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The WIR: US Senators Introduce a Bill to Break Up Google’s Ad Tech, Next 15 Agrees £310 Million Takeover of M&C Saatchi, and CTV Video Impressions Overtake Mobile

Tim Cross 20 May, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: a bipartisan bill to break up Google’s ad tech business is introduced into the Senate, Next 15 gazumps Vin Murria to buy M&C Saatchi, and data shows that CTV has overtaken mobile as the home of digital video.

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bill to Break Up Google’s Ad Tech Business
A bipartisan group of US senators, led by Republican Mike Lee, introduced a bill on Thursday which would force a breakup of Google’s ad tech business. The proposed legislation, the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, would prevent any company which processes more than $20 billion annually in digital ad transactions, from playing multiple roles in the digital ad ecosystem.

Specifically, the bill would block any company which exceeds the threshold and runs an exchange from also running buy or sell-side brokerages, or from selling any of their own ad space. Similarly no company earning more than $20 billion in ads would be able to own buy and sell-side brokerages simultaneously, or to own a buy or sell-side brokerage if they themselves buy or sell ad space.

“Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to exploit their unprecedented troves of detailed user data to obtain vice grip-like control over digital advertising, amassing power on every side of the market and using it to block competition and take advantage of their customers,” said Senator Lee. “The conflicts of interest are so glaring that one Google employee described Google’s ad business as being like ‘if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE.”

Next 15 Agrees £310 Million Acquisition of M&C Saatchi
Digital marketing group Next 15 today announced a surprise agreement to buy media agency M&C Saatchi for £310 million. The agreement comes after four unsuccessful takeover attempts by Vin Murria, M&C Saatchi’s largest shareholder, the most recent of which was worth £253 million.

This marks a second major acquisition for Next 15 this year, following its takeover of Engine UK, another media agency, back in March. M&C Saatchi will now sit alongside Engine UK in Next 15’s portfolio of agency brands which also includes Agent 3, Brandwidth, and Encore.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring together two highly complementary businesses creating a truly global and diversified group with exceptional capabilities, clients and talent,” said Tim Dyson, chief executive of Next Fifteen.

CTV Overtakes Mobile on Video Impressions
CTV overtook mobile in 2021 to become the platform with the greatest share of global video impressions. An Innovid study showed that CTV accounted for 46 percent of all video impressions, up from 40 percent in 2020, as mobile fell from 43 percent to 39 percent.

The survey analysed 286 billion video and display advertising impressions across Innovid’s platform throughout 2021. It found that CTV grew at more than twice the rate of mobile and desktop year-over-year. By region, North America had the greatest share of CTV impressions (48 percent of all video impressions), followed by EMEA and LATAM (22 percent), then APAC (11 percent).

“CTV devices are now the most dominant platform for video ad impressions,” said Jessica Hogue, GM, Measurement & Industries at Innovid. “As more consumers have transitioned to streaming, advertisers are shifting spend to the channel, and we expect that trend to continue with mobile and desktop losing more market share. 

“The past two years have seismically changed consumer behaviour and content consumption habits,” she continued. “Advertisers have had to keep pace with these changes while managing a roster of marketing tools, analysing more data than ever before, and creating relevant, personalised experiences for their audiences.”

The Week in Tech

Musk Pauses Twitter Deal
Elon Musk has paused his controversial takeover of Twitter, ostensibly due to concerns over the number of “spam/fake accounts” on the platform. Industry speculation suggests the decision more likely stems from the deal’s $13 billion debt bill, or simply an act of self-publicity. Meanwhile the platform has proposed a new “crisis misinformation policy” aimed at clamping down on false stories in times of conflict.

