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  • July 16, 2019

    Future of UK Public Service Media: EPG prominence to the fore

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    Ofcom’s recommendations to Government suggest updating EPG prominence legislation to cover connected TVs, and were warmly welcomed by the PSBs. Balancing various commercial, PSB and consumer interests will be key; determining what content qualifies for prominence will be a particularly thorny issue to resolve. Extending prominence to smart TVs and streaming sticks is critical, but implementation will be challenging
  • July 15, 2019

    Ad blocking update – Publishers and tech giants work togeth [...]

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    Digital publishers are using a variety of strategies to counter the impact of ad blockers from requesting users to turn off ad blockers or whitelisting websites to blocking access to content. Publishers have also found unlikely allies in Google and Facebook that are making it harder for third party ad blockers to block ads on their platforms.
  • July 10, 2019

    Google’s Icarus moment

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    ­­­­Google’s advertising business has begun losing market share in the US, with competition from Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft intensifying in search and display. In response, the company is redoubling efforts to reshape its apps, services, and the entire web for more efficient monetisation, spelling uncertainty for partners and users. The adaptability and complexity of Google’s services reduce business risk from targeted regulatory measures, but increase the pressure for a radical intervention
  • June 26, 2019

    Facebook Libra – the cryptocurrency arms race has begun…

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    Facebook announced the launch of Libra, a new digital currency that aims to transform how we pay and transfer money. Calibra, Facebook’s Libra ewallet, has the potential to shake the entire payments industry through its scale and value. However, Libra faces multiple challenges, including regulatory hurdles and Facebook’s chequered past with privacy and data security.
  • May 14, 2019

    Facebook doubles down on advertising

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    After the most challenging period in its history since 2012, Facebook has been able to stabilise its fundamental metrics and announce a major product overhaul. Despite talk of a business model pivot, Facebook’s focus remains on advertising, whose growth will remain concentrated in developed markets. News publishers wishing to stay relevant on the upgraded product set need to target exclusive layers of social interaction, with groups particularly important.
  • April 5, 2019

    Apple’s showtime: everybody gets a service, partners get pennie [...]

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    ­­­­Apple is strengthening its household model by doubling down on family-friendly content subscriptions and payments. The model is reliant on hard bargains with mainly US partners, which risks sacrificing potential scale for a short-term boost in margin dollars. The new services offer glimpses of novel concepts, but stop short of taking risks to truly differentiate—a problem in TV, where Apple’s distribution advantage is slimmer than Oprah would have it.
  • April 2, 2019

    Apple Card – allowing the fox into the henhouse…

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    In the four years since Apple Pay was launched, major banks and retailers around the world have allowed customers to use their iPhones to make payments. On 25 March, Apple went one step further and announced its plans to release a digital-first credit card, Apple Card, partnering with global payments network MasterCard and investment bank Goldman Sachs.
  • February 1, 2019

    Netflix’s local content push in the UK

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    With the UK perhaps Netflix’s most valuable market outside the US—home to a stellar production sector—the streaming service is escalating its foray into local production, opening a content hub in London and moving from co-productions to direct commissions. As UK content completely dominates UK video viewing outside of the SVODs, to expand subscription reach Netflix is endeavouring to become an alternative to the PSBs’ entertainment output; this local spend is efficient given the universality and worldwide appetite for British content. With a growing proportion of local content expenditure now coming from Netflix and other SVODs, there are ramifications for both broadcasters and producers—loss of viewing, potential market pressure, increased competition for premium content and hesitancy around their own SVOD plans—along with implications for the cultural landscape.
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  • January 17, 2019

    Apple and Amazon bury the hatchet

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    Amazon’s recent deals with Apple in TV, music and device sales mark a turning point after a decade of frosty relations. The context for this involves shifting priorities at both firms, growing pressure on Apple’s iPhone business, and rivals in common — first and foremost Google, but also the likes of Netflix and Spotify. The uneasy alliance helps both companies consolidate their strengths in the platform competition over media and the connected home — but trouble already brews.
  • November 5, 2018

    UK Radio’s evolution towards a digital future

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    ­­­­Radio faces challenges from Spotify and other online audio propositions, while the radio “dial” is challenged by smart speakers and global tech. UK radio broadcasters have risen to the occasion through innovation. New DAB stations have helped radio achieve record audiences and revenues. Combined digital listening is now over 50%, but FM remains the primary platform. The current mix of FM/AM and digital maintains radio’s relevance for the medium term. The long-term future is digital—a wide-ranging sector review is required to determine how to support digital radio’s growth and the question of a future switchover.  
  • October 5, 2018

    Apple – Price is the object: the iPhone and its services

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    With a carefully priced, strong line-up of iPhones, Apple will consolidate its main revenue line and core user base in the near term. The latter feeds into a services business showing impressive growth, but which is also marked by missed opportunities and mounting negative consequences on the rest of the online ecosystem. For media businesses, Apple’s impact is larger than ever, inevitably leading to new kinds of friction around commercial terms, App store policies and browser features.
  • Free
    October 2, 2018

    Mobile payments – Australia moving from cashless to walletless?

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    The Australian payments ecosystem has seen considerable disruption in the last decade with new technologies, innovations and new industry players changing the way we pay. In particular, contactless payments has laid the foundation for mobile payments with consumers increasingly looking to ditch their cards and wallets in favour of digital wallets or mobile payment apps.
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  • August 15, 2018

    Consumer magazine publishing: Quality, not quantity

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    The decline in demand in print presents trading challenges, but the more immediate pressures are on the supply side, with a 15% rise in paper prices accentuating the burden of production and distribution costs.With digital advertising growing at stubbornly low rates, UK publishers need to return to their fundamental consumer-centred strengths by switching their strategic attention towards strong brands, curation, and community. The case for specialist, branded publishing media remains robust: products, services, and consumers are still best brought together in an authoritative, trusted media environment. Advertisers and agencies (and also media) have undervalued the effectiveness of those environments, and direct-to-consumer opportunities have been exaggerated by many brands.  
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  • June 28, 2018

    The home screen: distribution, discovery and data on connected TV [...]

