The WIR: Yahoo Closes its SSP, IPG Sees Slow Growth in Digital, and UK CTV Revenues Set for Steep Rise

Tim Cross 10 February, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Yahoo announces cuts to its ad tech division, IPG sees slow growth in its digital agencies, and IAB forecasts continued quick growth for CTV.

Top Stories

Yahoo to Close SSP, Lose Half Ad Tech Staff
Yahoo is planning to lay off over 20 percent of its workforce, including almost 50 percent of its ad tech division, the company revealed on Thursday.

The plans mark a pullback from Yahoo’s strategy of unifying its ad tech stack. The firm will shutter its native advertising platform Gemini and its supply-side platform (SSP). Yahoo intends to use its new partnership with Taboola to sell native advertising on its own content instead.

The company said the closures allow Yahoo to narrow its focus and investment on its demand-side platform (DSP), to be renamed Yahoo Advertising. “Our DSP is world class and does billions in revenue,” said Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone.

“The moves are meant to simplify and strengthen the good parts of the business, while sunsetting the rest,” he added. “It was too resource intensive to do everything at once.”

Digital Agencies Hold Back IPG Revenue Growth
Agency holding group Interpublic Group posted seven percent organic revenue growth across 2022 in its earnings this week, with CEO Philippe Krakowsky highlighting relatively poor performance in two major digital agencies – R/GA and Huge – as a drag on growth.

The holding groups have by and large managed to avoid the revenue hit which has affected so many tech companies which are reliant on advertising. But IPG now says that it too is seeing client caution when it comes to digital ad spending.

And while Krakowsky says he is confident the company will “continue to perform despite the current economic headwinds”, projected organic growth for the year ahead is between 2-4 percent, significantly lower than 2022 growth.

CTV, Gaming Ad Spend to Double by 2026
CTV and gaming ad spend is expected to double by 2026, hitting a combined £4.15 billion, according to the IAB’s new Compass report. The forecast predicts CTV spend to rise from £1.17 billion in 2021 to £2.31 billion in 2026, driven by the appetite for ad-supported streaming. Gaming spend meanwhile will increase from £815 million to £1.84 billion over the next three years.

IAB’s report found that adoption of CTV amongst large advertisers is now close to that of linear TV and digital video. CTV also still attracts a wider advertiser base than linear TV, thanks to its lower minimum spend. But challenges around fragmentation, standardisation, and measurement – particularly outside of BVOD and YouTube, remain barriers to full maturity.

The Week in Tech

Criteo Seeks Buyer
French ad tech company Criteo is seeking a buyer, following unsuccessful discussions with potential acquirers. The firm initiated a sale process last week, according to sources familiar with the matter, hoping to attract other companies and private equity firms. Criteo shares bounced 8 percent at the news, giving the company a market value of around $2 billion.

Kargo Acquires Streaming Ad Server VideoByte
Ad tech firm Kargo has acquired VideoByte, a US company whose ad server helps advertisers run custom ads on streaming services. The technology also targets ads based on the content being watched, and is used by Viacom, Tegna and LG. “This is a pretty big pivot for us and takes us on television screens,” said Kargo Founder and CEO Harry Kargman.

Atmosphere Raises $65 Million
Ad tech startup Atmosphere, a streaming TV platform for businesses which offers more than 60 original and partner TV channels, has raised $65 million in a Series D funding round. Sageview Capital, Valor Equity Partners and S3 Ventures led the round, which valued Atmosphere at $1 billion. The company also announced the promotion of Blake Sabatinelli to CEO, having joined as COO in 2021.

FTC Prepares Antitrust Lawsuit Against Amazon
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The FTC began probing Amazon during the Trump administration, over claims that the retail giant favours its own products. The Commission has also been scrutinising Amazon Prime’s bundling practices, noted the report.

