In this week’s Week in Review: VidMob raises $110 million, TikTok launches new shoppable ad formats, and streaming surpasses cable viewing in the US.
TikTok Launches Shopping Ads
TikTok announced the launch of ‘Shopping Ads’ on Wednesday, the latest addition to its suite of advertising tools, as it continued to invest in its ecommerce capabilities.
Shopping Ads includes three formats. Video Shopping Ads, available globally, are essentially shoppable video ads which provide links to in-app landing pages for products, which will then lead users to brands’ websites to checkout. Live Shopping Ads, available in markets where TikTok Shop is available (including the UK), drive users from the primary feed onto advertisers’ shoppable live streams. And Catalog Listing Ads, available in the US, lead users to in-app product catalogues without the need for video assets.
TikTok’s commitment to commerce was called into question earlier in the year, following reports that the business had backtracked on plans to roll out TikTok Shop in new markets. TikTok denied those reports at the time, and this latest announcement shows that commerce is still central to TikTok’s plans.
VidMob Raises $110 Million
VidMob, an ad tech business which describes itself as an intelligent creative platform, has raised $110 million in a Series D funding round led by Shamrock Capital. This takes total funding to around $232 million according to Crunchbase.
VidMob launched in 2014 as a marketplace for video ad creation, matching up advertisers with video creatives in order to put together an ad. Over the years VidMob has folded in more creative analysis and optimisation tools, using AI and computer vision to assess video creative and compare it to performance data, generating insights into why ads do or don’t work.
Alex Collmer, VidMob’s founder and CEO, says the new funding will be used to flesh out these intelligent creative tools further, with the ultimate goal of building an operating system for intelligent creative. Collmer says the priority here is deploying VidMob’s API into third-party tools across the web, as well as integrating with more data providers and data clean rooms.
Streaming Viewing Surpasses Cable in the US
Streaming viewing has overtaken cable in the US, according to Nielsen’s latest The Gauge report, a landmark moment in the growth of connected TV. Streaming now accounts for 34.8 percent of all TV viewing in the US according to Nielsen’s data, while cable makes up 34.3 percent, and broadcast has 21.6 percent.
This is a significant increase from last year, when streaming accounted for 28.3 percent of viewing, and cable captured 37.7 percent. Netflix was a particularly strong performer in July (when Nielsen’s data was captured), capturing eight percent of total viewing time, a record for the company.
The Week in Tech
Google Adds CTV Buying Options to Display & Video 360
Google’s Display & Video 360 DSP announced new CTV solutions on Thursday, adding Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) to simplify planning, buying and measurement of entire CTV upfronts. “When setting up your guaranteed deal, you can now choose a specific age and gender demographic, like adults ages 18 to 49, and pay only for the ad impressions that reach your target audience as measured by Nielsen DAR,” Google said in a blog post. The DSP is also expanding advanced Programmatic Guaranteed features to Google Ad Manager, Xandr and Magnite, as well as simplifying the process of buying YouTube CTV and other CTV apps. “To help CTV buyers deliver more coordinated ad campaigns, YouTube ads can now be purchased within Display & Video 360’s insertion order dedicated to connected TV ad buying,” the company confirmed.
Apple to Introduce Ads on iPhone Apps
Apple is expected to introduce advertising on apps pre-installed on its devices, Bloomberg reported on Sunday. After testing search ads in Maps, the tech giant could roll out ads on its native Podcasts and Books apps. The report also suggested a potential ad-supported tier on Apple TV Plus.
Unity Chooses ironSource Over AppLovin
Gaming company Unity Software rejected a takeover offer from AppLovin on Monday, proceeding instead with its planned purchase of ironSource. The $17.54 billion bid by AppLovin was contingent on Unity dropping the ironSource acquisition. AppLovin and ironSource are competitors in the mobile monetisation space.
TikTok to Let Users Filter Out Adverts
TikTok plans to follow Facebook and Google in making it easier for users to opt out of certain advertising categories, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The company has already introduced filters that allow users to keep videos tagged with specific words from appearing in their feeds – and over the next few months the platform intends to expand this filter to adverts.
YouTube Plans Streaming Aggregator
YouTube is planning to launch a new channel store, according to the Wall Street Journal. The marketplace would allow consumers to select streaming services through the main YouTube app. “Selling multiple services through a single app can make life easier for consumers,” said the WSJ, adding that the store could be available in the next couple of months.
Nielsen to Measure Thursday Night Football on Amazon
Nielsen will measure Amazon Prime Video’s NFL Thursday Night Football streams, as per a three-year agreement between the two companies. The deal marks the first time a streaming service will have a live programme counted in Nielsen’s National TV measurement service. The measurement giant plans to launch its cross-platform Nielsen One tool in December.
