The WIR: DoubleVerify Uncovers New CTV Fraud Scheme, Sony Completes $1.2 Billion Crunchyroll Acquisition, and Comscore Provides CTV Measurement for YouTube

13 August, 2021 

In this week’s Week in Review: DoubleVerify roots out a new $6 million per month fraud scheme, Sony completes its $1.2 billion acquisition of Crunchyroll, and Comscore adds YouTube to its cross-platform measurement product.

Top Stories

DoubleVerify Uncovers New $6 Million Per Month CTV Fraud Scheme
DoubleVerify has uncovered a new CTV fraud scheme involving screensavers. When the end-user installs the screensavers, fraudsters were able to hijack the device, generating impressions, even when the screen was off. On average, the fraud was generating three times the number of impressions there actually were.

The scheme, dubbed “SmokeScreen” was identified and neutralised by data scientists, mathematicians and researchers at DoubleVerify. DoubleVerify estimates that the scheme is siphoning off $6 million per month from unprotected advertisers and publishers. 

This new “SmokeScreen” scheme differs from previous CTV frauds, which largely work by generating fake CTV ad inventory. In contrast, this bot-based fraud targeted end users with external CTV devices.

Sony Completes $1.2 Billion Acquisition of Crunchyroll
Sony’s anime specialist business Funimation this week completed a $1.2 billion acquisition of anime streaming service Crunchyroll from AT&T. The two will come together as one combined specialist anime streaming service “as soon as possible” according to Sony Pictures CEO and chairman Tony Vinciquerra.

While anime is still something of a niche genre in the west, it’s increasingly becoming a target for investment from streaming services as they look to compete for new audiences. Netflix in particular has invested heavily in anime, while Amazon and Hulu have also been spending on the genre over the past few years.

Comscore Provides Deduplicated CTV Measurement for YouTube
Measurement company Comscore announced this week that it is adding measurement of YouTube and YouTube TV into cross-platform measurement service, Comscore Campaign Ratings. Comscore Campaign Ratings is designed to show advertisers their campaigns’ deduplicated reach, and with YouTube accounting for such a big slice of video ad spend, it’s an important addition to the product. The new integration will account for YouTube co-viewing on connected-TV devices, according to Comscore.

“This is a critical milestone for Comscore and for the industry,” said Bill Livek, Comscore’s CEO. “Our clients are placing a large portion of their advertising spend with YouTube, and they need a holistic view of how that spend is performing relative to the entire media mix. We’re confident that clients using Comscore Campaign Ratings will have the most complete picture of advertising performance in the market.”

The Week in Tech

Google Considering Switching FLoC to an Approach Based on Topics
A lead tech engineer at Google has indicated that Google may switch its post-third party cookie approach from cohorts to topics. Josh Karlin, a tech lead manager of Google’s Privacy Sandbox team in its Chrome browser division, also admitted that Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) approach had fingerprinting potential. While Google insisted “nothing has been decided yet”, Karlin outlined how the company might assign a site topic based on a variety of interests reflected by the sites people visit in a given week.

Integral Ad Science Acquires Publica for $220 Million
Integral Ad Science (IAS), an ad tech business focused on ad measurement and verification, has agreed a deal to buy Publica, a connected TV advertising platform, for $220 million. The acquisition comes as part of IAS’s strategy of diversifying its product beyond its core ad verification business, and gives the company a significant stake in the fast-growing connected-TV space. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

GumGum Buys JustPremium to Fuel European Expansion
GumGum, an ad tech business specialising in contextual intelligence, today announced a deal to acquire JustPremium, a European video ad and rich media marketplace, for an undisclosed fee. The deal will expand GumGum’s presence in Europe, bolstering its client base in the UK and bringing the company into Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark for the first time. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

The Trade Desk Doubles Its Revenue from Last Year
The Trade Desk earned $280 million in Q2 2021, a figure that represents a 200 percent increase from the same period last year.  Q2 2020 was a historic dip for The Trade Desk. Those at the company emphasised the role of the growth of CTV and of its data capabilities as reasons for the success.

UK Competition Regulator Calls for Facebook to Undo Giphy Deal
The UK’s competition regulator has called for Facebook to undo its acquisition of Giphy, a GIFs provider, over competition concerns. Facebook acquired the online image platform for $400 million last year. The Competition and Markets Authority raised concerns earlier this week, saying that Facebook’s purchase of Giphy may harm competition in removing a potential online advertising competitor.

BARB Includes Mobile in Viewing Data
BARB, the UK audience measurement platform, has begun including TV on smartphones in its viewing data. Since January 2020 BARB has reported viewing data across TVs, PCs and tablets, it now adds smartphones to its reports. For the first week reported ITV’s reality programme Love Island was the most viewed on smartphones.

