In this week’s Week in Review: Roku acquires Nielsen’s addressable advertising business, DoubleVerify uncovers a new CTV fraud scheme, and ViacomCBS enters the streaming wars with Paramount+.
Roku Acquires Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising Unit
Connected TV platform operator and hardware manufacturer Roku has announced it is acquiring Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising business, a move which adds significant assets to Roku’s ad tech stack. The deal comes as part of a broader partnership with the two companies, which will also see Nielsen’s ad and content measurement products integrated into the Roku platform as standard.
The Advanced Video Advertising Group, launched by Nielsen in 2019, was built off the back of Nielsen’s acquisition of addressable TV advertising specialist Sorenson Media. The unit combined Sorensen’s tech with previous acquisitions Gracenote, which runs automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, and Qterics, a smart TV software and privacy management company.
All of these assets will now transfer over to Roku, giving Roku new capabilities in automatic content recognition and dynamic ad insertion (a form of ad insertion which is popular on connected TV as it provides a more seamless, TV-like experience). These tools will extend the reach of Roku’s advertising business onto linear channels, where Roku will work with traditional broadcasters to run addressable campaigns on their linear feeds.
DoubleVerify Uncovers ‘SneakyTerra’ CTV Fraud Scheme
Verification company DoubleVerify this week revealed it has uncovered a new large scale CTV ad fraud operation dubbed ‘SneakyTerra’, notable for the fact that it hijacks legitimate CTV device sessions.
Like many other CTV fraud schemes, SneakyTerra exploits vulnerabilities in server-side ad insertion (SSAI), a form of ad delivery which is commonly used in CTV since it provides a smoother, more TV-like experience. Through SneakyTerra, fraudsters purchased real CTV impressions, but then inserted impression trackers for multiple ads, which were obtained through spoofed SSAI calls. Pixels for all these impression trackers were fired, meaning each creative was reported as having been broadcast. But in reality, only one of the ads was actually shown to the user.
DoubleVerify said the scheme cost unprotected advertisers more than $5 million per month.
ViacomCBS Enters Streaming Wars with Paramount+
ViacomCBS this week released Paramount+ in the US, its major entry into the streaming wars. The service is planned to roll out in new markets across the year, starting with the Nordics and Australia later this month.
Paramount+ hosts over 30,000 TV episodes and films from ViacomCBS’s brands and production studios including BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and the Smithsonian Channel. The service has an ad-free subscription tier at $9.99 per month, and an ad-supported subscription tier at $5.99 per month.
Paramount+ will hold some big name titles, including Star Trek, Spongebob Squarepants, and Frasier, and will run original spin-offs and continuations of these shows. And ViacomCBS has also shortened the theatrical release windows for the biggest releases from its Paramount studio, allowing these films to run on Paramount+ shortly after release. But as with every new entrant into the streaming wars, there are questions over whether Paramount+ can carve out space for itself in an increasingly crowded market.
The Week in Tech
Google Will Not Support Alternate Identifiers in Post-Cookie World
Google dropped another bombshell on the industry on Wednesday as it announced it won’t support alternate identifiers once third-party cookies are phased out next year. Instead, Google will rely entirely on solutions created within its Privacy Sandbox, namely the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) API. Given Google’s size and prominence within the ad tech ecosystem, the fact that Google products won’t use any alternate identifiers is hugely significant and could have wider implications across the industry. Read the industry reaction on VideoWeek.
UK Competition Authority Investigates Apple
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on Thursday that it has launched an investigation into Apple following complaints that its terms and conditions for app developers are unfair and anti-competitive.
The CMA says the investigation focuses on Apple’s App Store. “All apps available through the App Store have to be approved by Apple, with this approval hinging on developers agreeing to certain terms,” said the CMA in a statement. “The complaints from developers focus on the terms that mean they can only distribute their apps to iPhones and iPads via the App Store. These complaints also highlight that certain developers who offer ‘in-app’ features, add-ons or upgrades are required to use Apple’s payment system, rather than an alternative system. Apple charges a commission of up to 30 percent to developers on the value of these transactions or any time a consumer buys their app.”
Vungle Buys GameRefinery
Mobile ad tech business Vungle has acquired Finnish gaming data company GameRefinery. Vungle says the acquisition will help with contextual ad placement and better creative targeting once Apple’s IDFA identifier becomes more restricted and less widely available later this year.
AppLovin Files for IPO
Mobile marketing platform and games publisher AppLovin filed for an IPO this week, revealing in its S-1 filing that revenues last year reached $1.45 billion.
Xandr Vows to Work with ID Solutions Across the Board
Xandr this week shed fresh light on its identity strategy, announcing that it will be joining forces with Unified ID 2.0, European Net ID and LiveRamp to create an end-to-end platform for its buyers and sellers, enabling them to transact with their preferred solutions.
