The WIR: Netflix Rumoured to Offer Games Next Year, Comcast Reports a Big Hike in Ad Rates, and Facebook Opens $1 Billion War Chest for Creator Content

16 July, 2021 

In this week’s Week in Review: Netflix makes its big gaming hire, Comcast reports a hike in ad rates, and Facebook spends big on content.

Top Stories

Netflix Set to Offer Video Games in the Next Year
Streaming giant Netflix will begin to offer video games in the next year. The company has hired former Facebook and EA executive Mike Verdu to lead the effort. Verdu most recently served as VP of game development at Facebook. 

Netflix confirmed on Wednesday that Verdu would join  as vice president of game development at the company. While reports emerged this year that the streaming service was seeking to move into gaming, this is the first time the company itself has confirmed the rumours. Netflix has previously introduced interactive programming such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Subscribers will not be charged any extra to access the games on the platform. Gaming will sit as another genre of content in the way documentaries or stand-up comedy do.

Comcast Reports Massive Hike in Ad Rates
Comcast reported double-digit growth rates in ad prices for TV inventory this autumn, as well as double-digit growth in the volume of inventory sold, after a successful upfronts season. Comcast’s NBCUniversal also said it has secured $500 million in upfront ad commitments for its streaming platform Peacock. Looking at all NBCUniversal’s digital platforms, the company says it pulled in $1.5 billion in advertising revenue, 20 percent higher than in 2019.

Comcast joins Disney and WarnerMedia in reporting growing ad rates following this year’s upfronts, a promising sign for the TV industry that advertiser demand is holding strong.

Facebook Launches $1 Billion Investment Fund for Creators
Facebook this week announced it has set aside $1 billion to pay creators for content on Facebook and Instagram, which it plans to spend throughout this year and next. This investment will include new bonus programmes that pay eligible creators for hitting certain milestones when they use Facebook’s tools. It will also provide seed funding for creators to produce their own content.

The move comes as social platforms are increasingly using funds to win over popular creators and influencers. Facebook follows rival platforms YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat, which have each similarly launched creators funds over the past year.

The Week in Tech

Mediaocean Buys Flashtalking for $500 Million
It was announced this week that Mediaocean, which is majority-owned by Vista Equity Partners, has entered into a formal agreement to acquire Flashtalking for $500 million. The merged company will handle over $200 billion in annualised media spend and over one trillion monthly ad impressions.

Captify Takes Majority Funding from SFW Capital
Captify has announced that it has sold a majority stake to US private equity firm SFW Capital Partners. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Captify is a London based search intelligence platform, it is ten years old and launched in the US five years ago. Captify says the funding will support future international growth.

Verve Group Acquires Mobile Specialist SSP Smaato
Verve Group, an ad tech business which offers buy-side and sell-side programmatic trading tools, this week announced it is acquiring Smaato, a mobile ad tech company focussed on the sell-side. The deal values Smaato, founded in 2005, at around $170 million. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Nielsen Buys French TV Attribution Provider TVTY
Nielsen has acquired TVTY, a Paris-based actionable TV intelligence firm. TVTY counts companies like Coca Cola, Deliveroo and Volkswagen among its clients. Nielsen said that the purchase of TVTY would bring a wide range of outcomes capabilities that improve TV campaign execution.

Innovid Becomes NBC’s Olympic Ad Management Platform
NBC has announced CTV ad company Innovid as its official ad management platform for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Innovid will manage third-party ads across NBC Olympics’ CTV apps using the Innovid-powered Olympics Ad Manager. The service will be powered by Innovid as part of a new Olympics advertising suite which applies human curation as well as data to make suggestions on how ads can be modified for greater impact.

Verizon Media Launches Unified Measurement Tool
Verizon Media has launched a unified measurement tool to measure both linear and digital. Verizon Media has partnered with VIZIO and Nielsen to launch the Unified TV Report. The three-way partnership will combine Verizon’s content-based identity graph with Vizio’s automated content recognition data drawn and Nielsen’s demographic experience.

Novatiq Releases Report Into Telco Strategy
Novatiq, the privacy-first identity solution, has released a report into the strategic options available to telecommunications networks when considering the digital marketing industry. The report is called  ‘Digital Identity Verification for a Privacy-first World’  advises readers about the integration of telco operator customer intelligence and how it could benefit them. The report is designed to advise on how to create new ways of online identity verification in an industry that is becoming increasingly privacy-focused.

Jivox Launches Tool to Allow Brands to Scale Dynamic Video and CTV Personalization
Jivox, personalised digital marketing technology platform, has launched an enhanced version of a tool that will allow brands to scale personalised CTV and video ads. Dynamic Canvas

Studio (DCS) has expanded video master personalisation capabilities that Jivox say will make the creation of personalised video ads easier for self-service brands and agencies.