World’s Largest Ad Blocker Launches A DSP
German ad-blocking company Eyeo has launched a demand-side platform called Trestle. The company, which is the biggest ad blocker in the world. Eyeo operates the Acceptable Ads program, a committee of ad blockers that gather consent from users to serve ads. In the past advertisers would have had to do direct deals with the Acceptable Ads program, but Trestle should make the process easier.

Google to Restrict Ad Targeting of Children
Google will no longer allow ads to be targeted at children based on their age, gender or interests. Google will follow other big platforms like Facebook in increasing protections for under-18s. The changes will cover an array of Google’s platforms including YouTube and Search and also sets out to improve privacy through measures like setting childrens’ profiles to the highest privacy setting by default.

Facebook Makes Efforts To Be Able to Analyse Encrypted Data
Facebook is hiring a team of artificial intelligence researchers, including a key hire to study ways of analysing encrypted data without decrypting it. This could give Facebook capabilities like targeting ads based on encrypted messages on its WhatsApp messenger, or to encrypt its own data. The field, known as homomorphic encryption, is being researched by several big tech players including Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

Google Makes Updates to Automatic Bidding
Google has outlined changes to its automated bidding in Display & Video 360. Users will now be able to set custom multipliers without the need to write code, this is something that will be expanded to Analytics 360 in future too.  Google has also introduced pay per viewable impressions, as measured by active view for display and video campaigns.

Anzu Awarded Three Industry Certifications
In-game advertising company Anzu has been awarded three industry certifications. Anzu was awarded the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) Brand Safety Certified Seal, the TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal, and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK Gold Standard Certification 2.0. In order to achieve these certifications Anzu had to meet a number of criteria, including a third-party audit in order to achieve the TAG Brand Safety Certified Seal.

The Week in TV

Tokyo Games Are the Lowest Ever NBC Viewings for Summer Olympics
This year’s Tokyo Olympic games represent the lowest-ever viewing figures for a summer games since NBC started broadcasting them in 1988. The figures represent a 42 percent drop in viewership from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games. NBC had expected a drop in viewership from previous games, with Covid-19 meaning some athletes were unable to compete and no crowds were allowed. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua insisted the games would still be “extremely profitable” for the network.

Polish MPs Approve Law That Critics Say Curbs Media Freedom
Poland’s MPs have voted to approve a law that critics say will curb media freedom in the country. The new law would force US network Discovery to sell its controlling stake in TVN, the one of the country’s biggest private news networks. The media law would prevent companies from outside the European Economic Area from holding a controlling stake in Polish media companies.

Roku to Launch 23 More Original Shows
Roku will launch 23 more “Roku Originals” on 23rd August. All the shows were created for Quibi, the mobile video platform that Roku acquired. 19 of the shows had been available previously on Quibi, but four never aired on the platform.

Sinclair’s TV Channels Will No Longer Be on DISH’s Network After Failure to Reach Carriage Agreement
Sinclair Broadcast Group said that hundreds of its TV stations will no longer be aired on DISH’s network after their current carriage agreement expires on 16th August. The two companies failed to come to a new carriage agreement. In total, 112 broadcast TV stations are expected to be dropped, including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates, Sinclair said, adding that on-demand and online access to the programming for DISH’s subscribers would also be discontinued.

Serie A Considering Live Streaming Matches on YouTube in the Middle East
Italian football league Serie A is reportedly considering live-streaming some matches on YouTube in the Middle East and North Africa. The consideration of the deal comes as broadcast rights negotiations in the region falter due to a deadlock. Serie A is considering the deal with YouTube to avoid the matches not being shown at all in the region.

Sainsbury’s Ends GB News Advertising
UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has ended its advertising on GB News, following controversy around the content and presenters on the news channel. Led by Donkeys, an anti-Brexit campaign group has led a social media campaign to pressure advertisers to move away from the channel. The campaign was sparked by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage making comments on his show that called the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) “a taxi service for migrants”.

ITV Invests in IsMyBillFair
UK commercial PSB ITV has made the latest addition to its media for equity portfolio, investing in bills-checking company IsMyBillFair offers an online service that saves UK households time and money, by getting a fairer price for household bills from their current supplier, rather than having to go through the hassle of switching, it currently offers the service for energy bills with plans to expand into broadband. ITV is acquiring a minority stake valued at £1.25 million in return for advertising inventory across ITV’s channels and the ITV Hub.

FuboTV Beats Q2 Forecasts
Sports-first live TV streaming platform fuboTV’s financial results for Q2 beat Wall Street analyst’s forecasts. Total revenue was up 196 percent year-over-year to $130.9 million in Q2 2021. fuboTV also gained 91,000 new subscribers in the second quarter.

The Week in Publishing

Reddit Reaches $10 Billion Valuation
Social sharing platform Reddit topped $100 million in ad revenue in its latest quarter, which interestingly comes after the company stopped selling ads programmatically. Reddit also announced this week that it is looking to raise $700 million in a funding round led by Fidelity Management, which would value the company at over $10 billion.

