The WIR: BBC Goes Digital-First, Firework Raises $150 Million, and Video Continues to Drive European Ad Spend Growth

Tim Cross 27 May, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: BBC plans to go digital-first, Firework raises $150 million, and IAB AdEx data shows video’s continued growth.

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BBC Unveils Plans to Go Digital First
The BBC this week announced plans to stop airing CBBC and BBC 4 as broadcast channels, as part of a wider move to go ‘digital-first’. The broadcaster also plans to cut around 200 hours of commissioned content for linear channels each year, and around 1,000 jobs, as a cost-saving measure. These proposals will help the BBC save £200 million a year, at a time when the BBC’s funding is effectively being cut thanks to a license fee freeze.

Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, talked of the “pressing need” to build a digital-first BBC  in a speech announcing the changes. “We have a chance to do something that no-one else is doing: build a digital media organisation that makes a significant positive impact, culturally, economically and socially,” he said.

As well as cutting linear channels, the change will also see more money re-routed to content which works well on iPlayer, and asking Ofcom for more freedom to host entire boxsets and archive shows on its on-demand service.

Shoppable Video Startup Firework Raises $150 million
Shoppable video specialist Firework has raised $150 million in a Series B funding round led by SoftBank, bringing the startup’s value to $750 million. Firework has 900 clients, according to the company, including grocery chains Albertsons and The Fresh Market. In April it announced a partnership with advertising agency Omnicom to offer its services to marketing clients.

“With this investment, our growth engine is firing on all cylinders,” said Firework Co-Founder and CEO Vincent Yang. “Our core technology and business model have already been proven in the market many times over, and with this capital to realize our vision, Firework can now focus most of our efforts on evolution and growth, in all its forms – growing our team, growing our user base, and growing our technology, to ensure the Firework platform never loses step with the bleeding edge of next-generation customer experience.”

Video Drives European Ad Spend Growth
European digital advertising grew 30.5 percent in 2021 to reach €92 billion, with video climbing 46.2 percent to hit €18.5 billion. IAB Europe announced the results of its AdEx 2021 Benchmark Study at the Interact 2022 conference, breaking down the state of the digital advertising and marketing ecosystem.

The report revealed that video was the fastest-growing social advertising sector in 2021, up 50 percent on 2020. Outside of social, the study suggested a sectoral shift towards video, with ad spend rising 41 percent from 2020. By comparison, traditional advertising (such as banners, native and newsletter ads) grew by 20 percent across the same period. 

As a result, video now exceeds half of total display spend in three markets, namely Italy, Ukraine and the UK. Meanwhile programmatic display spend grew by 34 percent (versus 20 percent for non-programmatic), now commanding 56 percent of European display share on average.

The Week in Tech

Google Hit With Fresh UK Probe Over Anticompetitive Behaviour in Ad Tech
The UK’s antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, on Thursday launched an investigation into whether Google has abused its dominant position in ad tech. The CMA is specifically investigating whether Google’s dominance across the ad tech supply chain creates an unfair advantage, and whether Google has intentionally abused its position to reinforce its dominance. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

PubMatic Brings Audience Targeting to the Sell-Side with ‘Connect’ Platform
PubMatic this week launched Connect, a new addressability tool which will essentially unite the company’s existing identity and targeting tools into one omnichannel platform. PubMatic says Connect will enable media buyers to take a “portfolio approach” to audience addressability, combining a range of different signals to help identify whoever they’re looking to reach. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Nielsen Deduplicates Smart TV
Nielsen has expanded deduplication of CTV audiences to cover Smart TV inventory, including co-viewing across Samsung, VIZIO, Roku and Hulu. The measurement firm called the move “a critical step toward Nielsen ONE”, the company’s upcoming cross-media solution.

TVDataNow Announces New CTV Attribution Solution
TVDataNow this week announced a new CTV-focused attribution solution, which the company says will allow data-driven marketers to use complete performance insights for CTV in order to optimise channel marketing. The TVDataNow attribution solution was built by using AI/ML algorithms that capture performance from CTV marketing to conversion, meaning the solution does not require the integration of any third party data.

ICO Fines Clearview AI for Data Breach
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined facial recognition company Clearview AI for collecting images of real people from social media. As well as issuing the £7,552,800 fine, the ICO has ordered the tech company to stop obtaining the personal data of UK residents, and to delete the data from its systems.

Meta Updates Political Ad Transparency
Meta is updating its ad transparency tools, providing targeting information on “social issue, electoral or political ads.” The data will be available to vetted researchers at the end of May, before extending to the public in July. Users will be able to see the number of political ads run on a Facebook page, their targeting categories (such as location, demographics and interests) and the percentage of adspend used to target those categories. The company also updated its privacy policy this week, noting that the changes do not allow Meta to handle people’s data in new ways.

