The WIR: UK SVOD Subs Fall, Twitter’s Content Moderation Chief Resigns, and IPG Turns to Quantum Computing for Optimisation

Tim Cross 02 June, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Barb chart’s a fall in UK SVOD subs, IPG looks at quantum computing’s use cases in advertising, and Twitter’s content moderation chief steps down.

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UK SVOD Subs Fell in Q1 Despite Gains for NOW, Apple TV+

The number of UK households with access to an SVOD service (19.08 million) fell 1.7 percent in Q1 2023, according to UK measurement body Barb, down from 19.42 million in Q4 2022. Barb’s data suggests that, with living costs remaining high in the UK, consumers are cutting back on subscriptions. And significantly, the release of cheaper, ad-supported subscription tiers from Netflix and Disney+ clearly hasn’t been enough to prevent customers falling away.

Indeed these two services saw some of the biggest declines, with Disney+ down by 1.9 percent, Amazon Prime Video down by -1.7 percent, and Netflix down by -1.1 percent. But the quarter also saw gains for NOW (+8 percent) and Apple TV+ (+13 percent). Despite the drop, Netflix remains the most popular service, reaching 16.96 million homes in Q1, followed by Prime (12.90 million), Disney+ (7.14 million), NOW (2.03 million) and Apple TV+ (1.91 million). 

Twitter Sells Ads Through Inmobi, Content Moderation Chief Resigns

Twitter has started selling inventory through mobile ad network Inmobi, as the struggling social media firm aims to recoup lost ad revenues. The partnership is currently limited to one test market, Digiday reported, with plans to expand. “It’s almost like Twitter doesn’t really have a choice but to go down the ad tech route because they need to explore every avenue they can to fortify that ad revenue stream following the changes made to policies and content moderation as well as the loss of personnel,” said Evelyn Mitchell, Senior Analyst at eMarketer. 

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, also resigned from the company this week. Responsible for overseeing content moderation, Irwin took over from Yoel Roth, who resigned in June 2022. Meanwhile EU regulators announced plans to “stress test” Twitter’s compliance with the Digital Services Act, which will empower the EU to fine companies 6 percent of their annual revenue for violating new content moderation rules. Twitter has agreed to the voluntary testing.

IPG Uses Quantum Computing for Audience Building

Interpublic Group has announced a new partnership with D-Wave, a company researching and developing quantum computing software and services, to develop quantum computing-based applications for advertising.  Specifically, the two will work on quantum-hybrid applications designed to address optimisation in marketing campaigns, using quantum computing’s superiority over regular computing for audience building.

Quantum computing is a nascent technology which – to spare a lot of scientific detail – exploits the properties of quantum mechanics to create much, much faster computers. D-Wave was the first company in the world to begin selling quantum computers of any kind, and its computers are highly specialised devices. But quantum computers have the potential to solve problems which no standard computer could solve within a reasonable time-frame.

And IPG sees potential for this extra power to calculate more efficient marketing optimisation equations for its clients. “By working with D-Wave and adopting quantum technology as part of our tech stack, we believe we can uncover an even greater collection of data-driven insights to deliver more relevant and effective marketing for our clients, at scale,” said Philippe Krakowsky, CEO of IPG.

The Week in Tech

RTL AdAlliance Launches TV Targeting Solution
RTL AdAlliance has introduced a profile targeting solution for TV advertisers. Developed by smartclip, smart TVT uses TV viewing behaviour to target audience segments without accessing personal information. The solution harnesses broadcast and TV panel data from German research company AGF Videoforschung. “At RTL AdAlliance we are excited to expand our smart Audiences with smart TVT, a product based on smartclip’s long ad tech experience and development in the broadcast ecosystem,” said Oliver Vesper, chief digital officer and deputy CEO of RTL AdAlliance. “This provides our clients with a powerful and effective way to target audiences based on their TV viewing behaviour.”

Meta Proposes Limiting Use of Ad Data to UK Watchdog

Meta has offered to limit its use of other businesses’ ad data, as part of commitments to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Launched in June 2021, the investigation raised concerns that Meta unfairly leverages data from businesses using its advertising services, such as data derived from user engagement with ads on Facebook, which the company can then use to show relevant products on Facebook Marketplace. Meta’s proposals would allow competing advertisers to opt out from their ad data being used by Meta in Facebook Marketplace, according to the CMA. The watchdog is now considering the offer.

