The WIR: TikTok Introduces Paywalled Long-Form Content, UK Unveils its GDPR Replacement, and Publishers’ Online Video Revenues Fall

Tim Cross 10 March, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: TikTok launches Series, UK unveils GDPR replacement, and publishers report slow revenue growth.

Top Stories

TikTok Introduces Long-Form Paywalled Video
TikTok is introducing longer-form video content behind a paywall, The Verge reported on Tuesday. The ‘Series’ feature allows creators to make collections of videos available for purchase, eventually providing the company a new revenue stream when it starts taking a cut. Also this week, TikTok unveiled a new data security regime nicknamed Project Clover, in response to regulatory pressure from both sides of the Atlantic. The measures include a $1.3 billion commitment to safeguard European users.

Meanwhile in the US, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to mitigate risks from “foreign-owned technology products and social media platforms”. The Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act would allow the Government to review tech entering the US on an individual basis.

@tiktoknewsroomIntroducing TikTok Series 🥁 Our new premium feature enables creators to post Collections of up to 80 videos, each up to 20 minutes long 🙌♬ original sound – TikTok Newsroom

Publishers’ Digital Revenues Grew in Q4, but Video Revenues Fell
The UK Association of Online Publishers and Deloitte released the latest version of their Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) on Thursday, finding that total digital revenues for Q4 were up three percent year-on-year. But this growth was largely driven by subscription revenues, which were up by 12.9 percent year on year. Display advertising revenues were fairly static, up by 0.1 percent, while online video revenues fell by 1.9 percent.

And while the overall growth in digital revenues was a positive sign, the report noted that this revenue growth was concentrated among the highest performers, as only 43 percent of respondents reported digital revenue growth. Publishers are also showing increasing signs that economic pressures are being felt, as 75 percent are now prioritising cost reductions, up from 50 percent in Q4 2021.

UK Government Unveils GDPR Replacement
The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, a proposed piece of UK legislation which will effectively replace the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK was introduced into Parliament this week. The newly created Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, which is taking responsibility for the proposed law, says it aims to take the best elements of GDPR when it comes to data protection, whilst cutting out some of the business headaches associated with GDPR.

Significantly for the advertising industry, the government says the law will cut down on the need for cookie popups, suggesting that consent collection requirements will be reduced. While full details of the bill haven’t been released yet, it promises to also provide clarity on what does and doesn’t count as “legitimate interest”, a criteria which allows businesses to collect and process data without user consent. This has been a bit of a grey area in digital advertising, with some publishers and ad tech companies collecting data on the basis of legitimate interest (despite several Data Protection Authorities stating that this isn’t valid).

“At first glance, the Bill represents a useful relaxation of some burdensome obligations, and welcome clarity on ‘legitimate interest’,” said Rob Newman, director of public affairs at advertising trade group ISBA, “but there is still work to do to enable advertising measurement and analytics to be carried out”.

The Week in Tech

NBCUniversal Integrates UID2 on Peacock
NBCUniversal is integrating Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) across its Peacock streaming service, the US broadcaster announced at The Trade Desk’s Forward ’23 event on Tuesday. NBCUniversal EVP of advanced advertising Joe Cady said UID2 would be implemented across all devices and consumer touchpoints, including CTV, Roku and FireTV. 

According to Cady, 90 percent of Peacock’s 80 million users are on the ad-supported tier. The identity solution will be live on the service next month, enabling addressability in a cookieless programmatic environment. UID2 has also delivered 80 percent match rates for Disney, noted Lisa Valentino, EVP of client solutions and addressable enablement at Disney Advertising.

More Layoffs Underway at Meta
Meta is planning further layoffs, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The fresh round of job cuts are said to affect thousands of employees, on top of a 13 percent reduction in November. The move is driven by financial targets, according to people familiar with the matter, following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s declaration that 2023 will be a “year of efficiency” for the company.

DoubleVerify Launches Campaign Automation on Google Campaign Manager 360
DoubleVerify (DV) has made its DV Campaign Automator available on Google Campaign Manager 360. The tool automates verification, protection and reporting across desktop, mobile web, mobile app and CTV campaigns. “We are thrilled to launch DV Campaign Automator, which provides advertisers a singular solution that fully automates verification support, campaign setup, and trafficking workflow on Google Campaign Manager 360,” said DV CPO Jack Smith. “With DV Campaign Automator, we are simplifying and automating the entire process between our system and the world’s most-used ad server to better support global brands and agencies.”

