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The WIR: Instagram Retreats from E-Commerce, IAB Europe GDPR Case Goes to EU Court of Justice, and New UK Culture Secretary Inherits Channel 4 Privatisation

Tim Cross 09 September, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Instagram scales back its shopping features, IAB Europe’s appeal is dismissed by the Brussels Court, and Michelle Donelan inherits controversial Channel 4 privatisation from Nadine Dorries.

Top Stories

Instagram Checks Out of Shopping Business
Instagram intends to shutter its shopping page, as part of plans seen in an internal memo leaked on Tuesday. The move is part of a strategy by Meta to scale back Instagram’s shopping features, shifting its e-commerce efforts to measures that drive advertising directly.

The social media platform will replace the shopping page with a simplified, more generic shopping feature, known internally as Tab Lite. A public test is underway to trial the changes on the app designed to switch users to the Tab Lite version, according to reports. 

The rumours are consistent with Meta’s continued pullback from e-commerce, having recently announced the end of live shopping on Facebook. In July the tech giant recorded its first revenue fall in Facebook’s history, blaming “weak advertising demand” and warning of further trouble ahead – hence the recalibration of its business to attract more advertising.

Belgian DPA’s Case Against IAB Europe to be Heard at Europe’s Highest Court
A Belgian appeals court has brought in Europe’s highest court to answer questions which are central to IAB Europe’s appeal against the landmark EU ruling that its Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) violates GDPR. Specifically, the European Court of Justice will be tasked with answering:

  • Whether IAB Europe itself should be considered a joint data controller
  • Whether ‘TC Strings’ (a mechanism used within the TCF) should themselves be considered personal data

In February, the Belgian Data Protection Authority declared that the TCF – designed to help businesses navigate GDPR in programmatic bidding – itself infringes the data protection law. IAB Europe appealed this decision to the Belgium Market Court, and this week’s decision means we’re not likely to see a final ruling until 2023 or 2024.

IAB Europe is hopeful that in answering these questions, the European Court of Justice will vindicate its position. “The interpretation of the notions of personal data and controllership embraced by the APD is unnecessarily broad from a consumer protection point of view and has significant negative implications for the development of open standards and the Codes of Conduct foreseen in the GDPR” said Townsend Feehan, IAB Europe’s CEO. “It would place an unacceptable financial burden on host organisations, discouraging the development of these important compliance tools.”

Meanwhile privacy campaigner Dr. Johnny Ryan, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said he believes the judgement is a “step forward” for the ICCL’s campaign against the TCF. “We now look forward to the answers from the European Court of Justice and subsequently a judgement on the merits of the Brussels Court of Appeal.”

Channel 4 Privatisation in the Spotlight for New Culture Secretary
Michelle Donelan has replaced Nadine Dorries as UK Culture Secretary in the cabinet of new Prime Minister Liz Truss. The Chippenham MP comes with experience in the media industry having held executive roles at the History Channel and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). 

She inherits the ongoing sale of Channel 4, which was criticised this week by screen sector trade body Pact. “In the current economic climate of high inflation, the rising cost of living, widespread strike action and public services trying to rebuild from the pandemic, now is the time to focus on more pressing challenges than the unpopular privatisation of a beloved broadcaster,” the association said in an open letter to the Conservative Party leadership. “We strongly urge you to reconsider these plans.”

BBC presenter Clive Myrie also joined the call against privatisation, and warned that proposals to turn the BBC into a subscription business threatens the future of its news service. “The culture secretary of our new Prime Minister has to make a renewed commitment to quality public service broadcasting, at the BBC and Channel 4,” Myrie said in his Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture at the University of Westminster. “It is too important to be left in the hands of a free market.”

The Week in Tech

Snapchat Aims to Snap Up Millennial Users
Snapchat is aiming to attract users in their 30s, according to a leaked memo from Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. The social media firm plans to grow the platform’s base to 450 million daily active users, from around 347 million. The company is also targetting a “big five” list of countries with low penetration: Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Japan. Snap shares jumped 8 percent after brokers expressed support for the plans. The new strategy follows a period of upheaval for Snap, having lost 20 percent of its staff in layoffs and a pair of advertising executives who departed for Netflix, after falling ad revenues sent its shares plummeting.