TikTok Cracks Down on Paid Election Posts
TikTok is clamping down on influencers posting paid-for political messages ahead of the US midterms. According to Reuters, TikTok banned paid political ads in 2019 but campaigners have circumvented the ban by paying creators to promote their causes. “If we discover political content was paid for and not properly disclosed, it is promptly removed from the platform,” the company said in a blog post, laying out plans to brief agencies on its rules around paid political content.
Amazon Tests TikTok-Style Feed
Amazon is testing a TikTok-style feature in its app, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trialled under the name “Inspire”, the widget comprises a photo and video feed of products for shoppers to like, share with other users, and purchase items. This makes Amazon the latest tech company to experiment with short-form video content.
Musk Calls on IAS and DoubleVerify in Twitter Dispute
Elon Musk is calling on Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify as his latest manoeuvre in an ongoing legal dispute with Twitter. The social media giant sued the billionaire after he walked away from his planned takeover, accusing the company of hiding information about the number of bot accounts on its platform. Now Musk’s lawyers have issued subpoenas to the pair of ad tech firms for any documentation relating to their involvement in reviewing Twitter accounts.
The Week in TV
Paramount+ Bundled with Walmart Membership
Walmart and Paramount+ have struck a deal to offer the streaming service to Walmart+ members, AdAge reported on Monday. The partnership sees the retail giant squaring off against online rival Amazon, whose Prime Video offering is bundled with its overall subscription. Walmart also ventured into streaming when it acquired AVOD service Vudu in 2010, before selling the platform to Comcast-owned Fandango in 2020.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sells GB News Stake
Warner Bros. Discovery is selling its stake in GB News following a flurry of post-merger restructuring. The news channel’s co-founders Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider are also stepping down as directors and selling their own stakes in the business. Remaining backers Legatum Ventures and Paul Marshall have committed to a £60 million investment, buying out Discovery, Cole and Schneider.
Hulu Ads Annoy Viewers, HBO Max Satisfies
Consumers are satisfied with ads on HBO Max but annoyed by those on Hulu, a Whip Media report has found. The survey of 2,500 US viewers revealed that HBO Max carries fewer adverts than users expect. “Their ad loads are very low at only 4 minutes per hour and HBO originals on the ad-supported tier do not carry any commercials,” said Advanced Television. On the other hand, 67 percent of respondents were “kind of” or “very” annoyed by advertising on Hulu.
ITV Scores LaLiga, NFL Rights
ITV has signed a three-season deal to broadcast LaLiga matches on ITV, ITV4 and ITV Hub. The package includes the UK rights to 10 matches per season, with either FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atlético Madrid appearing in ITV games. The broadcaster also secured a three-year partnership with the NFL, featuring hour-long weekly coverage of the 2022 season.
Netflix Commissions From Twice as Many Markets as Streaming Rivals
Netflix commissioned original content from 28 different markets in the Q2 2022, Ampere Analysis revealed this week. The streaming giant has commissioned from 44 territories since 2020, compared to Warner Bros. Discovery on 27 territories, Disney on 23 and Amazon on 21. “At a time where Netflix is feeling the pinch of successive quarterly subscriber losses, a recommitment to an international strategy allows the company to exploit one area where it still possesses an inherent advantage over studio-backed rivals,” said Fred Black, Research Manager at Ampere.
US Broadcasters Land $7.5 Billion College Sports Deal
CBS, NBC and Fox have agreed a $7.5 billion seven-year deal to broadcast Big Ten college sports. Lasting through the 2029-30 college sport season, the rights package includes American football, basketball and swimming. The deal allows Comcast’s NBC to show American football on both primetime TV and its streaming service Peacock. Speaking to the FT, Peter Bevacqua, chair of NBC Sports, called the agreement an “unbelievable shot in the arm for Peacock,” and “a testament to the power of linear television.”
Sky Zero Footprint Fund Winners Revealed
Sky has announced the winners of its Sky Zero Footprint Fund, a £2 million investment in business initiatives that are driving sustainability through TV advertising. The winners were Ecosia, Homethings, Royal Mail, Serious Tissues and WUKA. They will move into ad production ahead of a final stage of judging in December, where the winning creative will secure £1 million in media value. Sky Zero aims for net zero carbon by 2030 and to inspire other companies along the way.
Italian Watchdog Takes Aim at DAZN
DAZN has come under fire from the Italian regulator AGCOM, after the sports streamer’s Serie A coverage was interrupted by technical difficulties. This marks the second time the Italian watchdog has intervened in DAZN’s operations, demanding clarification, resolution and compensation for the problems in transmission. The issues were exacerbated by a hike in membership fees, with politicians calling for reimbursement for DAZN subscribers.