ISBA’s Cross-Media Measurement Project Origin Moves into Build Phase
UK advertising trade body ISBA has announced that Origin, its initiative to build a cross-media measurement platform, has entered its build phase. ISBA has set aside two years for the build phase, anticipating that it will undergo final testing towards the end of 2023, before going live in 2024. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Gen Z Favours YouTube, Millennials Prefer Meta
YouTube is used by 88 percent of UK consumers, rising to 93 percent in Gen Z adults, according to research from Channel Factory into social media engagement since the beginning of the pandemic. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents use Meta (Facebook and Instagram – the most popular platforms among millennials), 54 percent TikTok and 51 percent Snapchat. “We’ve also found that adverts that are aligned with the content have a 17 percent higher return on investment,” added Rob Blake, UK Managing Director at Channel Factory.

YouTube Rolls Out CTV Frequency Capping Tool
YouTube unveiled a new frequency capping tool this week, designed to prevent viewers from seeing the same ads in a single session. The solution allows weekly frequency (as opposed to per-campaign) capping, across YouTube and all CTV inventory that can be purchased through DV360.

Google Transmits Browsing Data 70 Billion Times a Day
Google transmits data points relating to American and European users more than 70 billion times a day, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has revealed. Ad platforms share the same kind of data approximately 178 trillion times each year. According to Bloomberg: “Google says it transmits the data of American users to about 4,700 companies in total across the world.”

Cognitiv Announces CTV Deep Learning Solution
Cognitiv announced the launch of Cognitiv Performance CTV, combining advertisers’ first-party data and Cognitiv’s proprietary data assets to create a deep learning CTV buying algorithm. Citing the Insider Intelligence stat that CTV will account for more than one-fifth of total programmatic video ad spending in 2022, the company said: “Advertisers will now be able to deterministically measure and auto-optimise their CTV performance campaigns with their own algorithms.”

Tappx Scores From The Bench
Ad tech company Tappx announced on Tuesday its acquisition of video game developer From The Bench. Tappx CEO Daniel Reina said the deal “allows us to progress in our growth objective by prioritising high-quality inventory: exclusive, direct, and without intermediaries.” From The Bench owns the Fantasy Manager mobile game franchise, which has official partnerships with more than 50 football clubs, as well as the NBA, NFL and MLB.

TikTok Unveils Ad Product to “Democratise” Platform
TikTok has launched an ad product desiden to help “democratise the creator space”. Branded Mission will enable advertisers to crowdsource content from users who are over 18 with more than 1,000 followers, and turn their top-performing videos into ads. The move follows TikTok’s plans announced earlier this month to share advertising revenues with creators.

Children More Likely to be Bullied Online Than in Person
UK children are 23 percent more likely to be bullied online than in person, Ofcom has found. The survey of 8-17 year olds suggested that 39 percent have experienced bullying, 84 percent of which happened on a device and 61 percent face-to-face. Ofcom noted: “The most common way for children to be bullied via technology was through text or messaging apps (56 percent), followed by social media (43 percent) or online games (30 percent).”

Candle Media Acquires ATTN:
Candle Media acquired social video company ATTN:, a production studio and creative agency aimed at social-first, Gen Z and millennial audiences. Candle Media is headed by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, who said ATTN: will help them “cut through the noise and reach today’s audiences through engaging content on social media.”

2021 Saw “Unprecedented” CTV Fraud
An “unprecedented number” of fraud schemes targeted CTV in 2021, DoubleVerify revealed. The 2022 Global Insights Report estimated these schemes may have siphoned $140 million from publishers. “The good news is that verification is working,” added DoubleVerify CEO Mark Zagorski, reporting Video Completion Rates (VCR) of 71 percent, up from 67 percent in 2020.

Prisma Media Solutions Trials ID5 ID
Prisma Media Solutions, Adot and Smart SSP have completed testing on ID5 ID, the cookieless identification suite for digital advertising. “A/B testing results confirm the effectiveness of ID5 ID in maximising the value of publisher inventory and helping advertisers increase their reach at scale in cookie-free environments, while maintaining the same media budget,” Prisma Media concluded. “In the long term, it will be able to offer a real alternative to the third-party cookie in Chrome.”

