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The WIR: WPP’s Growth Forecast Signals Tough Times Ahead in Ad-Land, GroupM Softens Viewability Standards, Avaaz Moves to Bring Ofcom to Face Judicial Review Over Murdoch’s Sky Takeover

  25 August, 2017

In this week’s Week in Review: WPP has slashed its growth forecast in a move that signals tough times ahead in advertising, GroupM has softened its digital and mobile ad viewability standards, and Avaaz has begun action to bring Ofcom to judicial review over its handling of Murdoch’s Sky takeover bid. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

WPP Slashing Growth Forecast Signals Tough Times Ahead in Ad-Land
Shares in Sir Martin Sorrell’s advertising group have fallen by more than ten per cent since it slashed growth forecasts to between zero and one per cent, after reporting that net sales in the first half of 2017 had fallen by 0.5 per cent. WPP blamed “technological disruption, cheap money, activist investors and zero-based budgeting models, which focus incumbents on short-term profitability and cost control,” for dissuading companies from advertising and marketing.

Sorrell said the election results in the UK and US, combined with erratic economic conditions in faster-growth economies such as China, had affected the global advertising market. Advertising and marketing spend by multinational companies is viewed as a bellwether for the global economy, which makes for grim reading in light of Sorrell’s expectation that next year is “unlikely to be much different”.

GroupM Softens Digital and Mobile Ad Viewability Standards
GroupM has announced an update of its existing viewability standards for digital and mobile ad measurements. The new standards consider a display ad view to count as a payable impression when 100 per cent of the pixels are in view for at least one second duration.

GroupM also issued a new standard for video ads appearing in social media news feeds. This stipulates that 100 per cent of the ad pixels must be in view for at least 50 per cent of the video’s duration, for it to count. Video ads in that context also no longer have to be user-initiated, or run with the sound on. This is a softening of the video standards Group M released in 2014 which required that 50 per cent of the video had to be played at the user’s initiation, with the sound on, while 100 per cent in view.

Avaaz Moves to Bring Ofcom to Face Judicial Review Over Murdoch’s Sky Takeover
Campaigning group Avaaz is threatening a legal challenge to Ofcom’s ruling that Sky would remain “fit and proper” to hold a UK licence if owned by 21st Century Fox. Solicitors representing the group have issued a letter-before-claim to Ofcom, to which the watchdog has 14 days to respond before a formal judicial review can begin.

Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks said Ofcom had made “mistake after mistake” and needed to “reopen their investigation to regain credibility.” Avaaz claims the watchdog’s decision not to rule against the deal when it came to the UK broadcasting licence was based on “exaggerated fears of the consequences of doing so”, which led Ofcom to set too high a bar for finding 21st Century Fox “unfit and improper” to hold a licence.

The Week in Tech

Medialaan Taps YoSpace Ad Insertion for Online TV Service
Belgian broadcaster Medialaan has selected ad-tech outfit YoSpace to provide dynamic ad insertion system to monetise live channels on its new TV everywhere service, Stievie Premium. According to Medialaan, the channels on its service, taken together account for almost 90 per cent of viewing in Flanders. Yospace’s technology is being used to serve ads in the live channels on the platform in personalised streams.

Google Adds Preview for Video Search on Mobile
Google has announced that it will now show six-second clips from videos suggested in mobile device search results. Google confirms Android users can opt out via the Chrome settings, as previews consume a lot of data. According to the company’s blog, the feature uses Google’s machine learning algorithm to scan the full video and decide on which scenes to incorporate into the six-second clip. Previews will not include any adverts.

Drawbridge Bolsters Cross-Device Platform with Programmatic Capabilities
Drawbridge has expanded its cross-device platform to include device-agnostic native features powered by TripleLift, the programmatic native ad platform. The new Drawbridge native ad offering includes display, video and mobile web and app environments.

OpenX Delivers Advanced Mobile SDK to Market
OpenX has announced that its Mobile SDK has entered general availability following strong early results for mobile app publishers. The company has also shared data from entertainment applications that participated in the beta, which it claims show significant double digit CPM and revenue increases after integrating the SDK.

