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The WIR: Peacock Expands in Europe and Doubles its Budget, Google Releases Updates for FLEDGE, and Nielsen Accused of Costing Broadcasters $350 Million

Tim Cross 28 January, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Peacock continues its European rollout, Google makes updates to its Privacy Sandbox toolkit, and Nielsen accused of costing TV networks $350 million through undercounting.

Top Stories

Peacock Launches in Germany and Austria and Doubles its Content Budget to $3 Billion
Comcast-owned streaming service Peacock continued its expansion into Europe this week, launching in Germany and Austria. The service is available to subscribers to Sky’s various services. Meanwhile Comcast CEO Patrick Roberts says the company plans to double the content budget for its Peacock streaming service from $1.5 billion to $3 billion this year, placing faith in its loss-making venture.

Roberts said that Peacock has now reached 24.5 million monthly active users, 75 percent of its target for 2024. And while Peacock is currently running at a loss, Roberts says he believes the services hybrid model will pay off in the long term. The majority of paid subscribers opt for the cheaper ad-supported subscription package, and Roberts said he believes that having two revenue streams will be healthier in the long run.

Despite the increased investment, Comcast still sits far behind rivals in terms of content spend. HBO Max earlier this year pledged to spend $18 billion on content this year, bringing it more in line with the likes on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Google Pushes Ahead with FLEDGE for Post-Cookie Retargeting
Shortly after announcing it was replacing its FLoC Privacy Sandbox proposal with Topics API, Google confirmed it is pushing ahead with its FLEDGE API and a reworked version of its Core Attribution API, two other key components of its post-cookie advertising toolset.

FLEDGE is designed to enable privacy-safe retargeting without the use of cookies, and was designed as a replacement for the earlier TURTLEDOVE proposal. Meanwhile Core Attribution API, as the name suggests, handles attribution. Both have been refined in terms of exactly how they operate, in order to address privacy concerns, and both will now be pushed for testing in Origin trials (which Core Attribution had already been undergoing in a previous form).

While the updates give more clarity on what’s happening inside Google’s sandbox, questions remain on whether sufficient time has been left for testing and further refining. Both APIs are due to begin their first transition phase, when they’re expected to be fully launched in Chrome and ready for scaled use across the web, in Q4 this year.

Nielsen’s Undercounting Cost TV Networks $350 Million, Says VAB
Nielsen’s undercount of out-of-home TV viewing cost TV networks $350 million, says trade body the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB). Out-of-home viewing is that which takes place in areas outside of the home, like bars, hotels and offices. 

Nielsen had reported in December that a “software error” had resulted in an undercounting of out-of-home crowds beginning in September 2020. But a report from the VAB says the undercounting of this type of viewing is worse than initially thought. The report estimates that between April and the end of 2021, Nielsen did not count “one and a half billion” impressions. The report also said that Nielsen’s count disproportionately missed out young, Black and Hispanic viewers. 

However, Nielsen and the Media Ratings Council have taken issue with the report from the VAB. Nielsen insists that “the magnitude of the issue was very small”. The MRC take issue with how the VAB utilised its data to reach its conclusions.

The Week in Tech

Google Files Motion To Dismiss Most Charges Against It in Antitrust Suit
Google has filed a motion to dismiss four of the six charges that a group of states has filed against it. If dismissed these charges would not be able to return to the same court in the antitrust case. The states, led by Texas, allege Google acted in an anticompetitive way in their online ads business. Google says the complaints misrepresent their business.

LG Ads Solutions To Offer Guarantees Based on Outcomes for CTV Inventory
LG Ad Solutions will allow advertisers to only pay for CTV ads when specified outcomes are met. These outcome goals will be verified by MRC-accredited third-party measurement partners. LG says they are the first company to have a media offering which combines a full suite of outcome guarantees.

AppNexus Founder Launches Climate Friendly Ad Company
Brian O’Kelley, founder of AppNexus has launched Scope3,a startup with a mission to reduce digital advertising’s carbon footprint. O’Kelley says that the company will collaborate with leading companies in the digital advertising space to “measure and reduce the carbon footprint of the ad-supported internet”. Scope3 will be ran as a public benefit company, meaning that it is for-profit it is obligated to work for good rather than just the interests of shareholders.

