Publications

Format: Jul 2018
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Virtual Reality in 2018: Ready Player None?

Yet another annual hype cycle in 2018 can’t hide a tepid consumer appetite for all VR platforms and heavy weather for the industry as a whole

The launch of Oculus GO, a standalone device at an attractive price, is a milestone for VR; nevertheless, even Facebook remains worried about reach and the state of the industry

Mobile AR is still a strategic focus for Google and Apple, producing diverse applications instead of just games, but new headsets from Microsoft and Magic Leap which promise advanced MR experiences have no launch dates

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • HTC
  • Samsung
Internet, Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 3 July 2018
Advertising after the turning point: when offline is the exception

Online advertising became the majority of all UK ad spend last year, in step with China but ahead of all other major markets. 

Direct response has further increased its share to 54% of UK ad spend, fuelled by the self-serve platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon, while content media nets just 11% of the online advertising pot.

We estimate that all online-delivered channels - including "pure play" online properties, broadcaster VOD, digital out-of-home and online radio - could account for well over 60% of UK ad spend by 2020, but only with improved commitment to industry governance. 

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Sky
  • Spotify
Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology, TV, UK Media 14 June 2018
Grand new ideas for the content industry: Lessons from GDC 2018

Last month’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco was a triumphant showcase for crossover technologies and ideas designed to attract and engage new customers; ideas coming soon to all parts of the digital entertainment industry

Google and Facebook launched new “Instant App” technologies for game developers on their platforms, which will eventually have a significant impact on mobile app curation and discovery for not just games but the broader entertainment sector

Universal Pictures showed how media and entertainment companies should be working with indie developers to drive franchise development, utilise creative IP, and bring new ideas to market quicker

Internet, Media, Technology 30 April 2018
Retailing in the material world

Ecommerce has grown to 17.5% of retail spend, and accounts for almost all growth in spend. Physical retailers are beginning to feel the effects, with chains reporting falling profits and even bringing in administrators

The UK picture is muddied by a general lack of economic recovery, and irrelevant comparisons with the US. Finished goods stores, however, are clearly under extreme pressure

We are moving into a retail paradigm of online and offline elements being freely matched. To survive this transition, brick and mortar retailers have to become differentiated experiences and close the data gap with e-retailers

Internet, Media, Technology 26 April 2018
Value in volumes: Books, midlists and retail

There are signs of hollowing-out in the book trade: a lack of disruption at the top line obscures the fact that mid-selling breakthrough titles are becoming rarer, debuting authors is becoming more difficult and loyalty is declining

Publisher tools to overcome these trends are weakening, while self-publishing has introduced fierce competition in price, if not yet quality

To fight the tide, publishers will need to concentrate on the remaining points of differentiation, as well as preserving dedicated retail channels and changing conceptions around reader relations

Internet, Media, Technology 26 March 2018
Internet Trends H2 2017 - From shallow online to the online immersed

In this report we develop a rough segmentation of the adult population by level of online use: offline (10% of adults), shallow online (10%), deep online (80%). We examine how online services seeking to reach new audiences increasingly face the obstacle of missing demand rather than a lack of consumer skills or access

The app economy still relies on a limited consumer pool, but ecommerce is now reaching almost all of the deep online. Bridging the current gap between occasional and frequent online buyers is a clear opportunity and we are still in the early days of evolving buying services into shopping services

The only industry monetising all online users is advertising. Ad platforms, led by Google and Facebook, also play a critical role expanding the ranks of the deep online and online immersed. But offline brand display media, led by broadcast TV, remain critical for online brands wanting to expand their audience

 

 

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Technology, TV 28 February 2018
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2017: Approaching ex-growth

UK residential communications market revenue growth fell again to 1.2%, with weakening ARPU growth the main driver. New customer pricing remains flat to down, and existing customers are being increasingly discounted, fuelling the ARPU weakness

High speed broadband adoption is proceeding apace, but the high speed premium is fairly thin, muting the impact on ARPU. Regulated wholesale price cuts from Openreach finalised today and due in April 2018 will not help

Looking forward, the March quarter will benefit from price timing effects at BT and Virgin Media, but we fear that the rest of 2018 will follow the current downward trend and the operators will need to adjust to an ex-growth environment

