YouTube’s tepid quarter signals a two-track online ad economy with advertisers protecting search spend as an essential cost of sales while cutting online display.

YouTube faces a challenge to strengthen its brand and direct response ad products while sacrificing some income to Shorts, its answer to competition from TikTok, which we estimate added three times as much ad revenue as YouTube in H1.

Beyond the short term, brands need to generate new demand, and that cannot be accomplished at the bottom of the funnel.

The 'enterprise metaverse' is best described as the next generation of communications, productivity, and collaboration tools—with VR/AR the centerpiece of the experience. Big tech is investing billions to bring it to market quickly

Quest 2 VR headsets by Meta have changed the cost equation for VR deployment in enterprise—low-cost headsets already have enterprise demand outstripping supply globally

Microsoft and Meta are closely aligned and co-operating, but Meta has its sights on its own high-value commercial customers and can expect incumbents to fight to retain them

A forthcoming UK regime on the relationship between publishers and platforms, certain to include Google and Facebook, will seek to replicate the payments achieved in Australia. However, the principles, design and precise process are still to be revealed by the Government

Facebook’s News Tab and Google’s News Showcase license content from publishers (including paywalled content) and direct traffic to their sites, although industry tensions remain high

Google Search is the elephant in the room because, while Facebook is a service to its users, search is a utility: making news more important to its offering, and explaining why Google’s commitment to the news industry runs deeper—and for the long term

Apple's News and News+ service to iOS users in the UK, US, Canada and Australia has attracted many ad-funded and paywalled news publishers since its launch in 2015

Publishers’ 'opt-in' to its walled garden environment to reach underserved demographics on their own sites and raise brand awareness, and more recently, take advantage of the reduced commission on subscriptions sold through the App Store, with Apple taking 15% instead of 30%

For Apple, the priority is to improve the user experience, ultimately driving sales of iOS devices, although its engagement with news is only a minor source of revenue compared to games. We regard Apple News as being mainly a device to buttress its reputation in those selected markets where it faces political and regulatory pressures, explaining its limited geographic roll-out

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

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

 

 

 

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.

TikTok has reached a billion users worldwide just four years after its global launch, much quicker than social media rivals, though its ban in India is a drag on growth.

TikTok’s popularity with under-25s has contributed to a hollowing-out of Meta’s active userbase. During the pandemic, TikTok also expanded its reach among older demographics, cementing its position within the mainstream and posing a further threat to Meta. 

TikTok could earn twice as much revenue as Snap in 2022, making it the first app to break out of the mid-league in years, with a huge runway for growth backed up by ByteDance’s remarkable success in China. 

Alphabet's stunning growth reflects a shift online that has outlasted pandemic restrictions. Google search is at the heart of online commercial activity

YouTube's slower growth is not yet cause for concern: it is still the biggest website in the world, with growth potential through subscriptions and transactable ads, as well as more brand spend

Alphabet might struggle to balance privacy concerns in the context of the online advertising ecosystem. The future of personalisation in ads is uncertain as Alphabet cancels one of its cookie-replacement technologies

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.