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The WIR: Google Offers Sandbox Concessions to CMA, UK Broadcasters Unite on CFlight, and Walmart Launches CTV Hardware

Tim Cross  11 June, 2021

In this week’s Week in Review: Google offers concessions to the UK’s CMA on its Privacy Sandbox, UK broadcasters align on CFlight for cross-screen measurement, and Walmart takes on Roku and Amazon with a CTV device.

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Google Offers Concessions on Privacy Sandbox to UK Competition Watchdog
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced this morning it has reached an agreement with Google which will give it oversight of alternatives to third-party cookies which are being developed within Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

The CMA announced an investigation into Google’s plans to remove third-party cookies from Chrome earlier this year, citing concerns over how the move might distort competition in online advertising. Now, the CMA has negotiated a number of commitments from Google relating to sandbox proposals, including increased transparency on how and when Google will implement proposals, and limits on how Google will use and combine individual user data for the purposes of digital advertising after the removal of third-party cookies.

The CMA has now launched a consultation on these commitments, accepting evidence from the industry. If the CMA chooses to accept the commitments, they will then become legally binding.

UK Broadcasters Unite on CFlight for Cross-Screen Measurement
Broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 have united with Sky to join CFlight, a TV measurement tool. CFlight is a unified advertising metric that captures live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions across all mainstream viewing platforms in the UK. 

CFlight was initially developed by NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast. Sky is also owned by Comcast. The measurement tool combines linear TV and BVOD data to show media buyers what the overall advertising exposure is for their TV campaigns, notably reach and frequency metrics.

When it launches, the broadcasters covered by CFlight will include ITV, Channel 4, Sky, UKTV, STV, Channel 5, Discovery and Viacom.

Walmart Takes on Roku and Amazon with CTV Hardware
Walmart has debuted its own CTV device called “Onn”. The US retail company already sells a lot of CTV hardware from other makers like Roku and Amazon. Walmart will now be hoping that its own device can rival those established brands. 

Roku said in 2019 that 73 percent of its sales are generated by three retail outlets: Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.

The Onn device is an economy product marketed at $29.98, and is powered by Android TV.

The Week in Tech

Apple Announces Yet More Privacy Changes
This week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple dropped another series of privacy bombshells on the advertising industry. Just over a month after restricting use of its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) on mobile devices, Apple revealed that further privacy enhancing features will be rolled out on upcoming software updates to its devices. These include a native VPN, which will hide users’ IP addresses from advertisers, and an ability for users to hide their email addresses whenever they sign up to services via email. Read what these changes mean for the industry.

Google Agrees to Open Up Ad Tools to Competitors in French Antitrust Settlement
Google has agreed to pay French regulators nearly $270 million to settle an antitrust case over the tech company’s advertising practices. The French competition authority said that Google had also made a number of commitments to settle the case, including promises to make it easier for competitors to use its online-ad tools. These commitments will last only three years and will apply only in France, but with Google facing a growing number of antitrust cases, it may provide a template for how the tech company resolves these.

WarnerMedia Trials Addressable TV Measurement From Comscore
Comscore has announced that WarnerMedia is the first broadcaster to trial its addressable TV programme. The programme is designed to allow leading programmers to execute and measure their national linear inventory across multiple MVPDs and CTV providers to better inform their inventory allocation strategies and measurement parameters.

Iris.TV Enables Contextual Targeting for Advertisers Buying Through SpotX
Iris.TV will enable third-party brand safety and contextual targeting for advertisers buying connected TV inventory through SpotX. In April, Iris.TV raised $18 million to grow its video-data platform, which enables video-level contextual and brand-safe ad targeting, third-party verification, personalized video recommendations, and measurement & analytics solutions.

Carolyn Everson Head of Advertising at Facebook is Leaving the Company
Facebook’s head of global advertising sales is to leave the company. Carolyn Everson has spent more than ten years at the social media giant. Ad revenue accounted for $84.2 billion of Facebook’s nearly $86 billion of revenue last year.

Internet Outage Caused by Fault in Content Delivery Service’s Systems
The internet outage earlier this week, which took down dozens of major websites, was caused by an internal glitch in one content delivery service’s system. Fastly said the fault was caused by a configuration problem that was triggered when one customer made a routine change to the system. Websites such as CNN, UK official government sites and the New York Times were down during the outage.

UK and EU Launch Antitrust Probes Into Facebook
Regulators in the UK and Brussels have launched investigations into Facebook’s use of data to maintain dominance in markets like digital advertising. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said it was investigating whether Facebook had abused its dominant position. Separately, the EU said it is opening a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Facebook violated its laws through its data practices. 

Ohio Sues to Have Google Counted as a Public Utility
The US state of Ohio is asking a court to have Google declared as a public utility. The state’s attorney general said the move would prevent Google from giving preferential treatment to its own products. The lawsuit alleges that Google responds to certain search requests in a way that favours its own products, even if other responses would give better results. The lawsuit isn’t seeking anything financial from Google, instead it asks the court to compel the tech giant to not give preferential treatment to its own products.