German Regulator Warns of Google’s Ad Dominance

German competition authority Bundeskartellamt has found that Google holds an “extraordinarily strong market position with regard to practically all relevant services” in online advertising. The investigation did not cover search advertising, but added that Alphabet “holds a prominent position in the online advertising sector as a whole.” The inquiry also concluded that programmatic advertising is “not sufficiently transparent”, with advertisers unable to assess the extent to which their ads are successful. The findings noted the inability for users to see “what happens to their data, who receives them and how they are used.” The watchdog will continue to examine the role of large digital companies in the online ad sector, including investigations into Apple’s App Tracking Transparency initiative, as well as Google’s data practices.

DoubleVerify Unveils Brand Safety and Viewability Suite

Measurement firm DoubleVerify (DV) has launched DV Marketplace Suite, a platform of controls for SSPs, DSPs, marketplaces, ad exchanges and retail media networks. The suite includes a new brand safety product, alongside tools to manage viewability and contextual categories, as well as fraud protection. “DV Marketplace Suite is the only solution that holistically addresses pre-bid and post-bid brand safety, fraud, viewability and contextual challenges all through a single integration,” said Steven Woolway, EVP of Business Development at DV.

IAB Europe Issues Guidance for Audience Measurement in European Media Freedom Act

IAB Europe this week issued recommendations for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) working on the European Media Freedom Act. The legislation aims to establish a common framework for media services, including provisions for digital advertising. IAB Europe’s proposals particularly concern audience measurement, calling for transparency in measurement methodologies to ensure fair pricing of digital advertising. According to the trade body, the current draft proposal lacks a clear definition for “providers of proprietary audience measurement systems”, which could impact third-party audience measurement providers. 

The Week in TV

Survey Finds a Quarter of US Netflix Users Plan to Quit Over Password Crackdown

Almost a quarter of US Netflix users (23 percent) plan to cancel their subscriptions in response to new rules around password sharing, according to a survey from Just 8 percent of people currently using a shared password plan to sign up for their own accounts. The research suggests 15.2 million could cancel their subscriptions, with 1.7 million signing up. “In Spain, Netflix has received a lot of backlash, which has resulted in a loss of revenue,” said the report. “With the reception of US Netflix users, it’s possible the change will equate to a loss in this market as well.”

Sky to Cut Hundreds of UK Jobs

Sky will cut hundreds of UK jobs, the FT reported, as the TV company shifts from satellite broadcasting to internet delivery. Sources said the cuts would not be as extensive as rival businesses; BT plans to axe 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade, while Vodafone could lose 11,000 over the next three years. “In recent years we have revolutionised our TV offering – aggregating all the best apps, giving customers easy access to all the shows they love in one place; then launching our new TV platforms, Sky Glass and Sky Stream, as we shift to IP,” said the company. “These changes are transforming what we offer our customers.”

Eurovision Scores on TV, YouTube and TikTok

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest reached 162 million people across 38 public service media markets, according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The final saw a 40.9 percent viewing share, peaking in Iceland at 98.7 percent. The contest also received high viewership on video services, with 7.6 million watching the final live on YouTube, and the final and semi-finals garnering 4.8 million views on TikTok. “With hundreds of millions tuning in to the live shows on EBU Member channels and record-breaking numbers engaging with the songs and artists on our different digital platforms, the Eurovision Song Contest has never been more popular,” said EBU Director General Noel Curran.

Struggling Sky Deutschland Shutters Three Linear Channels

Sky Deutschland will axe three linear channels this year (Sky Comedy, Spiegel Geschichte and Curiosity TV) as the pay-TV company struggles in the German market. The business has also been hit by competition from DAZN over football rights, according to Reuters. Last week saw the company re-enter merger talks with German media group ProSiebenSat.1.

Czech Investment Group PPF Buys Stake in ProSieben

Czech investment group PPF has acquired a 9.1 percent stake in ProSiebensat.1, making it the German broadcaster’s second-largest investor after Italy’s MediaforEurope. PPF said in a statement that it believes ProSieben’s digital transformation will benefit all shareholders and expressed its intention to collaborate with the company’s management and supervisory board in the digitalisation process.

BT Sport Makes UEFA Finals Free-to-Air

BT Sport has made the 2023 UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League finals available to watch for free in the UK. The week’s matches will be shown on TV, alongside the broadcaster’s website, YouTube channel and app. “In an added bonus, 360° clips and multi-camera functionality will be available for the Champions League on selected devices,” said BT Sport.

The Week for Publishers

Minute Media Integrates its In-House SSP with Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace

Minute Media, the digital publishing group which owns titles including The Players’ Tribune, 90min, and Mental Floss, this week announced its owned and operated supply-side platform has integrated with Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace, meaning publishers connected with Amazon Publisher Services will be able to integrate with the SSP. Minute Media says this will grant those publishers increased monetisation and unique display and video demand.

