The WIR: Google Kicks Off Origins Trials for Topics API, New Ofcom Chair Pledges Hard Line on Tech Giants, and News UK Reveals TalkTV Launch Details

Tim Cross 01 April, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: News UK reveals launch plans for TalkTV, the new chair of Ofcom says he’s taken the role to help reign in big tech, and Google finally begins testing Topics API.

Top Stories

Google Begins Testing for FLEDGE and Topics
Google on Thursday announced it has begun global tests of several tools within its Privacy Sandbox, including FLEDGE and Topics API. These proposals, which enable cookie-free interest targeting and retargeting, will be available for testing on the developer-friendly Canary version of Chrome, before expanding to Chrome Beta users as soon as possible.

The testing period will be an opportunity for publishers, advertisers, and ad tech companies to try out the tools and get a sense of how well they work. And feedback could be used to refine the tools, preparing them for an initial rollout in Q4 this year.

But questions remain about whether there’ll be enough time for FLEDGE and Topics to be tested properly. In its initial timelines for the Privacy Sandbox, Google said that these ‘Origin trials’ would take place during the initial discussion period, in order to help guide their development. The idea was that by the time they reached their testing stage they would be fully developed. They were then due a full year of testing before being rolled out.

Now however, with the initial global rollout set for Q4 this year, time will be very limited for FLEDGE and Topics to be thoroughly tested, and it may be too late to make significant changes to either API based on these tests.

New Ofcom Chair Vows Hard Line on Big Tech
Lord Michael Grade, the somewhat controversial choice as the new chair of UK media regulator Ofcom, has said that he applied for the job out of a desire to help tame the tech giants, stating that “the time has come” for stricter regulation of companies like Google, Meta, and Amazon.

Grade’s stance is significant, since Ofcom is set to be handed new regulatory powers over online platforms, as part of the government’s upcoming Online Safety Bill.

Grade, a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, also said he will “leave his opinions at the door” in his new role. Grade has previously expressed that he would be in favour of a new funding model for the BBC and of the privatisation of Channel 4, and made complaints about “woke warriors”, but he says these opinions won’t affect his judgement as Ofcom’s chair.

News UK Reveals TalkTV Launch Details
Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV will launch on 25th April on Sky, Virgin Media, Freeview and Freesat, as well as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung TV Plus and YouTube, with content to appear on social channels. News UK confirmed that shows from Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne would launch the channel. Sky Media will handle ad sales for the new channel, according to News UK.

“We have a roster of new talent who will bring compelling new shows to the screen every weekday evening, alongside journalists from across News UK who have expertise in every genre,” said Scott Taunton, EVP of broadcasting at News UK. “Our existing professional talent on TalkRadio already have their own followings and we will be bringing these popular and informed discussions about news and current affairs to a wider audience. Our launch schedule should get the nation talking and bring new choice to viewers in the market.”

The Week in Tech

Nielsen Agrees $10 Billion Acquisition Deal
Nielsen has been acquired by a private equity group led by Elliott Management and Brookfield Asset Management, after rejecting an offer from the consortium earlier in the month. The sweetened deal was accepted at $10.06 billion, a transaction of $28 per share up from the earlier offer of $25.40 per share. Including Nielsen’s debt, the deal will cost a total of over $16 billion. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Tatari Eyes Up CTV Evolution with TheViewPoint Acquisition
Data and analytics specialist Tatari has announced the acquisition of TheViewPoint, a CTV-focused supply-side platform and ad server. TheViewPoint will provide faster and more granular data, according to Tatari, ultimately helping its clients deliver stronger outcomes. This in turn drives benefits for publishers by supporting outcomes-based buying, the company said. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

EU Outlines Law to Rein in Big Tech
EU legislators unveiled the terms of the Digital Markets Act, intended to curb the dominance of big tech companies, including tough penalties for non-compliance with requests from smaller platforms. The EU and US also agreed a data-sharing pact to replace the Privacy Shield framework invalidated by EU regulators.

In-game Ad Firm Anzu Raises $20 million
In-game advertising platform Anzu closed its latest funding round with an additional $20 million, bringing its total capital raised since 2017 to $37 million. The investors include NBCUniversal, HTC, Sony Innovation Fund, WPP and The Chicago Cubs. CEO Itamar Benedy said expanding the company’s offering will help more advertisers navigate immersive, digitally connected spaces.

ISBA Opens Origin Funding Consultation
The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) has launched an eight-week consultation into the funding of its Origin product. The UK representative body aims to gauge appetite in the industry for a levy as a means of charging for Origin’s Core Reporting service. Initial planning has been based on an assumed levy of 0.1 percent of gross media spend, according to ISBA.

GumGum Rolls Out in Europe
Contextual intelligence ad tech firm GumGum rolled out its programmatic rich media platform JustPremium in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Sweden. The move allows European advertisers to deliver bespoke digital campaigns at scale, according to the company, without the use of cookies or personal data.