Taboola to Acquire Gravity R&D
Taboola signed a definitive agreement to buy personalisation tech firm Gravity R&D. The acquired company’s Yusp offering couples contextual data and brands’ first-party data to make recommendations for shoppers. Taboola will invest in a new R&D hub in Gravity R&D’s Hungary HQ.

Zuckerberg Sued Over Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Mark Zuckerberg is being sued by the Attorney General of Washington DC, due to the Meta CEO’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In a lawsuit filed on Monday, AG Karl A. Racine accused Zuckerberg of collaborating with the British consulting firm in mining Facebook user data. “The evidence shows Mr Zuckerberg was personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect the privacy and data of its users leading directly to the Cambridge Analytica incident,” he said.

Smart and GDR Team Up for Targeting in the Nordics
Smart Adserver and Global Data Resources announced on Tuesday a new partnership to bring privacy-safe targeting to the Nordics. The companies said the partnership will help publishers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to “enrich their inventory with ID-free persona-segments, while allowing brands to precisely reach the audiences of their advertising campaigns.”

Cadent Adds Programmatic Guaranteed Bidding for CTV
Cadent on Wednesday unveiled a new feature for the Cadent Aperture Platform to enable programmatic guaranteed bidding for CTV and addressable TV, across set top boxes, smart TVs, mobile devices and desktop applications. The ad tech company said the solution “improves monetisation for publishers by increasing both demand and flexibility.” Launches with Industry Interviews launched on Monday featuring in-depth interviews with industry leaders, covering ad tech, mobile marketing and the future of TV. Interviewees include executives from LiveRamp, Magnite and Innovid. Full-length interviews are accessible to paid subscribers, while audio-only versions are available in podcast form.

LoopMe Expands in APAC
LoopMe reported 60 percent revenue growth following significant investment from Mayfair Equity Partners, achieving $114 million in revenue in the last 12 months. The ad tech company also announced expansion in the APAC region – where revenues increased 90 percent in 2021 – alongside a new technical office in Poland.

Hawk Integrates Skyrise Data into CTV Offering
Media and insights platform Hawk and audience data specialists Skyrise Intelligence announced this week that they are deepening their partnership, with Skyrise data set to be integrated into CTV buying through Hawk. Skyrise analyses and aggregates the behaviour of more than 20 million UK adults (using data sourced exclusively from one of the UK’s major mobile operators) to provide in-depth consumer insight and audience targeting solutions.

Yahoo and Hivestack Partner on DOOH
Yahoo and Hivestack have joined forces to deliver programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) cross-channel media campaigns on a global scale. The partnership integrates Yahoo’s DSP into Hivestack’s SSP, allowing Yahoo and its clients to access Hivestack’s DOOH inventory through real-time bidding transactions via open exchange and private marketplace deals.

Twitter Rebrands Its Creator Hub
Twitter has rebranded its Twitter Media website to Twitter Create, granting creators greater access to resources and product information. The creator hub also houses guides helping creators to earn money, engage with their audience and develop their brand. The rebrand follows the introduction of the Creator Dashboard and Twitter for Professionals, both designed to make monetisation easier for creators.

Spotify Rolls Out Interactive Ads
Spotify is expanding its clickable ads to Australia, Canada and the UK. Advertisers will be able to display call-to-action (CTA) adverts on the platform in order to increase brand discoverability. CTA cards debuted in the US in January and can double site visits compared with non-clickable podcast ads, according to Spotify.

The Week in TV

Denmark Passes Law for Local Streaming Investment
A new law in Denmark will require streaming services to pay a levy of 6 percent of their revenue to support local TV production. Aimed at securing local investment from the likes of Netflix, Disney and Amazon, the bill was approved by Danish lawmakers this weekend. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

MFE Files Q1 Ad Sales Growth
MediaForEurope (MFE) filed its Q1 financial results, reporting 3 percent year-on-year growth and net revenues of €654.3 million. MFE said the figures were unaffected by the ongoing geopolitical crisis, noting an uptick in advertising sales in both Italy and Spain. “In Italy, Mediaset was the only broadcaster to see a rise in ratings in the period (+2.7 points in Prime Time) in the face of a fall for all competitors,” the report added. Also this week, the Spanish Securities Market Commission authorised MFE’s voluntary tender offer for Mediaset España, permitting the Berlusconi-owned company to buy the remaining Mediaset share capital.

