The WIR: Disney+ Plans Ad Launch in Europe, UM Launches a Retail Media Optimisation Tool, and the New York Times Eeks Out Ad Revenue Growth

Tim Cross 11 August, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Disney+ plans ads launch in Europe, UM launches a new retail media offering, and digital powers the NYT’s ads business to marginal growth.

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Disney+ Plans Europe Ads Tier Launch in November

Disney has announced it will launch an ad-supported tier for its Disney+ streaming service in various European markets in November, amid a wider reworking of its subscription tier pricing. Disney has said the ads tier will be launched in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as Canada.

This ads tier will come in cheaper than a standard subscription, for example costing £4.99 per month in the UK, below the current £7.99 cost of a subscription. A £7.99 subscription will still be available, but this won’t offer 4k video, or the ability to watch on up to four devices at once. To keep these benefits, users will have to upgrade to a £10.99 subscription.

The changes come after a period of slower growth in subscriptions. Total subscribers excluding its Indian streaming business Disney+ Hotstar were up by 0.8 million compared with the previous quarter. Hotstar subscriptions meanwhile dropped from 52.9 million to 40.4 million, following the loss of key cricket rights.

UM Launches Retail Budget Allocation and Optimisation Tool ‘Shoptimizer’

IPG-owned media agency UM has announced the launch of ‘Shoptimizer’, a new retail budget allocation and optimization tool which UM says simplifies commerce planning while maximizing ROI.

The tool uses retail media performance data to help brands decide which retail media offerings to spend their budget on, helping them to optimise across various different retail media partners. UM says initial tests drove between 12-15 percent increases in incremental sales, with participating brands reporting the tool provided better transparency, and gave a deeper understanding of which retailers were driving results.

Shoptimizer comes as part of parent company IPG Mediabrands’ wider retail media business unit, called Unified Retail Media Solution, which itself was announced a few weeks back. Mediabrands said at the time that this new business unit is designed to bring “openness and trust to the typically closed world of retail media at a time when brand spend in the space is growing rapidly”.

NYT Posts Marginal Total Ad Revenue Growth as Digital Continues to Rise

For many publishers in recent years, financial results have shown strong growth in digital ad revenues, but not strong enough to cover decreases in print ad revenues (barring recoveries in print ad revenues from the pandemic’s lows).

The New York Times’ most recent earnings report suggests it has managed to shift this balance. Digital ad revenues, which are now significantly larger than print, grew 6.5 percent year-on-year to $73.8 million. Print revenues meanwhile fell by 8.6 percent to $44 million. These figures suggest a marginal total growth of $0.4 million in overall ad revenues, or growth of around 0.42 percent.

While this is slim overall growth (the Times said growth was flat rather than giving this figure), any growth at all is a positive, suggesting something of a positive swing for the NYT’s ad business.

The Week in Tech

Magnite Adds Attain’s Retail Data for Clearline Clients

Attain, a commerce data platform, has partnered with sell-side platform Magnite, to provide video buyers with Attain’s purchase data. Agencies buying video through Magnite’s ClearLine platform will be able to measure outcomes using Attain’s real-time commerce data. The partnership will expand beyond ClearLine clients “in the near future”, the ad tech firm said.

GroupM Gains Access to IRIS.TV Video-Level Data 

IRIS.TV, a content data platform, has partnered with GroupM, WPP’s media investment arm. GroupM Premium Marketplace (GPM) will access video-level data using IRIS_ID, a universal content identifier enriched by contextual and brand-suitability data partners. “We are pleased to partner with IRIS.TV and leverage their video-level targeting across the GroupM Premium Marketplace,” said Kevin Sheehan, Director, Programmatic Investment at GroupM. “We have an ironclad commitment to brand-suitable advertising on every medium, and the IRIS_ID provides a level of transparency that enhances the way we invest in CTV environments.”

iSpot.TV Strikes Preferred Measurement Partner Deal with Camelot

TV measurement provider iSpot.TV has struck a deal with independent agency Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media, which will see it become Camelot’s preferred measurement partner for TV and video. iSpot says the move marks an expansion of its business model, as it has previously primarily worked directly with brands.

Twitter Taps IAS to Help Repair Brand Safety Damage

X (formerly Twitter) has partnered with ad tech firm Integral Ad Science (IAS) to enhance brand safety options for advertisers. The company’s ad revenues have fallen by 50 percent since Elon Musk’s takeover, with advertisers fleeing the platform over concerns around lapsed content moderation, including a rise in hate speech observed by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Advertisers will be able to use IAS technology to choose the types of content they wish to avoid appearing alongside. X already has IAS tools in place, but will add pre-bid technology that uses machine learning to determine ad placements, expected to be introduced later this year.

