In this week’s Week in Review: Nielsen sues VideoAmp over a claimed patent violation, Publicis settles case over its involvement in US opioid crisis, and Canal+ makes a major TV bid in South Africa.
Embattled Nielsen Sues VideoAmp Over Tech Patent Violation
Ratings giant Nielsen is suing VideoAmp, a rival measurement firm, for alleged patent violation. The suit, filed at a Delaware District Court on Wednesday, alleges that Videoamp has violated two patents recently issued to Nielsen. The patents relate to technology that measurement companies use to determine the duration of viewing sessions.
The lawsuit follows similar action by Nielsen against TVision and HyphaMetrics in 2021, and ACRCloud in 2022. The flurry of litigation finds Nielsen attempting to prevent encroachment by startups in a space it has dominated for more than 50 years. VideoAmp has raised $300 million through multiple rounds of funding, and was selected by NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery as a currency option last year.
Publicis to Pay $350 Million to Settle Claims Over Role in US Opioids Crisis
Publicis Groupe’s healthcare division has agreed to pay $350 million to settle claims that it had played a role in triggering the US’s ongoing opioids crisis through its marketing tactics.
Complaints filed against Publicis claimed that when working with opioid manufacturers like Perdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, that the agency helped encourage doctors to prescribe opioids more frequently, and in higher doses. This is alleged to have involved identifying the doctors which prescribed the most OxyContin, and targeting them with marketing and sales calls.
The settlement contains no admission of wrongdoing from Publicis which maintains that the work done by its agency Rosetta (which it no longer owns) was lawful. But the company did say in a statement that it acknowledges “the broader context in which that lawful work took place,” adding that it will no longer work with any opioid manufacturers.
Canal+ Mounts $1.7 Billion Multichoice Bid
Canal+ Group has launched a $1.7 billion bid to acquire Multichoice, the South African pay-TV business. Canal+ is currently Multichoice’s largest shareholder with a 31.7 percent stake. “Canal+ is a long-term investor in MultiChoice and in South Africa, and is proud to be actively involved in the African media sector for 30 years,” said Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada.
We are convinced that the merger of our two groups would allow the new combined entity to overcome the structural challenges that confront the media sector to develop authentic and ambitious African content, to offer greater support to local production companies and to widen access to sport for its subscribers while investing in local sport.”
The Week in Tech
YouTube Ad Revenues Topped $9 Billion in Q4 Last Year
YouTube’s ad revenues reached $9.2 billion in Q4 last year, up by nearly 16 percent year-on-year, parent company Alphabet announced in its earning report last night. The strong performance helped drive up Google’s total ad revenues to over $65 billion for the quarter. And while Google’s total ad growth was actually below analysts’ expectations, leading to a five percent fall in Alphabet’s share price in after-hours trading, it’s still a remarkable rate of growth for an already massive ad business. Read on VideoWeek.
TikTok Tests Feature to Make All Posts Shoppable, Loses Universal Music Rights
TikTok is testing a feature to make all posts shoppable, Ad Age reported this week. The new feature automatically identifies objects in a video and links users to a product page of similar items. Previously, only approved influencers and brands could tag products in their posts. Also this week, Universal Music announced plans to pull its millions of songs from TikTok after a breakdown in payment negotiations, potentially voiding the social video platform of music by Drake and Taylor Swift.
Paramount ANZ Taps Brand Metrics for CTV Measurement
Brand Metrics, a company that measures campaign effectiveness, has partnered with Paramount Australia & New Zealand (ANZ) to provide advertisers with insights into CTV campaigns running on Paramount ANZ channels. The partnership will see viewers who are exposed to a campaign invited to share real-time feedback via their remote control. “We’re closing the loop for marketers by providing more meaningful metrics that demonstrate the role and power of CTV advertising within their marketing mix and empowering them to respond to trends and insights to achieve business outcomes,” said Rod Prosser, Chief Sales Officer at Paramount ANZ.
Meta Ad Revenues Climb in 2023, Increases AI Investment
Meta’s ad revenue climbed 23.8 percent YoY in the final quarter of 2023, the company revealed in its earnings report. Ad revenue for Q4 2023 was $38.7 billion, contributing to total quarterly revenues of $40.1 billion, up 25 percent YoY. Full-year revenues also rose by 16 percent, reaching $134.90 billion for 2023. The tech giant additionally said it plans to up its investment in AI, raising its capital expenditures to $30-37 billion, $2 billion higher than initially forecast.
