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The WIR: VideoAmp Raises $21.4 Million, Fox News Disappears from UK Sky, BuzzFeed Ditches Native-Only Ad Policy Ahead of Possible IPO

  01 September, 2017

In this week’s Week in Review: VideoAmp has raised $21.4 million in a series B funding round, Fox News is being cut from Sky’s offer in the UK, and BuzzFeed has abandoned its native-only ad policy in order to monetise ahead of possible IPO. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

VideoAmp Raises $21.4 Million to Fuel Further Growth
Video DSP VideoAmp has announced the closure of its $21.4 million Series B round, led by software and computer services provider MediaOcean and supported by German media giant RTL Group. RTL Group’s investment in VideoAmp follows its acquisition of Denver-based video supply-side platform SpotX, YouTube multichannel video networks StyleHaul and BroadbandTV, and a $19.4 million investment in Clypd, a programmatic TV tool focused on the sell side.

VideoAmp says its system lets ad agencies and content owners unify planning, packaging and activation of linear TV and digital-video campaigns across any screen. The startup offers de-duplicating and targeting methods to reach TV, video-on-demand, over-the-top video, desktop, and mobile audiences, and has said the money raised will be used to expand its engineering team and licence more first party data sets.

Fox News Disappears from UK Sky
Sky has removed ‘news channel’ Fox News from its UK roster. Broadcasting halted in the UK as of 4pm on August 29th, with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox claiming that the channel had been withdrawn as it was not commercially viable. A company source, speaking to the BBC, insisted complaints against Fox News in relation to a Sky takeover bid were not the reason for the UK removal, and claimed that Fox News only had about 2,000 average daily viewers. However, figures from the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board suggest that Fox News’ average UK daily viewing figures were nearly 70,000 per day this year.

BuzzFeed Ditches Native-Only Ad Policy Ahead of Possible IPO
American media company BuzzFeed will be rolling out display advertising that will run across its homepage, stories pages and mobile apps, Business Insider reports. BuzzFeed had been a champion of native advertising to focus on high quality content and adverts, but  it appears to have made a u-turn ahead of a likely IPO, and will be selling display formats via its third-party ad tech to boost monetisation across its properties.


The Week in Tech

Inneractive Partner with Moat, Pixalate and MobileWalla on Fraud Initiative
Inneractive have announced their partnership with Moat, Pixalate and MobileWalla to launch the “Keeping it Clean” initiative. Inneractive will adopt the ads.txt initiative, and their partners aim to ensure quality, as per:

  • Pixalate: Tracks, monitors, and blocks highly probable illegitimate ad inventory.
  • MobileWalla: Identifies and flags suspicious IP addresses and ads with falsified physical location information.
  • Moat: Provides MRC ‘stamp of approval’ around IVT, human traffic rates and viewability.

Brand Safety Now a Growing Concern for Programmatic Advertising Sellers
Brand safety remains a primary concern among programmatic ad buyers, and is a growing worry for ad sellers, according to TailWind. Their poll found that fear of ads appearing on “undesirable sites” remained the leading concern among buyers. Whilst among programmatic ad sellers, nearly 24 per cent thought brand safety was a challenge, double the percentage from a year earlier.

Nonetheless, these concerns seem to be having little effect on the use of programmatic advertising. TailWind found nearly 76 per cent of ad buyers surveyed used programmatic. And the biggest deterrent for those not currently using programmatic was a lack of qualified staff to institute automated ad buying practices, rather than brand safety concerns

RhythmOne Confirms Talks to Buy US-Listed YuMe
RhythmOne and video ad tech outfit YuMe have confirmed they are in deal talks. UK-based RhythmOne issued its confirmation of a potential takeover, but warned that “there can be no certainty that any transaction will proceed”. US-based YuMe subsequently issued a statement describing the talks as “YuMe’s strategic alternatives process”. The talks follow RhythmOne’s acquisition of RadiumOne assets, earlier this year.

adsquare Launches Data Alliance To Offer Deterministic Data For Mobile At Scale
Mobile-first data exchange adsquare has announced the launch of the adsquare Data Alliance. The alliance aims to empower advertisers with accurate data, at scale, by aggregating deterministic data from app publishers and validated third-party data from the extensive list of adsquare’s data partners, so advertisers are able to tap accurate audience data at scale.

