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The WIR: Facebook’s EU-US Data Flows Come Under Threat, O2 and Virgin’s £31 Billion Merger Gets the Green Light, and TF1 and M6 Set to Merge

Tim Cross  21 May, 2021

In this week’s Week in Review: Facebook’s EU-US data flows come under threat, O2 and Virgin’s mega-merger gets CMA approval, and TF1 and M6 agree a merger.

Top Stories

Irish High Court Rules Against Facebook in EU-US Data Flow Case
Facebook has lost a bid to block an EU privacy decision that would leave it unable to transfer data about European users to the US. The Irish High Court dismissed Facebook’s procedural complaints about a preliminary decision on data flows that it received in August from the country’s Data Protection Commission. Privacy campaigners allege that Facebook’s transfer of data from Europe to the US breach EU privacy laws by subjecting the data of European citizens to US mass surveillance programmes without offering them adequate legal redress.

The ruling means that Facebook could be forced to stop sending data across the Atlantic, and would have to process all EU user data within the EU. Facebook has previously suggested it could leave the EU entirely if it was forced to stop its EU-US data flows.

O2/Virgin Merger Given the Green Light
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week gave the green light to the proposed mega-merger between telcos Virgin and O2 in the UK. The CMA was initially concerned that, following the merger, Virgin and O2 could raise prices or reduce the quality of their services, which could force competitors to change their models too, due to the combined company’s size and influence.

But Martin Coleman, the CMA Panel Inquiry chair, said that “after looking closely at the deal, we are reassured that competition amongst mobile communications providers will remain strong and it is therefore unlikely that the merger would lead to higher prices or lower quality services”.

TF1 and M6 to Merge
France’s two largest commercial broadcasters, M6 and TF1, have entered into merger negotiations. If the deal was approved it would create France’s largest broadcasting group with pro forma revenues of $4 billion. The process follows a months-long auction process for Bertelmann’s French business M6. 

The two companies hope that the partnership will create a streaming service that will rival the global giants in France. 

The companies could run into antitrust issues when they seek  a merger. Together TF1 and M6 would create a company with roughly 70 percent of the French television advertising market, far above levels that would usually breach competition rules.

The Week in Tech

VideoAmp Raises $75 Million and Hires Former Trade Desk CFO
VideoAmp has raised $75 million and hired Paul Ross, former chief financial officer for the Trade Desk, as it eyes a bigger slice of the ad tech pie. The LA-based video ad tech company, which specialises in optimisation and cross-media measurement, said it was on track to double its revenue this year as it announced its new hire and funding. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Pubmatic Expands Partnership With Zeotap On Identity
Customer intelligence platform Zeotap and Pubmatic have expanded their partnership on identity in digital advertising. Zeotap’s Universal ID solution, ID+, will now be available in Identity Hub, PubMatic’s identity management solution. 

Google Claims Over 80 Million Active Android TV Devices
Google has said that it now counts over 80 million active streaming devices that are powered by the Android TV operating system, along with the recently introduced Google TV search-and-discovery overlay.  The tech giant made the announcement at its I/O Developers Conference, and also said that Android TV device deployments are up 80 percent year-over-year in the US. 

The EU Wants Tech Giants to Do More to Fight Monetisation of Fake News
The EU wants tech giants, like Facebook and Google, to do more to fight the monetization of fake news through ad placements. A European Commission document seen by Reuters reveals that the EU wants smaller social media companies as well as the giants to do more to demonetize the fake news industry. 

Amazon to Open Its DSP to Audit
Amazon will submit its ad products and demand-side platform (DSP) to an audit for the first time. The audit will be carried out by the Media Rating Council and will examine how Amazon measures its Sponsored Product campaigns and how the Amazon DSP is used to buy programmatic ads. Amazon’s DSP saw huge growth in Q1, AT 90 percent year-over-year. 

