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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.

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.

Magazine publishers are at different stages of a transformation cycle, but a variety of external and industry factors are massively accelerating change.

Often described as the transition from page to screen, in reality transformation is a deeper redefinition of each brand’s community and purpose, and the use-case benefits it delivers.

Online advertising is evolving into a space where trusted consumer media can exploit their advantages of community engagement and premium context, rather than indiscriminate traffic.

Online advertising growth at big tech firms has flatlined, with real-term declines at Meta and YouTube. The weakness is concentrated in higher funnel ads.

Advertising is a leading indicator. A hardware slowdown is coming, services growth is stuttering, and businesses will want to save on cloud services.

Investors are hostile to attempts to spend through a downturn, but competition from TikTok and developments in AI demand targeted investment, while Meta is pot-committed to the metaverse. Tech giants are looking for savings elsewhere.
 

60% of Chinese online ad spend is directly driven by ecommerce, compared to 40% in the West. The gap will close as content and ads move closer to transactions.

General search engines are not central to the customer journey in China: Baidu fell below 10% of online advertising last year, compared to Google’s c.55% share in the UK.

The Chinese model now has a vector to the rest of the world in the form of TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance added more retail GMV in China than Alibaba last year. TikTok wants to grow video shopping in the West, targeting a huge $470 billion in transactions by 2027.

With viewing to traditional broadcast TV continuing to shrink rapidly, especially among under-45s, our latest forecasts revise a new low for broadcasters’ audiences: falling to just half of all video viewing in 2027, down from 63% today.

Long-form, broadcast-quality content will increasingly be viewed on SVOD-first services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Disney+) as online habits solidify, especially among older audiences. Platforms offering different content (e.g. YouTube, Twitch, TikTok) will continue to grow their share and will also expand total watch-time.

We forecast that under-35s will spend just a tenth to a fifth of their video time with broadcasters’ traditional long-form content five years from now, versus a third to a half for 35-54s and 85% for over-65s.

Meta suffered its first year-on-year revenue decline in Q2, as long-standing challenges crystalise and an economic slowdown in the US dents display ad spend. 

In response, Meta is retooling its products to neutralise threats from post-social competitors like TikTok, and trying to minimise the impact of data restrictions. 

The long-term pivot to the metaverse is Zuckerberg's next big bet, but funding it depends on core business strength. 

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.