PubMatic Sees Slim Revenue Growth in Q2

Supply-side platform PubMatic reported slim year-on-year revenue growth in its Q2 earnings, with revenues up $0.3 million to $63 million. While these figures were ahead of market expectations, the company also warned of tough times ahead, predicting Q3 revenues of between $58 million and $61 million. PubMatic attributed this drop to industry-wide pricing headwinds and the short term impact from the redistribution of ad spend caused by MediaMath’s bankruptcy.

Simon Data Raises $54 Million in Series D Funding

Simon Data, a tech business which describes itself as a composable customer data platform, has raised $54 million in Series D funding, bringing total funding up to $118 million according to AdExchanger. The funding round was led by Macquarie Capital. Simon Data will use the funding for R&D and product development, specifically looking at ways to fold generative AI for things like segment creation.

Pinterest and LiveRamp Announce Extended Partnership

LiveRamp this week announced an expanded partnership with Pinterest, which LiveRamp’s RampID made available for reaching Pinterest users across markets including the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and some European and APAC markets. The two say their expanded partnership will improve measurement and analytics for advertisers working with both businesses.

Ofcom Criticises “Impenetrable” Terms and Conditions of Video-Sharing Platforms

UK communications regulator Ofcom has found that video-sharing platforms make their terms and conditions “lengthy, impenetrable and, in some cases, inconsistent”, particularly for younger users. The research, which will inform the watchdog’s new powers under the Online Safety Bill, finds that the user terms on TikTok, Twitch and Snapchat require advanced reading skills to understand. “Terms and conditions are fundamental to protecting people, including children, from harm when using social video sites and apps,” said Jessica Zucker, Online Safety Policy Director at Ofcom. “That’s because the reporting of potentially harmful videos – and effective moderation of that content – can only work if there are clear and unambiguous rules underpinning the process.”

The Week in TV

Paramount Streaming Ad Revenues Up 21 Percent Year-on-Year

Paramount reported continued growth of its streaming business in its Q2 financial results this week, with total direct-to-consumer revenues up 40 percent year-on-year, and ad revenues from Paramount+ and Pluto TV up 21 percent. Total subscriptions to Paramount+ hit 61 million, up 0.7 million in the quarter. But TV ad revenues, which are still much larger than streaming ad revenues, were down 10 percent due to “continued softness” in the TV ad market, according to the report.

FuboTV Raises its Guidance After Strong Q2 Revenues

Sports-first streaming platform FuboTV reported 41 percent year-on-year growth in its North America revenues in its Q2 financial results this week, reaching $305 million. Fubo did report a drop in subscribers across the quarter, with its subscription count down by over 100,000 compared with Q1. But the company predicted a return to subscriber growth in the coming quarter. CEO David Gandler said that this, alongside “an improving ad sales backdrop”, means the company is now expecting full-year revenues between $1.26 billion to $1.28 billion.

Warner Bros. Discovery Reportedly Plans to Launch a Sports Streaming Tier

Warner Bros. Discovery is planning to launch a sports tier on its streaming service Max, CNBC reported this week. The company hopes to have the tier up and running in time for the MLB playoffs, with plans to also stream games from the NBA, NHL, and NCAA on Max. To start at least, Max will only stream games which WBD is already airing on its linear cable channels.

DAZN Expands its FAST Offering with Pluto TV Channels in Germany

Sport streaming specialist DAZN, which has recently begun launching free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels across various providers, this week announced it is launching four new channels on Pluto TV in Germany. DAZN International Football X Pluto TV and DAZN Darts X Pluto TV started running on August 10th, while DAZN Fights X Pluto TV and DAZN Heldinnen X Pluto TV are planned for later this month.

AMC Plans Ad-Support Streaming Tier After Losing Half a Million Subscribers

US TV business AMC Networks lost half a million subscribers to its streaming service over the course of its previous quarter, the company announced in its Q2 results this week, down to 11 million subscribers in total. One potential remedy is the launch of a new ad-supported subscription tier, which was first announced in April. This ad-supported tier is due to go live by October.

The Week for Publishers

Local Publishing Group National World Launches a Linear TV Channel

National World, a British regional publishing group which owns a host of local and national newspapers, has announced the launch of a new TV brand, ‘Shots!’. Shots! will run as a live linear Freeview channel in the UK, as well as a website which will host on-demand content and a live feed of the linear channel.

The channel will run content created by journalists from across National World’s owned and operated titles. Both the on-demand content and the linear channel is being monetised by advertising, with Axiom Media handling ad sales. Read more on VideoWeek.

