The WIR: Nielsen Appoints Karthik Rao as CEO, X Begins Selling Ads Through Google, and Pinterest Unveils New Ad Formats

Tim Cross 15 September, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Nielsen appoints a new CEO, X looks to Google to grow ad revenues, and Pinterest rolls out new ad formats and shoppable features.

Top Stories

Karthik Rao Takes Over as Nielsen CEO

Nielsen has announced a new CEO, Karthik Rao, succeeding David Kenny, who will become executive chairman. Rao has been at the business for 23 years, most recently serving as CEO of its Audience Measurement Unit.

David Kenny oversaw a rocky five years at the ratings giant, during which it lost and partially regained its Media Ratings Council (MRC) accreditation. The company also launched its cross-media measurement product Nielsen ONE, and was acquired in a private equity deal valued around $10 billion. Last week the company announced it is cutting 9 percent of staff.

Meanwhile Nielsen has struggled to keep up with fragmented audience consumption, allowing alternative measurement companies to gain traction, including Comscore, iSpot.TV and VideoAmp. And while Nielsen remains the dominant metric in TV deals, rival currencies have been adopted by major broadcasters.

X Begins Selling Inventory Through Google in Effort to Boost Ad Revenue

X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, will begin using Google’s publisher-facing programmatic software Google Ad Manager (GAM) to sell its ad inventory, AdAge reported this week. X has been publicly struggling with ad revenues since Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company, and the partnership is presumably designed to help bring in more ad revenue and steady the ship. X is only using GAM for ads which appear on users’ main timelines, according to Google’s statement.

Several brands and agencies publicly stopped running ads on X once Musk took over the company, citing brand safety concerns relating to his stance on content moderation. And while some have returned, many have not. Just this week Bloomberg reported that a number of brands who have paused spend on X plan to continue doing so at least over the Christmas period.

GAM will open up a new tap of ad revenue for X. But Google has its own standards around brand safety and disinformation which publisher partners are expected to meet – meaning X may need to tighten up on content moderation in order to continue selling through GAM.

Pinterest Unveils New Ad Formats and Shoppable Capabilities

Pinterest this week unveiled a number of new ad products at its Pinterest Presents annual advertising summit, and product changes which it says will make it easier for brands to run shoppable campaigns.

Pinterest is making ‘Premiere Spotlight’ its large video ad format, available on the home page. The format, one of Pinterest’s primary video ad offerings, was previously only available in search results. The social platform also announced Showcase Ads, a new interactive scrollable ad format, and Quiz Ads, which ask users a series of questions before showing personalised results.

Alongside the new formats, Pinterest is adding mobile deep links and direct links which publishers can embed in their ads. These will allow brands to take users directly from Pinterest to their retail sites, or specific product pages. And the company also announced new ecommerce integrations with Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Adobe Commerce, which Pinterest says will make it easier for brands to upload product catalogues onto the platform.

The Week in Tech

iSpot Acquires 605 to Expand US Measurement Footprint

iSpot, a US-based TV and advertising measurement company, has acquired 605, a data measurement and attribution company, for an undisclosed fee. In a statement, iSpot said the acquisition of 605 would bolster iSpot’s measurement solutions for video and TV advertising effectiveness, particularly in terms of business outcome attribution, audience measurement, media planning and data science managed services. Read on VideoWeek.

VideoAmp Raises $150 Million to Fuel Currency Push

VideoAmp, a US-based measurement provider, has announced it has raised $150 million in a Series G funding round led by Vista Credit Partners. The company says the fresh funding will help fuel growth as it pushes its TV currency among agencies and broadcasters. As the ‘Series G’ label suggests, VideoAmp has raised significant sums over the years. Most recently, it raised $275 million in its Series F funding round back in 2021. That round of funding brought VideoAmp’s valuation up to $1.4 billion, according to the company’s own calculations. Read on VideoWeek.

Criteo Expands DSP and Retail Media Platform

Criteo, a French ad tech firm, has announced the general availability of its self-service demand-side platform (DSP), Commerce Max. The company said the move will give brands and agencies a single point of entry to retail media inventory onsite and across premium publishers offsite. Criteo is also expanding its retailer monetisation suite, Commerce Yield, providing media tools to retailers and marketplaces, including: 

  • Commerce Yield Marketplace: helping monetisation officers integrate marketplace tactics and formats
  • Commerce Yield In-Store: offering advertisers access to a wider range of offline inventory
  • Commerce Yield Insights: providing digital-shelf insights to support enterprise-level retail media buys

DoubleVerify to Enable Advertisers to Identify MFA Sites

DoubleVerify, a digital media measurement and analytics platform, this week announced a solution to enable advertisers to monitor and avoid ‘Made for Advertising’ (MFA) sites. The company has defined MFA sites as those whose sole purpose is to deliver ads. DoubleVerify say their solution aims to analyse the ad monetisation activities of MFA sites, their ad traffic sources, and their approaches to content creation. Read on VideoWeek.