Broadcast TV Sidelined at Upfronts
Broadcast networks were notably absent from Upfronts last week, according to an Associated Press report. “Broadcasters once owned the week, revealing their fall schedules to much fanfare,” AP said. “They’re now almost afterthoughts in bloated presentations where the action is now in streaming, and in the coming shakeout over how advertising will invade that format.” The report noted that the ABC and CBS entertainment bosses literally watched from the sidelines, while Fox “didn’t even bother to release a fall schedule.”

Premier Sports Scores UEFA Deal
Premier Sports will broadcast UEFA National Team football in the UK from 2022-24. The rights deal covers the UEFA Nations League and European Qualifiers to UEFA Euro 2024, in addition to all Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland games, totalling more than 400 matches.

Streaming Grows in UK Despite Cost of Living Crisis
Streaming is still growing in the UK despite the cost of living crisis, Omdia research has revealed. Maria Rua Aguete, Senior Director at Omdia, told the Connected TV World Summit: “The number of people paying for video services in the UK has increased 11 percent over the last year,” and 80 percent of UK households now have a subscription. Although churn rate is up by 45 percent, resubscription has climbed by 84 percent. Netflix remains the UK’s favourite SVOD service with 15.5 million subscribers, and will “continue and surpass Disney by 2026.”

Rima Abdul Malak Appointed French Culture Minister
Rima Abdul Malak has been appointed Minister of Culture in France, replacing Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin. The Franco-Lebanese politician will oversee the scrapping of France’s TV licence announced last week. She has promised to champion “French creation, the French language and French innovation in the digital ocean, and soon in the metaverse”.

BBC Player to Land in Poland on Canal+
BBC Player, an international version of iPlayer, will become available to Canal+ streaming subscribers in Poland from 1st June. The service features content from BBC BRIT, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, BBC First and CBeebies, with a choice of Polish voice-over and subtitles, and optional English subtitles on selected programmes.

Vodafone Stresses Commitment to TV Business
Vodafone emphasised its commitment to the TV business at the Connected TV World Summit, where Rolf Wierig, global head of entertainment at Vodafone Group, outlined a strategy focused on aggregating pay TV services and OTT streamers. The reassurance follows last week’s news of heavy customer losses for Vodafone’s TV business in its two largest markets, Germany and Spain.

Gracenote Enriches Metadata for Content Discovery Platforms
Gracenote announced the launch of Gracenote Streaming Channels Data, providing content discovery platforms with access to Gracenote’s database of linear streaming schedules. Using Gracenote’s metadata, including an ID for each individual airing, content platforms can connect consumers to programming on FAST and linear channels on vMVPD services.

Viaplay Wins EFL Championship and Carabao Cup Rights
Viaplay secured the exclusive rights to the EFL Sky Bet Championship and Carabao Cup football in the Nordics and Baltics, plus Poland and the Netherlands. The deal brings over 180 live matches to Viaplay, including the Sky Bet Play-Off Semi-Finals and Finals.

OTT Revenues to Reach $224 billion in 2027
Global OTT revenues are projected to increase by $21 billion this year, reaching $224 billion in 2027. Digital TV Research forecast SVOD revenues to rise by $48 billion over the next five years to reach $136 billion, with AVOD revenues up $37 billion over the same period to hit $70 billion.

The Week for Publishers

BuzzFeed and HuffPost Join the Ozone Project
BuzzFeed and HuffPost have both signed up to The Ozone Project, an ad platform run in the UK by an alliance of premium publishers. Ozone says the addition of the two digital natives will add 200,000 unique readers to Ozone’s total reach. “BuzzFeed and HuffPost UK are power brands in the digital media space and through this new partnership we will be able to offer even more opportunities for those advertisers with a clear focus on ensuring their campaigns only ever appear in quality, brand safe environments,” said Dipti Patel, business development director at The Ozone Project.

The Telegraph Reaches 740,000 Subscribers
Telegraph Media Group has reached 740,000 paid subscribers, leading to a 25 percent increase in pre-exceptional operating profits, the news group announced this week. The Telegraph said strong interest in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and British politics, alongside its investments in journalism and technology, helped drive the new subscriptions.

Google Rolls Out Ads on YouTube Shorts Globally
Google announced this week that it has begun rolling out ads on its TikTok competitor YouTube shorts globally, unlocking a big supply of in-demand inventory for advertisers. Google announced the move at Google Marketing Week, where YouTube Shorts and Google’s connected TV solutions were a big focus. Alongside the advertising rollout, Google gave fresh insight into YouTube Shorts’ scale, revealing that the shorts tab now averages 30 billion video views per day.