Vizio Plans to Go Public
TV manufacturer Vizio filed for an IPO this week, with the company’s S-1 filing showing that 2020 revenues passed $2 billion. Vizio previously filed for an IPO in 2015, but then reversed this decision when it appeared the company would be bought by Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp (a deal which then collapsed in 2017).
Sourcepoint Releases Tool to Measure Publisher Privacy Compliance
Consent management platform Sourcepoint has released a new solution to help ad buyers understand if publishers’ consent collection practices are up to scratch when it comes to respecting consumer privacy. The new tool, called Privacy Lens, will scan websites to check whether their data practices comply with local privacy law, and which techniques and trackers they’re using to identify their users.
Alphonso Rebrands to LG Ads
Alphonso, a TV data company acquired by TV manufacturer LG earlier this year, will be rebranded to LG Ads it was announced this week. LG Ads will exclusively sell LG ad inventory on its smart TVs, while also handling data for activation, measurement and attribution.
The Week in TV
Amazon Nears Expanded Rights Deal for NFL Games
Amazon is nearing a deal with the NFL in the US which would see Amazon’s Prime Video streaming platform hold exclusive rights for a number of Thursday night football games. Prime Video has held streaming rights for Thursday night games since 2017, but this would be the first time games are exclusively available via the streaming service.
ProSiebenSat.1 Forecasts Single-Digit Growth This Year
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has said it expects revenue growth of between two and seven percent this year, following a strong Q4 as ad sales recovered. Total revenues were up 11 percent year-on-year in Q4, meaning that revenues across the whole year were down by only two percent despite the financial impact of the pandemic.
Hulu Ad Sales to Surpass ABC Networks for the First Time
Hulu, the US streaming platform majority-owned by Disney, is set to see its ad sales surpass those of Disney-owned TV network ABC for the first time according to Bloomberg. Disney’s direct-to-consumer ad sales were up 47 percent year-on-year in the previous quarter to $882 million, closing in on the $984 million made by ABC.
Sinclair Broadcast Group to Cut Five Percent of Workforce
US local TV group Sinclair Broadcast Group has said it plans to cut five percent of its workforce, due to the negative financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be felt across all sectors of the economy, something that can have a profound impact on a company as diversified as ours,” Sinclair said in a statement. “From local businesses and advertisers to distributors and partners, no component of our business’s ecosystem has been fully shielded from the impact of the global pandemic.”
BBC Three to Return as Linear Channel
The BBC has revealed that BBC Three, its channel which tends to be skewed towards younger audiences, will return to linear broadcast next year, six years after going on-demand only. The BBC says research shows there are still considerable numbers of younger viewers who are best served by linear channels.
OSN Partners with TVbeat to Bring More Insights into Day-to-Day Operations
Entertainment network OSN has announced a strategic partnership with TVbeat to use its TV SaaS Framework services, a deal that the two say will strengthen OSN’s position as a data-driven network and enable it to better address shifting viewership behaviour and trends in the MENA region. In partnering with OSN, TVbeat will streamline set-top box viewership and demographic datasets and activating harmonised TV data available through its TV Audience Measurement interfaces.
ITV Takes Majority Stake in Apple Tree Productions
ITV has increased its stake in Danish production company Apple Tree Productions from 25 percent to 51 percent, a move which will bring Apple Tree inside ITV’s own production arm ITV Studios.
FuboTV Nears 550,000 Subscribers
Sports-specialist streaming service fuboTV reached 548, 000 subscribers in Q4 last year, representing 73 percent growth year-on-year. Fourth quarter revenues meanwhile were up 98 percent to $105.1 million.
The Week in Publishing
Reach CEO Calls for More Transparency from Big Tech
Jim Mullen, the CEO of British news publisher Reach, this week called for more transparency and fairer terms from big tech companies. Mullen said that while he will look to work with the tech platforms to find fairer solutions, Reach will also lobby the government to make sure progress is made. Mullen made the comments as Reach posted a 14.6 drop in revenues across 2020.
Snapchat to Sell Regional Ads Through Gannett
Snapchat has struck a deal with US news publisher Gannett, which owns a host of local newspapers as well as USA Today, which will see Gannett sell ads on Snapchat to its regional advertising partners. Gannett’s sales force will be trained and enabled to sell Snapchat advertising, build operations, and manage Snap marketing campaigns with local businesses, according to Snapchat.
TikTok Accounts for 3.5 Percent of UK Video Viewing
Video sharing app TikTok now accounts for 3.5 percent of total online viewing time in the UK, according to research from the UK’s TV marketing association Thinkbox. For the 16-34 year old age category, this figure rises to 20 percent.
