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The WIR: Google Threatens to Pull Search in Australia, ProSieben Sees Advertising Rebound, and Omnicom Investors Call for Ad Spend Scrutiny

Tim Cross  25 January, 2021

In this week’s Week in Review: Google threatens to withdraw its search engine in Australia over new laws on publisher payments, ProSieben sees a Q4 uptick in ad revenues, and Omnicom investors call for an investigation into the social impact of ad spend. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Google Threatens to Pull Search in Australia Over Publisher Payment Laws
Google has threatened to pull its search services from Australia if new laws pass which would force the tech giants to negotiate payments with news publishers.

Australia has emerged as one of the major battlegrounds as publishers around the world are increasingly pressing for payments from the likes of Google and Facebook, who profit from republishing snippets of third-party articles. A proposed new law in Australia would force the two companies to negotiate with publishers to pay fees in exchange for distributing their content via their platforms.

Both Google and Facebook have begun making concessions, striking payment deals with publishers. But both companies argue the Australia law in particular is too harsh. Google’s Australian MD Mel Silva told a Senate Committee that Google search won’t be viable in Australia if the law passes, and that it sets a dangerous precedent of paying for links.

ProSieben Sees Advertising Rebound in Q4
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 posted better-than-expected preliminary full-year financial results for 2020, boosted by a rebound in ad revenues in Q4. The group said in a statement that ad revenues in Q4 saw low single digit growth year-on-year, despite previous expectations that ad revenues would fall during the quarter.

Chief executive Rainer Beaujean said he expects the advertising sector to take another hit at the start of the year due to ongoing lockdown measures in Germany. But he expects significant improvement in the entertainment sector overall in Q2.

Shareholders Ask Omnicom Group to Investigate Impact of Ad Dollars in Spreading Disinformation
A shareholder proposal has called upon Omnicom Group to investigate whether the ad dollars it allocates lead to “violations of civil or human rights”, by helping fund platforms which spread hate speech and disinformation. The proposal was organised by Open MIC, an organisation which utilises shareholder power to foster greater corporate accountability.

Omnicom has already taken steps to hold social platforms to account, forming the Council on Accountable Social Advertising last year alongside a number of brand clients. But Michael Connor, executive director of Open MIC, says there’s still a lack of scrutiny over the role media agencies play in allocating ad dollars.

“The ad buyers and the big ad agencies are typically behind the scenes, and yet they have an enormous amount of influence on what happens in the media environment, particularly on social media,” Connor told the Wall Street Journal. “They are making recommendations and helping their clients manage billions of dollars in spending, and all too often they escape any kind of scrutiny for what they do.”

The Week in Tech

EU Returns to Investigating Google’s Ad Business
The European Commission has begun quizzing Google’s rivals in the ad tech space about Google’s advertising business, as it mulls over two new potential investigations into the search giant. In a questionnaire seen by Politico, the European Commission says it has concerns about Google’s “collecting, accessing, processing, using or monetising data”. The questionnaire also says the Commission is investigating “Google’s practices in the advertising technology (“ad tech”) value chain, and its position in relation to advertisers, publishers and intermediaries, and competitors in search advertising, display advertising and ad tech services”.

Tremor International Sees Massive Growth in CTV Revenues
Video ad tech specialist Tremor International reported this week that CTV revenues were up 127 percent year-on-year in Q4. “The growth we’ve experienced in the CTV space underscores the significant commitment we’ve made as a company—and on behalf of our clients—to expanding our end-to-end technology stack and data-driven products,” said Ofer Druker, CEO, Tremor International. “Due to our strong relationships with advertisers and publishers across the evolving CTV landscape, we are well positioned to continue this growth in 2021 and beyond.”

RTL AdConnect and smartclip Expand Addressable TV Partnership
RTL AdConnect and smartclip announced this week they will extend their international partnership for addressable TV and online video advertising solutions across Europe.

SpotX Signs Up to UID 2.0
SpotX became the latest tech player to sign up to the The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, designed for the post third-party cookie era. SpotX joins fellow ad tech companies including OpenX, Magnite, IRIS.TV, LiveRamp, PubMatic and Index Exchange in signing up to support The Trade Desk’s identifier.