ShowHeroes and Adelaide Bring Attention Measurement to CTV
ShowHeroes, a video ad tech company, has announced a new attention measurement solution for CTV, in partnership with attention specialist Adelaide. The offering generates attention ratings for Showheroes’ CTV campaigns, using Adelaide’s panel-based eye-tracking data from TVision, full-funnel outcome data and other media quality indicators. “Through this collaboration, advertisers gain a deeper understanding of CTV advertising effectiveness, anchored in brand outcomes and platform-specific quality signals,” said Adelaide CEO Marc Guldimann.
X to Hire 100 Content Moderators After Dismantling Trust and Safety Team
X (formerly Twitter) is planning to form a “Trust and Safety center of excellence” in efforts to restore content moderation on the ailing social media platform. The Texas-based unit will comprise 100 full-time content moderators, with a focus on combating child exploitation material. In September 2022, researchers found hundreds of Twitter accounts soliciting exploitative content. Upon taking control of the company, Elon Musk reportedly dismantled the trust and safety team, as well as sacking contractors in charge of content moderation.
Co-op Launches a Retail Media Network
UK grocery retailer Co-op is launching a retail media network, Co-op Media Network, the company has announced. Co-op describes its new offering as the UK’s first convenience store retail media network, distinguishing its offering from others in the grocery space like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Lidl. Co-op is already active in the retail media space, making its first-party customer data available to brands for targeting via an in-house team. This new offering, created in partnership with Threefold, a specialist agency operating in the retail and commerce media space, consolidates its retail media capabilities into one cohesive product. Co-op says it will offer brands “advanced opportunities to connect their goods and services to interested Co-op shoppers in offsite digital media channels”. Read on VideoWeek.
Reddit Advised to Target $5 Billion Valuation in IPO
Reddit has been advised to target a valuation of at least $5 billion, according to Bloomberg, as the social platform lines up its initial public offering (IPO). The report noted that private trades of Reddit’s unlisted shares have been traded below that valuation. The company is considering a listing as early as March, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The Week in TV
Channel 4 Lays Off Over 200 Staff as it Accelerates Digital Transition
Channel 4 has confirmed it will cut 200 jobs and close some of its linear channels, as part of a five-year strategy to transition to a “digital-first public service streamer” by 2030. The ‘Fast Forward’ plan aims to “embrace the generational shift that is taking place in TV viewing”, as the broadcaster seeks to compete with international streaming services and video sharing apps. This includes divesting from its “legacy” operations in order to invest in its digital offerings. Read on VideoWeek.
Sky to Cut 1,000 Jobs in IPTV and CTV Transition
Sky is planning to cut 1,000 jobs, representing around 4 percent of the pay-TV company’s 27,000 employees in the UK. The redundancies will mainly affect technicians who install Sky equipment in homes, reflecting an ongoing shift away from satellite TV to streaming. Sky has been pushing into IPTV (TV delivered via internet) and connected TV (CTV), having launched a range of CTV products over the last three years. Read more on VideoWeek.
Paramount Plans Layoffs, Pulls Back From Local Content
Paramount is expecting layoffs and plans to pull back from local content, CEO Bob Bakish revealed in an internal memo. He said the company would be “maximizing content with the biggest impact,” such as tentpole film franchises and TV, including Mission: Impossible and Yellowstone. “This means we’ll produce fewer local, international originals for our platforms, apart from our leading free-to-air networks in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the UK, where we will continue to have a strong pipeline of local content,” he said. The business is currently the subject of a bidding war between Allen Media Group, Skydance Media and others.
Netflix Warns Generative AI Could Give Competitors Advantage
Netflix has warned that generative AI could threaten its ability to compete, in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The streaming giant also expressed concern over being sued for breaches of intellectual property. “If our competitors gain an advantage by using such technologies, our ability to compete effectively and our results of operations could be adversely impacted,” the company said. “In addition, the use or adoption of new and emerging technologies may increase our exposure to intellectual property claims, and the availability of copyright and other intellectual property protection for AI-generated material is uncertain.”
