The WIR: Elon Musk Attempts to Buy Twitter for $41 Billion Twitter Takeover, IMDb TV Rebrands to Freevee, and Publicis Posts Strong Q1 Earnings

Tim Cross 14 April, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Elon Musk attempts to buy Twitter, Amazon rebrands its AVOD service, and Publicis’s organic growth tops 10 percent in Q1.

Top Stories

Elon Musk Makes $41 Billion Offer to Buy Twitter
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, announced this morning that he has made a $41 billion offer to buy Twitter. In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk said he believes Twitter needs to become a private company in order to thrive, and that he will unlock the company’s “enormous potential” if his takeover attempt is successful.

It’s been a dramatic few weeks for the social platform, after Musk became the company’s largest shareholder with a 9.2 percent stake at the beginning of the month. Following his initial investment, Musk looked set to join Twitter’s board of directors, but then decided not to. A somewhat cryptic statement from Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal suggested that Musk’s vision for Twitter differed significantly from his own.

If Musk were to be successful in his bid, Twitter would undoubtedly see significant changes. Musk has been an outspoken critic of Twitter’s misinformation and hate speech policies, arguing that the platform has violated the principle of free speech by banning the likes of former president Donald Trump from the platform. He also said earlier this week that Twitter should move away from ads, since this gives advertisers sway over Twitter’s content policies.

Amazon Rebrands IMDb TV to Amazon Freevee
Amazon has rebranded its free ad-supported streaming service for a second time, renaming it from IMDb TV to Amazon Freevee. Amazon says the rebrand comes ahead of a renewed push for its AVOD platform, which will be backed by a big increase in its content offering – Amazon aims to increase the amount of original content available on Freevee by 70 percent during 2022.

The service debuted at the start of 2022 under the name Amazon Freedive, but was rebranded months later in order to give customers “a better understanding of the service”. However Amazon now says it wants to re-emphasise the ‘free’ aspect of the service.

“Over the past two years, we have seen tremendous growth for our AVOD service and are committed to bringing our audiences premium, free-to-consumer content,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “We’re looking forward to building on this momentum with an increasing slate of inventive and broadly appealing Originals, and are excited to establish Freevee as the premier AVOD service with content audiences crave.”

Publicis Posts 10.5 Percent Organic Growth in Q1
Publicis Groupe, the first of the ad agency holding groups to report earnings for Q1, beat market expectations with 10.5 percent organic growth year-on-year. CEO Arthur Sadoun said the strong results came down to Publicis’ ability to capture “rising client demand for first-party data, digital media and commerce”.

But while the French agency group’s Q1 performance was better than expected, Sadoun warned that current macroeconomic conditions could cause turbulence later in the year. “These good results should not conceal the macroeconomic uncertainties the world is facing today,” he said on an earnings call. “We have to remain agile.”

Nonetheless, Publicis is holding firm on its forecast of 4-5 percent organic growth across the whole of 2022.

The Week in Tech

YouTube and Nielsen Add Co-Viewing Metrics for CTV
“Accounting for multiple people, or “co-viewers,” has been a core part of TV measurement for years,” Google told advertisers in a blog post this week. “To help you measure the same behaviour with YouTube CTV and get an accurate picture of the total audience you’re reaching, co-viewing will be included in Nielsen’s DAR guarantees ad reporting in the US.”

EX.CO Acquires Machine Learning Tech Company Bibblio
The Experience Company has acquired Bibblio, leveraging its machine learning capabilities to surface contextual videos and AI-driven product recommendations for customers. The deal follows EX.CO’s acquisition of video monetisation startup Cedato in 2021.

Google Removes Apps Harvesting User Data
Google withdrew over a dozen apps from its Play Store after discovering that they were secretly harvesting user data. Some of the apps (which included a QR code scanner and a weather app) had been downloaded over 10 million times, and contained a software development kit that sent sensitive information to a third party.

US Digital Ad Revenue up 35 Percent
Digital advertising revenue in the US climbed 35 percent last year to reach $189 billion, marking the highest annual growth rate since 2006. The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that marketers spent 2021 chasing customers as they spent more time shopping and consuming media online.

Samba TV and MediaSquare Partner for CTV Targeting
Analytics firm Samba TV has teamed up with French marketplace MediaSquare to provide OTT targeting for viewers and gamers in France. The partnership allows brand marketers to reach CTV viewers “with unprecedented targeting and reach capabilities” by targeting users based on their CTV consumption.

Private Equity Fund Invests in BroadLight Talent Agency
Azimut Group became the latest investment fund to back a Hollywood agency, buying a 10 percent stake in BroadLight Holdings, whose founders represent Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Rock. The investment aims to generate celebrity endorsements and sponsorship deals “from a sizeable roster of A-list stars.”

