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The WIR: Ofcom Considers Allowing Longer TV Ad Breaks, FCC Commissioner Calls for TikTok Ban, and Amazon Wins Champions League Rights

Tim Cross 01 July, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Ofcom mulls over allowing longer ad breaks, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr calls out TikTok, and Amazon muscles in on BT Sports’ territory.

Top Stories

Ofcom Considers Allowing Longer Ad Breaks on Linear TV
The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom is considering reworking broadcast rules to allow longer and more frequent ad breaks on linear TV.

Public broadcasting channels are currently limited to seven minutes of ads per hour of TV, while private channels may show up to nine minutes of ads. Ad breaks can’t be longer than three minutes and fifty seconds, and in shows between 21 and 44 minutes long, there can only be one ad break in the middle.

But in light of financial pressure on broadcasters, Ofcom says it is considering relaxing these rules. “Any changes to our approach on commercial references is likely to be seen as a benefit for all broadcasters,” said Ofcom.

However, the question remains of whether it would be in the broadcaster’s best interest to run any more ads, given how the shift to streaming is arguably decreasing consumers’ tolerance for lengthy and frequent ad breaks.

FCC Commissioner Calls on Apple and Google to Ban TikTok From App Stores
A US Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. On Tuesday Brendan Carr tweeted a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, outlining “serious national security threats posed by TikTok”, whose owners are beholden to Chinese surveillance demands. Citing a BuzzFeed News report, he claims the company’s officials have “repeatedly accessed” American user data, quoting one TikTok official: “Everything is seen in China.” 

The evidence listed in the letter included TikTok’s accessing passwords and cryptocurrency wallet addresses in the Apple app store, as well as user tracking in the Google Android operating system, both in 2020. “TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface,” wrote Carr. “It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.” He requested the companies banish the app for contravening its app store policies.

In a statement to CNBC, a TikTok spokesperson said: “Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. We employ access controls like encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team. TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls.”

Amazon Wins Champions League Rights in UK
Amazon has continued its push into live sports broadcasting by picking up a package of UK broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League. The deal, which runs through to 2027, grants Amazon one game a week, meaning incumbent BT Sport will still air the vast majority of Champions League games. But Amazon’s package grants it the top pick of the games every Tuesday (all games except the final are played on Tuesday or Wednesday). And every Amazon fixture will feature an English team (so long as English teams remain in the competition).

Ever since Amazon began showing live sports in the UK, some analysts have been sceptical about the extent of its ambitions – believing that Amazon is unlikely to want to compete to truly compete with Sky and BT. This move suggests otherwise. The Champions League is one of the UK’s most popular tournaments, and while Amazon’s slice of the rights is smaller than BT’s, the entitlement to English teams’ games means the games it does show will be in high demand.

The deal will also likely be a bit of a blow to BT Sport, which previously was the exclusive rights holder in the UK. Though with BT Sports’ portfolio set to expand significantly through its joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery, the company may have decided that exclusivity is no longer essential.

The Week in Tech

VideoAmp Integrates with Mediaocean
Measurement platform VideoAmp announced on Wednesday an integration with Mediaocean, enabling buyers and sellers to transact on VideoAmp data as currency at scale. “A key difference between measurement and currency is the integration into industry billing systems so transactions can happen at scale through automation, so we’re excited about the integration with Mediaocean because it does just that,” said VideoAmp CSO Nick Chakalos.

Garante Makes Google Analytics Illegal in Italy
Italy’s data protection authority has outlawed Google Analytics. Garante accused Google of violating GDPR by transferring user data to the USA; “a country without an adequate level of data protection.” The ruling follows a similar move in France earlier this month, as well as a ruling by Austrian regulators making Google Analytics illegal.

French Government Approves Sanctions on Amazon Cookies
The French government has confirmed the sanctions imposed by regulatory body CNIL against Amazon Cookies in 2020. The regulator fined Amazon €35 million for forcing advertising cookies on users without prior consent or satisfactory information. The Council of State confirmed the CNIL’s power to impose sanctions on cookies outside the one-stop shop GDPR mechanism.

Snap Launches Paid Version of Snapchat
Snap has launched a paid version of the Snapchat app, signalling a step away from the company’s advertising-based revenue model. Snapchat+ will be available in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the UAE at launch. The move follows a 40 percent share drop after the company said it would miss revenue and profit targets for Q2.

Deliveroo Expands Ad Offering
Deliveroo is expanding its advertising offering on the website and app, the company has announced. The food delivery service will also introduce advertising on its order-tracker page, selling ad space via the Deliveroo Media and Ecommerce platform that is due to roll out in July. “The firm joins peers such as Jokr and Delivery Hero SE, which have also started supplementing their main businesses with ad revenue,” according to Bloomberg.

Most Young People Avoid Reporting Harmful Content
Two thirds of young people encounter harmful content online, but only one in six go on to report it, Ofcom has found. The findings come as the Government’s Online Safety Bill makes its way through Parliament. Ofcom will enforce the new laws and has started regulating video platforms, including TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch.

