In this week’s Week in Review: Twitch ends major partnerships with publishers, Condé Nast CEO warns AI lawsuits could drive media companies out of business, and YouTube faces accusations of monetising climate change denial content.
Twitch Calls Time on Publisher Partnerships
Amazon’s gaming-focussed live streaming platform Twitch has ended a number of major partnerships with publishers, with the partnerships failing to deliver as hoped for either party, Adweek reported this week.
Publishers including Vice, Complex, and Rolling Stone were paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of hosting live streamed content on the platform. The goal was to kickstart the creation of more premium content on Twitch, attracting new sponsors and advertisers. But as these deals have ended, they haven’t been renewed. Staff hired by those publishers specifically for Twitch have been laid off, and the channels have stopped putting out live streams.
The publishers’ live streams did attract some major sponsors, according to Adweek, though not perhaps as many as Twitch might have liked. But the audiences were small – recent live streams hosted by the above publishers all attracted only a few hundred viewers.
Condé Nast CEO Warns Many Media Business May Go Out of Business due to AI
Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch warned a US Senate subcommittee last week that we may see a number of media companies go out of business while copyright litigation against AI companies works its way through courts. Lynch said while some big publishers, like the New York Times which is currently suing OpenAI, have the resources to sustain themselves, others can’t wait for courts to rule.
Lynch instead suggested that legislators should rule that “fair use” rules don’t apply to AI models, which would have an immediate impact in forcing them to stop using publishers’ content. “I think quite simply if Congress could clarify that the use of our content and other publisher content for training and output of AI models is not fair use, then the free market will take care of the rest,” he said.
YouTube is Profiting From New Forms of Climate Change Denial, Says CCDH
YouTube makes millions of dollars each year from climate misinformation, according to new research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The non-profit organisation used AI to review transcripts from 12,058 YouTube videos, and found that content creators were evading the platform’s policies in place to combat climate misinformation. The research found that YouTube makes up to $13.4 million per year from ads on the channels analysed.
The CCDH said climate denial content has shifted away from outright denial (which is banned from monetisation on YouTube), and onto monetisable tactics. These include portraying climate solutions as unworkable, global warming as harmless or beneficial, and climate science and the environmental movement as unreliable. Last year, 70 percent of climate denial content employed these tactics, according to the research.
The Week in Tech
LiveRamp Acquires Habu for $200 Million
LiveRamp, an identity resolution specialist, this week announced it will acquire Habu, a data clean room provider, for $200 million. The deal comprises $170 million in cash and $30 million in LiveRamp stock. It is scheduled to close during the March quarter. Since being founded in 2018, Habu’s clean room technology has been embraced by the advertising industry for its ability to maintain user data privacy when pairing up datasets, across different cloud environments and data platforms. Integrating the technology into LiveRamp’s offering is expected to simplify the use of data across its network of clients, which includes Walmart, PepsiCo and DISH Media. Read more on VideoWeek.
Samba TV Brings CTV Audience Segments to Adform’s DSP
Adform, a media buying platform, and Samba TV, an audience measurement company, have launched new CTV targeting capabilities on the DSP. The geo audience segments will be available to buy on Adform’s platform in Q1 2024 in Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain. “It’s the ideal time to offer more robust audience targeting by bringing Samba TV’s deterministic data into our DSP, which will take CTV targeting and performance to the next level, and bring greater value right when advertisers are demanding more out of their spend,” said Stefan Sommer, SVP Global Sales & Partnerships at Adform.
Google to Cut Hundreds of Ad Sales Roles
Google has announced hundreds of advertising layoffs, marking the latest round of redundancies after the tech giant cut 12,000 jobs this time last year. Search, advertising sales and YouTube are said to be affected, as Google reallocates investment towards AI. Last month, the company unveiled its ChatGPT rival, Gemini, in efforts to compete with Microsoft.
