The WIR: RTL sees Streaming Growth Alongside Ad Declines, Twitter’s Periscope Resurfaces, and IAB Charts Strong Growth for Digital Video Advertising

Tim Cross 05 May, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: RTL bundles its ad tech, Twitter’s periscope resurfaces, and US digital video ad spend grows at pace.

Top Stories

RTL’s Ad Revenues Hit by Severe Dip
RTL Group posted its Q1 financial results this week, reporting a nine percent drop in group revenues year-on-year attributed in large part to a tough TV advertising market.

The business reported audience share growth across its TV channels in Germany and France, but despite this TV ad revenues fell by over 16 percent, down from €653 million in Q1 last year to €545 million this year. And while in the past digital ad revenue growth has helped partly make up for TV losses, digital ad revenues were also down year-on-year from €83 million last year to €76 million this year.

There was more positive news for RTL’s subscription streaming business, which has been a big strategic focus in recent years, as income from RTL+ and Videoland were up 15.6 percent overall. But these revenues are still much lower than TV ad revenues, reaching €74 million in the quarter.

The group still clearly sees an opportunity to give ad revenues a boost via its ad tech holdings, as its Germany TV subsidiary RTL Deutschland announced today that it is combining its ad tech holdings into one organisation. Smartclip, Realytics, Yospace, and SQL Services (which RTL Deutschland has a 50 percent stake in) will continue to operate as separate brands, but under the new structure will see increased cooperation, designed to strengthen the overall offering.

Twitter Prepares to Revive Live Streaming Offering Periscope
Twitter looks set to revive Periscope, a live streaming platform it bought in 2015 before shuttering the app in 2021, seemingly planning to fold Periscope’s technology into Twitter.

CEO Elon Musk started an impromptu video live stream earlier this week (a feature which isn’t currently available to the general userbase). Twitter staff could be heard in the background saying that the stream was running on old Periscope code, and Musk himself commented on changes which could be made which would make the feature usable (namely, improve the quality which was poor).

Twitter already broadcasts some live content, for a mix of media companies which want to stream live events, and advertisers which want to run live shopping events. But live streaming isn’t available for regular users. Should Twitter follow through with reviving the platform, it would bring Twitter into closer competition with live streaming platform Twitch, as well as the live streaming functionalities available on YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

US Digital Video Ad Spend Will Pass $50 Billion This Year
Industry trade group the IAB this week released its data on the growth of digital video ad spend in the US, finding that overall spend grew by 21 percent in 2022, reaching $47.1 billion. This sharp growth was double the pace of growth of digital media as a whole, according to the IAB. And strong growth is set to continue this year, as the IAB predicts a further 17 percent growth, bringing total spend to over $55 billion.

The report also charted advertisers’ overall attitudes and priorities around digital video. According to the IAB’s survey, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of TV and video buyers believe that some creator-driven video (i.e, user-generated video) can be considered premium. And two-third say they measure UGC buys in the same way that they measure Hollywood-produced video.

The data also highlighted buyers’ appetite for a multi-currency future when it comes to unified measurement, with 81 percent of TV and video buyers saying they want two or more unified currencies for impression measurement. And buyers generally seem confident this will be delivered, with 92 percent estimating that this will be available within the next two years.

The Week in Tech

IAS Upgrades its YouTube Brand Safety Offering
Verification tech business Integral Ad Science this week announced an update to its toolset for measuring brand safety and suitability on YouTube, which the verification company says will provide a more comprehensive analysis of YouTube content. The update will use machine learning to provide more granular video analysis, and brings content classification in line with the GARM Brand Safety and Suitability framework.

Adelaide Launches High Attention CTV PMPs
Attention measurement vendor Adelaide this week launched new “high attention CTV private marketplaces”, which it says allows advertisers to buy inventory from CTV publishers which score highly for attention. The PMPs, available via Microsoft Advertising, use attention data from US vendor TVision to pick out high quality CTV inventory which is likely to deliver on attention.

