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The WIR: Forrester Forecasts 50,000 Agency Job Losses in US, TV Channels Go Dark in Support of George Floyd Protests, and IAB Europe Forecasts 5.5 Percent Drop in European Digital Advertising This Year

Tim Cross  05 June, 2020

In this week’s Week in Review: Forrester forecasts widespread agency job losses, TV channels go dark in support of George Floyd protests, and IAB Europe forecasts a 5.5 percent drop in European digital advertising. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Forrester Predicts Agencies Will Shed Over 100,000 Jobs Over This Year and Next
Advertising agencies will shed over 100,000 jobs globally by the end of 2021, as media spend drops due to grim economic conditions, according to market research company Forrester. Forrester predicts 52,000 jobs will be lost in the US alone, with just under 50,000 jobs being cut elsewhere around the world. “It’s a pretty dismal forecast for the agencies certainly,” says Forrester analyst Jay Pattisal, who wrote the report. “We’re looking at two years of negative growth, and when we forecast what the negative marketing spending will be toward agency services, it results in a significant decrease in the workforce.”

Creative ad agencies are facing the most severe cuts, shedding on average 15 percent of their staff according to Forrester’s report, compared to seven percent reductions at digital and media agencies. And while some of these jobs will return when economic conditions improve, Forrester forecasts that some losses will be permanent. Pattisal said agencies will need to adapt to smaller workforces, and should look to technology solutions which can help them get the most out of their remaining staff.

TV Channels Go Off-Air in Support of George Floyd Protests
A number of TV channels went off-air for just under ten minutes this week, in support of protests which have broken out in the US and Europe after the police killing on George Floyd, and unarmed black man. ViacomCBS channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, as well as Channel 4’s 4Music, all paused programming for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Tuesday while displaying messages in support of the protests. This was the length of time that former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, resulting in his death.

A number of brands also released ads and messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement this week. But while some received praise for their words and actions, many have also faced criticism in cases where the make up of their leadership teams or their general business practices don’t seem to match up with their public statements supporting racial equality. Belinda Smith, the WFA’s global diversity ambassador, discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and brands’ responses to the protests in this week’s VideoWeek Podcast (available here).

IAB Europe Forecasts 5.5 Percent Decline in European Digital Advertising in 2020
IAB Europe, an industry trade body, forecasts a 5.5 percent decline in the digital ad market in Europe this year, while other media channels are expected to see a 21.3 percent contraction. ” The results were announced in IAB Europe’s AdEx Benchmark 2019 Study, which found that digital advertising grew 12.3 percent in 2019 to €64.8bn, driven by strong growth in out-stream video, mobile and social spend.

“Whilst we are pleased to see another strong year of growth in 2019, we are well aware that 2020 will not follow the same trend due to the pandemic affecting all industries, businesses and lives,” said Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe. “As an industry association with the aim of supporting digital business, we are working hard to provide insights into the impact of COVID-19 on investment levels, and support our members through these challenging times.”

Coronavirus News

Dentsu Group Receives $700 Million Contract from Japanese Government
Japanese advertising group Dentsu has been handed a contract by the government worth nearly $700 million to provide back-office services for a scheme to help virus-hit firms. The awarding of the contract has been criticised by government opposition, with the process described as “opaque”, according to Reuters.

NBA Approves Plans to Restart Season
US basketball league the NBA approved plans to resume the competition, having paused the season during the lockdown. The season will resume on July 31st, with all games being played in Orlando Florida on Walt Disney’s campus. Games will be played without live audiences.

G/O Media Expects 30 Percent Ad Revenue Drop in Q2
Digital publisher G/O Media, which owns titles including Jezebel, Gizmodo and Deadspin, is expecting a 30 percent drop in ad revenues for Q2, Digiday reported this week. G/O Media has brought in former Bleacher Report SVP of ad sales Brian Kelly as its new chief revenue officer to help weather the storm, according to Digiday.

Premier League Agrees Payment Deferment with Sky Sports
The English Premier League has agreed a deal with broadcaster Sky Sports to defer a rebate worth $170 million until the 2021/22 season, The Athletic reported this week. Sky and other sports broadcasters have sought rebates due to the suspension of play caused by the lockdown. The Premier League has not yet agreed a deferment deal with BT, the other primary rights holder in the UK.

CTV Ad Spend Rises 40 Percent After COVID-19 Dip
Ad spend on connected-TV platforms has promptly rebounded following  an initial dip when lockdowns came into effect around the world, according to research from Pixalate, an anti-fraud ad tech company. Pixalate found that ad spend on CTV and over-the-top (OTT) devices in the US rose by 40 percent between April 5th and May 16th, having fallen by 14 percent at the beginning of March. All major CTV and OTT devices saw big jumps in ad spend according to Pixalate, with smart-TV maker Vizio recording the biggest rise, seeing a 108 percent jump in spend during the period.

