In this week’s Week in Review: The BBC’s license fee won’t rise as expected, IPG signs a first-look ads deal with Amazon, and ANA report finds high levels of programmatic wastage.
UK Government Picks New BBC Chair, Trims License Fee Increase
The UK government this week announced Dr Samir Shah, CEO and owner of production company Juniper, as its preferred choice as the new chair of the BBC. But the broadcaster is set to be working with a reduced budget under Shah’s chairmanship, as the government also announced a below-inflation rise in the license fee.
The government announced that the BBC license fee will increase by £10.50, a smaller rise than the BBC and Office for Budget Responsibility had anticipated. This will leave an expected funding gap of around £90 million. “Our content budgets are now impacted, which in turn will have a significant impact on the wider creative sector across the UK,” said a statement from the BBC board. “We will confirm the consequences of this as we work through our budgets in the coming months.”
This is the context which likely new chairman Shamir Shah will step into. Shah, who will still need to be approved by a select committee in the culture department, will replace Richard Sharp, who resigned earlier this year over breaking rules relating to his appointment. Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said Shah “has a clear ambition to see the BBC succeed in a rapidly changing media landscape, and I have no doubt he will provide the support and scrutiny that the BBC needs to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future”.
IPG Signs First Look Ad Deal with Amazon Prime Video
Agency holding company Interpublic Group has signed a three year deal with Amazon which will see Interpublic Group’s clients get early access to new ad formats and sponsorship opportunities on Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming ad-supported subscription tier.
Amazon announced earlier this year that it will begin running ads on its streaming service in select regions next year, including the UK, Germany, the US, and Canada early in the year. With this new deal, IPG commits to adding Amazon Prime Video to its clients’ media plans, while also getting a first look at new ad products for its clients.
It’s still not clear exactly what Amazon Prime Video’s ad offering will look like, though Amazon has said it will run meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV or other streaming TV providers. It will however likely be an attractive proposition for brands both due to its reach (Amazon says it expects to reach 115 million monthly viewers in the US alone) and Amazon’s shopper data which will be available for targeting and measurement.
Advertisers Waste Over One-Third of Programmatic Spend in ANA Report
Advertisers could be wasting at least one-third of their programmatic spend, according to the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) latest supply chain transparency report. The study analysed campaign data from 21 brands, encompassing $123 million in ad spend, between September 2022 and January 2023.
It found that only 36 cents of every dollar that enters a demand-side platform (DSP) reaches a consumer. While 29 cents are spent on ad tech intermediaries, 35 cents go to low-quality media, invalid traffic and made-for-advertising (MFA) websites. The findings follow the ANA’s revelation that 15 percent of programmatic ad spend goes on MFA sites.
In addition, the average campaign ran on 44,000 websites, but 500 websites accounted for 63 percent of impressions. The report therefore makes the case that advertisers can afford to cut down on the number of publishers they work with. It notes that in 2018, General Motors used inclusion lists to cut the number of websites where it ran ads from 800,000 to 4,000-15,000, and saw no negative impact on performance.
The Week in Tech
Google Lets Brands Opt-Out of Search Partner Network on PMAX
Google is introducing more controls for advertisers, according to Adweek, after Adalytics found the tech giant to be placing ads on pornographic and pirate websites via its ‘Search Partner Network’ (SPN). Google is enabling brands to “temporarily” opt out of SPN on Performance Max campaigns, which did not previously provide the option. “Our priority is our partners, and we listen closely to their feedback, which is why we are temporarily offering a new option to opt out,” a Google spokesperson told Adweek. “Adalytics made wildly exaggerated claims by trying to generate as many negative ad placements as they could, but our own analysis found that those placements rarely occurred before they intentionally triggered them. Though we take enormous issue with Adalytics’ methodology and conclusions, we always look to improve our products to meet our partners’ needs.”
Yahoo Introduces AI Planning Tools to DSP
Yahoo Advertising has launched Yahoo Blueprint, an AI suite within the Yahoo DSP that analyses users’ log-in data to inform planning decisions. The tools include an AI co-pilot that provides recommendations for campaign improvements, and auto-optimises to meet advertiser goals; predictive audiences for determining the purchase probability of each user; and Omniscope, an algorithmic forecasting tool that allows advertisers to plan and compare the projected reach and performance of different targeting parameters. “With Yahoo Blueprint, advertisers always hold the reins,” said Yahoo CRO Elizabeth Herbst-Brady. “Yahoo Blueprint not only focuses on enhancing performance, but also aims to reduce friction and maintain transparency, ensuring both ease of use and advertiser control.”