OpenWeb Buys French Advertising Platform ADYOULIKE
OpenWeb acquired global advertising network ADYOULIKE, connecting the Israeli company’s publishers (including Forbes, Newsweek and Refinery29) to the French platform’s digital ad marketplace. The $100 million deal marks OpenWeb’s second acquisition of 2022 after purchasing Hive Media Group in January.

Fyllo Purchases Unified Targeting Company Semasio
Fyllo has signed a Stock Purchase Agreement with unified targeting specialist Semasio. The acquisition is said to enable the compliance-first platform to provide more sophisticated brand insights, strengthen its data and engineering teams, and expand its data solutions to clients globally.

The Week in TV

WarnerMedia and Discovery Complete Merger
WarnerMedia and Discovery finalised their merger on Friday. The transaction sees Discovery purchase the media conglomerate from AT&T for $40.4 billion in cash along with WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt. The merged company began trading under the name Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD).

FIFA Goes Direct-to-Consumer with New Streaming Service FIFA+
FIFA has booted up a free streaming service ahead of the 2022 World Cup. FIFA+ will feature live matches and archive footage from the major leagues, as well as original content and documentaries. Every World Cup and Women’s World Cup will additionally be available to stream, with the notable exception of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, which will be shown on linear TV. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Consumers Cut Streaming Subscriptions as Cost of Living Climbs
Streaming subscriptions are being widely chopped by UK consumers as the cost of living climbs, according to research commissioned by Lloyds Bank. Over 1.2 million subscription payments have been halted in the last year, most significantly in the TV, film and music sectors. Although the banking group did not specify the platforms affected, the data shows entertainment streaming services account for 47.1 percent of cancelled subscriptions since June 2021. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Berenberg Forecasts Growth for Roku
Roku is expected to benefit from international expansion and CTV growth, according to Berenberg. “Roku’s expansion in Europe and LatAm should nearly double the addressable market,” said the analyst. “We note that Roku is also boosting its ad-tech business in Canada, the UK, and Mexico; results from these initiatives should become visible in the coming quarters.”

JB Perrette and Kathleen Finch Join Warner Bros. Discovery
Former Discovery executive JB Perrette will head up the streaming operation of the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery, including oversight of HBO Max and Discovery+. Discovery’s Kathleen Finch also joins the executive team, under the leadership of CEO David Zaslav.

Channel 4 Chief Hits Back Against Privatisation
Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon has criticised the government’s decision to privatise the public service broadcaster. Writing in The Sunday Times, Mahon cited the network’s record revenues and contribution of £12 billion to UK GDP. “We already lead UK television in making the transition from traditional to online advertising revenues,” she added.

French AVOD Mango Records 65 Percent Growth
French OTT platform Mango has grown by 65 percent over the last year, according to its parent company Molotov. Launched in November 2020, the service now reaches three million views each month, its content increasing 30 percent year-on-year for a total 3,000 hours.

SVOD Originals Account for Half of US Studios’ Content
The largest US content commissioners now premiere half of their original titles on SVOD, Ampere Analysis revealed. The survey found Discovery, WarnerMedia and Comcast following the success of Disney+ in debuting Marvel and Star Wars content online. “Original content is crucial to the success of any SVOD service,” said Fred Black, Research Manager at Ampere Analysis.

MFE Hopes to Discharge Individual ProSiebenSat.1 Board Members
MediaForEurope (MFE) is pursuing a change to voting rules at the ProSiebenSat.1 AGM that would allow individual discharge of executive and supervisory board members, as opposed to the current collective approval system. The move fuels expectations of clashes over supervisory board appointments at the upcoming AGM.

Fuel TV Rides onto LG Channels
Fuel TV has launched its FAST offering on LG Channels, bringing its sports content to LG Smart TVs models running webOS 4.0 and above. The programming includes original series, films and live events covering surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, BMX and mountain biking.

FILMZIE Launches First FAST Channel
Film streaming platform FILMZIE introduced its first FAST channel in the US, available on TCL TV devices running on Android and Roku TVs. “With the launch of a free-to-all channel in the USA we’re bringing our quality slate of accessible content to even more viewers,” said FILMZIE CEO Matej Boda. “It also represents our commitment to democratising access to great film and TV.”

The Week for Publishers

Quartz Drops Paywall
Digital native publisher Quartz is dropping its paywall, making the bulk of its journalism free to all users, three years after introducing a metered paywall on its content. Quartz will still offer some paid subscription packages, but says the “lion’s share” of articles will be free to access.

