The WIR: Amazon Touts 200 Million Ad Reach on Prime, BuzzFeed Has High AI Ambitions, and ProSieben Begins Selling Off Non-TV Assets

Tim Cross 12 April, 2024 

In this week’s Week in Review: Andrew Jassy says Amazon Prime Video’s ad reach is over 200 million, BuzzFeed wants to become the “defining media company for the AI era”, and ProSieben fends off MFE as it sells off some non-TV assets.

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Amazon Claims 200 Million Monthly Reach for Prime Video Ad Offering

Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy provided an update on Amazon’s ad offering within its Prime Video streaming service, suggesting that the ad-supported service has a reach of over 200 million monthly viewers.

In a letter to shareholders, Jassy said that “streaming TV advertising is growing quickly and off to a strong start”. The figures provided by Jassy look vindicating for Amazon’s decision to roll out ads for all users and provide an option to upgrade to an ad-free tier, as opposed to launching a cheaper ad-supported tier. Given the high figure, it seems the majority of Prime Video viewers have opted to stay on the ad-supported tier.

Jassy’s figures however don’t give a clear view on the amount of inventory available to advertisers. Since 200 million is the monthly reach, it’s not evident what proportion of these viewers regularly watch content, rather than tuning in for a couple of hours a month. Given Amazon’s decision to keep ad load relatively light, it needs a significant volume of viewing across its subscriber base in order to create a big volume of ad inventory.

BuzzFeed Seeks to Become “The Defining Media Company for the AI Era”

Embattled digital media company BuzzFeed is continuing its push into AI at pace, with CEO Jonah Peretti stating that he wants to build BuzzFeed into “the defining media company for the AI era”.

BuzzFeed’s strength in social-friendly content has struggled to deliver sufficient revenues in recent years, given tough ad market conditions and social platforms’ deprioritisation of third-party publishers. BuzzFeed has historically been strong in video too, but video revenues have been hurt by platforms’ shift to short-form. Now however, Peretti says generative AI can turn around the company’s fortunes.

On the commercial front, Peretti said in an open letter this week that generative AI can power growth in programmatic advertising and affiliate commerce. “Both these business lines are poised to benefit from the application of Gen AI, which is now capable of reading and understanding our content, creating new opportunities for automating contextually aligned advertising and personalized shopping,” he said.

And on the content front, Peretti said BuzzFeed won’t use generative AI to create static articles, which he described as “using a new medium to mimic a legacy medium”. Instead the publisher will focus on experimenting with new formats. “It’s clear that users aren’t as excited by the static, unimaginative uses of AI, but are hungry for the more creative and responsive potential that the technology enables,” he said.

ProSieben Begins Selling Off Non-TV Assets

German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has begun the process of selling two e-commerce businesses, Verivox and Flaconi, under pressure from its main investor MFE. But ProSieben reiterated its opposition to a complete break-up of its business, having voted against MFE’s proposal to split off its ecommerce and dating assets.

The split would effectively clear the path for a buyout offer from the Berlusconi-controlled MFE, which this week announced its intention to “acquire further voting rights in ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE within the next twelve months by purchase or otherwise.” ProSieben shareholders are set to vote on MFE’s proposals on 30th April. 

One investor, Amber Capital, has lent public support to MFE’s plan to break up the German business, telling Reuters: “We will support MFE’s proposal at the AGM as we believe it is the only way to create value for shareholders.” The hedge fund manager holds around 1 percent of ProSieben, and did not rule out buying more shares ahead of the AGM.

The Week in Tech

ID5 Wins “Buy-Side Endorsement” as Sir Martin Sorrell Joins $20 Million Funding Round

ID5, an identification services provider, has raised $20 million in its latest funding round, the company announced this week. The Series B funding marks the largest investment in the identity space to date, according to the London-based business, and sees Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4S Ventures join the ranks of investors in the identity specialist. The round also brings TransUnion on board, alongisde ID5’s existing investors, namely Progress Ventures, Seventure Partners, 360 Capital Partners, Axio, and Aperiam Ventures. Read more on VideoWeek.

MiQ Brings TV Intelligence Platform to UK

MiQ, a programmatic specialist, has launched its TV Intelligence platform in the UK. The platform provides marketers and agencies with a complete view of audience, campaign and competitor intelligence across linear TV, CTV and YouTube in one place, according to the company. “MiQ TV Intelligence is the only global analytics platform that gives marketers a complete view of their investment across streaming, linear, and YouTube,” said Gurman Hundal, Global CEO and co-founder at MiQ. “We’re excited to expand these capabilities across key markets, provide actionable insights that give marketers the confidence to run efficient campaigns across all forms of premium video, power stronger performance outcomes from a single platform, and further cement our position as the premier partner for Advanced TV.”

