In this week’s Week in Review: Altice Europe considers selling ad tech business Teads, the Premier League revamps its TV rights auction, and UK digital publisher revenues show continued growth.
Altice Europe Explores Teads Sale
Dutch telco Altice Europe is considering selling Teads, the outstream video advertising business. According to sources familiar with the plans, the deal could value Teads at around €3 billion. Altice has engaged Morgan Stanley to explore a full sale, although a partial sale is reportedly also on the table.
The telco is expected to sell most of its media assets due to an ongoing fraud investigation in Portugal. Reports suggest Altice, which has €60 billion debt, has appointed Lazard and BNP Paribas to oversee its assets disposal strategy.
Altice acquired the ad tech firm in 2017 for €285 million. In 2021, the telco explored spinning Teads off via an IPO, but the listing plans were abandoned. Earlier this month, Teads was in merger discussions with Tremor International, which remains in the running as a buyer, the sources said.
Premier League Aims to Attract Higher Bids with Fewer Rights Packages
The Premier League is to revamp the sale of its UK TV rights, according to the FT. The league plans to extend the deal to a four-year cycle, as opposed to the traditional three, while looking to drive proceeds with fewer but bigger packages.
Broadcast executives expect the number of rights packages to drop from seven to five, which would remove the smaller packages that have tended to attract tech and streaming companies such as Amazon. The changes are expected to allow the Premier League to sell the rights at a higher price.
The auction is set to begin in the next few weeks, with Sky, DAZN and TNT Sports all anticipated to be among the bidders.
Digital Publisher Revenues Rise Despite Video Declines
UK digital publisher revenues reached £155.9 million in Q2 2023, up 0.3 percent YoY, according to the Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte.
The DPRI showed that display format and video revenues were down by 6.2 and 21.7 percent YoY respectively. But subscription revenues rose by 28.3 percent YoY, reaching £46.2 million.
“It’s encouraging to see that overall revenue continues to rise, albeit modestly and despite a challenging economic environment,” said Richard Reeves, Managing Director at AOP.
The Week in Tech
TikTok Tests Ad-Free Subscription
TikTok is testing an ad-free subscription tier, according to plans first discovered in code within the app. The ByteDance-owned company confirmed that tests are being run in a single English-speaking market outside the US, with a proposed price tag of $4.99 per month. But the firm told TechCrunch: “Small-scale tests don’t indicate a product launch is inevitable.”
Magnite Launches New Demand Manager Tool
Magnite, an independent sell-side advertising company, has announced a new machine-learning tool called ‘Demand Manager’. The feature uses machine learning to automate prebid optimisation recommendations, based on ad server auction data and session data. The company said publishers can activate A/B testing with a single click. “Infusing A/B testing with machine learning makes it easy for publishers to measure revenue and page performance improvements,” said Matt Tengler, VP of Product at Magnite. “This continues to bring publishers innovative tools that focus on revenue and efficiency at the same time.”
Amazon to Shutter Ad Server
Amazon will close its ad server in Q4 2024, the company announced on Tuesday. In 2019, Amazon acquired the Sizmek Ad Suite, whose Ad Server and Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) tools operated separately from Amazon Ads. The company renamed the suite to Amazon Ad Server earlier this year, only to announce the closure of both services at the end of next year. Amazon said this gives advertisers time to transition to another ad server, and the company will continue to run its DSP, Marketing Cloud and Publisher Services.
X to Test Different Ad Tiers, Game Streaming and Live Shopping
X (formerly Twitter) will test three tiers of its subscription service based on the number of ads shown to the user, according to Reuters, and plans to serve more small and medium-sized advertisers. CEO Linda Yaccarino made the proposal in a meeting with the seven banks that helped bankroll Elon Musk’s acquisition of X, and now hold $13 billion of its debt. She said Q3 revenues were up in the high-single digit percentage over Q2. Meanwhile X is testing new video features, including game streaming capabilities currently available to X Premium subscribers. The business is also exploring live shopping through a new partnership with Paris Hilton, who will create four pieces of video content per year, including shopping features.
Reddit Removes Opt-Out From Ad Personalisation
Reddit is removing the ability to opt out of ad personlisation based on user activity, the company announced this week. “This change will not result in seeing more ads or sharing on-platform activity with advertisers,” the company said. “It does enable our models to better predict which ad may be most relevant to you.” Reddit users will also gain the option to see fewer ads from specific categories, namely Alcohol, Dating, Gambling, Pregnancy & Parenting, and Weight Loss.
IAB Tech Lab Creates Working Groups for AI and Privacy Sandbox
IAB Tech Lab has established two new working groups. The Privacy Sandbox Task Force will conduct technical and operational analysis of Google’s upcoming Privacy Sandbox tools. And the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Subcommittee will assess the impact of AI on the digital media landscape. “AI is not just a technological tool; it’s a force reshaping our media landscape,” said IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur. “Its impact extends across content creation, distribution, consumption, consumer privacy, and monetisation.”
