In this week’s Week in Review: OpenX announces a new initiative to clean up CTV supply, Canal+ launches a new SVOD service in the Netherlands, and buyers report dead links on YouTube campaign reports.
OpenX Launches TV+
Supply-side platform OpenX this week announced the launch of TV+, a new initiative which it says seeks to combine the best of CTV and linear TV buying, offering a more transparent and trustworthy marketplace for advertisers.
OpenX says that most biddable environments for CTV currently over index on intermediaries, and don’t give much clarity on what buyers are actually buying, despite the high CPMs associated with CTV inventory.
Through its TV+ initiative, OpenX says it wants to fix these problems. For a start, it will eliminate all resellers from its CTV inventory pool, which it says will reduce invalid traffic, and ensure media companies get a fairer cut of ad spend. And secondly, OpenX will delineate TV-like CTV inventory (i.e, ads played alongside long-form TV-like programming) from other types of ads which might be classed as CTV, such as gaming, OTT, mobile, and ads in fireplace apps and similar apps found within CTV app stores.
“The long-term growth of biddable TV advertising requires buyers and sellers to have confidence in marketplace integrity,” said Chris Kane, founder of Jounce Media. “OpenX’s TV+ creates these conditions, ensuring media buyers get the quality they expect from their TV investments and ensuring media owners, not supply chain intermediaries, are the beneficiary of those investments.”
Canal+ Continues International Push with Netherlands SVOD Service
French broadcaster Canal+ is to launch a new SVOD service in the Netherlands before the end of this year. In partnership with VodafoneZiggo, Canal+ will house originals, international productions and exclusive titles from Viaplay, Fremantle, Dutch CORE, Lionsgate and Lumière, all with a European focus.
The move continues the Vivendi-owned company’s push for international expansion, having recently bought a stake in Nordic streaming business Viaplay, and upped its investment in the South African broadcaster MultiChoice.
“With our ambition to grow internationally, the Netherlands is a logical next step to strengthen our position as a European content provider,” said Hans Troelstra, CEO of M7/Canal+ Group. “With a distinctive offering, and years of expertise in the market with Canal Digitaal, our TV app that combines sports, TV, films and series and the mature streaming market of the Netherlands, we look forward to launching here in the near term.”
Buyers Struggle to Verify YouTube Channels Where Their Ads Run
Buyers are struggling to view the channels where their YouTube ads are running, Adweek reported on Monday. According to the report, four advertisers found broken links within the post-campaign reports for YouTube Select campaigns, a premium offering designed to run ads on the most popular YouTube channels. For two of these buyers, these dead links accounted for the majority of impressions within their reports.
The buyers in questions said that the dead links don’t necessarily indicate that their ads were run on dead or non-existent channels – rather there might be a technical issue at play. Nonetheless, this marks another transparency issue for YouTube following a pair of damning reports by Adalytics, while agencies remain concerned by the company’s decision to trade on its own co-viewing data next year.
The Week in Tech
DoubleVerify Credits CTV in Upbeat Earnings Call
DoubleVerify (DV), a measurement and verification specialist, generated $144 million in revenues in Q3, up 28 percent YoY. DV noted the value of CTV to its business, growing its CTV measurement volume by 29 percent. The firm also raised its full-year revenue guidance to $570-574 million, representing a 27 percent YoY rise, compared to 25 percent in the previous guidance.
Amazon to Let Users Make Purchases in Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram
Amazon has new agreements with Snap and Meta to sell products through Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. The deals are expected to let social media users connect to their Amazon accounts, and make one-click purchases directly from the apps. “For the first time, customers will be able to shop Amazon’s Facebook and Instagram ads and check out with Amazon without leaving the social media apps,” Amazon said in a statement. The plans are likely designed to help the social media firms compete with TikTok’s commerce offering.