Verve Group Acquires Data Platform Beemray
Verve Group has acquired Beemray, a Finnish data platform. Verve Group is a privacy-first omnichannel ad platform and is part of Media and Games Invest. The acquisition will enable Verge Group to add to its programmatic solutions to enable contextual targeting. 

Xandr and HUMAN expand Partnership to Fight Against Bots
Xandr and HUMAN (Formerly White Ops) have announced an expansion to HUMAN’s existing pre-bid bot protection within the Xandr platform. The partnership will protect against fraud and sophisticated bot attacks on emerging formats like CTV. 

Novatiq Announces Prebid Integration
Novatiq has today announced its successful integration into the Prebid.org ecosystem. By integrating Novatiq’s platform into the prebid ecosystem, publishers and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) will be able to seamlessly access telco operator first-party intelligence to identify and verify so-called ‘ghost users’, enabling audience creation and monetisation at scale across the anonymous web.

Channel Factory Launches Project to Address Inherent Bias in Advertising
Channel Factory, the global brand suitability and ad performance platform for YouTube, has announced the launch of The Conscious Project to address inherent bias in advertising. The project aims to eliminate internet bias through proprietary software, strategic services, education and awareness. A recent study found that 93 percent of LGBTQ+ friendly channels are blocked under standard industry block lists, as part of The Conscious Project The Channel Factory is helping re-evaluate these lists.

Vungle Acquires TreSensa
Vungle, a performance marketing ad tech company, this week acquired playable ad specialist TreSensa. “For a long time, advertisers have wanted more access to Vungle’s industry-leading Creative Labs team,” said Jeremy Bondy, CEO of Vungle. “The addition of TreSensa to the Vungle platform, alongside our recent acquisitions of AlgoLift and GameRefinery, further enables us to provide our customers with an essential destination for app growth and success.”

The Week in TV

TF1 and M6 to Merge
France’s two largest commercial broadcasters, M6 and TF1, have entered into merger negotiations. If the deal was approved it would create France’s largest broadcasting group with pro forma revenues of $4 billion. The process follows a months-long auction process for Bertelmann’s French business M6. The two companies hope that the partnership will create a streaming service that will rival the global giants in France.

AT&T to Merge WarnerMedia with Discovery
AT&T has reached a deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, creating a media giant that would have an enterprise value of $150 billion. AT&T is to join its content operations with those owned by Discovery in a deal that would create a service to rival giants like Netflix and Disney+. AT&T and Discovery both have streaming services, but even with these two combined their subscriber numbers would not equal Netflix.

Amazon in Talks to Buy MGM Studios for $9 Billion
Amazon is in negotiations to buy MGM Studios, which produces the James Bond movies as well as other blockbusters like The Hobbit, and TV hits like The Handmaid’s Tale. MGM owns a library of 4,000 film titles and 17,000 hours of TV programming. It had been one of the only film studios in Hollywood that had not been merged or acquired. MGM put itself up for sale in December. 

Ad-Supported HBO Max Will Be Launched Next Month and Costs $10
WarnerMedia is launching its new ad-supported version of HBO Max next month, which will cost users $9.99 a month. It will be a third cheaper than HBO Max without ads, which is currently priced at $14.99. WarnerMedia ad sales head JP Colaco said the ad-supported HBO Max service will have the “lightest ad load in the industry,” but he didn’t specify how many ads the service will actually have. 

CBS Plans Addressable Ads for Broadcast TV to Compete with Streamers
CBS is planning to introduce a technology that would let advertisers buy commercials that are targeted at a particular subset of the audience- on linear TV. They plan to introduce the technology, which they hope will slow the switch of ad money from linear to streaming services, in the second half of 2021. 

NENT Chief Calls Recent Consolidation “Tip of [the]… Iceberg”
Anders Jensen, chief executive of the Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT), has called the spate of recent deals the “tip of a consolidation iceberg”. Jensen said the trend was driven by television networks rushing to catch up with consumer behaviour. 