Taboola Launches ‘Stories’ Feature
Content recommendation specialist Taboola has released a new ‘stories’ feature, Taboola Stories. Taboola says publishers can embed Taboola Stories within their homepages, and articles in mobile environments, presenting readers with constantly updated recommendations that, once selected, launch vertical, mobile-friendly stories that cycle automatically.

Sky Media Appoints TVbeat as Independent TV Data Verification Partner
Sky’s ad sales arm Sky Media has expanded its partnership with TV inventory and yield management specialist TVbeat, the two companies announced this week. Sky Media has appointed TVbeat as the ‘System of Note’ to ingest, process and harmonise data from various sources across their technology stack in a privacy-complaint and independent manner. These sources include household viewership data from set-top boxes; advertising data from sources such as AdSmart, on-demand and OTT ad-servers, booking system, and linear ads; and demographic data from Sky’s Data Management Platform and third party providers.

Goldbach, Blue Billywig and Luma Beef Run First Interactive Shoppable Campaign with SIMID
Media group Goldbach, online video platform Blue Billywig, and online butcher Luma Beef have combined to run an interactive shoppable campaign using the IAB’s SIMID standard, which the three companies say is the first of its kind. The IAB released SIMID (Secure Interactive Media Interface Definition) in 2019, with the intention to eventually replace the VPAID standard for interactive ads, but adoption of SIMID has been slow.

The Week in TV

Ads on Netflix Look Unlikely as Subscription Revenues Soar
Streaming giant Netflix reported impressive full year financial results this morning, reporting that its subscriber count has passed 200 million globally. And as the company continues to grow at an impressive rate, executives said the best path to further growth is to stick with its ad-free subscription model, dampening speculation that the service might release an ad-supported tier soon. Read the full story on VAN.

News Streaming Platform NewsPlayer+ Launches in UK
NewsPlayer+, a streaming service giving access to international news channels and networks, launched in the UK this week . NewsPlayer+, a paid subscription service, will offer content from Al Jazeera, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg’s new channel Quicktake, Euronews and Newsmax among others. NewsPlayer+ is the first product released by Player+, which plans to release other genre specific streaming services in the future.

Paramount+ to Launch on March Fourth
ViacomCBS has announced Paramount+, it’s reworked version of streaming service CBS All Access, will debut on March 4th, with international rollouts due later in the year. Assuming Paramount+ follows in All Access’s steps, it will feature an ad free subscription, and a cheaper ad-supported subscription tier.

Tubi Saw 58 Percent Rise in Streaming Last Year
Free ad-supported TV service Tubi, acquired by Fox last year, said that it saw a 58 percent increase in streaming figures last year, reaching 2.5 billion hours. Half of all viewers were under 35 according to Tubi, and 39 percent of Tubi’s monthly active userbase were Black, Hispanic or Asian.

Supreme Court Weighs in on Loosening of US Media Ownership Rules
The US Supreme Court is weighing in on a decision from the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) which loosened rules around media ownership in 2017. The FCC decision relaxed rules on media ownership in local markets, making it easier for businesses to own multiple TV stations in the same market, but this decision has been challenged in the courts.

Pluto TV Launches in France
Ad-supported streaming TV service Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, announced plans to launch in France on February 8th.

Amazon Won Half of New UK SVOD Sign Ups in Q4
Half of new SVOD sign ups in the UK last quarter went to Amazon Prime Video, according to data from Kantar. Over 53 percent of UK households are now signed up to Amazon Prime, according to Kantar.

English Premier League to Broadcast All Matches in February
The English Premier League announced this week that all matches in February will be broadcast live across the UK, handing a boost to live sports distributors.

United Group Gets Green Light from Watchdog to Buy Nova Broadcasting Group
Balkan telecoms and media business United Group got the green light from Bulgaria’s competition watchdog to buy Bulgarian broadcaster Nova Broadcasting Group. The deal is reported to be worth around €300 million, according to Reuters.

The Week in Publishing

Google Agrees Payments with French Publishers
Google has agreed a deal to pay a handful of French publishers in exchange for publishing snippets of their content within its search features, marking a breakthrough in a standoff between the search giants and French publishers. French dailies Le Figaro and Le Monde are among those who have agreed deals with Google, and a framework has been established for Google to agree license deals with other publishers.