Instagram Receives Record Fine for Children’s Data Breach
Instagram has been hit by a record fine of €405 million from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) for facilitating the publication of children’s personal information. The investigation found 13-17-year-old users operating business accounts that shared their phone numbers and/or email addresses. A spokesperson for Meta (whose EU headquarters are located in Ireland) said the company plans to appeal the fine.

Streaming Priorities Out of Step with Consumers, Report Suggests
The technical priorities of streaming companies are largely out of sync with consumer appetites, according to Kaltura. The ‘Go With The Stream’ report surveyed 200 media executives globally. Almost half reported a limited understanding of their audience, resulting in misaligned priorities. For instance around 45 percent of providers ranked favourites and watch lists as a priority, but no consumers did. Conversely, 28 percent of consumers desire ways to find new content fast, which no providers viewed as a priority. The survey also found that 28 percent of streaming services employ hybrid business models, versus advertising-funded (23 percent) and subscription-based (20 percent) platforms. And while 79 percent rely on third-party technology to power their streaming services, 24 percent are not satisfied with the integration of those solutions, and 22 percent are unhappy with the breadth of features available.

Amy Klobuchar Calls Out Advertising “Onslaught” by Tech Giants
US Senator Amy Klobuchar has accused “monopolistic” tech companies of deploying an “incredible onslaught of money” to block her antitrust bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Last month it was revealed that tech giants have spent almost $120 million on advertising opposing the legislation, which is designed to rein in their power.

LG Brings Cloud Gaming to Smart TVs
LG Electronics will roll out new cloud gaming services on its smart TVs from this month. The Blacknut and Utomik Cloud gaming apps arrive on LG TVs in September and November, respectively. The company has also updated its gaming user interface (UI), enabling users to find the cloud gaming services on the Gaming Shelf, located on the new Home Screen.

Social Media Execs to Testify at Senate Homeland Security Hearing
Current and former executives from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok will appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee next Wednesday. The panel led by Democratic Senator Gary Peters will probe the impact of social media on homeland security. The hearing is a chance “to understand the extent to which social media companies’ business models, through algorithms, targeted advertising, and other operations and practices, contribute to the amplification of harmful content and other threats to homeland security,” according to the Committee. The news follows last month’s revelations by a whistleblower at Twitter, who exposed alleged threats to national security at the social media company.

DOJ Accuses Google of Illegally Paying to be Default Search Engine
Google pays “enormous numbers” to phone companies in order to illegally secure its position as the default search engine, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told a federal judge on Thursday. DOJ attorney Kenneth Dintzer said the tech giant pays billions of dollars to Apple, Samsung and others to make Google the default search engine on most browsers and all US mobile phones. These contracts form the basis of the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of violating antitrust laws to maintain an online search monopoly.

The Week in TV

Fox Sells 30-Second Super Bowl Ads for $7 Million
Fox is close to selling out its Super Bowl advertising inventory, with some 30-second slots sold for more than $7 million. The record-setting figure reflects what SportsPro Media calls the “commercial heft” of the NFL showpiece, with this year’s game generating around $434.5 million in ad spend and 99.2 million viewers on NBC. “If you need to launch a new product, if you need to sell a car, if you need to get your messaging out there to the masses in short order, live sports is the only place to do it,” said Mark Evans, EVP Sales at Fox Sports.

TF1 Threatens Legal Action Against Canal+
TF1 is “seriously considering” taking legal action against Canal+ over last week’s decision to cease airing TF1’s channels. “The impact on our viewing figures is extremely high which is causing us a damage we won’t accept,” said TF1 Secretary General Didier Casas. He added that the group is “very confident” the heavily scrutinised TF1 merger with rival broadcaster M6 would go ahead, even if it means selling “a certain number of channels.”

European SVOD Service SkyShowtime Sets Launch Date
SkyShowtime will begin its European roll-out on 20th September, Comcast and Paramount announced this week. The SVOD service will initially launch in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, before expanding into the Netherlands later in the year, with Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and Central & Eastern Europe to follow. “We’re excited for our customers to have exclusive access to the latest series and movie premieres from our iconic and world-renowned studios,” said SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan.

