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.

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.

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.

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.

Rupert Murdoch is seeking to merge News Corp and Fox Corp, split up a decade ago, to create greater corporate scale and streamline management.

A recombined News Corp would generate revenues of c.$24 billion based on fiscal 2022 results, with EBITDA of $4.6 billion, and an enterprise value in the region of $25-26 billion.

An additional rationale for News Corp is the financial protection of cherished news brands such as the Wall Street Journal and the Times inside a stronger enterprise. While the first phase of online transformations has been successful, sustainability of trusted, quality news media is never settled or guaranteed. The objective could hardly be more important now and in the coming years.

The pandemic years boosted many businesses selling services on subscription in the UK: work-from-home gave people more time and money to widen the services they enjoyed in the home, such as gaming, entertainment and music, also boosting engagement with trusted news

The cost-of-living crisis dented the number of subscribers to OTT SVOD and news services in Q2 2022. Broadband and mobile are must-have; bundles of services (e.g. Sky’s pay-TV and broadband or mobile) are more resilient; yearly and multi-year contracts prevent churn relative to monthly contracts; and services that cater to passions (e.g. football) are always need-to-have

Subscription (or supporter) media and news services reaped the demand for trusted news through the pandemic, but now face a tough challenge to their toplines from the economic downturn—and also to transition to a sustainable business model for media audiences, while advertisers are also feeling the heat

The Guardian has posted a stellar set of results: its highest annual revenues since the 2008 financial crash, and a £22.7 million upswing in operating cashflows, putting it into positive territory for the first time in decades

Looking ahead to 2022/23, the Guardian (alongside every other news publisher) faces the twin headwinds of the cost-of-living crisis and news fatigue

There are levers for the Guardian to pull to maintain growth, increase monetisation, and minimise churn

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 cost-of-living crisis facing the UK economy notched up a gear in April, with a shock 9% CPI reading due to the home energy price cap increase; the May reading of 9.1% implies ongoing real income declines. The World Bank warns of the largest commodity shock in 50 years as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—with prices to remain elevated for 2-3 years

After the pandemic widened social inequality between B2B workers able to accumulate savings through work from home (WFH) and B2C workers who had to continue commuting, the home energy and petrol price crisis is again disproportionately impacting low-income households that cannot WFH

While the UK could find itself in a mild technical recession in Q2 and Q3 2022, base effects from the lockdowns in the first half of 2021 are certain to produce a higher annual level of GDP for 2022, with the OECD forecasting 3.6% growth, although it also predicts GDP will stagnate in 2023, with significant risks to the downside from further energy supply disruptions