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The WIR: ProSieben’s Ad Revenues Fall, Google Moves into FAST, and the FTC Prepares a Crackdown on Data Collection in Advertising

Tim Cross 12 August, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: ProSieben downgrades its full year outlook, Google gets into the FAST game, and the FTC prepares a crackdown on targeted advertising.

Top Stories

ProSiebenSat.1 Sees Fall in Ad Revenues
German broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1 posted its Q2 financial results on Thursday, with overall revenues up one percent year-on-year, but advertising revenues down by one percent.

The broadcaster said these results were positive, given that ad revenues in Q2 last year were particularly strong, and in light of the current global macroeconomic context. And revenues elsewhere in ProSieben’s entertainment business were up, with income from content production and sales up by 15 percent when adjusted for currency effects.

ProSieben has also downgraded its full year forecast, from revenues of €4.6 billion to €4.375 billion. Part of this downgrade is due to the offloading of Red Arrows Studios’ US business. But ProSieben, like other broadcasters, also cited an unstable advertising market, saying it is “difficult to forecast until the end of the year because of the current market and environment conditions”.

New Details Emerge of Google FAST Service
Code found within the latest update to Google’s connected TV platform Google TV shows that the company is working towards launching free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels on the platform.

According to data seen by 9to5Googlethe code includes a line of text which will be shown to consumers, saying ‘Enjoy 50 channels of live TV without the need to subscribe, sign-up, or download’. The code also includes a graphic displaying a selection of these channels:

This wouldn’t be completely new territory for Google. The tech giant already offers live linear channels on Google TV via YouTube TV, and also rolled out FAST-style channels on YouTube earlier this year. But this would mark a significant further step for Google, making original FAST channels a key part of its Google TV platform – putting it more directly in competition with the likes of Pluto TV, XUMO, and Philo.

FTC Signals Crackdown on Targeted Advertising
The US Federal Trade Commission has signalled a crackdown on invasive targeting advertising tactics, saying it is exploring rules to tackle “commercial surveillance and lax data security practices”.

“Firms now collect personal data on individuals at a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “The growing digitization of our economy—coupled with business models that can incentivize endless hoovering up of sensitive user data and a vast expansion of how this data is used—means that potentially unlawful practices may be prevalent.”

There’s not yet much clarity on how these rules would look, but targeted advertising would be covered by the crackdowns, as it was listed by one of the most common causes of widespread data collection and analysis by the FTC.

The Week in Tech

Criteo Hit with €60 Million GDPR Fine
French ad tech business Criteo has been handed a proposed €60 million fine by France’s data protection authority over violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), following an investigation to Criteo’s collection of data, and use of data for targeted advertising. Criteo, which may appeal the fine, says it disagrees with the findings of the investigation.

AppLovin Proposes a Merger with Unity… Minus ironSource
Mobile ad tech business this week announced it has submitted a merger proposal to game development platform Unity which would see AppLovin buy Unity for around $17.5 billion in an all-stock deal. The move however wouldn’t include ironSource, a competitor to AppLovin which Unity sealed a deal to buy earlier this year.

The Trade Desk Posts 35 Percent Growth in Q2
Demand-side platform The Trade Desk seems to be weathering the ad recession storm for now, reporting in its earnings this week that total revenues were up 35 percent year-on-year in Q2. The company expects further growth for the next quarter too, forecasting revenues of $385 million, which would represent 28 percent growth year-on-year.

Nielsen Announces Expanded US Panel
Nielsen this week announced that its US National TV panel has reached 42,000 households, covering 101,000 directly measured viewers. This includes a subset of 21,000 households that are part of Nielsen’s streaming meter panel, which the company plans to continue to grow over time. “We are extremely proud of hitting the milestone of steadily maintaining at or above the target of 42,000 panel households, and the progress we have made in building a robust ID system for the digital ecosystem on our road to Nielsen ONE,” said Karthik Rao, COO at Nielsen.

DOJ Prepares to File its Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google over Ads Business
The US Department of Justice is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as next month, Bloomberg reported this week, after years of conversations with players across the digital advertising ecosystem. The suit follows a widespread investigation into alleged anticompetitive action in the digital advertising space.