Venatus Acquires Browser Game Ad Tech Business AdinPlay
Gaming advertising business Venatus this week announced it has acquired AdinPlay, an ad tech business which specialises in monetisation of browser-based games. This is the first acquisition Venatus has made since receiving investment from private equity firm LivingBridge in 2021, designed to help Venatus scale its gaming technology offering. AdinPlay has forecast revenues of over €20 million this year, which Venatus says complements its own strategic growth plans. Read more on VideoWeek.

Twitter Revenues Fell 40 Percent in December
Twitter revenues dropped 40 percent YoY in December 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal. CEO Elon Musk said the company had witnessed a “massive decline in advertising,” yet now has “a shot” at being cash flow-positive next quarter, after making thousands of employees redundant. He added that making ads more relevant is a focus for the company, and thanked Disney and Apple for continuing to spend on Twitter.

The Week in TV

PSB Future is a Broadcast/Online Hybrid, Says EBU Tech Chief
A mixture of broadcast and online technologies can futureproof public service media, European Broadcasting Union (EBU) tech chief Antonio Arcidiacono wrote in the EBU’s tech-i magazine this week. The Director of Technology & Innovation argued that new media formats can provide more immersive experiences, citing recent experiments in volumetric video for the FIFA World Cup. By combining broadcast and broadband, such content can be distributed by public service broadcasters. “This is also a tangible example of blending physical and digital worlds in what we can call a ‘phygital’ experience,” said Arcidiacono. “The social element goes hand in hand with the augmented digital reality, using technology to connect the digital and physical worlds.”

ESPN Plans Live Sport Streaming Hub
ESPN is planning a streaming hub that would link to live sport streams – including those hosted by its competitors – according to CNBC. The feature would sit on and the free ESPN app, with links to international streaming services such as Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video, and regional sport services such as Sinclair’s Bally Sports+ and Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s MSG+. Though the plans have not been confirmed, ESPN has discussed the idea with major sports leagues and media companies, sources said. 

DAZN to Launch FAST Women’s Sport Channel
DAZN is launching a new free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel dedicated to women’s sport, Digital TV Europe reported this week. DAZN Rise will arrive in Germany and Austria on 16th March, ahead of the final phase of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The channel will initially land on Samsung TV Plus and, with more operators including LG and Cliq to follow. It will include live matches and highlights from the Champions League, Spain’s LaLiga Feminina, France’s Feminine Division 1 and Germany’s Women’s Bundesliga.

Vivendi/Lagardere Merger Faces Competition Concerns
Vivendi’s proposed takeover of media group Lagardere has run into regulatory hurdles, its CEO said on Wednesday. Vivendi has formally received a statement of objections from the EU’s antitrust authorities, Reuters reported, while the merger of Lagardere-owned publishing giant Hachette and Vivendi’s publishing division Editis has sparked criticism from independent publishers. The French media group also posted a full-year loss of €1.01 billion for 2022, mainly due to the deconsolidation of its Telecom Italia stake. But full-year revenues rose 10.1 percent YoY, driven by the performance of Havas, Canal+ Group and Gameloft, the company said.

GB News Loses £30.7 million, Breaches Ofcom Rules
GB News lost £30.7 million in its first year on air, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, with sales totalling £3.6 million. On Monday, Ofcom found the channel’s Mark Steyn programme in breach of broadcasting rules, by misleading viewers about Covid-19 vaccines. An additional investigation into another episode of the same show is ongoing.

ITV Studios Sells Premium Drama Content to Nordic PSBs
ITV Studios has sold a raft of drama titles to a consortium of Nordic public service broadcasters (PSB). SVT in Sweden, NRK in Norway, YLE in Finland, DR in Denmark and RUV in Iceland unified their buying power to acquire such series as Fifteen-Love, Malpractice and Nolly. Financial details were not disclosed. “I’m delighted to see this volume of shows reaching Nordic viewers on their ever-popular PSB channels,” said Gisela Asimus Minnbergh, EVP Distribution EMEA at ITV Studios. 