Univision Looks to Appeal to Advertisers with 24 Hour News and Targeting Tools
Univision, the US’s largest Spanish-language media company, is seeking to attract more advertisers. The company says advertisers have overlooked Hispanic audiences in the US. It has launched new features, such as a 24-hour news channel and targeting tools to attract these advertisers. 

Global Pay TV Revenues to Drop By $30 Billion in Next Five Years
Global pay TV revenues are set to drop by $30 billion over the next five years, according to Digital TV Research. The research predicts that, despite the number of pay TV subscribers rising during this period revenues will fall to $143 billion in 2026 from $173 billion in 2020. This follows a peak of $201 billion in 2016.

DAZN Renews LaLiga Rights in Germany
Sports streamer DAZN will continue to exclusively carry LaLiga, the top-flight Spanish football league, in Germany and Austria for the next five years. DAZN has a very strong presence in Germany, holding football rights including the German Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.

NENT to Launch Viaplay in the Netherlands
Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) will launch its Viaplay streaming service in the Netherlands in Q1 2022. NENT has been rolling out its Viaplay services in different territories. 

Tubi to Adopt Liveramp to Create Addressable CTV Audiences
Tubi will adopt LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution to help create addressable TV audiences. The streaming service is hoping that adopting Liveramp’s solution will help them to offer better inventory to advertisers and serve more targeted ads to viewers.

Dutch Ziggo Ends F1 Deal, NENT Expected to Move In
Dutch Broadcaster Ziggo Sport will end its deal with F1. Ziggo has held the deal for nine years. It cited the rising cost of the broadcasting rights for F1 as to why they ended the deal. The Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) is tipped to move in for the deal. NENT has F1 broadcasting rights in several other countries. 

Fox to Stop Broadcasting in the UK As Disney+ Prioritised
Fox Channel will stop broadcasting in the UK and its content will instead be available on Disney+. Disney has closed Fox Channels in several territories. Content like The Walking Dead and War of the Worlds which had been shown on Fox Channel will go to Disney+’s Star service.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook News Begins Germany Rollout, with Axel Springer Signed Up
Facebook’s new dedicated News tab began rolling out in Germany this week, with Axel Springer among the publishers signed up to distribute content via Facebook. Axel Springer has historically resisted working with the tech giants, making its inclusion surprising. “The relationship between content providers and platforms has now become fairer and more predictable for both sides,” said Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner.

YouTube Expands Advertising to Cover Non-Partnered Channels Beyond the US
YouTube has announced that it will be running ads on more videos on its platform outside the US. Previously, YouTube only placed ads on YouTube Partner Programme (YPP) content. YPP content had to reach a certain number of viewers and subscribers and so was largely reserved for big creators.

YouTube has revised its policies letting it place more ads on any content of its choice, following a similar move in the US last year. The change will let YouTube monetise a lot more of the content it hosts, but could draw controversy since content creators themselves won’t be compensated. The new rules will come into effect from June.

Mirror Becomes UK’s Top Ranked News Brand
The Mirror has overtaken The Sun as the UK’s top ranked news brand according to Comscore data, based on both multi-platform unique visitors and mobile unique visitors. “It’s been a challenging year across the board but these results show just how hard the Mirror teams have worked every day for their readers, delivering everything from political scoops to breaking sports and entertainment,” said Lloyd Embley, editor-in-chief at The Mirror’s parent company Reach.

Parler Returns to App Store
Social platform Parler, which became popular with far-right activists who were kicked off Twitter, has returned to Apple’s App Store after a ban for its role in January’s storming of the Capitol. Parler says it has updated its content moderation policies to detect violent content and incitements to violence.

Future Acquires Marie Claire US
Future, a publisher which focuses on specialised titles, has acquired Marie Claire US. Future already owns the UK version of the title. The US edition is a joint venture between Marie Claire Album S.A.S. and Hearst Magazines Media. It generated $19.1 million in revenue last year.

Condé Nast Partners with Verizon Media on Video and Advertising
Condé Nast and Verizon Media have expanded their partnership to produce more content and advertising. The partnership will bring content from Condé Nast brands like Vogue and GQ to Yahoo websites. The expanded content brought about by the partnership will include more interactive experiences like shoppable content.

