The WIR: Nielsen’s MRC Accreditation Remains Suspended, Channel 4 Announces a Retail Media Partnership with Nectar, and Microsoft Introduces Video Ads to Audience Network

Tim Cross 18 November, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: MRC maintains Nielsen’s suspension, Channel 4 partners with Nectar360, and Microsoft launches video ads.

Top Stories

Nielsen’s MRC Accreditation Remains Suspended
The Media Ratings Council (MRC) confirmed this week that its audit committee has voted to maintain its suspension of Nielsen’s accreditation.

Nielsen, for so long the dominant force in US TV measurement, lost its accreditation last year after accusations of undercounting TV viewing during the pandemic. The decision dovetailed with a growing perception that Nielsen had not done enough to evolve its TV ratings systems in line with major changes in consumer habits.

The loss of accreditation has by no means been fatal for Nielsen – it continues to act the the most commonly used currency in US TV trading – but Nielsen’s competitors have smelled blood in the water. A number of broadcasters and agencies trialled alternative currencies during this year’s upfronts season, setting up a potential migration away from Nielsen’s ratings.

Nielsen has been working to restore its reputation, primarily through its cross-media measurement tool Nielsen One. MRC SVP David Gunzerath said in a statement that Nielsen has made significant strides in fixing problems which led to its suspension, adding that the council may consider reinstating Nielsen’s accreditation “relatively soon”.

Channel 4 Announces Retail Media Partnership with Nectar360
UK broadcaster Channel 4 announced on Thursday a new partnership with retail data business Nectar360, which will make Nectar’s shopper data available for targeting and measurement on Channel 4’s All 4 streaming platform.

Nectar360’s data is drawn from the Nectar loyalty card, used by Sainsbury’s and a number of other retailers. Brands will be able to use this data to specifically target different categories of consumers based on their recent shopping habits. Post-campaign, Nectar data will give insight into sales uplift. PepsiCo brands Walkers Baked and Pepsi Max are the launch test partners for the product, with OMD as their media planning and buying agency – alongside McCain and L’Oréal with media agencies PHD and Essence.

The announcement came just two days after fellow UK broadcaster ITV launched its own new retail media offering, partnering with Tesco’s data business Dunnhumby and Boots Media Group.

Microsoft Brings Video Ads to Audience Network
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that its Audience Network now supports video ads in the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

The company is pitching video as a performance enhancer for search and display campaigns, stating that tests found adding video to search campaigns increased conversions by 50 percent. “Fuelled by powerful intent data like searches, web activity, browser behaviour, and more, our Video Ads can help you captivate your audience in an immersive format, while moving potential customers closer to purchase,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

Video can be bought on a cost per mille, cost per view, or cost per click basis.

The Week in Tech

YouTube Shorts Adds Shopping Features
YouTube is introducing shopping features in efforts to diversify its revenue streams, according to the FT. Taking its cues from TikTok, YouTube has added ecommerce functionality to its Shorts platform, allowing predominantly Gen Z users to buy products as they scroll through videos. “That is the way they prefer to consume information about products, and Shorts are inherently shoppable from that perspective,” Michael Martin, GM/VP Shopping at Youtube, told the FT.

Musk Locks Staff Out of Twitter Offices After Mass Resignation
Elon Musk has locked staff out of the Twitter offices, according to the BBC, following hundreds of resignations at a company reportedly on the brink of collapse. The departures came in response to an ultimatum issued by Musk, who emailed employees and demanded “long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.” One anonymous former employee told the BBC: “I think when the dust clears today, there’s probably going to be less than 2,000 people left.” There were around 7,500 at the start of the year. 

The news closes out another fractious week for Twitter, which also saw Musk fire 80 percent of its contract workers, many of whom handled content moderation on the platform. The reports emerged after Twitter suspended its paid subscription programme days after its implementation, after a spate of “blue tick” accounts tweeted under the guise of brands and celebrities. Musk tweeted that Blue Verified will relaunch on 29th November “to make sure that it is rock solid.”

Pixability Unveils Brand Suitability Tool for CTV
Brand suitability specialist Pixability has unveiled a new contextual targeting tool for CTV. It serves as an extension of Pixability’s rating product for YouTube, which analyses videos based on category, metadata and source to determine brand suitability. The new contextual tool is designed to bring the same episode-level insights to other CTV environments, by assessing content frame by frame, and scoring it on genre and brand suitability.

