The WIR: New Massive CTV Fraud Scheme Uncovered, Cedato Acquired by EX.CO, and Apple’s IDFA Changes Go Live Next Week

Tim Cross 23 April, 2021 

In this week’s Week in Review: Human uncovers a new CTV fraud scheme, Cedato gets acquired by Disney-backed EX.CO, and Apple reveals its IDFA changes will go live on Monday.

Top Stories

Nearly One Million Devices Infected With Fraudulent Streaming Apps
Researchers have uncovered that fraudsters have infected nearly one million devices with apps that imitate popular streaming services, according to research conducted by cybersecurity company Human Security Inc. An average of 650 million ad placement opportunities in online ad exchanges each day are placed by fraudsters. 

The fraudulent activity siphoned off ad dollars meant for streaming apps available on popular streaming-TV platforms run by Roku, Amazon, Apple and others. While describing the fraud as “sophisticated”, Human Security said it could be alleviated if digital ad players strictly followed industry guidelines for tracking the origins of traffic and implemented certain security features.

Roku said the fraud had not affected those who bought ads from them directly. “Roku is committed to fighting ad fraud in every form and to the development of leading practices for staying ahead of fraud globally,” said Willard Simmons, vice president of product management at Roku.

EX.CO Acquires Cedato
EX.CO is acquiring Cedato, a video monetisation platform. This is the first acquisition for EX.CO previously known as PlayBuzz. EX.CO, a publishing platform allows publishers, brands, agencies and content creators to create interactive content like quizzes or video snippets. 

Cedato is a programmatic operating system, by acquiring them EX.CO will be able to offer its users things like predictive recommendations for video content, header bidding for video ads and improved support for connected TVs. 

“I’m very excited about Cedato’s technology and its ability to drive revenues across platforms while maintaining a great user experience,” said  said Tom Pachys, CEO at EX.CO. “It perfectly complements what we have been building and will be a huge benefit to both our partners and Cedato’s client base.”

Apple to Boost Ads Business as ATT Enforced from Next Week
Apple is to boost its ad business just as it introduces its new ATT privacy policy. The FT reports that Apple plans to bolster its ad business by adding new advertising slots in its “Suggested” section in its App Store. Apple already provides an advertising slot for apps who wish to get to the top of search results on the App Store. 

Apple is also bringing in ATT enforcement on 26 April, the company say the move is to protect the privacy of users but it looks set to bolster their own advertising business. Competitors, such as Facebook, worry that the changes will have a massive impact on their advertising business. 

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, said of the changes: “Apple may say they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track with their competitive interests.”

The Week in Tech

Outbrain To Go Public
Oubrain will seek a $2 billion valuation in an initial public offering. Outbrain had sought a merger with rival Taboola, which it has since abandoned. This planned IPO is one of a run of ad-tech companies going public in recent months.

Brand Risk Rises But Ad Fraud Rates Improve, According to Report
Risk to brands is on the rise, but the rate of ad fraud has improved according to a report from Integral Ad Science (IAS). The fraud rates globally among optimized campaigns dropped to between 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent for H2 2020, while non-optimized campaigns registered 5.1 percent to 8.6 percent. According to the data from IAS Desktop video brand risk increased to 6.7 percent in H2 2020. 

DoubleVerify Debuts on the Public Market
DoubleVerify made its New York Stock Exchange debut on Wednesday. By Thursday, the company’s shares had jumped by a third following its first day of trading. PubMatic, Viant and AppLovin’ have all made IPOs in the last month. DoubleVerify is backed by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners and hedge fund Tiger Global Management. 

Microsoft Announces Video Ads
Microsoft has announced that advertisers will soon be able to run video ads within Microsoft Audience Network campaigns. Microsoft is piloting the new feature in the UK and US. The video ads will run at up to 120 seconds long and can be run on both desktop and mobile devices. 

Hive Raises $85 Million
Hive, which is a company that supplies AI-based contextual and measurement solutions to media and ad tech companies, said this week that it had raised $85 million in funding. This round of funding values Hive at over $2 billion. The company has said it will use the funding to go towards branded and contextual content.

The Trade Desk, Magnite and Innovid Partner on CTV Ads
The trio of The Trade Desk, Magnite and Innovid have teamed up to provide an all-inclusive place to programmatically buy, create and display interactive CTV ads to specific households. The three companies hope the alliance will allow them to scale interactive CTV ads, Innovid’s CEO says 30 percent of their clients run these formats but only about three to four percent of users engage with them. 

Netmarble Partners with Anzu for Blended In-Game Ads
European games publisher Netmarble EMEA has announced it is partnering with Anzu to bring blended in-game advertising into its PC title Wolfteam. The partnership will see display and video ads placed into the Wolfteam world via Anzu’s tech.

