The WIR: CFlight Set to Add Traded Audiences, CTV Publishers are Still Light on Programmatic Sales, and German PSBs See a Streaming Drop

Tim Cross 24 November, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: CFlight gears up to add traded audiences, buy-side and sell-side are split on CTV programmatic, and German PSBs see a fall in streaming.

Top Stories

Fourteen Traded Audiences Coming to CFlight in March

Barb, the UK audience measurement body, has outlined a timetable for upgrading the cross-platform measurement tool CFlight. From January 2024, major agency groups will be able to test 14 widely used traded audiences within CFlight. The testing will be extended to all users in February, with a full launch slated for March. This new capabilities, which have been long awaited by the buy-side, will be a significant addition to the cross-platform measurement tool.

Barb, which takes over the running of CFlight in January, said broadcasters began providing the relevant data this month. ITV, Sky and Channel 4 are supplying the traded audience data to be ingested into the measurement solution, which aims to measure deduplicated reach and frequency across linear and streaming channels.

“Reporting campaign delivery against all the major trading audiences is a big step forward, providing advertisers and agencies with even greater accountability for their investment in advertising on linear and VOD services,” said Barb chief executive Justin Sampson.

European CTV Publishers’ Programmatic Sales Doesn’t Add Up to Buy-Side Demand

European CTV publishers’ programmatic sales are still relatively small-scale, according to IAB Europe’s latest Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising report, despite the fact that many agencies and brands are buying programmatically.

Of all the CTV publishers surveyed for the report, only 16 percent said they sell more than 41 percent of their inventory programmatically, which is lower than any other medium which IAB Europe looked at. But 47 percent of agencies and 41 percent of advertisers use programmatic to buy more than 41 percent of their inventory – a clear gap between the buy-side and sell-side.

A similar gap exists in digital video too. Sell-side adoption of programmatic tech has actually fallen for video recently. Just 21 percent of sell-side players sell more than 41 percent of their inventory programmatically, down from 46 percent last year. Meanwhile 58 percent of agencies and 52 percent of buyers buy more than 41 percent of video programmatically, according to IAB Europe’s figures.

Streaming Viewing Drops in Germany

Streaming viewing in Germany has declined this year, after peaking in 2022, according to public broadcasters ARD and ZDF. A study conducted by the broadcasters found the daily reach of online media has fallen slightly to 65 percent of consumers, with online video now watched by 50 percent of people.

The report also found that 36 percent of German consumers use Netflix at least once a week, followed by Amazon Prime Video (26 percent), Disney+ (13 percent) and Sky’s digital products (11 percent). Meanwhile the PSBs have grown their user bases, with ARD (54 percent) and ZDF (55 percent) now reaching half the population via their online offerings. “The increase in internet usage during the Corona period has normalised,” said ZDF planning chief Dr. Florian Kumb. “This means that the competition between digital media providers is becoming tougher.”

The Week in Tech

Nexxen Integrates ACR Data for Audience Planning

Nexxen, a CTV-focused ad tech firm, has launched a new set of planning tools based on automatic content recognition (ACR) data. The TV Viewership Audiences suite will be rolled out across the UK, while Nexxen will also expand its TV Intelligence offering in the US. The tools use ACR data to create custom audience segments based on linear and streaming behaviours, the company explained. “In a world where every screen is a potential touchpoint, Nexxen is offering the compass and map to navigate the evolving landscape of TV viewership,” said Jessica La Rosa, VP, TV Partnerships and Strategy at Nexxen.

YouTube Plans to Let Advertisers Buy Shorts Ads Separately

YouTube is planning to let more advertisers buy ads exclusively on YouTube Shorts, AdExchanger reported this week. Currently in alpha testing, the pilot program comes in response to frustration among buyers over the inability to separate Shorts from the rest of their video ad buys. The new capability would therefore allow brands to target ads specifically on YouTube Shorts. Three sources have confirmed the plans, according to AdExchanger.

Digital Advertising Annoys Consumers in YouGov Survey

The majority of UK consumers (70 percent) find digital advertising annoying and unpleasant, according to YouGov and advertising marketplace Picnic. Meanwhile, 72 percent agree that bad advertising experiences have negatively affected their perception of a brand. Respondents cited “too many ads” as the most annoying user experience (UX) issue on the ad-funded web, with 86 percent saying that too many ads on a webpage makes them feel overwhelmed and likely to ignore them.