The Week in TV

Netflix Explores Live Streaming
Netflix is exploring live streaming, expected to be employed for competition series and stand-up specials, Deadline has reported. It was also discovered this week that the platform has been advanced screening new titles to small groups of subscribers in order to obtain feedback on Netflix content. Meanwhile the company is cutting 150 jobs, mostly in the US, in response to slowed revenue growth.

Privatised Channel 4 Will Initially be Free-to-Watch
The UK Government’s sale of Channel 4 would include a clause to keep the channel as a free-to-watch public broadcaster for 10 years, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told a select committee on Thursday. The clause means a subscription model could not be introduced for a decade. Dorries argued that the public consultation into the privatisation of Channel 4, which found 96 percent of respondents opposed to the decision, had been interfered with by “politically motivated organisation” 38 Degrees.

France Aims to Scrap Licence Fee
France is set to scrap the TV licence fee in 2023. The €138 annual charge brings in around €3 billion each year, used to fund France Télévisions’ output. The proposal formed part of president Emmanuel Macron’s reelection campaign. Similar plans in the UK aim to abolish the BBC licence fee in 2027.

DAZN Passes Women’s Champions League Final to FTA Broadcasters
ITV and DAZN have agreed a deal for the linear broadcaster to air the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on Saturday, when reigning champions Barcelona take on Lyon. DAZN also sublicensed the match to other traditional free-to-air (FTA) networks across Europe, including TF1 in France, RTVE and TV3 in Spain, and RTBF in Belgium.

Switzerland Votes for Local Streaming Investment Law
Swiss voters have voted in favour of the ‘Lex Netflix’ law, which requires streaming services to invest at least 4 percent of Swiss revenues in local content. Over 58 percent of voters approved the proposal in a referendum held on Sunday. Netflix said it would work with the government to implement the new regulation.

Russian Law Firm Sues Netflix and Apple Over Boycott
A Russian law firm is taking legal action against Netflix and Apple in retaliation for the companies suspending their streaming services in the country. Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners intend to “seriously punish” the businesses by claiming moral damages against Netflix, and arguing that Apple has depleted the value of its devices by reducing functionality.

Disney+ Subs to Outnumber Netflix in 2025
Disney+ will overtake Netflix subscriptions in 2025, according to Digital TV Research. The former is projected to add 144 million subscribers between 2021 and 2027 for a total 274 million. The latter is expected to add 31 million over the same period, while losing 4 million in the US. The forecast said the global total of SVOD subscriptions will reach 1.69 billion within five years.

Vodafone Sheds TV Customers
Vodafone lost 300,000 TV customers in 12 months, including 200,000 in Germany and 88,000 in Spain – its two largest markets. As explanation for the heavy German losses, Vodafone blamed the pandemic and new telecommunications legislation that prevents housing groups in Germany from bundling broadband services with home rental fees. The Spanish exodus was put down to intense market competition.

Pluto TV Launches in Nordics
Pluto TV launched in Sweden, Denmark and Norway this week, via a partnership with Viaplay Group (which formally changed its name from NENT Group on Wednesday). Also this week, Mediavision reported that the Swedish SVOD market has “reached maturity” amid negligible subscriber growth and fewer consumers opting to “stack” multiple streaming services.

Hisense Integrates Amazon Fire TV
Hisense will debut its first set to integrate Amazon Fire TV, offering Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max. David Gold, president of Hisense USA, said: “We’re dedicated to delivering industry-leading products that provide our customers with the best in entertainment – and streaming is a critical element of this.”

TV Ad Complaints Reach New Heights
TV ad complaints rocketed in 2021, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has disclosed. The ASA’s Annual Report revealed a record 43,325 complaints about 22,115 cases. Most were about online ads (up 19 percent on 2020), followed by TV (up 44 percent) and influencer posts (up 20 percent). The regulator also announced a new project using AI to tackle influencers failing to label advertising content.