The Week in TV

NENT Group’s Viaplay Sees Subscribers Rise by 25 Percent
Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) saw its SVOD-service Viaplay gain 127,000 subscribers in Q1 2021. The company as a whole posted 16 percent growth in organic sales, although reported revenues were done. Subscription revenue makes up 35 percent of NENT Group’s revenue, while advertising makes up 29 percent. Advertising revenue was up 6 percent. 

Groupe M6 Sees Ad Revenue Growth in Q1
Groupe M6 posted its Q1 2021 results this week, revealing that its multimedia advertising revenue was up 1.6 percent year-on-year. Groupe M6’s total revenue was down 7.7 percent to €296.6 million from €321.3 million in Q1 2020. The group’s non-advertising revenues were down by €3.1 million, mainly due to the fall in cinema revenues as a result of their closure.

Slow Netflix Subscriber Growth
Netflix said it had slower subscriber growth than expected in Q1 2021. On Tuesday, the company reported that it had added four million subscribers between January and March this year, fewer than the prediction of six million. The disappointing results for Netflix come as economies are slowly reopening, the streaming service had a bumper 2020, with stock up 26 percent in the last 12 months. 

Quibi Content Rebranded as Roku Originals
Roku is rebranding all the content from acquired Quibi as Roku Originals. Roku is getting into original content, saying that it will release 75 series and films this year on its AVOD offering, The Roku Channel. Many of those will come from Quibi’s library of content which it acquired in January this year. 

Tubi Ad Revenue Predicted to Reach $1.7 billion by 2025
Tubi’s ad revenue could reach $1.7 billion by 2025,a report by MoffettNathanson predicts. The AVOD service is predicted to help boost Fox’s results in upcoming years. The report estimated that Tubi could substantially increase its advertising revenue, adding that the AVOD service expects to more than double its ad sales, from about $150 million in 2020 to about $380 million in 2021. 

Churn Rates For New SVOD Services As Much as 37 Percent, Warns Deloitte
2020 saw the launch of a host of new streaming services during the pandemic, now Deloitte is warning there are difficult times ahead for these services. Churn rates have risen sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. There were around 20 percent, says Deloitte in its report, and actually went down right at the beginning of the pandemic. However; churn rates are now at 37 percent. In better news only three percent of those unsubscribing from one service are not replacing it with another.

BBC iPlayer Reports Best Quarter on Record
BBC iPlayer had over 1.7 billion streams in the first three months of this year, making it the broadcast streaming service’s best quarter on record. The first full week of this year (4-10 January) was the iPlayer’s best ever week with 163 million streams. BBC iPlayer was helped by successful series like The Serpent, Line of Duty, and RuPaul Drag Race UK. 

Rakuten Reveals Distribution Deals with Samsung and ViacomCBS
The Japanese group, Rakuten has revealed a pair of major distribution deals with Samsung and ViacomCBS. Rakuten’s partnership with Samsung means it can expand its free content offering on the Samsung TV Plus service, rolling out channels in 16 new European markets. Meanwhile the other deal will bring the Nick+ SVOD offering from ViacomCBS to Japan. 

Nielsen Says No to Audit Requests from TV Companies
Nielsen has refused a demand from an industry group representing major TV companies to have a third-party auditor take a look at its TV ratings measurements from the past year. Last week, the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), which represents companies like A+E Networks, Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS, wrote a letter to Nielsen asking for a third-party audit on TV ratings during the pandemic, accusing the company of “systematic and compounded undercounting of overall TV use”. Nielsen has said that it is regularly examined by the Media Rating Council, and therefore does not need to be subject to an additional audit.

Vevo Partners With VIDAA to Launch Its App on Smart TVs
Vevo has partnered with VIDAA, a smart TV operating system which runs on models from companies such as Hisense and Toshiba, to launch its app on VIDAA-powered smart TVs. The move is part of Vevo’s effort to expand its CTV offering . 

The Week in Publishing

Daily Mail Owner Sues Google
The Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the tech company throttles search traffic for publishers who don’t sell enough of their inventory through Google’s ad tech products. DMGT said it believes its search traffic for its coverage of the UK’s royal family this year has been particularly affected. Google denies the claims.

Facebook Tests Ads in Instagram Reels
Facebook has begun testing ads within Instagram Reels, its TikTok clone that sits inside the main Instagram app. The tests are being run in India, Brazil, Germany and Australia.

Discord Opts for IPO Over Microsoft Sale
Chat app Discord is looking into a potential IPO, having ended talks with potential buyers including Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal. The talks could be rekindled in the future, according to the WSJ’s sources.

