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The WIR: Publicis Sees Organic Growth, AppLovin IPO, and Google Delays Fledge Trials

Niamh Carroll  16 April, 2021

In this week’s Week in Review: Publicis reports a return to organic growth, AppLovin raises $1.8 billion in its IPO, and Google delays Fledge trials.

Top Stories

Publicis Returns To Organic Growth

Publicis Groupe has reported a return to organic growth in the first quarter. The group’s organic revenue increased by 2.8 percent in Q1 2021. The results mark a return to growth amid ongoing pandemic-related economic uncertainty.

Organic growth is a figure which strips out currency effects, acquisitions and disposals. Chief executive, Arthur Saduon said that much of the growth came in the APAC region and the US.  The organic revenues for Publicis were particularly strong in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region at 7.7 percent and 5.7 percent respectively. In Europe, on the other hand, it declined by 1.8 percent. 

“We continued to capture a disproportionate amount of the shift in client investment towards digital channels, e-commerce and DTC,” said Saduon in a statement. 

AppLovin Valued at $28.6 Billion in IPO

AppLovin raised $1.8 billion in its initial public offering. This figure gave it a market capitalisation of $28.6bn; however, prices of the shares did begin to slide. The shares had been priced at $80 each, the midway point in the previously set price range of $75 to $85 per share; however, it finished yesterday at $65.20.

The KKR-backed IPO was one of the biggest debuts of the year. Despite a slide in share prices putting a damper on AppLovin’s public debut, the company’s market cap at the end of the day was $23 billion, which is 20 times more than the company had agreed to be acquired for in a 2016 sale, which was never finalised.

“Today is a milestone. It gave us access to funding to go reinvest back in our business,” CEO Adam Foroughi said. “We’re much more interested in where we land three to five years down the road than we are where we are going to trade today.”

Google Delays Fledge Trials Until Late 2021

Google has shelved trials of its Fledge technology, part of its post-cookie solutions. Third-party cookies are being scrapped in 2022, and Google is currently testing its Privacy Sandbox which aims to replace the ad-targeting that cookies currently provide. Part of the Privacy Sandbox proposals is Fledge, which is short for first locally-executed decision over groups experiment, the technology is supposed to enable behaviourally targeted ads to be served via an auction on a device.

However, testing of this proposed solution has now been suspended by Google until at least late 2021. This latest setback comes as doubts remain over whether Google will be able to implement truly scaled Privacy Sandbox testing this year, as the clock ticks closer to its self-imposed deadline.  Google also had to suspend planned testing of its federated learning of cohorts (FLoC) initiative in Europe, over concerns that it was not privacy compliant.

The Week in Tech

Google Is Fined By Turkey For Abusing Dominant Position

Google was fined $36.65 million by the Turkish competition authority for abusing its dominant position as a search engine.  Turkey’s Competition Board said in a statement on Wednesday that Google had favoured its own price comparison for accommodations and its local search services over those of competitors.In addition to the fine, Google must ensure its rivals are not disadvantaged within six months, and must report to the competition authority annually for five years.

Cardlytics to Buy Data Platform Bridg for $350 Million

Cardlytics will acquire data platform Bridg for $350 million it announced on Tuesday. The acquisition is the second that the bank-focused advertising platform has made in two months. In March it made its first ever acquisition, which was of Dosh, a company which offers cashback for brands. That deal was worth $275 million, meaning the company has spent $625 million in acquisitions in the last two months. 

ID5 and Smart Partner Up

ID5 and Smart have partnered as part of preparations for a cookieless world. Smart announced on Wednesday that it would be integrating with ID5. The new partnership will allow Smart’s publishers to create a first-party identifier, provided by ID5, which will be compliant with privacy regulations. 

Swaarm Launches Privacy Enabled Attribution

Swaarm announced on Tuesday the launch of a first-of-its-kind attribution chain methodology Privacy Enabled Attribution (PEA Chain) for mobile advertisers. The announcement comes as Apple’s removal of its IDFA technology draws closer. Swaarm say that the PEA chain will fill the gap left by the removal for advertisers. 