Cadent, Affinity Solutions Collaboration Focuses on Consumer Purchase Data
Cadent has teamed up with Affinity Solutions to give advertisers access to Affinity’s Consumer Purchase Audiences on Cadent’s Aperture Audience Data Marketplace. The consumer purchase data helps marketers to accurately assess how ads are driving sales, the companies said, and allows cross-channel, outcome-based audience targeting. “We want to help brands engage the right consumers by leveraging the deepest available audience insights,” added Tony Yi, EVP Business Development and GM Platform at Cadent. “We’re eager for our advertiser clients to explore the opportunities made possible by pairing Affinity’s intelligent approach to audiences with our unmatched cross-screen capabilities.”

Joe Biden Pushes Antitrust Against Big Tech in State of the Union Address
President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to call for measures to rein in tech giants. The speech on Tuesday urged Congress to “pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage”. He also pushed for laws to “stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.”

Twitter to Share Ad Revenue with Creators, Gets Sued Over Unpaid Bills
Twitter will start sharing ad revenue with some of its content creators, Elon Musk has announced, noting that the creators must be paying subscribers in order to receive revenue. Also this week, Twitter was taken to court by Innisfree M&A Incorporated, which sought around $1.9 million in unpaid bills for advisory services it provided last year. Twitter is also being sued in the UK over unpaid rent on its London headquarters. Meanwhile in Brussels, the company was warned by the European Commission that its self-reported efforts to tackle disinformation fell short of those by Google, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok.

Permutive, Xandr Partnership Grants Access to Publisher First-Party Data
Permutive has partnered with Xandr to make its publisher data available to buyers, the ad tech firm announced on Wednesday. The deal enables advertisers to activate against Permutive standard cohorts, interest-based audience segments that are generated automatically based on publishers’ first-party data. “With addressability dwindling to 30 percent as consumers choose to opt out of sharing their data with third parties, collaborations like this will solve the addressability gap and ensure a more responsible web,” said Danner Close, Senior Director, Strategic Demand Partnerships at Permutive.

Hawk Expands into Spain, Belgium
Cross-channel DSP Hawk is opening offices in Spain and Belgium, in order to better serve agencies and brands across Europe. The new locations add to Hawk’s presence in France, Germany and the UK. “Already an established player in several major European markets, Hawk is enhancing its continental footprint with expansion into Spain and Belgium,” said Hawk CRO  Nicolas Sistac.

UKOM Finds Smartphones Popular for Social Media, Tablets for Video
Smartphones account for 74 percent of time spent online, UKOM found in its market survey for December 2022, with social media dominating time spent on smartphones. The report also revealed that tablet devices are popular for watching video, with YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer, TikTok, ITVX and Amazon Prime Video reaching the top 10 for total tablet minutes in December. 

The Week in TV

Fox Targets Acquisitions, Grows Ad Revenues
Mergers and acquisitions will become an “important part” of Fox’s plans, following the cancellation of its re-merge with News Corp, according to CEO Lachlan Murdoch. Fox posted 4 percent YoY growth to reach quarterly revenues of $4.61 billion, driven by ad sales around the World Cup and NFL. “I know there’s a lot of talk about advertising being soft in the market,” said Murdoch. “We’re really not seeing that.”

Viaplay Gets North America Launch Date, Extends MotoGP Rights to Finland and Iceland
Viaplay will launch in the US on 22nd February and Canada on 7th March, the Nordic media group announced on Wednesday. The company also extended its exclusive rights agreement with MotoGP in Sweden, Norway and Denmark until 2028, and added Finland and Iceland to the deal. “MotoGP’s global popularity is accelerating almost as quickly as its bikes,” said Peter Nørrelund, Chief Sports Officer at Viaplay Group. “The upcoming 75th season will reach more fans than ever.”

DoorDash Delivers Shoppable Ads to Roku
Roku has expanded a partnership with commerce company DoorDash, introducing shoppable ads to the CTV platform. Restaurant advertisers partnered with the duo can attribute, target and measure their ads on Roku, according to the companies. “Streaming and delivery just go together, which is why we’re making it easier than ever for Roku users to order their favourite food right from their TV,” said Roku president of consumer experience Gidon Katz. “Just in time for the Big Game, we’re bringing consumers and marketers the same leading scale, data and tech that have made buying a new device or signing up for a service simple and delightful.”