The Week in TV

MFE and Idris Elba Among Potential Channel 4 Bidders
Silvio Berlusconi and Idris Elba have both been linked with the potential purchase of Channel 4 this week. The Berlusconi-owned MediaForEurope (MFE) will “surely look at” the possibility of a bid, MFE’s finance chief Marco Giordani said on Wednesday. Meanwhile The Sunday Times reported that British actor Idris Elba is discussing a joint bid with Marc Boyan, founder of marketing company Miroma Group.

BBC Launches iPlayer Consultation
The BBC has opened a public consultation on the future of BBC iPlayer. The BBC is seeking the freedom to increase the availability of its content in the face of intensified competition in the OTT arena. The broadcaster has invited stakeholders to comment up until 4th August 2022. The corporation will then send the Public Interest Test submission and supporting evidence to Ofcom.

Netflix Cuts 300 More Jobs
Netflix has made a further 300 employees redundant, following another 150 job cuts last month. The second round of losses represent around 4 percent of Netflix’s total workforce, according to Digital TV Europe. Most redundancies were US-based but also affected teams in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

HBO Max Adds Pause and Sequential Ads
HBO Max added pause and sequential ads to its platform this week. The pause ads will overlay on top of content, while the Sequential Story format delivers a narrative sequence of adverts within a single view of content. “One of the challenges we believe pause ads have had, based on our research, is this complete screen takeover,” said Julian Franco, svp of product management at Warner Bros. Discovery told Adweek. “We want to make sure that we keep that story still up on the screen.”

Pay TV and Online Video Subs to Pass 3 Billion in 5 Years
Pay TV and online video subscriptions will pass 3 billion in 2027, Omdia research has found. The projection anticipates a further 10.5 percent market growth in 2022 to reach a total of 1.48 billion subscriptions by the end of the year. While pay TV is expected to decline, “online video services are continuing to experience impressive growth levels and there is a lot more to come,” according to Adam Thomas, Senior Principal Analyst, TV, Video and Advertising, at Omdia.

Disney, Apple and Amazon Bid for NFL Sunday Ticket Rights
Disney, Apple and Amazon have all bid for NFL Sunday Ticket rights, valued at approximately $2 billion. DirecTV’s $1.5 billion deal expires at the end of the 2022-23 season and did not look to renew. The NFL already secured 10-year agreements for its main packages with Paramount-owned CBS, Disney-owned ESPN/ABC, Comcast’s NBC and Amazon. Disney, Apple and Amazon are currently awaiting the NFL’s decision on this final set of rights.

Comscore Brings YouTube Measurement to India
Comscore has added multi-platform CTV measurement for India, bringing YouTube viewing data to its Video Metrix Multi-Platform. Clients are provided with full-cycle enablement across planning and measurement of their YouTube investment, according to the company. “Advertisers in India will be able to perform true cross-platform evaluation, by understanding the true engagement metrics across all screens of their YouTube video investments,” said Joris Goossens, SVP Europe & APAC at Comscore.

Diverse Audiences Driving OTT Growth
Diverse audiences are driving OTT growth in the US, according to research by Comscore. Between March 2019 and March 2022, African American OTT users increased by 35 percent, Hispanic viewers by 41 percent, Asian viewers by 69 percent and American Indian viewers by 66 percent. “Diverse segments adoption of streaming content is outpacing the average, especially among African American, Hispanic, and American Indians,” the research said.

Gibtelecom and Netgem Relaunch TV Service
Gibraltar’s main telecoms provider Gibtelecom has upgraded its TV service in partnership with Netgem, including integrations with Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Rakuten and Acorn TV. “The new service will be complemented by more channels and a boost in catch-up with more than 4,000 hours available at any time on any device,” said Adrian Ochello, Director of Consumer and Marketing at Gibtelecom.

The Week for Publishers

Pinterest Signals Ecommerce Push with New CEO
Social sharing site Pinterest’s long term CEO Ben Silbermann said he is stepping down this week, to be replaced by Google commerce executive Bill Ready. The appointment seems to signal an increased push into ecommerce by Pinterest, which recently acquired ecommerce platform THE YES.

Mixed Results for UK News Brands in May
The UK’s largest news brands had mixed results in May in terms of growing their audiences, according to Press Gazette. Half of the ten largest news brands grew their audiences, with Sky News seeing a seven percent month-on-month bump in visitors. The other half saw a drop in audience, with the Manchester Evening News seeing a 12 percent drop in its audience.

Reworld Media Group Buys TF1’s Web Publishing Division
TF1 has announced the sale of its Unify publishing division to Reworld Media Group. The French media operator has spent the last four years building out its publishing group, technology platform and ad sales house Unify Advertising, the company said. The web publishing division includes the health website Doctissimo, recipe portal Marmiton and tech brand Les Numériques. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Google Opens Google News Equity Fund
Google this week announced it is opening applications for the Google News Equity Fund, a multi-million dollar commitment which Google says will help bring more diversity and equity to the news industry.

