The UK’s Q3 GDP growth paints a picture of stolid recovery, leaving GDP still 2.1% below the pre-pandemic peak in early 2020. We expect Q4 will be much stronger, mainly due to booming retail—very beneficial to advertising growth—and returning the economy to peak GDP early in 2022

We predict record highs for retail sales in Q4 with volumes surging on the back of base effects in the previous year, seasonal highs, and ongoing work-from-home (WFH) practices, compounded by a 6-8% YoY increase in retail prices, which could yield up to 14-16% sales value growth

Aside from fizzing retail, the economy enters 2022 facing headwinds from bubbling CPI inflation as energy prices surge on global markets, higher prices for food and other essentials, and Brexit-induced shortages of labour and goods that are hard to alleviate in this island’s economy

Google has lost its appeal of the European Commission’s antitrust ruling of 2017 that it had abused its position in general search to favour Google Shopping, its Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) channel for merchants, in relation to price comparison aggregators. 

Since the case was lodged in 2010, price comparison has receded as the key to consumers’ online purchases, also motivated by influencers, reviews, and browsing. Merchants use YouTube and Instagram to build brands, Facebook to launch products, and Google Shopping as the key alternative to Amazon for direct response.

The EU’s antitrust regime has once more solved yesterday’s problem, but this will shift for Big Tech to an ex-ante regime when the landmark Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act come on-stream.

 

Overall radio listening remains robust and continues to make up the majority of audio time, however a worrying decline in both reach and hours amongst younger people makes further innovation necessary

Shifting audio distribution trends driven by digital and IP listening, as well as the increasing influence of smart speakers and connected devices, represent significant challenges for the radio industry going forward

Strong collaboration and regulatory support will be needed to reconnect with elusive younger listeners, prevent US tech companies from becoming de-facto gatekeepers, and preserve the public value at the core of the UK radio industry

Vodafone’s leverage issue continues to drive its strategy and operational focus, as evidenced in its H1 results with solid EBITDA but lacklustre revenues.

Its leverage crisis is severely exacerbated by the prospect of a fibre build in Germany as well as a sizeable headwind to its cable business momentum there. Further sell-downs at Vantage will help and we view the prospects of consolidation as slightly improved, with Spain the most promising option.

Growth in the UK appears to be on hold and the outlook is mixed with VMO2’s notice for early termination for its MVNO, ongoing B2B weakness expected but significant inflation-linked price rises on the cards.

VMO2’s half-year results were something of a mixed bag with some decent revenue momentum but a big hit to EBITDA as COVID cost-savings unwound and company full year guidance suggests a further deterioration in Q4.

Volt, VMO2’s convergence product, is well-conceived and executed. With a following wind it should avoid the pitfall of revenue dilution whilst potentially offering some upsides.

The company remains in strategic limbo awaiting an outcome on its wholesale discussions with Sky. This will determine not just fibre expansion plans but also branding and co-marketing of its central products.

Facebook has been caught unawares by the significant impacts of privacy changes to its advertising revenue, posting an uncharacteristic quarterly decline as its costs are set to spiral

Facebook’s ageing user demographics are a long-standing and growing issue, as competitor platforms erode Facebook’s attraction to the young. Recent negative PR only compounds a brewing problem of relevance as social media shifts towards being content, rather than network-driven

By pinning its name to the metaverse, Facebook hopes to redefine its narrative and claim the benefits of managing the platform of the future, but significant challenges in the entertainment, enterprise, and tech spheres stand in its way

Our UK-wide analysis of Google data on travel to work and to other destinations, at the granular level of Local Authority Areas, reveals the early return to pre-pandemic levels of mobility in smaller urban and rural areas, driving the UK’s economic recovery to date, while travel within cities remains depressed 18 months into the pandemic

On weekdays, work-from-home (WFH) for office workers is a core driver of reduced mobility in London and other cities reliant on public transport, recovering on weekends, but mainly to local destinations. Outside cities, the car is used for transportation, explaining the faster recovery of mobility there

Disposable income inequalities have widened between office workers that saved due to WFH and essential workers and those in B2C activities in cities have not had the privilege of WFH. The quicker return to offices in smaller urban and rural areas has restored pre-pandemic expenditure patterns

Apple’s latest software update continues its drive to limit the data that can be collected about iPhone users as they browse the internet. Prior changes have had an effect on ad prices for publishers, and on advertiser results

The new changes target cornerstones of profiling and targeting: IP and email addresses. The impact will be gradual, but could be profound if takeup is high

The lesson for publishers is that no technical implementation of targeted advertising is safe. Layering third-party data on top of anonymous audiences is not a future-proof business model

Enders Analysis has worked with the IPA to produce this wide-ranging study into the effects and key lessons from the pandemic for the marketing industry. Tracing what are likely to be permanent structural shifts in the economy, this report will quantify and explore the impact for the industry on mobility restrictions, the rise in ecommerce, the explosion of in-home media consumption, and shifts in media spend. 

Netflix’s decision to launch games as part of the subscription bundle is smart business: rewarding current subscribers, leveraging its IP, and signalling that subscription is the best long-term revenue model in the games space. 

Expect technological innovation to be central to Netflix’s ambitions with games. Netflix will make it easier for different game experiences to occur, and ways to attract external developers will inevitably follow. 

For Disney, Netflix just made the battle for customers more difficult and more expensive.  Disney will need to make hard decisions about how to approach the games business—something it has shown before it finds difficult to do.