The WIR: Sky Media Introduces Search Behaviour Targeting, Meta Proposes Consent Changes for Targeted Ads, and WPP Downgrades its Full-Year Forecast

Dan Meier 04 August, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Sky Media adds search behaviour targeting to AdSmart, Meta proposes changes to its consent mechanism for personalised ads, and WPP reduces its full-year forecast.

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Sky Media and Captify Bring Search Behaviour Targeting to AdSmart

Sky Media, the broadcaster’s ad sales unit, has introduced search behaviour targeting on its AdSmart platform. Developed in partnership with Captify, the search behaviour capability allows brands to target audiences based on online search patterns, frequency and intent, according to the company.

The search data is matched to Sky’s first-party data, enabling advertisers to target audiences actively searching for products and services. AdSmart, Sky’s addressable TV advertising platform, then delivers the ads into relevant households across live and on-demand content.

Sky Media said seven search behaviour categories are available at launch: Home & Garden, Travel, News, Job & Education, Arts and Entertainment, Games, Pets and Animals.

Meta Proposes Asking for Consent When Targeting Ads Under EU Scrutiny

Meta has proposed changes to its consent mechanism for personalised ads in efforts to appease EU privacy regulators. The new policy would see Facebook and Instagram explicitly ask all users in Europe for permission to show them targeted ads based on the videos they watch or posts they share.

The offer comes in response to January’s ruling by the Irish Data Protection Commission, which questioned the legal basis of Meta’s existing policy, whereby signing up to terms and conditions effectively constituted consent for use of data in targeted advertising.

WPP Reduces Full-Year Forecast Amid Falling Tech Spend

WPP this morning cut its annual revenue forecast from 3-5 percent to 1.5-3 percent. The downgrade comes in response to falling ad spend in tech sector, which sent the holding group’s US revenues down 4.5 percent in Q2 2023.

“There’s no doubt that we were taken a little bit by surprise by cuts in spending by our technology clients and some reduction in technology project spend that’s primarily been in the US,” said WPP CEO Mark Read.

WPP shares fell 7 percent to £7.87 in early morning trading following the announcement.

The Week in Tech

DoubleVerify to Acquire AI Campaign Optimisation Company Scibids for $125 Million

DoubleVerify (DV), a measurement and verification firm, has announced it will acquire Scibids Technology SAS, an AI-powered campaign optimisation business, in a cash and stock transaction valued at $125 million. Read more on VideoWeek.

Amazon Ad Revenues Climb 22 Percent in Q2

Amazon’s advertising revenues jumped 22 percent YoY in Q2 2023, reaching $10.68 billion. The retail giant credited its investment in machine learning models designed to help advertisers reach previously un-addressable audiences via Amazon Ads. “Performance improvements include an increase in click-through rate, an increase in return on ad spend, and a decrease in cost per impression,” the company said.

ShowHeroes Integrates Vidds AI Tools into Video Creation

Digital video specialist ShowHeroes has announced a partnership with Vidds, an AI-powered video editing platform. The collaboration integrates AI capabilities into ShowHeroes’ video creation processes, including:

  • AI Storyboard Development: using AI to summarise large passages of text into key sentences, then populating scenes with the summarised content and automatically selecting suitable stock video assets.

  • AI Content Planner: employing ChatGPT to produce different video concepts based on user-provided keywords or phrases, which can then be selected to auto-generate full videos.

  • AI Video Generator: generating videos based on prompts or keyword phrases. The AI produces text for each scene and performs a stock video search, selecting relevant assets based on the video’s main topics.

Kevel Forms OpenRTB Working Group for Retail Media

Ad tech firm Kevel has announced the formation of an industry working group to establish an OpenRTB protocol for retail media. The protocol will set standards for programmatic advertising in retail media, including privacy and data protection, and bidstream data standardisation. “We are in the midst of a retail media rebellion, where it has never been more clear that retail media needs to seize control of platforms, infrastructure, and data to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace,” said Kevel CEO James Avery. “The OpenRTB Protocol for Retail Media is going to fix that by setting a standard to address challenges concerning efficiency, flexibility, and trust.”

FreeWheel Integrates Programmatic Requests From Magnite

Magnite, a supply-side platform (SSP), has announced a technical integration with FreeWheel, a video ad tech company. The partnership enables FreeWheel users to see multiple sources of demand in a single platform, across programmatic and direct transactions, thereby helping publishers to maximise yield. “By better integrating Magnite’s programmatic technology, we continue to execute on our goal of maximising competition and demand for our clients’ inventory via unified ad decisioning within FreeWheel’s TV Platform,” said Soo Jin Oh, Chief Strategy Officer at FreeWheel. “Ultimately, this will not only benefit inventory owners and buyers, but also will improve the viewing experience for consumers.”