Instagram Enables Explore Ad Placements Via API
Instagram has given brands the ability to place adverts on the Instagram Explore page through its Marketing API. Rather than requiring a new endpoint, advertisers can use the new INSTAGRAM_EXPLORE_HOME placement option and see how ads perform on the Instagram Explore home page. The company is now updating its developer documentation with all relevant technical information.

Google Agrees $391.5 Million Settlement Over Location Tracking
Google has agreed to pay $391.5 million to settle claims that it misled consumers on how they were being tracked. The settlement was announced by a coalition of 40 state attorneys general, who accused Google of tracking users even when their phone’s location history was turned off. “Digital platforms like Google cannot claim to provide privacy controls to users, then turn around and disregard those controls to collect and sell data to advertisers against users’ express wishes – and at great profit,” said New Jersey AG Matthew Platkin.

Zuckerberg Spotlights WhatsApp as Metaverse Struggles
WhatsApp and Messenger will drive sales growth at Meta, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staff on Thursday, in attempts to assuage concerns after mass layoffs at the Facebook parent company. The comments marked a pivot from the metaverse-first strategy that has contributed to the firm’s financial struggles. “We talk a lot about the very long-term opportunities like the metaverse, but the reality is that business messaging is probably going to be the next major pillar of our business as we work to monetise WhatsApp and Messenger more,” he said.

Also this week, inside sources revealed that Meta has disciplined more than two dozen employees over the last year for taking over user accounts and accepting bribes. Meta fired security guards who had been given access to the internal mechanism for helping users access their accounts, ironically known as “Oops”. In some cases the contractors accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from hackers to access accounts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Online Safety Regulators Join Forces
Regulators from Australia, Fiji, Ireland and the UK have formed the Global Online Safety Regulators Network, in order to coordinate global efforts to promote online safety. The watchdogs announced that “the time is right” for independent authorities around the world to link up, learn from each other and work together to counter online harm. “Global companies don’t consider borders as barriers to their business models, and neither should we when it comes to regulating them,” said Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes.

Lumen Research Merges with Avocet
Attention measurement firm Lumen Research is to merge with DSP Avocet. FirstPartyCapital led a £3 million funding round to drive the company’s (now called Lumen) expansion across the US and Europe. “This merger will lead to a step change in the way the industry thinks about attention; creating a new category of attention measurement and optimisation,” said Lumen Research MD Mike Follett. “Viewability is already a well-known and understood category, but the market has been calling out for evolution in the measurement of attention.”

Hoopla Digital Launches Ad Translator
Independent advertising network Hoopla Digital has launched a translation product that switches digital ad copy and subtitles from English into other languages. Hoopla Language helps brands reach all users within multicultural markets, the company explained. “The idea behind Hoopla Language is to make ad creative more inclusive within multicultural society,” said Ellis Johnson, Sales Director, APAC at Hoopla Digital.

The Week in TV

French Streaming Service Salto Could Close This Month
Salto could close before the end of the month, as its joint operators TF1, M6 and France Télévisions decide the streaming service’s fate. Reports suggest TF1’s new CEO Rodolphe Belmer wants to pull out of the venture, while France Télévisions CEO Delphine Ernotte Cunci has refused to rule out selling the PSB’s stake. The three partners are due to meet this month.

Profit and Ad Sales Plummet at MediaForEurope
MediaForEurope (MFE) reported a 65 percent drop in operating profit for the first nine months of the year. The Italian broadcasting group saw its domestic advertising sales fall by 2.5 percent to 1.31 billion, sending share prices down by 3.5 percent. According to the broker Bestinver, MFE’s Q3 “depicted the deteriorating scenario already shown by other sector’s players.”

ProSiebenSat.1 Forecasts Full-Year Revenue Drop
ProSiebenSat.1 filed a 4 percent revenue fall for the first nine months of 2022, during which the German broadcaster generated €3 billion. Q3 was particularly challenging, precipitating a 13 percent decline. The group warned of further market deterioration to come, forecasting a 17 percent decrease in ad revenues in Q4, and a 7 percent drop for the full year. But CFO Ralf Peter Gierig called ProSiebenSat.1 “an early-cyclical company,” putting it in a strong position “to benefit directly from an economic recovery, especially in the advertising market.”

iPlayer on Track for “Best Year Ever”
The BBC announced that iPlayer is “well on track for its best year ever.” Major events including the Queen’s state funeral, the Commonwealth Games and the Women’s Euro 2022 final contributed to a 7 percent boost in demand for Q3, for a total 1.65 billion programme streams. “The nation turns to the BBC for the big moments and for increasing numbers of people that means turning to BBC iPlayer,” said BBC iPlayer director Dan McGolpin.