Kargo Acquires Ziggeo in Online Video Push
Mobile ad exchange Kargo has announced the acquisition of video player Ziggeo, building up the online video portion of its omni-channel platform. Traditionally focused on rich media formats, Kargo announced plans to build an ad-supported video player for publishers “with the ultimate goal of creating a marketplace of advertising opportunities and content from content creators.” Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Max Schrems’ noyb Files 226 Fresh Cookie Banner GDPR Complaints
Online privacy activist group noyb has filed 226 fresh complaints against websites which it claims are using “deceptive” cookie banners, and not complying with requirements outlined in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The alleged offenders are accused of using dark patterns – techniques in user interface design which attempt to trick, or at least nudge, users into taking actions which they wouldn’t otherwise choose – within their cookie banners. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Permutive Lays Off Twelve Percent of Staff
First-party data ad tech business Permutive this week announced it has laid off twelve percent of its staff, in anticipation of a prolonged economic downturn which is expected to hit the company’s finances. CEO Joe Root said in a blog post that access to venture capital has contracted, and ad revenues have become harder to forecast, leading to the decision.

JW Player Launches New End-to-End Broadcaster Solution
JW Player has announced it will be unveiling a new end-to-end broadcaster-focused solution at this year’s IBC event. The company says that the new solution integrates 24/7 live channels and studio DRM into the JWP video platform – capabilities which come as a direct result of JWP’s acquisition of VUALTO, a live video streaming and DRM provider.

The Week in TV

Disney’s Subscriber Count Surpasses Netflix
Disney’s quarterly earnings report on Thursday revealed a landmark moment in the streaming wars: Disney’s total subscription count has edged ahead of Netflix’s. At the end of the previous quarter Disney says it had 221 million subscribers, while Netflix had 220.7 million – though as VideoWeek reported, this achievement comes with some significant asterisks.

Walmart Explores Streaming Tie-Up for Subscription Service
Walmart is exploring deals with Disney, Comcast, and Paramount which would bundle one of their streaming services with its own paid subscription service Walmart+. The move would put Walmart+ in more direct competition with Amazon Prime, which similarly offers video on-demand alongside free shipping and other perks.

Broadcasters say Use of Nielsen Alternatives is Yet to Take Off
Research from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) has found that while experimentation with alternative currencies has been high over the past upfronts season, few advertisers are actually using them as the basis for deals. Of the networks and broadcasters surveyed by the VAB, around a quarter said that between 25 and 49 percent of their upfront advertisers used non-Nielsen currencies, while others reported lower uptake.

FuboTV Signs Deal with Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort
Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service FuboTV this week announced a deal with Maximum Effort, a production company co-founded by actor-turned-ad man Ryan Reynolds, which will give FuboTV first look access to unscripted content created by Maximum Effort. As part of the deal Maximum Effort will launch Maximum Effort Network, a linear channel on FuboTV.

HBO Max Returns to AT&T
Warner Bros. Discovery’s paid streaming service HBO Max is returning to AT&T, its previous owner. AT&T bundled HBO Max with select subscription packages back when it owned the product, and this new deal will see HBO Max once again offered as a perk for AT&T customers.

UK Audiences Stick with ‘Big Three’ Streaming Services
As consumers are increasingly cutting back on subscription spending, they’re tending to cut smaller services first, staying most loyal to the ‘big three’ of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, according to research from personal finance site Finder as reported by Advanced Television. Finder’s research found that the big three platforms were the only three to have seen meaningful growth in the UK since 2019.

The Week for Publishers

News Corp Bucks Trend with Growing Ad Revenues
News Corp reported 8.9 percent growth in its quarterly ad revenues in its recent financial report, helping fuel a seven percent year-on-year growth in total revenues. Dow Jones, a branch of News Corp’s business which publishes the Wall Street Journal, performed particularly well. Across the whole year, ad revenues were up 20 percent, the highest growth rate since News Corp acquired Dow Jones. In the recent quarter, digital ad revenues at Dow Jones were up by 16 percent year-on-year. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Axios Agrees to Sell to Cox Enterprises for $525 Million
Politics, tech and business publisher Axios has agreed to sell to its most recent lead investor, Cox Enterprises, in a deal which values the publisher at $525 million. The deal includes an additional $25 million investment in Axios’ media arm to help expand its news offering. “A big part of this investment is to expand the number of local markets we serve,” said Cox chairman and CEO Alex Taylor. “Local watchdog journalism is so important to the health of any community, and no one is more focused on building that out nationally than Axios,”

Gannett Prepares for Layoffs Following Poor Financial Results
US publisher Gannett, which owns USA Today alongside a stable of regional and local news titles, is preparing for a round of layoffs following poor financial results in which digital ad revenues, print circulation, and print advertising all fell short of expectations. Gannett will eliminate some open positions while also laying off current workers.

Activist Investor ValueAct Takes Stake in New York Times
ValueAct Capital Management, an activist investment firm, this week disclosed that it has built a seven percent stake in the New York Times. ValueAct says it believes the NYT is well placed to succeed despite current headwinds, primarily by aggressively offering a digital bundle which rolls together NYT-owned assets including Wirecutter and The Athletic.

