The WIR: Amazon Rolls Out TikTok-Style Feed, UK Delays its Junk Food Ad Ban, and Reach Expands into America

Tim Cross 09 December, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Amazon launched a new vertical video feed, Reach announces plans to expand into America, and the UK government delays its junk food ad ban.

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Amazon Rolls Out TikTok-Style Shopping Feed
Amazon unveiled a new “TikTok-like” feature on Thursday, allowing customers to purchase products within a customised photo/video feed. The Inspire portal will be rolled out across the US in the coming months, joining Meta and Alphabet’s attempts to capitalise on the popularity of short-form video content.

Inspire will appear as a lightbulb-shaped icon at the bottom of the Amazon app, the company revealed. Users can select their interests in order to view a curated stream of products they can “like” and purchase, as displayed by other customers, brands and influencers. The shopping-focused feature could develop further “social” functionality, Amazon explained, including the options to view trending content and share posts.

Short-form video “is an incredibly useful medium of helping people discover and understand products,” said Amazon Shopping director Oliver Messenger. “Video-based content really helps [customers] to understand the product more.”

Reach Launches US Operations for the Mirror, Express, and Irish Star
UK publishing group Reach is ploughing ahead with its efforts to expand into North America, launching US operations for its news brands the Mirror, Express, and Irish Star.

Reach will open a new office in New York, and plans to take on around 100 new staff in America to power this expansion, according to Press Gazette. To start, Reach will begin posting more US-focused news on its main UK sites for each of the three news brands. Eventually it will launch a new .com address for all three, which will be geared specifically towards US audiences.

Reach follows in the footsteps of fellow UK publishers News UK and Future, both of which have been successful in growing revenues by expanding in the US.

Junk Food Ad Ban Delayed Until 2025
A proposed new set of restrictions in the UK on ads for foods which are high in fat, salt, and sugar has been pushed back until October 2025, the government announced today. The ban was originally due to come into force in January 2023.

The ban would block ads for HFSS foods from airing on television before the 9pm watershed, and would completely ban online ads for HFSS foods. The law is designed to help fight obesity as part of a wider anti-obesity strategy introduced by the government in 2020. But it’s come in for criticism within the ad industry, with some complaining that such a ban would harm advertisers and media owners without having a significant impact in reducing obesity.

“This is the right decision for advertisers, who were facing an impossible task to comply with these restrictions,” said Phil Smith, director general of advertiser trade body ISBA. “The political uncertainty over the past year has meant that there is no designated regulator for these measures, no guidance, and no clarity on either the products in scope or the type of ads that it would be acceptable to run. Bringing them into force either in 2023 or 2024 would have been unworkable.

The Week in Tech

Twitter to Give Advertisers More Control, Amazon and Apple Resume Spending
Twitter is to introduce new controls for advertisers to avoid certain keywords, according to Reuters. It forms a move by Elon Musk to attract advertisers back to the social media firm, after their exodus over brand safety concerns. Amazon and Apple are reportedly planning to resume advertising on Twitter, following the introduction of new incentives for running ads on the platform.

TikTok Avoids Social Media’s Ad Slump
TikTok’s ad revenues are expected to increase this year, making it the only social media giant to escape the market’s digital advertising decline. Figures from Magna, part of IPG Mediabrands, suggest social media ad spend has grown just 4 percent this year, versus 36 percent in 2021. “A more competitive environment and data headwinds have dramatically slowed the amount of new money flowing into social media this year,” said Luke Stillman, SVP Global Intelligence at Magna. “Looking forward, consumers have gravitated towards short vertical video formals and advertisers are focusing on those.”

Kinetiq Data to Power InnovidXP for CTV Ad Measurement
Innovid and Kinetiq have struck a deal to feed linear ad-occurrence data directly into the CTV measurement platform, InnovidXP. The addition of Kinetiq data provides an expansive source of automatically detected ad airings across converged TV, the companies said. “Kinetiq’s real-time linear data powers actionable insights, and its local and national linear coverage expands InnovidXP’s footprint across the converged TV ecosystem in a way that makes it fast and simple for advertisers to achieve cross-platform TV analytics,” added InnovidXP president Jo Kinsella.