LightBoxTV is Bringing Captify Data to CTV Buys
LightBoxTV, a CTV planning tool, has announced an integration with Captify, a search intelligence platform. The partnership enables buyers to fold search data insights into their CTV strategies, in order to plan, manage and optimise their campaigns. “The integration of Captify into our platform marks a significant milestone in our mission to offer top-tier tools for CTV campaign management,” said LightboxTV CEO Mark Giblin. “Access to Captify’s advanced insights at the planning phase enables our clients to make more informed, strategic media decisions.”
Barb Signs MetaBroadcast and Clearcast for Faster Audience Reporting
Barb, the UK’s TV measurement body, has awarded three contracts for its audience measurement service. MetaBroadcast will handle metadata and interim overnight programme logs, while Clearcast will provide interim overnight commercial spot logs. All three contracts start in January 2025 and run for three years. The organisation noted that metadata will be delivered earlier under the new contracts – three days after programmes are first made available, rather than the current seven days. “Together, these contracts will provide faster and more comprehensive reporting of programmes and ads, giving advertisers, agencies and broadcasters earlier insight into how their programmes and campaigns are performing,” said Caroline Baxter, Research Operations Director at Barb.
Infillion to Relaunch MediaMath This Year
Infillion is planning to relaunch MediaMath by the end of the year, Business Insider reported on Tuesday. The ad tech firm took possession of MediaMath after the DSP filed for bankruptcy in the summer. Infillion has rehired 40 employees, while former clients are reportedly testing the platform. Infillion CEO Rob Emrich previously announced plans to grow MediaMath into a $100 million-a-year business in four years, and remains bullish on that prediction. “I try to stay cautious but I think we’re going to dramatically outperform that,” he said.
X Looks to SMEs to Rescue Advertising Business
X (formerly Twitter) is seeking to attract small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to rescue its plummeting ad revenues, the company told the FT. X has reportedly outsourced some ad sales to JumpCrew, a US marketing startup, to target SMEs. “Small and medium businesses are a very significant engine that we have definitely underplayed for a long time,” said the social media firm. “It [was] always part of the plan — now we will go even further with it.” The move follows Elon Musk’s tirade against large businesses, such as Disney, IBM and Apple, which have ceased advertising on X. Musk has also called for Disney CEO Bob Iger to be fired, given the company continues to advertise on Meta despite its apps reportedly surfacing child exploitation material.
He should be fired immediately.
Walt Disney is turning in his grave over what Bob has done to his company.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2023
The Week in TV
Channel 4 Launches MAFS FAST Channel, Renews Snapchat Vows
Channel 4 has launched its first free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel in the UK, in the form of a 24/7 channel dedicated to Married at First Sight UK. MAFS Live will air episodes from series 6-8 of the dating show around the clock. It will be available on the Channel 4 BVOD service for two months, accessible via web browsers, mobile devices and tablets. The PSB also announced an extension to its relationship with image-sharing app Snapchat, which began in 2018. The new deal will see the companies collaborate on “Snap-first” content, according to the broadcaster. Read on VideoWeek.
MFE Boss Tells Prosieben to Focus on TV
ProSiebenSat.1 needs to focus on TV and monetise its ancillary digital segments, MFE CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi said last week. MFE holds a 29 percent stake in Prosieben, which is struggling with the challenges of the German ad market, and also operates dating and e-commerce services. The MFE boss (son of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) said the company should look to cash in on those ventures, and reinvest the proceeds in its core TV/entertainment business.
Sky Media Announces Household Viewing Panel, New Ad Formats
Sky Media announced updates to its ad offering this week, including an expanded household viewing panel, extended digital partnerships and new ad formats. Sky’s advertising division is growing its household viewing panel from three million to four million homes, incorporating viewing on Sky Glass and Sky Stream. A partnership with TikTok will give Sky Media’s advertisers direct access to TikTok Pulse, the social video firm’s contextual advertising solution. And the ad formats include contextual targeting, using AI to tag content and align ads with positive and negative moments; and voice ads, enabling ad placements in response to voice commands.
Premier League Fetches Record £6.7 Billion for TV Rights
Sky and TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport) have scored Premier League rights, as part of a £6.7 billion deal. Sky won four of the five packages, and will show 215 matches per season, with TNT airing 52 matches per season. The BBC will continue broadcasting highlights on Match of the Day, while current player Amazon has not secured rights in the new agreement. The Saturday 3pm blackout will remain in place, but every 2pm Sunday kick-off will be televised. The Premier League called the four-year deal the “largest sports media rights deal ever concluded in the UK.”
