Employment reached an all time high in 2019 of 32.8 million people at work despite slower GDP growth in 2017-19. The tighter labour market has helped real wage growth. A two-tier jobs market has emerged, with high-grade skilled roles evolving in a wide range of service sectors, and a large pool of low-grade, part-time work  

The heterogeneous labour market has ensured that in recruitment classifieds, unlike property and auto, no digital player has achieved absolute dominance. In the layer devoted to the recruitment of professionals, served by LinkedIn, rising demand for more specialised roles has expanded the number of agencies, intensive users of digital tools to locate recruits and crack the problem of "approachability" of those already in the job  

Online job portals are rushing to improve their AI and programmatic capabilities as specialisation prompts a shift from keyword search to smart matching, leading to a boom in recruitment tech M&A. Traditional agencies such as Hays are upgrading their own data capabilities through acquisitions and partnerships with LinkedIn, Google, Salesforce and other data/tech providers 
 

Governments and operators have come under increasing pressure to exclude Huawei’s 5G equipment from national networks, with justifications usually kept vague and wide-ranging rather than specific, and no evidence provided.

Given the role of Huawei’s 5G equipment in the network and the extent of existing testing and checking, realistic security risks that apply to Huawei and not to all other equipment suppliers are hard to conceive.

The risks of any ban are however very real; with Huawei one of only three global-scale telecoms equipment suppliers, and the preferred early choice for 5G radio equipment in the UK, removing this choice will massively increase costs and delay roll-outs of cutting-edge connectivity.

The combination of 5G, AI, IoT and big data were evangelised at MWC as generating massive scope for the transformation of multiple industries. 

That much is probably true, but it is the tech and consultancy companies who will likely receive the benefits, with connectivity revenue likely to be modest.

For the operators, 5G brings more capacity much needed for hungry smartphone users, and perhaps the opportunity to transform themselves into a leaner operating model.
 

The UK’s labour market is tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.1%, the lowest since 1973. Peak vacancies and reports of skill shortages mask dull hiring plans amidst the gathering Brexit gloom, which will hit temporary hiring hard. We expect media expenditure to fall in 2018, substantially more among print publishers, spilling over into 2019 expenditure on media

The recruitment industry has benefited from the structural shift to outsourcing, and large agencies are portals in their own right, providing tools to companies to sift applicants to find the best match. Companies doing their own recruitment of professionals value listing on LinkedIn, the top UK site by visitors, and the efficiency of paying per applicant rather than for the listing

Second-placed Indeed has gained considerable momentum since being acquired by Japan’s Recruit Holdings in 2012. Indeed acquired third-placed Glassdoor in 2018, the latter having built its market position through user-generated reviews of employers. With Google serious again about Jobs, a sector (among others) it has tried to disrupt before, Monster and Jobsite are the more vulnerable to being crowded out 

The UK consumer’s loss of confidence since the June 2016 referendum vote in favour of Brexit has reduced the revenues of both estate agents and auto dealers, with knock-on effects on their media spend, entrenching further the leadership positions of Rightmove and Auto Trader respectively. Only the UK’s recruitment marketplace is buoyant with a record level of vacancies, benefiting general recruitment aggregator Indeed, although deepening Brexit gloom among businesses will rapidly melt away vacancies

With internet users flocking to portals and away from print media, advertisers have followed suit with media spend on these portals to stimulate purchaser interest, although transactions are still conducted offline. Facebook and Google, which have long histories of contesting markets for local advertisers with little success, have re-entered classifieds. Facebook Marketplace is now accepting listings from estate agents and dealers, expanding from C2C to B2C in homes and cars. Google Jobs launched in the UK in July 2018 and enjoys partnerships with all the major portals other than Indeed

The sharp decline in sales and shift to lettings, sluggish price growth and pressure on estate agents’ commissions, are making marketing key to driving transactional activity in a longer sales funnel. Rightmove’s revenues are on track for a 10% increase in 2018 on the uplift in average revenue per agent (ARPA). Zoopla's market share rose with the end of OnTheMarket's 'one-other-portal' rule for shareholders upon its AIM listing in February 2018 

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

Cross-device identity profiles are used to stitch together fragmenting online ad audiences, but also to enable new links between advertising and marketing, across European markets

This moves value from media itself to understanding each consumer and how they access content and services on proliferating connected devices

By 2020 we predict that 58% of all UK online ad buys by value will make use of high-quality audience IDs, led by the largest advertising platforms but limited by privacy regulation and cost

Our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds) is provided over three reports, with property and auto to follow, and this first report summarizing the macro trends, issues and outlook, as well as a detailed study of recruitment marketing. Taken as a whole we identify three critical themes in specialist markets:

• Portals are extraordinarily popular with consumers, growing their importance in the value chain; the print to digital transition is far from over
• But portal reliance on revenue growth from print decline is starting to retreat; revenue diversification strategies are emerging
• Nonetheless, disruption in vertical markets is stubbornly slow, with leading portals using paid media models (print models) to sustain their position.

The recruitment market is buoyant (up 10%), so portals, specialists and intermediaries are generally doing well, while local newspapers have lost some market share. Linkedin (professional social media, which has diversified into skills and training) and Indeed (freemium jobs aggregator, which provides performance charging and will introduce new services in 2016) are the key influences in the marketplace, and both are growing very strongly. The value chain in recruitment is being slowly restructured. Recruiter demand for highly skilled, specialist candidates does not have the labour supply to support it, sustaining marketing expenditure, though print spend continues to decline.

Customer movement between operators shows susceptibility to dynamism in branding; O2 are picking up the majority of EE churners as customers move to the new “cool brand” while EE pull in Vodafone churners tempted by the new “best network”. O2 have the lowest churn though the lion’s share move to Vodafone and H3G churners are more evenly picked up by the other three

Customer perceptions of own operator network quality are high among the big 3 with no less than 75% of customers reporting theirs is the best network. O2 is the best regarded while H3G is the least best regarded highlighting a stark contrast between the (prospective) merging parties

Consumers report little interest in quad play and indeed operators in the both fixed and mobile markets have publicly confirmed the same from other market research. However the arrival of converged players in the form of a merged BT/EE or Vodafone re-entering the fixed space will see operators seeking to change this

Microsoft dominated PCs and Nokia mobile phones, but both are irrelevant in the dominant model for tech in the next decade, smartphones and tablets. An acquisition may have been necessary, but by itself it solves nothing.

Smartphones are now half of all mobile phone sales, and the 255m smartphones and tablets sold in Q2 2013 dwarf the 76m PCs sold. Microsoft now powers less than a quarter of all the personal computing devices being sold.

Microsoft retains a leading position in enterprise and in console gaming. But if it cannot return to relevance in consumer, the strength of the whole business will suffer.