Google Launches FLoC Replacement, Topics API
Google has announced Topics API, an interest-based targeting tool within the Privacy Sandbox. Topics API replaces Google’s previously proposed FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which had attracted antitrust and privacy criticisms. Google has promised to phase out cookies by the end of 2023, giving it limited time to test the targeting tool.

Online Safety Bill Missed Opportunity to Prevent Internet Harms, Say MPs
The House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has said the government’s draft Online Safety Bill would miss opportunities to tackle online harms. In the committee’s report The Draft Online Safety Bill and the legal but harmful debate, the committee highlights “insidious” parts of child abuse and online violence against women that the bill failed to tackle. These are practices, which are technically legal, but still lead to widespread harm.

Three States and DC Sues Google Over Tracking Practices
Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia (DC) have sued Google over what they call “deceptive” location-tracking practices.The suit alleges that Google leads users to believe they can turn off being tracked through their settings, but Google “continues to track users’ location through other settings and methods that it fails to adequately disclose.”

IAS Introduces Live Media Quality Measurement for CTV
Integral Ad Science (IAS) has expanded its IAS Signal reporting platform to launch a new CTV dashboard. The new dashboard allows advertisers to measure media quality with CTV data based on device, app, channel, genre, content category, and rating, something which IAS say is a first for the industry. The new capabilities will be available within IAS Signal.

Online Platform 9GAG Adopts ID5’s Technology
Online platform and social media website 9GAG has adopted ID5’s technology to monetise “cookieless” users. 9GAG is a Hong Kong based platform that provides online content and memes to users, racking up considerable site traffic. ID5 will be working with the online platform to help reach and optimise this traffic across all browsers in a cookieless future.

Zefr to Provide Brand Safety Measurement Solution for TikTok Advertisers
Zefr has partnered with TikTok to provide brand safety and brand suitability measurement to advertisers on the platform.  The product utilises Zefr’s Cognition AI machine learning engine, and provides advertisers with video-level verification of their content adjacencies on TikTok. The partnership covers the US and Canada, the UK and the EU.

Pixability Announces Record Year for Revenue and Profitability
Video insights provider Pixability has announced a record year for its revenue and profitability. Revenue grew 64 percent year-on-year. Revenue growth was consistent across all profit lines, but CTV revenue was particularly strong- up 228 percent year-on-year. In 2021 the Pixability team also grew by 42 percent to support this growth.

Two-Thirds of Gamers Say They Would Welcome More Ads Into Their Game, Says Anzu Survey
A survey by in-game advertising provider Anzu has found that 66 percent of gamers would welcome more ads into their games. The survey also found that seven in ten gamers (70 percent) were either positive or neutral towards in-game advertising.

The Week in TV

HBO and HBO Max Report 4.4 Million New Subscribers in Q4 Earnings
HBO and HBO Max added 4.4 million new subscribers in Q4 2021, a figure that was reported during parent company’s AT&T’s earnings report. AT&T ended the quarter with revenue of $41 billion, beating estimates. Despite this it saw its shares drop, as the company prepares to spin off WarnerMedia. HBO was the standout driver of growth for AT&T in 2021.

Channel 4 and Formula E Announce Multi-Year Broadcast Agreement
Channel 4 has announced that it will become the exclusive UK free-to-air broadcaster of Formula E. Every race in the Formula E championship will either be broadcast on Channel 4 and All4 (C4’s VOD service) or on the broadcaster’s sports YouTube channel. The coverage will be hosted by Vernon Kay, Nicki Shields, Dario Franchitti and Jack Nicholls.

ITV Evening News To Be Extended to One Hour
ITV’s national and international evening news programme will be extended to one hour from March 2022. The news programme will now run from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, to be followed by soap opera Emmerdale. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this will be followed by a second soap, Coronation Street, which will run for an hour. The shuffle is a bid to strengthen ITV’s pre-9pm offering.

One Third of Under-Thirties “Never” Watch Any BBC TV Live, Says Survey
One-third of under-thirties, surveyed in a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, say they never watch any BBC television live. Only one in 20 18-30 year olds report watching BBC TV live every day, compared to half of over-65s. The survey also found that BBC iPlayer, the BBC’s VOD service, was actually favoured by older people, with only a quarter of the under-30s using the service once a week or more compared with almost a third of those aged over-65.