US Video Advertisers are Increasingly Going ‘YouTube Only’
Out of all US advertisers who are investing in video advertising, the proportion who are only buying video ads on YouTube is increasing, according to eMarketer. In Q4 of 2021, 47 percent of US video advertisers invested all their video spend in YouTube, while in Q1 this year, that number had risen to 60 percent.

Snap Reportedly Plans Layoffs
Snap is reportedly planning layoffs according to The Verge, amid turbulent times for the social media company and the wider advertising market. Snap was one of the first to signal dampened advertiser demand earlier this year, sparking a significant drop in tech stocks. The extent of the layoffs are not yet known.

WeAre8 Launches Self-Serve Ad Platform
WeAre8, a social platform which pays users in exchange for watching ads, has launched a self-serve ad platform, Campaign reported this week. Heineken, Nike, and Santander are all already using the platform, described as WeAre8’s equivalent to Facebook’s Ads Manager. WeAre8 says it gives 50 percent of the money a brand pays to the person watching the ad, while a further five percent goes to a charity of the brand’s choice.

The Week For Agencies

Dentsu Posts 8.2 Percent Organic Growth for Q2
Agency group Dentsu saw organic growth of 8.2 percent in Q2, according to the company’s earnings this week. Growth was strongest overseas, as Dentsu International reached 8.4 percent organic growth, while Dentsu Japan Network reported 7.9 percent organic growth. Whilst the macro-outlook may remain uncertain, we enter the second half of the year with confidence,” said Hiroshi Igarashi, president and CEO at Dentsu Group. “Our improved revenue mix, our deep client relationships, strong balance sheet underpinned by the transformation the Group has undertaken over the past two years positions us well for the future.”

Mindshare Launches Impact Index to Filter Out Toxic Content
GroupM agency Mindshare has launched Impact Index, an analytics tool that looks at the social impact of editorial content on minority communities. The custom algorithms powering the Index are trained, validated, and regularly audited by experts to identify detrimental or hateful content towards minority groups and communities.

Publicis Tops Forrester’s Global Marketing Services Ranking
Publicis Group has topped Forrester’s recent Wave report, which ranks global marketing services businesses, beating WPP to the top spot. Omnicom rounded out the top three. This wave report specifically ranks companies based on their overall integrated offering, taking into account how well integrated their various offerings are.

IPG Creates Dedicated Agency for Bentley
Interpublic Group is creating a new dedicated unit to serve Bentley Motors, Campaign reported this week. Bentley says that iX, the new agency brand, will be responsible for delivering strategic communications planning, creative development – including brand campaigns and product launches – as well as asset production, brand storytelling, social and digital marketing activation. iX will draw on resources from across IPG agencies.

Trade Groups Offer Guidelines for Diverse Media Suppliers
Industry trade groups the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) have released a new set of guidelines for diverse media owners to help them connect up with agencies and advertisers. “Addressing media investment inequality is one of the cornerstone objectives of the Global CMO Growth Council and our industry,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “The two sets of guidelines are designed to help buyers and sellers see the landscape through a more focused lens, advance engagement, and promote greater investment in the diverse supplier community.”

US Ad Employment Jumped in July
Total US employment in the advertising and marketing industries increased in July by 4,700 jobs, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as reported by AdAge. While the prospect of a recession and pullbacks in marketing loom, for the time being companies are still hiring.

Publicis and Meta Find Lookalike Audiences Perform Best for Healthcare Marketing
A study from Publicis Health Media and Meta has found that lookalike audiences perform better than interest-based targeting when it comes to targeting ads for healthcare products and services, Adweek reported this week. Meta wound down the ability for healthcare marketers to target based on interests earlier this year.

Hires of the Week

Jill Kelly Named US CEO of EssenceMediacom
Jill Kelly has been picked as US chief executive for EssenceMediacom, the GroupM-owned merged agency which will officially launch next year. Kelly is currently GroupM’s global CMO.

Laura Visco Joins Grey as Chief Creative Officer
Laura Visco, previously executive creative director at 72andSunny, has been hired by Grey in the newly created position of chief creative officer.

Mother London Promotes Tom Wong
Mother London has promoted Tom Wong, its head of fame, to head of culture and communications, the agency announced this week.

This Week on VideoWeek

Are we Starting to See some Common Sense in the Streaming Wars? read on VideoWeek

No News is Bad News: How Advertisers Can Avoid Defunding Journalism, read on VideoWeek

Kargo Acquires Ziggeo in Online Video Push, read on VideoWeek

News Corp Bucks Trend with Growing Ad Revenues, read on VideoWeek

Max Schrems’ noyb Files 226 Fresh Cookie Banner GDPR Complaints, read on VideoWeek

Disney Has Overtaken Netflix in the Streaming Wars… or Has It? read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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