Amidst a wider economic slowdown in the UK due to the cost-of-living crisis and the rising trend of borrowing costs, the Q4 retail spending peak (27.9% of total retail in 2019) will continue to be the dominant theme for retailers and advertisers in Q4 2022

Pandemic work and life patterns more fully reversed in 2022, with offline retailing recovering. Online share is ticking down to a new baseline of c.25% of retail (excluding fuel), thanks to food stores, the main pandemic gainers—now 10% of the vertical and contributing a huge 15% of online retail spend

Online promotions (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) have gained traction over the years, drawing retail spend into November from December, and inevitably motivating a pull-forward of advertising expenditure, with online advertising increasingly focused on the bottom of the consumer purchasing journey, favouring intent over brand

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.

For the media and entertainment industry the dawn of the metaverse, and the word soup of acronyms that accompanies it, is the latest high-profile technology wave that threatens to simultaneously upend established distribution models and reinvent both the experience and relationship with the audience.

Many companies will feel they have been here before. The last 25 years have seen technologies move from linear to on-demand and physical to digital; and devices from fixed, heavy boxes, to always connected and mobile-first. Some companies never recovered from these changes.

The next 24 months is a particularly useful window to invest at small scale and with limited downside risk. With audiences small but influential, there is opportunity to start early, develop robust test cases and establish new community-building and storytelling formats.

Amidst the US macro downturn denting online sales, Amazon reported revenue growth of 7.2%, driven by AWS and advertising, but broad-based in nature

Inelastic demand for Prime has created opportunities to increase efficiency and monetisation, with cutbacks to fulfillment costs and increased subscription fees boosting Amazon's margins

Amazon's bottom-funnel search advertising growth has proved resilient, up 18% YoY, as growth eludes higher-funnel competitors—offering a strong indication that Amazon will largely buck the trend of advertising decline

The UK economy is going sideways as the cost-of-living crisis dents retail volumes—a predictor of GDP—as consumers have little choice but to cut back on purchases of essential categories sharply hit by soaring prices

The financial gulf between high- and low-earning households is being driven by inflation, with a fifth of households now unable to afford essentials

GDP growth in May—achieved through rapid digitisation and pent-up demand for travel and transportation services—masks stalling consumer-facing services. The UK economy is likely to record the most drastic slump of all G7 economies in 2023

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.

With 54 million daily active users, half of whom are under the age of 13, online games hub Roblox is much more popular than Fortnite, and still growing rapidly even on top of a sizeable pandemic boost

Roblox is a window into metaverse-like value exchange. The platform pays out about $150 million to developers each quarter through its thriving real-world economy without calling on blockchain―the company must avoid the distraction of NFTs as it attracts more brands

Roblox's success suggests that platforms will remain at the heart of virtual worlds; Roblox itself is a (relatively laissez-faire) gatekeeper, though subject to app store rules in an ongoing financial and policy headache

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

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