Twitch Lowers Subscription Costs Outside the US
Twitch is reworking the cost of subscriptions to its creators’ channels outside the US, in recognition of the fact that it’s “not equally affordable around the world to show support,” to creators.  Subscription prices will be adjusted downward on a market-by-market basis, based on the local cost of living.

The Week for Agencies

ANA Research Finds that Marketers’ Most Important Metrics Aren’t the Most Used
Research from US advertiser trade group the ANA has found that the metrics which marketers consider to be most important are not the ones which are used most frequently. The report found that the three most used KPIs are cost per mille (CPM), cost per click (CPC) and unique reach. But the three metrics considered to be most important are return on ad spend (ROAS), exposed ROAS, and brand safety metrics.

Droga5 to Launch Tokyo Office
Accenture-owned creative agency Droga5 announced it will open a new office in Tokyo, its third location beyond London and New York. The agency has plans to open offices in China and Brazil in the next 12 months as well.

Byron Allen Sues McDonald’s for Alleged Bias Against Black-Owned Media
Media entrepreneur Byron Allen is suing McDonald’s for $10 billion, alleging that McDonald’s has discriminated against Black-owned media businesses in its ad spending. McDonald’s told Deadline it will “review and respond accordingly” once it receives the complaint, whilst also citing its recent commitment t0 increase the proportion of investment in Black-owned media from two percent to five percent over the next four years.

Cannes Lions Criticised For Lack of Diversity
The Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity has come under fire for a lack of diversity. The criticism comes after it removed the only person of color from the Deans list of the Cannes Lion School. Abraham Abbi Asefaw, who was removed from the post of Dean at the Roger Hatchuel Academy learning programme.

IPG Study Finds Higher Quality Sites Generate Lower Costs and Higher Click-Throughs
A study run by IPG MediaBrands and NewsGuard this week published the results whereby a high profile brand expanded their publisher allow list and moved some publishers onto their blocklist, based on NewsGuard trust scores – a measure of a publisher’s reliability and accuracy. The study found that effective CPMs were 9 percent lower for the NewsGuard-approved news sites, while click-through rates were 123 percent higher.

Omnicom Strikes Deal with InfoSum to Enable Data Siloing
Omnicom’s data and analytics division Annalect has signed a deal with InfoSum, which will let advertisers combine their first-party data with media and commerce platforms in a privacy-secure way. The two say Omnicom clients will be able to access InfoSum’s tech within the Omni suite.

MediaCom US Introduces Mental Health Ally Programme
GroupM agency MediaCom has launched a new Mental Health Ally programme in the US, developed in partnership with UK charity Mental Health at Work. The programme will train employee volunteers in skills including recognising mental illness, listening without judgement, and connecting people struggling with their mental health to further help.

Hires of the Week

Liz Taylor becomes Ogilvy’s Global Chief Creative Officer
Ogilvy has appointed Liz Taylor as its first global chief creative officer. Taylor was previously CCO at Leo Burnett. 

Christophe Parcot Becomes Ogury’s Chief Operating Officer
Ogury has announced the appointment of Christophe Parcot as chief operating officer. Parcot acted as Chief Revenue Officer of Solocal (formerly Yellow Pages) and created the consulting company Sixt 5 Partners.

This Week on VideoWeek

The Sell-Side View: Q&A with Sky Media’s Dev Sangani, read more on VideoWeek

The Industry Reacts: AT&T Agrees Deal to Combine WarnerMedia with Discovery, read more on VideoWeek

VideoAmp Raises $75 Million and Hires Former Trade Desk CFO, read more on VideoWeek

Edge Computing in Advertising Explained, read more on VideoWeek

IBM Wants to Break the Creative Monotony of CTV and Video Advertising, read more on VideoWeek

AI is Enabling a New Generation of Visually Impressive Video Overlays, read more on VideoWeek

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ITV, Drama vs Reality

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