Roblox and PubMatic Build Video Ad Partnership

Roblox has partnered with PubMatic, a supply-side platform, to ramp up video ad sales on the gaming platform. Roblox began testing video ads towards the end of 2023, offering creators who enable ads a share of the revenues. A full roll-out is expected later this year, with PubMatic facilitating real-time bidding on video inventory that will be served to users who are 13 and older.

Vevo and KERV Bring Shoppable Ads to Music CTV Channels

Vevo, the music video streaming network, this week announced a partnership with KERV, an AI-driven video tech firm, which will see KERV create shoppable ad formats for Vevo’s channels. This will include the Vevo TV app and its 20 free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels. The partnership will enable advertisers to utilise second-screen technology, such as QR codes which consumers can scan to bring up product carousels on their mobile devices. They can then buy items from their phones, significantly reducing the path to purchase. Read more on VideoWeek.

US Lawmakers Draft Data Privacy Legislation

The chairs of the US House and Senate Commerce committees unveiled a draft bipartisan data privacy bill on Sunday. The legislation would restrict the type of consumer data that tech companies can collect. Consumers would also be empowered to demand their personal information be deleted, and to prevent it from being sold. “This bipartisan, bicameral draft legislation is the best opportunity we’ve had in decades to establish a national data privacy and security standard that gives people the right to control their personal information,” said Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, and Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Google Considers HubSpot Acquisition

Alphabet is considering a bid for HubSpot, a customer service platform with a market value of $35 billion, according to Reuters. The takeover would probably be the Google parent company’s largest ever acquisition. But the rumours also come during a heightened period of government concern over Big Tech, and any potential merger will likely be subject to heavy scrutiny.

IMPACT+ Releases Tool for Reducing Carbon Intensity of Video Assets

IMPACT+, a sustainability business for digital advertising, has launched Creative Optimizer, a tool for advertisers to reduce carbon emissions generated by their online video campaigns. Marketers can upload their videos onto the platform and receive lighter versions of the same asset. The company said the self-service solution allows advertisers to “almost halve” their emissions “without making changes to their media planning.”

IAB UK Members Commit to Environmental Transparency Questionnaire 

Over 35 IAB UK members have committed to the organisation’s Environmental Sustainability FAQs, a questionnaire asking businesses what actions they are taking on sustainability. Criteo, The Guardian, Microsoft, PubMatic and Teads are among the businesses that have completed the FAQs, alongside agency groups including Omnicom Media Group, GroupM, Publicis and dentsu. “We wanted to create some cohesion and give our members a place to publicly state what they are doing in a straightforward and accessible way,” said Sophia Haynes, IAB UK’s director of transformation. “We all know that achieving net zero is going to take united action and, at the root of that, is sharing. If we can create more transparency, accountability and efficiency in this space that can only be a good thing that accelerates our progress.”

Knotch Launches Content Optimisation Platform for Marketers 

Knotch, a content intelligence company, has released a digital optimisation platform called Knotch One. The AI-powered platform combines website analytics, customer journey tracking and audience feedback, enabling marketers to measure, report and take actions to optimise their content. “Today’s prospects and consumers demand content-centric website experiences, where every touch point throughout the customer journey is a value exchange,” said Knotch CEO Anda Gansca. “That’s why we built Knotch One from the ground up to be the digital optimisation platform that every marketing team needs to power its content engine.”

The Week in TV

Paramount and Shopsense AI Partner for Shoppable Content

Paramount Global has partnered with Shopsense AI, a retail media company, allowing the broadcaster to make its content shoppable. The partnership enables Paramount to activate shopping experiences for viewers using a second screen. “With so many consumers scrolling on their phones while they watch TV on a bigger screen, content publishers like Paramount have been looking for ways to activate a frictionless, personalised and convenient second-screen shopping experience for their viewers,” said Glenn Fishback, CEO and Co-founder at Shopsense AI.

Canal+ Raises MultiChoice Bid

Canal+ and MultiChoice have finalised terms of a second mandatory buyout offer, the broadcasters announced in a joint statement on Monday. Canal+ confirmed its latest offer of ZAR 125 per share, up from its initial bid of ZAR 105, which MultiChoice rejected in February. The French firm said the offer represents “a significant premium” for MultiChoice shareholders.