PPF Group Raises Stake in ProSieben
Investment firm PPF Group has raised its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 10.1 percent. The group acquired a 9.10 percent stake in the German broadcaster last month, making it the second-largest shareholder after Silvio Berlusconi’s MediaForEurope. PPF has also started liaising with ProSieben over shareholder representation on the company’s supervisory board.

Netflix to Increase APAC Content Spend by 15 Percent
Netflix will boost its content investment in the APAC region by 15 percent this year, with revenues in the region set to grow by 12 percent, according to Media Partners Asia (MPA). Though uptake of Netflix’s ad-supported tier has been slow in Australia, Japan and Korea, MPA expects advertising and ARPU to drive growth in the three markets. “Japan is critical to Netflix’s prospects in the region with the market contributing over a quarter to the company’s total APAC revenues in 2023,” said MPA executive director Vivek Couto.

New WBD Streaming Service to Have Three Pricing Tiers
New details have emerged about Warner Bros. Discovery’s (WBD) upcoming streaming service Max. According to Bloomberg, WBD will charge $10 a month for the ad-supported tier and $15 or $16 for the ad-free version (the same as current pricing on HBO Max), with a premium $20 subscription offering better video quality and other unspecified features. Max will reportedly add “thousands” of unscripted WBD titles to the HBO Max slate, while Discovery+ will remain available separately. The company is expected to officially unveil the new plans in April.

The Week for Publishers

Reach Profits Fall Amid Dampened Ad Demand
UK news publisher Reach saw operating profits fall by 27 percent last year, as revenues fell by 2.3 percent and operating costs rose. The company cited an “industry wide decline in open-market advertising yields” as a key factor. CEO Jim Mullin was upbeat about future prospects however, saying “the improved depth and breadth of our content and businesswide focus on data is driving an increasing proportion of higher yielding digital revenue and a decreasing reliance on open market programmatically driven advertising”.

Mail Metro Media Announces Pilot Partnership with Ozone
Ozone, a digital ad platform built by an alliance of UK premium publishers, has announced a pilot partnership with Mail Metro Media, allowing inventory from the Daily Mail, Metro, and other Mail Metro Media titles to be bought through the Ozone platform. “[Mail Metro Media’s] inclusion really reinforces Ozone’s mission of creating a more sustainable future for journalism by offering advertisers a really easy and effective way of reaching online audiences,” said Damon Reeve, Ozone’s CEO. The pilot will run for a minimum of six months.

Pinterest Tests Video Ad Format on Search
Social sharing website Pinterest is testing a new video ad format which appears in search results, TechCrunch reported this week. The ‘Premier Spotlight’ format allows brands to buy dedicated space on Pinterest’s search page for 24 hours. The video ad can link to the brand’s webpage, which loads within the Pinterest app.

The Guardian Returns to Apple News in UK
The Guardian has returned to the UK version of Apple News, reportedly due to improved terms allowing the newspaper to sell subscriptions and accept user donations through the app. Press Gazette also reported that The Guardian qualifies for a discounted commissions rate on any sales made through Apple News since it’s available in all four of the app’s home nations – down from 30 percent to 15 percent.

New York Times was UK’s Fastest Growing News Brand in January
The New York Times, was the fastest growing news brand in the UK in January, when measured by terms of total monthly visitors. The New York Times’ audience size was up by 113 percent year-on-year, reaching 7.5 million visitors. However many major news brands saw declining year-on-year audiences; out of the UK’s top largest news brands, only Manchester Evening News and the Mirror saw year-on-year audience growth.

The Week For Agencies

Stagwell Organic Revenues Rose 14 Percent Last Year
Agency group Stagwell has reported its full year results for 2022, revealing that organic revenues were up 14 percent year-on-year. Total revenues meanwhile were up 21 percent year-on-year, reaching $2.7 billion. CEO and chairman Mark Penn pointed to the business’s investments in AI and AR-based products as future growth drivers, saying that these will help Stagwell to “continue to grow and transform both our business and the industry”.

Dentsu Enters Agreement to Acquire Tag for £533 Million
Japanese advertising group Dentsu this week announced a deal to buy UK-based global content production business Tag for a reported £533 million. Dentsu says that Tag’s digital infrastructure and services will “provide high quality content at speed and scale for creative, a scaled personalisation engine for customer experience management (CXM), as well as add power to media Dynamic Content Optimization (DCO),” allowing Dentsu to offer more integrated client solutions.

