The WIR: Major Players Form Streaming Trade Association, Canal+ Won’t Bid for French Football, and Google Lets Publishers Block AI Scraper

Tim Cross 29 September, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: A new streaming trade lobbying group launches, Canal+ says it won’t compete in new French football rights auction, and Google releases a tool to let publishers block its AI-training web scraper.

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Major Players form New Streaming Trade Group

A consortium of US streaming companies have formed the Streaming Innovation Alliance (SIA), the first lobby group for the streaming sector. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) helped organise the coalition, whose members include Netflix, Paramount+, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, Comcast’s Peacock and Disney. Apple, Amazon and Roku are currently absent, but the  trade group said it is open to more members.

The alliance allows the streaming firms to put up a united front against any upcoming regulation facing digital companies. The SIA aims to ensure legislation “doesn’t undermine the value and diversity consumers are enjoying today”, and that streaming businesses are not tied down by policies governing user-generated content platforms, such as TikTok and Meta.

“The rise of innovative, new video streaming services is an American success story we should celebrate and encourage, not smother with obsolete and ill-fitting rules and regulations designed for completely different technology, products and business models,” said Fred Upton, former Republican Congressman and senior adviser to the SIA.

Canal+ Accuses LFP of Favouring Amazon in Ligue 1 Row

Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada has accused the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) of sidelining the French broadcaster in favour of Amazon for broadcasting rights for France’s top football league. Canal+ has declined to bid for Ligue 1 rights, saying in an internal memo that it would be “pointless for the group.”

In 2020, the league sold rights to Amazon at a lower price than Canal+, in what Saada described as a “mathematical aberration.” Mediapro, a Chinese/Spanish sports media startup, had previously bought the majority of major French football rights for a hefty sum, but subsequently missed payments, and agreed a deal with France’s football governing body to terminate the contract. These rights were then sold to Amazon at a massive discount. This ended up with an odd situation where Amazon, which has the rights to eight out of ten Ligue 1 matches every week, is paying less than Canal+, which only has the rights to two games.

Canal+, frustrated by this situation, has now ruled itself out of the next rights auction, which kicks off next month. This is a major shift for the French sports broadcasting market, as Canal+ has long been a major player, broadcasting Ligue 1 since 1984.

Google Lets Publishers Opt Out of AI Scraping

Google on Thursday announced a new tool called Google Extended, which lets digital publishers choose whether their sites are scraped for data which is then used to train Google’s generative AI tools Bard and Vertex AI.

This kind of scraping has been a major concern for publishers since the launch of generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard. As generative AI tools train themselves on publishers’ content, they’re then effectively able to regurgitate that content back to consumers when asked. The risk for publishers is that in the long run, this will lead to a drop in traffic, as users can turn to AI chatbots for information which they would previously have gotten from publishers’ websites.

OpenAI, the company which created ChatGPT, has similarly given publishers the ability to block access to its AI-training web scraper – and many publishers are indeed choosing to do so.

The Week in Tech

iSpot Gains MRC Accreditation for Measuring National TV Ad Occurrence

iSpot has earned Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for its national TV ad occurrence tracking, the measurement firm announced on Tuesday. The accreditation verifies iSpot’s ability to accurately identify, verify and track national TV ad occurrences across 178 linear and broadcast networks, according to the company. “iSpot’s newly accredited ad occurrence reporting helps to serve a crucial market need, and users can now have assurance that it meets the high bar necessary to achieve MRC accreditation,” said MRC CEO George W. Ivie.

LG Ad Solutions and Affinity Launch CTV Targeting Tool

LG Ad Solutions and Affinity, a purchase insights firm, have launched a targeting and measurement tool for CTV. LoopIQ uses purchase data to reach relevant CTV audiences and measure campaign impact on customer spend. “LoopIQ’s unique capability to effectively link purchase data with ad targeting and measurement is set to revolutionise the way brands reach and resonate with their audiences in ad-supported streaming environments,” said Tony Marlow, Global Chief Marketing Officer at LG Ad Solutions. 