GumGum Gains MRC Accreditation
GumGum, a contextual ad platform, has achieved Media Ratings Council (MRC) accreditation. GumGum is the first independent ad platform to have achieved content-level accreditation from the MRC for contextual analysis, brand safety and suitability. In order to achieve the accreditation, GumGum underwent an auditing process by an independent CPA firm, and a review by an MRC audit committee, to assess whether its contextual offering met their standards

The Week in TV

Ofcom Calls for “Radical Overhaul” of Laws to Save Public Service Media
UK communications regulator Ofcom this week called on the British government to “radically overhaul” existing laws in order to prevent public service media (PSM) companies from collapsing under competitive pressure. Ofcom has outlined five specific changes to legislation which it recommends the Government should “urgently bring forward”. This includes giving Ofcom powers to resolve commercial disputes between broadcasters and connected TV platforms, and an update to broadcast licenses so that they cover both traditional broadcast and online content. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Channel 4 Expands Deal with Snapchat to Bring A Thousand Episodes to the Platform
Channel 4 and Snapchat have expanded their partnership to bring one thousand episodes of the broadcaster’s programme to the social platform. Snapchat and Channel 4 first struck a deal last year, which saw the broadcaster produce 300 short form edits that appeared on Snapchat’s “Discover” platform. Channel 4’s portfolio of shows reached 44 million unique global viewers on Snapchat in 2020.

Universal Films to Move Exclusively to Amazon Prime
Universal Films will move exclusively to Amazon Prime, after the two companies reached a multi-year licensing agreement. Universal Films had a brief run on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s own streaming service. Per the agreement, Prime Video and Amazon’s free and ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV will both receive a number of new and older Universal titles.

Amazon Prime Prices Its French Football Offering at 12.99 Euros Per Month
French subscribers to Amazon Prime will be able to pay 12.99 euros a month to watch Ligue 1 matches on the platform. Ligue 1 Uber Eats is France’s primary football competition. Amazon already shows Premier League matches in the UK and is looking to ramp up its sports presence. Amazon will broadcast eight Ligue 1 matches per week from next month.

Euros Final Becomes the Most Watched Broadcast in Twenty Years
In the UK, an average of 29.85 million people tuned in to watch the Euros Final, making it the most watched broadcast in twenty years. The match in which England lost on penalties to Italy was broadcast on both the BBC and ITV and was the most watched broadcast event since the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997. The bulk of viewers watched the match on the BBC, whose broadcast attracted 25 million viewers.

Roku Doubles Its Deals From Last Year in Upfronts
Roku has said that it made two times the number of deals it did last year in its upfronts. Although Roku didn’t release any specific financial data, it says 42 percent of all advertisers that made “upfront commitments for 2022 didn’t buy Roku last year.”

PwC Forecasts Streaming Revenue Will Hit $94 Billion in 2025
PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted that streaming video will hit $94 billion in revenue by the end of 2025, a figure that represents a rise of 60 percent. PwC principal CJ Bangah did however warn that with economies reopening streaming consumers may become more selective with their time and what streaming services they use. Despite economies reopening, the outlook still does not look good for cinemas, with PwC forecasting that those revenues will not return to their 2019 levels until 2021. 

Tricolor Makes Services Free for Vaccinated Users
Russian pay-tv service Tricolor is making its services free for vaccinated residents. The offer which runs for the next month gives existing customers free access to TV channels, movies and series which are accessed via CTV.Those who are nor subscribers have similar access to content on the website or through the Tricolor Cinema and TV application on mobile devices and smart TV.

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Shorts Rolls Out Worldwide
YouTube this week released Shorts, its TikTok-like feature, this week rolled out in over 100 new markets. The product, which is still in Beta, has been slowly rolling out globally after an initial trial in India, followed by the USA, UK, and other markets.

Google Fined €500 Million by French Competition Authority
Google has been fined €500 million by France’s competition authority, over a failure to negotiate with publishers “in good faith” on use of their content. The antitrust body ordered Google to negotiate with publishers last year, after France put the EU’s Digital Copyright Directive into law. But Google stopped showing results from publishers who didn’t agree to let Google use snippets free-of-charge, according to the BBC.

YouTube Criticised for Low Payments to Music Artists
UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee this week called for a “complete reset” in music streaming, arguing that payment structures on streaming platforms are leaving music artists underfunded. YouTube in particular was criticised as it pays the least per stream – an estimated £0.00052. Spotify meanwhile pays between £0.002-£0.0038, and Apple Music pays £0.0059.

Rothermere Family Considers Taking Daily Mail Private
The Rothermere family, founders and leading investors in the Daily Mail, are considering taking the Daily Mail & General Trust private in a $1.1 billion deal. The offer is dependent on the Rothermeres successfully selling off their RMS insurance risk business, and publicly listing online car seller Cazoo which they partly own.

Future Data Says Brits Have £200 Billion Saved for Black Friday and Christmas Spending
UK publishing group Future says its consumer data shows that Brits have saved around £200 billion in spending over lockdown, and that 82 percent will spend some or all of their spending on Black Friday and Christmas. Future says this represents a significant opportunity for brands, as consumers begin to plan how to spend their savings.

Reddit Formally Opens in Australia
Social sharing site Reddit formally launched in Australia this week, opening offices in Sydney.  The Australian team launches with dedicated, locally-based community, engineering and sales staff, as well as country manager David Ray who will join in the coming weeks. Reddit says the Australian team is already partnering with local entities, working with Australian-based moderators and communities, and establishing local brand partnerships.