Publica Brings “TV-Like” Ad Buying to Vevo
Publica, a CTV ad server, has partnered with Vevo, a music video hosting service. Publica will introduce a programmatic unified auction for Vevo’s premium ad slots, helping drive CTV ad revenues. The deal also improves targeting capabilities and enhances the streaming experience to become more “TV-like”, according to Publica. “The partnership enables Vevo to provide advertisers with enhanced buying techniques similar to those of linear TV,” said the ad tech company. “This includes competitive separation, frequency management and the ability to purchase the first slot within ad pods, much like standard TV commercial breaks.”
Yahoo Backstage Adds Warner Bros. Discovery to Premium CTV Marketplace
Yahoo Advertising has added a number of publishers to Yahoo Backstage, the company’s CTV-focused marketplace that provides Yahoo DSP advertisers a direct path to curated publisher inventory. The new publishers include Warner Bros. Discovery, DIRECTV, The E.W. Scripps Company, LG Ad Solutions, TelevisaUnivision, Mediavine and Realtor.com. “The growth and acceptance of Yahoo Backstage underline the impact SPO is having on the advertising industry,” said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, Chief Revenue Officer at Yahoo. “We’re committed to enabling buying choices and fostering strong partnerships with our advertiser, publisher, and SSP partners.”
Yospace and Capella Bring SSAI to One-Off Live Sport Streams
Yospace, a server-side ad insertion (SSAI) company, has partnered with Capella Systems to enable SSAI on “pop-up” live streams. Designed with sports broadcasting in mind, the technology can be deployed on one-off live OTT events, in order to increase ad revenues for rights holders. Capella’s encoder, Cambria Stream, inserts ad markers into the output stream for Yospace’s ad insertion to take place. Capella can also monitor events through its Cambria Ad Break Control web UI. “Together with Capella, we’re delivering rights holders with fantastic opportunities to reduce operational costs while increasing the ad opportunities,” said Yospace CEO Tim Sewell.
Sony Removes Twitter From Playstation
Sony has removed X (formerly Twitter) from PlayStation consoles, the company announced last week. No reason was given for the move, but reports are calling it a reaction to Elon Musk’s decision to charge companies for accessing X’s application programming interface (API). Also this week, tech corporation IBM became the latest company to pull its advertising from the ailing social media platform, after its ads appeared alongside pro-Nazi material. “IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” the company said in a statement.
The Week in TV
Digital Revenues Start to Close Down Linear Losses at ProSiebenSat.1
ProSiebenSat.1 posted its quarterly earnings this week, indicating more signs of light in a European ad market showing tentative signs of recovery. The German media group generated €888 million revenues in Q3 2023, representing a 3 percent YoY drop. But the company noted the quarterly results were “almost stable” compared to the first half of the year; the decline was less pronounced than ProSieben’s 9 percent YoY decrease in the previous quarter. But taken cumulatively, group revenues fell by 11 percent YoY over the first nine months of 2023. Read on VideoWeek.
ValueAct Capital Cosies Up to Disney
Investment firm ValueAct Capital has taken a significant stake in Disney, Reuters reported on Thursday. The size of the stake has not been disclosed but the investor is considered a preferred director candidate as an alternative to Nelson Peltz, the activist investor who has been pushing for a seat on the Disney board. Unlike Peltz, ValueAct Capital has been supportive of Disney management and optimistic about the company’s future, suggesting its stock price could double.
Ofcom Chair Calls for BBC Funding Review
Michael Grade, Chair of Ofcom, has said the government needs to explore alternative funding models for the BBC. Grade, a former Chair of the BBC, told the FT the licence fee was a “regressive tax” requiring everyone to pay the same amount. He added that the question of allowing the BBC to compete for advertising revenue would be crucial in the next charter review. Grade also defended Ofcom’s handling of GB News, against criticism that the watchdog has been toothless in tackling multiple transgressions by the channel. The regulator has ruled against GB News four times but has yet to impose any fines. “Whatever sanctions we impose on any broadcaster is proportionate to offence,” he said.
TF1 to Launch New AVOD Service in January
French broadcaster TF1 is revamping its AVOD service, with TF1+ set to launch on 8th January. It will be distributed on IPTV by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom, and made available on smart TVs. The new service largely replaces MyTF1, which claimed 28 million users in September 2023.
