The WIR: Twitter and Facebook Secure New Sports Rights, UK Politicians Call on Social Media for Greater Responsibility, and Turner Launches Unified Ad Sales House

Tim Cross 16 March, 2018 

In this week’s Week in Review: Twitter and Facebook secure streaming rights for MLB and MLS respectively, UK politicians go on the offensive against US social media companies, and Turner International launches T1, a new unified ad sales house. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Twitter and Facebook Secure Further Sports Streaming Rights
Facebook and Twitter both secured sports streaming rights this week as the two platforms step further into the sports broadcasting space. Twitter agreed a three-year deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) that will see at least 25 matches per season livestreamed in English on Twitter in the US. Meanwhile Facebook, which hosted MLS games last season, has struck a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to exclusively stream one weekday afternoon game per week in the US via its Watch platform. This marks MLB’s first solely digital national broadcast agreement.

UK Politicians Take Aim at Tech Giants
US tech giants came under fire in the UK this week as politicians called on the likes of YouTube and Facebook to take more responsibility for content hosted on their platforms. Culture Minister Matt Hancock, speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, called for social media platforms to “step up and play their part in establishing online rules and working for the benefit of the public that uses them.” He acknowledged steps already taken by Google, Facebook and Twitter, but said much more needs to be done.

Meanwhile Labour MP Yvette Cooper had strong words for YouTube after questioning Google’s public policy manager Will McCants, criticising its content vetting process. McCants was called in front of the Home Affairs Committee to answer questions on YouTube’s failure to remove propaganda videos posted by UK Neo-Nazi group National Action. Cooper, who chairs the committee, was shocked by his lack of knowledge on where and how YouTube’s content reviewing takes place, calling McCants’ responses “shockingly weak evidence” on Twitter.

Turner International Launches Centralised Ad Sales Team
Turner International today announced the launch of a new digital ad sales division which will unite the company’s properties and give brands outside the US a single access point for creating global, regional or local campaigns. The new London-based department, T1, will consolidate sales for brands including Bleacher Report, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS and Copa90 in one division. Turner says advertisers will be able to buy audience segments across these properties, or target particular content such as news or sports. The unit will offer the ability to plan branded content, native advertising and product placement across these properties, as well as pre-roll and display.

The Week in Tech

Rubicon Project Cuts 100 Staff as Revenues Fall 44 Percent
Rubicon Project released its full year results for 2017 this week, showing a 44 percent decline in revenue, as well as growth in expenses, leading to an annual loss of $154 million. Revenues was particularly hard hit in Q4, falling 57 percent year-on-year, after the company dropped buy side fees towards the end of last year. The company is taking a number of cost-cutting measures as a result, including releasing 100 members of staff. However the company’s CEO and president Michael G. Barrett said he remains confident that the company is well positioned for success in the future.

“2017 was a year we invested heavily to position the company for growth and in 2018 we have now taken significant steps to reduce our operating costs and capex. The result of recent double digit ad spend growth, combined with today’s cost reductions are intended to put us on strong financial footing and make us adjusted EBITDA positive in Q4 of 2018,” he said.

OpenX Reaches $172 Net Revenue for 2017
OpenX released its financial results for 2017 on Tuesday, recording net revenue of $172 million for the full year. The company credits the growth to significant investments in mobile and video, as well as quality initiatives. Mobile inventory surpassed desktop on the OpenX Exchange for the first time last year, with OpenX’s mobile business growing 39 percent year-on-year. Video revenue meanwhile grew 5,000 percent over 2017 as the majority of OpenX’s top publisher clients monetised video inventory via the OpenX Exchange.

Google Removed 3.2 Billion Ads in in 2017 According to Bad Ads Report
Google took down over 3.2 billion “bad” ads from its platform last year, according to data released today, equivalent to over 100 ads removed every second. The search giant’s annual report on actions it took to fight harmful and malicious advertising shows that ad takedowns almost doubled from 1.7 million in 2016, and outlines emerging forms of undesirable ads that have popped up over the past year.

Google removes any ads it serves that appear on websites which violate its AdSense publisher policies, and also ads which themselves go against its AdWords advertiser policies. While some of these standards are controversial (such as those set by the Coalition for Better Ads, which Google began enforcing last month), Google frames others as being geared towards combating blatantly malicious behaviour. Read the full story on VAN.