Bliink Introduces Video Sequencing Tool for Contextual Analysis

Bliink, a contextual advertising company, has introduced a video sequencing feature to its set of contextual tools. The AI-based suite includes semantic entity analysis, image analysis, and video stream sequencing. The tool uses frame-by-frame partitioning to detect various elements within videos, including celebrities, locations and logos. “Our technology dynamically captures the video’s information flow, extracting precise details such as identifying violent or inappropriate content and sentiment,” said Samuel Kerboeuf, CTO and Co-Founder at Bliink. “This innovation offers two critical advantages: highly effective granular targeting for a personalised and respectful advertising experience along the user journey and a secure environment for advertisers, meeting brand safety objectives while guaranteeing brand exposure.”

Buyers Call Out Google’s “Conservative” Price Hike Claim

Google’s claim of inflating ad auction prices by 5 percent is too “conservative”, according to some media buyers. Last week the tech giant admitted in a US antitrust trial to raising prices without telling advertisers. But Christine Yang, VP of Media at Iris, told Adweek the price manipulation can sometimes exceed 100 percent. “Claiming 5 percent is a more conservative number to make it sound like the natural ebb and flow of a marketplace,” said Yang.

Microsoft Launches Price Comparison Ads in Bing Chat 

Microsoft has announced new ad formats for its AI-powered Bing Chat, to be called Conversational Ads. The first product is Compare & Decide Ads, designed around price comparison searches in Chat. The ads pull relevant product data into a table, for example comparing different car models. “This experience is intended to run across all verticals where we have relevant feed data, including retail, travel and auto,” said Microsoft. The format is due to launch in beta in early 2024.

X Could Be Profitable in Early 2024 Claims Linda Yaccarino

X (formerly Twitter) could turn a profit in early 2024, CEO Linda Yaccarino said at Vox Media’s Code conference on Wednesday. She claimed 1,500 advertisers have returned to the ailing social platform in the last 12 weeks, and that 90 percent of the company’s top 100 advertisers have returned. “The velocity of change and the scope of ambition at X really does not exist anywhere else,” Yaccarino said.

Norwegian Data Regulator Asks EU to Expand Meta Fine

Norway’s data regulator will refer a fine imposed on Meta to the European Data Authority (EDA), the watchdog said on Thursday. Datatilsynet has fined the tech giant $93,000 per day for three months, the maximum period for the penalty, for breaching user privacy to harvest data for targeted advertising. If accepted by the EDA, the penalty could become permanent and expand into the EU.

Zefr Brings Brand Suitability Controls to TikTok

TikTok has partnered with Zefr, a brand suitability company, to bring more advertising controls to the social video platform. Advertisers can select their preferred pre-bid settings using the TikTok Inventory Filter, based on GARM standards for brand suitability. If unsuitable content is identified by Zefr, that content is flagged to TikTok. “Zefr’s global advertisers can now access and action on their campaigns in all markets where TikTok Inventory Filter is currently available, with coverage across North America, Europe, Middle East, APAC and LATAM,” said Rich Raddon, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Zefr.

OpenX Adds New Contextual Targeting Tool to SSP

OpenX Technologies, a supply-side platform (SSP), has launched a marketplace called ConteX within the SSP. ConteX offers buyers contextual targeting capabilities, according to OpenX, designed in response to third-party cookie deprecation. By activating data partners directly within the SSP, with pre-negotiated terms, advertisers can “easily deploy the solutions that work best for their region without going partner-by-partner to strike deals,” the company said.

The Week in TV

ProSiebenSat.1 Begins “Meaningful Cooperation” on Advertising with MediaForEurope

German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 says that it has begun “meaningful cooperation” with fellow European broadcaster MediaForEurope in areas including advertising, technology, and content. ProSiebenSat.1 Media’s CEO Bert Habets said in an interview with the Financial Times that collaboration between European broadcasters could help them access global ad budgets. These budgets, he said, are increasingly being allocated on a pan-European basis. Read more on VideoWeek.

M6 Publicité Introduces Subtitling Service for Linear Ad Spots

M6 Publicité, the French broadcaster’s sales house, has launched a subtitling service for advertising spots on linear TV. The company noted that only 10 percent of ads broadcast live are subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. In collaboration with ad tech firms Peach and Extreme Reach, M6 Publicité is offering the service to advertisers on all M6 Group channels. “Just like television programs, we believe that advertisements should be understood by everyone,” said Maxime Andre, Director of Customer Marketing, Innovation and Communication at M6 Publicité. “This initiative is a big step in that direction.”