Yet the results showed that respondents are fundamentally in favour of an ad-funded web, due to the access to free content from reputable publishers. And most participants said they would feel more positively towards ads if they were fast-loading and unobtrusive.

Amazon Fire TVs to Play Full-Screen Video Ads When Switched On

Amazon is to introduce full-screen video ads to Fire TV that play when the TV is switched on, the company told Cord Cutters News. According to the statement, the ads (usually for a film or TV show) will play as soon as the TV is turned on, unless users cancel it within a few seconds. “Our focus is on delivering an immersive experience so customers can enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies, as well as browse and discover more content they’ll want to watch,” Amazon said in the statement. “We’re always working to make the Fire TV experience better for customers and have updated one of the prominent placements in the UI to play a short content preview if no other action is taken by a customer upon turning on their Fire TV.”

Google Accused of Extending YouTube Load Times on Firefox 

Google has been accused of building in longer load times on YouTube videos for Firefox users, according to reports by Android Authority and 404 Media. Users allege that the “artificial” five-second load time does not exist in Google’s own Chrome browser. But Google claimed the delays were down to ad blockers. “Users who have ad blockers installed may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using,” the company said in a statement. The reports come in the midst of a US antitrust case against the tech giant, which is accused of using anti-competitive practices to maintain its position as the dominant search engine.

The Week in TV

ITV Launches New Outcome Measurement Tools to Prove TV’s Value

This week ITV announced it is expanding its outcome measurement capabilities with two new launches: Addressable Lift and Broadcast Auction Boost. Addressable Lift is a pilot programme that builds on ITV’s existing capabilities available via DataMatch, which uses data clean room technology to measure the impact of a campaign on ITVX (ITV’s streaming service) in driving sales. With Addressable Lift, ITV will also offer brand lift and site lift measurement for campaigns at a household level. Meanwhile ITV described Broadcast Auction Boost as a “major scientific study” run in association with OMG and Percept, which examined how broadcast advertising influences paid search activity. Read on VideoWeek.

MFE Shows Signs of Recovery in European TV Ad Market

MediaForEurope (MFE), the European broadcasting group, has witnessed a 2.1 percent YoY fall in revenues during the first nine months of 2023, according to earnings posted on Thursday. A tough TV ad market continues to weigh on the broadcaster’s books, yielding a 1.1 percent YoY fall in advertising revenues. But the group struck a positive note in terms of its overall stability, sending operating costs down 2.1 percent over the nine-month period. MFE said the savings stemmed from synergies created by the takeover of Mediaset España, in the wake of their merger at the start of the year. Read on VideoWeek.

RTL AdAlliance Completes European Restructuring

RTL AdAlliance has formally combined its local European businesses into a single entity within each market, the sales house announced on Monday. David Townend has been appointed to run the UK business, while Nicole Haman will manage international digital sales from the London office. “The integration of RTL AdAlliance couldn’t have gone better,” said RTL AdAlliance CEO Stéphane Coruble. “At the heart of our simplified offering are our business units, which directly connect European media with global brands. Our three corporate cultures with more than 250 employees fit together so well that we hit the ground running as one team from the start. As a unified company, we can now accelerate our efforts and count on our dedicated employees to drive this momentum for our partners and customers worldwide. I am pleased to say that we now can simplify media buying and reduce complexities for media owners and brands.”

TF1 PUB Enables Ad Spots for the Visually Impaired

TF1 PUB, the French broadcaster’s sales house, is launching a new product designed for ad spots adapted for blind or visually impaired people. Groupama, Bouygues Telecom, Pampers (Procter & Gamble) and SG (Société Générale group) are the first advertisers to deploy the unit, as part of World TV Day whose theme this year is accessibility. The commercial broadcaster noted that although there are almost 2 million visually impaired people in France, less than 0.3 percent of advertising spots are adapted for audio description.

UK Government Claims PSB Protections in Media Bill

The UK Media Bill had its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday, with Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer claiming protections for the sustainability of public service broadcasters (PSB). According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the bill relaxes the content requirements on PSBs, allowing them to better compete with streaming giants. It also safeguards their prominence on CTV, ensuring PSB apps are easy to find on smart TVs and similar devices. The bill should also guarantee viewers free access to crown jewel sporting events, expanding the requirements to all services that provide live content via the internet. Plus, Ofcom will start to regulate the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ under a new Video-on-Demand Code. “It is our job to enact reforms that keep our broadcasters at the top of their game in the years ahead,” said Frazer. “This Bill will do that by levelling the playing field, removing threats to their sustainability and opening up new opportunities to maximise growth and unlock potential.”