Affle Buys DSP Jampp
Affle, a mobile-marketing company with a presence in India and Singapore, has bought Jampp, a mobile demand-side platform.  With uncertainty persisting in the mobile advertising space, there has been a wave of mergers and acquisitions in recent months. Since February, AppLovin has acquired Adjust, Digital Turbine bought AdColony followed by Fyber, Zynga snapped up Chartboost and Vungle grabbed GameRefinery and TreSensa.

The Week in TV

French Watchdog Launches Investigation Into Proposed TF1/M6 Merger
The French antitrust watchdog has said it is launching an investigation into the proposed merger between TF1 and M6. Last month, TF1 and M6, the two largest commercial broadcasters in France, said they were seeking a merger. Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority, said that the body will make its decision on the merger by next summer.

Netflix Launches an Online Store
Netflix has launched Netflix.shop, an online shop where customers can purchase merchandise associated with the streaming service’s content. The online store is launching initially in the US, before rolling out in further countries. Among the launch items are streetwear and action figures based on anime series Yasuke and Eden; as well as limited-edition apparel and decorative items inspired by Lupin in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre.

Paramount+ Launched Ad-Supported Tier
Paramount+ has launched a cheaper ad-supported tier. The “essential plan” is priced at $4.99, half of the $9.99 the ad-free tier costs. The more expensive tier also includes features like 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision content, mobile downloads. It also includes live streams of local affiliates in over 200 markets across the US that are not available on the ad supported tier. Paramount have said that they intend to make more content available to both tiers. starting with the introduction of more than 1,000 premium movies this week.

Apple is Building Video and Music Sharing into FaceTime
Apple is building a feature called SharePlay, which will allow FaceTime users to watch and listen to content simultaneously on their call. SharePlay will allow users to integrate services like Disney+, TikTok and Hulu into their calls.

Nielsen Undercounted Local TV Ratings
A month after Nielsen confirmed that it had undercounted national TV ratings by up to six percent during the pandemic, a third-party auditing firm has issued a statement that Nielsen understated local viewing earlier this year. The Media Ratings Council said that smaller markets had experienced the most problems.

Connected TV Use Narrowly Declined This Year, According to Study
A new Leichtman Research Group (LRG) study said the percentage of US households connecting their TV to the internet to watch video has gone down narrowly this year to 39 percent from 40 percent. The higher figure was in 2020 during the pandemic, and represented a significant rise from the 31 percent figure that the LRG reported in 2019.

BBC “Broadly in Favour” of Introducing Paywalls Outside of the UK
The BBC’s Director General Tim Davie believes the broadcaster should be looking at the introduction of paywalls for its news services in markets with higher disposable income and scale such as the US. Davie also said that there was revenue potential in areas like production, and emphasised that the BBC produces content for others, like BritBox.

DAZN Rejects Offer to Join Sky Q in Italy
DAZN, has rejected a €1.5 billion offer from Sky to include its app within the Sky Q environment in Italy. Sky was hoping to replicate a deal it has in Germany with the sports-streaming app, where DAZN content is available to all Sky subscribers, and included on a single bill. Sky and DAZN currently have a content sharing agreement, but this expires at the end of the month. 

Virgin Media O2 Executive Says That the Company is Becoming An Aggregator of SVOD
David Bouchier, chief TV and entertainment officer at Virgin Media O2, has said that the company is switching from being an aggregator of pay-TV channels to an aggregator of SVOD services. While speaking on a panel session, he said that even though Virgin Media O2 is working with the same content providers, they have been experiencing this switch as the SVOD market matures. 

The Week in Publishing

Germany Competition Authority Investigates Google News Showcase
Germany’s competition body has launched a probe into Google News Showcase, Google’s new product which pays publishers in return for custom news snippets featured in a dedicated feed. “It must be ensured that [Google News Showcase] does not lead to discrimination between individual publishers,” said a statement from the watchdog. “Nor must Google’s strong position in access to end customers lead to a crowding out of competing offerings from publishers or other news providers.”

Biden Revokes Trump-Era Moves to Ban TikTok and WeChat
President Biden has revoked a Trump-era attempt to ban Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat. Instead Biden is introducing an executive order that mandates a broad review of apps controlled by foreign adversaries to determine whether they pose a security threat to the US. The new order doesn’t name any apps specifically but may allow for an even greater crackdown on Chinese-owned apps.

Minute Media Considers Going Public
Digital media company Minute Media, which owns publications including The Players’ Tribune and Mental Floss, is working with Goldman Sachs with a view to going public before the end of this year. Bloomberg reports that the company would be seeking a valuation in excess of $1 billion.