ITV AdVentures Launches Pair of Startup TV Campaigns
ITV AdVentures Invest, the broadcaster’s Media for Equity division, announced two new partnerships on Tuesday. As part of Google Startup’s Black Founders Fund, ITV has teamed up with LiveLink and Syrona Health to launch their first TV ad campaigns. “We are beyond excited to be launching their first ever TV campaign on ITV’s network and enabling both these brands to benefit from the huge scaling power of TV much earlier in their growth journey than is normally possible,” said ITV AdVentures director Sheena Amin. “ITV remains committed to our partnership with the Google Black Founders Fund and we look forward to supporting many more Founders in the years to come.”

M6 Launches Konbini FAST Channel on 6play
M6 Group is launching a new FAST channel, Konbini 24/24, on its 6play streaming service. The launch forms part of a partnership with youth entertainment brand Konbini, bringing 50 hours of new programming to 6play. “Popular on social networks, Konbini content has been specially reworked and re-editorialised by the Konbini and 6play teams,” said M6 Director General of Programmes Frédéric de Vincelles.

Digital and Traditional Silos “Breaking Down” Says Innovid
Internal silos between digital and traditional channels are “breaking down”, according to Innovid research, with 80 percent of advertisers now buying converged TV through a centralised team. Innovid added that the top goals for converged TV buys are audience targeting, reach/incremental reach and outcomes. But achieving a unified view of converged TV remains a challenge, the company noted. “This convergence presents opportunities for advertisers to reach and engage with audiences in new ways, but also requires them to re-think their video buying strategies,” said Jessica Hogue, General Manager of Measurement & Analytics, Innovid.

The Week for Publishers

Penske Media Corp Takes a 20 Percent Stake in Vox
Penske Media Corp, owner of titles including Variety, Rolling Stone, and Billboard, has taken a 20 percent stake in digital publisher Vox Media, with an investment worth a reported $100 million. Penske, which has become the largest single shareholder in Vox through the deal, says Vox will remain editorially independent.

New York Times Passes 11 Million Subscribers
The New York Times now has more than 11 million subscribers,  bringing it closer to its goal of 15 million subscribers by 2027. Revenues from these subscriptions, which have been bolstered by the company’s bundling strategy of different content packages, helped offset a slowdown in ad sales in Q4. Ad revenues were flat in the recent quarter, and are expected to slightly decrease in Q1 this year.

The Guardian US is On Pace for 40 Percent Ad Growth
The US edition of The Guardian is set to record 40 percent growth in ad revenues year-on-year, according to Adweek. The publisher attributes the uptick to an increase in branded content deals, and success in winning ad budgets targeted at sustainable media.

Pinterest Forecasts Low Growth for the Months Ahead
Social sharing platform Pinterest saw its share price fall this week after it announced its Q4 financial results, in which it predicted low single-digit growth in sales year-on-year for Q1. The company’s Q4 revenues were up four percent year-on-year, lower than analysts had hoped.

News UK Considers Merging The Times Scotland with The Sunday Times Scotland
News publisher News UK is considering merging two of its titles, The Times Scotland and The Sunday Times Scotland, into one seven-day operation. News UK was legally prohibited from merging its The Times and The Sunday Times properties until last year. There are journalists who work across both titles in Scotland, but they currently are both run under separate editors.

DC Thompson Plans 300 Job Cuts
Scottish publisher DC Thompson told employees on Wednesday that it is making around 300 job cuts, with roughly half of these expected to be made in magazine publisher Aceville. A number of titles are also set to close as a cost saving measure: Platinum, Living, Shout, Animal Planet, and Animals and You.

The Week For Agencies

A Third Of Advertisers Expect To Spend More In 2023
A third of advertisers anticipate having higher marketing budgets in 2023 than they did last year, while over half expect budgets to stay the same, according to a new report from researcher Advertiser Perceptions. But advertisers will be looking to maximise the return on any extra spending, with 59 percent of those surveyed saying they are shifting budgets to higher performing media.