Google’s “Project Bernanke” Revealed in Court Filings

Google operated a secret program which gave its own ad-buying system an advantage over its competitors, according to a court filing in a Texas antitrust case. The program, known as “Project Bernanke” allegedly used data from past bids in the company’s digital advertising exchange to give Google’s own system an advantage over rivals. The allegations were revealed by WSJ and antitrust focus news outlet, MLex, after they viewed the document which was filed to the court’s public docket without having been properly redacted.

Roku Expands Cross-Screen Measurement Program

Roku has expanded its measurement program to track ad performance across screens. The company announced six new ad tech partners: Adjust, Affinity Solutions, Branch, IRI, Kochava, and Veeva Crossix. They join a program that now has over 20 partners, as advertisers shift their spending towards streaming. The expansion will bring in new metrics to the program, allowing advertisers to measure mobile app downloads, store visits, and product sales for retail, pharmaceutical, CPG, and auto advertisers.

GumGum Raise $75 Million From Goldman Sachs

GumGum, which provides tools to analyze and place ads based on content across desktop, mobile CTV platforms, has received $75 million in new funding from Goldman Sachs growth. The company has tripled its worth since 2019, and is now valued at almost $700 million. Adtech companies are gaining traction with investors as tracking changes made by Google and Apple are due to come into play, meaning the advertising industry must find other solutions.

Zeotap Reports 126 Percent ARR Growth

Customer intelligence platform, Zeotap has reported 126 percent growth in 2020. This news comes on the back of its $60.5 million Series C fundraising round last year. Zeotap credits its growth to the launch of Customer Intelligence Platform in 2020, which came as demand for first-party solutions increased.

Apple Agrees to Testify Before US Senate on Antitrust Concerns

Apple has agreed to testify in front of US senators on antitrust concerns over its mobile app store practice. The company had been criticised for failing to send a representative to face the panel of US senators who are looking into complaints that mandatory revenue sharing payments and strict inclusion rules set by Apple’s App Store for iPhones and iPad are anticompetitive. Last week, US senators sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook calling the company’s failure to send a witness “unacceptable”. Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer will now be testifying on 21 April.

Kantar and Streamhub Announce Partnership

Insights and consulting firm Kantar has announced a partnership with analytics company Streamhub. Kantar’s video-tagging technology will now be integrated into the enterprise analytics platform. Kantar’s video tagging technology provides data on online video consumption and on specific program or ad occurrence, this data will now be available to media owners who use the Streamhub platform.

The Week in TV

Number of Streaming Subscriptions Overtake Number of People in the US

There are now more subscriptions to streaming services in the US than there are people, according to Ampere Markets–Operators data,. There are now 340 million subscriptions to streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney + and Hulu, but there are only 330 million people in the US. The pandemic contributed to the CTV industry reaching this milestone in the US in Q1 of this year. 

Apple TV+ Intends to Up Original Film Production As New Executive Comes Onboard

Apple TV+ has hired a new executive from WarnerMedia, as part of plans to deliver more original films on the platform. Jessie Henderson is currently at WarnerMedia, but has been poached by Apple. Originally, executives had said they expected to take a “modest” approach to film production, aiming for 10-12 films a year. The new hire signifies a change in strategy for the streaming platform.

Netflix Signs Streaming Deal for Sony Films 

Netflix has signed an exclusive deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, meaning that from 2022 any films produced by Sony will be available exclusively on Netflix after their original cinema release in the US. That will mean Netflix has exclusive rights to films like Uncharted, Morbius and the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The streaming giant will also have licence for some of Sony’s back-catalogue. 

New Televisa Univision Streaming Platform Aims for Global Spanish Service

Newly-formed Spanish television service Televisa Univision will launch its streaming service in the US and Mexico before aiming to expand it into Latin America and Europe. The new venture will be the result of combining content from two broadcasters, Mexican Grupo Televisa, and Univision in the US. Televisa shares surged by as much as a third on Tuesday after the announcement was made before closing with a gain of 22.8 percent. 