Disney Looks to Grow its FAST Footprint
Disney plans to increase its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) offering, Variety reported this week. The entertainment giant has been experimenting with new FAST channels in the ABC app, mostly single-IP in nature, showcasing ABC titles such as General Hospital and Desperate Housewives. National Geographic-based channels are also on the roster, according to the report.
Netflix and Amazon Are “Stickiest” US SVOD Services
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are the streaming services with the most “stickiness”, according to Park Associates. The US-based research looked at the average duration of SVOD subscriptions, and found both Netflix and Prime had more than four-year subscription lifetimes. At the bottom of the rankings, Max, Apple TV+ and Peacock came in below two years each.
The Week for Publishers
The Guardian Launches New Ad Solution for Completely Cookie-Free Audiences
UK newspaper The Guardian announced a host of new ad solutions at its Upfronts presentation this week, including a new offering geared specifically towards audiences which have opted out of data collection within its GDPR consent mechanism. The Guardian says the new formats are based on what it sees as the three key pillars of its offering for advertisers: scale, influence, and integrity. The cookie-free offering, called Guardian Light, plays into the last of these three pillars – enabling advertisers to reach audiences while respecting withdrawal of consent. Read on VideoWeek.
Jezebel Closes After 16 Years
Jezebel, the women’s news site, has shut down after 16 years. Launched by Gawker Media in 2007, the site was no longer sufficiently profitable according to its most recent parent company G/O Media, and no buyer for the property was found. The closure comes amid wider ongoing layoffs in the media industry, as a tight ad market and shifting relationships between social platforms and publishers squeeze publishers’ business models. The site’s closure sees the entire Jezebel staff lose their jobs, and is cited as a significant blow for feminist media, as Jezebel had built a strong reputation for its reporting on abortion issues, sexual abuse, and feminist critiques of culture and politics.
Rothermere’s DMGT Ends Qatari Talks Over Telegraph Bid
Lord Rothermere, Chief Executive of the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), has ended plans to fund a bid for the Telegraph Media Group using a Qatari investment group. The talks were called off amid fears the UK government would oppose investors from the region, and the DMGT is now drawing up a strategy to fund a new bid themselves. The news conglomerate plans to keep The Telegraph editorially separate from the Daily Mail if the bid is successful, but they face competition for the purchase from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, hedge fund boss Sir Paul Marshall, Axel Springer and Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský.
Volatile Ad Market Sees Media Layoffs Rise
Media companies are cutting their workforces due to ad market volatility for premium publishers, according to Axios. High interest rates, investor scepticism and the absence of PPP loans are cited as among the reasons for instigating layoffs, with companies no longer able to rely on raising short-term capital to protect them from ad declines. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a research firm, reported nearly 20,000 jobs have been eliminated across the media industry this year (as of October). Premium publishers are expected to experience double digit decline in the ad market into the next quarter and into the following year as well, with efforts to offset declines from high-margin traditional TV ads not yet successful despite TV companies seeing gains in streaming advertising.
BuzzFeed Announces Strategic Shift with Publisher Change
BuzzFeed, a US-based digital media company, announced a strategic shift to see its sales, technical and editorial departments operate by brand rather than its aggregated network. In an effort to reduce reliance on social media, the brands will place more focus on growing their direct audiences, in part due to shifting relationships between news publishers and social media companies. As part of the initiative, Dao Nguyen will step down as publisher, leaving BuzzFeed after 11 years, and will be replaced by Jessica Probus, current senior vice president of editorial at the company. No layoffs are planned in the process, according to a BuzzFeed spokesperson.
Footballco Aiming for 300 Percent Affiliate Revenues Growth
Footballco, a UK football media company, believes it will grow affiliate revenues by 300 percent this year as they drive away from a reliance on other forms of advertising. The company say their mission is to diversify revenues away from advertising and into affiliate marketing, with James Lamon, Executive Vice President of content and operations at Footballco, citing the inconsistency of the ad market as a driver of the move, saying, “In recent years we’ve gone from instability to instability, with Covid followed by global economic downturn and worldwide conflicts, which adds up to a bad climate for advertising”.
