High inflation ahead of wage increases and higher interest rates are combining to provoke a mild recession in real consumption expenditure in 2023. Consumers are  sustaining spend to a degree by depleting their financial firepower, promising a mild recovery in 2024.

UK display advertising will again lag consumption growth in 2023. Online display is growing much slower after a giddy two years. Incumbents are challenged, particularly for higher-funnel spend, but the long-term fundamentals remain: economy and society are moving online.

While TV revenue will decline in 2023, its effectiveness for advertisers ensures it is well placed to benefit from any recovery. Digital revenues will see growth this year.

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Cross-party support for an 11th hour amendment to the Online Safety Bill’s Commons report stage has forced the Government to agree that a new criminal liability for tech executives will be added in the Bill’s passage through the Lords.

The proposed amendment cites faulty precedents, including in financial services, and a new, not yet established Irish online safety regime that is lengthy in procedural steps before criminal sanction.

The introduction of criminal liability will not strengthen the safety objectives of the bill. It is at odds with the approach of the wider regulation, and is practically unworkable.

As Reed Hastings stepped aside as co-CEO, Netflix beat its (last ever) subscriber add forecast—7.7 million v. 4.5 million—leading to a revenue boost, alongside a gradually-widening profit margin. Forecasts for 2023 are positive, with the company seemingly past much of the tumultuousness of 2022.

With no metrics volunteered by management, we can assume that take-up of Netflix's nascent ad-supported plan has been predictably modest. To scale, the company must overcome several structural inhibitors.

With Netflix foreseeing future strain on subscriber additions, in time revenue growth will have to increasingly be inspired by paid-sharing initiatives and advertising—this will be detrimental to local content spend in minor markets.                                           

Structural shifts in the delivery of video are causing long-form viewing to coalesce around fewer programmes—this comes despite an explosion in the volume, spend and perceptual accessibility of content

For the time being this theoretically favours the largest of shows, along with the declining number of content providers that are able to create and distribute them at scale, forming critical masses of interest

Incoming technologies leveraging AI and virtual production will have the ability to drastically lower production costs. But until that happens the spend on most programming will become increasingly less efficient

The amended Online Safety Bill contains sensibly scaled back provisions for “legal but harmful” content for adults, retaining the objectives of removing harms to children and giving users more choice. However, this comes at the expense of enhanced transparency from platforms.

News publishers have won further protections: their content will have a temporary ‘must-carry’ requirement pending review when flagged under the Bill’s content rules. Ofcom must keep track of how regulation affects the distribution of news.

The Bill could be further strengthened: private communications should be protected. Regulators will need to keep up with children’s changing habits, as they are spending more time on live, interactive social gaming.

DAZN has published its 2021 results, with losses extending to $1.4 billion, a situation that will likely have ameliorated in 2022, as the company looks to breakeven in 2023.

With the Champions League rights renewed in Germany, and crucial distribution deals secured in Italy and Spain, DAZN has a firmer foothold in its three major European markets.

Price increases in major markets and ancillary revenue streams will help stem losses, but achieving break-even by 2023 is still a challenge.

 

 

Telcos are pressing the EU to force big tech to make a ‘fair contribution’ to their network costs, although this has drawn opposition from telecoms regulators, who rightly fear risks to the wider ecosystem

There are valid concerns to address however, with content providers not currently incentivised to deliver traffic efficiently, and telcos constrained by net neutrality rules from doing anything about it, resulting in unnecessary costs and service degradation

However, there may be better ways to address these, through reforming the implementation of existing rules to encourage more efficient content delivery, and allowing the telcos to provide enhanced delivery routes of their own, with Ofcom’s approach in the UK a step in this direction, but perhaps not a step far enough

In a transformative upgrade of its content subscription offering, Google is buying the rights to live Sunday NFL games for $2 billion per year for 2023-2031.

YouTube can leverage its massive reach to challenge existing video aggregators, including pay-TV platforms and Amazon, as a gatekeeper to consumers.

Google will likely deploy a similar strategy in Europe, eventually competing with Sky, Canal+ and other incumbents—a hopeful development for football leagues.

The post-pandemic recovery has lifted vacancies to a high of 1.27 million, at critical levels in hospitality and health—sectors impacted by the exodus of EU workers. We expect recruitment advertising for private sector roles to have risen 13% in 2022 to £746 million (noting base effects from lockdown in H1 2021), and will decline c.4% in 2023.

LinkedIn dominates recruitment advertising directed at professionals, leveraging its free global networking service. Indeed anchors the other end of the skills spectrum, which is low value and high volume, aggregating openings to create a scale proposition for jobseekers, using technology to target and match them with employers.

Specialists are surviving Indeed’s technology-driven business model by relying on human expertise and ancillary HR services to differentiate. Agencies continue to specialise in supplying workers to large employers for temporary positions. News publishers have retained a small but dwindling slice of recruitment advertising.