the Global Head of TV for Twitter.

Vimeo Names Sud CEO
Vimeo has announced the appointment of Anjali Sud as Chief Executive Officer. Previously General Manager and Senior Vice President of Vimeo’s flagship creator business, Sud has been with Vimeo since 2014. Prior to Vimeo, she held various positions in e-commerce and media at Amazon and Time Warner.

This Week on VAN

Extreme Reach Reports Encouraging Signs that Fraud is on the Decline, read more on VAN

The Living Room is Now the Fastest Growing Screen for YouTube, read more on VAN

So Much Promise, So Little Scale: VR’s Fate Remains Uncertain, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: The World’s Largest Unboxing, Volvo, Forsman & Bodenfors

Probably the world’s cutest truck enthusiast gets to un-box a huge Volvo lorry. A world record attempt that will definitely make you go ‘awwwhh’.

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