Mediaset Italia’s Ad Revenues Climbed 2.1 Percent Last Year
Mediaset Italia’s ad revenues increased by 2.1 percent YoY during 2023, according to parent company MediaForEurope (MFE). The results point to a strong showing towards the end of the year, as Mediaset Italia’s TV revenues were down 0.8 percent YoY for the first nine months of 2023. The fourth quarter seems to have recovered lost ground, including a reported 8 percent YoY rise in October.
TF1 PUB Offers Attention Measurement for TF1+ Campaigns
TF1 PUB has partnered with xpln.ai, an attention optimisation startup, to measure attention for campaigns running on the TF1+ streaming service. The broadcaster is offering the service free for any campaign broadcast on TF1+ during the first quarter of 2024 and delivering more than 3 million impressions. “Studies carried out by xpln.ai show that the TV device represents a boon in terms of attention thanks to a premium broadcast context,” said xpln.ai CEO Fabien Magalon.
Nielsen Finds US Streaming Hours Climbed 21 Percent in 2023
US audiences streamed 21 million years worth of video in 2023, according to Nielsen, up 21 percent from 2022. Meanwhile time spent viewing content on TV was largely flat, with streaming the main driver of TV viewing. Nielsen noted that library content played a major role, with media companies selling more content to boost revenues, while the Hollywood strikes reduced the rate of original production. As a result, previously exclusive titles began appearing across multiple streaming services, lifting their total viewership. For example, Suits spent 12 weeks at the top of Nielsen’s streaming ratings, owing to its availability on both Netflix and Peacock.
Telia’s TV Ad Revenue Losses Steeper Than Pay-TV Gains
Nordic telco Telia saw its TV ad revenues fall by 14 percent during the final quarter of 2023. However, the losses were partially offset by 6.5 percent growth in pay-TV revenue. “The Nordic advertising markets, however, remain challenging and continued to decline, but our TV and Media business unit reverted to a positive EBITDA contribution, despite that much of the turnaround still lies ahead of us,” said Telia CEO Allison Kirkby
Apple TV+ Takes Largest Slice of UK SVOD Signups
Apple TV+ has knocked Disney+ from its perch as the SVOD service with the highest share of new subscribers in the UK, according to Kantar data from Q4 2023. Kantar’s Entertainment on Demand (EoD) research showed Apple took an 18 percent share of new signups during the quarter, followed by Amazon Prime Video (16 percent) and Disney+ (14 percent). The data revealed that 19.8 million UK households had at least one paid SVOD service in Q4, which was flat compared with Q3. Kantar’s figures reflect the share of signups for each service during the quarter. Read more on VideoWeek.
The Week for Publishers
MailOnline Launches Paid Subscription Product Mail+
MailOnline, the digital version of UK newspaper the Daily Mail, this week launched a new paid subscription product, Mail+. The product, available on both the MailOnline website and app, will give access to a select few articles each day which will be exclusive to subscribers (while the majority of content will remain free). This is the second digital subscription product run by the Daily Mail, joining Mail+ Editions, which provides a digital version of the print newspaper.
Publishers Feel Positive About Revenue Growth in Year Ahead, finds WAN-IFRA Study
A survey from the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has found that publishers feel positive about the potential for revenue growth in the year ahead, as many expect to see investments they’ve been making in new revenue streams starting to pay off. Fifty-five percent of leaders surveyed said they feel optimistic about their company’s prospects in the next 12 months, while 58 percent feel positive about the next three years, according to Press Gazette. This is a marked improvement on last year’s survey, when 45 percent said they felt optimistic about the coming year.
TechCrunch Lays Off Staff and Winds Down Subscription Product
Tech publisher TechCrunch is winding down its paid subscription product TC+ and has laid off around eight staff members as part of a restructuring, Adweek reported this week. The layoffs were split between editorial and business operations staff, according to Adweek, and included managing editors Darrell Etherington and Matt Burns.