ISBA Agrees to Fund Origin Through Member Subscriptions
The ISBA Council has agreed on partially funding Origin, its UK cross-media measurement initiative, through ISBA and its members’ subscriptions. The Council has implemented a one-off increase to 2023 subscriptions. “This latest development is a clear sign of the importance of Origin in advancing the audience measurement offerings and a clear sign of commitment from the UK advertiser community,” said ISBA president Margaret Jobling.

Microsoft Eyes “Super App” to Compete with Apple, Google
Microsoft has recently considered building a “super app”, incorporating shopping, messaging, news and search services, The Information reported on Tuesday. The idea was to loosen Google and Apple’s grip on the mobile search market, suggested the report. Microsoft has given no comment on the plans.

Google Ad Manager Crashes at Cost to News Publishers
Google Ad Manager went down for three hours on Thursday, reportedly costing major news publishers thousands of dollars an hour. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times were among the publishers affected by the issue, according to sources familiar with the matter, during a key revenue period for advertisers promoting holiday deals. “We apologise for the inconvenience,” Google said in a tweet.

The Week in TV

Disney+ With Ads Arrives in US, 100 Brands Attached
Disney+ with ads landed in the US on Thursday, attracting more than 100 brands including Mattel and Marriott, according to Disney Advertising President Rita Ferro. The AVOD tier’s arrival comes in a period of turmoil for the company, having posted a $1.5 billon quarterly loss, leading Bob Iger to return as CEO in place of Bob Chapek. Disney+ will carry four minutes of ads per hour in 15- and 30-second spots, said Ferro. “A brand like Starbucks will have no more than one commercial an hour, no more than two a day,” she added. “We’ve asked advertisers for multiple versions of creative. Even if they air two a day, you won’t see the same ad.”

“A Switch Off of Broadcast Will and Should Happen,” says BBC’s Tim Davie
Tim Davie, the director general of the BBC, said in a speech this week that the BBC is actively preparing for a broadcast-free era, in which content is only distributed via the internet. “A switch off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it,” said Davie. The speech, delivered to the Royal Television Society, addressed the future of the corporation, as well as the UK’s wider media landscape. Read more on VideoWeek.

Sky Introduces Fee for Fast-Forwarding Through Ads
Sky has started charging Sky Stream and Sky Go users to fast-forward through ad breaks. Previously a free feature of the subscription products, the Ad Skipping pack now costs an optional £5 per month. “The Ad Skipping pack doesn’t mean that you won’t see any adverts,” Sky said on its website. “It just lets you fast forward through the ads using the relevant remote control buttons and on screen menu for what you’re watching.”

NBCU CEO Warns Investors of “Worsening” TV Ad Market
The TV ad market is “definitely getting worse”, according to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Despite Peacock subs exceeding 18 million, the broadcaster is facing a challenging Q4, he told investors on Monday. Shell cited the decision to take NBCU content rights away from Hulu, which the company jointly owns with Disney, as a key driver for the business.

BARB Will Extend its Measurement Metrics to More Walled Gardens
Following its landmark deal with Netflix, UK measurement firm BARB will extend its metrics to other walled-garden streaming services, BARB audiences director Matt Laycock announced on Tuesday. He said the organisation is reaching out to more providers of TV-like content, including those viewed mostly on smartphones rather than on TV. Laycock added that “marking your own homework” no longer constitutes sufficient measurement practice.

Netflix Backtracks on Sporting Ambitions
Netflix has pulled back on its aim to host live sports on the SVOD service. “We’ve not seen a profit path to renting big sports today,” Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said on Tuesday. He noted the expense of acquiring sports, and the rights model being built around the economics of traditional TV – despite major purchases by rival streamers Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video. 

AVOD, FAST to Proliferate Over Next Two Years
All major SVOD services in Europe will include an ad-funded tier next year, Deloitte predicted this week. The report also forecast half of these providers to have a FAST service in 2024. “AVOD is growing in popularity as video streaming platforms adjust their offerings to attract and retain viewers on household budgets that have been diminished by inflation,” said Paul Lee, global head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte.