TF1 PUB Expands Data Partnership with Reworld Media

TF1 PUB has expanded its data partnership with French publisher Reworld Media. Since 2018, TF1 has been able to target campaigns using data from brands including Marmiton, Auféminin, Doctissimo and Les Numériques. Now the partnership extends the participating titles to Maison & Travaux, Auto Plus, Beauté Test and Sciences & Vie. “This data offering will provide significant added value to MYTF1 partners,” said Marion Collombat, CRM and Data Director at Reworld Media. “By combining innovation and data precision, brands will benefit from efficient and targeted advertising solutions.”

WBD Cuts Max Ad-Tier Subscription to $2.99

Max, the combined streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), is cutting the price of its ad-supported plan to $2.99 per month. The 70 percent discount is available for one week as the company looks to gain subscribers ahead of the holiday season. In its most recent earnings update, WBD revealed that Max lost 700,000 subscribers in the latest quarter.

Global Pay-TV Penetration to Fall in 2024

Global pay-TV penetration is set to decline in 2024 following a 60.3 percent peak in Q4 2023, according to research from Ampere Analysis. The studies state all regions will be in decline by 2025, and that by 2028 global pay-tv penetration will be down almost four percentage points. Ampere found that North America and Latin America’s declines are the main drivers for this, with Asia Pacific and Europe seeing growth in recent years, the former attributed to gains from China Mobile’s acquisition of an IPTV licence in 2018. Rory Gooderick, senior analyst at Ampere, said “High pay-TV prices and streaming competition in North America will contribute to the global decline in 2024. However, cable and satellite platforms will remain a powerful force in the TV world as important distribution partners for streaming products, such as Disney and Charter’s bundling in the US.”

ITV Introduces Head First Award for Mental Wellbeing Initiative

ITV announced the Head First Award, a new competition for the advertising community. The prize criteria is for brands that champions the importance of mental health and wellbeing, with the winner being awarded £1 million worth of airtime. ITV will also match-fund four shortlisted entries up to £250,000 each, and the winners will be announced 13th May 2024 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. The competition is part of ITV’s new research into the wellbeing space, ITV Wellbeing Matters, a report aimed at supporting advertisers with their prize submissions and developing insights into mental health culture in advertising, as well as a continuation of their “Britain Get Talking” social initiative launched five years ago.

The Week for Publishers

The ICO Gives Publishers 30 Days to Fix Their Cookie Consent Mechanisms

Some of the UK’s most visited websites run cookie consent notifications which aren’t compliant with data protection laws, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s data protection authority. And the ICO says it intends to start cracking down on this behaviour, giving publishers 30 days to make changes and warning that they face enforcement action if they don’t comply. Read on VideoWeek.

The Telegraph Sale Comes Under Government Scrutiny

A potential sale for The Telegraph’s parent company Telegraph Media Group is facing intervention from the UK government, which said it is minded to intervene in one proposed deal. The Telegraph is currently up for action by Lloyds Banking Group, after the bank claimed the asset due to outstanding debts from The Telegraph’s owners the Barclay family. RedBird IMI, an Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund, looked to have reached a deal earlier in the week. But the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport says it will likely review the deal, due to concerns around how the UAE investment fund’s ownership might affect The Telegraph’s editorial output.

Bidders Emerge to Revive Jezebel

Feminist publisher Jezebel, which announced earlier this month it was being shut down by its owner G/O Media, may be resurrected under new ownership according to The Daily Beast. Four potential bidders are reported to have shown interest in buying and reopening the company. And the front-runner, an angel investor with an interest in media ownership, would rehire editor-in-chief Laura Bassett to run the site.

Ladbible Group Launches Unilad Tech Website

Unilad Tech, a set of social pages run by Ladbible Group, is being expanded to a full website, which aims to capitalise off Unilad Tech’s 18.1 million strong following across different social platforms. Ladbible has seen demand for tech content grow across its existing websites over the past year, and Unilad Tech will serve as a dedicated hub to serve that audience. The new site will run display and video ads, and will also offer more bespoke marketing solutions, according to Press Gazette.