TikTok Tightens Privacy Controls for Teenagers
Video sharing app TikTok has announced it is tightening privacy controls for teenage users. Users younger than 16 will be presented with a popup which allows them to decide who can view their videos, and users won’t be able to download videos from users under 16. Users between 16-17 meanwhile will be able to set who is able to download their videos.

Instagram Tests Ads in Shopping Tab
Instagram has begun testing ads within its dedicated shopping tab, which may be either single images or a carousel of images. The ads appear as promoted posts within the regular shop feed, and lead users to an in-app checkout for the products.

YouTube Begins Pushing Shorts Globally
YouTube has begun a global campaign promoting its TikTok competitor Shorts, which is now available in over 100 markets.

JW Player Reports 361 Percent Increase in App-Based Video Consumption
JW Player released data this week which found a 133 percent increase in distinct OTT apps active in its network from 2020 to 2021, which it says has driven a 361 percent increase in OTT app-based video consumption.

Sponsors Leave Activision Blizzard Over Sexual Harassment Allegations
Sponsors have been pulling out of partnerships with Activision Blizzard due to the game publisher’s ongoing lawsuit with the State of California, which accuses the company of fostering a toxic culture which allowed frequent sexual harassment and discrimination. Pringles, State Farm, and IBM have all pulled out as sponsors of Overwatch League, an esports league for Activision Blizzard game Overwatch.

AP Extends Agreement With Connatix to Fuel Video Monetization Strategy
Video technology company Connatix announced an extended agreement with the Associated Press (AP), which will fuel the publisher’s video monetization strategy. The agreement will see AP use Connatix’s video monetization platform, Playspace to recirculate and monetize its existing content. Connatix say their Playspace platform will also help readers to discover additional AP news.

The Week for Agencies

Dentsu Posts 15 Percent Organic Growth
Japanese holding group Dentsu posted 15 percent year-on-year organic growth in its Q2 financial results, with 12 percent growth in Dentsu Japan Network and 17 percent growth in Dentsu International. “As we pass the anniversary of the start of the pandemic, revenues continue to recover across all regions with strong growth in digital solutions,” said Dentsu in a statement. “Client confidence is restoring with spending levels more resilient and predictable.”

Publicis Groupe wins Walmart Media Account
Walmart announced this week that it has chosen Publicis Media as its agency of record to handle media planning and buying duties in the US. The account, worth around $600 million, was previously held by Haworth, an agency which WPP has a 49 percent stake in.

Kraft Heinz Bumps Up Ad Spend by $100 Million More than 2019
Kraft Heinz is planning to bump up its ad spend, investing $100 million more than it did in 2019, according to Ad Age. The extra spend comes as Kraft Heinz plans to give 80 percent of its brands a refresh over the next 18 months.

US Ad Employment Climbs by 1,200
The total number of people employed in advertising, public relations, and related services in the US increased by 1,200 in July according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This still leaves total employment almost 40,000 lower than it was prior to the pandemic.

UK Government Reviews Media Buying Account
The UK government is reviewing its media buying account, worth £900 million across four years. The account is currently held by Omnicom agency Manning Gottlieb OMD.

Dentsu Sets 30 Day Limit for Payments to Minority-Owned Media Businesses
Dentsu is limiting the maximum time it can take to pay minority-owned media partners to 30 days, in an effort to support these businesses. Dentsu usually sets 60-120 day payment terms for its partners.

Ad Age Names P&G as World’s Biggest Advertiser
Ad Age says that FMCG giant P&G has claimed the top spot as the world’s biggest advertiser, outspending Amazon over the past year. Ad Age Datacenter data shows that P&G spent $11.5 billion on global marketing over the fiscal year ending June 2021.

Hires of the Week

Prasanna Gopalakrishnan Appointed as Sky Group CTO
Prasanna Gopalakrishnan will join Sky Group as their chief technology officer. Gopalakrishnan is currently managing director and CIO of consumer tech business operations at the Bank of America.

Tony Fagan Joins VideoAmp as CTO
VideoAmp has hired their first chief technology officer, Tony Fagan. Fagan had previously served as VP of ads data science and engineering at Google. 

Rich Edwards Appointed by M&C Saatchi as Head of Planning
M&C Saatchi has appointed Rich Edwards as their new head of planning. Edwards was most recently executive strategy director at creative agency Iris.

This Week on VideoWeek

How Do Social Platforms’ Payments for Creators Compare? read on VideoWeek

Integral Ad Science Acquires Publica for $220 Million, read on VideoWeek

GumGum Buys JustPremium to Fuel European Expansion, read on VideoWeek

Here’s Where the Big Four Agency Groups Found Growth in Q2, read on VideoWeek

Why ITV is Betting on the Metaverse, read on VideoWeek

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