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    October 12, 2016

    Google devices: leading the charge to consumer AI

    Google’s recent hardware launch event was a confident assertion of an AI-led future where Google’s services are present for everyone, everywhere With Google’s Assistant central to them, devices like the Pixel phone and Google Home smart speaker put pressure on Samsung, Apple and Amazon. If Google’s AI push is successful, it will evolve and strengthen the company’s role as a gatekeeper to content and services, fundamentally reshaping search marketing.

  • September 29, 2016

    A Room With A Vui: Voice and Amazon Alexa

    Amazon’s smart Echo speakers are coming to Europe, powered by a voice-controlled intelligent assistant, Alexa. Echo is thought to have found surprise success in the US. Alexa is best thought of as the most complete Voice User Interface (VUI) on the market. We expect VUIs to supplant graphical user interfaces for a variety of use-cases, in the home, on the move and in the car. Competition in this area is increasing. Alexa is being positioned as the Android for voice, moving beyond devices made by Amazon in an attempt to jumpstart adoption, and with developers building services on top of Alexa’s core voice platform.

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    September 28, 2016

    Clash of the retail titans: Amazon vs Walmart

    The battle in the US between Amazon, ecommerce giant, and Walmart, the retail titan, reflects the changing face of US retail as online drives growth. Amazon, the everything store, innovates on marketplace, warehouse and logistics, and customer tools like Prime, while Walmart fortifies in-store and builds on its strengths. Walmart cannot overtake Amazon online, but it can defend its position as the largest US retailer as Amazon drives an ecommerce future for retailing.

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    September 14, 2016

    Untapped not tapped out -The over 50s -­ systemic consumption an [...]

    More than one third of the UK population is over 50 (over 23.6 million people) and this cohort is projected to keep growing. They account for substantial wealth, assets and expenditure. Over 50 consumers are more urban, educated, and tech-­‐savvy than the over 50s of previous generations. Given their outsize impact on the economy, influence on social trends and opportunity for brands, we believe the marketing industry underappreciates the diversity of over 50s, and their differentiated requirements. The key group in terms of potential in growth, wealth, expenditure and digital adoption are the 50-­‐65s: they are neither their children nor their parents.
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    August 4, 2016

    BT Q1 2016/17 results: Not shabby

    BT Group’s revenue growth was roughly unchanged in the quarter at 0.4%, with continued strong consumer growth mitigated by regulated and structural challenges in the rest of the Group.

    Both broadband and superfast broadband adoption is slowing, but BT is compensating with improving market share for the former, and the prospect of further uplifts from ultrafast for the latter.

    Regulatory uncertainties are likely to continue to weigh, with the current Openreach debate to be closely followed by the not-exactly-unimportant issue of copper and fibre pricing/regulation from April 2017.

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    July 18, 2016

    Mobile Google: beyond the smartphone

    Google’s recent product updates and upcoming features aim for as many users on as many platforms and devices as possible – a return to strategic form. The company has a dual approach: using Android as a mobile trend-setter while also devising new ways for users and developers on other platforms to use Google services. The reach provided by these initiatives will help Google’s machine learning algorithms to better understand and predict user intent – the cornerstone of the company’s ad business.

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    June 27, 2016

    Parents and their children online

    Cinema, TV and VOD services share the same ratings regime in the UK, giving parents confidence they can discern content unsuitable for their children. Risks to children of being exposed to unsuitable content and advertising multiply on the ‘open’ internet.
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    June 22, 2016

    Consumers and digital marketing – Challenges and tensions a [...]

    UK digital advertising will grow beyond £10 billion by 2018 by our estimates, representing more than half of all advertising spend and delivering the most advanced large advertising market in the world on a per capita basis. Nevertheless, we see critical issues in digital marketing that are frequently acknowledged, but hard to fix. At the heart of our hypothesis is the view that the marketing industry – brands, agencies and media – has focused on technology and efficiencies at the expense of consumer experience and distinctiveness.
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    June 6, 2016

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2016

    TV viewing has one reliable, long term trend: programme genres are watched by consumers at predictable life stages and ages.At a high level, there has been little manipulation of the balance of genres being broadcast. But amongst the sub-genres, editorial optimisation has resulted in an uptick in actual viewing. As the core viewing age of linear television rises, there is an opportunity for broadcasters to leverage this to create the most desirable schedule for their available audience by daypart; with genres that transcend demographics when younger viewers tune in.

