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  • October 11, 2018

    UK Esports & broadcasters: No game for old players

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    Drawn by its rapid growth and enviably youthful audience profile, incumbent broadcasters are paying increased attention to esports and its followers. Viewership of esports on UK broadcasters’ linear channels is low, with consumption on their online platforms likely the same. The market’s fragmented nature and global audience, along with the dominance of Twitch—and to a lesser extent YouTube—makes this unlikely to change. Broadcasters’ low-cost approach has primarily benefited competition organisers and games publishers. For broadcasters to create real revenues, massive upfront investment would be needed, with the risk of failure high.
  • August 21, 2018

    Regulating harmful video content and advertising online: Publishe [...]

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    Video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook video, enjoy a light-touch regulatory regime for harmful content and advertising. As video viewing of non-broadcaster content grows, the regulatory gap between TV broadcasters and video-sharing platforms widens, part of a broader uneven playing field for publishers and platforms. However, there is momentum against this: the “platforms vs publishers” divide looks set to weaken in EU law, and the platforms themselves are investing more in combatting harmful content within a self-regulatory regime, though their internal policies and outcomes are still opaque. Effective and fair regulation of video-sharing platforms would involve the balancing of national freedom of speech conventions and the public utility of user-generated video hosting with concerned stakeholder views: something approaching a co-regulatory system for online video-sharing platforms.  
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  • August 20, 2018

    Virgin Media Q2 2018 results: Measured approach in a tough market

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    Virgin Media had a mixed quarter, with subscriber ARPU growth maintained, partly driven by a triple play focus with pay TV and telephony adds much improved, but subscriber and broadband net adds unchanged. Cable revenue growth did slow from 3.6% to 3.1%, mainly due to the previous quarter’s net adds slowdown working through, and it is still growing the fastest of the big operators in a slow-growth market that still suffers from pricing pressure at the low end. Its network roll-out was slower than last year and only just above the weather-impacted previous quarter, which appears to be deliberate, and which may at least partly relate to an uncertain regulatory and commercial climate over ‘full fibre’ roll-out by others.  
  • 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 19, 2018

    Advertising after the turning point: When offline is the exceptio [...]

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    Online advertising became the majority of all UK ad spend last year, in step with China but ahead of all other major markets. Direct response has further increased its share to 54% of UK ad spend, fuelled by the self-serve platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon, while content media nets just 11% of the online advertising pot. We estimate that all online-delivered channels - including "pure play" online properties, broadcaster VOD, digital out-of-home and online radio - could account for well over 60% of UK ad spend by 2020, but only with improved commitment to industry governance.
  • May 25, 2018

    Retailing in the material world

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    Ecommerce has grown to 17.5% of retail spend, and accounts for almost all growth in spend. Physical retailers are beginning to feel the effects, with chains reporting falling profits and even bringing in administrators. The UK picture is muddied by a general lack of economic recovery, and irrelevant comparisons with the US. Finished goods stores, however, are clearly under extreme pressure. We are moving into a retail paradigm of online and offline elements being freely matched. To survive this transition, brick and mortar retailers have to become differentiated experiences and close the data gap with e-retailers      
  • May 3, 2018

    Grand new ideas for the content industry: Lessons from GDC 2018

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    Last month’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco was a triumphant showcase for crossover technologies and ideas designed to attract and engage new customers; ideas coming soon to all parts of the digital entertainment industry. Google and Facebook launched new “Instant App” technologies for game developers on their platforms, which will eventually have a significant impact on mobile app curation and discovery for not just games but the broader entertainment sector. Universal Pictures showed how media and entertainment companies should be working with indie developers to drive franchise development, utilise creative IP, and bring new ideas to market quicker.
  • March 28, 2018

    Value in volumes: Books, midlists and retail

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    There are signs of hollowing-out in the book trade: a lack of disruption at the top line obscures the fact that mid-selling breakthrough titles are becoming rarer, debuting authors is becoming more difficult and loyalty is declining. Publisher tools to overcome these trends are weakening, while self-publishing has introduced fierce competition in price, if not yet quality. To fight the tide, publishers will need to concentrate on the remaining points of differentiation, as well as preserving dedicated retail channels and changing conceptions around reader relations.
  • March 8, 2018

    Importance of News Content

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    In an increasingly digital world, the free flow of information has lowered the value of paid news. News providers, which could earlier rely on advertising to subsidise journalism, continue to face aggressive competition from global tech giants and are being forced to find new revenue streams
  • The Internet of All Things - Towards the Hyper-connected World
    The Internet of All Things - Towards the Hyper-connected World
    March 6, 2018

    UK Internet Trends H2 2017: From shallow online to the online imm [...]