Hybrid Tiers to Drive SVOD Growth Through 2028
Driven by this proliferation of ad-supported tiers, global SVOD subscriptions are expected to increase by 428 million to hit 1.76 billion in 2028, according to Digital TV Research. The firm projected Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount to reach 372 million hybrid subscribers by 2028. “The hybrid tier will appeal most to developing countries where disposable incomes are lower,” said Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research. “The hybrid tier will also be attractive to new subscribers that do not have legacy SVOD-only subscriptions.”

James Dolan Takes Interim Control of Ailing AMC
AMC chairman James Dolan has taken temporary control of the network, following the sudden departure of CEO Christina Spade last week. The interim executive chairman said content monetisation is in “disarray”, announcing layoffs to the tune of 20 percent of AMC staff. Dolan’s family is the controlling shareholder of AMC Networks.

Warner Bros. Discovery Names New Streaming Service Max
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) plans to name its new streaming service Max, according to CNBC. Due to launch in Spring 2023, Max will combine Discovery+ and HBO Max, bringing all WBD content to the same SVOD service. Also this week, HBO Max returned to Amazon Prime Video Channels in the US, one year after it left the platform. The departure was intended to give WBD more control over its IP, a move that lost HBO Max an estimated five million subscribers.

ITVX Unveils Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign
ITV has launched a multi-channel marketing campaign for its new AVOD service ITVX. As well as TV ads from Uncommon Creative Studio, the campaign includes a branded metaverse experience in Fortnite Creative, an outdoor build in London Victoria by ITV Creative, and ITVX bus wraps running across major UK cities. “Across the board, we have really focused on high-impact creative in media channels which reach our ‘mainstreamer’ audience – viewers who are warm to ITV, and increasingly consuming content through streaming,” said ITV CMO Jane Stiller.

The Week for Publishers

Meta Threatens to Block News Content in US
Meta has warned that it will block news content on Facebook in the US if the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) passes into law. The proposed legislation would give media companies more power to collectively negotiate with social platforms for payments in exchange for their content. “If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether,” said Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta.

The Washington Post Winds Down Standalone Ad Tech Business Zeus
The Washington Post is closing down its ad tech unit Zeus as a standalone business according to Axios, instead reallocating staff and resources into the Post’s regular ad sales division. Through Zeus, the Post licensed its in-house ad tech capabilities to other publishers, but the company has found it hard to scale the offering according to Axios.

BuzzFeed Lays Off 12 Percent of Staff Amid Advertising Slowdown
Social publisher BuzzFeed had let go of 12 percent of its staff, citing a slowing advertising market and changes in social media traffic. The layoffs primarily affect its BuzzFeed and Complex Networks media brands, targeting overlapping roles between the two divisions.

Variety Posts Record Annual Revenues
Entertainment magazine Variety has posted its highest ever annual revenues, Adweek reported this week, with growing consumer interest in reporting on the film and TV industries. Revenues were up 40 percent between 2020 and 2021, and are on course to have grown by a further 15 percent this year, according to Adweek.

NYT Employees Strike Over Pay
Over 1000 unionised employees of the New York Times walked out on Thursday. The NYT NewsGuild is protesting over wages which haven’t kept up with inflation, as well as pledges over health insurance and retirement benefits which it says were made to employees during hiring, but which haven’t been fulfilled.

Google News Showcase Launches in Slovenia
Google News Showcase, a news feed which hosts bespoke content created by news publishers in return for payments from Google, has launched in Slovenia. News publishers Delo, Časnik Finance,, Slovenske novice, Slovenska tiskovna agencija and Styria Media si are all signed up to create content for Showcase.

The Week For Agencies

GroupM Revises Down Global Ad Growth Expectations
WPP’s media arm GroupM has revised down its global advertising growth expectations for this year and next year, in its appropriately titled This Year, Next Year report. GroupM expects global growth of 6.5 percent this year, excluding US political advertising, a significant drop from its earlier forecast back in June of 8.4 percent. Meanwhile growth next year is expected to reach 5.9 percent, down half a percentage point from its June forecast of 6.4 percent.