AMC to Introduce Ads Across Streaming Network

AMC Networks is looking to introduce ads to all its streaming services by the end of the 2024-2025 upfronts, according to Variety. Last year, the broadcaster launched an ad tier on its flagship streaming service, AMC+. Now it plans to introduce standalone ad-supported versions of its other streaming brands, including Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited.

RTL AdAlliance Adds Wurl’s FAST Channels to CTV Inventory

RTL AdAlliance has added free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels operated by Wurl, a CTV ad tech business, to its pool of European CTV inventory. The deal grants advertisers access to more than 1,300 FAST channels, delivered to audiences in Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. “This gives us at RTL AdAlliance the ability to connect an exceptionally attentive audience with advertisers, looking to engage with consumers in highly brand-safe and measurable TV-like environments,” said Stephen Byrne, VP Partnership Development at RTL AdAlliance.

NBCU “on Track to Generate the Most Ad Revenue in Olympic History”

NBCUniversal has already booked $1.2 billion in advertising for the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, the company’s sales chief announced on Tuesday. Dan Lovinger, President, Olympic and Paralympic Sales at NBCU, said the broadcaster is “on track to generate the most advertising revenue in Olympic history.” He added that women’s sports are helping to drive ad sales, thanks to the success of competitions like the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

ITV Scores FTA Serie A Rights

ITV has acquired free-to-air rights to broadcast Serie A matches for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. The deal allows the UK broadcaster to air eight matches from the Italian league on its streaming service ITVX. Serie A’s UK rights are held by TNT Sports, under a three-year contract signed in 2021 which expires after the current campaign.

The Week for Publishers

The Times Posts Three Percent Revenue Growth for Recent Financial Year

News UK newspaper The Times reported three percent revenue growth in its reporting for its financial year ending in July 2023, thanks to growth in digital subscriptions and digital advertising. The company says that digital subscriptions remain a big priority for the business -it now has 558,000 digital only paid subscribers, the vast majority of its overall 673,000 subscribers. The company also said it is looking at “further opportunities with the technology platforms […] that could benefit all parties within publishing, advertising, and AI”.

The Sun’s Revenues Fall Amid Souring Social Relationships

The Sun meanwhile saw a five percent fall in its revenues for the same financial period (see directly above), which it blamed on “structural declines in the print market and volatility of social platforms’ approach towards news content”, the latter of which armed digital ad revenues. The Sun’s UK digital audience was down 14 percent on the previous year, due in part to social platforms deprioritising news. The Sun’s US website however, launched in 2020, recorded revenue growth thanks to growing page views and higher yield.

Joe Media Bought Out of Administration

Social focussed publication Joe Media has been bought out of administration for the second time in the last four years, with Irish entrepreneur Michael O’Rourke stepping in to save the business in a deal worth £3.6 million. Joe Media’s owner Greencastle collapsed owing £4 million in debt to HMRC alongside other creditors, amid tough conditions in the ad market. Joe Media says the new funding will be used to grow and acquire new assets.

Independent TV Launches First US Show

Independent TV, the video production arm of UK newspaper The Independent, has released its first show produced by its US studio, bringing the publisher’s video focussed strategy across the America. The show, an episode of The Independent’s Behind The Headlines series, covered US politics with The Independent’s dedicated US staff. Tom Richell, head of multimedia at The Independent, said the newspaper plans to ramp up US video production this year.

Savage Ventures Signs Video Discovery Deal with Primis
Savage Ventures, an American business which invests in, acquires, and operates digital media properties, has signed a deal with video discovery platform Primis which will see Primis’ tech used on music publication American Songwriter. “Partnering with Primis has elevated American Songwriter’s video distribution strategy; boosting engagement, expanding video reach, and enhancing revenue,” said Alex Magee, chief revenue officer at Savage Ventures. “We have effectively connected our video content with a wider, more engaged audience.”

The Week For Brands & Agencies

Tech Spend Rebound and AI-Driven Personalisation Drive Revenue Growth for Publicis

French agency group Publicis Groupe reported its financial results for Q1 this morning, the first of the large holding groups to do so, posting another solid quarter of 5.3 percent organic revenue growth. There were promising signs for the industry as a whole as Publicis saw healthy growth across all markets, and saw a rebound in revenues coming from tech clients – though Publicis has consistently performed better than its competitors in recent quarters, meaning others won’t necessarily see the same trends. Read more on VideoWeek.