IAS Folds Lumen’s Attention Data into its Own Attention Product
Integral Ad Science and attention measurement company Lumen announced a new partnership this week which will see Lumen’s eye tracking-based attention measurement data incorporated into IAS’s own attention product. This data will sit alongside IAS’s own data on visibility, situation, and interaction to bolster the overall attention score.

Judge Denies Google’s Efforts to Dismiss Advertising Antitrust Case
A US federal judge has denied a motion filed by Google which attempted to dismiss the antitrust case filed against it by the US Department of Justice, which concerns Google’s ad tech business. Google had claimed that it doesn’t have a high enough market share to warrant claims of abuse of market power. But Judge Leonie Brinkema said that there were factors beyond just market share to consider. and that the DOJ’s case is strong enough to continue.

AI Creative Analysis Platform Alison Raises $5.1 Million
Alison, a tech platform which uses AI to analyse the effectiveness of ad creative and give suggestions for creative teams, has raised $5.1 million in a pre-seed round involving a16z. Alison’s technology uses AI analysis of creative campaigns to highlight which elements drive performance, and can generate creative prompts for use by human creative teams of generative AI tools.

Snapchat Unveils New Story Ad Format
Snapchat unveiled a series of new ad offerings at its NewFronts event this week, including ‘First Story’, which guaranteed advertisers the first video ad slot users see when they’re browsing friends’ stories. Snapchat says First Story could reach up to 50 million users in the US daily. Snapchat is also rolling out ads in Spotlight, its explore tab, for advertisers globally.

The Trade Desk Partners with Attain for Commerce Data
The Trade Desk this week announced a deal with commerce data platform Attain, which will see Attain’s transaction data made available to The Trade Desk’s customers for performance measurement. “Our work with The Trade Desk has expanded our capabilities and offers customers a comprehensive data platform focused on instant measurement of outcomes,” said Brian Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of Attain. “Our ultimate goal is achieved by providing real-time outcome metrics across a wide landscape of commerce the moment a campaign launches to give marketers immediate performance feedback to optimise.”

French Antitrust Watchdog Orders Meta to Open Up to Verification Partners
France’s antitrust regulator this week announced interim measures it’s ordering Meta to take as part of an ongoing antitrust investigation into the company, stating that Meta must make it easier for brand safety and verification vendors to partner with the company. The ruling comes in response to a complaint from Adloox, which stated that Meta denied it the ability to measure campaigns on Facebook without giving transparent reasoning, harming its business.

Unruly Announces FAST Partnership with TCL FFALCON
Tremor International’s supply-side platform Unruly has sealed a partnership with TV manufacturer TCL’s FFALCON smart TV platform, which will see Unruly monetise content on TCL’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel the TCL Channel. The inventory is available via demand-side platform Amobee, which is also owned by Tremor International.

SeenThis Launches ‘Segment-by-Segment’ Ad Optimisation Tool
Adaptive streaming specialist SeenThis has launched a new ‘segment-by-segment’ ad optimisation tool, which takes into account the video ad content itself when delivering an ad. SeenThis said this allows less data to be sent for less complex parts of video creative, which creates a number of benefits including lower overall emissions through transmission of the ad.

The Week in TV

Weak Ad Market Hits Paramount’s Revenues
Paramount’s Q1 financial results fell short of analysts’ expectations this week, as the difficult advertising market hampered overall TV revenues. Traditional TV advertising revenues were down by 11 percent overall – though it wasn’t all bad news for Paramount’s ad business. Revenues for the direct-to-consumer segment, which includes ad-supported platform Pluto TV as well as subscription services, were up 39 percent year-on-year. And the company revealed that Pluto TV has now reached 80 million monthly active users.

Writers Strike Hits US TV Industry
Hollywood writers working across film and TV went on strike this week, protesting pay, leaving a number of late night shows to air old episodes due to a lack of new material. Shows including Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, and a number of soap operas with quick turnarounds have been immediately affected.

