The WIR: UK Plans Data Law Shake Up in Departure from GDPR, Online Video Helps Drive Ad Growth for Publishers, and Two-Thirds of UK Households are Subscribed to an SVOD Service

27 August, 2021 

In this week’s Week in Review: UK plans data law shake up, AOP finds subscription revenues are rising fast, and two-third of UK households are now subscribed to an SVOD service.

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UK Plans Shake Up of Data Laws in Departure from GDPR
The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport on Thursday announced it is consulting on reforms to UK data laws, which could mark a departure from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which currently governs much of the UK’s rules around data protection.

The government says it wants to “improve the UK’s data protection regime to make it even more ambitious and innovation-friendly while still being underpinned by secure and trustworthy privacy standards.” It believes improved data sharing can help deliver more agile, effective and efficient public services.

A big part of this plan will be the appointment of a new information commissioner. John Edwards, currently New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, is the government’s preferred candidate. UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden says Edwards will be charged with overseeing a shake up of UK policy, with the government wanting to get rid of “endless” cookie pop-ups which are still common online. “There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible,” he told The Telegraph.

But Dowden emphasised that the UK will still make sure that its data laws meet the EU’s data adequacy standards, to ensure data can continue to flow freely between the EU and UK.

Online Video Helps Drive Continued Ad Growth for Publishers
Digital publishing revenues in the UK were up 31.0 percent in Q1 this year, according to the latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte.

Digital ad revenues saw a modest rise, up 4.7 percent year-on-year, while online video revenues were relatively strong, up 12.2 percent. But non-advertising revenues were the primary growth drivers. Subscription revenues were up 48.8 percent year-on-year, as more and more publishers have turned to subscription models to support struggling ad revenues.

“The rapid increase in digital revenues across almost all categories is extremely heartening, especially after the lows of last year,” said Richard Reeves, managing director of the AOP. “While there are clearly still long-term impacts of the pandemic it’s great to see the exceptional value and quality environments digital publishers can deliver is being recognised by the industry, demonstrated by the incredible performance in Q1 2021. With substantial growth in subscriptions, it’s great to see publishers continue to innovate and expand their offerings alongside digital advertising.”

Two Thirds of UK Households Subscribe to an SVOD Service
Two-thirds of UK households are now subscribed to at least one subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service, according to the latest Establishment Survey data released by UK measurement body BARB. And the vast majority of these are subscribed to multiple SVOD services, with 65.3 percent of all households subscribed to at least two.

Netflix remains the leader, with 16.8 million households holding a Netflix subscription in Q2 2021, up 1.5 million from Q3 last year. Amazon is still a way behind at 12.5 million, up 2.3 million from Q3 last year. And Disney+ now sits at 4.8 million households, up 0.9 million from last year.

Interestingly, total growth among each individual SVOD service far exceeds the growth in the number of households which hold an SVOD service subscription. This suggests that SVOD services are having most success in drawing in new subscribers who are already signed up to one of their competitors, rather than attracting customers who aren’t subscribed to any services.

The Week in Tech

Liftoff and Vungle Merge
Liftoff and Vungle have agreed to merge to form a global mobile growth monetisation and marketing. The new combined company will be led by Liftoff’s CEO Mark Ellis. Private equity company Blackstone had invested in both companies previously.

Roblox Acquires Discord Rival Guilded
Roblox has acquired gaming chat platform Guilded. Like its competitor Discord, users on Guilded can have text and voice conversations, the platform also lets users organise around events and calendars, meaning tournaments can be organised more easily. Guilded also features a bot API to simplify bot development allowing users with little or no programming experience to easily create bots.

Walmart is Launching a DSP
Walmart is launching a demand-side platform (DSP). It will debut in the second half of October and was built in partnership with The Trade Desk. Walmart say they want their new DSP to be set aside from the walled gardens.

The Adult VR Industry Projected to Make $19 Billion in 2026
The global value of the adult virtual reality (VR) content market is set to reach $19 billion by 2026, according to a new study by Juniper Research. The market is currently worth $716 million. Juniper Research says that by 2026, VR adult content will account for 22 percent of the global adult content market as a whole. 

Amid Contention Over Nielsen, Comscore Seeks Early MRC Audit
Comscore’s Media Ratings Council audit will take place months sooner than planned, following a request from the measurement company. Comscore is resubmitting its local and national measurement offerings to the MRC to undergo its audit and accreditation process, the MRC has had Comscore’s television ratings service listed as “inactive” since 2018. Meanwhile, Nielsen has asked the MRC to pause its accreditation process, amid complaints about its practices from networks.

The Week in TV

Channel 4 Launches Real-Time Bidding for All 4
UK broadcaster Channel 4 announced on Monday it has launched ‘All 4 Private Marketplace’, a new tool which will let advertisers buy inventory on its All 4 catch-up platform through real-time bidding. Private marketplaces for All 4 inventory will be available to buyers on demand-side platform The Trade Desk, via a partnership with sell-side platform Freewheel, and Channel 4 says it expects its marketplaces to be available on Google’s DV360 DSP in the coming weeks. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

TF1 Reports a 28 Percent Year-on-Year Increase in Sales
French TV network TF1 has reported a 28 percent year-on-year increase in sales in the first half of 2021. Parent company Bouygues says this was driven by strong TV ad spend compared to H1 2021. They say that demand for TV remained strong, although it had dropped from the same period last year, it was up by 17 minutes compared to June 2019.