Layoffs on the Horizon for Disney
Disney CEO Bob Chapek is implementing cost-cutting measures likely to include layoffs, after the company missed Wall Street expectations in Q3, sending its stock price down 14 percent. Chapek did not disclose details of the staff cuts but said the business will “look for every avenue of operations and labour to find savings.” Disney currently has around 190,000 employees.

MYTF1 MAX Arrives on Samsung Smart TV
French SVOD service MYTF1 MAX has landed on Samsung Smart TVs. TF1 said nearly 1 in 2 households in France own a Smart TV, and the deal with Samsung aligns with changing video consumption habits. Samsung Smart TV users will be able to subscribe to view all TF1 programming without ads, and access the MYTF1 AVOD service for free.

ITV Rebrands to Align with ITVX
ITV has rebranded its channels ahead of the launch of ITVX on 8th December. The rebrand unifies the linear and digital experience, with new on-screen presentation and idents to align the channels with the new streaming service. “This is all driven by a future where both broadcast and streaming will be equally crucial parts of how viewers engage with us,” said ITV CMO Jane Stiller. “Viewers will see what we do in broadcast and streaming as much more joined up and we will be able to seamlessly cross promote across the platforms enabling greater content discovery.”

UK Government Reviews Reserved Sports Rights for the Streaming Age
The UK government is to review the broadcasting rules that grant PSBs the opportunity to buy the rights to major sporting events. The Digital Rights Review will consider whether the broadcasters should be guaranteed free-to-air ‘listed events’ on their digital platforms, rather than on linear TV. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is concerned that under the current rules, events may not be conveniently available to viewers – for example if an event is broadcast live on the BBC in the middle of the night, then the streaming rights sold to a different broadcaster and kept behind a paywall. “As viewing habits shift online, it is right that we review our rules and consider whether updates are needed to ensure our brilliant public service broadcasters can continue to bring major events to the public at no extra cost,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez.

The Week for Publishers

Politico Prepares to Merge US and EU Businesses
Politics publisher Politico is preparing to merge its US and EU businesses into one combined company, positioning itself as a “transatlantic media company”. Chief executive Goli Sheikholeslami explained in a note to staff that readers don’t tend to differentiate between the different versions of Politico, and the company itself has started thinking the same way.

BuzzFeed’s Revenues Rise but Time Spent with BuzzFeed Brands Falls
BuzzFeed’s revenues in Q3 were up by 15 percent year-on-year according to the publisher’s financial results this week, with further revenue growth forecast for Q4. Time spent with BuzzFeed brands has fallen by a third over the past year according to BuzzFeed’s executives, but a greater proportion of time spent with BuzzFeed’s brands now takes place on its owned and operated sites, rather than third-party platforms.

Omdia Expects TikTok to Dominate Video Advertising by 2027
Media researcher Omdia said this week that it expects TikTok to attract over a third of all online video ad revenues by 2027 – more than both Meta and YouTube combined. Omdia’s data shows that TikTok already attracts more spend than either competitor (when combining the Western TikTok business with Asia’s Douyin), attracting 22 percent of all online video ad revenues. But by 2027 this is expected to grow to 37 percent, compared with 12 percent for Meta and 12 percent for YouTube (and just two percent for Netflix).

TikTok ad revenues higher than META and YouTube combined video ad revenues

Ofcom May Force Social Platforms to Open Up News Algorithms
UK communications regulator Ofcom has suggested it may force social platforms to open up their algorithms for how news is ranked and displayed to users. Following a new study which explored the role of online gatekeepers in determining which news stories get seen online, Ofcom concluded that “new regulations may be required to understand and address the impact of online gatekeepers on media plurality. This might include new tools to require tech firms to be more transparent over the choices they make in determining the news we see online, as well as giving users themselves more choice and control.”

NYT Overtakes CNN as Third Biggest News Site
The New York Times has grown to become the world’s third-most visited news website, according to Press Gazette’s analysis of Similarweb data, overtaking fellow US outlet CNN. The Times has seen 82 percent growth in monthly visits since this time last year, by far the biggest jump of the top 25 publishers – Indian Express has seen the second biggest increase at 42 percent. The New York Times is only beaten out by the BBC and MSN.

Industry Dive Targets New Sectors
B2B publishing group Industry Dive is targeting expansions into 20-30 new sectors following its acquisition by fellow B2B specialist Informa, Press Gazette reported this week. The publisher currently covers 27 different verticals – and is also looking to deepen its coverage of some of these existing areas too.