Warren Buffett Invests in Paramount
Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company, has bought a $2.6 billion stake in Paramount Global. The investment expands the magnate’s share of the streaming sector, having also taken a bite of Apple and Amazon. Paramount+ added 6.8 million subscribers in Q1 2022, and is due to launch in the UK and Ireland next month.

Apple to Release Cheaper Apple TV Device
Apple will likely release a cheaper Apple TV device later this year, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested. Digital TV Europe said of Apple TV: “Price has been a major factor holding back its wider adoption.” The speculation follows last week’s news that Apple plans to restructure its services business.

The Week for Publishers

Bloomberg UK Launches
Bloomberg Media this week launched Bloomberg UK, a new editorial brand which will cover business and financial news specifically for British audiences. While Bloomberg is already available in the UK and has a 500-strong newsroom, the company says it has never previously packaged and promoted its content to target a British audience. Bloomberg UK will feature a dedicated website, new newsletters, and a new weekly video series profiling British business leaders.

BuzzFeed Revenues Posts 26 Percent Revenue Growth
BuzzFeed’s overall revenues were up 26 percent year-on-year in Q1, driven primarily by increases in advertising and content revenue, which grew by 26 percent and 65 percent respectively. Commerce revenue on the other hand, which includes affiliate sales and product licensing revenues, was down by 27 percent.

NYT is Fastest Growing Big US News Brand
The New York Times topped the rankings as the fastest growing major news brand in the US for the second month running, according to Similarweb data analysed by Press Gazette. Of the top ten English language news sites available in the US, the NYT had the fastest growth at 30 percent year-on-year. At the other end of the spectrum, the Washington Post saw the steepest decline, with a 13 percent drop in monthly visits year-on-year.

BBC’s Naja Nielsen Says Social Media Companies are Working Against Journalists
Naja Nielsen, digital director at the BBC, accused social media platforms of “working against” journalists, and that the interests of social platforms and news organisations are rarely aligned. Nielsen, speaking at the Society of Editors conference in London, added that she doesn’t believe news companies really compete with each other any more, stating that instead they are collectively working to increase the time that people spend with journalism, according to Press Gazette.

Google Complains that Canada’s Online News Act will Break its Search Engine
Sabrina Geremia, VP and managing director of Google Canada, wrote in a blog post this week that Canada’s Online News Act, which will force tech giants to negotiate payments for publishers in order to share snippets of their articles, risks “breaking” Google Search. “The ability to link freely between websites is fundamental to how the internet works,” Geremia said in the blog post. “Canadians expect that when they search for information, they will have access to ALL the content the internet has to offer. Requiring payment for links risks limiting Canadians’ access to the information they depend on.”

TikTok Positions Itself as a Compliment to TV
TikTok has been positioning itself as a compliment to TV advertising, following the release of a new study which found that when consumers saw a brand on TikTok, and then saw it on TV, there was a four percent lift in visual attention to brand cues and a six percent lift in aided brand recall. The effect was even greater when the individual saw the brand on TV and then on TikTok, with 16 percent lift in visual attention to branding and 13 percent lift in recall.

Future Announces 48 Percent Revenue Growth for HY 2022
Future this week announced its interim results for Half-Year (HY) 2022, reporting a £131.72 million increase in revenue since HY 2021, through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions, including Dennis Publishing, WhatCulture.com, and Waive. Media revenue grew by five percent driven by digital advertising, while magazines grew by three percent with a higher proportion of revenue derived from subscriptions. The publisher also reported a 40 percent increase in video organic growth.

The Week For Agencies

Dentsu Group Posts 9.1 Percent Growth in Q1
Dentsu Group posted a strong Q1 in its financial results this week, reaching organic growth of 9.1 percent. Growth was slightly higher for Dentsu Japan Network at 10.0 percent, while Dentsu International recorded 8.4 percent organic growth. The group said that while the war in Ukraine and global interest rate rises will have an impact, it still feels confident for the year ahead. Dentsu raised its full year outlook to 4-5 percent growth, up from a previous forecast of four percent.