Half of Newsrooms are Already Using Generative AI

Just under half (49 percent) of all newsrooms surveyed by the World Association of News Publishers, a news publisher trade group, say they are already using generative AI in their reporting, according to research released this week. The most commonly listed use cases were text creation of summaries and bullet points, search and research, and workflow/efficiency.

Meta Threatens to Block News Content in Canada

Meta this week said it would “be forced” to block users in California from sharing news via its social networks if an upcoming state law, which would force tech companies to pay publishers in order to be able to distribute their content, comes into force. Meta has made similar statements in Canada, where nation-wide legislation along the same lines is working its way through the legislature.

Publishers See Dwindling Traffic from Twitter

The amount of traffic publishers are receiving from links on Twitter is falling, according to Press Gazette’s analysis of Chartbeat data. Publishers saw a significant drop in Twitter-driven traffic in 2018, and it has fallen steadily since then. Twitter drove 1.9 percent of all traffic for the publishers seen by Chartbeat in April 2018, and this has fallen to 1.2 percent in April this year.

FT and BBC are UK’s Most Trusted News Brands

The Financial Times and the BBC came out on top as the UK’s most trusted news brands in research released by YouGov this week. The BBC topped the polls based on the number of people who explicitly trust it, with 44 percent deeming it either “very trustworthy” or “trustworthy”. But the FT had the highest ‘net trust’ score (the percentage of people explicitly trust it minus the percentage who don’t trust it), with 30 percent.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

WPP Partners with Nvidia to Use Generative AI in Ad Creation

The race among the top ad agencies to embrace AI has escalated again with the announcement that WPP has joined forces with chipmaker Nvidia, in a partnership designed to create ads using generative AI. Unveiled at Computex Taipei, WPP’s new content engine enables creative teams to integrate generative AI, alongside content from Adobe and Getty Images, into advertising campaigns. “Generative AI is changing the world of marketing at incredible speed,” said WPP CEO Mark Read. “This new technology will transform the way that brands create content for commercial use.” Read more on VideoWeek.

TV Ad Spend to Fall 3 Percent in 2023 as Dentsu Downgrades Forecast

Agency group Dentsu on Wednesday downgraded its 2023 ad spend forecast for the second time, expecting “a flat year for advertising” as macroeconomic factors, turbulent financial sectors and the war in Ukraine continue to squeeze spending. And Denstu’s outlook was weak for TV, estimating a 3.1 percent drop in ad spend this year, reflecting a decline in audience numbers and inventory. But the firm forecast a stronger Q4, when advertisers tend to up their TV investment, before bouncing back to 4 percent growth in 2024. Read more on VideoWeek.

Ben & Jerry’s Ends Paid Advertising on Twitter

Ice Cream brand Ben & Jerry’s this week announced it will stop running paid ad campaigns on Twitter, due to what it describes as a “proliferation of hate speech” on the platform. “The platform has become a threatening and even dangerous space for people from so many backgrounds, including people who are Black, Brown, trans, gay, women, people with disabilities, Jewish, Muslim and the list goes on,” the company said in a blog post explaining the decision.

L’Oréal Hands US Media Duties to OMG

Omnicom Media Group has been handed responsibility for L’Oréal’s media duties in the US, following a competitive review. The account, worth around €960 million a year in measured media spending according to MediaPost, was previously held by GroupM’s Wavemaker. OMG will take charge of the account next April.

The Brandtech Group Completes Acquisition of Jellyfish

Digital marketing holding company The Brandtech Group this week completed its acquisition of digital agency Jellyfish. The Brandtech Group first announced it was set to buy Jellyfish ten months ago, but negotiations with majority shareholder Fimalac have been ongoing. As a result of these negotiations, Fimalac will now become a shareholder in The Brandtech group.

Publicis Partners with ITV on Audience Addressability

Media agency Publicis Media and UK broadcaster ITV have announced a new partnership which will enable Publicis-owned media agencies to target audiences on ITV inventory using Publicis’ own Epsilon ID. The new capabilities have been created within PMX Lift, a unit within Publicis Media which develops solutions for navigating the changing TV advertising landscape. InfoSum’s clean room technology will be used to match audiences between ITV’s own data set and the Epsilon Core ID. Read more on VideoWeek.

Hires of the Week

IPA Names Laurence Green Director of Effectiveness

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has appointed Laurence Green as Director of Effectiveness. Green founded the agencies Fallon London and 101, which he sold to Publicis Groupe and IPG, respectively.

Choreograph Appoints Evan Hanlon Global CEO

WPP data unit Choreograph has named Evan Hanlon global CEO. Hanlon joined WPP’s Xaxis in 2011, followed by stints at GroupM, Essence and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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