TikTok’s Ad Revenues Could Match YouTube’s by 2024, Predicts Insider Intelligence
Social video platform TikTok’s ad revenues this year will surpass those of Snapchat and Twitter combined, according to research firm Insider Intelligence, as the short-form video app continues to compete for ever larger slices of brands’ ad budgets. This would represent remarkable growth from TikTok, given that its ad business made less than Snapchat and Twitter individually last year. Insider Intelligence forecasts that TikTok’s total ad revenues this year will top $11 billion, more than triple its ad earnings from 2020. Twitter meanwhile is expected to bring in $5.58 billion from ads, and Snapchat’s forecast is $4.86 billion. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

National World Becomes JPI’s Biggest Digital Title
UK local news publisher JPI Media reported this week that its  website for National World, which only launched last year, has grown to become its biggest digital title with 20 million monthly page views. It was the fourth fastest growing new brand in the UK in February according to Press Gazette, behind the New York Times, Reuters, and Tom’s Guide.

Instagram Removes In-Stream Video Ad Placements
Instagram has removed In-Stream Video ad placements, which were delivered alongside long form content on IGTV. The move comes as Instagram prioritises Reels, its short-form TikTok-like video format.

Washington Post Expands Wellness Content
The Washington Post is creating a dedicated wellness section with nearly 20 journalists, having found that wellness content is resonating with younger audiences. The Post said its wellness coverage aims to relate science coverage to readers’ everyday concerns, covering both physical and mental health.

Time Out London Drops Print Edition
Time Out London will stop producing print editions of its magazine, the company announced this week, as the city guide goes digital-only. Time Out struggled during the pandemic both do to a lack of commuters picking up the magazine, and a lack of live events to promote and cover.

The Week For Agencies

UK Marketing Budgets Receive Biggest Net Boost in Eight Years
Total UK marketing budgets were revised up to an almost eight-year high during the opening quarter of 2022, according to the latest IPA Bellwether Report, with UK companies stepping up efforts to position their businesses for growth as pandemic-related risks recede. According to Bellwether data, total marketing budgets were upwardly revised by nearly one-quarter of panellists (24.1 percent). By contrast, 10.0 percent of companies recorded budget cuts, yielding a net balance of +14.1 percent in Q1 2022.

Omnicom Launches Marketplace for Point-of-Purchase Media
Omnicom Media Group this week launched a new programmatic marketplace specifically for digital inventory on point-of-purchase screens, including checkout screens, fuel pumps and EV charging stations, and in-aisle cold case doors. OMG says the marketplace will give access to over 80,000 screens across 50 states.

Dentsu Begins Transacting on Attention Metrics
Dentsu International has begun incorporating attention metrics into its media buys, chief investment officer Cara Lewis told an Advertising Research Foundation panel this week. Lewis said Dentsu started transacting on attention metrics after three years of testing, according to MediaPost.

OMG Partners with Firework
Omnicom Media Group has signed a deal with shoppable video specialist Firework, which will make Firework’s tools available to OMG’s clients. The deal is geared towards OMG’s retail clients, allowing them to host their own shoppable video experiences outside of the social networks.

IPA Runs Inaugural Talent & Diversity Conference
The IPA is set to run its first ever Talent & Diversity conference on May 4th, which will explore each of the core themes of recruitment, retention and recognition through panels, workshops and breakout sessions.

Havas CX Acquires Nohup
Havas CX Italy, the Italian arm of Havas’ customer experience business, this week announced the acquisition of Nohup, a specialist in cloud services and digital transformation. Havas says the move will bolster its customer experience offerings not just for the Italian market, but Havas clients worldwide.

Hires of the Week

Jon Steinlauf Picked as US Ad Sales Chief for Warner Bros Discovery
Jon Steinlauf has been chosen to lead ad sales in the US for the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery. Steinlauf held the equivalent role at Discovery prior to the merger.

Emma Morris Named Head of Investment at Starcom
Starcom, part of Publicis Media, this week announced the promotion of Emma Morris to the role of head of investment. Previously managing partner overseeing investment for the agency’s dedicated Samsung team (One Publicis Team Samsung), Emma will now be responsible for all media investment on behalf of all Starcom clients in the UK,

DAZN Appoints Tiku as Chief Technology Officer
DAZN Group has announced that Sandeep Tiku will be joining the company as chief technology officer. Tiku will lead DAZN’s global technology and product teams to drive the next phase of development for its sports streaming media platform.

This Week on VideoWeek

The Great Channel 4 Sell-Off: What will be the End Game with Channel 4? read on VideoWeek

Consumers Cut Streaming Subscriptions as Cost of Living Climbs, read on VideoWeek

TikTok’s Ad Revenues Could Match YouTube’s by 2024, read on VideoWeek

FIFA Goes Direct-to-Consumer with New Streaming Service FIFA+, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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