Disney Investor Daniel Loeb Demands ESPN Spin-Off, Hulu Integration
Disney investor Daniel Loeb is pushing for the company to spin off ESPN, buy out Comcast’s minority stake in Hulu, and integrate Hulu directly into the Disney+ platform. Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point owns a $1 billion stake (0.4 percent) in The Walt Disney Company. The industry “reacted with incredulity”, according to Digital TV Europe, arguing that the activist investor’s proposals would deplete Disney of revenue – especially as Disney CEO Bob Chapek credited live sports and ESPN+ as key growth drivers in Q3 2022.
The Week for Publishers
BuzzFeed Brings its First-Party Data Tool to International Markets
BuzzFeed is rolling out Lighthouse, its first-party data product for advertisers, to the UK, Canada, Australia, and Latin America, Digiday reported this week. This follows a successful launch on the BuzzFeed brand in the US last year, which was followed by an expansion across the Complex brand in April.
New York Times Braces for Board Challenge from Activist Investor
Last week activist investor ValueAct Capital Management disclosed a stake in the New York Times, and outlined steps it believes the newspaper should take to strengthen its business in the face of current market dynamics. Now the New York Times has sought help from Bank of America and law firm Sidley Austin to help it prepare for a challenge to its board, should ValueAct choose to make one, Reuters reported this week.
Australia’s Top Court says Google Isn’t Liable for Defamation
Australia’s highest court has ruled that Google isn’t liable for defamation via links to external content, overturning an earlier ruling against the search giant. The issue of whether online platforms like Google and Facebook are liable for defamatory content found within web pages they provide links to is subject to an ongoing review into Australia’s libel laws, according to Reuters.
Vice Launches News Channel on Twitch
Vice World News has announced it is launching a Twitch channel next week, which will stream for two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week, covering Vice News exclusives and investigations. “Our audience is young, plugged-in, and doesn’t always access news in a traditional way, so it’s a natural fit for us to take our global reporting to Twitch,” said Katie Drummond, SVP of global news and editor-in-chief at Vice News.
Washington Post Strengthens its International ‘Hubs’
Last year the Washington Post launched several international ‘hubs’, designed to help the news brand better serve overseas markets with breaking news. Now the newspaper is strengthening these hubs further – the Post is looking to have grown its breaking news teams in London and Seoul by forty percent by the end of the year, according to Press Gazette.
Cosmopolitan Launches Travel Booking Service
Hearst-owned lifestyle publication Cosmopolitan has launched CosmoTrips, a travel booking service which offers curated travel packages within the US. CosmoTrips at launch sells two or three night package holidays to New York, Austin, West Hollywood, and Charleston, each based around a different theme (foodies and music lovers being two examples).
Snapchat Passes One Million Paying Subscribers
Over one million users are now paying for Snapchat+, a premium subscription to Snapchat which provides additional features. The subscription offering, which was rolled out in June, costs $3.99 in the US, and a roughly similar price in international markets.
Reach Creates Dedicated Team for Women’s Football
Following the success of England’s football team in the recent European championships, Reach has created a new seven-strong team dedicated to covering the Women’s Super League, the highest tier of women’s football in England.
The Week For Agencies
Havas Forges SPO Deal with PubMatic
Havas Media has named PubMatic as its preferred supply-side platform in North America, which it describes as an expanded supply path optimisation deal. “PubMatic is an ideal partner as we build out our meaningful media strategy for our brands and help them navigate a shifting addressability landscape. They not only have a commitment to quality supply, they also deliver premium data capabilities across channels, including connected TV, online video, and mobile app,” said Andrew Goode, EVP and managing director of investment at Havas Media.
ANA Publishes Guide to Programmatic Media Buying
Advertiser trade group the ANA this week published a new guide to programmatic media buying, the CMO’s Guide to Programmatic Transparency. The guide gives a broad overview of how programmatic trading works, with the aim of introducing greater transparency and helping marketers cut down their programmatic costs. “Most companies are paying more than they have to for their media supply chain,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “This is due to factors such as the rapid development of programmatic ad buying, a lack of transparency, the overlap of many providers and services, and the complexity of the process itself. This guide will help marketers overcome those obstacles and significantly reduce their programmatic costs.”