Future Eyes Up US Growth
Future’s North America CRO Jason Webby told Digiday’s podcast that the publisher is looking to become “one of the dominant media players” in the US. Webby said that the company’s recent series of acquisitions, including Dennis Publishing, Marie Claire US, and data platform Waive, are geared towards those ambitions.

Snap Stock Warning Sparks Fears of Ad Pullback
Snap CEO and founder Evan Spiegel warned on Monday that Snapchat will miss its revenue and earnings forecasts which it set just last month. The news ignited panic of a digital ad pullback resulting in plummeting share prices for the majority of companies which rely on digital ad revenues.

Twitter Pays $150 Million to Settle Privacy and Security Dispute
Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million to settle a case brought against it which alleged it illegally used private data in order to target ads. The FTC and Justice Department claimed that Twitter had used private data including phone numbers for ad targeting, while telling users that data was being collected for security purposes.

TikTok Rolls Out Live Subscription Option
TikTok is trialling letting creators who broadcast live streams on the platform to sell subscriptions, offering perks to subscribers including badges, emotes, and subscriber-only chats. The move comes as part of an effort to broaden monetisation options for creators.

Google Defends its Role in UK News Landscape
Following a report earlier this month that news content drives $1 billion in annual UK revenues for tech platforms, Google published a blog post defending its model. The report suggested that the loss of news would have a significant impact on Google’s search quality, hindering its ability to carry ads. Google meanwhile stated that it “does not make significant revenue from news-related searches”.

eMarketer Predicts TikTok US Ad Revenues to Almost Double This Year
TikTok’s US net ad revenues will rise by 184.4 percent to $5.96 billion, according to eMarketer’s inaugural forecast for TikTok’s ad business. eMarketer predicts that this will have almost doubled again by the end of 2024, hitting $11.01 billion and accounting for 3.5 percent of total US digital ad spend.

The Week For Agencies

Whirlpool Goes In-House
Household goods maker Whirlpool is launching a large in-house agency, called WoW Studios, and bringing a sizeable portion of its marketing budget in-house, Adweek reported this week. The move will see Whirlpool pull the majority of its investment out of creative agency partner Digitas, though it will continue to work with Publicis’ Spark Foundry for media.

Vin Murria Won’t Increase Bid for M&C Saatchi
M&C Saatchi’s largest investor and would-be suitor Vin Murria has said she won’t increase her bid for the agency, after it agreed to be bought by Next 15 last Friday. However Murria has not pulled out of the race to buy M&C Saatchi, and is currently considering her options – though her maximum bid of £266 million is significantly below Next 15’s offer of £310 million.

Havas Partners with LiveRamp for Audience Management Platform in NA
Havas Media Group North America has partnered with LiveRamp ​​to create an agency-level data collaboration solution on its Converged platform. Havas Media says the new identity-based planning and buying platform supports audience creation, data enrichment, insight generation, media activation, reporting, and measurement, while keeping in mind a cookieless future and an increased focus on data privacy.

WPP Supports Launch of the Black Equity Organisation
WPP and its agencies have partnered with The Black Equity Organisation (BEO) – an organisation founded to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain – for its launch this week. WPP’s collaboration with the new national and independent civil-rights organisation includes a range of pro bono support, with Landor & Fitch developing BEO’s brand, narrative and visual identity; H+K Strategies providing communications and PR support; GroupM and Mindshare advising on media strategy, planning and investment; and Ogilvy providing creative direction and development for BEO’s launch film along with a forthcoming campaign and activation.

Marketing Budgets Grow as a Proportion of Brand Budgets
Research from Gartner shows that marketing budgets are rising as a proportion of total company revenue, reaching 9.5 percent of total revenues on average. This is a significant increase from 6.4 percent last year, but still sits behind pre-pandemic levels of 10.9 percent according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wavemaker Wins $500 Million Audible Account
WPP agency Wavemaker has won the global media account for Amazon’s Audible, estimated to be worth around $500 million according to Adweek. Previously the account was split between Wavemaker, Spark Foundry, and Hearts & Sciences, according to Adweek.

E-commerce Brands Spend Big on Performance
Companies invested heavily in e-commerce tend to spend significantly more on performance campaigns than on brand building, research from the WFA and dentsu showed this week. Brands that apply greater importance to e-commerce are spending 59 percent of their media budgets on driving short-term sales. This compares with those who regard e-commerce as important (or growing in importance) at just 37 percent on driving immediate sales.

Starcom Appointed as UK Performance Marketing Agency for abrdn
Starcom, part of Publicis Media, has won the UK & EMEA digital assignment for global investment company, abrdn, as part of a competitive pitch. The assignment will be led from London by Starcom’s specialist performance marketing team, Performics, that will support abrdn’s ongoing rebranding efforts and digital transformation.