Google Sued for Raising Ad Prices and Passing Costs to UK Consumers

Google is facing a multibillion-pound lawsuit from UK consumers for alleged contributions to the cost-of-living crisis. The lawsuit accuses Google of stifling competition in the search engine market, then using its market dominance to raise its ad prices, which has in turn caused prices to rise across the UK economy. Funded by Hereford Litigation, the class action has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, and seeks estimated compensation of £7.3 billion for around 65 million UK adults.

ISBA Partners with Differentology for Origin Research

Origin, ISBA’s cross-platform measurement tool, has named Differentology its research partner for delivering a UK Media Landscape and Enumeration Survey. The research firm will interview 20,000 UK adults every three months. The insights into the media landscape will help build the foundations of the Origin single source panel and virtual ID population framework, according to ISBA. The research will also help advertisers understand the demographic relationships between different media access, retail behaviours, loyalty card usage and banking preferences. Data will be available via dashboards and through general publication to Origin members by the end of 2023, the trade group said.

Adform and Scope3 Report Success in Excluding Carbon-Intensive Domains

Adform, a demand-side platform (DSP) has announced it decreased digital advertising emissions for Audi, Vodafone, and PcComponentes through its partnership with Scope3. The ad tech company said that by excluding 30 percent of the highest-emitting domains from media plans, carbon emissions were reduced while improving campaign performance. For example, a campaign for Audi Czech Republic, deployed by media agency PHD, achieved an 81 percent lower gCO2PM compared to the Scope3 market average, with 65 percent increase in CTR.

Belgian Market Court Suspends Ruling on IAB Europe’s TCF 

The Belgian Market Court has suspended its assessment of the IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF), pending a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The decision is the latest development in the ongoing investigation into the trade body’s technical specification for collecting and passing user consent. “This development is good news for IAB Europe and TCF participants as it removes the risk of introducing changes to the TCF that may ultimately be found inappropriate by the CJEU and rolled back,” the trade association said in a statement.

The Week in TV

Norwegian Group Schibsted Acquires 10.1 Percent Viaplay Stake

Schibsted, a Norwegian media group, has acquired a 10.1 percent stake in Viaplay, following the Nordic broadcaster’s recent struggles. Schibsted joins French broadcaster Canal+ and Czech investor PPF Group, which own 12 percent and 6.3 percent stakes, respectively. “Schibsted has a long history of investing in companies close to our core that benefit from our strength, and of seizing opportunities which arise in more uncertain times,” said Schibsted CEO Kristin Skogen Lund.

TF1 to Sell CTV Inventory on Samsung TV Plus

French broadcaster TF1 has announced a partnership with Samsung Ads, whereby TF1 PUB, the sales house, will sell video inventory on Samsung TV Plus. The streaming service includes over 100 free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels. TF1 PUB will introduce a Smart TV offering dedicated to inventory around MYTF1 content and Samsung TV Plus channels.

Channel 4 to Debut Hollyoaks on BVOD Before Moving to YouTube

Channel 4 has made long-running soap Hollyoaks available to watch on its BVOD service the day before they air on linear channel E4, and on YouTube the week after. The move continues Channel 4’s digital-first strategy, designed to meet young viewers’ consumption habits. “[Hollyoaks] was the first UK soap to move to a stream-first model last year and this is the next phase of that evolution,” said Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, Channel 4. “We hope making Hollyoaks available on YouTube, as well as our own platforms, will introduce a whole new generation to the show.”

Disney and Charter End Dispute with Streaming Carriage Deal

Charter Communications and Disney reached a carriage agreement before the de facto deadline imposed by the NFL’s Monday Night Football, ending a two-week standoff between the telco and media giant. The new agreement grants the cable company one of its key demands: to offer Spectrum TV Select subscribers the ad-supported Disney+ service at no extra cost. Charter will also be allowed to bundle the ESPN+ OTT service for customers, and eventually the standalone ESPN streaming service expected to launch in the coming years.

Western European Streaming Subs Could Surpass North America in 2024

OTT subscriptions in Western Europe are set to surpass North America in 2024, according to Ampere Analysis, with the UK and Germany driving subscriber growth. The research suggests North America will fall to the third-largest region for streaming households, after Asia then Western Europe. North America will no longer account for the majority of streaming revenue, Ampere found, as the region drops below 50 percent of global revenue in 2024. “Streaming saturation in North America is the primary driver for reduced growth,” said Guy Bisson, Executive Director at Ampere Analysis. “Other world regions still have headroom for new customers, both in terms of customers entirely new to streaming and in the number of services taken in each home.”

ITVX to Show Oscars Ceremony 

ITV and ITVX will show the Oscars ceremony in 2024, gaining the rights held by Sky for 20 years. The multi-year deal with Disney will aim to boost audiences for the event, whose viewership has dwindled in the last few years. “We already have a fantastic collection of over 250 feature films available on ITVX at any one time and are looking forward to sharing the movie event of the year with our viewers,” said Darren Nartey, Senior Acquisitions Manager, ITV and ITVX.

The Week for Publishers

Reach Experiments with Non-Ad Revenue Streams

Regional news publisher Reach is experimenting with a number of new revenue streams, as it seeks to diversify revenues outside of advertising, Press Gazette reported this week. Reach is trialling metered paywalls, paid ad-free subscriptions on the Daily Express, and paid Substack newsletters. Reach’s audience transformation director Martin Little told Press Gazette that advertising will remain the priority.