Google Proposes User Data Changes in German Antitrust Case
Google has proposed changes to its user data practices, in response to a German antitrust probe that said users were given insufficient choice over how their data was used across Google’s services. The commitments cover cases where the tech giant combines personal data from multiple Google services. The changes would enable users to give informed and unambiguous consent for processing their data across services. “In the future users of Google services will have a much better choice as to what happens to their data, how Google can use them and whether their data may be used across services,” said Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office. “This not only protects the users’ right to determine the use of their data, but also curbs Google’s data-driven market power.”
Meta Floats €10 Monthly Fee for Ad-Free Facebook and Instagram
Meta is looking to charge €10 per month for ad-free versions of Instagram and Facebook, according to Reuters. The subscription offering is expected to launch in the EU in the coming months, in attempts to comply with regulation that limits Meta’s use of personal data for ad personalisation. The sources noted that the fee would jump to €13 on mobile, owing to commissions charged by Apple and Google’s app stores.
Adlook Integrates Topics API into DSP
Adlook, a demand-side platform (DSP), has announced its integration with Topics API, a Privacy Sandbox tool for behaviour-based targeting. Advertisers on Adlook’s DSP can use the solution to allocate media budgets in cookieless environments. “As one of the earliest adopters of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, Adlook has been at the forefront of shaping the future of digital advertising,” said Mateusz Jedrocha, VP, Branding Solutions at Adlook.
Roblox to Expand Advertising Network with Key Hire
Roblox, an online gaming platform, is looking to open its advertising network to more brands and agencies. The company has hired Meta’s Stephanie Latham as VP of Global Partnerships to advance its ads business. The platform introduced Immersive Ads earlier this year, attracting advertisers including NARS Cosmetics, H&M, Spotify and Nascar, and also allows brands to create their own virtual experiences on Roblox. The company is also expanding its agency partner program, whose founding members include Dentsu and Vayner3.
Meta Rolls Out Generative AI Tools for Advertisers
Meta has started rolling out generative AI tools for advertisers, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The tools are used to create image backgrounds and variations of written text, according to reports. Testing began in May with a select group of advertisers, and will soon be available in Meta’s Ads Manager.
The Week in TV
Netflix Ad Chief Jeremi Gorman Leaves One Year After AVOD Launch
Netflix has announced that Jeremi Gorman, President of Worldwide Advertising, is leaving the company. She will be replaced by Amy Reinhard, previously VP of Studio Operations. Gorman was in the role for just over a year, leading the development of the streaming giant’s advertising business. Netflix launched its ad tier in November 2022, and now claims more than 10 million global monthly users on its ad-supported plan. Read the full story on VideoWeek.
Disney+ Coincides Password Sharing Crackdown with Ad Tier Launch
Disney+ will crack down on password sharing from 1st November in Canada, following similar moves by Netflix. “Unless otherwise permitted by your service tier, you may not share your subscription outside of your household,” Disney has told Canadian subscribers. 1st November is also when the Disney+ ad tier launches in Canada, the UK and eight European countries, suggesting the move is designed to encourage uptake of the ad-supported plan.
AMC+ Launches Ad Tier
AMC Networks has launched the ad-supported tier of its AMC+ streaming service in the US. The offering is currently available on the AMC+ app and costs $4.99 per month. Ad loads will be less than five minutes per hour, the company said, while the content library is the same as the premium version.
ITV Study Suggests Longer-Term Benefits of Peak TV Spots
ITV has found that peak TV spots generate responses “long after other TV spot advertising has finished working.” Conducted in conjunction with ViewersLogic, the study measured website visits in response to TV spot advertising for 50 large advertisers, for up to three months after broadcast. The results showed that peak (evening) and daytime spots had similar results in the first seven days. But over three months, peak spots generated 1.4 times larger returns than daytime.
Analyst Estimates Amazon Prime Video Could Generate $3 billion in Ad Revenues
Amazon Prime Video introducing ads could generate $3 billion in extra revenues, UBS US internet analyst Lloyd Walmsley told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday. The estimate is based on an assumed three minutes of ads per hour, based on Amazon promising “meaningfully fewer” ads than linear TV. “But if they actually increase those ads closer to six minutes an hour, then it could obviously double that,” said Walmsley.
CNN Streaming Service Could Violate DirecTV Deal
DirecTV, a satellite TV provider, has warned Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) that streaming CNN violates a contract between the companies. WBD launched the CNN Max streaming service in the US last week, but according to the New York Times, DirecTV also airs many of the shows that are included on CNN Max. DirecTV raised this concern in a letter to WBD but has yet to take further action.
Rakuten Adds OKAST FAST Channels in Europe
Rakuten TV is adding new free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels from OKAST, a streaming deployment business. Rakuten will handle monetisation and distribution for the channels in Europe. “As a key platform in Europe, and committed to rich and local content, Rakuten TV’s large footprint will give an unprecedented opportunity for European content to reach a bigger audience,” said OKAST co-founder Cédric Monnier.