Audi Apologises for Copyright Breach in Chinese Ad
Audi’s Chinese manufacturer has apologised for an alleged copyright infringement in one of its ads, and said it would remove the relevant videos from all platforms. The ad is said to have copied language from another video posted a year earlier, of a poem which a well-known blogger had written and shared, according to Bloomberg.

Most Agencies Have Switched to Flexible Work, Finds IPA
All of the IPA’s 26 top earning agencies have switched to a flexible work model, with almost two-thirds picking a ‘two days a week in the office’ approach, the trade association announced this week. “From these findings, it seems that agencies have realised that we don’t come apart when we’re apart and equally when we come together we come alive,” said Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA. “The balance flexible working allows can be the best of both worlds.”

Hires of the Week

GroupM Names Investment Chiefs
GroupM UK has named Carl Nawgamuwa and Jonathan Masterson as Managing Directors of GroupM Investment. The company said Nawgamuwa and Masterson will be responsible for the deployment of GroupM’s Responsible Investment Framework, focusing on brand safety, data ethics, diversity and inclusion, responsible journalism and sustainability.

Matt Barash Joins Index Exchange
Matt Barash became Senior Vice President of Americas at Index Exchange this week, a new role created off the back of Index’s recently rebuilt exchange. Barash previously served as Senior Vice President of Global Publishing and Platform Partnerships at Zeotap, following a series of management roles at AdColony, Forbes and News Corp.

Publicis Hires Former Omnicom CEO
Publicis Groupe hired Scott Hagedorn as Global Chief Solutions Architect, after departing as Omnicom CEO in March. “My approach has always fused current client needs with intuition of where the market is headed, creating the right solutions to help brands win now and in the future,” said Hagedorn. Former Omnicon officer Samantha Levine Archer also joins Publicis as Chief Solutions Officer for North America.

Wavemaker Promotes Female Leadership Duo
Wavemaker UK Chief Operating Officer Kelly Parker has risen to the position of UK Chief Executive, replacing Paul Hutchinson after four years in the role and 12 at the agency. UK Chief Growth Officer Katie Lee also moves to Chief Operating Officer. “I’m really proud to see two brilliant women taking the lead in our biggest EMEA market,” said Wavemaker EMEA CEO Ruth Stubbs. “I look forward to seeing the Kelly-Katie duo propel Wavemaker UK into a new era of growth for the agency, our clients and people.”

Tubular Labs Enlists Former Buzzfeed President as CEO
Former Buzzfeed and HuffingtonPost president Greg Coleman has been appointed CEO of Tubular Labs. The social video metrics company tracks engagement across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter content, also adding TikTok in the near future. “Traditional TV no longer defines culture,” he said. “Now, the most important stories and conversations are born and thrive inside of social video.”

Publicis Expands Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Role
Publicis Groupe UK has promoted Saatchi & Saatchi chief executive Chris Kay to CEO of its pan-agency creative practice. Kay joined Publicis Groupe in October 2021 and will remain Saatchi & Saatchi CEO. His expanded role involves overseeing creative practice for Saatchi & Saatchi, Digitas, Leo Burnett, Publicis.Poke, Octopus, PGOne and Turner Duckworth.

XYZ Spells Out New Team
Marketing agency XYZ has appointed James Hoyle as Creative Director, as Paul Stanway vacates the role to become Executive Creative Director. Hoyle previously spent three years as Creative Director at Tin Man Communications. Alina Basu has been appointed Client Director for Nike, Becca Ratcliffe as Head of Client Services and Gordon Reid as Head of Delivery.

Teads Appoints Chief Marketing Officer Natalie Bastian
Natalie Bastian has joined Teads as Chief Marketing Officer, bringing leadership and marketing experience from roles at Tubi and Roku. “As our platform continues to evolve through the launch of new products, industry leading research in areas such as attention, and expansion into new markets, it’s perfect timing to add another outstanding executive to our talented roster,” said Teads co-CEO Jeremy Arditi.

This Week on VideoWeek

The Switch from Universal Analytics to GA4: Explained, read on VideoWeek

Denmark Passes Law for Local Streaming Investment, read on VideoWeek

VideoWeek Podcast #33: Tom Goodwin, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Author & TV Host, listen on VideoWeek

PubMatic Brings Audience Targeting to the Sell-Side with ‘Connect’ Platform, read on VideoWeek

Here’s Where European Broadcasters are Finding Growth in 2022, read on VideoWeek

The Loss of Innocent: How UK Regulators Are Tackling Greenwashing, read on VideoWeek

Google Hit With Fresh UK Probe Over Anticompetitive Behaviour in Ad Tech, read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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