LadBible Group and Uber Set for Digital Upfronts Debut

LadBible Group and Uber will both join IAB UK’s Digital Upfronts this autumn, running TV-style showcases of their ad offerings and inventory alongside the likes of BBC Studios, Snapchat, And YouTube. “LADbible Group and Uber both have unique and highly valuable advertiser propositions and I’m so excited to see how they bring that to life at their first IAB Upfronts,” said IAB UK CMO James Chandler.

Revenues Drop, but Losses Narrow for Gannett

Embattled US publishing group Gannett reported another drop in revenues in its Q2 earnings this week, with total revenues down 10.2 percent year-on-year to $672.4 million. But digital revenues saw a slight uptick, growing by 0.8 percent. And losses narrowed to $12.7 million, compared with $41 million in the same quarter last year. “We believe we are making great progress on our strategy, and our results signify a notable turning point in our business trajectory,” says Michael Reed, chairman and CEO of Gannett.

News Corp Cuts Small Business Ad Platform Project in Australia

News Corp has shut down development of a platform which would have enabled small businesses in Australia to buy ads across its publications, AFR reported this week. News Corp has appointed Accenture to help create the platform, and spent over $20 million, though News Corp denied this figure. News Corp attributed the shut down of the project to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on the SME advertising market.

National World Considers Buying The Telegraph

UK local publishing group National World is considering taking part in the sales process for Telegraph Media Group once it formally commences, the company announced this week. The wording used by spokespeople, around being a “possible participant”, suggested it may look to a joint bid for the newspaper group. No other bidders have publicly announced an intention to bid for the company, according to the BBC.

Vice News Editor and Editor-in-Chief Leave Following Sale

Vice News’ London-based editor and editor-in-chief have both resigned from the company, Semafor reported this week, following the sale of Vice Media Group to a consortium of lenders led by Fortress Investment Group.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Stagwell Lowers Guidance After Tricky Q2

Agency group Stagwell joined several other major agency holding groups in lowering its guidance for the full year after a disappointing Q2. The company saw a five percent year-on-year drop in organic net revenues, projecting full year organic net revenues to be between zero and two percent growth. Like others, CEO Mark Penn cited an advertising slowdown in the tech sector as a significant factor.

Dentsu Media’s Americas CEO Leaves Amid Massive Reorganisation.

Doug Rozen, Dentsu Media’s CEO for the Americas, is leaving the company as part of a large reorganisation of Dentsu’s US business, AdAge reported this week. The reorganisation will see around 1000 Dentsu staff in the US moved between departments, which the company says amounts to ten percent of its US workforce. Part of this reorganisation involves unifying Merkle’s media capabilities with iProspect, which has involved significant staff reshuffling.

Mondelez International Returns to Twitter

Snack manufacturer Mondelez International has returned to Twitter (or X, as the platform is slowly rebranding to), having been one of the first major brands to pull spend from the platform after Elon Musk acquired it, Adweek reported this week. “X has made tremendous progress in building brand safety tools that empower advertisers to leverage the power of their platform while curating the context in which the ads appear,” Jon Halvorson, svp of consumer experiences at Mondelez International, told Adweek in a statement. “Adding pre-bid meets a critical commitment made by their leadership and we are eager to implement this new feature going forward.”

Publicis’ Digital Experience Division Takes Firm Stance on Office Work

Publicis’ digital experience division is mandating that workers show up in the office for at least three days a week, according to a memo seen by AdAge, threatening that failure to comply could affect salaries, bonuses, and promotion prospects. This includes workers who are involved with teams based in another state, with the memo citing the benefits of working alongside staff from the wider agency group regardless of direct collaboration with those staff.

US Ad Industry Added 1000 Jobs in July

Total employment in US advertising, marketing, and related services grew by around 1,000 in July, according to AdAge’s analysis of data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This brings total employment in the sector to its highest level since 2001.

Hires of the Week

Immediate Media Appoints Christina Hawley as CCO

UK publishing group Immediate Media has appointed Christina Hawley as its new chief commercial officer, the company announced this week. Hawley’s most recent role prior to Immediate Media CCO of Ocado, with responsibility for buying, commercial strategy, monetisation and data.

Tactical hires Jose M. Sanchez as Head of Creative

Independent agency Tactical has hired Jose M. Sanchez as head of creative. Sanchez will spearhead the company’s efforts to leverage creative, technology, and data. Sanchez joins from Miro, where he was creative lead for production.

This Week on VideoWeek

TikTok Ends Ads Personalisation for Young EU Users

RTL Lowers Full-Year Outlook Despite Streaming Growth

Local Publishing Group National World Launches a Linear TV Channel

Cadent Acquired by Private Equity Firm Novacap

Global Publishing Groups Call for Legal Framework for AI Applications in News

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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