NABS Reports Industry’s Rising Struggles with Mental Health
The National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS), a charity focussed on wellbeing in advertising and media, says it saw a 49 percent rise in calls for its services last year, the busiest year for the organisation since 2018. Calls to the NABS Advice Line were up 35 percent, with the two most commonly cited needs being emotional support (37 percent) and financial support (36 percent).

Agency New Business Appointments Were Down by 18 Percent Last Year
The volume of brands appointing new agencies dropped in 2022, according to data from marketing consultancy AAR. New business appointments were down by 18 percent year on year according to AAR’s analysis of completed reviews, as reported by Campaign.

GroupM Sees Results from Premium Marketplace
GroupM says it has seen strong results from the GroupM Premium Marketplace, a programmatically enabled global marketplace for premium video introduced last February which is designed to simplify access to inventory and increase transparency. GroupM says the average win rate within GPM is 35 percent, compared to an average 15 percent win rate outside the marketplace. And one retail client has seen a more than thirty percent drop in CPMs within the marketplace.

Trade Groups Flag Concerns About UK Government Reshuffle
A number of British advertising trade groups have raised concerns about a reorganisation of UK governmental departments, asking for clarity on which departments will be responsible for which issues. The previous Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has dropped the ‘Digital’ – and its previous minister Michelle Donelan has been appointed to the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. “We hope that we will swiftly have clarity from government as to ministers’ portfolios, given that we are immediately engaged on issues such as the UK’s post-Brexit data regime, online safety legislation, and the future of public service broadcasting,” said Rob Newman, director of public affairs at ISBA.

Wavemaker Retains Department for Transport Media Duties
WPP’s Wavemaker has retained media planning duties for the UK government’s Department for Transport, following a competitive pitch process. The DfT says Wavemaker was selected for its expertise in media planning for government departments, with previous campaigns having helped drive positive behavioural change.

Drinks Brands Hit Out at Scottish Ad Ban
A number of drinks brands including Brewhaven, Budweiser Brewing Group, Johnnie Walker, and Diageo have spoken out against a proposed advertising ban in Scotland for alcoholic drinks. The proposed ban would bar alcohol from being advertised on television, online, on outdoor billboards, or through sports and events sponsorship. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would take on board objections.

Hires of the Week

Mike Caprio Named Connatix SVP & GM of Americas
Connatix has appointed Mike Caprio as SVP and GM of the Americas. He brings more than 20 years’ experience in media, advertising and technology, having worked at TV ad company Visible World and founded web3 sports media firm Data+Sports.

Canela Media Appoints Oscar Padilla SVP of Commercial Operations
Canela Media has named Oscar Padilla SVP of Commercial Operations. He will leverage his ad tech and data solutions expertise to oversee Canela’s advertising operations, reporting to founder and CEO Isabel Rafferty Zavala.

WBD Promotes Rebecca Rørmark to SVP, head of streaming marketing EMEA
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has promoted Rebecca Rørmark to SVP, head of streaming marketing for EMEA. She was previously VP of marketing in the Nordics. Her promotion comes ahead of the launch of WBD’s new streaming service.

Erik Huggers Becomes Everyone TV Chairman
Everyone TV (formerly Digital UK) has selected Erik Huggers as chairman. Huggers is a former Intel and BBC executive who currently holds Board and advisory roles at ProSiebenSat.1, Hexagon and WeTransfer. He replaces Caroline Thompson who served for 10 years.

This Week on VideoWeek

Hershey’s is Ramping Up Advertising to Counter Inflation, but Won’t Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels, read on VideoWeek

The Great ITV Gamble: Does ITVX Mark the Spot for Audiences and Advertisers? read on VideoWeek

Magnite Launches Dedicated CTV SSP ‘Magnite Streaming’, read on VideoWeek

WBD to Keep Discovery+ Available in US, read on VideoWeek

Microsoft/Activision Merger in Crosshairs of UK Competition Watchdog, read on VideoWeek

NBCUniversal Targets SMB Revenues with Self-Serve Ad Platform, read on VideoWeek

Streaming Remains “Number One Priority” for Embattled Disney, read on VideoWeek

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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