Striking Hollywood Writers Reach Tentative Deal

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios on Sunday, potentially bringing an end to 146 days of strikes. Now requiring approval from the WGA, the deal is expected to address major concerns over compensation for streaming shows and the use of AI. The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union remains on strike.

Tubi Uses ChatGPT for Content Recommendation Search Tool 

Tubi, the Fox-owned AVOD service, has started using ChatGPT for content recommendations. The ‘Rabbit AI’ feature sits at the bottom of the Tubi mobile app, where viewers can ask the chat for film and TV recommendations from its library. “At Tubi, we’re uniquely situated to find content for viewers that’s specific to the moment they’re in because of our large library and our personalisation and machine learning algorithms,” said Blake Bassett, Senior Director of Product at Tubi. “With Rabbit AI, we’re making the content discovery experience fun again.”

Roku Brings Video Ads to Spotify CTV App

Spotify and Roku have announced the introduction of video ads to the Spotify app on the Roku platform. Roku will offer Spotify video inventory through its Roku Audience Network, as part of Spotify’s Video Everywhere ad offering. The move adds Spotify’s Video Takeover ads to CTV devices, alongside mobile, tablet and desktop. The music streaming company is also in the process of launching a Spotify CTV Partner Network, according to Spotify.

Pluto TV Lands on Bouygues Telecom Set-Top Boxes in France

Pluto TV, Paramount’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service, is launching on Bouygues Telecom’s set-top boxes (STB) in France. The app will be available on the telco’s Miami, Bbox 4K and Bbox 4K HDR STBs. “This partnership with Bouygues Telecom marks a key milestone for Pluto TV’s growth in France, where set-top boxes play a central role in the distribution of content,” said Olivier Jollet, EVP and International General Manager at Pluto TV. 

The Week for Publishers

Insider Sees Strong Growth in Video and CTV Viewing

Axel Springer-owned publication Insider twice broke its internal record for total watch time for its video content on YouTube this summer, Adweek reported this week. Total minutes hit 1.16 billion in July, and then 1.2 billion in August. And a lot of this viewing is not taking place on connected TVs – 59 percent in July and 50 percent in August.

FT Saw Strong Ad Revenues in 2022

The Financial Times saw total revenues grow by fiver percent in 2022, aided by its strongest year for ad revenues since 2015, Press Gazette reported this week. In the UK specifically, revenues were up 14 percent year-on-year. Digital ad revenues were particularly strong, and nearly tripled in the UK over three years from £20 million in 2019 to £58 million last year.

Axel Springer Pursues Purely Digital Business Model with RASCH Sale

European publishing giant Axel Springer announced this week it is selling its 35 percent stake in Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz (RASCH) to Swiss publisher Ringier, its partner in the joint venture. Axel Springer says the sale is motivated largely by its focus on driving digital revenues, as it seeks to become a purely digital media company. Read on VideoWeek.

Citadel Founder Ken Griffin Joins Telegraph Bid

Ken Griffin, founder of Citadel Hedge Fund, has joined a group of investors planning a bid for Telegraph Group, which is expected to go to auction in a matter of weeks. The group is led by Sir Paul Marshall, co-founder of London-based hedge fund Marshall Wace. The Daily Mail & General Trust and National World are also expected to make a bid for the media group.

The Independent Offers Free Advertising for Black Organisations

UK newspaper The Independent said this week it is donating £120,000 worth of free ad space to eight Black-led organisations in 2024, to help aid their efforts in enacting change. The organisations partnering with The Independent include Black Equity Organisation, The Safety Box, The Ubele Initiative, FiveXMore, The Black Curriculum and Swim Dem Crew.

Reddit Plans Payments for Top Contributors in US

Social platform Reddit says it plans to start paying some contributors for popular posts, a move seemingly designed to boost engagement on the site. Reddit users can pay to give other users rewards, such as ‘Reddit Gold’, for specific posts or comments they like. Previously the money paid for these rewards all went to Reddit. But now Reddit will start splitting the fee with the users who receive these rewards, though users have to be signed up to a new contributor programme.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Amazon Puts its Media Account Up for Review

Amazon, one of the world’s largest spenders on advertising, is putting its global media account up for review. The ecommerce giant’s media is currently largely handled by Interpublic Group’s Initiative, which won the account back in 2017. AdAge estimated Amazon’s total ad and promotion spend last year to have topped $20 billion.