Vox Media Expands First-Party Data Capabilities to Concert Ad Network
Digital publisher Vox Media will start allowing buyers to use its first-party data segments and brand safety tools across all inventory sold through Concert, its publisher-focused ad network, according to Adweek. Vox says this will provide more scale, making Vox’s ad tools more appealing to advertisers.

Triller Launches Subscription Option
Triller, a TikTok-like social video platform, is launching a new subscription option, which will give access to Triller’s music, sports and fashion live events and PPV streamed sports content. The subscription will cost $29.99 per month.

Pinterest Rolls Out New Shopping Features
Social pinboard Pinterest is expanding its shopping capabilities, rolling out a new shopping list feature in the UK and US, with Australia, France, Germany and Canada to receive the feature later this year. The feature will save users’ pinned products in one place, and send notifications when prices are dropped.

Annette Thomas Leaves Guardian Media Group After One Year
Annette Thomas, Guardian Media Group’s chief executive, is stepping down from the role after just over a year. “After a significant turnaround year, having put a new strategic plan and a high calibre team in place, substantially increasing our focus on journalism and digital recurring reader revenues, I have decided to step down from the role of chief executive, as the current governance and structures need more time to fully evolve to support the implementation of the reader-centric strategic plan,” said Thomas.

The Week for Agencies

S4 Capital Upgrades Growth Forecast After Strong Start to Year
S4 Capital has upgraded its growth forecast for the year ahead, predicting net revenue growth of 35 percent in 2021, after a strong start to the year. S4 executive chairman Sir Martin Sorrell said trading has “accelerated strongly” during the first four months of the year, prompting the upgrade.

GroupM Forecasts 13 Percent Growth in UK TV Ad Spend This Year
WPP’s media buying arm GroupM says that the recovery of the UK’s ad market is “far exceeding previous expectations”, leading the agency group to bump up its expectations for the years ahead in its latest ‘This Year, Next Year’ report. GroupM now expects TV ad spend in the UK to be up 13.0 percent this year. This represents a complete recovery from the pandemic, with TV ad spend in 2021 expected to be 0.8 percent higher this year than it was in 2019.

Stagwell Reworks MDC Merger Terms, but Indaba Rejects
Agency holding group Stagwell offered reworked terms for its merger with MDC Partners, following complaints from Indaba Capital Partners, a major shareholder in MDC, over the terms of the deal. But Indaba has rejected the new terms, which offered a 38 percent stake in the new company to MDC shareholders. Mark Penn, managing partner of Stagwell and chairman/CEO of MDC, said the new deal would be the last one offered.

Media Bounty Launches Report on Climate Misinformation
Ethical media and creative agency Media Bounty has launched a report aimed at helping advertisers to stop facilitating the funding of climate misinformation. The report, called “Change the Narrative”, is aimed at helping advertisers to avoid funding climate misinformation, disrupt harmful conversations and be genuinely brand-safe.

French Agency Rosapark Changes Name to Rosa Paris
Havas-owned creative agency Rosapark has changed its name to Rosa Paris, after criticism that an agency whose name seemed to reference Black civil-rights icon Rosa Parks had an entirely white leadership. The agency claims its previous name was unrelated to Rosa Parks.

Bayer Kicks Off $800 Million Global Media Review
Pharma giant Bayer has kicked off a review of its global media duties, worth around $800 million. Bayer’s media duties are currently mostly handled by MediaCom, with PHD running some markets.

ANA Begins Ranking Brands by Environmental Impact
US trade group the Association of National Advertisers  (ANA) has released a new metric, the Swayable-ANA ESG Brand Perception Index, which will rank brands based on their environmental, social and governance impact. The index is based on consumer surveys which rank over 400 brands, using questions on brand familiarity, purchase intent, environmental and social impact and trust in brand governance.

Havas Hopes to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 60 Percent Over Next Four Years
Agency group Havas this week issued a corporate social responsibility report, in which it outlined steps to reduce its environmental impact in the coming years. By 2025, Havas hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent, cut electricity usage by five percent, and reduce paper consumption by 40 percent.

Hires of the Week

Publicis Appoints New CEOs of Starcom and Spark Foundry
Publicis has made a series of big hires, including appointing Michael Epstein as CEO of Starcom US and Sarah Kramer to CEO of Spark Foundry in the US. Also at Publicis, Chris Boothe has been appointed chief operating officer and Danielle Gonzales as chief client officer.

This Week on VideoWeek

Can Retail Media Tie Ups Help Broadcasters Compete with Amazon? read on VideoWeek

“Computer Says No”: Keyword Blocklists Are Undermining the Industry’s Diversity Efforts, read on VideoWeek

Industry Reaction: What Do Apple’s Latest Privacy Changes Mean for Advertising and Media? read on VideoWeek

Streaming Platforms Have Become a Victim of their Own Success When it Comes to Piracy, read on VideoWeek

How Are Measurement Panels Adapting to SVOD Services? read on VideoWeek

GroupM Forecasts 13 Percent Growth in UK TV Ad Spend This Year, read on VideoWeek

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