Google and Meta Could Owe US Publishers $14 Billion Under Planned Law
Google and Meta could owe US news publishers between $11.9 billion and $13.9 billion per year if new legislation surrounding big tech payments goes ahead, according to a research paper from The Brattle Group. The report argues that existing deals between publishers and big tech do not fully capture the value generated by news content, which the tech companies dispute, accusing the researchers of using flawed data in their conclusions. The paper’s methodology involved an estimate of the platforms’ revenue from user impressions to news content sourced from US news publishers, and a projection of the share of searches seeking news content in Google search, and of the amount of time users spend consuming news on Facebook.
Telegraph Journalists Told Use of ChatGPT Equates to Plagiarism
The Telegraph has issued staff with a new policy regarding use of generative AI, forbidding them to incorporate AI-generated text into copy except in limited circumstances, which would require editorial and legal sign-off. The guidelines have been implemented following concerns within Telegraph Media Group over sensitive information entered into chatbots surfacing elsewhere, and texts being subject to future copyright claims. Generative AI companies have not disclosed what data they use to train the large language models that power their chatbots, which Telegraph editors said endangers them to plagiarism, according to Press Gazette. The Telegraph is the latest publisher to publish their principles of the subject, following The Guardian, Financial Times, BBC, Associated Press and Reuters.
Literally Media Enters CTV Space
Literally Media, a digital entertainment brand, is building out its video capabilities with the aim of becoming the “Comedy Central of CTV”, according to AdWeek. The company is diversifying its business beyond advertising and into video efforts, with a plan to revamp its websites and prioritising off-site video, events and consulting services. A CTV channel is forthcoming, whereby Literally Media intends to distribute filmed live, comedy events. The open exchange brings around 65 percent of Literally Media’s ad revenue but plans to hire a direct sales team in early 2024.
Pew Study Shows More Users Turning to TikTok for News
Forty-three percent of TikTok users regularly access news via the social media app, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. The figure is up from 22 percent in 2022, with research stating half of U.S. adults get at least some news from social media. Pew’s analysis, based on a survey of 8,842 U.S. adults conducted between 25th September and 1st October this year, found news websites were used by 67 percent of those surveyed. The study also concluded Meta’s Facebook the most popular social media platform for news, with 30 percent of the survey regularly accessing news there, ahead of TikTok (14 percent).
Profits Fall and Jobs Cut at Pink News Amid Social Media Struggles
Pink News, a UK-based online newspaper, made a loss in each of the first six months of 2023 due to reduced social media distribution. The LGBTQ+ focused publisher disclosed the information to staff whilst announcing redundancy consultations, which resulted in seven workers laid off. The company stated previously robust revenue lines had been significantly impacted by reduced social media distribution, with less demand for events, rising costs, and the declining value of the dollar cited as primary causes. Benjamin Cohen, chief executive at Pink News, expects the company to break even by the end of 2023 however, aided by investment in the Pink News app and tech platform, AI, and the building of its partnership team.
The Week For Brands & Agencies
Dentsu Downgrades Full Year Outlook After Tough Q3
Japanese agency holding company Dentsu reported a difficult Q3 in its quarterly earnings this week, posting an organic revenue decline of 6.0 percent year-on-year. Dentsu attributed the results to continued reductions in spending from some of its tech and finance clients, as well as delays in larger customer transformation and technology projects from overseas clients. As a result, Dentsu now expects a full year organic drop in revenues of five percent.
GroupM Plans Tests for Google’s Sandbox Tools
WPP’s media investment arm GroupM this week announced a new “post-cookie technology readiness programme” in partnership with Google Chrome, which will see GroupM test Google’s privacy sandbox APIs with some of its clients. “Since Google publicly declared their intention to deprecate third-party cookies, we’ve been collaborating closely with the Chrome team, our clients, and other partners to ensure our clients won’t miss a beat when the transition happens,” said Christian Juhl, GroupM’s Global CEO. “The program we’re announcing today is an exciting step forward in that collaboration that will allow our clients to test existing preparations and enable us to develop new approaches where necessary.”