RTL Deutschland Picks TeraVolt for GigaTV App
RTL Deutschland has called on TeraVolt to develop an RTL+ app for the Vodafone Deutschland GigaTV platform. The Hamburg-based technology developer specialises in working with the Comcast-owned Metrological Lightning framework, which it will use to integrate the streaming service into the GigaTV user interface. The app is expected to land on the platform before the end of the year.

YouTube Phases out Maximize Lift
YouTube is shutting down its Maximize Lift targeting tool to focus on more effective products. As of 31st March, the survey research and machine learning tool will cease supporting adverts. “While we did see some success we are sunsetting the bidding tool to focus on scalable solutions like skippable in-stream ads that are more in line with how advertisers want to buy,” said a Google spokesperson.

Talenthouse Lists on Swiss Exchange
Creative platform Talenthouse started listing on the Zurich stock exchange, thanks to a reverse takeover resulting in 20 percent of its shares being publicly traded. A reference price of CHF 0.94 per share values the company around $450 million. Operating on a gig economy model, the platform connects clients with content creators in 195 countries.

Class Action Against Facebook to Proceed
A US judge has ruled that a class action against Facebook can proceed, after DZ Reserve and other advertisers accused Meta of exaggerating its advertising reach by as much as 400%. The ruling enables potentially millions of individuals and businesses that paid artificially high premiums for advertising on Facebook and Instagram to sue as a group.

Smartclip Establishes DEI Committee
RTL ad tech unit smartclip announced the establishment of a new Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, designed to foster equal opportunities within the ad tech industry. “The ad tech industry has made advancements in this regard, but like many tech sectors, we still have a long way to go as an industry to fully represent our diverse societies,” said Dr. Oliver Vesper, co-CEO at smartclip Europe.

The Week in TV

NENT Group to Rebrand as Viaplay Group
Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) has proposed a rebrand that would see the company renamed Viaplay Group. The Swedish media and entertainment provider said the move reflects its strategic focus on the Viaplay streaming service, which represents its largest single revenue-generating unit, and its ongoing international expansion.

Subject to the approval of NENT Group’s shareholders at the company’s AGM on 18th May, the proposal also includes rebranding NENT Group’s radio and advertising sales businesses as Viaplay Group Radio and Viaplay Group Ad Sales, respectively. The group’s studio arm has been operating under the name Viaplay Studios since September 2021.

Apple Becomes First Streamer to Win Best Picture Oscar
Apple became the first company to win the Academy Award for Best Picture for a film on a streaming service. CODA saw off competition from Netflix’s The Power of the Dog to win the top Oscar, increasing Apple TV Plus subscribers by 25% and views of CODA by 300 percent, compared to the previous week.

CNN+ Launches on Amazon, Android and Apple Devices
CNN+ has launched on Android and Apple devices alongside Amazon Fire TV, featuring live, on-demand and interactive programming from the news network. The CNN app will contain both the CNN+ subscription service and access to the existing TV everywhere offering for pay-TV subscribers, including the live TV feeds of CNN, CNN International and HLN.

Pluto TV Joins Microsoft Platforms
Pluto TV arrived on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs via a dedicated app, initially in the US, UK, Italy and Latin America before planned roll-outs in Spain, France and Nordics. The Paramount-owned FAST service is already available on Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Samsung and LG.

MediaForEurope Declines Seat on ProSieben Board
MediaForEurope (MFE) has rejected the offer of a seat on the ProSiebenSat.1 advisory board, according to the German broadcaster. “MFE has absolutely no interest in controversy,” said a spokesperson for the Berlusconi-controlled media group. “Our position will be presented at the appropriate time… and in the interests of the company and all its shareholders.”

TV 2 Danmark and NENT Group Agree to Settle Damages Case
TV 2 Danmark has agreed to pay Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) a settlement of DKK 430 million, over damages claimed by NENT Group in 2006. The Danish Competition Council found that TV 2 Danmark had abused a dominant position in using certain rebates on TV adverts. NENT Group praised the settlement for upholding fair competition in the Danish market.

M6 brings Vice Content to AVOD Offering
France’s M6 and Vice Media struck a deal to host over 100 hours of Vice content on the broadcaster’s 6play AVOD service, which targets the 15-34 age group. “Vice produces and distributes premium content that resonates with young people across the world,” said Bea Hegedus, global distribution director at Vice Media. “We are delighted that our content, in all its diversity, can touch a new public thanks to 6play.”

The Week for Publishers

Daily Mail Sees Strong Growth in Cookieless Ad Revenues
The Daily Mail is seeing a substantial amount of traffic from browsers where third-party cookies are disabled, Adweek reported this week, and has had promising growth in ad revenues from these users. saw 67 percent growth in cookieless revenues between January and February this year, according to Adweek.

FT Launches Cheaper Mobile Only Subscription
The Financial Times has launched a new subscription which is free for the first month, and then costs just 99p per month for the next six months, which is only available on mobile. After this cheaper period, the price will rise to £4.99. The new product is designed to draw in new subscribers from the FT’s wide social following.

