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The WIR: Walmart Ad Revenues Reach $2.1 Billion, ITV Invests in FAST Channels, and M6 Reports Record Ad Revenues

Tim Cross 18 February, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Walmart’s ad business ramps up, ITV invests in FAST, and M6 reports record ad revenues.

Top Stories

Walmart Ad Revenues Reach $2.1 Billion in 2021
Walmart broke out its ad revenues for the first time in its quarterly earnings this week, with the retail giant revealing that it made over $2.1 billion last year in ad sales.

Walmart has been ramping up its retail media business, which it calls Walmart Connect, in recent years. This has included launching an in-house demand-side platform powered by The Trade Desk. And Walmart says its investment is quickly paying off, with the number of advertisers working with Walmart having grown by 130 percent year-on-year in 2021. Half of all ad sales came through programmatic channels in Q4, which Walmart says was double the previous year.

Now Walmart has ambitions for Walmart Connect to become one of the ten largest advertising businesses in the world “in the mid term”, according to CFO Brett Biggs.

ITV Studios Launches FAST Channels on Samsung TV Plus
ITV Studios is launching two free ad-supported streaming (FAST) channels on connected TV platform Samsung TV Plus. The two channels will initially launch in the UK, before rolling out in European markets including Germany and Italy. A dedicated Hell’s Kitchen channel will be one of the offerings, as well as Storylands, a destination for drama. 

The roll-out to FAST channels is part of ITV Studios’ strategic focus, and follows the launch of a non-scripted YouTube channels last year.

“We have an amazing library of 90,000 plus hours of IP and the FAST/AVOD space is a key strategic focus for ITV Studios as we look to provide global audiences with new ways to access some of our best known scripted brands, formats and non-scripted entertainment content,” said Ruth Berry, managing director of ITV Studios.

M6 Reports Record Full-Year Ad Revenues
French TV group M6 has reported a record year in terms of ad revenue. M6 generated ad revenue of 1.14 billion euros in 2021, up significantly from 980.5 million euros in 2020, and an increase from the 2019 figure of 1.11 billion euros. Consolidated revenues however have still not topped pre-pandemic levels, sitting at €1.39 billion last year compared with €1.46 billion in 2019.

The TV group attributed the record numbers to economic recovery and increased consumer spending, saying that the overall advertising market is much stronger now than it was in 2020. And M6 says priorities for the year ahead include supporting the continued recovery of the ad market, as well as growing its addressable TV ad offering.

The Week in Tech

Google Announces Plans to Remove Advertising Identifiers from Android
Google has announced in a blog post that it is introducing the Privacy Sandbox to Android, and plans to deprecate the Android Advertising ID. The specific measures that Google is introducing will see the sharing of users’ data with third-parties limited. It will also see Android operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

RTL Group to Combine RTL AdConnect, G+J iMS and Smartclip’s Media Division
RTL Group has today announced that it is combining RTL AdConnect, G+J iMS and the media division of Smartclip to create an “international advertising sales champion”.RTL AdConnect’s CEO Stéphane Coruble will lead the new combined company as CEO. Oliver Vesper, current co-CEO of Smartclip, will become chief digital officer (CDO) and Deputy CEO of the new RTL Group sales house. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

IAB Europe Will Appeal Belgian Data Authority’s Ruling
IAB Europe has confirmed that it will appeal the ruling by the Belgian Data Authority, which found that the trade body’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) violated GDPR. IAB Europe’s CEO described the organisation as a “small trade association”, and said, “it cannot have been the intention of the European legislator that a body like ours should bear legal responsibility for the data processing activities of an entire industry”.

Meta Pays $90 Million to Settle User Tracking Lawsuit
Facebook parent company Meta has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a decade-old class action lawsuit over tracking users. The lawsuit was over a practice that allowed the social network to track users’ activity across the internet, even if they had logged out of the platform. If approved the case would rank among the top 10 largest settlement sums ever paid in a data-privacy class action suit.

Microsoft Advertising Expands to 29 New Markets
Microsoft Advertising has expanded to 29 new markets, the company said this week. The new markets are in Europe and Africa, and include countries like Romania, South Africa and Poland. This expansion gives Microsoft Advertising an increase in reach of 41 million customers, adding 400 million monthly searches on Microsoft and partner sites, according to the company.

Illuma Introduces New Cross-Platform Targeting Tool, Illuma Compass
Illuma Technology has released a new cross-platform targeting tool, Illuma Compass. The tool is available exclusively through Xandr Invest. The company says the AI-powered tool, Illuma Compass allows traders and marketers to programmatically target web and CTV inventory.