European Broadcasting Union Raises Concern Over Political Pressure on Czech TV

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has warned that independent public broadcaster Czech TV is facing increasing political pressure as elections in the Czech Republic approach. The EBU is an alliance of European broadcasters and has raised concerns about the Czech Republic after decreased media independence in neighbouring central European countries like Hungary and Poland in recent years. The scrutiny comes as a battle to appoint members of the council overseeing Czech TV takes place, critics say the nominated new members are too politically aligned. 

Chinese State Broadcaster Allowed to Broadcast Again in the UK

Chinese state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN) had been stripped of its right to broadcast in the UK in February, but it could be back on British screens as French authorities have agreed to regulate it. Ofcom banned CGTN in February after it found that it was controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, something which infringes the regulators’ rules. Now that French authorities have agreed to regulate CGTN, Ofcom has acknowledged that it “falls under the jurisdiction of France”. A decades-old treaty means, now that it is in France, the Chinese broadcaster will be able to be shown in the UK.

UKTV Signs Airtime-for-Equity Deal with Beelivery

UKTV has signed a new airtime-for-equity deal with Beelivery, an on-demand grocery service in the UK. Beelivery will have advertising slots on UKTV’s seven channels – Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W, and Yesterday. The deal with UKTV comes alongside financial investment from Greenbank Capital Inc, as the company seeks to gain 450,000 new customers in the next two years.

European Commission Expresses Concern with Planned French SVOD Regulations

The European Commission has expressed concern over a French plan which would see streaming services obligated to host a set quota of content produced in the country.  The European Commission is particularly concerned about a part of the proposed rules that would mean that European-produced programming on Netflix and other SVOD services would have to comprise 85 percent French work, reports French financial daily Les Echos. The European Commission is concerned that this could give French producers a disproportionate advantage over their continental rivals. 

The Week in Publishing

Buzzfeed UK Revenues Falls as Pandemic Continues to Impact Advertising

Buzzfeed saw its revenues decline last year amid ongoing drops in the digital advertising market. The media company’s UK office, which also covers its international operations outside the US, posted a 16 percent decline in revenue to £18.9million in 2020. Buzzfeed is on a cost-cutting spree and has shuttered its new operations in the UK and Australia, laying off a number of journalists. Buzzfeed bought rival Huffpost in November, where it also made recent job cuts both in the US and UK. 

TikTok to Broadcast Its First Live Sporting Event in the UK

TikTok will broadcast a live tennis event today and tomorrow in a first for the platform in the UK. TikTok has teamed up with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to broadcast its first live sporting event in the UK, the Billie Jean King Cup , a match between Great Britain and Mexico. The LTA will be providing content on their TikTok channel including event build-up, best moments, behind the scenes footage and live match action.


A UK first! Watch Great Britain take on Mexico live on @tiktok from 2pm Friday 16th April in the Billie Jean King Cup #tennis #uksport #womeninsport

♬ original sound – LTA

Vox Media to Buy Publisher of Preet Bharara’s Podcast

Vox Media said this week that it is acquiring Cafe Studios Inc. which publishes a popular podcast hosted by former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara. Cafe Studios will remain as a brand and Bharara will join Vox Media as a host, co-founder and creative director of Cafe. The move comes as Vox Media attempts to expand further into audio content. 

Reuters Introduces Paywall As Part of New Strategy

Reuters News revealed it is introducing a new subscription website, as part of its new strategy to appeal to business professionals. The new service will charge subscribers $34.99 a month for more in-depth coverage and analysis. Non-paying users will still be able to access the site, but will have to register after they view five articles. 

Child Advocacy Group Urges Zuckerberg to Shelve Instagram Kids

An advocacy group has urged Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to cancel plans for a new version of social media app, Instagram. Instagram Kids would be aimed at under-13s, something which the  Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) group said would put children at “great risk”. The advocacy group expressed concerns that Instagram Kids would negatively impact children’s wellbeing and privacy in a letter to Zuckerberg. 

TikTok Rival Acquires Two Companies as Part of Spending Spree

US TikTok rival Triller, has acquired Combat Sports OTT platform FITE TV along with is a conversational ad developer, its co-founder Mahi de Silva will become TrillerNet’s new CEO. The purchases come as part of a wider spree of spending that TrillerNet has been on over the past 18-months as it seeks to pose competition to Chinese app TikTok. Overall, TrillerNet has spent around $250 million during this period of expansion, including a deal to acquire livestream music platform Verzuz earlier in 2021.