 

  • BT
  • EE
  • Liberty Global
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 23 February 2018
Virgin Media Q4 2017 results: Growth limited by market pressures

Virgin Media’s Q4 performance was a little softer than expected, with subscriber figures quite weak and no improvement in ARPU growth despite a better implementation of its annual price rise

The cause is however likely market-driven, with broadband demand slowing and all operators struggling for ARPU growth, and Virgin Media does now lead the market for subscriber, RGU and revenue growth

The prospects for 2018 are solid if not spectacular, with Project Lightning driving market share gains and ARPU defended by a network speed advantage that will last for many years yet

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 20 February 2018
TalkTalk Group Q3 2017/18 results: Growth getting more expensive

TalkTalk’s subscriber growth picked up a little in the quarter, but ARPU growth turned back negative, leaving consumer revenue still declining despite the heroic efforts it has made to turn around its subscriber growth in a slowing market

It is expecting even stronger subscriber growth next quarter, but it may need this to maintain ‘headline’ revenue growth given falling ARPU, and the high marketing costs required to achieve this have driven a reduction in EBITDA guidance

The company’s FTTP plans are less dramatic than they first look, with only a £100 million investment commitment over five years. The economics of the build look very challenging, but TalkTalk is minimally exposed to these

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 19 February 2018
Tencent: gaming giant heads west

Tencent, by some counts the world’s most valuable media and entertainment company but still relatively unknown outside Asia, is riding games growth to global clout

The company offers a blueprint for successfully integrating media and entertainment companies, saving on overheads while retaining key talent and organisational culture

Tencent’s recent investments in Snap and Spotify suggest media platform ambitions beyond games in the West, but close ties to the Chinese government could complicate regulatory approval for strategic acquisitions

Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile 8 February 2018
Chinese online media platforms

Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) have built their leading market positions in Chinese online media on the back of the mobile revolution and an absence of foreign rivals

The big three’s rivalry in online advertising reflects a broader struggle over key gatekeeper roles in the Chinese online economy, albeit one shaped by state intervention

While benefiting from protectionism at home, BAT are weak in most foreign markets and links to the Chinese state may hamper international expansion, particularly in the US 

Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile 31 January 2018
Stitch Fix IPO: profits are back in style

Subscription fashion retailer Stitch Fix has gone public, revealing a rare example of a new, private, technology-based company capable of making a profit 

Stitch Fix relies on the ‘mixed intelligence’ of algorithms and human stylists to offer its customers a curated fashion “Fix” of clothing and accessories, aiming to cut through some of the chaos of ecommerce  

Though Stitch Fix’s success is not guaranteed, there is much to be learned from its approach of focusing on building a solid business and generating positive earnings early, rather than growing users at any cost

  • Facebook
  • Google
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Technology, UK Media 15 January 2018
Recruitment classified marketplace

A strong UK labour market, with record low unemployment but historically high vacancies, has supported growth in the recruitment industry, though trends may be peaking as we reach unknown territory. These trends play out in the recruitment market before they become apparent in the labour market

Despite the fragmentation of the online recruitment listings marketplace, Indeed is well-placed to dominate this space due to its increased scale and aggressive investment strategy

Both Google and Facebook have announced their intention to move into the recruitment listings sphere, which may have consequences not only for classified expenditure but further up the value chain with the agency model. However, both giants have attempted to move into online classifieds before, with little demonstrable success

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Jobsite
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology, UK Media 15 December 2017
Vertical marketplaces overview and property classified outlook

The slowing UK economy since Q3 2016 has had a knock-on effect on the property and autos marketplaces underlying UK classified advertising revenues, with house prices slowing, transactions stabilising (instead of rising), and new car registrations down sharply in 2017 to date. Recruitment activity by agencies and employers has instead been dynamic as the UK nears full employment

Advertisers in these verticals continue to switch expenditure from print classifieds to internet portals and search, which offer superior lead generation, analytics, and user experience. Only in property do local newspapers still fulfill an important estate agency branding function for the local area, although declining readership is blunting this value to advertisers