Twitter Cancels Fleets
Twitter this week announced it is pulling ‘Fleets’, its temporary Tweet format, from its platform. Fleets launched eight months ago as an equivalent to popular Stories formats available on the likes of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. But Ilya Brown, Twitter’s vice president of product, says Fleets never really gained traction, and Twitter will shift its focus to other products.

The Week for Agencies

Publicis Groupe Acquires CitrusAd
Publicis Groupe this week announced its acquisition of CitrusAd, a software as a service (SaaS) platform optimising brands marketing performances directly within retailer websites. CitrusAd’s on-site offering will work alongside Epsilon’s off-site retail media offering, both powered by Publicis’ CORE ID.

Dentsu Massively Increases Ad Spend Growth Forecast for 2021
Dentsu expects the global ad market to grow by 10.4 percent this year, a massive upwards revision from its previous forecast where the agency group predicted 5.8 percent growth this year. Dentsu expects digital ad spend to grow by 15.6 percent this year, while linear TV spend is forecasted to grow by 7.1 percent.

UK Marketing Budgets Expand for The First Time Since The Pandemic Began, Says IPA Bellwether
Marketing budgets expanded for the first time since Q4 2019, according to the IPA Bellwether Report released on Thursday. A net balance of six percent of companies surveyed expanded their marketing budgets in Q2 2021. Just over a fifth of panellists reported growth (21.1 percent) compared to 15.2 percent reporting a decline. This represents a much better picture than the Bellwether report from last quarter, when a net balance of 11.5 percent of companies said they were cutting their budgets. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Marketing Budgets Are Falling as a Share of Company Revenues finds Gartner
Marketing budgets are falling as a share of company revenues, according to research released by Gartner. Gartner’s data finds that marketing equalled 11 percent of companies’ revenues on average last year, which has now fallen to 6.4 percent. This is the lowest figure since Gartner began taking surveys in 2012.

Omnicom Media Group “Formally Endorses” UID 2.0
Omnicom’s media unit Omnicom Media Group (OMG) is formally endorsing UID 2.0 as a replacement for third-party cookies, Digiday reported this week, calling on clients and publishers to adopt the standard.

UK Brand and Agency Leaders Call on Social Platforms to Stamp Out Racism
A group of industry leaders from brands and agencies have penned an open letter to social platforms calling on them to do more to tackle racist abuse. The calls come after three Black English footballers, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, and Marcus Rashford, received racist abuse following England’s defeat to Italy in the final of the European Championships.

“The racism that we saw directed towards England’s players this week, when they should have been celebrating their highest finish in a major men’s tournament in over five decades, followed the trend of abuse that we have seen online over the past few years,” says the letter, shared by Conscious Advertising Network’s Harriet Kingaby and signed by executives from Direct Line, VirginMediaO2, Mars, OMG UK, and PHD UK among many others. “When offensive, dehumanizing and threatening messages are sent to players, it’s not just a question for the social media platforms, but for those who fund them as well.”

R&R Partners Set to Retain Vegas Account
R&R Partners is set to retain advertising duties for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, worth up to $500 million according to AdAge, though social media responsibilities will be handed to WPP’s Grey.

4As and Reset Digital Partner on Universal Inclusion
US trade group the 4As and martech company Reset Digital are partnering on Universal Inclusion, a programmatic platform which aims to improve diversity in video brand messaging. The tech will help brands measure diversity and representation in their current advertising, while also providing data on affective advertising to help brands create more diverse, successful campaigns.

Hires of the Week

Omnicom Media Group Hires Henry Rowe and Laura Collins to Lead Digital
Omnicom Media Group (OMG) has hired Henry Rowe as chief digital officer and Laura Collins as group performance director. Collins joins OMG from Merkle, where she was vice president and head of media, while Rowe joins from Theorem where he was president and chief strategy officer. 

Diederick Santer Appointed As BritBox’s Chief Creative Officer
Diederick Santer will join BritBox in September as the company’s chief creative officer. Santer was formerly CEO of TV production company Kudos. 

Nick Hewat Appointed as Pinterest Sales Director UK and Ireland
Pinterest has appointed Nick Hewat as its sales director for its UK and Ireland operations. Hewat was commercial director at The Guardian for seven years until the end of 2020.

This Week on VideoWeek

Zero-Party Data Explained, read on VideoWeek

A Group of MEPs is Proposing a Complete Ban on Using Personal Data in Advertising, read on VideoWeek

Mediaocean Buys Flashtalking for $500 Million, read on VideoWeek

European Public Service Broadcasters are Working Together to Help Drive Traffic to One Another, read on VideoWeek

Verve Group Acquires Mobile Specialist SSP Smaato, read on VideoWeek

UK Marketing Budgets Expand for The First Time Since The Pandemic Began, Says IPA Bellwether, read on VideoWeek

Ofcom Calls for “Radical Overhaul” of Laws to Save Public Service Media, read on VideoWeek

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