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    In this report we develop a rough segmentation of the adult population by level of online use: offline (10% of adults), shallow online (10%), deep online (80%). We examine how online services seeking to reach new audiences increasingly face the obstacle of missing demand rather than a lack of consumer skills or access. The app economy still relies on a limited consumer pool, but ecommerce is now reaching almost all of the deep online. Bridging the current gap between occasional and frequent online buyers is a clear opportunity and we are still in the early days of evolving buying services into shopping services. The only industry monetising all online users is advertising. Ad platforms, led by Google and Facebook, also play a critical role expanding the ranks of the deep online and online immersed. But offline brand display media, led by broadcast TV, remain critical for online brands wanting to expand their audience.
  • March 2, 2018

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2017

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    UK residential communications market revenue growth fell again to 1.2%, with weakening ARPU growth the main driver. New customer pricing remains flat to down, and existing customers are being increasingly discounted, fuelling the ARPU weakness. High speed broadband adoption is proceeding apace, but the high speed premium is fairly thin, muting the impact on ARPU. Regulated wholesale price cuts from Openreach finalised today and due in April 2018 will not help. Looking forward, the March quarter will benefit from price timing effects at BT and Virgin Media, but we fear that the rest of 2018 will follow the current downward trend and the operators will need to adjust to an ex-growth environment.
  • February 9, 2018

    Tencent: gaming giant heads west

    Tencent, by some counts the world’s most valuable media and entertainment company but still relatively unknown outside Asia, is riding games growth to global clout. The company offers a blueprint for successfully integrating media and entertainment companies, saving on overheads while retaining key talent and organisational culture . Tencent’s recent investments in Snap and Spotify suggest media platform ambitions beyond games in the West, but close ties to the Chinese  government could complicate regulatory approval for strategic acquisitions.
  • February 5, 2018

    Chinese online media platforms

    Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) have built their leading market positions in Chinese online media on the back of the mobile revolution and an absence of foreign rivals. The big three’s rivalry in online advertising reflects a broader struggle over key gatekeeper roles in the Chinese online economy, albeit one shaped by state intervention. While benefiting from protectionism at home, BAT are weak in most foreign markets and links to the Chinese state may hamper international expansion, particularly in the US
  • January 16, 2018

    Stitch Fix IPO: profits are back in style

    Subscription fashion retailer Stitch Fix has gone public, revealing a rare example of a new, private, technology-based company capable of making a profit. Stitch Fix relies on the ‘mixed intelligence’ of algorithms and human stylists to offer its customers a curated fashion “Fix” of clothing and accessories, aiming to cut through some of the chaos of ecommerce. Though Stitch Fix’s success is not guaranteed, there is much to be learned from its approach of focusing on building a solid business and generating positive earnings early, rather than growing users at any cost
  • December 21, 2017

    Recruitment classified marketplace: Tech giants eye up LinkedIn [...]

    A strong UK labour market, with record low unemployment but historically high vacancies, has supported growth in the recruitment industry, though trends may be peaking as we reach unknown territory. These trends play out in the recruitment market before they become apparent in the labour market.Despite the fragmentation of the online recruitment listings marketplace, Indeed is well-placed to dominate this space due to its increased scale and aggressive investment strategy. Both Google and Facebook have announced their intention to move into the recruitment listings sphere, which may have consequences not only for classified expenditure but further up the value chain with the agency model. However, both giants have attempted to move into online classifieds before, with little demonstrable success.
  • December 21, 2017

    Vertical marketplaces overview and property classified outlook: E [...]