DoubleVerify Expands Brand Safety Coverage on Meta, Includes Instagram Reels
DoubleVerify, a measurement and verification firm, has expanded its brand safety and suitability coverage on Meta to include Facebook and Instagram Feeds and Reels. The move follows concerns over brand safety on Instagram, including the surfacing of sexualised child content on Reels. “Responsible marketing is a key priority at Meta – and we are delighted to expand our partnerships with this important solution,” said Samantha Stetson, VP Client Council & Industry Trade Relations at Meta.
Meta Removes Ad Targeting Options in AI Push
Meta is removing ad targeting options that “people may perceive as sensitive”, the company announced this week, including those related to health, race or ethnicity. Other targeting options that are not widely used or fall short of regulatory requirements are also being discontinued. The company said it would provide alternative recommendations, including its broad targeting (gender, age and location), custom audiences, and Meta Advantage+, which uses AI to find campaign audiences. The social media giant said AI had boosted ad campaign returns on Meta platforms by an average 32 percent.
MrBeast Dips Toe into Video Sharing on X to Test Monetisation
YouTube star MrBeast has posted one of his videos on X (formerly Twitter) to see “how much ad revenue a video on X would make.” Last month, MrBeast (formerly Jimmy Donaldson) posted: “My videos cost millions to make and even if they got a billion views on X it wouldn’t fund a fraction of it.” But he said he would test the theory, and will reveal the ad revenue next week.
My videos cost millions to make and even if they got a billion views on X it wouldn’t fund a fraction of it :/
I’m down though to test stuff once monetization is really cranking!
— MrBeast (@MrBeast) December 30, 2023
The Week in TV
DAZN Emerges as Front Runner in Ligue 1 Rights Scramble
DAZN has emerged as the front runner to score domestic Ligue 1 rights, signalling a shakeup in the French football broadcasting landscape. The sports streaming service has reportedly upped its offer for the 2024-29 cycle, according to French publication RMC Sport, following a tense series of negotiations for the top-flight football league. Read more on VideoWeek.
Netflix Bundles Ad Tier with Carrefour Discounts
Netflix has partnered with Carrefour, the French retail giant, to offer its ad-supported plan in a bundle with various supermarket discounts. For €5.99 a month, French customers will receive the AVOD service and 10 percent off 7,000 Carrefour products, as well as free delivery for orders over €60. The price is the same as the standalone Netflix plan.
Viaplay Explores Ad-Supported Tier
Viaplay is considering an ad-supported tier, the Nordic streaming service revealed on Tuesday. The company is exploring roads to recovery after being forced to scale back its operations last year, and already runs ads across its commercial linear channels in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. “We are always looking at the possibilities of further developing both the advertising product and our offering to the customer, where HVOD [hybrid video-on-demand] could be one of several alternatives,” said Sara Uddståhl, Head of Sales at Viaplay.
Amazon Takes Minority Stake in Diamond Sports
Amazon has taken a $115 million stake in Diamond Sports Group, a regional sports network in the US. Diamond Sports carries NBA, NHL and MLB rights, and is currently under bankruptcy protection. By taking a minority investment in the company, Amazon can refinance the business while allowing Prime Video to stream around half of all NBA, NHL and MLB contests.
DAZN Makes All its Women’s Football Free in the UK
DAZN is lifting its paywall on all women’s football content, the sports streaming service announced on Wednesday. The move sees all remaining Women’s Champions League matches this season go free to air in the UK, alongside Spain’s Liga F, Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga, France’s Arkema, Italy’s Serie A Femminile, and the Women’s Saudi Premier League. “What we see in women’s football is if you put a paywall up, there is a small proportion of people that are prepared to pay for it,” said Hannah Brown, Co-Chief Executive of Women’s Sport at DAZN. “But women’s football fans don’t exhibit those strong pay‑TV characteristics that we’ve seen around premium football in domestic markets, where you see customers make a real pay choice in order to interact with something. Women’s football fans are just not there yet.”