Reach Denies Pay Rise for Journalists
UK publisher Reach has been accused of hypocrisy this week after running a front page story on The Mirror which highlighted CEOs who earn massive multiples on their workers’ average salaries while their workers are striking for higher pay. Trade union members at Reach are balloting on strike action after being offered a three percent pay rise, which is significantly below current inflation.

Twitter Expands Branded Likes in New Markets
Twitter this week announced it has expanded branded likes, which adds a custom animation to Twitter’s like button on any comments which use a specific hashtag, to all managed advertisers in Japan, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the U.S.

Foundry Renews Outbrain Partnership
Tech publisher Foundry this week announced it has renewed its partnership with recommendation platform Outbrain. As part of the expanded partnership, Outbrain will now support Foundry’s global affiliate and e-commerce business.

The Week For Agencies

Mediabrands and R&CPMK Launches Product Placement Platform
Creative marketing agency R&CPMK and IPG’s Mediabrands this week launched UpstreamPOP, a technology platform providing end-to-end solutions for agency clients looking for brand integration opportunities and partnerships with content creators and media platforms across the entertainment ecosystem. The platform will seek to match brands with relevant content creators at scale, using Mediabrands’ audience intelligence.

M&C Saatchi Calls on Investors to Reject AdvancedAdvT Bid
M&C Saatchi is continuing to defend itself against an attempted buyout by AdvancedAdvT, and investment vehicle owned by M&C Saatchi’s largest shareholder Vin Murria. The agency this week released a 48-page long defence document to shareholders, warning that the AdvT bid represents both low value and high risk for the company.

Standard Media Index Charts Continued Drop in Linear TV Budget Share
Standard Media Index this week released its international markets report for Q1 this year, charting a continued decline in the share of ad spend going to linear TV. The study, which covers the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, found that linear TV in Q1 this year accounted for 40 percent of total spend, down from 44 percent in 2021.

WPP Buys Martech Business Bowser House Digital
WPP this week announced the acquisition of Australian marketing technology Bowser House Digital, which designs, builds and deploys digital experiences for clients including Aesop, Bunnings, Bupa, Target and Myer. Bowser House Digital will be folded into Ogilvy’s global network.

WPP Wins Creative Company of the Year at Cannes
WPP won the title of Creative Company of the Year (previously named Holding Company of the Year) at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Omnicom followed in second place, while Publicis came third.

Over Half of Advertisers Plan More CTV Spending in Next Year
Fifty-four percent of advertisers plan to increase spend on connected TV services and platforms over the next twelve months, according to research from Advertiser Perceptions and Hub Research. The study also found high appetite for ad-supported streaming, with nearly three quarters of consumers saying they’d happily accept ads if it saved them between $4-5 per month.

Initiative Wins Hello Fresh Media Duties
IPG-owned media agency has won media planning and buying duties for meal delivery service Hello Fresh, Campaign reported this week. The account was previously held by GoodStuff, according to Campaign.

Hires of the Week

Bill Ready Takes Over as Pinterest CEO
Pinterest this week named Bill Ready as CEO, taking over from Ben Silbermann, who co-founded the company and ran the business for 12 years. Ready joins from Google where he served as President of Commerce, after spending six years at PayPal.

Paul Bascobert Named Reuters President
Thomson Reuters has appointed Paul Bascobert as president of Reuters. He will lead the company’s news and media operations from New York. Bascobert previously held executive roles at Blue Ocean, Gannett, Businessweek, Bloomberg and Dow Jones.

OMD UK Announces Pair of Promotions
Omnicon agency OMD UK has promoted Grant Burke to managing director and Kat De Keyser to chief client experience officer. Both will report to chief executive Laura Fenton, who said she was “thrilled to elevate talent from within our agency.”

This Week on VideoWeek

Education and Measurement are Key for Growing Reddit’s Ad Business, watch on VideoWeek

Pinterest Doesn’t Want its Users to Spend Hours Scrolling Online, watch on VideoWeek

“We Are an Industry That is Trained to Roll Turds in Glitter”, watch on VideoWeek

Traditional Broadcasters Must React to Tech Giants, watch on VideoWeek

Media Growth Creates More Opportunity for Advertisers, watch on VideoWeek

“We Can’t Have a Race to the Bottom in Programmatic CTV”, watch on VideoWeek

The Importance of Responsible Investment, watch on VideoWeek

“Media and Tech are Two Sides of the Same Coin”, watch on VideoWeek

TF1 Sells its Unify Web Publishing Division, read on VideoWeek

How Yahoo is Diversifying its Post-Pandemic Offering, read on VideoWeek

In-Play Advertising is Starting to Make Solid Progress on Measurement, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

PSA, Elmo Gets the COVID-19 Vaccine

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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