IPG Merges Matterkind, Kinesso, and Reprise

Interpublic Group announced this week it is unifying three of its media agency businesses: Matterkind, Kinesso, and Reprise. The three will operate under the Kinesso brand, which itself sits within IPG Mediabrands. “By bringing together the collective power of Matterkind, Reprise, and Kinesso under the Kinesso banner, the new entity is uniquely positioned to unify the data derived from a brand’s full marketing system into one renowned, intelligent, growth-driving capability,” the company said in a statement.

OMG Wins Uber’s Media Business

Omnicom Media Group has come out on top in Uber’s review of its media business, which began back in June. OMG will take charge of media duties in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa according to AdAge, while incumbent EssenceMediacom will continue to run APAC.

Join Our Table, a New Collective for Black British Women in Advertising and Media, Launches

Join Our Table, a new UK initiative which seeks to spotlight and support Black British women working in media and advertising, will launch in October, its founders announced this week. Join Our Table was conceived at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, where the founding members saw a persistent gap in representation of Black British women, despite some efforts to boost diversity at the event. Join Our Table says it seeks to build a platform to “spotlight Black excellence, amplify bold voices, and make space for all our sisters to shine”. The founders are:

  • Gerry Anyanwu (client director, Global Media)
  • Collette Philip (founder, Brand By Me)
  • Elizabeth Anyaegbuna (founder, 16 X 9 Media)
  • Samantha Lewis (account manager, Kinetic)
  • Nadine Leighton (marketing consultant)
  • Chloe Davies (founder, it takes a village)
  • Annika Allen (head of diversity and inclusion, ALL 3 Media)
  • Maria McDowell (founder, Lollipop Mentoring)

Trade Bodies Answer Call to Define ‘Made for Advertising’

A consortium of trade groups has published a definition of ‘Made for Advertising’ (MFA) websites, bringing a standardised set of characteristics to a contentious topic in the industry. The release responds to calls from brands and agencies to clearly define MFA, after the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) found that 15 percent of programmatic ad spend goes to MFA sites, representing 21 percent of total impressions. They agreed on five core characteristics of MFA:

  • High ad-to-content ratio
  • Rapidly auto-refreshing ad placements
  • High percentage of paid traffic sourcing
  • Generic content (non-editorial or templated, low-quality content)
  • Usually poorly designed, templated website designs

Advertising Association Looks to Shape UK Policy with AI Taskforce

The Advertising Association has formed an AI Taskforce, the UK trade body announced this week. The group will bring together senior representatives from across its membership, in order to build a coordinated policy approach to the deployment of artificial intelligence in advertising. The Advertising Association said the move recognises the need to establish ethical safeguards, develop industry guidelines and work with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ensure the use of AI in advertising campaigns is “transparent and legal, decent, honest, and truthful”. Read more on VideoWeek.

Most Brands Have Plans for Generative AI finds WFA

Forty-five percent of brands which took part in a World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) survey said that they are already using generative AI in some dimension, while a further 33 percent said they plan to do so soon. Respondents reported that generative AI is most commonly being used in the areas of content creation (74 percent), personalisation and customer experience (58 percent) and content ideation (55 percent).

Hires of the Week

PHD UK Picks Eva Grimmett as Chief Strategy Officer

PHD UK has announced Eva Grimmett as its new chief strategy officer, Campaign reported this week, replacing Lucy Barbor who stepped down in April. Grimmett was most recently chief strategy officer at Havas Media Group.

IAS Appoints Yossi Almani as Chief Legal Officer

Integral Ad Science has chosen Yossi Almani as its new chief legal officer. IAS says Almani “will play a pivotal role in strengthening IAS’s commitment to fully protecting consumer privacy and combatting disinformation, while providing marketers with greater transparency into their ad spend”.

This Week on VideoWeek

ProSiebenSat.1 Begins “Meaningful Cooperation” on Advertising with MediaForEurope

Advertising Association Looks to Shape UK Policy with AI Taskforce

Trade Bodies Answer Call to Define ‘Made for Advertising’

Axel Springer Pursues Purely Digital Business Model with RASCH Sale

The CTV Advertising Guide 2024 is Now Available to Download

Barb is CFlight’s “Natural Home” Says Measurement Duo

Ad of the Week

Warburtons, Mad About the Bread

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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