SVOD For French Independent Cinema Launching
SofaVOD, a subscription streaming service for French Independent cinema is being launched. The service will launch on 24 September and have an emphasis on short-form content from professionals and semi-professionals. SofaVOD is intended to provide a platform for those who find it difficult to place their content on other streaming services such as YouTube or Vimeo.

More Than Half of CTV Households Watch Free AVODs
Six in ten CTV households now watch a free AVOD service, Screen Engine-ASI subsidiary TDG. Networks like Fox and ViacomCBS have invested in free ad-supported services but YouTube remains the most popular free AVOD. In Q2 2021, YouTube made as much ad revenue as Netflix made in subscriptions.

Almost 1.25 Million People Cancelled Their Pay-TV Subscriptions in Q2 2021
The pay TV industry lost 1.23 million subscribers in the US in Q2 2021, according to Leichtman Research Group. According to the research, the top US pay-TV providers now have around 77.6 million subscribers. The US’s biggest cable providers had a net loss of around 590,000 video subscribers in Q2 2021, a loss that is worse than the same period in 2020, when the industry had losses of about 505,000 subscribers.

NBCUniversal Makes Call For “Declaration of Measurement Independence”
In a blog post on Monday, NBCUniversal indicated that it would encourage its partners in the space to reconsider their current measurement and metrics arrangements. The current US standard for TV measurement is defined by Nielsen, who may be under risk of losing their accreditation as networks call for the MRC to move away from the company. NBCUniversal indicated that it no longer wanted to use a single metric.

Vizio Attracts $100 Million in Upfront Commitments
CTV company Vizio wrapped up its upfronts this week, securing commitments of over $100 million. The upfronts were the best in the company’s history and represent a four-fold increase from last year’s upfronts. Vizio went public earlier this year and has been pursuing ad spend with more focus.

Fox Will Launch Ten Free Sports Streaming Channels on Tubi
Fox is launching ten live sports channels on its free ad-supported streaming service Tubi. The channels will include Fox Sports, a channel dedicated to major league baseball and one for the NFL. Tubi has begun rolling out “Sports on Tubi”, a dedicated hub for sports content on the streaming platform.

Channel 4 and TikTok Partner for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Hub
Channel 4 has partnered with TikTok to create a bespoke Paralympics Hub on the platform, set to showcase key moments throughout the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Hub will feature a comprehensive schedule of Paralympics content from Channel 4, created by its Leeds based 4Studio, especially for the TikTok community.

The Week in Publishing

Axel Springer Buys Politico for $1 Billion
German publisher Axel Springer has agreed a deal to buy news publisher Politico, as well as Politico’s 50 percent share in joint venture Politico Europe and tech news site Protocol, for a reported $1 billion. Axel Springer says Politico strengthens its portfolio with “opinionated and well-founded analyses as well as a unique look behind the scenes of politics in Washington DC, the USA and worldwide”.

Forbes to Go Public via SPAC
Forbes Global Media Holdings revealed this week it is planning to go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited, in a deal which will value the business at $630 million.

Vox Media Acquires Cocktail Website Punch
Digital publisher Vox Media this week agreed a deal to buy cocktail website Punch, in a deal with parent company Penguin Random House. The deal will expand Vox’s coverage of food and drinks, and Amanda Kludt, editor-in-chief of Vox’s food site Eater, told the WSJ there will be chances for editorial and commercial collaborations between Eater and Punch.

Private Equity Firm Takes Majority Stake in Jungle Creations
Jungle Creations has sold a 51 percent stake in its company to private equity firm Livingbridge. The majority stake was reportedly sold for £30 million. The company produces social media content for its own brands on platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. These brands include cooking publisher Twisted, and arts-related channel, Craft World. It also produces campaigns for clients like GSK, McDonalds and Heinz. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

TikTok Partners with Shopify for In-App Shopping
Shopify and TikTok this week announced an expansion to their partnership, which will allow Shopify merchants  to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles by syncing their product catalogues to create a mini-storefront. The move will make it easier for creators to find customers and sell to them directly through the platform and for shoppers to access the brands and products sold by creators, according to TikTok.

Advertisers Spend $2.6 Billion on Misinformation Sites
For every $2.16 advertisers spend on news sites, $1 is spent on sites carrying misinformation, according to a new report by Comscore and NewsGuard. Brands like Verizon, Pepsi and Starbucks have all had their ads programmatically placed on sites carrying misinformation. The report found that American advertisers spend around $1.6 billion in advertising on fake news sites, while British advertisers spend around $152 million.