The Week in Tech

Facebook Staff Stage Walkout Over Trump Response
Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout on Monday, protesting the companies decision to not take action against US President Trump’s posts on the platform, which many say violate the company’s policies against inciting violence. Trump has posted a number of inflammatory comments on the platform in relation to ongoing protests in the US following the police killing of George Floyd. But Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has maintained that he will not censor or remove Trump’s posts, arguing that it’s “better to have this discussion out in the open, especially when the stakes are so high”.

Google Hit With $5 Billion Lawsuit Over Incognito Tracking
Google is facing a class action lawsuit seeking $5 billion compensation over alleged privacy violations. The suit claims that Google tracks users’ behaviour through applications including Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager, even when users are browsing via Google Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode, regardless of whether those users click on Google-served ads.

MediaMath Considers a Sale
Demand-side platform MediaMath is reportedly looking for a buyer, Digiday reported this week, having appointed investment bank Centerview Partners to explore strategic options. The ad tech company, like many, has faced difficulties during the pandemic, cutting its workforce by eight percent through layoffs and furloughs back in April.

Beeswax Launches New Data Warehouse Product ‘Antenna’
Demand-side platform Beeswax this week launched Antenna, a private data warehouse for Beeswax customers built on cloud-based data warehouse Snowflake. Beeswax says Antenna will give customer SQL access to raw log-level data about their programmatic advertising, with no investment in infrastructure needed.

Comcast Spins Off Blockgraph into a JV
Comcast has spun off Blockgraph, a product designed to help brands use their data sets for targeted TV advertising in a privacy compliant way, into a joint venture. Blockgraph is now jointly owned by Comcast, Charter Communications, and ViacomCBS, with each company owning one third of the business.

Roku Adds 30 New Live Channels
OTT platform and hardware maker Roku added 30 free, ad-supported live channels to its platform this week via The Roku Channel. Roku has also added a live TV channel guide, to help users find content on the 100+ live channels it now offers, according to Adweek.

The Week in TV

Salto Begins Test Phase
Salto, a French subscription streaming service created by TF1, M6 and France Télévisions, began its testing phase among a limited group of users this week. A full launch of the product is expected in autumn.

Quibi Asks Executives to Take Ten Percent Pay Cut After Disappointing Launch
Quibi, an impressively-backed mobile-first paid streaming service launched earlier this year, has asked senior executives to accept a ten percent reduction in their salaries following a disappointing debut, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is also exploring laying off as much as ten percent of its roughly 250-strong workforce.

TF1 and Mediapro to Launch French Football Channel
French broadcaster TF1 has agreed a deal with Spanish media group Mediapro which will see the two launch a new football channel in France, which will air games from France’s Ligue 1. The new channel, Telefoot, will launch around the time play resumes, expected to be in August.

AMC Networks and The Weather Channel Join OpenAP
US TV networks AMC and The Weather Channel have both joined OpenAP, a US industry alliance designed to standardise targetable audiences on TV. Both broadcasters will make all their national linear and OTT inventory available via OpenAP’s buying platform. The two join Fox, NBCUniversal, Viacom and Univision as members of the alliance.

Disney+ and Apple TV+ are Fourth and Fifth Most Popular SVOD Services in the US
Newly launched subscription services Disney+ and Apple TV+ have both quickly found success according to research from Parks Associates, which places them as the fourth and fifth most popular subscription streaming services in the US respectively.

Comcast Brings Brings Car Showrooms onto TV Sets
Comcast has unveiled a new ‘Virtual Auto Showroom’, an ad offering for car manufacturers which will let them virtually demo their products on TV sets. The showroom is available via Comcast’s multiplatform virtual programming distribution (MVPD) service Xfinity X1, and users will be able to navigate it via X1’s voice control features. Read the full story on VAN.

SVOD Services Risk Forgoing £100 Million Without Running Ads
Research from The Trade Desk this week suggested that paid-subscription streaming services risk sacrificing £100 million in potential revenues by not running ads. TTD found that seven in ten UK consumers won’t spend more than £20 per month on SVOD services, down from £25 per month the last time it ran the same survey. TTD says this equated to nearly £100 million in lost revenue, which could be captured by ad-supported services.