Fox, Panasonic, Samsung Join to Boost HDR
20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corporation and Samsung Electronics have forged a partnership to create an open, royalty-free metadata platform for High Dynamic Range, tentatively called HDR10+. The three companies will begin licensing the HDR10+ platform in January 2018. They will license HDR10+ metadata broadly to content companies, ultra-high definition TVs, Blu-ray disc players/recorders and set-top box manufacturers, as well as SoC vendors, royalty-free with a nominal administrative fee.

The Week in TV

RTL Delivers Strong Financials in Spite of TV Ad Market Decline
RTL Group has published its results for the six months ended June 30th 2017, which show Group revenue up 3.5 per cent to €2,978 million. The increase was largely driven by higher revenue from RTL Group’s growing digital businesses, which delivered an increase of €125 million, with support from the three main business units Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, Groupe M6 and FremantleMedia.

This growth compensated the fact that all of the European TV advertising markets in which RTL Group is active decreased during the reporting period. RTL Group announced that it expects its total revenue for the fiscal year 2017 to continue to grow moderately, at +2.5 per cent to +5.0 per cent, driven by the Group’s digital businesses and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.

ProSieben Downgrades TV Ad Forecast but Upholds Yearly Profit Guidance
ProSieben has warned that its Q3 TV ad revenues in German-language markets are set to decline by “by a mid-single digit percentage compared to the prior year”. But has upheld its full-year profit guidance on evidence of strong performance in other divisions, and an expected recovery in TV ad sales in Q4.

To allay investors concerns ProSieben also announced it was looking for external investors to support its content production and digital commerce businesses, and would considering merging its TV advertising business in German-language markets with its Digital Entertainment division, in order to cut costs.

STV Group Pledges £10 Million Return to Investors in Next 18 Months
In spite of a tough ad market, and having reported a fall in first-half pre-tax profit, Scottish broadcaster STV Group PLC has announced it will raise the dividend and left its full year guidance unchanged. The dividend rises 25 per cent to five pence, and STV said it plans a final dividend of 12 pence, and to return another £10 million to shareholders over the next 18 months. STV said that whilst it expects TV ad revenues to be down by around two per cent in September and by eight per cent in the third quarter, its digital revenue, which includes website and video on demand advertising, should continue to grow by between 15 to 20 per cent.

DirecTV $4 Billion FTC Legal Action “Paused” by Judge
Judge Haywood Gilliam has “paused” a trial taking place in California between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and pay-TV operator DirecTV. The FTC is claiming that DirecTV made unjust gains in its subscriber promotions and alleged false advertising, and that some 33 million subscribers signed up for DirecTV services without being made aware of the actual end-result costs. However, the judge has expressed dissatisfaction with the mathematics in the FTC claim, and said there were “substantial issues” in the lawsuit, according to legal web-site Law360.  

Italian Government Considering Vivendi’s Influence on Telecom Italia
Italian government officials are reportedly in the process of determining whether Vivendi exercises a controlling influence over Telecom Italia (TIM). The publicity around the action puts the pressure onto the French media group, which has resolutely rejected claims that it now “controls” TIM. If the Italian government determines that Vivendi has failed to provide proper notification that it controls TIM, it could levy a penalty of up to 1 per cent of the cumulative turnover of TIM and Vivendi together.