Channel 4 Awards Five Black-Owned Business Free Advertising Airtime
Channel 4 has awarded five black-owned businesses free advertising as part of its Black In Business initiative. The Gym Kitchen, Treasure Tress, Dalgety Herbal Teas, The Turmeric Co and LØCI each received £100,000 worth of airtime. “TV is the most effective way to build a brand and we’re looking forward to working with these small British businesses to help them embrace the power of TV to talk to new consumers,” said Clare Peters, Client Strategy & Communications Partner at Channel 4.
Addressable TV Presents Untapped Opportunity for SMEs, Says RTL AdAlliance
Only nine percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) name TV as one of their preferred advertising channels, according to a new white paper from RTL AdAlliance. Respondents perceived addressable TV as too expensive (22 per cent) or too complex (4 percent) – but of those who have tried addressable TV advertising, 73 percent said they plan to continue using the format. “SMEs make up 99 percent of businesses in Europe,” said Fabian Burgey, Director SME Business Europe at RTL AdAlliance. “Their strength lies in their geographical proximity to their customers, and ATV gives SMEs the opportunity to increase their awareness locally and become even more present within their communities.”
Viewers Want Quicker Ways to Buy Products They See in TV Ads, Finds LG Ad Solutions
LG Ad Solutions has found that 53 percent of CTV users want all TV ads to have a quick option to buy the product, with 70 percent expressing approval for QR codes. “Most CTV users envision and desire a TV experience that enables them to easily purchase the products advertised to them,” said Tony Marlow, CMO at LG Ad Solutions. “The future of television is shaping up to be an immersive canvas of personalised, interactive experiences. We are entering an era where TV is not just a device for passive viewing, but also a dynamic platform for engagement, interaction, and shopping.”
The Week for Publishers
Condé Nast Announces Layoffs as Pitchfork is Folded into GQ
Publishing giant Condé Nast this week announced it is folding music specialist Pitchfork’s team into that of men’s magazine GQ. The move has resulted in a number of layoffs at Pitchfork, including editor Puja Patel. Pitchfork will remain as a separate publication for the time being at least, though the long term future for the brand is uncertain with the new GQ-led structure.
Daily Mail Reaches 10 Million TikTok Subscribers
UK newspaper The Daily Mail this week announced it has reached 10 million subscribers on TikTok, a significant milestone following a big push by the publisher to grow its presence on the short-form platform. The Mail claims to be the largest news publisher on the platform globally. “Our 360 content approach ensures we are reaching every demographic on a global scale, wherever and however they like to consume their news – and in turn, creating the ultimate destination for our advertising partners’ brands,” said Dominic Williams, Mail Metro Media’s chief revenue officer.
Tastemade Agrees Content Deal with Amazon
Digital media business Tastemade, which specialises in creating video content for social platforms, has agreed a deal with Amazon to create content for Prime Video and Freevee. Tastemade will produce 15 shows in the unscripted lifestyle category over the next few years according to Variety, including a new show hosted by Gordon Ramsay and his daughter Tilly.
Reach Has No Plans for Further Cuts in 2024
Reach, owner of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, and Daily Star as well as hundreds of regional papers, says it has no plans for further cuts in 2024 following a tough period for the company. Reach has cut more than 700 jobs over the past year, according to Press Gazette, while also dealing with a pension fund deficit and a high profile lawsuit filed by Prince Harry. With these latter two issues now over, CEO Jim Mullen told staff in an email that the company is better placed for the year ahead, with no more cuts planned.
National World Revenues Grew Five Percent in 2023
While many publishers have seen stagnant revenues over the past year, UK local publisher National World this week reported five percent revenue growth for 2023. Growth was led by strong digital revenues, which were up by 21 percent year-on-year. Strong ad yields and increased video advertising were cited as sources of strength, alongside acquisitions made by the company, according to Press Gazette.