Daily Mail Owner’s Underlying Revenues Fall 15 Percent
The Daily Mail and General Trust reported underlying revenues down 15 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2020, as advertising revenues continued to be hit by the pandemic. Digital ad revenues were up eight percent, but this was more than offset by a 38 percent fall in print advertising.

Bertelsmann Sees Ad Recovery
German media giant Bertelsmann’s CEO Thomas Rabe told Reuters this week that the group had a strong 2020 despite the pandemic, thanks to a rebound in the advertising market. Rabe said ad revenues have dipped again thanks to renewed lockdowns in Germany, but added he hopes the market will recover again before Easter.

YouTube Bans Trump for Another Week
YouTube has blocked Donald Trump from uploading for another week, continuing a slew of social bans for the former president, over concerns of violence at President Biden’s inauguration ceremony.

Turkey Bans Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest from Selling Ads
The Turkish government has banned advertising on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest, after the three social platforms failed to appoint local representatives as required by a new social media law. The new law allows Turkish authorities to remove content from social platforms, which critics say is designed to stifle political dissent, according to Reuters.

The Week for Agencies

UK Video Ad Budgets Continue to Fall, but Green Shoots are Emerging
While many in the industry are hopeful for an ad spend rebound this year after a difficult 2020, marketing budgets continued to fall sharply at the end of 2020 according to the IPA’s latest Bellwether Report. Over 40 percent of marketers surveyed said their marketing budgets retracted in Q4 last year, compared to just 16.4 percent who said budgets increased. But video budgets were comparatively resilient, seeing much less steep budget cuts than most other categories. Read the full story on VAN.

P&G’s Pritchard Predicts All Advertising Will Go Programmatic
P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said he believes all advertising and media will move towards programmatic trading models in the future. “All advertising and media will become some form of digital, some form of programmatic – data driven and automated -which then will enable us all to define the audiences that we want to reach, define what kind of programming we want our brands to be associated with, and then be able to allow that to happen,” he said on a panel at CES, Adweek reported.

Mediacom Unveils New Agency Proposition
GroupM owned agency Mediacom this week revealed a new logo and proposition as part of an overall refresh for the business. Mediacom says its mantra will be to help clients “see the bigger picture”, helping brands to identify and maximise new areas of growth. This will involve more focus on capabilities in data, analytics, content relevance and business outcomes.

Mother Launches US Media Agency
Independent ad agency Mother has launched a media agency in the US, called Media by Mother. The agency will seek to focus on data and talent to help drive outcomes through media, rather than focussing on volume, according to Campaign.

Honda Picks UM to Handle European Media
Car manufacturer Honda has chosen UM for media duties in Europe, worth around £50 million according to Campaign.

Unilever Pledges to Tackle Stereotypes Within Advertising
FMCG giant Unilever has pledged to tackle stereotypes within advertising, and to work with more companies run by women and under-represented groups, according to The Guardian.

Hires of the Week

DoubleVerify Appoints Julie Eddleman as CCO
DoubleVerify has chosen Julie Eddleman, ex-global client partner at Google as EVP, global chief commercial officer. The role will see Eddleman lead DV’s sales and client service organizations worldwide.

PubMatic Appoints Hitesh Bhatt and Jaidev Kakar to Lead Connected TV Solutions in EMEA
SSP PubMatic this week announced two senior appointments to support the company’s growing connected TV (CTV) business across Europe. Hitesh Bhatt was named director of publisher development, CTV and OTT; Jaidev Kakar was named director of advertisers solutions, CTV and OTT. Bhatt and Kakar join from Spotify UK and Omnicom respectively.

Magnite Appoints Julie Selman as UK Managing Director
SSP Magnite announced this week it has appointed Julie Selman as UK MD. Selman joins from FreeWheel, where she was most recently senior director and head of demand strategy for UK and Northern Europe.

This Week on VAN

How CTV Ad Servers are Evolving, read more on VAN

Consent Remains TV’s Biggest Privacy Hurdle, read more on VAN

Ads on Netflix Look Unlikely as Subscription Revenues Soar, read more on VAN

UK Video Ad Budgets Continue to Fall, but Green Shoots are Emerging, read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Girl Up, Today We Rise, Ogilvy

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