AppLift Expands “Fraud Buster” to Tackle App Install Ad Fraud
AppLift has released a newly expanded version of its fraud prevention suite Fraud Buster, which now adds a focus on fighting app install fraud in real-time. As such, AppLift says that the Fraud Buster bypasses the usually reactive approaches to fraud detection, which tend to be based on historical data, and instead incorporates real-time detection and prevention features.

The Week in TV

Brazil Adds Obstacle to AT&T and Time Warner Merger
Brazil’s anti-trust regulator is objecting to the proposed $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, Bloomberg reports. Brazilian regulator CADE (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica), says the merger poses a “high risk” to competition, and should be rejected unless the two businesses sell off some of their Brazilian divisions.

To date, the merger scheme has been approved by 16 nations, but Chile and the US itself has yet to approve the plan.

YouTube TV Expands Reach to Over Half of the US
YouTube TV has expanded its reach to over half of American homes following its roll-out to 14 new markets. YouTube TV is now available in a total of 29 metro areas, you can view the full list here, and you YouTube is reportedly planning to move into 17 more areas in the coming weeks. YouTube TV offers over 40 channels, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN. It is available across devices, includes a cloud DVR with “no storage limits” for recording TV shows, and costs US$35 per month without commitments.

Sky Boosts TRX Investment
Sky has invested a further £1 million in TRX, an online deal-making tool for TV rights. As well as Sky, investors include the Channel Four Growth Fund, angel investors, and the founders, David Frank and Matthew Frank. TRX enables TV programme buyers to search for content, get instant rights availabilities and make offers for programme rights online. TRX sits within the global secondary TV rights export market, estimated to be worth in excess of $5 billion per annum.

Internet TV Services the Only US Sector to Register Net Subscriber Gain in Q2
The US’s main satellite TV providers lost about 435,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year, compared to a gain of some 15,000 subscribers in Q2 2016, according to Leichtman Research Group. In spite of this, the US’s major pay TV providers performed slightly better year on year: losing a total of 655,000 net video subscribers in the traditionally weak quarter, compared to 715,000 a year earlier. Internet delivered services were the only segment recording net subscriber growth in the period.]

Telefónica Joins TV Package Price War
Telefónica has joined the TV package price war by launching a promotion that will allow subscribers to enjoy Movistar’s premium TV package for free until 2018, Advanced TV reports. New subscribers will now receive the free premium TV package until the end of the year, with current subscribers receiving two months for free.

Vodafone TV Total for Free
In a move to mirror Telefonica’s recent offer, Vodafone Spain has announced that it is givingexisting subscribers to the basic offer TV Esencial or TV Extra three months accessto  its Vodafone Total premium package for free . Until September 30th, subscribers will be able to change their subscription package with no extra cost, gaining access to over 120 TV channels, 4K content, over 20,000 titles through VoD, HBO, Fox Play and other services such as Últimos 7 días.

Vodafone is also offering all the national and international football, along with Moto GP and F1 content, for €20 per month for the whole season

Portugal’s Nowo Taps Elemental for TV service
Portuguese cable and telecom operator Nowo has tapped video technology outfit AWS Elemental to provide video processing for a unified headend for its recently revamped TV service. The new service includes additional features such as live streaming, VoD catch-up and startover TV, with a cloud DVR service to be offered in the near future.

Canal+ Partners with L’Équipe for New Sports Offering
French pay TV operator Canal+ has teamed up with service provider Bouygues Telecom to launch “Start by Canal”, a new offering that will be available via Bouygues’ own set-top boxes. Start will initially be offered to subscribers who have signed up for Bouygues Telecom’s Bbox Miami+ offering, at no extra charge. Bouygues customers with a standard Bbox will be able to sign up for the service for a monthly fee of €9.99.

Australian Watchdog Gives the Okay to Murdoch’s Ten Purchase
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will not oppose Birketu Pty Ltd and Illyria Nominees Television Pty Ltd’s proposed joint bid to acquire Ten Network Holdings Limited (Ten). Birketu, owned by Bruce Gordon, and Illyria, owned by Lachlan Murdoch, propose to each acquire a 50 per cent interest in Ten, and to operate it as a joint venture entity. Gordon and Murdoch have links with a number of media assets in Australia.