Gulf Countries Voice Concerns Over Homosexuality on Netflix
The Gulf Cooperation Council has threatened legal action against Netflix for allegedly promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in most member states. The Saudi-led committee said the programming runs counter to Islam and the law in Gulf countries. Non-member Egypt also said its Supreme Council for Media Regulation would start regulating streaming services to ensure they “adhere to the norms and values of the country.”

Spend on UK Production Up for Broadcasters, Down for Streamers
Netflix and Amazon cut their investment in British-made shows for the first time last year, according to Pact, while traditional UK broadcasters spent a record amount on domestic titles. In 2021, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 increased their spend on programmes from UK production companies by 12 percent to reach £1.45 billion. Meanwhile the streaming giants reduced their UK spending by 16 percent to £299 million – their lowest sum since 2018.

The Week for Publishers

Reach in Talks to Launch Mirror and Express in US
UK publishing group Reach is reportedly considering hiring over a hundred staff in order to formally launch its Mirror and Express brands in America. Each newspaper could have up to 60 US-based journalists, according to Press Gazette, who would cover the UK’s overnight hours.

Reddit Acquires Spiketrap
Social sharing platform Reddit has acquired audience contextualization startup, Spiketrap, a tool which helps brands and platforms to better understand and engage their audiences through AI-powered contextual analysis tools. Reddit says that bringing Spiketrap’s team and technology into the company will help improve Reddit ad relevance and performance through better targeting, quality scoring, and engagement prediction.

US and UK Audiences Prefer News Online, Magazines in Print
YouGov data has found that over half of US and UK consumers now prefer reading newspapers online rather than in print (54 percent in the UK and 60 percent in America). But for magazines, print is still preferred by the majority. Fifty eight percent of UK consumers say they prefer reading magazines in print, and while less than half of Americans (47 percent) agree with that statement, only 18 percent disagree (with the rest neither agreeing nor disagreeing).

Sky News Sees Strong Audience Growth in July
Sky News saw the strongest month-on-month audience growth in June out of the UK’s top ten news publishers, according to Ipsos data analysed by Press Gazette. Sky News saw 10.4 percent in month-on-month audience growth, beating out The Telegraph at 7.8 percent and Daily Express at 4.7 percent. The Mirror meanwhile saw the biggest drop out of the top ten, with a 2.3 percent fall in its monthly audience.

Report Finds Revenue Diversification is Key for News Publishers
A report published this week by media industry business network DPP this week stated that diversification of revenues is key for the survival of news providers, with most contributors to the research listing it as their top priority. The need to diversify is driven by weakening of traditional revenues streams, and the difficulties generated by operating within the social platforms’ ecosystems.

The Week For Agencies

Dentsu Switches to Integrated Leadership Structure
Dentsu Group this week announced its transition to a new globally integrated leadership structure which it says is designed to accelerate its business transformation. This will meant that Denstu shifts from operating through two business units – Dentsu Japan Network and Dentsu International – to one global management structure. Operations will be divided into four regions: Japan, Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

Havas Group Acquires Additive+
Havas Group has acquired Edinburg-based creative specialist agency Additive+, which it says will help it deliver personalised content in real time. “This acquisition strengthens our ability to seamlessly distribute and optimise unlimited volumes of dynamic and relevant creative messaging to addressable audiences at scale across any digital channel and device,” said Havas Group chairman and CEO Yannick Bolloré. Additive+ will integrate into Havas Media Group (HMG) UK under the leadership of CEO Patrick Affleck.

Mother Launches Mother Goods
Creative agency Mother has launched Mother Goods, an online store selling products which highlight social causes. “Mother has a long history of expressing our views on world issues,” said the agency. “From the gay Russian dolls we sent to the Kremlin and our Blood is Blood t-shirts – which were both designed to protest for gay rights – to giant inflatable boobs put on buildings in London to point out the ridiculousness of women being shamed for breast feeding in public. And now we’ve launched Mother Goods – where we create goods that do good.”

M&C Saatchi Counts Cost of Protracted Takeover Battle
UK-based agency M&C Saatchi this week says it has been held back over the first half of the year by multiple takeover bids it has faced, which the business said has cost it £9.5 million. Nonetheless, pre-tax profits were up by 52.4 percent year-on-year for H1, while net revenues grew by 9.6 percent.