Facebook and Reddit Test Out Clubhouse Competitors
Facebook and Reddit are both separately testing new social audio features, following the growth in popularity of Clubhouse. Reddit’s ‘Reddit Talk‘ is going through select testing, while Facebook’s ‘Live Audio Rooms’ are expected to roll out this summer.

Bloomberg’s Quicktake Expands to Cover “All Aspects of Culture”
Bloomberg’s social video and OTT service Quicktake is expanding its content to cover all aspects of culture, announcing a slate of new original content. New Quicktake shows include Chris Paul’s “How I Got Here,” Imran Amed’s “The Business of Fashion,” Scott Galloway’s “The Prof G Show”.

Scott Galloway: The Future of Our World from Bloomberg Media on Vimeo.

Sports Media Startup Overtime Raises $80 Million
Overtimes Sports, a sports media company focused on digital platforms, has raised $80 million from investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and musician Drake. Overtime Sports has expanded from broadcasting highlights from high-school sports competitions to producing original shows featuring younger athletes. Overtime is also in the process of starting its own high-school basketball league.

MDIF Invests in Slovakia’s Petit Press
Non-profit media investor the Media Development Investment Fund has invested in Slovakia’s second largest publisher Petit Press, buying a 34 percent stake from Penta Investments. Penta’s investment in Petit Press has been extremely controversial, as the investment group was accused of using its investment to buy itself a good reputation, following a 2011 scandal which had revealed massive corruption within the company.

Parler Reinstated to Apple App Store
Parler, a social-media app which drew controversy after being adopted by far-right activists as an alternative to Twitter, has been reinstated to Apple’s App Store. Apple says it has approved Parler’s return after the app improved its content moderation practices.

LinkedIn Tests New Measurement Capabilities
LinkedIn this week detailed work it’s doing to improve measurement on its platform, partnering with IAS, DoubleVerify, Moat and the MRC on various initiatives. LinkedIn is specifically testing video viewability measurement with IAS

The Week for Agencies

Omnicom Buys Majority Stake in Areteans
Omnicom has bought a majority stake in Indian martech company Areteans, for an undisclosed fee. Areteans, which specialises in the design, delivery, and implementation of real-time interaction management (RTIM) and digital customer relationship management, will be folded into Omnicom’s data and digital consulting arm Credera.

Digital Ad Spend Growth in UK Fell to Five Percent Last Year
After years of rampant growth, the pandemic slowed the UK’s digital ad spend growth to just five percent according to data from IAB UK. This brought total UK digital ad spend to £16.5 billion. This was a significant drop from 15 percent growth in 2019.

Omnicom Touts Turnaround in Q1 Results
Holding group Omnicom’s Q1 financial results showed promising signs that the worst of the pandemic is over for the business. Organic revenues were down 1.8 percent in Q4, a marked improvement on the 9.6 percent drop Omnicom reported in the previous quarter.

WPP Targets Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2025
WPP has set itself a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions across its own operations by 2025, and across its entire global supply chain by 2030. WPP says the largest sources of emission within its supply chain are ad production and content placement.

MediaCom Launches Dedicated Google Practice
MediaCom is launching a new practice dedicated specifically to helping clients navigate Google’s products in the UK. The practice will be led by MediaCom North, but will involve five MediaCom offices, and will involve 250 staff.

You & Mr Jones Launches Media Division
US ‘brandtech’ group You & Mr Jones is launching a media division, which will be headed up by former Mindshare CEO Nick Emery. You & Mr Jones has set aside $300 million to fund acquisitions and tech to help launch the division, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Publicis Acquires PR Agency Taylor Herring
Publicis Groupe this week announced it has acquired PR agency Taylor Herring for an undisclosed fee. Taylor Herring will sit inside Publicis’ UK Influence Practice alongside MSL and Salterbaxter.

Home Depot Picks BBDO as Agency of Record
Home Depot has picked Omnicom’s BBDO as its creative agency of record after a review. BBDO replaces The Richards Group after Home Depot dropped its previous agency following a racism scandal last year.

Hires of the Week

NBCUniversal Hires Former Nielsen Executive
NBCUniversal has hired Kelly Abcarian who was previously general manager of Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising Group. Abcarian joins NBCUniversal in the newly created role of executive vice president of measurement and impact. 

Havas Media Hires Meghan Grant
Meghan Grant has joined Havas Media as North America CSO. Grant had previously led the Verizon account for Zenith. 

Omnicom Veterans Joins Wunderman Thompson as New York CEO
Audrey Melofchik will join Wunderman Thompson as CEO of its New York office. Melofchik was previously president at DDB New York.

ZEFR Appoint Kelsey Garigan as Executive Vice President
ZEFR has appointed Kelsey Garigan as executive vice president, head of American sales. Garigan has been part of ZEFR since 2012, and before that she was director of sales West for DoubleVerify. 

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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