Google Updates Have “Profound Impact” on UK Publishers

Changes to Google’s core search algorithms in recent months have had a profound impact on UK news publishers, Press Gazette reported this week, with some publishers seeing large negative changes in the amount of traffic they’re receiving from Google, and others seeing positive changes. Barry Adams, founder of Polemic Digital, told Press Gazette that two recent updates “seem to be of the ‘big impact’ variety, with hundreds of sites seeing massive traffic changes – some positive, some negative”.

Forbes Sale to US Billionaire Austin Russell Called Off

Forbes’ proposed sale to Austin Russell, a US billionaire who founded self-driving car tech company Luminar, is no longer going ahead after the deal failed to close on time. The deal, which valued Forbes at around $800 million, would have given Russell majority control of the business. But money from Indian investment company Sun Group and others wasn’t wired through on time, leaving Russell “blindsided” according to Axios. Axios reports that at least one other buyer has been lining up a bid in anticipation of Russell’s deal falling through.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Major Brands Pull Spend from X Over Antisemitism Concerns

A number of major brands including Disney, Apple, and Paramount have paused advertising on X due to concerns over antisemitism on the platform. X has already faced allegations of insufficient moderation of anti-Semitic content since Elon Musk’s takeover last year, and last Thursday activist group Media Matters published a report showing big brands’ ads appearing next to anti-Semitic posts. Musk’s own posting has sparked criticism too. In response to a post which accused Jewish Americans of “the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them” and alluded to replacement theory, Musk replied “You have said the actual truth”.

OMG Tops COMvergence Charts for Incremental Billings

Omnicom’s media arm Omnicom Media Group ranked highest out of all the major agency groups’ media businesses for incremental billings growth across the first nine months of the year, according to a COMvergence report released this week. OMG added $2.5 billion in incremental billings over that period according to the report, matching the group’s total for all of 2022.

WPP Changes GroupM’s P&L Model

WPP’s media arm GroupM is no longer allocating budgets to its sub agencies such as EssenceMediacom, Wavemaker, and Mindshare, but is now allocating spend solely based on individual markets, according to Campaign. The model moves GroupM close to Publicis’ more centralised structure, which seems to have delivered for the French group given its recent run of success.

ASA Bans Toyota Ad for Promoting Environmentally Harmful Driving

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority this week banned two ads from car manufacturer Toyota, saying that the ads condone driving which is harmful to the environment, and are therefore socially irresponsible on environmental grounds. The ads showed Toyota vehicles driving off-road across wild landscapes. And the ASA ruled that this depiction condones a style of driving which would be damaging to the environment.

Billions Wasted on Poorly Formatted Ads in Christmas Period

Brands are potentially wasting billions of dollars worth of ad spend on ads which aren’t formatted correctly for whether they’re appearing, according to a study run by creative tech company CreativeX. The company analysed campaigns from over 400 brands during the festive period, finding that around $600 million worth of their ad spend went towards display and video ads which weren’t optimised to their digital environment.

Hires of the Week

Chris Worsley Joins Wavemaker as Global Performance Lead

Wavemaker has appointed Chris Worsley as its new global performance lead, a role which will see him lead performance strategy for Wavemaker’s global clients. Worsley joins from Dentsu’s iProspect, where he was UK group managing director.

Zenith UK Promotes Kush Bhardwaj to Head of Investment

Zenith UK has promoted Kush Bhardwaj from client partner to head of investment, a role previously held by Dave Mulrenan. Bhardwaj, who has been with Zenith for over 12 years, will also join Zenith UK and PMX’s senior leadership teams.

This Week on VideoWeek

What’s Behind Publicis’ Rise to the Top of the Agency Group Pack?

AI Can Help Advertisers Understand Why Creative Does (or Doesn’t) Work

ITV Launches New Outcome Measurement Tools to Prove TV’s Value

The ICO Gives Publishers 30 Days to Fix Their Cookie Consent Mechanisms

Broadcasters Don’t Need to Fear Commoditisation in Programmatic Sales

MFE Shows Signs of Recovery in European TV Ad Market

TV’s ‘Inbetween Years’ Don’t Have to be Awkward

Ad of the Week

The Good Advert, Purpose Disruptors

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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