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    The TV, the main screen in the house, is rapidly becoming connected to the internet, opening a new front in the battle for people's attention. Tech players, pay-TV operators, and manufacturers are all aiming to control the user interface, ad delivery and data collection, leaving incumbent broadcaster interests less well represented. To protect their position, and the principles of public service broadcasting, broadcasters will have to work with each other at home and in Europe to leverage their content and social importance.  
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  • Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    May 17, 2018

    Wall St Shuffle: Spotify’s non-IPO

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    Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries. As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect. So far and for the near future, Spotify’s global pre-eminence versus competition from Apple, Amazon and Google proves remarkably resilient. Plans to build upon its differentiating features will become ever more decisive as the tech titans will continue to wield their resources and ecosystems against the comparatively undiversified company.      
  • March 27, 2018

    OK Google: The rise of Voice Assistants in Australia

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    The rapid growth in voice search technologies and the increasing penetration of Digital Voice Assistants indicates that voice search is fast emerging as a significant computing platform with the potential for a direct-to-consumer relationship.
  • February 13, 2018

    Premier League auction: not ripe for GAFAN disruption

    The overall scale of the GAFAN digital media giants may be huge, but the cost of becoming a major player in Premier League (PL) football remains utterly disproportionate to the current scale and ambitions of their video businesses in the UK. Furthermore, the main package PL rights are live-only, UK-only, and of limited breadth of appeal, making a poor strategic fit for any of the digital players. The cheaper minor packages, near-live and clips rights may be a better fit, but bidding on these will not move the needle in terms of the £1.7 billion per year main PL auction rights costs.
  • October 30, 2017

    Google’s golden age of search

    Google has beaten Facebook in mobile revenue growth, and competes successfully in retail search with Amazon. Intelligent user interfaces based on machine learning have become a core competitive strength, with social and messaging the main remaining weak points. Rising political pressure due to Google’s growing scale and influence is now a bigger concern than commercial risk, as the threat of regulatory intervention limits strategic options in partnerships, M&A and integration.
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  • October 12, 2017

    Voice Assistants: Better together?

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    While Virtual Assistants (VA) have existed since 2011, the category only took off after recent advances in Artificial Intelligence and the introduction of the smart speaker. Major players like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon already have their own Virtual Assistants. Asian players are now developing their own. The Microsoft-Amazon collaboration may gain them the edge needed to overcome the slew of new and entrenched players.
  • September 29, 2017

    Augmented reality: Apple’s next 10-year bet

    Through innovations in processing, connectivity and cameras, Apple’s new device lineup dispels fears that the importance of integrated, profitable mobile hardware is in terminal decline. With the broadest range of iPhone price points ever, Apple is confidently balancing between profits and growing the valuable installed base. Apple’s long way to an AR future is now well paved, but a weakness in mapping could prove to be an Achilles heel
  • September 15, 2017

    Global recorded music forecasts 2017-21

    For the second consecutive year, the global recorded music industry body IFPI reported rising trade revenues, growing 5.9% to reach $15.6 billion in 2016. Our forecasts supplement IFPI’s trade revenue data with richer national-level consumer expenditure data from local bodies in core markets, and project CAGR of 2.3% to 2021, tapering off as streaming approaches maturity. This fairly modest topline growth for global recorded music streaming trade revenues is the product of our judgement that the marketplace remains awash with free music. Streaming trade revenue growth could be higher still if the industry finds a solution to piracy through technological or regulatory means, obviating the need for the ad-funded compromise.
  • Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    September 8, 2017

    Internet Trends H1 2017: Fruits of the mobile revolution

    With smartphones in the pockets of 3/4 of the UK population, and accounting for over half of all online minutes, the mobile revolution is in its final stages, allowing us to survey its impact. As the number of social media users continues growing, untapped older demographics and Instagram help the Facebook suite of apps grow in the UK, but Snapchat is the social media app of choice for UK teens. News publishers face issues with brand attribution as social media platforms overtake search as the main news aggregators online, while small UK video publishers have become unlikely winners in a global market for soft news, infotainment and gags that dominate social video
  • June 29, 2017

    The map is now the territory

    We are in the midst of a rapid change in how maps are made and used, from a world of cartographers making records of physical features to sell to consumers and businesses, to one where information about the world is automatically tracked and measured, and built into every service we use. A whole host of industries traditionally unconcerned with geography are being and will be transformed by maps and location, from retail and advertising to finance and insurance. Every business needs to know what maps can offer them. A variety of maps suppliers are jostling for position in serving this growing need: local or international, free or commercial, seeing mapping as a core or side-business. Different suppliers suit different requirements.

  • June 23, 2017

    How to sell games: borrowing ideas from Netflix and Apple

    A Netflix-like subscription model for console based video gaming is a big step closer with Microsoft launching a clear and easy Xbox subscription game solution, and it may even work. Sony’s strategy for premium online services across all its businesses remains muddled and complicated, but could be fixed quickly: dropping game streaming is the first step, providing a lower cost subscription service is the second. Google’s admission that more curation in its games app store will be needed finally indicates a better understanding of the games industry, in parallel with the company’s efforts to win over other creative industries