Magna Reports Strength in Traditional Media
Similar to GroupM, IPG media agency Magna revised down its own growth forecasts for the year, predicting five percent growth in media owners’ advertising revenues next year. This is 1.5 percentage points lower than Magna’s previous forecast in June. But Magna also reported resilience across traditional media; traditional media’s ad revenues are expected to be up by 2.5 percent this year, compared to nine percent growth in digital, the narrowest growth gap ever observed by Magna.

EasyJet Reviews European Media Account
Airline EasyJet is conducting a review of its European media account, which is currently held by Omnicom media agency OMD. OMD has held the media planning and buying account for two decades, according to Campaign.

Publicis UK Launches Social Creative Agency Boomerang UK
Publicis Groupe is launching a UK arm of its Amsterdam-based social-first agency Boomerang, which it acquired last year. “Making the creative fit for platform is the biggest performance lever available to our clients,” said Publicis Groupe UK CEO Annette King. “Boomerang is an agency with social in its DNA.”

WFA and GARM Meet with Elon Musk Over Twitter Brand Safety
Last week the World Federation of Advertisers’ Executive Committee met with Twitter’s new leadership team to discuss Twitter’s commitments to brand safety and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), which Twitter reinforced. The WFA says Twitter’s leadership was engaged and committed to working with GARM to document brand safety measures currently in place and develop a roadmap for future improvements, on an accelerated but mutually agreed timeframe.

Brian Wieser Set to Leave GroupM
Brian Wieser, currently global president of business intelligence at WPP’s media arm GroupM, is set to leave the agency according to Campaign. Wieser, a respected industry analyst, has been with GroupM for three years. He will be replaced by Kate Scott-Dawkins, who currently works alongside Wieser.

US Ad Employment Fell by 2500 in November
Total employment in advertising, PR, and related services in the US fell by 2500 in November, according to AdAge’s analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is still 32,600 more jobs than in November 2021.

Aaron Shapiro Launches Sustainability Agency ‘Product’
Aaron Shapiro, co-founder and former CEO of ad agency Huge, is launching a new sustainability-focused agency called Product. Product will focus on sustainable marketing for sustainable products. “Product is positioned to help brands navigate today’s uncertain environment,” said Shapiro. !Our goal is to future-proof businesses, so they can thrive in the midst of ever-changing technologies, markets and customer expectations, and meet the demand for sustainable development.”

Hires of the Week

YouTube Ad Chief Promoted to Lead Google in UK&I
Google has promoted Debbie Weinstein to managing director of UK and Ireland. In her former position as YouTube global advertising chief, Weinstein oversaw the delivery of ad solutions on the video sharing platform. From March she will lead the search giant’s business in the European region.

EssenceMediacom’s Josh Krichefski Nominated as IPA President
EssenceMediacom global COO Josh Krichefski has been nominated as IPA President-elect. The election to appoint a successor to Julian Douglas, Vice Chairman of VCCP, will take place on 23rd March 2023. The nomination follows a formal three-month selection process led by former IPA President Nigel Vaz, CEO of Publicis Sapient.

This Week on VideoWeek

GroupM Forecasts Connected TV Growth will Outweigh Linear TV Declines Over Next Five Years, read on VideoWeek

Brands Focused on Social Media Can Now Look at TV for the First Time, read on VideoWeek

Between the Lines: What Subliminal Advertising Reveals About Attention, read on VideoWeek

TV Remains Robust in Europe, Despite Falls in Ad Revenues, read on VideoWeek

“A Switch Off of Broadcast Will and Should Happen,” says BBC’s Tim Davie, read on VideoWeek

EU Ruling Restricts Meta’s Access to User Data, Ability to Run Personalised Ads, read on VideoWeek

HbbTV – Setting the Standard for a Hybrid TV World, read on VideoWeek

Caution and Deflection: How Brands Are Navigating the World Cup, read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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