Comcast stole the show this week with their acquisition of Freewheel, with other stories coming courtesy of Apple, Thinkbox, TVSmiles and Microsoft. To stay up to date and have the latest industry news and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for the weekly VAN newsletter.

Comcast Acquired Freewheel for $320 Million

This might well be the largest video advertising acquisition of the year. Freewheel’s investors include Steamboat Ventures, Turner Broadcasting System, DirecTV, Battery Ventures, and Foundation Capital.

VAN Analysis

Apple to Launch Video iAds 

Apple plant to introduce new video iAds this year that will automatically play full-screen within iPhone and iPad apps, according to Ad Age reports. Apple’s existing video offering requires the user to click a mobile to initiate video. It isn’t known how Apple plans to sell the video iAds or at what price, but it is thought Apple could sell the units through its ad exchange.

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£4.63 Billion Spent on TV Advertising in UK During 2013

Total TV advertising revenue in the UK increased by 3.5% in 2013 to reach a new record high of £4.63 billion, according to full year revenue figures provided to Thinkbox by the UK commercial TV broadcasters. Thinkbox say this is the fourth consecutive year that TV ad revenue has grown in the UK, and the figures represent all the money invested by advertisers in commercial TV: linear spot and sponsorship, Broadcaster VOD, and product placement.

TV advertising investment is forecast to grow again in 2014, boosted by the World Cup in Brazil. The Advertising Association/Warc predicts TV ad revenue to grow by 6% in 2014.

French Startup TVSmiles Raises $7 Million in Series A

TVSmiles, a loyalty program for TV advertising, has raised even million dollars in a series-A round from Ventech SA, a French fund and e.ventures. The additional capital will be invested to scale the business model in Germany, as well as to launch the first foreign markets already in 2014. TVSMILES rewards television viewers for watching and interacting with TV ads. The mobile app recognises TV ads from their audio signal and automatically opens a corresponding campaign in the TVSMILES app. The viewer collects “smiles”, the virtual currency of TVSMILES, which can be exchanged for rewards and gift cards from known retail brands shops.

Just six months after launch, TVSmiles claim that ‘seven-figure campaign revenues’ have been booked by companies like Wrigley, Johnson&Johnson and Mitsubishi. TVSMILES is marketed by SevenOne Media, the sales house of German media group ProSiebenSat.1 .

Microsoft Reportedly Trying to Persuade Politicians to Run Targeted Ads on Xbox

Microsoft is trying to persuade politicians to take out targeted ads on Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and other company platforms in advance of the US’s midterm elections.

Read Full Story on the Washington Post

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