UK Government Postpones HFSS Online Ad Ban Until 2024
The UK government this week announced that it is postponing its planned ban on online ads for products which are high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) until January 2024. Trade group IAB UK, which had asked for more time for the industry to prepare for the ban, described the postponement as a “major win”. The law had originally been planned to come into force from January 1st 2023.

Omnicom’s Annalect Launches Video Creative Intel
Annalect, a Omnicom’s data and analytics unit, has launched a new creative optimisation tool called Video Creative Intel which refines video assets before a campaign is launched, according to Adweek. The tool draws on Annalect’s own data, data from Google, and the client’s own metrics to help determine which versions of a piece of creative are likely to be most effective. The tool then refines assets further once the campaign has begun.

M&C Saatchi Rejects Fourth Takeover Proposal
M&C Saatchi this week rejected a fourth takeover proposal from largest shareholder Vin Murria, which was worth £253 million according to Reuters. M&C chairman Gareth Davis said in a statement that the offer “significantly undervalues the business and prospects of M&C Saatchi”.

S4 Capital Acquires TheoremOne
S4 Capital this week announced it has acquired TheoremOne, a specialist in digital transformation which advises on product strategy, engineering, design, and culture. TheoremOne will continue to operate autonomously under its current leadership team, who will maintain operational control.

Omnicom Launches Supply Chain-Based Media Activation Tool
Omnicom Media Group this week launched ‘Supply Chain IQ Score’, a supply chain-based media activation tool created in partnership with retail data platform Crisp. The tool will ingest data on product supply, drawing input from physical stores, digital shelves, and inventory-in-transit, allowing media spend to be adjusted appropriately.

Sony Playstation Begins Global Media Review
Sony is putting the global media account for Playstation up for review, according to Adweek, putting current holder MediaCom on notice. Playstation’s global spend is somewhere between $200 million-$500 million, according to Adweek.

Hires of the Week

Elephant Names Female Leaders
IPG creative agency Elephant is building a majority-female leadership team known as One Elephant, led by president Cara DiNorcia. As part of the restructure, Erica Riccobono is named managing director of client services, Caroline Kirsh as gvp client services, Paula Maki as vp creative, Cicek Neftci as vp program management, Alison Cernansky as director people and culture, and Ali Ring as director talent management.

Paramount Announces Streaming Promotions
Paramount Global has made key appointments ahead of the UK launch of Paramount+. The company promoted Marco Nobili to EVP, international general manager of Paramount+, while Olivier Jollet becomes EVP, International GM of Pluto TV. “Marco and Oliver have already driven Paramount+ and Pluto TV to new heights and with their continued leadership we are confident in our ability to become a leader in global streaming,” said Tom Ryan, Paramount’s president and CEO of streaming.

Dentsu International Moves Australian Boss to UK&I
Angela Tangas has been named chief executive UK&I at Dentsu International, where she currently serves as chief executive for Australia and New Zealand. Tangas previously worked as group executive of energy and telecommunications at iSelect, before joining Dentsu in 2018. “The UK market is one of the most innovative in the world with some of the most progressive consumer expectations of brands,” she said. “The opportunity to lead this team of talented humans, partnering with some of the most exciting organisations to unlock a new set of value dynamics, is a very compelling opportunity.”

This Week on VideoWeek

The Great Sorting: What the Current Market Turmoil Means for You, read on VideoWeek

TF1 Makes a Retail Media Play, read on VideoWeek

Marriott Checks Into Media Network Business, read on VideoWeek

ISBA’s Cross-Media Measurement Project Origin Moves into Build Phase, read on VideoWeek

Conscious Advertising Network Launches Climate and Sustainability Manifesto, read on VideoWeek

Disney+ AVOD to Show Four Minutes of Ads per Hour, read on VideoWeek

From Nielsen to Netflix: The Forces Driving the Evolution of Measurement, read on VideoWeek

Shifting Timelines and Short Testing Windows are a Concern for Google’s Privacy Sandbox, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

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2022-05-20T12:31:12+01:00

About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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