Ziff Davis Creators Guild Stage Walk-Out Due to “Bad-Faith” Bargaining

Members of the Ziff Davis Creators Guild staged a walk-out yesterday due to what they called “bad-faith” bargaining from Ziff Davis and its general manager Mike Finnerty. The union represents editorial staff from Mashable, PC Mag, Ask Men, and Geek. Although Ziff Davis voluntarily recognised the union more than two years ago, but the company has been unable to reach an agreement with the union over a proposed salary floor. 

The Week for Agencies

KPMG Executive Faces Scrutiny Over M&C Saatchi Audit Errors

A senior executive at KPMG is facing scrutiny from a UK financial regulator after there were a series of errors in M&C Saatchi audits. In 2019, M&C Saatchi misstated its profits by £14 million. The Financial Reporting Council is making initial inquiries to determine whether KPMG’s auditing, led by chief risk officer John Bennett from 2013 to 2017, met required standards.

Cuts Ease As Confidence Returns, According to IPA Bellwether Report

Despite further declines in marketing budgets, the downward trend is continuing to soften for the third quarter in a row, according to the latest IPA Bellwether report. In the three months to March 2021, just over one in 10 marketers reported a contraction to total marketing budgets, although this figure is still historically high it marks a noticeable improvement on Q4 where one in four brand bosses admitted to contracting budgets. 

General Motors Marketing Spend Will Return to Normal Level After the Pandemic

General Motors’ marketing spend will return to the normal level after the pandemic, said the automotive company’s top marketing officer on Monday. Deborah Wahl said the company would return its marketing budget to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic was over. GM cut its marketing spend by $1 billion to $2.7 billion last year after the pandemic hit. 

Bumble Selects Wavemaker as its Global Agency of Record

Bumble has selected Wavemaker as its global agency of record, reports Campaign. The move comes on the back of Bumble calling an integrated global review for its media and creative accounts in January. Bumble recently had its IPO, which it was helped through by rival to Wavemaker, Doordash. Wavemaker is set to help the dating app make more matches as it aims to expand into global markets. 

Two-Thirds of Planner Found It More Difficult to Work With Creatives During the Pandemic

67 percent of agency planners found it more difficult to work with creatives during the pandemic, according to a survey by APG. The results come from a survey of 337 planners, it found that creatives were the only group of colleagues or external partners a majority of planners found more challenging to work with during the pandemic. 45 percent of planners found clients more difficult to work with during the pandemic. Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic and working from home, seven in ten of those surveyed said they wanted to continue working as a planner. 

dentsu Media Launches In-House Buying Solution

dentsu Media has announced the launch of its new in-house buying solution – Data Enabled Linear TV Activation (DELTA). DELTA will allow dentsu to utilise its audience and viewership data to purchase linear TV across all cable and broadcast properties. DELTA will mean dentsu Media will no longer need to rely on third-party solutions. 

Hires of the Week

Marianne Malina Named as CPB Global CEO 

Marianne Malina has been named Global CEO at CPB and will join the company from 17 May. Malina was previously president of GSD&M. 

Lutz Schüler Will Lead Merged Virgin Media and O2

Lutz Schüler will become boss of one of the biggest telecom groups in Europe as he was appointed executive of the two merged companies. Schüler was previously chief executive of Virgin Media and will now lead the two combined companies which merged in a deal worth £31 billion. 

PHD Names Katie Klein as President of Inventory

Katie Klein is the new president of integrated investment at PHD. She replaces Harry Keeshan who is retiring.

This Week on VideoWeek

Meet the Challengers to Adland’s Big Six, read on VideoWeek.

Why Europe is at the Heart of the Ad Tech Boom, read on VideoWeek.

ITV Wants to Avoid Strategic Baggage in Media for Equity Deals, read on VideoWeek.

Lightbox Wants to Simplify a Fragmented CTV Market, read on VideoWeek.

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