Bloomberg On Track For Its Best-Ever Year in Advertising
Bloomberg’s consumer-facing arm expects to have its best year ever in terms of advertising revenue. Core advertising revenues in the first half of the year were up 47 percent year-on-year – with digital up 59 percent, TV up 30 percent, and Quicktake, Bloomberg’s short-form video service which lives on Twitter and as a separate OTT app, up 310 percent.

The growth was driven by European results and digital ads. European advertising revenue was up 62 percent in H1 2021, while digital advertising was up 79 percent. Owners Acquire Italy’s Biggest Digital Football News Platform
The owners of, a football media website, have acquired, Italy’s biggest digital football news platform. Footballco, bought a majority stake in last year in a $125m deal from DAZN, and is targeting annual revenues of $100 million. The acquisition of represents the first big expansion for Footballco.

Instagram Shop Tab Ads Rolled Out Globally
Instagram is rolling out ads in its “Shop” tab globally, following tests of the feature in the US. The ads will appear in the Shop tab homepage as tiles. Instagram introduced the Shop tab to the app in 2020, which makes purchasing products on the platform easier.

YouTube Has Paid Out $30 Billion to Creators in Last Three Years
As social video sites are increasingly launching funds to attract creators to their platforms, YouTube this week put out a blog post revealing that it has paid out $30 billion in payments to creators – including media companies – over the past three years. YouTube says it now has two million creators in its monetisation programme.

OnlyFans U-Turns on Porn Ban
OnlyFans, a site which lets creators run subscription services in exchange for content, has backtracked on its plan to prohibit sexually explicit content from its platform. Its decision, announced last week, was controversial since OnlyFans has become primarily associated with adult content.

The Week for Agencies

Wunderman Thompson Acquires Satalia
WPP’s Wunderman Thompson this week announced it has acquired Satalia, a business which offers AI solutions across retail, grocery, telecoms and consultancy sectors. Satalia will be folded into Wunderman Thompson Commerce, and will act as a “hub of AI expertise” across WPP agencies.

IPG Demands Proof of Vaccination or Regular Testing to Return to Office
Interpublic Group CEO Philippe Krakowsky announced via a LinkedIn memo this week that staff across the world will require “proof of vaccination or regular testing” before returning to the office. These measures are expected to be put into place in the coming weeks in any markets where vaccines and tests are readily available.

Merkle Launches UK Tech Consultancy
Dentsu’s Merkle is launching a new UK practice that looks to “drive business value through technology investment and optimisation for clients”, Campaign reported this week. Andy Ankrah, formerly senior director of solutions, has been appointed as head of technology consulting to head up the new practice.

US Midterm Spending Projected to Reach $7.8 Billion Next Year
Political ad spend on next year’s midterm elections in the US will reach $7.8 billion, according to data from Kantar and CMAG. CMAG forecasts that $3.8 billion will go to broadcast TV, with $1.2 billion spent on OTT and CTV.

4A’s Releases An Agency Review Participation Contract To Curb Ghosting
The 4A’s is releasing an agency review participation agreement, which sets standards for agencies and clients to agree on before the pitch process begins. The agreement lists nine key points for both sides to agree to, and is designed to curb back practices like ghosting, where one side goes quiet on the other without giving an explanation.

Other Sues Mother Over Other Other
UK creative agency Other Creative is taking legal action against fellow agency Mother, after Mother launched its own spin-off shop which it also called ‘Other’ last October.  Other Creative says that since the two offer similar services, Mother’s Other was passed off as being related in some way to Other Creative.

‘Agency Marketplace’ Breef Raises $3.5 Million
Breef, a company which describes itself as “the world’s first online marketplace” for joining up brands and agencies, has raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by Greycroft.

Hires of the Week

Tariq Hassan Hired as McDonald’s US Marketing Lead
Tariq Hassan has been hired at McDonald’s USA as chief marketing and digital customer experience officer. Hassan joins from Petco where he was marketing chief. He succeeds Morgan Flatley, who is being promoted to global chief marketing officer.

Sarah Travis Joins Target As Head of Roundel
Sarah Travis is joining Target’s international media business Roundel as its head. Travis was previously managing director of retail at Google.

MBAstack Appoints Ceri Perkins As Chief Customer Experience Officer
Ceri Perkins will join MBAstack as their first chief customer experience officer. Perkins previously served as global strategy lead for Shell at Wunderman Thomas.

IAS Hires Song Du and Gerald Mui
IAS announced two new top engineering appointments this week. Song Du has been appointed SVP of product engineering, while Gerald Mui has been picked as VP of data engineering.

This Week on VideoWeek

How Global Players are Trying to Take Advantage of India’s Mobile-Centric Streaming Market, read on VideoWeek

Channel 4 Launches Real-Time Bidding for All 4, read on VideoWeek

People Believe Tech Platforms are Eavesdropping on Conversations, Maybe It’s Time to Listen to Them, read on VideoWeek

Why Is It So Easy For Social Platforms To Steal Each Other’s Ideas? read on VideoWeek

Private Equity Firm Takes Majority Stake in Jungle Creations, read on VideoWeek

How Does UID 2.0 Actually Work? read on VideoWeek

The Rise of Video is Hitting Small Businesses on Instagram, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

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