ICO Tells Publishers to Take Proactive Approach to Cookie Compliance
The UK’s data regulator, the ICO, says it will continue writing to websites whose cookie consent notifications fall short of privacy legislation, warning that those who fall short will face consequences. Towards the end of last year, the ICO wrote to 53 of the UK’s top 100 websites, whose cookie notifications were found to be non-compliant. The ICO said the response has been good from those it wrote to, but has encouraged other publishers to take a proactive approach to cookie compliance rather than waiting to be contacted.
BuzzFeed and Culture Genesis Partner for Multicultural Ad Offering
BuzzFeed has signed a deal with Black-owned digital network Culture Genesis, which will pool BuzzFeed’s multicultural content with Culture Genesis’ own network of multicultural-targeted media, allowing the latter to sell BuzzFeed’s inventory. Digiday reported that the two media businesses are open to future partnerships further down the line, though nothing is planned currently.
Mother Jones Merges with The Center for Investigative Reporting
Two US investigative journalism outlets, Mother Jones and The Center for Investigative Reporting, announced this week that they are merging, Press Gazette reported on Thursday. The two brands, both founded in the 70s, will have a combined reach of 10 million per month across digital, radio, podcast and print.
The Week For Brands & Agencies
WPP to Invest £250 Million in AI This Year
WPP plans to invest £250 million in AI this year, the holding group announced earlier this week, following a similar pledge from Publicis last week. The company also expects its 2023 earnings to come in at the top end of its previously issued guidance. The London-based firm laid out plans to drive growth by leveraging AI, tech and data. WPP has already made a number of investments in the field, having acquired AI specialist Satalia in 2021, and formed partnerships with Adobe, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Nvidia and OpenAI. Read more on VideoWeek.
Dentsu Cuts Two Percent of Jobs in UK and Ireland
Japanese agency group Dentsu announced last week that it is cutting around two percent of jobs in the UK and Ireland, as part of overall restructuring currently taking place within the group. Through its ‘One Dentsu’ strategy, the company is merging some of its sub-agencies, with the new structure based on three global practices: creative, media, and customer experience management (CXM). These internal mergers are creating redundancies where there were overlaps in merged teams, hence last week’s layoffs.
HP Retains PHD for Global Media Duties
Electronics brand HP has stuck with Omnicom media agency PHD for its global media duties following a competitive review, Campaign reported this week. PHD has handled global media duties for HP since 2017, when it added digital media strategy, planning and buying to its existing remit covering traditional media.
Six More Advertisers Join ISBA’s Origin as Funding Stakeholders
Advertiser trade group ISBA has announced six new advertisers have signed up as funding stakeholders to Origin, its cross-media measurement initiative. Boots, Colgate-Palmolive, HSBC, Nationwide, Sanofi and Red Bull have all joined ahead of beta trials for Origin, which are set to start next month.
Dentsu Launches Ethical Media Index in Partnership with The GoodNet
Dentsu this week announced the launch of a new ‘Ethical Media Index’ in the UK, which it says will enable brands to plan and measure the ethical performance of their digital ad campaigns. The new tool, created in partnership with ethical intelligence business The GoodNet, uses data across content, placement, corporate reporting and DEI to assign ethical scores to ad-funded publishers, enabling advertisers to target high-performing publishers. Dentsu plans to expand the tool to global markets later in 2024.
PVH Chooses mSix&Partners for NA Media Duties
PVH, parent company of fashion brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, has picked mSix&Partners, a join venture between The&Partnership and GroupM, to handle media planning and buying for the two brands in North America. VaynerMedia and Publicis’ Spark Foundry were also in contention, according to Campaign.
Hires of the Week
Paramount Advertising Enlists Spotify and TikTok Execs to Lead SMB Sales
Paramount Advertising has hired executives from Spotify and TikTok to drive sales to small and medium-sized businesses. Emily Huo, former Global Head of SMB Sales at Spotify, joins as Paramount’s Head of SMB Advertising. And Luke Peng, previously Global Product Marketing Lead, SMB Growth at TikTok, becomes VP Product, SMB Advertising at Paramount.
Kinesso Names Diana Erskine Chief Operations Officer
Kinesso, an IPG Mediabrands agency, has named Diana Erskine as Chief of Operations UK&I. Erskine joins from tech consultancy AND Digital, where she spent two years as Chief of Hub Operations.
This Week on VideoWeek
Ad of the Week
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