ITV Creates Audience Insights Group, Prioritises Digital Advertising
ITV has created ‘The ITV Insights Group’ to generate audience-centric insights for application across the commercial broadcaster. Led by former Audiences Director Neil Mortensen, the group will pool expertise from marketing, media research, analytics and data science. Also this week, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall told The Future of TV Advertising Global conference that the UK broadcaster is focused on growing its digital ads business and ITVX revenues. “Mass reach to a linear [audience] will still be an incredibly important thing to advertisers, but so will digital automated advertising,” she said. “It’s important for us that we take our place in that digital revenue bucket, that marketers have to think about all the time.”
Disney+ Integrates Hulu in US, Raises Price of Ad-Free Plan in UK
Disney has started to roll out ‘Hulu on Disney+’, combining the streaming services after agreeing to buy out Comcast’s remaining stake in Hulu. The integrated service is initially available to Disney Bundle subscribers, the US offering that includes both services, with a formal launch slated for March 2024. Meanwhile in the UK, Disney has upped the price of its ad-free plan from £7.99 to £10.99 per month, as the company seeks to grow its ad-supported tier (£4.99).
Paramount+ and Apple TV+ in Bundling Talks
Apple and Paramount have held early talks about bundling their streaming services, the WSJ reported this week. According to people familiar with the discussions, the companies are considering offering a discounted combination of Paramount+ and Apple TV+. The proposals are thought to help attract subscribers in the face of market competition and customer churn, with both services (like most SVOD offerings) raising membership fees in recent months.
Europeans Consume Six Hours of Video Per Day
Europeans spend one-quarter of their lives watching video, according to RTL AdAlliance, with total video consumption averaging six hours per day. The 30th annual TV Key Facts 2023 report found that linear TV maintains a 51 percent share of viewing. “Three decades after its inception, the TV Key Facts report stands as a guiding light in the dynamic landscape of the TV industry,” said RTL AdAlliance CEO Stéphane Coruble. “We recognise the critical importance of understanding audience behaviours, meeting the evolving needs and strategies of advertisers, and staying attuned to ever-changing content, platforms and publishers’ products.”
Report Finds Sian Doyle Created “Culture of Fear” at S4C
Former S4C boss Sian Doyle has been accused of “dictatorial” management that created “a culture of fear” at the Welsh public broadcaster, according to an independent report into allegations of bullying. The ex-chief executive has now been hospitalised following a suspected overdose. She was dismissed from S4C in November over the alleged abusive behaviour.
Canadian Public Broadcaster to Cut 10 Percent of Workforce
CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canadian public service broadcaster, is planning to cut around 600 jobs over the next year, losing roughly 10 percent of its workforce. The cost-cutting measures are designed to bridge a C$125 million budget shortfall. CBC and Radio-Canada will each axe around 250 jobs, according to the PSB, with the remaining roles to be trimmed from the tech and infrastructure units. The company will also cut programming budgets for the next fiscal year.
The Week for Publishers
Future Plc Pledges Renewed Investment in Face of Tough Ad Market
UK publishing group Future posted a 10 percent fall in organic revenues in its full year financial results this year, with ad revenues down by seven percent in the UK, and by 25 percent in the US. And while 2024 looks more promising, Future doesn’t expect to return to organic growth until the second half of next year. However, while many publishers have recently announced staff and budget cuts amid poor results, Future has pledged to invest between £25-30 million to spur new growth, which will include funding for 150 new editorial staff.
Spanish News Media Group Sues Meta for €550 Million over Advertising Foul Play
A Spanish news media trade association representing many of the country’s largest newspapers has filed a €550 million lawsuit against Meta, alleging that the tech giant has come to its position of dominance in the ad market through illegitimate means. The trade group is seeking compensation for the massive harm it says has been done to the Spanish news industry as a result of Meta swallowing up ad dollars. And a lawyer representing the trade group said the lawsuit could be used as a blueprint for similar cases elsewhere in Europe. Read on VideoWeek.
The Guardian Signs Film Deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment
UK news publisher The Guardian has signed an unusual deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment which gives the studio rights to adapt The Guardian’s journalism into film and TV content. The deal covers ongoing work and archive of content throughout its history. Three option deals for unnamed projects are already in the works, according to The Guardian.
Mirror Journalists Accuse Reach of “Doing Less with Less” Strategy
Unionised journalists at UK newspaper the Mirror have accused parent company Reach of pursuing a “doing less with less strategy”, with resultant layoffs hurting the company. A letter to Reach sent by the British Association of Journalists and seen by Press Gazette called on the publisher to pause its planned spending and job cuts until an independent review is carried out.
Barclay Family Regains Control of The Telegraph
The Barclay family this week regained control of The Telegraph and Spectator magazine, having received funding to pay off outstanding debts from investment group RedBird IMI. The assets were seized earlier in the year by Lloyds bank due to the debts owed by the family, but have now returned to the Barclay family. However a deal between the Barclays and RedBird which would transfer control over to the latter has stalled due to recent government intervention.