Apple Revenues Fall for Third Consecutive Quarter

Apple revenues fell 1.4 percent YoY in Q2 2023, marking a third consecutive quarter of sales decline. The tech giant beat Wall Street estimates with quarterly revenues of $81.8 billion, but cited the challenging macro environment and weak iPhone demand. The company also highlighted AI as a future growth area, spending $22.61 billion on R&D so far this fiscal year.

Elon Musk’s X Sues Anti-Hate Group

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) is suing the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), after the watchdog reported rising hate speech on the platform since Musk’s takeover. The legal filing accuses the CCDH of scraping Twitter’s data, and costing the company “tens of millions of dollars” in ad revenues. The anti-hate group responded that Musk was attempting to “bully us into silence.”

The Week in TV

Sky Media Joins ITV’s Buying Platform Planet V

Sky Media, the UK broadcaster’s sales house, has joined Planet V, ITV’s VOD buying platform, for a trial period. Agencies and advertisers will be able to plan and buy campaigns across Sky’s on-demand content using the self-serve advertising platform. Planet V allows buyers to purchase digital inventory programmatically, without the need to go through a sales team. Read more on VideoWeek.

Canal+ Revenues Drive Growth at Vivendi

Canal+ reported 3 percent YoY revenue growth in H1 2023, reaching €2.959 billion. The French broadcaster saw its domestic revenues rise by 1.7 percent, and international revenues climb 2.2 percent. This contributed to 3.7 percent growth for parent company Vivendi, reaching €4.698 million in H1 revenues.

WBD Improves Ad Sales but Loses Subscribers 

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) revenues dropped by 4 percent YoY, to $10.36 billion, in Q2 2o23. The company also lost 1.8 million streaming subscribers during the quarter, bringing its global subscriber base to 95.8 million. But the company witnessed a 25 percent rise in streaming ad revenues, calling new streaming service Max “a huge driver of our success”. WBD also restructured its ad sales team this week, in order to provide agencies a single point of contact for accessing its inventory. The reshuffle sees Marybeth Strobel leading the Regis, Omnicom, Magna and Dentsu accounts, and Greg Regis responsible for Publicis, GroupM and Horizon.

MFE Grows Despite Advertising Decline 

MediaForEurope (MFE) reported an 8 percent rise in operating profit for H1 2023, hitting €121 million. The Italian media giant said a 1.47 percent decline in ad revenues (€1.34 billion) was offset by a 2.2 percent drop in costs (€1.25 billion). The Berlusconi-owned firm also forecast flat ad sales in Italy for the current quarter, but noted weaker performance for the Spanish business.

PPF Group Takes 6.3 Percent Stake in Viaplay

Czech investment firm PPF Group has taken a 6.3 percent stake in Viaplay, giving the group a 6 percent voting share in the struggling streaming company. The investment follows last week’s news that Canal+ took a 12 percent stake in the Nordic business, after it announced 25 percent job cuts and plans to pull out of international markets. PPF also holds a 15 percent stake in ProSiebenSat.1, making it the second-largest shareholder in the German broadcaster behind MediaForEurope.

ProSieben Revenues Down 17 Percent in Q2

ProSiebenSat.1 revenues were down 17 percent YoY in Q2 2023, with profits tumbling 49 percent during the quarter. The results follow Prosieben’s announcement last month that 400 jobs would be lost, as the German broadcaster refocuses its business on streaming service Joyn. But the company anticipates a stronger second half of the year, with “improved economic development” boosting the DACH ad market.

MiQ Launches CTV Planning Tool

Programmatic specialist MiQ has announced a new advanced TV planning tool, enabling advertisers to activate across YouTube and CTV. The solution uses data from various measurement sources, including Samba TV and Barb, to provide advertisers with metrics for pre-campaign planning and targeting. “There is a growing acknowledgment that there is a genuine and valuable opportunity to be had across AVOD and FAST content and YouTube on the big screen, but there is also an unhelpful land grab taking place that isn’t making it easy for agencies and marketers to seize the opportunity,” said MiQ UK CRO John Thomson. “We’ve built a pro-marketer product that works for brands and agencies whether you have a digital or AV focused role.”

Rakuten TV Lands on PlayStation 5

Streaming company Rakuten TV has launched its app on PlayStation 5 across Europe. The streaming app is now available on the console in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Poland and Romania. “This launch is a step forward in our growth and potential,” said Rakuten CPO Sidharth Jayant. “After having recently announced the enhancement of our FAST channels portfolio, we are glad now to complement it with our new collaboration to reach a wider audience.”