Over a Third of UK News Subscribers are Considering Cancelling
Thirty-seven of those in the UK who are currently subscribed to a newspaper or magazine are considering cancelling their subscriptions, according to data from subscription management platform Zuora. Eleven percent of respondents to Zuora’s survey said they did have subscriptions last year, but have already cancelled. Meanwhile 12 percent say they have a subscription but aren’t planning to cancel, and nine percent said they have a subscription and are considering cancelling.
The Week For Brands & Agencies
Brands Invest in Video as Marketing Budgets Rise, but Ad Spend Set to Fall in Real Terms
A large number of brands saw their UK marketing budgets grow in the last quarter of 2023, and the balance between brands increasing budgets and those lowering budgets is the strongest it’s been for nearly a decade, according to the IPA’s latest Bellwether Report. Video was a significant beneficiary over this period, with a net balance of over six percent of those surveyed saying their video ad budgets increased during Q4.
However, sustained inflation means that while budgets may be rising, the report predicts 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent falls in ad spend in real terms for 2023 and 2024 respectively. Read more on VideoWeek.
GroupM Confirms Layoffs Across NA and Europe
GroupM has conducted over one hundred layoffs across North America and EMEA, Digiday reported this week. GroupM sources said the layoffs were attributed to internal mergers in the past few years, where several agencies have been combined resulting in redundancies. This include the combination of Essence and Mediacom into EssenceMediacom, and the rollup of Finecast, Xaxis, and its Copilot AI tech into GroupM Nexus.
Advertisers Are Turning Off Linear TV Quicker Than Viewers, finds WARC
The decline in linear TV viewing is well-documented, but new research from WARC suggests that advertisers risk withdrawing their investment in the channel too quickly. ‘The Future of Media 2024’ report charts the gradual decline in linear viewing. In the UK, broadcast TV’s reach fell from 83 percent to 79 percent in 2022, according to Ofcom. Meanwhile in the US, linear TV fell below 50 percent of total TV viewing for the first time in July 2023, per Nielsen data. WARC found that, as a result, 39 percent of marketers are planning to decrease their investment, but the report noted that this rate of decline isn’t necessarily in line with actual changes in consumer behaviour. Read more on VideoWeek.
Pernod Ricard Reviews its European Media Account
Drinks brand Pernod Ricard is reviewing its European media account, worth around €100 million, Campaign reported this week. The company is looking for an agency to work across 15 markets, including the UK, France, Germany, and Spain.
The Myers Report Finds Widespread Lack of Knowledge of Industry Terms
The Myers Report, a survey of agency, brand, and media professionals which has been running for more than 40 years, found in its latest survey there is a widespread lack of understanding of some common industry terms. Less than half of those surveyed said they had enough knowledge either to present or contribute to a discussion on topics including programmatic, addressable TV, and retail media.
IPA Launches Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative ‘People First Promise’
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has launched a new mental health and wellbeing initiative called the ‘People First Promise’, which invites agencies to provide evidence of how they’re supporting their employees in these areas. The initiative covers three categories of care:
- Empower relates to empowering and educating individuals within the workplace to help them find their resilience and track their own mental health.
- Support relates to what the business can do to help their people, particularly those struggling with genuine mental health problems.
- Prevent relates to senior leader accountability and involvement by ensuring reliable processes, checks and action plans are in place and regularly monitored.
Agencies able to provide sufficient evidence will receive a People First Promise badge.
Hires of the Week
Sarah Vincent Joins Utiq as UK MD
Utiq, a data alliance formed by European telcos Vodafone, Orange, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom, has appointed Sarah Vincent to lead its UK launch as MD. Vincent joins from Index Exchange, where she was managing director for the UK and Ireland.
Dan Truman Joins Dentsu UK&I as Chief Strategy Officer
Dentsu UK & Ireland has appointed Dan Truman as its new chief strategy officer, a new role at the agency. Truman previously worked at growth and transformation consultancy Prophet as digital marketing and transformation partner.
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