UK Marketers Plan to Boost Advanced TV Spend Next Year
Eighty-three percent of UK marketers plan to increase their investment in advanced TV advertising over the next twelve months, according to new research from FreeWheel’s AudienceXpress, conducted by CoLab Media Consulting. Sixty percent of respondents said that reach extension is the main motivator for growing their advanced TV spend. But a lack of proof of advertising effectiveness is the biggest inhibitor to more investment in advanced TV.
GroupM Launches Full-Service ESG Partnership in the UK
GroupM this week announced a new partnership with two specialists in ESG (environmental, social, corporate governance) data, which it says will provide clients with a holistic approach to ESG: covering everything from education, execution, measurement and improvement. The partnership combines Legacy’s ESG data solutions together with Right Thing Media’s ESG insights to create one tailored solution for GroupM’s clients.
Over Half of UK Disengage with Unrepresentative Media, finds Spark Foundry
Fifty-seven percent of UK adults say they have disengaged with media and advertising which they feel is misrepresentative, according to Spark Foundry’s latest ‘Accelerated Insights’ report. The primary reason for this disengagement is either a lack of representation or negative portrayal, according to the report, while the second most common reason to disengage was inauthentic representation.
Marc Boyan and Brent Hoberman Launch Media Agency for Startups
Miroma Group CEO Marc Boyan and Founders Factory executive chairman Brent Hoberman are launching a new global media buying agency catering to startups and small tech businesses, the FT reported this week. The new agency, called Miroma Founders Network, will “bring critical media-buying and marketing communications services to scaling founders who need a tailored approach, particularly as many navigate the challenges of today’s fundraising landscape,” Hoberman told the FT.
Mediaplus wins E.ON Media Duties
Independent media agency Mediaplus International has been appointed by utilities provider E.ON to handle media duties across eight European markets including the UK and Germany, Campaign reported this week. Mediaplus takes over from Publicis agency Starcom.
Wilkinson Sword Picks VCCP London as UK Media AOR
Razor brand Wilkinson Sword has picked VCCP London as its media agency of record in the UK, following a review with incumbent Wavemaker. VCCP Media said the account win follows a series of significant wins for the group, including Bulldog, Chilly’s, Florence, and Krispy Kreme.
Hires of the Week
Publicis Groupe Hires Loris Nolid as Global CFO
Publicis Groupe, a French multinational advertising agency, has appointed Loris Nold as its new global chief financial officer (CFO). Nold will leave his current role of chief executive officer (CEO) of its EMEA operations and begin his new position in February 2024, replacing Michel-Alain Proch, who is stepping down to take a new role outside of the company. Nold is a former investment banker who joined Publicis Groupe in 2003, overseeing mergers and acquisitions and business improvement, as well as taking up varying leadership roles at the company including CEO of the APAC region. Nold’s current EMEA CEO role will be taken by EMEA chief operating officer (COO) Demet Ikiler.
BBC Studios Promotes Kasia Jablonska to EMEA Director
BBC Studios promoted Kasia Jablonska as director of digital and on-demand of its EMEA region. Jablonska was previously the company’s head of video on-demand, and begins her newly-created position with immediate effect. Her new role will be to boost plans for digital revenue stream expansion, digital product development, and growing EMEA audience engagement.
RTL Deutschland Names Stephan Schmitter as CEO
RTL Deutschland has named Stephan Schmitter as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Schmitter will begin his new role on 1st January 2024, moving from his current position as chief content officer, and will be tasked with reorganising the company’s publishing business Gruner + Jahr, as well as overseeing its streaming service RTL+.
OMD UK Picks Suzy Rider as Chief Executive
Omnicom media agency OMD UK has hired Suzy Rider as its new chief executive, Campaign reported this week. Ryder, who has worked for OMD UK for more than eight years, replaces Laura Fenton, who was recently promoted to CEO of OMG UK.
This Week on VideoWeek
Ad of the Week
Barbour, Shaun the Sheep x Baa-bour