Online Rivals put UK Broadcasters at Risk of £1 Billion Per Year Loss
UK broadcasters could lose a combined £1 billion per year to rival services from Amazon, Facebook and YouTube, according to OC&C Strategy Consultants. The report estimates that the UK broadcast industry is worth up to to £15 billion in revenues annually, including advertising revenues and pay-TV subscriptions. The £1 billion loss figure is equivalent to the UK TV industry’s annual profit from broadcasting activities.

CBS to Acquire Network Ten
CBS Corporation has agreed to acquire Australian commercial broadcaster Network Ten. The deal includes the core linear channel TEN, digital terrestrial television channel ELEVEN, the DTT channel ONE, and Network Ten’s digital platform, TENPLAY. CBS also plans to leverage Network Ten’s linear and digital assets to launch CBS All Access, the Company’s digital subscription video on-demand service, in the Australian market.

Mexico Joins Rejection of AT&T and Time Warner Merger
Mexico has joined Brazil in questioning AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner, with Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) regulator widely reported as saying that the merger cannot go ahead unless AT&T disposes of its 41 per cent stake in Sky Mexico, and isolates Time Warner’s HBO LatAm activities.

AT&T has since released a “clarification” on the reports, arguing that the IFT set conditions for the transaction, “do not contemplate a structural separation of the companies or any divestiture processes”. As they only “establish mechanisms so that the businesses of Time Warner, Sky México and HBO LAG have independent operations.”

Viacom Enters SVoD Market with Paramount+
Viacom Media Networks International is joining the video-on-demand market with the launch of Paramount+ in the Nordic region. The new service will hold the rights to the first pay TV window for Paramount Pictures’ movie releases, along with a catalogue of films and episodes of MTV and Comedy Central shows. Viacom is making the service available via distribution partners only, unlike other SVoD services available across the region such as HBO and Netflix. Paramount+ will launch on October 1st.

North America to Add 59 Million SVoD Subs by 2022
The North American SVoD sector is forecast to add 171 million subscribers by 2022, an increase of 59 million on 2016. Digital TV Research forecasts that 85 million US TV households will subscribe to at least one SVoD platform by 2022. The average SVoD household will pay for 1.88 SVoD platforms. The report concludes that most of the dual SVoD subscriptions will be for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. These two platforms will account for 72.5 per cent of the North America’s SVoD subscribers by 2022. Sponsors Sky Living
Online retailer has announced its first full channel sponsorship of Sky Living. The campaign will run for six months across linear TV, VoD and online. The creative will be run in three bursts, aligning to specific occasions throughout the six-month period. In addition to its on-air creative, Very will further communicate its partnership to its customers via its website and customer communications.

FreeSports Channel Launches in UK
FreeSports, a new free-to-air TV sports channel has launched in the UK. The channel is operated by the team behind Premier Sports, and becomes the only FTA sports channel available on Freeview, TalkTalk and BT. Sky and FreeSat are also carrying the channel, but not Virgin Media.

Mattel and Fullscreen Launch “Brand-Safe” Video Network
Mattel has announced a partnership with Fullscreen to launch Fullscreen Family, a “brand-safe video network”. The partners will also create a Hot Wheels-focused digital content innovation team, which will allow Fullscreen’s content creators to use Hot Wheels iconography. Through Fullscreen Family, the partners will focus on creating content that engages a generation of digital-first consumers across video and social platforms.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook Withdraws 17 Ad Formats Associated
As of 15 September, advertisers and agencies that use Facebook will be unable to boost social engagement with 17 ad formats for their Pages. Facebook explains that this is because it wants its customers to rely on tools and formats that drive business outcomes, not social engagement. The discarded formats include profile picture changes, photos or videos uploaded using Facebook’s in-app camera, posts published from third-party apps to the Page’s timeline, political endorsements and place recommendations.

Retail Makes Up 14.2 Per Cent of UK 2017 Digital Ad Spend
UK retailers will drive mobile and digital ad spending in 2018, according to eMarketer. The retail sector is forecast to account for 14.2 per cent of all digital ad spending, fuelled by the rise in eCommerce. eMarketer predicts that this growth will continue into 2018, with retail accounting for 14.5 per cent of digital ad expenditure.