IAS Launches Tools for Protecting Brands in In-App Programmatic Environments
Integral Ad Science this week launched new tech which it says allows programmatic buyers to target mobile in-app inventory that is brand safe, fraud-free, and expected to meet a given viewability goal. The Trade Desk, DoubleClick Bid Manager, Oath, Viant’s Adelphic, AppNexus, and MediaMath have all signed up to integrate IAS’s new tool, which it says will let traders define the content categories they need to be protected against based on customised risk thresholds, and then only target the apps that meet those brand safety expectations.

360° Video Ads Drive Higher Purchase Intent Compared With Traditional Video Ads says YuMe
360° video ads drive higher purchase intent than regular video ads, according to research released this week by YuMe in partnership with MAGNA and IPG Media Lab. The study into consumer attitudes towards 360° video ads found that consumers are eager to experience 360° content even when it’s branded, with 88 percent of those who found 360° video entertaining saying they would interact with 360° video ads in the future. The study however also emphasised that challenges persist in creating memorable experiences, given the inherent distractions of the format.

AnyClip Launches Brand Safety Solution
AI-driven video and data monetisation platform AnyClip launched a new brand safety solution this week. AnyClip’s platform will be powered by Luminous, a real-time video analysis engine which the company says will be able to flag and filter out inappropriate content including nudity, violence, profanity, alcohol, guns and tobacco.

IAB UK Refreshes Brand
The Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), which turns 21 this year,  has updated its branding and launched a new website, which it says is designed to improve access to key information. New features of the site, now hosted at, included a new ‘jargon buster’ integrated into the search engine, a bigger emphasis on video, and better integration of different types of content. “Digital advertising has matured and so have we” said James Chandler, chief marketing officer of the IAB UK. He added, “Our refreshed branding visually represents the evolution of our voice as we become more assertive within the industry.”

The Week in TV

Ireland Pitches Itself as Doorway into EU for International Broadcasters Post-Brexit
Irish authorities have been meeting with international broadcasters to pitch Ireland as a potential solution to licensing problems thrown up by Brexit. IDA Ireland, an agency responsible for encouraging foreign direct investment into the country, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) have revealed they met with potential investors in London last week to encourage them to relocate their key functions to Ireland after Brexit, in order to allow them to continue broadcasting across the EU. Read the full story on VAN.

Amazon Prime Stats Show Original Strategy Paying Off
Amazon’s most popular TV shows had drawn over five million people worldwide into Amazon Prime membership by the start of 2017, according to internally circulated documents seen by Reuters this week. The documents reveal previously unseen data around Amazon’s video service, showing that its total audience in the US was around 26 million at the start of last year, and that Prime’s original programming was responsible for a quarter of sign-ups between 2014-2017. The figures suggest that Amazon’s strategy, of investing in video to drive Prime memberships, thereby encouraging more spending on its core retail offering, is paying off.

Apple Exec Says No Intention to Buy Netflix
Apple is not looking to buy Netflix or The Walt Disney Company, according to its senior VP of internet software Eddy Cue. Apple has begun investing heavily in original content, commissioning a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’ last year, but it doesn’t currently own an established video streaming platform to host this content on, leading some to speculate it would buy an already successful product like Netflix. However Cue, speaking at SXSW, said this is not the company’s plan, though questions remain over where content will be hosted. Currently Apple’s originals are available on Apple TV sets and Apple Music, and Apple may well look to expand its Music service as its home for original video.

US Pay TV Revenues to Fall $27 Billion by 2023 says Digital TV Research
Pay TV revenues in the US peaked in 2015 according to a new report by Digital TV Research, and are forecast to have declined by 26 percent between 2015 and 2023, a $26 billion drop. “Cable TV is not the only platform to suffer. Satellite TV and IPTV (internet protocol television) are also losing subscribers and revenues,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research. “Much of this is due to the operators shifting their subscribers to online platforms. However, growth from vMVPDs (virtual multi-channel video programming distributors) is not expected to make up completely for the subscriber and revenue shortfalls from traditional pay TV.”

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Looks to Wikipedia to Combat Conspiracy Videos
YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed at SXSW this week that the platform will begin using Wikipedia to help stop the spread of misleading news by conspiracy videos hosted in its website. YouTube will begin adding companion units to conspiracy theory videos over the coming weeks which will direct viewers to Wikipedia pages giving more information on the conspiracy theory at hand. The solution is similar to YouTube’s initiative to add Wikipedia links to public broadcasters’ videos, giving more information on who they’re funded by.