The Week For Agencies

Omnicom and GroupM Issue Twitter Warnings
Omnicom Group and GroupM both issued warnings to clients this week over risks of advertising on Twitter, as the social platform struggles to maintain advertisers’ trust after Elon Musk’s takeover. Omnicom has recommended clients to pause spending on Twitter in the short term, according to Reuters. GroupM meanwhile is now telling clients that Twitter is a “high risk” media buy, according to Digiday.

IPG Launches Net Zero Media Offering
Interpublic Group this week announced a partnership with Scope3, a specialist in supply chain carbon emissions measurement, to launch a range of new carbon-cutting products for clients. These include new tools for carbon measurement and reporting, as well as net-zero media buying which will factor the environmental impact of different media products into their price.

Dentsu Sees Organic Revenue Drop, but Grows Internationally
Japanese advertising group Dentsu posted a 3.7 percent drop in organic revenues (excluding Russia) in its Q3 financial results this week – largely caused by an unfavourable comparison with the same quarter in 2021, when Japan hosted the Olympic Games. Internationally, organic revenues were up 5.4 percent, though the group struggles in the Americas, with a 0.1 percent fall in organic revenues.

Horizon Media Signs SPO Deal with Magnite
Media agency Horizon Media has signed a supply-path optimisation deal with Magnite, Digiday reported this week, which will see Magnite become the preferred SSP for Horizon’s private marketplace and programmatic guaranteed CTV deals. The deal also includes a custom integration to use data from Horizon’s connected marketing platform Blu.

Research Shows Impact of Climate Disinformation on Public Perceptions
New research from Climate Action Against Disinformation and the Conscious Advertising Network this week laid out the harmful impact of climate disinformation in swaying public perceptions. For example, large proportions of respondents in different markets believe that fossil gas is a climate-friendly energy source, contrary to the scientific consensus. Between 55 and 85 percent of all respondents in each market believed at least one climate myth when surveyed.

S4 Capital Bullish on Thriving in Recession
S4 Capital’s reported revenues continue to grow strongly, with the company reporting Q3 revenues of £300 million, up from £178 million in Q3 2021. Sir Martin Sorrell told investors he is confident that the business is well placed to handle the likely coming recession. Sorrell expects advertisers to focus on performance in response to a recession, which S4 counts as one of its strengths.

Dentsu Unveils New Management Structure
Dentsu this week unveiled a new management structure, creating a new ‘Group Management Team’ which is headed up by president and CEO Hiroshi Igarashi, and consists of 36 members from around the world, including executives from Dentsu’s various regions.  The aim of this management team is to “promote global management, accelerate business transformation and further enhance management diversity to achieve business growth and the sustainable enhancement of corporate value,” according to Dentsu’s announcement.

Publicis Acquires VIVnetworks
French holding group Publicis has bought Central and Eastern European affiliate marketing agency VIVnetworks. The newly acquired business will be integrated into CJ, Publicis’ global performance marketing platform.

Hires of the Week

Mediaset España Announces New Joint CEOs
Mediaset España has announced Alessandro Salem and Massimo Musolino as its new joint CEOs, effective at the start of next year. The two succeed Paolo Vasile, who has resigned as CEO after 23 years with the company.

Sky Media Picks Karin Seymour as Director of Client and Marketing
Karin Seymour has been taken on as Sky Media’s new director of client and marketing, it was announced this week. Seymour most recently worked at News UK as general manager of client strategy.

Stephan Schmitter Joins RTL Deutschland’s Board
Stephan Schmitter, chief journalistic content officer at RTL Deutschland, has been appointed to the broadcaster’s management board. As managing director of programming, he will take on responsibility for all content and brands from RTL Deutschland.

Starcom Hires Lin-Sze Teh as new Head of Planning
This week Starcom announced the hire of Lin-Sze Teh as the newly appointed head of planning. Lin-Sze joins from iProspect, where she was managing partner.

This Week on VideoWeek

Broadcasters Need to Change BVOD’s Positioning, read on VideoWeek

ProSieben Blends TikTok and TV with JoynMe App, read on VideoWeek

The House That Dragons Built: What’s Next for HBO Max? read on VideoWeek

ITV Announces Retail Media Partnership with Boots and Tesco, read on VideoWeek

How CTV Providers Can Fight Their Way onto Media Plans, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Nike, Nike FC Presents the Footballverse, Wieden+Kennedy

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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