ID5 Partners With Austrian Publisher COPE Group
COPE Content Performance Group (COPE) has integrated the ID5 ID. The Austrian publisher works with more than 100 platforms in the country., and is partnering with ID5 to monetise their users in a privacy safe way. The partnership signals a further expansion into Europe for ID5.

Outbrain Releases Engagement Bid Strategy
Outbrain has announced the release of its Engagement Bid Strategy (EBS), an AI-based campaign optimisation tool, which does not require the use of third-party cookies. Outbrain’s new solution automatically optimises ad creative serving and adjusts cost-per-click bidding by analysing data from the advertiser website analytics system.

The Week in TV

Discovery to Launch “Ad Lite” Version of Discovery+ in the UK
Discovery has announced that it is launching an “ad lite” version of Discovery+ in the UK and Ireland next month.

The ad-lite offering will offer Discovery+ at a cheaper rate to consumers. It will cost £3.99 a month, compared to the usual price of £4.99. Discovery says it is the first subscription service to offer ad-supported access to its service in the UK or Ireland. 

Discovery+ is expected to roll out further across Europe and the Middle East later this year.

Roku Hits 60 Million Users
Roku has reported that it had 60.1 million active users in the period to the end of 2021. However, revenues were below expectations, something which the company blamed on shortages in hardware. CFO Steve Louden declined to confirm a recent report that Roku is planning to manufacture its own TVs. 

ViacomCBS Rebrands as Paramount, With Focus on Streaming
ViacomCBS has rebranded as Paramount, and has laid out a renewed focus on streaming. Its streaming offering, Paramount+, will also be extended into France through a partnership with Canal+. It was also announced that, from 2024, Paramount+ will become the streaming home for all new Paramount Pictures movies following their theatrical runs.

RTL Group Sells RTL Croatia
RTL Group has sold RTL Croatia to Central European Media Enterprises (CME) for 50 million euro. RTL Group will also benefit from royalties generated by a long-term trademarking agreement made with CME. The company has fully owned RTL Croatia since 2015, having been a majority shareholder since its foundation in 2004.

UK Disney+ Subscribers Up By Almost Five Percent in Q4 2021, Says BARB
The number of homes in the UK subscribed to Disney+ increased by almost five percent in one quarter, reports BARB’s Establishment Survey for Q4 2021. Meanwhile, Netflix increased their subscribers by less than one percent. The report also found that the number of UK households with SVOD services had risen above 19 million for the first time. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Discovery+ Leads Discovery’s Record Winter Olympics Performance
Discovery is on-track to break several of its own records with viewing figures for the Winter Olympic games. Eight times more viewers are streaming Olympic content compared to the same period for Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Ad sales for the games are reportedly “on track” following earlier concerns. 

Premiership Rugby Launches Pay-Per-View Streaming Service
Premiership Rugby will launch a new pay-per-view streaming service for matches not broadcast on BT Sport. It will be launched on Premiership Rugby’s  mobile app. Fans will be able to buy a “match pass” for £4.99 per game or a “round pass” for £6.99. The league signed a deal with ITV last month to broadcast four of the matches.

RTE Player Needs “Several Million Euro” To Bring It Up to Speed with Rivals
Irish public broadcaster RTE’s streaming service, RTE Player needs an investment of “several million euro” in order to bring it in line with industry standards. RTÉ’s head of public affairs Vivienne Flood told Ireland’s Public Accounts Committee that the investment would be a “minimal requirement” to match comparable products in the market. RTE Player has been criticised for its instability and unreliability. 

RTL Deutschland Signs Exclusive Content Deal With Warner Bros Entertainment
RTL Deutschland has signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros Entertainment. The deal will give the broadcaster exclusive access to films and TV programmes, including HBO Max originals for its streaming service RTL+. It will also be able to broadcaster new programming from Warner Bros on its TV services.

The Week For Publishers

TMB Focuses on Video Following Strong Revenue Growth
TMB, the publisher behind Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home, and Junkin Media, is looking to quickly expand its video and CTV offering, hiring for 100 roles this year according to Adweek. The company will also look for acquisitions which would fast track its expansion. The news comes after TMB reported 110 percent year-on-year growth in revenues.

Canadian Publishers Push for Payments from Meta
The Canadian journalism industry has asked for lawmakers to pass legislation which would force Meta to pay for content, asking for a law to be passed by the end of June. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already pledged to introduce legislation along those lines, and the issue is believed to have support from both sides of the aisle.