Young Cord-Cutters Count OTT Costs
Younger viewers in the US think they’re paying too much for streaming services but are willing to sign up for their favourite content, according to Morning Consult. Overall, 55 per cent of 18 to 29 year-olds surveyed said they were willing to subscribe to a streaming service to watch a particular show and also praised the ability to watch their preferred shows and movies. 42 per cent of millennials also thought they were paying too much for streaming services.

Newsy Launches on YouTube TV
Scripps has announced the launch of next-gen national news network Newsy on YouTube TV. Newsy is the first news brand focused on younger audiences to join the Google-owned YouTube TV lineup. It attracts an audience of 18 to 34 year-old news consumers. Newsy’s on-demand videos and linear stream, Newsy Live, are available now on YouTube TV.

The Week in Publishing

Google “Olive Branch” to Publishers via New Subscription Features
Google is seeking to create new tools for news publishers to make it easier to reach potential subscribers and improve sign-up, Bloomberg Technology reports. The company is working on a “first click free” feature, that lets readers check out one full article, and then subscribe for more content. It is also testing online payments and targeting measures designed to reach new subscribers. Google reportedly hopes that the tools will allow publishers to both sustain their subscription models and ensure advertising revenues.

Reddit Adds Native Video in Drive for ‘Rich Content’
Social discussion site Reddit is adding new video functionality to allow users to upload and share videos and gifs directly to the site. The move follows Reddit’s introduction of native image hosting last year and native video adverts earlier this year. Reddit described the video rollout as a “giant step forward” in its efforts to bring rich content to the site. Reddit is introducing video across iOS, Android, and desktop simultaneously. Users can record video in the Reddit app or select a pre-recorded video to upload from their mobile or desktop.

Mobile Apps Drive Tencent’s Record Q2 Growth to $2.7 Billion
Tencent Holdings has reported a 70 per cent rise in net income, hitting a record 18.2 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) for the three months ended June. The Chinese tech conglomerate beat Bloomberg’s forecast by around 35 per cent. For the period:

  • Tencent’s Revenue from Value Added Services, which includes games and messaging apps, climbed 43 percent to 36.8 billion yuan
  • Online advertising sales rose 55 percent to 10.1 billion yuan
  • WeChat reportedly had 963 million monthly active users, up 19.5 percent from the previous year

Martin Lau, Tencent’s President, said that going forward the company would be bolstering its artificial intelligence offering.

Facebook Offering In-Stream-Only Video Ad Buys
Facebook has announced that it has started selling video ads that will only appear in videos that people watch on its social network, or across its ad network of third-party sites and apps. As such, video advertisers will be able to buy video ads from Facebook that will only run in the same context as the ads they buy from YouTube, Hulu and TV networks: the in-stream video ads that people will be more likely to watch, and watch with the sound on.

In-stream buyers will be able to choose to have their ads appear as mid-roll ads within live and on-demand videos on Facebook or as pre-roll or mid-roll ads within videos across Facebook’s Audience Network ad network.

Immersv Raises $10.5 Million to Scale Mobile 360 and VR Advertising
Immersv has raised $10.5 million in a Series A financing. The round was led by Rogers Venture Partners with participation from Foundation Capital, The Venture Reality Fund, Initial Capital, East Ventures, HTC Vive, MCJ Co. Ltd., GREE, i-mobile, Metaps, and Gigi Levy. Immersv said it will use the funds to drive product development and deployment and expand its available inventory through direct Publisher and SSP integrations.

LinkedIn Adds Native Video to Present New Advertising Opportunity
LinkedIn’s 23 million UK members will be able to see who their videos reach on LinkedIn, the platform announced in a blog post. The new feature can be found by selecting a video icon in the share box at the top of the feed on iOS apps, or the post button on Android devices. And though the option is not available yet, it won’t be long before native video becomes a platform for advertising on LinkedIn.

Teens Leaving Facebook but Heading for Snapchat and Instagram
eMarketer estimates Facebook’s monthly active users aged 12 to 17 will decline 3.4 per cent in the US this year compared with 2016. The research also identifies a tween group of “Facebook-nevers” who skip the platform altogether. And shows that Snapchat now leads Facebook for use amongst the 12 to 17 year old group.