Independent Reports Strong Growth in US

UK newspaper The Independent was found by Comscore data to be the fastest growing UK news brand in the US, up by 7.4 million readers year-on-year in July. The news comes shortly after the news publisher announced an expansion of its US efforts, with ex-CEO Zach Leonard moving to the US to spearhead growth.

Half of Newsquest Ad Revenues Now Digital

UK regional news group Newsquest grew its revenues and remained in profit in 2022, the publisher reported, though profit was down year-on-year to £27 million (from £45 million). The group passed a significant milestone over the year, with more than half of its ad revenues now coming from digital advertising.

Future Gears Up to Grow Digital Subscriptions

Future is focusing on growing revenues from digital subscriptions, CEO Jon Steinberg said at a Press Gazette conference this week, following successful cultivation of print subscriptions. Steinberg said that Future will use its own Kiosk paywall technology, which is already rolled out on a few sites. Steinberg described digital subscription growth as “top of mind”, though he added it might take a while to ramp up.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Media.Monks Announces New AI Production Tool

S4 Capital’s Media.Monks has announced a new AI offering which will be folded into its software-defined production solution, which it says will enable creation of hyper-personalised content across new media formats. The system will use AI to select highlights from live broadcasts and create custom content tailored to specific interest-based audiences.

Carat Wins Kraft Heinz’s US Media Account

Dentsu-owned media agency Carat has won media responsibilities for food and beverage brand Kraft Heinz in the US following a competitive review, taking over from Publicis Groupe’s Starcom. Carat already holds Kraft Heinz’s Canada and International accounts, which it won from Starcom back in 2021 according to AdAge.

GroupM Agrees Sponsorship Deal with A+E for Diverse Programming

WPP media agency GroupM has agreed a deal with broadcaster A+E which will give its clients a first look at sponsorship opportunities on diverse programming, which the two say will help get projects off the ground by making it easier and faster to secure funding. A+E projects will have to meet GroupM’s DE&I standards in order to be eligible, according to AdAge.

Marketers Should be Wary of Paid Traffic Eating Up Diverse Media Budgets, Warns Jounce

Programmatic technologies provide an efficient way for marketers to funnel budgets towards diverse-owned media, and fulfil their diverse-owned media pledges, Jounce Media said in a new report shared with the Wall Street Journal. But marketers should be wary of where these budgets end up, and some tools funnel spend towards sites which buy traffic. This runs counter to the goals of diverse media pledges, since a lot of spend essentially ends up with companies which are paid for traffic, the Jounce report warned.

Thirty Agencies Gain IPA Effectiveness Accreditation

Industry trade group the IPA this week named thirty agencies which have been awarded IPA Effectiveness Accreditation. The award requires agencies to prove they have a commitment to effectiveness across four areas: focus, people, process, and data, tools and measurement. EssenceMediacom, Wavemaker UK, MG OMD, Publicis.Poke, and Hearts & Science were among those awarded – the full list can be viewed here.

EssenceMediacom Takes On Digital Work for Sofology

GroupM’s EssenceMediacom has agreed an expanded partnership with DFS Group, taking on digital duties for sofa brand Sofology. EssenceMediacom already ran linear TV and BVOD for the brand, while the digital brief was previously handled by the7stars.

Dentsu Launches Search AI Tool

Agency holding group Dentsu has released a new AI-based tool called d.Scriptor, which generates ad copy and helps optimise execution for paid search, Digiday reported this week. Denstu believes the tool is suited to brand categories which produce a lot of ad copy, as it can help with creativity at scale and experimentation, according to Digiday.

Hires of the Week

ISBA Names Lorna East Head of Agency Services

ISBA has appointed Lorna East as Head of Agency Services. The new role is dedicated to supporting advertisers with agency contracting, the trade body said. East joins from brand consultancy The Writer, where she served as Group Client Services Director.

Mindshare Appoints Tom diSapia CSO

Mindshare, a GroupM agency, has named Tom diSapia as Global Chief Strategy Officer. DiSapia previously spent eight years at UM, an IPG Mediabrands agency, most recently as Chief Strategy Officer EMEA.

Paul Davies Becomes Yospace Head of Marketing

Yospace, a video tech company, has hired Paul Davies as Head of Marketing. Davies re-joins the firm after four years at Platform Communications, following an 11-year stint at Yospace.

This Week on VideoWeek

Disney’s Carriage Dispute with Charter Faces Looming Deadline

YouTube Unveils AI for Ensuring Ads Meet its Own Standards

The VideoWeek Guide to DMEXCO 2023

Unity Sparks Backlash with New Fee-Per-Download Pricing Model

Majority of UK Consumers Would Not Pay for Ad-Free Facebook and Instagram

iSpot Acquires 605 to Expand US Measurement Footprint

VideoAmp Raises $150 Million to Fuel Currency Push

DoubleVerify to Enable Advertisers to Identify MFA Sites

Ad of the Week

Specsavers, The Joy of Ordinary Sounds

Follow VideoWeek on Twitter and LinkedIn.


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
Go to Top