Digital Content Next Backs US Antitrust Bills
Publisher trade group Digital Content Next wrote to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week in support of two antitrust bills that have been proposed; The American Innovation and Choice Online Act and The Open App Markets Act. “Platforms should be able to moderate their services to protect consumers, police IP theft and prevent security lapses. However, some dominant platforms have leveraged their privileged status as gatekeeper to unfairly compete in other markets,” said Digital Content Next executives Jason Kint and Chris Pedigo, according to Reuters.

Reddit Partners with Indie Agency Tinuiti
Reddit this week named performance marketing firm Tinuiti as its first independent agency partner. The partnership will give Tinuiti clients early and increased access to Reddit’s ad tools, teams, and resources – including help from experts in creative strategy and measurement.

Binance to Take $200 Million Stake in Forbes
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is taking a $200 million stake in Forbes, with Binance founder Changpeng Zhao saying that he sees media as “an essential element to build widespread consumer understanding and education” around cryptocurrencies. The announcement has sparked concerns around conflicts of interest, given that Forbes reports substantially on cryptocurrencies and exchanges including Binance.

IDG Communications Renames Itself Foundry
IDG Communications has rebranded to “Foundry” after 60 years as a company. The name change comes after the company made four acquisitions in 18 months. Against a shifting ecosystem of privacy rules, Foundry emphasises its large first-party dataset. 

NYT Wins Defamation Case Against Sarah Palin
A defamation case filed by former US Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin against the New York Times was thrown out this week, as the judge ruled that the evidence clearly didn’t support a claim of “actual malice” against Palin. Palin was attempting to sue the Times for incorrectly linking her to a mass shooting six years earlier.

The Week For Agencies

Dentsu International Posts 12.1 Percent Organic Growth in Q4
Dentsu posted stronger than expected financial results for Q4 this week, with organic growth reaching 12.1 percent year-on-year for Dentsu International, and 17.3 percent for Dentsu Japan Network. The company now predicts organic growth for the next three years between 4-5 percent.

Havas Bets on the Metaverse with Sandbox Real Estate
Havas has bought a plot of real estate in The Sandbox, one of the contenders shaping itself as an early taste of the metaverse. Havas is building a Havas Village on the plot, and will use it to help brands develop their own metaverse strategies.

Switzerland Votes to Ban Majority of Tobacco Ads
Switzerland voted in favour of a ban on tobacco ads in places where young people might see them. The move brings Switzerland in line with the majority of its European neighbours.

HBO Max Puts Creative Account Up for Review
HBO Max is reviewing its creative account, AdAge reported this week. BBDO, which currently holds the account, is believed to be participating.

Indie Agency Highdive Tops USA TODAY Ad Meter
Chicago-based indie agency Highdive topped USA TODAY’s Ad Meter, which ranks consumer reaction to the Super Bowl ads, for the third year in a row. Highdive’s spot for Rocket Mortgage topped the rankings:

Burger King Seeks to Reclaim Identity in US Agency Review
Burger King is looking to refocus on the core elements of its brand during its ongoing creative agency review, AdAge reported this week. Burger King announced creative and media agency reviews at the beginning of the month.

Little Dot Studios Verified as Carbon Neutral
Digital content and marketing agency Little Dot Studios has been verified as carbon neutral by Future Net Zero. This makes Little Dot Studios one of the first production companies in the UK to be verified as carbon neutral.

Hires of the Week

Rachel Hall Appointed to Lead PMX Lift
Publicis Media has appointed Rachel Hall to lead its advanced TV solution in the UK, PMX Lift. Hall joins from Finecast. In addition Starcom’s Head of Investment, John Heather has been promoted to PMX Head of Trading.

Nick Clegg Promoted to President of Global Affairs at Meta
Nick Clegg has been given a promotion at Meta. Clegg has been elevated from vice president of global affairs to president of global affairs. He will now report directly to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

This Week on VideoWeek

Why Narrow Contextual Targeting on YouTube Can Backfire, read on VideoWeek

What to Expect from Big Tech Antitrust in 2022 and When, read on VideoWeek

Are Data Clean Rooms Living Up to the Hype for Agencies and Publishers? read on VideoWeek

Paramount says Pluto TV is Pulling Away from its Competition in thGermany’s Relaxation of Regional TV Ad Targeting Rules May Have Come Too Latee FAST Wars, read on VideoWeek

Google Announces Plans to Remove Advertising Identifiers from Android, read on VideoWeek

UK Disney+ Subscribers Up By Almost Five Percent in Q4 2021, Says BARB, read on VideoWeek

Time for SVOD Services to Bin Binge-Watching? read on VideoWeek

RTL Group to Combine RTL AdConnect, G+J iMS and Smartclip’s Media Division, read on VideoWeek

Germany’s Relaxation of Regional TV Ad Targeting Rules May Have Come Too Late, read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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