Washington Post Staff Strike Amid Stalled Contract Talks
Unionised staff at the Washington Post staged a 24 hour walkout on Thursday over stalled contract talks which have stretched on for 18 months. The union accused executives at the Post of not negotiating in good faith over pay rises for staff, and also claimed mismanagement from the executive team had led to recent cuts in headcount across the company.
The Week For Brands & Agencies
Streaming Will Soon Overtake Linear’s Share of TV Advertising, Predicts GroupM
Streaming now accounts for 46 percent of all TV advertising, according to GroupM’s latest This Year, Next Year report, and will likely overtake linear revenues in 2026 as linear continues to decline and streaming continues to grow. Elsewhere in its report GroupM maintained its 2023 forecast of 5.8 percent growth, which it expects to slow slightly to 5.3 percent next year (excluding political advertising).
Digital Video Fuels Recovery in Magna Ad Spend Forecast
Despite a “slow, uncertain macroeconomic climate”, Magna expects that digital is on track to drive modest market growth this year, in its end of year ad spend forecast. According to the media agency, full-year global ad spend will increase by 6 percent YoY, reaching $853 billion for 2023. That growth is fuelled by an 11 percent rise in digital formats, hitting $587 billion in ad spend. Magna forecasts digital video to grow by 9.6 percent YoY, to reach $70 billion. Read on VideoWeek.
Dentsu Predicts TV will Return to Growth Next Year
Rounding off this week’s 2024 predictions from major agency groups, Dentsu this week forecasted that TV (including CTV) will return to growth in 2024, growing by 2.4 percent globally. This follows two years of declines according to Dentsu, of -0.4 percent last year and -4.0 percent this year. Dentsu says major elections and sporting events (such as the US Presidential election, the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Euros) will boost TV ad spend.
Stagwell Plans London Hub and Picks EMEA CEO
Agency group Stagwell has announced plans to open a new London hub next month as the company grows its global presence, also appointing James Townsend as its inaugural EMEA CEO. EMEA operations accounted for 30 percent of Stagwell’s international revenues, and the new London hub aims to strengthen its European business, serving as a collaborative workspace for around 750 of its employees.
IPG Mediabrands Lays Off Staff Across UM and Magna
IPG’s media arm IPG Mediabrands has conducted layoffs across its UM and Magna sub-brands, Digiday reported this week, following several significant client losses. The layoffs reportedly included a number of executives whose roles weren’t directly related to revenue generation. The loss of BMW was particularly impactful for IPG, since its digital focus and willingness to spend made it a very profitable account, according to Digiday.
SME Trust in Digital Advertising Grows by 50 Percent
UK small and medium sized enterprises’ (SMEs’) trust in digital advertising has grown significantly over the last few years, according to a new report from IAB UK. Seventy-four percent now say they trust digital advertising, up from 50 percent back in 2020, representing a nearly 50 percent increase. Meanwhile 81 percent of SMEs say digital advertising is important to the success of their business, and 74 percent say it delivers a good return on investment.
UK Ad Regulator Bans Ads from Air France, Lufthansa, and Etihad
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned ads from three major airlines – Air France, Lufthansa, and Etihad – for making misleading claims relating to sustainability. All three have run ads using language around sustainability, which the ASA said could mislead consumers into believing they offer sustainable air travel. The ASA says it picked up the digital ads using an AI tool designed to catch rule breakers.
EssenceMediacom Wins TUI’s Pan-European Media Account
WPP’s EssenceMediacom has been awarded pan-European media duties for travel business TUI, Campaign reported this week. EssenceMediacom already handled TUI’s media business in the UK, and has now won wider responsibilities following a competitive pitch process.
Hires of the Week
Medialab Announces Jon Manning as Director of Advanced TV
Medialab, an independent UK agency, has hired Jon Manning as Director of Advanced TV. Manning has been Client Investment Director at Publicis-owned Starcom since 2017.
Wavemaker Appoints PHD’s Irin Rahman as Data and Tech Chief
Wavemaker UK has named Irin Rahman its new Chief Data and Technology Officer. She joins the GroupM agency from PHD, part of Omnicom Media Group, where she served as Chief Data and Technology Officer.
IMPACT+ Names Yann Le Roux VP Sales & Partnerships
IMPACT+, a sustainability business for digital advertising, has appointed Yann Le Roux as VP Sales & Partnerships. Le Roux spent seven years as a Director at Integral Ad Science (IAS), following a 14-year stint at Havas.
This Week on VideoWeek
Ad of the Week
Apple, The Lost Voice