The Week for Publishers
Axel Springer Joins the Race to Buy The Telegraph
European media giant Axel Springer has thrown its hat in the ring to buy UK newspaper The Telegraph, Sky News reported this week. The publisher, which owns news titles including Bild and Politico, would likely be competing with suitors including the Daily Mail & General Trust and National World if it went ahead with a formal bid.
National World Buys Midland News Association
UK regional news publisher National World has swallowed up another sizeable local news player in the Midlands News Association, in a deal worth £11 million. Midlands News Association owns titles including the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, which were ranked by Press Gazette as the largest independent regional titles in the UK.
Ozone Launches In-House Studios Studiozone
UK publisher alliance Ozone has announced the launch of a new in-house creative studio called Studiozone, which will create campaigns and formats to run across Ozone’s publisher footprint. Ozone says that Studiozone will to respond to the live briefs of advertisers and come up with creative executions; work with Ozone’s in-house sales team to create bespoke ideas for campaign pitches; and work across Ozone’s advertiser, agency and publisher partners to test and develop exclusive new formats.
The Mail and The Sun Tied as UK’s Most-Read Commercial News Brands
The Mail and The Sun are neck and neck as the UK’s most-read commercial news brands, according to audience measurement body Pamco. While the Mail comes out top in terms of print and digital monthly reach, The Sun tops the daily and weekly audience rankings. The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online had an estimated monthly reach of 27.3 million (50.4 percent of the adult population), and The Sun 27.2 million (50.2 percent).
“Invasive Advertising” Harms Website Performance, Publisher Analysis Finds
Baytree, a website design firm, has found that 18 out of the top 50 UK news websites have room for improvement in their site performance. The Baytree Digital Performance Score (BPS) measures site loading speeds, user retention and SEO positions. The Guardian and the New York Times were ranked as ‘Excellent’, whereas The Mirror and Mail Online needed improvement. “There is also a clear trend in ad strategy between the publications that perform well on this index, with many ranking highly relying more on subscriptions, donations and affiliate revenue,” noted Baytree. “Towards the bottom of the table, there is a much higher reliance on invasive advertising which clearly reduces their scores.”
The Week For Brands & Agencies
PMG Acquires Camelot in Indie Merger
PMG this week announced a deal to acquire fellow indie outfit Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media for an undisclosed fee. The two say the deal combines Camelot’s specialism in video, CTV, and linear TV with PMG’s capabilities in search, social, and programmatic. “Camelot has built an unrivaled video practice leading the industry,” says PMG’s CEO and Founder George Popstefanov. “Their commitment to innovation and furthering the video industry is well aligned with PMG’s technological advancements, automation, and innovation.”
WPP Builds Out Commerce Capabilities with Shopify Partnership
WPP this week announced a new deal with ecommerce tech business Shopify which will help build out its own commerce capabilities. The two businesses say they will jointly develop products with shared insights, and will pair WPP’s network of over 13,500 commerce experts with Shopify’s platform to help ambitious brands scale faster and reach more customers.
Stagwell Partners with RealClearPolitics in Preparation for 2024 Election
Agency group Stagwell has agreed a new deal with political stats website RealClearPolitics to rebuild the user experience and grow out monetsation for the platform, Digiday reported this week. Stagwell’s Code and Theory will work on the user interface and experience, while Gale and Multiview will work on monetisation.
Omnicom Wins BMW Media Accounts in US, Canada, and Latin America
Omnicom continued its hot streak of major account wins this week, being awarded media duties for BMW in the US, Canada, and Latin America. Interpublic’s Initiative previously ran media for BMW in most of these markets, while WPP’s Ogilvy handled media in Brazil.
Publicis Vita Wins Ancestry’s Global Media Account
Publicis Vita, a new unit within Publicis’ Starcom, has been picked to handle global media duties for American genealogy business Ancestry. Vita will handle media strategy, planning, partnerships, and buying for the brand, which spends around $150 million on measured media each year, according to Mediapost.
Hires of the Week
ISBA Appoints Dan Larden as Head of Media
Advertising trade body ISBA has appointed Dan Larden as Head of Media. Larden has over 14 years of ad tech and digital agency experience, previously serving as Chief Strategy Officer for TPA Digital. He replaces Clare O’Brien, who will take up a new role as Associate Media Advisor.
RTB House Hires Michael Lamb as CCO
RTB House, a global marketing technology company, has announced the appointment of Michael Lamb as its new Chief Commercial Officer. Based in New York, Lamb will be responsible for leading the company’s international commercial growth and client partner relationships, particularly in the US. Lamb was previously General Manager, Consumer and VP of Performance Marketing at PayPal, and President at MediaMath.
Wavemaker Names Gabriela Vargas LATAM CEO
Wavemaker, a GroupM media agency, has hired Gabriela Vargas as CEO in Latin America. Vargas joins with 25 years of experience in the industry, and was formerly CEO at Starcom.
Paramount Announces Anna Priest as UK Head of Ops
Paramount Global has named Anna Priest as Senior Vice President and head of Paramount+ UK. Previously CMO, Priest’s new role will involve setting the company’s strategic vision in the UK and Ireland, while supervising content, marketing and distribution within the executive team.
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