Polish Public Broadcaster Preparing to Launch New VOD Service
The Polish public broadcaster TVP is preparing to launch a new VOD service in the first quarter of this year, say reports in the Polish press. According to Press, the service will be called TVP GO and will be marketed at younger audiences. It will aim to include channels from private broadcasters Polsat and TVN in its offering, says the report.

New Movie Windowing Regime For French Players
Canal+ will be the first TV or VOD player able to air new movies in France. The pay-TV operator will only have to wait six months after theatrical release to be able to air movies. Netflix will be second to be able to air, at 15 months; this represents a significant decrease from its current window of 36 months. Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video will have to wait a further two months after Netflix to air movies, while free-to-air broadcasters such as France Télévisions and TF1 will be able to air them after 22 months.

NBCUniversal Lowers Its Ratings Expectations for the Winter Olympics
NBCUniversal is lowering its expectations for Winter Olympics TV ratings by as much as half, depending on the time of day and platform. The combination of the pandemic and controversy over China’s human rights’ record means the broadcaster has had to adjust its expectations. Its broadcast of the Tokyo summer Olympics was met with the lowest viewership since 1988. NBCU also attributes low ratings to a measurement system it says doesn’t capture the shift to streaming. 

The Week For Publishers

German Publishers Oppose Google’s Plans to Kill Third-Party Cookies
German publishers and advertising, including Axel Springer and a number of other large businesses, have filed a complaint with the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager against Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome. “Publishers must remain in a position where they are allowed to ask their users for consent to process data, without Google capturing this decision,” said the document, according to the Financial Times. “Google must respect the relationship between publishers and users without interfering.”

BBC Overtakes Reach as UK’s Most Popular Online News Publisher
The BBC has overtaken Reach as the UK’s most popular online news publisher, according to data from Ipsos Iris. The BBC reaches 80 percent of UK internet users according to the data, while Reach reaches 76 percent.

YouTube Shorts Tops Five Trillion Views
Shorts, YouTube’s hub for ultra-short form content, has surpassed five trillion views, according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s recent letter to YouTube creators. In the letter Wojcicki also said YouTube is working on integrations with NFTs, though she didn’t outline exactly how these integrations would look.

TikTok Tests Paid Subscriptions for Creators
TikTok is testing tools which would allow creators to sell subscriptions for their content, according to The Information. The move would allow creators to monetise more effectively on TikTok, rather than using third-party tools like Patreon to directly monetise their fan base.

Microsoft Sees Strong Rise in Ad Revenues
Microsoft posted strong gains in ad revenues in its most recent quarter, with advertisers spending more than $3 billion with Microsoft Advertising in the most recent quarter. Search and news ad revenues were up by 32 percent year-on-year, while total LinkedIn revenues grew by 37 percent.

Snap Leans on AR for Expansion Into New Markets
Snapchat’s parent company Snap is leaning on its augmented reality features to help grow in new markets, according to Reuters, while also pursuing tie-ups with local wireless carriers. Snap told Reuters these tactics are part of an effective playbook the company has developed for expanding into new markets, adding that it is currently particularly focussing on Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, and Spain.

Twitter Removed 4.7 Million Tweets in First Half of Last Year
Twitter released data for the first half of 2021 to its Twitter Transparency Centre this week, revealing that it removed 4.7 million tweets during the first half of 2021. Sixty-eight percent of those tweets registered less than 100 impressions before being taken down, according to Adweek.

The Week For Agencies

Advertising Association and WARC Forecast Over £32 Billion UK Ad Expenditure in 2022
Total TV ad expenditure is forecast to grow by 5.3 percent this year, according to the latest Expenditure Report from the Advertising Association and WARC released on Thursday. A good portion of this growth will come from advertising on TV streaming apps, with video on-demand (VOD) ad revenues specifically expected to grow by 13.7 percent. Total UK ad expenditure meanwhile is expected to grow by 8.5 percent, growing to over £32 billion. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Dentsu Forecasts 9.2 Percent Growth in Global Ad Spend
Agency group Dentsu has released its global ad spend forecast for 2021, predicting that spend will grow by 9.2 percent overall, reaching $745 billion. Linear TV ad spend specifically is expected to grow by 3.8 percent, while connected TV and video are predicted to contribute significantly to the 14.8 percent growth in digital spend.