Marketers Don’t See Creativity as Critical, finds WFA Research
Research from the World Federation of Advertisers has found that while 82 percent of marketers would describe creativity as “marketing’s most powerful weapon,” only 28 percent consider it critical to success for their business. The research also found that marketers who did view creativity as critical were more likely to self-report that their businesses were growing.

Accenture Acquires Sustainability Consultancy Carbon Intelligence
Accenture this week announced it has acquired Carbon Intelligence, a carbon and climate change strategy consultancy. Carbon Intelligence is focused on helping global businesses understand their overall carbon footprints, and ways to reduce them, using Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), according to Accenture.

IAB Europe’s Launches New Digital Advertising Navigator
IAB Europe this week launched the latest version of its Digital Advertising Navigator, which it started producing in 2020. The latest version of the Navigator includes a summary of the national level quality certification schemes in Europe plus any other guidelines or best practice guides that exist to enable digital advertising to be delivered responsibly and to the highest quality.

Hires of the Week

Nicole O’Shea Leaves News UK for GB News
Sales director Nicole O’Shea is departing News UK to join rival outlet GB News. O’Shea will be based in Manchester and work closely with GB News’ sales partners Sky Media. Previous commercial director David Weeks leaves the company after Discovery (Weeks’ former employer) pulled its investment from the news channel last month.

Michael Brooks Named Verge Group COO
Ad tech firm Verve Group has appointed Michael Brooks as COO. He will oversee the strategic direction of the company’s supply-side technology platforms, as well as its Business Intelligence and Corporate Reporting operations. Brooks previously held senior marketing positions at WeatherBug, Oath and AOL. 

Channel 4 Appoints 4Sales AV Leader Sonia Cunningham
Sonia Cunningham has been named AV Leader at Channel 4, a newly created role within 4Sales, the broadcaster’s advertising arm. Cunningham will lead the Audio Visual Sales team in London and will set the strategy for linear and digital advertising activity across the business.  “Sonia is an expert in her field and brings a wealth of skills and experience in linear and digital planning and buying to Channel 4,” said Victoria Appleby, Head of Sales (London), Channel 4.

Ogilvy’s Devika Bulchandani Promoted to CEO
Devika Bulchandani was promoted to global CEO at Ogilvy this week, after becoming global president and CEO of North America earlier this year. She also joins WPP’s executive committee, and will be honoured by the New York Women in Communications foundation at the 2022 Matrix Awards next month.

FreeWheel Enlists Gamut President Soo Jin Oh
Video ad tech company FreeWheel has appointed Soo Jin Oh to the new Chief Strategy Officer position. Oh began her career at Google, moved into ad operations at Magnetic, IDG TechNetwork and DogTime (now Evolve) Media, and eventually became President at Gamut. She will be based in New York and report to General Manager Mark McKee.

Oswald Méndez Becomes Canela Media CMO
Canela Media has announced Oswald Méndez as CMO, a new role for the minority- and female-owned tech firm focused on digital media for the Hispanic community. “This is an amazing time to join Canela Media as the company continues to scale and venture into more originals across all our content verticals,” said Méndez.

Xandr’s Pete Doe Joins CIMM Board
The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) on Thursday announced the appointment of Xandr CRO Pete Doe to its Board of Directors. Doe has over 30 years of experience in market research, audience measurement and statistical modelling. He joins CIMM’s efforts to cultivate best practice in measurement, metrics and data across the media and advertising ecosystem.

LG Ads Solutions Announces Three Hires
LG Ads Solutions revealed three executive appointments on Thursday: Tony Marlow as Global Chief Marketing Officer, Barbie Brewer as Global Head of Human Resources, and Edward Wale as Vice President Europe. “Since launching LG Ads Solutions last year, our team has doubled in size, reflecting the rapid growth in CTV advertising globally,” said LG Ads Solutions CEO Raghu Kodige. “These key hires help accelerate our existing momentum even further.”

This Week on VideoWeek

“Nothing in the Pipeline” After France Scraps Licence Fee, read on VideoWeek

BARB Plans to Measure “TV-Like Content” on Video Sharing Platforms, read on VideoWeek

The Industry Reacts to Apple Seeding Ad Expansion, read on VideoWeek

TVision and Lumen Bring Attention Measurement to CTV, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Nike, Serena Legacy

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2022-09-09T17:52:37+01:00

About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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