Disney’s Hotstar to Clamp Down on Password Sharing in India

Hotstar, the Disney-owned streaming service in India, has announced plans to crack down on password sharing. The policy will limit premium users to four devices, as the company looks to better monetise its streaming business. The move follows Netflix’s international roll-out of paid password sharing, which it says has driven more signups than cancellations.

The Week for Publishers

“All is Not Lost” for Local News Publishers, Says Enders Analysis

A report from Enders Analysis has cast some optimism on the sustainability of local news, suggesting that “all is not lost” for local news publishers. The ‘Signs of local life: A new phase for local media’ study argued that local media traffic still has unparalleled scale. “One way or another Reach’s journalism is seen by well-nigh every UK adult,” said the report. But publishers need to build out “exemplary first-party data” and rapidly transform into “sustainable digital media.” The report also predicted that print will enter its “final phase” in the next three to five years.

LADbible Partners with Skyrise on Audience Data

UK publisher LADbible Group has announced a partnership with Skyrise, an audience data firm. The deal enables the publisher to offer advertisers richer data for campaign targeting, in a privacy-safe environment. “Skyrise’s understanding of complex audience interactions, and an agile collaborative approach to data is uniquely complementary to how LADbible Group works with brands and agencies,” said Bradley Hill, Head of Performance and Planning at LADbible Group.

Pinterest Expenses Outpace Sales in Q2

Social sharing site Pinterest saw its sales jump 6 percent YoY in Q2 2023, hitting $708 million in revenues. But the gains were dragged down by an 11 percent increase in costs and expenses, which reached $781 million during the quarter. Pinterst shares dropped 4 percent in light of the results.

Agence France-Presse Sues Elon Musk’s X Over News Payments

Agence France-Presse (AFP), the French news agency, has filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s X for failing to negotiate payments to distribute its content. According to AFP, the company formerly known as Twitter has violated France’s “neighbouring rights” law, which compels large online platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for news. Musk called the rules “bizarre” in a post on X.

News Copyright Theft “Through the Roof” in 2023

Copyright theft affecting UK and global news publishers is “through the roof”, a content licensing organisation revealed this week. NLA Media Access has taken down around 700,000 stolen news articles in 2023 so far, according to Press Gazette, compared with 30,000 in 2022. “Legal teams are too stretched to deal with these kinds of infringements,” said Matt Aspinall, Head of Publisher Services at NLA. “They know it’s a problem that’s getting bigger, but they don’t necessarily have a way to address it.”

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Havas Posts Quarterly Growth Across All Regions

Havas has posted 6.3 percent organic growth, to €677 million, in Q2 2023. The Vivendi-owned agency said growth was “solid” in Europe (+3.4 percent), North America (+5.5 percent), Asia-Pacific (+7.6 percent) and Latin America (+30.4 percent). “These results demonstrate the strong resilience of our businesses and our ability to reinvent ourselves in the face of changes in our environment,” said Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine. “Havas’s Health&You and Media divisions, in particular, excelled.”

Israeli Brands Stop Advertising on Pro-Netanyahu News Channel 

Two large Israeli brands stopped advertising on a pro-Netanyahu news channel this week. Food manufacturer Strauss Group and car importer Delek Motors said they have stopped spending on Channel 14, after a contributor advocated the release of the killer of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who supported an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Strauss said the channel broadcast “various offensive statements, repeated over and over again.”

Profitero Launches AI Chatbot for E-Commerce Analysis

Profitero, a Publicis-owned e-commerce platform, has launched an AI chatbot using OpenAI’s tech. Ask Profitero will analyse data across 1,000 brands in 50 countries, including price, availability and search rank. The chat-based AI assistant will then be able to tell a user about competitor products, propose product titles, or suggest improvements in search rankings.

OMG UK Introduces ESG Impact Tool

Omnicom Media Group UK has introduced a tool for measuring the environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices of media owners. Using data from Legacy Media, OMG Impact shows advertiser clients ESG scores for media investments, enabling them to understand the impact of their ad spend. The UK Government is the first client to sign up for the new offering. “The launch of OMG Impact marks the first time Legacy Media has partnered directly with a global agency partner and opened access to its full datasets,” said Bhavin Balvantrai, chief market analyst at OMG. “This stands as testament to OMG’s status as a trusted partner across the media ecosystem.”

Hires of the Week

Andrew Rutledge Named Emodo CRO

Emodo, Ericsson’s ad tech business, has appointed Andrew Rutledge as Chief Revenue Officer. He brings over 20 years of experience from DoubleClick (now Google), PubMatic and Xandr.

Mindshare Appoints Nik Doble Australian Head of Investment

GroupM agency Mindshare has named Nik Doble as National Head of Investment for Australia. Doble previously served as Head of Investment at OMD.

This Week on VideoWeek

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