Reach Looks to Newsletters for Audience Engagement
UK regional news publisher Reach is leaning on a new batch of newsletters, released in partnership with Google, to deepen its relationship with audiences according to Press Gazette. Deputy editor David Higgerston told Press Gazette that newsletters are helping Reach create more personalised experiences. Reach is also moving focus away from newsletter driving traffic to Reach-owned websites, seeing newsletters as more of a self-contained experience.

Twitter Tests Three New Ad Formats
Twitter has begun testing three new ad formats, Interactive Text Ads, Product Explorer Ads and Collection Ads. Interactive Text Ads will let brands highlight up to three words in a promoted Tweet, which will link off-site. Product Explorer Ads will let brands showcase products in 3D. And Collection Ads will let brands present one hero image, and a scrollable carousel of linkable images below.

UK Publishers Call for More Protection Against Lawsuits
A group of major UK news publishers including DMGT and News UK have called on the government to do more to protect newspapers and journalists from legal action. The coalition is asking for a new requirement that privacy claimants are able to prove “serious harm” when taking action against a newspaper, and that individual journalists should be protected from SLAPP libel action.

Pinterest Adds $1.2 Million to Creator Fund
Pinterest has added an extra $1.2 million to its nascent creator fund, which it’s using to incentivise creators to produce more original content for its platform. The extra funding will be funnelled towards underrepresented creators, and will take the form of ad credits, cash grants, and equipment.

TikTok Launches TikTok Library
TikTok this week began a pilot of TikTok Library, a new tool which will give creators access to a range of sound-on GIFs which can be incorporated into TikTok videos.

The Week For Agencies

S4 Capital Share Price Tumbles As Audits Delay Results
S4 Capital said this week that its earnings have been delayed due to a holdup from auditors PwC, though the exact reason was not specified. The news saw S4’s share price fall by 36 percent on Wednesday. And S4’s earnings, which were originally due on Thursday morning, are still yet to be released.

Magna Lowers US Ad Spend Forecast Due to Ukraine War
IPG media agency Magna has lowered its US ad spend forecast for 2022, due to concerns of the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Magna expects US media owners’ ad revenues to grow by 11.5 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of 12.6 percent.

IPA Agency Census Sees Improvement in Diversity
The IPA’s annual Agency Census saw an improvement in ethnic diversity, the trade body reported this week, with the percentage of employees from a non-white background up to 18.3 percent. This is up from 15.3 percent in the previous census. There has been a small improvement at the C-suite level too, with employees from a non-white background making up 7.1 percent of C-suite employees, up from 6.4 percent in 2020.

GARM Offers Advice on Ukraine Response
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) this week issued advice on how advertisers can respond to the war in Ukraine via their digital ad practices. GARM advised that buyers firstly check in with their partners (and partners’ partners) to understand the brand safety and misinformation tools. GARM also said advertisers should internally clarify their position on news content, and their position on different media outlets, to inform their buying strategies.

Havas Expands in China with Front Networks Acquisition
Havas this week acquired Chinese independent agency Front Networks, which specialises in digital and social content, as part of a push to expand its business in China. Front Networks currently has two offices in Beijing and Shanghai, and a team of more than 200 people.

M&C Saatchi Wins London & Partners Global Creative Account
M&C Saatchi has won global creative duties for London & Partners, the body responsible for promoting London from both a business and tourism perspective. The first job for M&C Saatchi will be running a £7 million campaign to draw more tourists to the capital.

Coca-Cola Expands Esports Marketing Push
Coca-Cola has renewed and expanded its relationship with Riot Games, the developer behind popular esports title League of Legends, as the drinks brand doubles down on gaming. The deal will see Coca-Cola and Riot collaborate on in-game experiences and exclusive content.

Hires of the Week

Brett Aumuller Named Sky Media MD
Brett Aumuller has been appointed managing director of Sky Media, following the surprise departure of Tim Pearson in September 2021. Aumuller makes the move from Sky streaming service NOW, where he currently serves as deputy managing director.

Sir Damon Buffini Named Chair of BBC Commercial Board
The BBC has named Permira boss and Wellcome Trust governor Sir Damon Buffini as chair of its Commercial Board, formerly known as the BBC Commercial Holdings Board.

This Week on VideoWeek

How Will Ad Tech Adapt to the Metaverse? read on VideoWeek

Can ePrivacy Come Back from the Dead? read on VideoWeek

Tatari Eyes Up CTV Evolution with TheViewPoint Acquisition, read on VideoWeek

Nielsen Measures up $10 Billion Acquisition Deal, read on VideoWeek

Brett Aumuller Named Sky Media MD, read on VideoWeek

What’s to Come in Ad Tech M&A in 2022 and Beyond? read on VideoWeek

Seller-Defined Audiences: Explained, read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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