Adstra Sues IPG’s Acxiom and Kinesso

Data business Adstra is suing IPG-owned businesses Acxiom and Kinesso, Digiday reported this week, claiming that the businesses created a competing identity product based on privileged information. Adstra claims to have entered a data licensing agreement with the two companies, allowing them to use its data to build an identity product, but one which they would only use with their clients rather than offering it to third-parties. But, according to the complaint, Acxiom has since used Adstra’s data in order to build its own product which competes directly with Adstra.

WPP Signs Generative AI Deal with Google Cloud

Agency holding group WPP has signed a deal with Google Cloud which will see Google’s Gemini 1.5 Pro generative AI model integrated into WPP Open, the agency’s ‘operating system’ used across the company. The deal is part of WPP’s pledged annual investment of £250 million in AI, data, and technology. WPP’s chief technology officer Stephan Pretorius said the deal significantly upgrades the generative AI capabilities available to WPP and its clients, enabling it to “do things we could only dream of a few months ago”. Read more on VideoWeek.

Havas Acquires French Data Consultancy TED

Havas this week announced the acquisition of French data consultancy TED Consulting, which will be integrated into Havas Media Network. Havas says the consultancy, which helps companies automate business processes in all areas of operations using AI, will enhance Havas’ use of data and enable it to create a range of new optimisation solutions for its clients.

Amazon Draws Up Shortlist for Global Media Account

Amazon, which is currently reviewing its global media account, has settled on three agencies for its shortlist, Campaign reported this week. Incumbent Interpublic Group is in the running, as is WPP and Omnicom Media Group. Amazon, as one of the world’s biggest advertisers, will be a major prize for whichever agency comes out on top.

Havas Media Network UK Creates Centralised Planning Team

Havas Media Network UK has created a new centralised planning team called the Connected Planning Hub. The Hub, which will combine planning strategy across digital, commerce, and activation, will deliver integrated planning solutions across the entire Havas Media Network. Havas says this will deliver faster and more effective planning for its clients.

EBay Launches Global Media Review

Online second-hand store eBay is conducting an internal review of its global media account, Campaign reported this week. The account is currently handled by GroupM’s EssenceMediacom, and eBay expects to have finished the review by the mid point of the year.

Accenture Acquires Customer Engagement Agency Unlimited

Accenture has added customer engagement agency Unlimited to its advertising unit Accenture Song, acquiring the business for an undisclosed fee. Accenture says Unlimited, which has 600 staff across the UK, will enhance Accenture Song’s ability to scale its offerings and unlock greater value from generative AI.

ISBA launches Generative AI Guidance and Agency Contract Terms

ISBA this week launched new generative AI guidance and agency contract terms, written with legal partner The Quarterback, which it says will help advertisers and agencies adopt AI in a responsible manner. ISBA says the contract terms aim to encourage collaboration between advertisers and media agencies on the responsible use of Generative AI, allowing transparency and control for advertisers and ensuring sufficient risk mitigation.

Hires of the Week

Amazon Ads Enlists NBCU’s Krishan Bhatia

Amazon has hired Krishan Bhatia to lead streaming ad sales, covering Prime Video, Freevee and Twitch. Bhatia spent more than a decade at NBCUniversal, where he managed ad partnerships and oversaw digital, streaming and data products.

Robby Kraai to Lead Brand Metrics’ Expansion into CTV

Brand Metrics has named Robby Kraai as Head of CTV, leading the ad tech firm’s expansion into Connected TV. Kraai previously spent six years as Director of Advertising Technology at XITE, a music video streaming company.

Adelaide Names Harmon Lyons Chief Business Officer

Adelaide, an attention measurement company, has appointed Harmon Lyons as Chief Business Officer. Lyons joins from ad tech business Guideline, following a seven-year stint at Integral Ad Science.

This Week on VideoWeek

Collaboration Will Lift CTV From “Emerging Media” into Maturity

It’s Time for Publishers and Advertisers to Get to Grips with Tech Lab’s New Video Ad Definitions

Vevo and KERV Bring Shoppable Ads to Music CTV Channels

ID5 Wins “Buy-Side Endorsement” as Sir Martin Sorrell Joins $20 Million Funding Round

The Risks of Overpromising on Targeting and Overcomplicating Measurement in CTV

European Video Awards 2024: The Categories

WPP Signs Generative AI Deal with Google Cloud

AI is Helping Advertising Businesses Impress VCs

Tech Spend Rebound and AI-Driven Personalisation Drive Revenue Growth for Publicis

Ad of the Week

Chaos: The Martinez Family, Expedia

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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