Omnicom Launches New Gaming Unit LevelUpOAC
Omnicom Group this week announced the launch of ‘LevelUp OAC’, a new gaming-dedicated unit which will sit inside the Omnicom Advertising Collective (hence the ‘OAC’), drawing talent and resources from existing agencies TMA and GSD&M. “Marketing to gamers requires specialised skill sets and seasoned professionals who live and breathe the gaming culture,” said James Fenton, CEO of the Omnicom Advertising Collective. “LevelUp OAC brings together our most passionate and seasoned talents in the gaming space and offers a single source solution for brands who want to engage with gamers in an authentic, 360-degree way. It’s one of the unique ways that the Omnicom Advertising Collective can leverage the capabilities of its agency portfolio to drive client success.” Read more on VideoWeek.
M&C Saatchi’s Suitors Received Regulatory Clearance
Next Fifteen and AdvancedAdvT, two companies vying to acquire London-based agency M&C Saatchi, both said this week that they’ve received regulatory clearance for their respective takeovers (with the exception in Next Fifteen’s case of America’s Committee on Foreign Investment). Meanwhile AdvancedAdvT, the largest shareholder in M&C Saatchi, reiterated that it would vote against a takeover by Next Fifteen.
Publicis Wins Majority of Mondelez’s Media Business
Publicis Group has been awarded the majority of Mondelez’s global media duties, following a review which began last December. Publicis will handle media in Europe, China, Latin America, South Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa, and will also take charge of traditional video investment, content, and multicultural marketing in the US and Canada, according to Adweek.
OMD Expands Growth Academy
OMD has begun expanding Growth Academy, a free virtual programme designed to help minority-owned businesses gain media skills in search, ecommerce, and social, according to AdAge. The academy, which first launched last September, has partnered with the National Minority Supplier Development Council and New York Urban League for a full launch, which will see courses run three times each year.
Accenture Completes Acquisition of The Stable
Accenture has completed its acquisition of The Stable, a commerce agency focused on helping consumer brands build and operate their own digital commerce channels. “The closing of our acquisition of The Stable signals the strengthening of our commerce capabilities,” said Glen Hartman, Accenture Song’s global lead for commerce services. “The depth and breadth of our commerce expertise will enable us to continue to meet clients’ demand for commerce experience reinvention in a way that matches the ever-evolving relationship between customers and brands.”
Dentsu Launches New Unit to Create Virtual Influencers
Dentsu Singapore has launched a new service called Dentsu VI which will help brands create virtual influencers, with individual personalities tailored to clients’ needs. The launch follows Dentsu’s first experiment in the virtual influencer space, Rumi, which it created back in March.
Hires of the Week
RTL Deutschland Restructures Management Board
RTL Group has restructured the RTL Deutschland management board, with Thomas Rabe taking over as Chairman, Andreas Fischer becoming COO, and Co-CEO Stephan Schäfer stepping down. Co-CEO Matthias Dang, CFO Alexander Glatz, and Gruner + Jahr MD Oliver Radtke will manage RTL Deutschland alongside Fischer.
Lynette Kewley Named ITVX Commercial Director
ITV has appointed Lynette Kewley as Director of Commercial and Propositions for ITVX ahead of the launch of the new streaming service. Kewley will sit alongside Chief Product Officer Deep Bagchee, Director of DTC Technology James Murphy, and Group Chief Data and AI Officer Sangeevan Bala, under the direction of Rufus Radcliffe as MD for ITV On Demand.
NBCUniversal Ad Exec Takes Over from Long-Standing CNBC Chairman
KC Sullivan, President and MD of Global Advertising & Partnerships at NBCUniversal, is replacing Mark Hoffman as CNBC Chairman after 17 years as the financial news network’s top executive. The move is the latest in a line of appointments by NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde since he took on the role in May 2020.
Will Harding Joins Ofcom’s Board
Will Harding has been appointed to Ofcom’s board as a non-executive director. Harding has held positions across the media industry, including working as chief strategy officer at Global Media & Entertainment, and as commercial and operations director of Sky’s new media business.
Crimtan Appoints ANZ Sales Director Jeff Purser
Programmatic marketing company Crimtan named Jeff Purser its new ANZ Sales Director. “As the market contends with the upcoming demise of third-party cookies, Crimtan is already driving new partnerships and collaborations to be well-prepared for the change and to continue to deliver for their customers,” said Purser.
This Week on VideoWeek
Breaking Down the Carbon Costs of an Ad Campaign, read on VideoWeek
Omnicom Launches New Gaming Unit LevelUpOAC, read on VideoWeek
Ofcom: BVOD Offers Hope as TV Viewing Falls, read on VideoWeek
Mediaocean Fleshes Out Dynamic Creative Capabilities with Imposium Acquisition, read on VideoWeek
Netflix Keeps Ads Online, Advertisers in the Dark, read on VideoWeek
Ad of the Week
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