Analyst MoffettNathanson Criticises ‘Chaotic’ HBO Max Launch
Analyst firm MoffettNathanson’s founders Michael Nathanson and Craig Moffett this week criticised the launch of WarnerMedia’s new SVOD service HBO Max, describing the launch as ‘chatoic’. The duo derided the organisation of brands on HBO Max, and said it launched with a lack of “buzzworthy” content.

Channel 4 Strikes Content Deal with Snapchat
UK broadcaster Channel 4 has struck a content deal with Snapchat, which will see short form edits of Channel 4’s content published via Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ hub. Channel 4 has already broadcast content via Snapchat, but the new deal will see popular shows including ‘Hollyoaks’, ‘The Last Leg’, and ‘Grime Gran’ air made-for-mobile edits on the platform.

WWE’s SVOD Service Launches Free Tier
US professional wrestling brand the WWE’s subscription OTT service WWE Network launched a free tier this week, designed to attract new audiences to engage with the sport. The free tier will give users access to a limited portion of WWE Network’s content, though live events and recently aired shows will require a subscription.

The Week in Publishing

LinkedIn Adds Video Retargeting Feature
Professional social networking platform LinkedIn this week announced new retargeting features for advertising on its platform. Advertisers will be able to retarget campaigns based on video views, and lead-gen forms will also be added to LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager, according to Adweek.

Australian Court Finds Publishers Liable for Comments on Social Posts
An Australian court this week ruled that when news publishers post their articles on social platforms, they are liable for comments made on those social posts. The ruling means that publishers will be held accountable for defamatory comments made by other users on these social posts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Snap to Stop Promoting President Trump’s Account
Snapchat said it will stop promoting US President Donald Trump’s account, saying that his remarks made via the platform could incite racial violence. “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” said a Snap spokesperson on Wednesday. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society.”

The Week for Agencies

Advertising Executives Call For “Action Not Words” Against Racism
Over 200 UK advertising leaders and executives have signed an open letter calling for “action not words” to tackle racism within the industry. The letter comes in response to the tragic death of George Floyd, a black American man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, which has sparked widespread protests across the US, as well as the UK. Read the full story on VAN.

L’Oréal Accused of Hypocrisy Over Blackout Tuesday Post
Personal care brand L’Oréal was called out this week over its Instagram post supporting Blackout Tuesday, with model Munroe Bergdorf calling the post hypocritical. Bergdorf was hired by the brand in 2017 but fired shortly afterwards for comments made about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where an anti-far-right protester was killed by a white supremacist.

Publicis Group’s Sadoun Criticised Over Response to Anti-Racism Protests
Publicis Group’s CEO Arthur Sadoun was criticised as not adequately addressing anti-racism protests in the US. In his weekly video address, Sadoun referenced unrest in the US, but did not specifically reference racism, police brutality, or the death of George Floyd. AgencySpy reported frustration from Publicis employees, with some describing the response as ‘disappointing’ and ‘predictable’.

Influencer Posts Account for One in Four ASA Complaints About Online Advertising
One in four complaints submitted to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority in 2019 relate to influencer posts, fresh data from the ASA shows. Of 16,767 complaints against online ads submitted last year, 4,401 related to influencer ads on social platforms.

New Agency ‘Cartwright’ Launches in LA
Keith Cartwright, a former executive creative director at 72&Sunny LA, has launched a new WPP-backed agency called ‘Cartwright’. The creative shop already counts Facebook, P&G and LVMH brand Loro Piana among its clients, according to Campaign.

Hires of the Week

WarnerMedia Appoints Richard Tom as CTO
WarnerMedia has picked Richard Tom, former chief technology officer of Hulu, as its new CTO.

LadBible Hires Anna-Lee Bridgstock for New Data Unit
LadBible has hired Anna-Lee Bridgstock, formerly of Wunderman Thompson, to head up a new data insight division.

Sky Promotes Simon Robson to CFO
Sky has promoted Simon Robson to the role of CFO, as current CFO Jason Armstrong has been appointed EVP and treasurer of parent company Comcast.

This Week on VAN

Over Forty Percent of Samsung TV Owners Watch Less Than Two Hours of Linear TV per Month, read more on VAN

Comcast Brings Brings Car Showrooms onto TV Sets, read more on VAN

Industry Experts Explain How to Get the Best Out of YouTube Campaigns, read more on VAN

Advertising Executives Call For “Action Not Words” Against Racism, read more on VAN

The Analysts’ View: How Can Pay TV Operators Stem Subscriber Losses? read more on VAN

VideoWeek Podcast #5, Belinda J Smith, Global Diversity Ambassador, WFA, listen on VAN

Ad of the Week

56 Black Men, Let’s Not Forget

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