Mobile advertising in particular has driven growth with investments jumping 31 per cent to £1.04 billion. Mobile now represents over two-thirds of digital ad outlays this year.

Snapchat to Add Scripted Content by End of 2017
Snapchat will add scripted content to its service before the end of year, according to Nick Bell, head of content for the platform. Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Bell said that long-form content isn’t the answer for Snapchat, as he believes that the ideal length for a mobile show is three to five minutes, and any scripted content will continue to conform to that.

Bell also said that Snapchat isn’t trying to be a TV-killer and that it instead complements TV, saying content on the app drove viewership increases of 15 per cent to TV series like “The Bachelor.”

The Week for Agencies

R/GA Launches Consulting Services in APAC
R/GA has launched its consulting practice across Asia-Pacific. The work will be led by recent hire Jehan Leanage, operating from R/GA Singapore, in the newly created role of Executive Director for Consulting, APAC. R/GA will offer APAC businesses organisational design and managed services, as well as Connected Space, a service designed to help companies connect physical to digital.

Publicis Groupe Expands Secretary General Role to Spearhead CSR
Publicis Groupe has expanded the responsibilities of secretary general Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner to include CSR and The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. The move means that both initiatives will have a dedicated representative on the group’s most senior leadership level, the Directoire, for the first time.

Heilbronner is the only female member of the Directoire and currently has responsibility for legal affairs, human resources, procurement, governance, compliance, internal audit and risk management. She will retain her existing remit.

Partnerships of the Week

Visual IQ Unveils Partnership with LiveRamp
Visual IQ has partnered with LiveRamp to provide their customers with a more complete, people-based view of the consumer journey. The integration will mean clients have a better understanding of how their digital marketing strategies impact conversions that occur in the offline world, and the ability to optimise their marketing and media tactics based on their online and offline impact.

Hires of the Week

Spotify Boosts Programmatic Ambitions with Gierlinska Hire
Zuzanna Gierlinska has joined Spotify as head of programmatic for Europe as the music streaming service aims to become a leading programmatic company, Campaign reports. Gierlinska brings to Spotify 17 years’ digital advertising industry experience, most recently at Oracle’s Marketing Cloud where she was director, data management platform EMEA.

RadiumOne Bolsters UK Leadership Team with Management Promotions
RadiumOne, a RhythmOne Company, has announced the promotion of two team members within the UK management team. Louise Briggs, previously the head of Sales and Account Management will be promoted to the Director Business Operations. And Emma Hazlehurst, previously the head of Strategic Solutions, will now assume the role of Director of Business Development.

Mother Appoints New Partners to Run London
Mother has appointed Ana Balarin, Chris Gallery, Hermeti Balarin, and Katie Mackay as equity partners of its London agency to lead the shop in its next stage of evolution, Campaign reports. The Balarins, currently executive creative directors, and joint heads of strategy Gallery and Mackay will now formally take on the day-to-day running of the London agency.

R/GA Hires Jehan Leanage as APAC Consulting Exec Director
R/GA has hired Jehan Leanage as executive director for consulting, APAC. Leanage joins from Eutech Cybernetic, a cloud software provider to the real-estate industry, where he was vice-president of business development and partnerships.

This Week on VAN

Google and Facebook are Significantly Exposed to Disruption via GDPR, read more on VAN

RTL Group Buys Remaining Stake in SpotX, read more on VAN

Broadcasters and Pay TV Operators Need to Agree on Sharing Revenue for Addressable TV Advertising, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week: This Is a Generic Millennial Ad, Dissolve, Dissolve and And/Or studio

Dissolve flex their millennial savvy with a call-out of brands’ hackneyed efforts to co-opt youth culture. The disturbing accuracy of this parody should raise a smile for the casual observer, and should be required viewing for anyone wanting to position their brand as ‘just like you(th)’.  

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