RTL Deutschland’s Ad Alliance Embraces Omnichannel Video with Launch of xMedia
Ad Alliance, RTL Deutschland’s sales house, this morning announced the launch of xMedia, a new offering which sees RTL pushing further into omnichannel video sales. At its core, xMedia combines all of Ad Alliance’s digitally-delivered video inventory and makes it available via one booking. This includes addressable ads on linear channels, connected TV ads, and in-stream and outstream ads across desktop, mobile and tablet. Read more on VideoWeek.

Ads Arrive in Roku City
Roku intends to bring brands into Roku City, its screensaver which has grown popular with audiences thanks to its design and pop culture references. Roku already showed billboards for some TV shows within Roku City, and this week announced a deal with McDonald’s to display McDonald’s ads within the screensaver.

Amazon Brings Prime Originals to Freevee
Amazon will start running over 100 original shows and films which were originally created for Prime Video on its ad-supported offering Freevee. Reacher, The Summer I Turned Pretty, The Wheel of Time, and A League of Their Own are among the shows making their way over to Freevee. At least some of these will air on a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel within the wider Freevee offering, previously called Freevee Originals but now rebranded as Amazon Originals.

DAZN Launches Two New Global FAST Channels
Sports streaming specialist DAZN has continued its push into free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) with the launch of two new FAST channels, DAZN Combat and DAZN Women’s Football. These channels, distributed via LG and available outside of DAZN’s core markets, will broadcast a mix of live events, highlights, documentaries, and behind-the-scenes footage.

The Week for Publishers

Reach says Facebook Changes are Hurting Readership
UK publisher conglomerate Reach posted a trading update this week, showing a 5.9 percent drop year-on-year in group revenue for the first quarter of the year. Significantly, digital revenues actually fell more heavily than print, down by 14.5 percent compared with 3.0 percent for print. The publishing group said that alongside a general dip in the ad market, there’s been a slowdown in page views which it attributed to “recent changes to the way Facebook presents news content, causing a reduction in referred traffic across the sector,” in a press release accompanying the update.

Condé Nast Doubles Down on Video at Newfronts
Publishing giant Condé Nast put a large focus on a new slate of digital video series at its NewFronts presentation this week, as the group continues to lean heavily into video. Condé Nast said that over 230 of its existing digital video series across its publisher brands are returning, with a number of new series across brands including Variety, Architectural Digest, and Bon Appétit.

Vice News Cuts Staff as Group Faces Bankruptcy
Vice News announced “painful but necessary” job cuts across its global news team this week, which will include shutting down daily news show Vice News Tonight. The cuts are reported to affect around 100 staff. The news comes as parent company Vice Media is reported to be preparing for bankruptcy, according to the New York Times, as the business has struggled to find a buyer to help it out of tough financial waters.

Specialist Publisher Our Media Partners with Ozone
UK publisher alliance Ozone announced a partnership with specialist publisher Our Media, whose brands include BBC Science Focus, BBC Wildlife, YourHomeStyle,, Bike Radar and Cycling Plus. Under the deal, Our Media will become a partner for Ozone’s audience-led media offering, as well as its Biddable Management Service.

DMGT Announces Editorial Job Cuts as Cost Cutting Measure
The Daily Mail & General Trust, which owns The Daily Mail, Mail Online and Metro among other titles, has made a number of cuts to editorial roles across The Mail on Sunday and Metro as part of a cost-cutting process. Many of these cuts, which have included senior editors, have already taken place earlier in the year. Some of these cuts are attributed to redundancies as a result of the DMGT’s strategy to more closely align The Mail on Sunday with its sister paper The Daily Mail.

Quartz Traffic Drops Following Removal of Paywall
Business news publisher Quartz, owned by media holding group G/O Media, has (somewhat counterintuitively) seen a drop in its traffic since removing its paywall last year, Adweek reported this week. Adweek cited Comscore data which found that monthly traffic has dropped from an average of three million last year to 1.3 million on average for the first quarter of 2023. Similarweb meanwhile shows a drop from 8.5 million visitors in April last year to 4.4 million in April this year.