UK Government Appoints Panel to Review Press Sustainability
Following UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement last month that the government would conduct a review of the sustainability of the British press, a panel has now been appointed to handle the investigation. Dame Frances Cairncross will chair the review, which will in part examine the impact of tech companies on UK news publications. “This is both a challenging and an exciting time for the press, both locally and nationally, and I hope the review will clarify both ways to ensure the future of high quality journalism and the options for public policy,” said Cairncross. The panel will also include Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield, the Advertising Association’s chief executive Stephen Woodford, and Matthew Rogerson, head of public policy at Guardian Media Group.

The Week for Agencies

London Agencies Admit ‘Top Five Emails’ in Fresh Misogynistic Culture Scandal
Multiple London-based agencies came under fire this week after it emerged that it was somewhat common practice for departing male executives to send emails to all staff in which they ranked their “top five” and “bottom five” most attractive members of staff. Paul Martin of The&Partnership’s London office admitted sending such an email after rumours circulated on Twitter, but claimed his was an ironic attempt to subvert the “top five” emails which have been sent around agencies for many years.

DigitasLBi Rebrands to Digitas as Part of Restructuring
Publicis Group’s DigitasLBi has rebranded to Digitas, part of a reogranisation which will see Digitas work closer with its parent company. The digital agency, formed five years ago by a merger of LBi and Digitas, has been moved from PublicisSapient and into Publicis Mediax, which the Groupe hopes will help “clarify” its proposition to clients.

Partnerships of the Week

Pluto TV Teams Up With SpotX To Drive Advertising Demand and Monetisation of Premium Video
SpotX this week extended its strategic partnership with Pluto TV in a deal which will see SpotX match media buyers to Pluto TV’s premium inventory and power the programmatic monetisation of Pluto TV’s free, over-the-top (OTT) content. The two say the partnership opens up more opportunities for media buyers who have been increasingly trying to break into the OTT game. “As viewership continues to grow in OTT, many advertisers are unsure about what to buy in the space, or how to effectively buy it,” said Mike Shehan, co-founder and CEO at SpotX. “Pluto TV offers a seamless, TV-like viewer experience, and we’re excited to help create a more powerful offering by connecting advertisers with their inventory.”

Smaato Partners with Protected Media for Fraud Protection
Mobile-based ad tech company Smaato announced on Thursday that it has implemented Protected Media’s in-app and video fraud protection technology to help protect publishers and advertisers using its platform. Smaato says in-app spending on its platform has grown from 80 percent to 96 percent of the total last year, while in-app video ad requests have increased by 14 times. “At Smaato, advertisers receive high-quality traffic for all of their mobile ad campaigns across our vast publisher base, and this partnership ensures that quality and value are maintained,” said Georg Fiegen, COO of Smaato. “With Protected Media, we can ensure that the traffic on our exchange is viewable, brand-safe, transparent and protected from fraud.”

Hires of the Week

Amagi Names Deepakjit Singh as CEO
Amagi on Tuesday announced that it has named Deepakjit Singh as its new CEO. Singh has nearly 30 years of experience in broadcast technology – including executive positions at Encompass, Ascent Media, Bharti Airtel and BT – and has been brought in to increase the footprint of Amagi across the globe.

Tremor Video DSP Expands Marketing Team
Programmatic video platform Tremor Video DSP announced this week the appointment of Justin Chadwick as senior director of marketing and Jessica La Rosa as senior director of product marketing and sales strategy. Chadwick joins from Crossix Solutions, where he was senior director of marketing and communications, and La Rosa Returns after serving as director of product marketing and sales enablement at Innovid, having previously worked with Tremor as director of product marketing.

The Week on Van

TV Analytics: The Secret to Success for Seasonal Advertising, read more on VAN

Ireland Pitches Itself as Doorway into EU for International Broadcasters Post-Brexit, read more on VAN

SSP’s Accuse Google of Bullying and Opaque Practices as Search Giant Announces Results of War on Fraud, read more on VAN

“We Only Pass Ten Percent of Ad Requests on to Advertisers” says Thirdpresence CEO Valtteri Pukander, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Only Slightly Exaggerated, Travel Oregon, Wieden + Kennedy Portland
This beautifully animated spot shows of Oregon’s landscapes by embellishing them with a multitude of fantastical creatures, and claiming it to be “only slightly exaggerated”.


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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