Portal dominance comes at a price to advertisers in property, where Rightmove has resisted agent efforts to lessen dependence by listing on other brands, as well as in used autos, where Auto Trader has long reigned supreme. Recruitment is a more contested market for portals, reflecting the diverse and fragmented nature of the jobs market, but Indeed has a strong grip on the low-end, while LinkedIn remains unchallenged in social recruitment advertising

  • Auto Trader
  • DMGT
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Rightmove
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 14 December 2017
UK online ad forecast 2017-2019: A grey digital market

We estimate that UK online ad spend grew by 12.3% this year, with growth concentrated almost exclusively in mobile search and social in-feed advertising (particularly video), and mostly incremental to overall ad spend

Even after payments to publishers and distributors, Google and Facebook captured 80% of all net new spend in the market, and 96% of it flowed through their platforms

Despite improving standardisation and disclosure, the outstanding issues around measurement, the ad-tech supply chain, and particularly the obscure and growing Google/Facebook/Amazon segment, lead us to identify a large portion of digital advertising as a “grey market”: difficult to get a handle on, with uncertain beneficiaries and slippery definitions

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, UK Media 13 December 2017
Micropayments and Microsubscriptions: Beyond advertising

Digital advertising in the UK has been a phenomenal success story, but a concentrated one, such that many online media companies have not found a sustainable model

User payments are growing, but are currently focused on large, expensive bundles: Spotify, Netflix, the New York Times. This implements a hard division between free and paid and limits the potential audience

Micropayments and microsubscriptions are alternative models which content owners in certain media can use to address more types of demand. Multiple obstacles remain but for many companies the need to experiment has become critical

  • Amazon
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 14 November 2017
Supply of news in the UK

Since Communications Act 2003, the number of national news outlets supplied on broadcast and in print has been stable. Adoption of multi-channel TV, supported by Freeview, has augmented the number of homes accessing on a free-to-air basis five "all news" channels (BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN, Russia Today), with many more all news channels served on pay-TV platforms

Original news production has been transformed by digital tools and Twitter occupies the centre of the journalism ecosystem. Jobs devoted to news production are in recovery, although mask a decline in newspapers to the benefit of online mainly

Expansion of fixed-line broadband and, more recently, consumer adoption of mobile broadband and connected devices, have made the internet a platform for the supply of and consumption of all news services. Broadcasters serve eponymous text-based websites, all newspapers serve websites, and native news outlets have entered the market due to low barriers to entry. Prominent native brands in the political genre include Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Politico

Internet, Media, UK Media 10 October 2017
US ISPs hail the end of online privacy rules

The Federal Communications Commission’s Privacy Order (FCC) was overturned by the Senate, clearing the way for ISPs to ramp up consumer data-driven advertising revenue

While Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising in the US as in other markets, the US is alone in removing regulatory barriers to ISPs taking a piece of the pie

US ISPs now have a self-regulatory regime for consumer rights on transparency, security and data breaches; but in the UK and EU, privacy advocates prefer enforceable rights

  • Cable & Wireless
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms 9 October 2017
Consumer magazine publishing, Part two: The power of brands and industry innovation

In a challenging digital marketplace, publishers face a crisis of purpose. To navigate the turbulent seas, publishers must invest more in their brands and the industry as a whole must innovate

Consumer engagement, previously held by magazines, has sailed to social media where young influencers across Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat challenge established norms of content discovery and curation

Magazines are more heterogeneous than is commonly assumed, and strength lies in a distinctive brand. To right the course, we recommend the industry carry out bespoke reviews that outline brand-specific audiences, use-cases and revenue solutions, and exploit systematic audience data to optimise all brand manifestations - with enhanced marketing income a secondary benefit

  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, UK Media 6 October 2017
Consumer magazine publishing, Part one: The power of brands and industry collaboration

Evidence is mounting that the consumer magazine market is reaching an existential threshold. In this two-part overview of the UK consumer magazine marketplace we address the need for industry collaboration and brand innovation.

The print market is seeing sector-wide declines and the real structural fallout has only just begun; a supply chain review is urgently required.

Magazine brands lack a unique selling point in online advertising, and although long-disastrous ad tech trends may be finally turning in favour of premium publishers, developing must-have consumer services remains the key.

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • News UK
Internet, Media, UK Media 5 October 2017

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