M&C Saatchi Rejects Improved Takeover Offer
M&C Saatchi has rejected a further offer from its largest shareholder, Vin Murria, to buy out the company. Murria’s tech holding company AdvancedAdvT had made two offers to buy out the company, the most valuable of which was an all-share offer valuing M&C shares at 220 pence each (above its current market value of 175 pence). M&C believes this still significantly undervalues its prospects.

WFA Launches Guide to Diversity and Representation in Media Buying and Planning
The World Federation has released a new guide to improving diversity and representation in media planning and buying, which covers issues ranging from inclusive audience planning to measuring success. The guide has been developed by the WFA Diversity Task Force with support from GARM, and highlights four key areas where bias can occur and how progress can be made in these areas:

  1. Inclusive audience planning: ensuring audiences are diverse and inclusive at the planning stage;
  2. Supporting diverse voices: making deliberate decisions on media spend and building partnerships with unique media owners;
  3. Balancing brand safety with diversity: consciously managing brand suitability and safety alongside inclusion; and
  4. Measuring success: measuring all audiences fairly and investing in research.

Starcom Launches Report and Podcast on the Metaverse
Publicis agency Starcom has launched a report and five-part podcast series exploring how the metaverse is likely to impact brands and the wider media space. The report, titled Future Tensions in the Metaverse, identifies four specific tensions which Starcom believes will be relevant for brands:

  1. Social vs. Solo: how the metaverse smashes 1st and 3rd spaces together
  2. Truth vs. Design: how the metaverse can tell you anything you want to hear
  3. Access vs. Ownership: how in metaverse spaces, actions as well as objects can be owned
  4. Protection vs. Freedom: how the metaverse is organic but needs regulation

Publicis Partners with Crackle to Amplify Diverse Voices
Publicis’ APX Content Ventures, which invests in programming from diverse creators and helps set up deals with brands through Publicis Media, has begun a partnership with AVOD service Crackle Plus to create and distribute content. The first commissioned series Inside the Black Box, will be hosted by Emmy Award-winner Joe Morton.

McDonald’s Loses Bid to Throw Out Byron Allen Discrimination Suit
McDonald’s has lost its bid to throw out a lawsuit brought against it by media mogul Bryon Allen, which accuses the fast food chain of discriminating against Black-owned media companies when planning its ad spend. McDonald’s appeal was denied due to “improperly referencing materials outside the pleadings” according to Bloomberg.

Kohl’s Puts Media Account Up for Review
US retailer Kohl’s is putting its media account, held by Publicis Groupe’s Zenith for the past nine years, up for review according to Adweek. Kohl’s has sent out RFPs to multiple holding groups according to Adweek, though it’s not clear who has been invited.

Hires of the Week

Parweez Mulbocus Appointed as OMD EMEA Head of Commerce
Parweez Mulbocus has been promoted to OMD EMEA’s head of commerce. Mulbocus was previously eCommerce director, UK and Europe at OMG. 

Annie Luo Joins Peacock EVP of Global Partnerships and Strategic Development
NBCUniversal has appointed Annie Luo as EVP of global partnerships and strategic development for its streaming service Peacock. Luo joins from rival service Hulu, where she was VP of business development and operations.

Monique Pintarelli Promoted to Teads’ Chief Revenue Officer in the US
Monique Pintarelli has been promoted to chief revenue officer for the US market at Teads. Pintarelli has been leading the West Coast operation for Teads, having joined the company in 2018.

Dawn Airey Appointed as Channel 4 Interim Chair
Dawn Airey has been announced as Channel 4’s interim chair by Ofcom. Airey joined the Channel 4 Board in December 2021 as a non-executive director. Airey is a media veteran, with roles including chair and CEO of Channel 5. 

This Week on VideoWeek

How Teleshopping is Finding a Second Life Online, read on VideoWeek

Amazon Prime Video Comes out on Top in UK Subscriber Growth, Says Kantar, read on VideoWeek

Friends and Opponents Lay Out Arguments for TF1/M6 Merger, read on VideoWeek

The Industry Reacts: Google Replaces FLoC with Topics API, read on VideoWeek

UK TV Ad Spend Set to Grow 5.3 Percent This Year, read on VideoWeek

How The Advertising Industry Can Stop An Exodus of Women, read on VideoWeek

VideoWeek Podcast #30: Alex Khan, listen on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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