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Rigorous Fearless Independent

This report is free to access

Climate change is a core theme of this year’s Media and Telecoms 2021 & Beyond Conference, linking to the UK's presidency of COP26 in 2021, the UN’s 26th climate change conference.

Since 2015, the Paris Agreement frames mankind’s collective effort to address climate change by reducing emissions of harmful greenhouse gases (GHG), to limit warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for 1.5°C. The UK is committed to achieve this target and seeks, alongside other nations, to reduce its GHG emissions to net zero by 2050.

The UK, like other participants, will deliver net zero through mandatory carbon footprint reduction activities, an important component of which are businesses. This report profiles the carbon footprints of companies in the TMT sector, which are light in the case of most media companies, and heavier for telcos, which build and run network infrastructure.

An easy win we advocate for the TMT sector is to adopt a hybrid model for work on the back of pandemic-related work-from-home (WFH) practices, reducing office estates and commuting, permanently cutting the footprint.

The pandemic shows working from home is economically feasible in the UK, thanks to telco networks, platforms and services, disproving employers’ largely negative pre-existing views. WFH will also add value to office workers, about half of which support a hybrid model for the future. It liberates precious time from the commute, makes the office integral to value creation, and prevents carbon from being wasted.

Apple is bringing in privacy changes on iOS that could hurt ad-funded apps. 

Responding to platforms’ legitimate push for user privacy is a trial for regulators in the midst of building new online antitrust regimes. 

Antitrust rulings are chipping away at the App Store’s stringent terms of use, but reforms will keep it at the centre of the iOS universe. 

Joseph said "Some of these technological limitations have stunted how much money is in podcasting," adding podcasting is a platform on which ad tech has traditionally been very "primitive."

He added "That's where this trend of subscribing to podcasts comes from. Even if you have quite a small audience, if they're really engaged with your content, they might be willing to pay, you know, $5 a month to get bonus content and that can add up to real money very quickly."

Alice said “There’s a bit of differentiation between the large players and effectively the long tail of smaller groups or independents who have felt the effects of the pandemic differently. All players, but pretty much every local site bar a small number of exceptions, run digital advertising and so even though traffic went up – and in some cases went up kind of substantially – the flow-through of digital ad revenue was was not as strong as it would have been in pre-pandemic times.”

She added “In the tail it’s likely that there would be a greater reliance on SME advertising and that means that when those businesses were forced to close and when that marketing spend was poor they will have been more affected and less able to restructure costs, which is what the large groups have been able to do."

There were, however “no real winners last year. Every regional house had staff losses and huge costs… It was a pretty bad year for the industry as a whole.”

Advertising income has been the lifeblood of commercial TV for decades, but declining linear audiences—combined with digital video alternatives—mean the TV advertising model must evolve to ensure it remains as potent a medium for brands as ever.

Lack of effective audience measurement and somewhat opaque advertiser/agency/sales house relationships are hampering linear TV advertising revenues. Both issues need resolving to underpin a healthier ecosystem overall.

Flexibility is key to this evolution. A move to audience buys across most linear and BVOD inventory would provide greater flexibility and targeting for advertisers, and would sit alongside some premium context buys. A greater onus on volume deals would give broadcasters more certainty to invest in content and their advertising propositions.

Tom said “Sky Arts is not quite parking its tanks on the BBC’s lawn, but the Beeb doesn’t want to concede ground on what has been a stronghold area. The Sky Arts move is about securing regulator support for its fight to be highly visible on electronic programme guides — it’s saying it’s better at public service than ITV. Arts programming is going to be one of the flagship genres for proving quality and value. As UK media companies fight off billion-dollar streamers, it is becoming their most valuable weapon.”