Daily Mail Buys New Scientist for £70 Million
The Daily Mail & General Trust, which owns the Daily Mail, Metro, and i, has bought science magazine New Scientist for £70 million. “New Scientist is a world-renowned publication loved by its readers, and we are both thrilled and proud to welcome it to the DMGT family,” said Lord Rothermere, chairman of the DMGT. “We are very much looking forward to supporting their exciting plans to grow as the go-to publication for anyone interested in the scientific world around us.”
Pinterest Expands Video Ad Offering
Social sharing site Pinterest unveiled an expanded video offering at Pinterest Presents, its first ever advertiser summit. The new video offering, Pinterest Premiere, will allow brands to buy exclusive video placements in the home feeds for specific demographics or categories (which combine demographics and interests).
Instagram Introduces Live Collabs Feature
Instagram this week launched a new feature Live Rooms, which allows users to broadcast live to their followers alongside up to three other users. Kristin George, Instagram’s director of product for creators, said the feature will allow more creative possibilities for users, while also helping live streamers build up each other’s audiences through collaborations.
TikTok Forms European Safety Advisory Council
TikTok this week introduced its new European Safety Advisory Council, a group which will help guide TikTok strategy on content moderation and user safety in Europe. ” Not only will [council members] support us in developing forward-looking policies that address the challenges we face today, they will also help us to identify emerging issues that affect TikTok and our community in the future,” said TikTok in a statement.
The Week for Agencies
OMD Takes Top Spot for New Business Wins in Europe
Omnicom media agency OMD ended 2020 as the media agency with the most client wins in Europe, according to the latest R3 New Business League for Europe. OMD ended the year with 241 client wins, which included Lidl, Estee Lauder and Ring.
IPG Plans Upfront Dedicated to Black-Owned Media
Interpublic Group’s media division IPG Mediabrands is planning a special upfront event, Equity Upfront, which will focus on black-owned media businesses including Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios, BET Network, Essence Communications and Urban One. “As we reviewed our media partnerships at Mediabrands, we saw the need to be more inclusive in our media investment strategies with Black audiences,” said Daryl Lee, Mediabrands global CEO. “The Equity Upfront is an opportunity to enact real change by increasing investment in often underrepresented media businesses that reflect the significant influence of Black consumers and trendsetters in the economy.”
MDC Partners Organic Revenue Drops 13.7 Percent in Q4
Agency group MDC Partners reported its Q4 financial results this week, showing that organic revenues were down 13.7 percent in the final quarter as the effects of the pandemic continued to bite. But the group expects a return to growth this year, forecasting that organic revenues will be up by 7-9 percent.
Walmart Reviews its Media Business
US supermarket chain Walmart is reviewing its US media account, valued at around $600 million, according to Business Insider. A formal pitch process for the account, currently held by Haworth Marketing + Media, a media agency which WPP owns 49 percent of.
ANA Opposes Push for More Transparency in Nonprofit Donations
American advertisers’ association the ANA has filed a brief asking the US Supreme Court to reverse a decision which mandates tax-exempt nonprofits to reveal the identity of their top financial donors. “ANA members work with and donate to numerous causes and missions that advance our society, and their ability to do so without state interference must be protected,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice in a statement. “Our support of this appeal is of pivotal importance to ensure that our community’s generosity can continue without unreasonable donor disclosure mandates.”
Shaq Co-Founds Diversity-Focused Ad Agency
Ex-basketball player and sports commentator Shaquille O’Neal has co-founded a new ad agency called majority, which will aim to have a talent pool that is at least 75 percent made up of of black, brown, female and LGBTQ staff. Shaq has founded the agency alongside Omid Farhang, who will be chief executive of the new venture.
WPP Acquires Mobile Shopping Platform NN4M
WPP this week announced that Wunderman Thompson has acquired NN4M, a mobile commerce partner for global brands. WPP says the acquisition is in line with its accelerated growth strategy and M&A approach to build on existing capabilities in growth areas such as marketing technology and ecommerce.
Hires of the Week
Initiative Names Amy Armstrong as Global CEO
IPG media agency Initiative has picked Amy Armstrong as its new global CEO. Armstrong has been Initiative’s US CEO since 2016.
DAZN Picks Kevin Mayer as Chairman
Sports streaming specialist has chosen Kevin Mayer, a key figure in building Disney’s Disney+ streaming service, as its new chairman.
This Week on VideoWeek
From Cook Books to Sex Toys, Publishers are Finding Joy with Brand Licensing, read more on VideoWeek
Roku Acquires Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising Unit, read more on VideoWeek
What Will the Next Generation of Broadcasters and CTV Platforms Look Like? read more on VideoWeek
Publishers’ First-Party Data Tools are Hindered by Fragmentation, read more on VideoWeek
The Industry Reacts to Google’s New Stance on Alternate Identifiers, read more on VideoWeek
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