National World Buys Insider Media
UK local news publishing group National World has announced deals to buy B2B publishing business Insider Media, as well as local news title the Rotherham Advertisers, for undisclosed fees. National World said that the Insider Media acquisition will diversify its revenue streams and help grow its overall events business.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

In-Housing is Here to Stay, says ANA
Advertiser trade group the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) issued its latest report on brands’ in-housing of advertising services, stating that in-housing can no longer be classified as a trend, but is here to stay. Eighty-two percent of ANA members now have an in-house agency according to the report, up from 78 percent in 2018, and up from 53 percent ten years ago. The report added that peak penetration may hit between 80-90 percent.

GroupM Launches New Commerce Hub
WPP’s media arm GroupM this week launched a new commerce hub, GroupM Nexus Commerce, which will sit within the performance marketing Nexus brand. The unit will bring together the specialist retail, direct-to-consumer, and social commerce functions that exist across GroupM in strategy, media activation, creative, and data and technology, according to GroupM. Samantha Bukowski, who joined GroupM in 2019 to lead Wavemaker’s U.S. commerce strategy and capability, will lead the new unit.

S4 Capital Begins Drawing Up Succession Plans for Sorrell
S4 Capital, the advertising holding group founded by Sir Martin Sorrell after he left his previous business WPP, has said that succession plans are being drawn up for Sorrell, who currently sits as executive chairman. S4 Capital, in an annual report, said that “the market views the Group’s success as intrinsically linked with the executive chairman, Sir Martin Sorrell. Should he not be a part of the Group without an effective succession plan, it could have a significant impact on the share price and market view of the Group.”

Publicis Comes Out on Top in LVMH NA Media Review
Publicis Groupe was the big winner from French conglomerate LVMH’s recent review of North American media duties, AdAge reported this week, with the holding company given responsibility for brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Moët Hennessy.

WPP Launches Data and AI Learning Programme
WPP has started up a new programme designed to teach young people in the UK skills around data and AI. The programme, called The Creative Data School, covers four key areas of data and AI: coding with Python; applications of machine learning; the fundamentals of data and AI; and using statistics and data to inform decision-making.

Total Media Wins Scholl’s Media Account
UK independent media agency Total Media has been picked by footcare brand Scholl as its new media agency, covering the UK and international markets. Total Media has been tasked specifically with helping reach younger audiences to drive category and brand growth.

Hires of the Week

Snap Hires Former Meta Execs for Ads Business
Snapchat’s parent company Snap has taken on former Meta executives to strengthen its ads business, the company announced this week. Patrick Harris, who spent over 12 years at Meta, has been hired as SVP of partnerships while David Sommer, who worked at Meta for 11 years, has been hired as head of verticals.

Martin Hoberg Picked to Lead RTL Deutschland’s New Ad Tech Unit
Martin Hoberg, previously chief strategy officer for RTL Deutschland, has been chosen to lead the broadcaster’s new combined ad tech unit (see top stories) as chief international adtech officer. “Advertising technology and sales have been priority areas of mine for over a decade,” said Hoberg. “I’m very much looking forward to focusing on the further development of our ad tech companies and continuing to work with our excellent colleagues and teams.”

Samantha Bukowski Chosen to Lead GroupM Nexus Commerce
Samantha Bukowski has been chosen by GroupM to lead its new Nexus Commerce unit, which will combine GroupM’s commerce media capabilities under the Nexus brand. Samantha will hold the job title of global head of commerce in the new role.

This Week on VideoWeek

RTL Deutschland’s Ad Alliance Embraces Omnichannel Video with Launch of xMedia, read on VideoWeek

How the World’s Largest Brands are Approaching Advertising in 2023, read on VideoWeek

TikTok Courts Publishers with New Revenue Sharing Ad Offering, read on VideoWeek

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Mini USA, The DIY Mini Cooper Crisis

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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