Rising online ad prices mean customer acquisition costs have spiked for D2C businesses, which already had a higher marketing spend base than offline equivalents.

At the same time, the data used to target and measure online advertising—the key channel to find and convert customers—is being eroded.

There will be consolidation in the crowded D2C landscape, providing scale benefits. Sellers will also have to refocus their marketing attention on increasing customer lifetime value.

While VMO2’s Q1 results were strong, its subscriber additions were weak, particularly on the broadband side, with a seemingly somewhat deliberate go-slow as the year began, but cost-of-living crisis and fibre overbuild may also be factors.

We see considerable scope to ramp up commercial aggression from here given the sizeable tailwinds from price increases, synergy benefits and the migration of the Virgin Mobile MVNO from Vodafone.

We remain sceptical of VMO2’s further network extension ambitions and hope that no news on securing a financial partner is good news, increasing the odds of it pursuing the less risky strategy of expanding its footprint through wholesale.

This report is free to access.

The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 sets out national pledges to achieve net zero and contain global warming to 1.8°C above its pre-industrial levels— COP27 will buttress pledges, now at risk from the energy crisis, and advance some nations to 2030.

The TMT sector is a leader on net zero in the private sector. Companies that measure their end-to-end carbon footprint throughout their supply chain—as many do in the UK’s TMT sector—can target their GHG emissions.

The TMT sector underpins the UK’s vibrant digital economy that enables hybrid work-from-home (WFH), which reduces fossil fuel use thus heading off both the energy crisis and the climate crisis.

ITV met advertising expectations in Q1, matching the forecast 16% YoY increase in total ad revenue (TAR) (£468 million), while Studios (+23%, £458 million) bolted well above pre-pandemic levels. We assume, however, that Q1 was blessed in terms of the timing of programme deliveries

The amalgamation of ITV's three domestic digital services, ITVX, is on track to launch in Q4, with a bulked-up library, clearer strategy, and new features: perhaps arriving right on time to take on Netflix's ad-supported tier

The proposed Media Bill includes a couple of potential benefits for ITV, such as expanded prominence on connected devices and major online platforms, including on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks, along with the possibility of a remit more aligned with the modern media landscape—however details around execution are currently lacking

The EU’s GDPR enforcers have ruled that IAB Europe’s framework for collecting user consent, a standard used by about 80% of sites on the continent, is in violation of the regulations

This is one of the clearest signs yet that regulation is starting to catch up with Apple and Google’s privacy push, as support for cookies and mobile ad IDs is due to end over the next few years

Publishers must prepare now by treating privacy as a core part of user experience and adopting a reader-first revenue model that also supports advertising in a trusted environment

Whilst we remain sceptical of the churn reduction benefits of fixed/mobile convergence, the pandemic and a more astute approach from the operators is enhancing the case for it in the UK.

Creating the impression of a giveaway whilst minimizing the effective discount is key, as is extracting any loyalty and cost benefits.

Even if well executed, any upsides are likely to be modest. Operators are right to keep discounts to a minimum and to avoid M&A premia predicated on fixed/mobile convergence synergies.

Streaming had a strong 2021 with royalties to rightsholders, labels and music publishers increasing by 24% to $16.9 billion (IFPI). Spotify drove the segment’s rise as the leading service by users and subscribers (422m and 182m) followed by subscription services Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music, while YouTube is both ad-supported and subscription

Spotify’s 2021 revenue growth of 22% was powered by user growth (+18%) around the world on the subscription (16%) and ad-supported tiers (19%). User growth represented a deceleration from the pandemic-induced exceptional rise of 27% from 2019 to 2020

Spotify reports royalties generated by artists on its Loud and Clear platform. The number of artists in 2021 generating material revenues—over $10,000—increased by 24% to 52,600. 28% are ‘self-distributing artists’ using services such as Distrokid, TuneCore, CD Baby—the number almost trebled since 2017

 

 

 

Amazon's first reported loss since 2015 is not surprising in a difficult inflationary environment, as ecommerce resets from the pandemic boost. Highly exposed to cost pressures through its logistics business, the situation is not as bad as it looks

The increases to Fulfilled by Amazon fees have been completely lost in the storm, while costs continue to increase on all sides. Amazon's announced increases are unlikely to keep up 

Launching Buy with Prime will allow Amazon to increasingly monetise FBA: a further step towards creating a monopoly in the fulfillment space while also boosting the desirability of Prime membership

Meta presented mixed results against low expectations, with its ad business a concern in the age of privacy.

Reels is at the core of the company’s strategy to win users given heightened competition, but its monetisation challenge persists.

Meta spent $3.7 billion on its metaverse gamble in the quarter. A higher-end device will help address strengthening enterprise demand for VR headsets, but the route to profitability remains unclear.

Alphabet’s growth slowed in Q1, but search remains the premier advertising product: protected against privacy changes, and poised to grow on a return to travel.

Investors focused on YouTube’s disappointing growth. Its exposure to brand advertising has slowed it relative to search, and it now has to compete with an increasingly formidable TikTok. User subscriptions could be a hidden strength.

The US remains the core of Alphabet’s business as uncertainty and energy price jumps hit Europe.