GroupM Expands its Diverse-Owned Media Goals
WPP’s media arm GroupM has expanded its goal for the proportion of spend invested with diverse-owned media companies to five percent, after hitting its initial two percent target. This initial two percent target was specifically focussed on Black-owned media, while the new goal also includes Hispanic, AAPI and LGBTQ+ owned and focused media, according to AdAge.

Campaign Launches for Second All In Census
The advertising industry’s inclusion initiative, All In, led by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, has launched a new campaign created by 2022 UK Young Lions winners, James Danson, Art Director, Havas Lynx Group and Glenn Scholefield, Copywriter, TBWA\MCR, to promote participation in the second All In Census on March 15. The census, which will be run by Kantar, will gauge inclusivity in the industry, and be used as the basis for recommendations around improving inclusivity.

Adobe Consolidates Media Account with Wavemaker and Publicis Media
Software giant Adobe has completed a competitive review of its global media duties, splitting the account between Publicis Media and WPP’s Wavemaker. Previously Wavemaker was one of around a dozen agencies handling Adobe’s media account in various markets, but Adobe has decided to trim down the number of agencies it works with to just two. Publicis Media will handle EMEA, APAC and Japan, while Wavemaker will take charge of North America and LATAM.

Advertiser Trade Groups Unite Against Scotland’s Alcohol Ads Ban
British advertising trade groups the Advertising Association, ISBA, and the IPA have put out a joint call for a “fundamental rethink” of proposed Scottish legislation which would ban advertising of alcohol. In a joint statement, the groups said the proposals “will be harmful to the Scottish economy – including local communities – to Scotland’s advertising and creative industries, and to the Scottish media including publishers, broadcasters and cinemas, as well as the outdoor advertising sector”, also arguing that the laws wouldn’t be effective in reducing alcohol consumption harms.

Hires of the Week

ITV Appoints Former Film and TV Charity Boss to Oversee Partnerships
ITV has hired Alex Pumfrey as director of strategic partnerships. She previously served as CEO of the Film and TV Charity. Pumfrey’s new role involves developing the commercial broadcaster’s relationships with partners ranging from Sky and BT to Amazon and Apple. 

Frances Ralston-Good Named EssenceMediacom Chief Operating Officer
Frances Ralston-Good has been named EssenceMediacom global COO, replacing Josh Krichefski, who has joined GroupM as EMEA and UK CEO. Ralston-Good joined MediaCom in 2019 before being promoted to Global Client President and then Chief Transformation Officer.

TF1 Appoints Pierre-Alain Gérard as EVP Finance, Strategy and Procurement
TF1 has appointed Pierre-Alain Gérard as EVP Finance, Strategy and Procurement. He succeeds Philippe Denery, and will join the TF1 Group’s Executive Committee. Gérard joined Bouygues Group in 2009, and was made Central Head of Strategy, Development and Financial Control in 2019.

Roku Enlists CFO Dan Jedda
Roku has announced the appointment of Dan Jedda as CFO, succeeding Steve Louden on 1st May. Jedda has been CFO at Stitch Fix since 2020, following a 15-year stint at Amazon. “I am excited to join one of the most interesting, innovative, and successful companies in the industry at a pivotal time,” he said.

Laetitia Zinetti Joins DoubleVerify as RVP Southern Europe
Laetitia Zinetti has become RVP Southern Europe at DoubleVerify. The role will see her lead the company’s growth in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Zinetti previously spent 12 years at marketing consultancy Ebiquity.

VideoAmp Hires Jenny Wall as its first CMO
Ad tech firm VideoAmp has appointed Jenny Wall its first Chief Marketing Officer. Wall has over 30 years experience in media and marketing, including roles at Netflix, Hulu and Nickelodeon. The appointment sees VideoAmp further establish its position in the fragmented measurement space.

This Week on VideoWeek

Departmental Changes Risk Delaying Key UK Media Legislation, read on VideoWeek

What to Expect at New Video Frontiers on 22-23rd March, read on VideoWeek

Venatus Acquires Browser Game Ad Tech Business AdinPlay, read on VideoWeek

Who Are the Contenders for the Premier League Rights? read on VideoWeek

Why Streaming Platforms Shouldn’t be Afraid of the FAST Lane, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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