It’s not all bad news for Facebook, as the stats suggest, younger users are simply showing a preference for Snapchat and Instagram. Which highlights how forward-thinking its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram was in 2012.

Snapchat Offering Discounts to Small Advertisers
Snapchat is offering discounts and incentives to help brands recut their videos into the vertical format, Business Insider reports. The platform is offering discounts and incentives for creative services, particularly when it comes to recutting horizontal ads into vertical format. The incentives were made available for advertisers running Snap Ads, its video ads, in the second and third quarter. The incentives have come to light as Snap is looking to boost ad revenue following its poor performance in its second quarterly earnings as a public company.

Conversion of Out-of-Home Advertising to Digital Accelerates in the UK
The digitisation of out-of-home ad spending in the UK continues to advance in 2017, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. UK digital-out-of-home (DOOH) investment reportedly jumped 30 per cent year over year in Q2 2017 to £127 million. These gains contrast with an overall out-of-home UK ad market revenues rise of just 1.7 per cent for the quarter. Outsmart attributes digital’s growing share of out-of-home advertising to increased availability of digital signage at “premium” sites, and by continuing adoption of DOOH by advertisers in general.

Tout Rolls Our Ads.txt for Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter
Online TV network Tout is rolling out one of the first Ads.txt implementations for programmatic video advertisers with Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. The news is in response to the IAB Tech Lab’s effort to mitigate illicit ad inventory, and give publishers more control over their ad inventory. Ads.txt aims to empower publishers with a reliable way to prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions for programmatic buyers.

Facebook Targets False Video Click-Baiting
Facebook plans to tackle click-baiting via fake video play buttons. Fake play button strategies are usually employed to trick readers into clicking through to an external website. To limit this practice Facebook is beginning to demote stories that feature fake video play buttons and static images disguised as videos in News Feed. The social network warns publishers that rely on these intentionally deceptive practices should expect their distribution to markedly decrease.

The Week for Agencies

MullenLowe Completes Buyout of 101
MullenLowe London has completed its acquisition of independent creative shop 101. According to Campaign, the deal will tie the independent shop’s founders to a three-year earn-out, and the 101 brand will be axed. Its 40 staff members will move across London from Somerset House to Shoreditch in October.

Partnerships of the Week

Zoomin.TV Content Deal for Facebook Watch
Facebook and Zoomin.TV have partnered to create a series of purpose driven programming  specifically tailored to the needs of Gen Z for Facebook’s new video hub, ‘Watch’. The publisher has launched “Show Pages” in a bid to engage the younger audience with meaningful stories from around the globe that inspire change for Generation Zoomin.

ViralGains and Peer39 Partner for Contextually Relevant Video Ads
ViralGains has announced a partnership with Peer39 to create authentic connections between consumers and brands using video ads. Following the Peer39 integration, brands will have the benefits of the ViralGains platform in a contextually relevant environment.

Hires of the Week

Chester Appointed ISBA Director of Media as Finney Exits
Mark Finney is leaving ISBA as director of media after 17 months and Steve Chester will replace him as the trade body for advertisers seeks to beef up its digital expertise. Chester was director of data and industry programmes at the IAB until earlier this year.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky names Forsman & Bodenfors Chief as CEO
Crispin Porter & Bogusky has appointed Erik Sollenberg, the chief executive of sister agency Forsman & Bodenfors, to be the ad agency’s new global chief executive, Campaign reports. Sollenberg succeeds Lori Senecal.

Publicis Groupe Appoints Emmanuel André to new Chief Talent Officer Role
Publicis Groupe is appointing Emmanuel André as its first chief talent officer, to oversee talent management and recruitment across the holding company. André joins from Omnicom’s TBWA\Worldwide, where he spent nearly 25 years and was most recently president, international.

This Week on VAN

PE Firm Buys Majority Stake in DoubleVerify, read more on VAN

Programmatic Connected TV Advertising Will Only Scale with Universal Identifiers, read more on VAN

LatAm OTT TV & Video is Booming Despite Mobile Bundles, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: Love Affair, McDonald’s, Leo Burnett

Some very knowing work from Leo Burnett, which takes all the mise en scène of a pretentious perfume ad and applies them to McDonald’s ‘sophisticated’ range of burgers.

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