    The slowing UK economy since Q3 2016 has had a knock-on effect on the property and autos marketplaces underlying UK classified advertising revenues, with house prices slowing, transactions stabilising (instead of rising), and new car registrations down sharply in 2017 to date. Recruitment activity by agencies and employers has instead been dynamic as the UK nears full employment. Advertisers in these verticals continue to switch expenditure from print classifieds to internet portals and search, which offer superior lead generation, analytics, and user experience. Only in property do local newspapers still fulfill an important estate agency branding function for the local area, although declining readership is blunting this value to advertisers. Portal dominance comes at a price to advertisers in property, where Rightmove has resisted agent efforts to lessen dependence by listing on other brands, as well as in used autos, where Auto Trader has long reigned supreme. Recruitment is a more contested market for portals, reflecting the diverse and fragmented nature of the jobs market, but Indeed has a strong grip on the low-end, while LinkedIn remains unchallenged in social recruitment advertising
  • December 18, 2017

    UK online ad forecast 2017-2019: A grey digital market

    We estimate that UK online ad spend grew by 12.3% this year, with growth concentrated almost exclusively in mobile search and social in-feed advertising (particularly video), and mostly incremental to overall ad spend. Even after payments to publishers and distributors, Google and Facebook captured 80% of all net new spend in the market, and 96% of it flowed through their platforms. Despite improving standardisation and disclosure, the outstanding issues around measurement, the ad-tech supply chain, and particularly the obscure and growing Google/Facebook/Amazon segment, lead us to identify a large portion of digital advertising as a “grey market”: difficult to get a handle on, with uncertain beneficiaries and slippery definitions
  • October 26, 2017

    Supply of news in the UK

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    Since Communications Act 2003, the number of national news outlets supplied on broadcast and in print has been stable. Adoption of multi-channel TV, supported by Freeview, has augmented the number of homes accessing on a free-to-air basis five "all news" channels (BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN, Russia Today), with many more all news channels served on pay-TV platforms. Original news production has been transformed by digital tools and Twitter occupies the centre of the journalism ecosystem. Jobs devoted to news production are in recovery, although mask a decline in newspapers to the benefit of online mainly. Expansion of fixed-line broadband and, more recently, consumer adoption of mobile broadband and connected devices, have made the internet a platform for the supply of and consumption of all news services. Broadcasters serve eponymous text-based websites, all newspapers serve websites, and native news outlets have entered the market due to low barriers to entry. Prominent native brands in the political genre include Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Politico
  • Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    October 20, 2017

    US ISPs hail the end of online privacy rules

    The Federal Communications Commission’s Privacy Order (FCC) was overturned by the Senate, clearing the way for ISPs to ramp up consumer data-driven advertising revenue. While Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising in the US as in other markets, the US is alone in removing regulatory barriers to ISPs taking a piece of the pie. US ISPs now have a self-regulatory regime for consumer rights on transparency, security and data breaches; but in the UK and EU, privacy advocates prefer enforceable rights
  • October 16, 2017

    Consumer Magazine Publishing Part Two: The Power of Brands and In [...]

    In a challenging digital marketplace, publishers face a crisis of purpose. To navigate the turbulent seas, publishers must invest more in their brands and the industry as a whole must innovate. Consumer engagement, previously held by magazines, has sailed to social media where young influencers across Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat challenge established norms of content discovery and curation. Magazines are more heterogeneous than is commonly assumed, and strength lies in a distinctive brand. To right the course, we recommend the industry carry out bespoke reviews that outline brand-specific audiences, use-cases and revenue solutions, and exploit systematic audience data to optimise all brand manifestations - with enhanced marketing income a secondary benefit.

  • August 28, 2017

    Voicing concerns: virtual assistants and the media

    Voice, and the smart virtual assistants that power voice interfaces, will be a key transformative force over the next five years. Any business providing content or services via digital means is potentially affected, as these virtual assistants promise a single front end for all digital services, representing an extraordinary concentration of control over discovery, delivery and data. Media businesses will clearly be affected. But there is an opportunity for them right now to influence the assistant providers to their advantage, a window that will not stay open forever
  • August 25, 2017

    The 5G Evolution, Part 2 – Standards, Deployment and Challenges

    The 5G era will soon be upon us, with key stakeholders in developed countries progressing well towards commercial deployment in the early 2020s. Key challenges such as spectrum management and privacy and security will need to be addressed to ensure 5G successful implementation.
  • August 24, 2017

    Cybercrime – The Upside

    Market disruption caused by cybercrime and continued technology growth has created a range of market opportunities for cybersecurity. Cybersecurity education, managed services, insurance and innovative cyber start-ups are all strong areas of growth in the Australian market.
  • August 23, 2017

    ACMA review of the NBN and RSPs – it takes three to tango!

    As the number of consumers migrating to the NBN has increased, there has been a significant increase in consumer complaints. The Government has ordered the Australian Communications and Media Authority to investigate the issues and how those issues can be avoided or resolved.