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    June 2, 2016

    Amazon Video Direct: self-publishing for videos

    Amazon’s newly launched open video hosting service, Video Direct, will appeal to creators of ‘professional’ videos by offering them a new platform and monetisation options. Amazon’s attractiveness to video creators resides mainly in the prospect of earning a portion of subscription fees from millions of Prime members. While Video Direct might not become a huge business for creators, this move cements Amazon as a media platform and risks hurting YouTube.
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    June 1, 2016

    New VOD rules in the EU Digital Single Market

    The Commission proposes to require VOD services to implement a 20% share of EU works in catalogues, which Netflix already largely meets. More impactful is the EU’s proposal for OTT SVOD services to provide access to the home service when subscribers travel in the EU, benefitting the UK’s 14 million subscribers. TV broadcasters, which observe a 50% EU works threshold in their linear programming served on TV platforms and online players, will be able to opt-in to portability.
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    May 26, 2016

    Google Home takes on Amazon Echo

    Google Home will compete against ­­­­Amazon’s Echo in the contest to supply voice-activated home hubs to US homes.Google claims Home is better at voice-based search due to its superior capabilities; pricing is unknown, but is likely to be at par with Echo ($179).Prime, Fire devices and media services are competitive advantages for Amazon in the US that will make it hard for Google Home to succeed there.

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    May 18, 2016

    Novel disruption for consumer books

    Consumer book sales look unusually resilient in the context of the extreme changes in other print media sectors, newspapers and magazines, over the past decade. Ebook and ecommerce sales have offset the high street sales decline, although the declining number of retail outlets casts a long shadow over the future of discovery. New options for authors, particularly self-publishing ebooks, threaten the existing funnel of authors to publishers, but could also be a new source of talent.

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    May 3, 2016

    Content marketing online in Europe to 2020

    Paid placements for content marketing online in Europe will increase by 186% from 2014-2020, to over €2 billion. It is a particularly exciting area for premium publishers, who can leverage their content expertise to reverse the flight of ad money to lower-cost properties. Almost all are developing creative content offerings to capture this value. Metrics and measurement, disclosure and cost remain as challenges for content marketing online, but growth is strong due to high commitment to spend from advertisers.
  • May 3, 2016

    Internet trends: Mobile engagement from babies to boomers

    While internet and device penetration among younger age groups are approaching saturation, the over 55s have seen an explosion in smartphone adoption, up 83% year-on-year, expanding opportunities for monetisation. More than 50% of ecommerce transactions are now through mobile. Smartphones widen the scope for anytime anywhere mcommerce events and larger-screened phones and tablets facilitate high value transactions. Internet advertising continues to grow quickly, display faster than search and classifieds. Online advertising spend in H2 2015 grew 14% year-on-year to just over £2 billion and the rise of mobile ad spend is dramatic.
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    April 20, 2016

    Inside Facebook’s ad machine

    Facebook is extending its lead over rival Google in the fast-growing market for mobile display advertising, helping publishers solve the dilemma of mobile content discovery. Facebook’s success with advertisers is enabled by a mobile-centred data platform with unparalleled capabilities to profile users and identify them across devices and online properties. Strategic investments in online video, messaging, and virtual reality all bode well for the future of Facebook’s ad business, although regulatory uncertainty on privacy looms on the horizon.
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    April 7, 2016

    OTT Home Entertainment in the UK

    Netflix gained 1.8 million accounts in the course of 2015 (+37%) to 5.2 million, surpassing the 1.3 million VOD-enabled homes added by fixed line telcos Sky (including NowTV), Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk. SVOD homes overlap with pay-TV accounts, and are topping up content for family members, not cord-cutting. Amazon Prime Instant Video, bundled into Prime, looks set to balloon from 1.6 million users in Q4 2015 on the back of the marketing of Jeremy Clarkson's motoring show, cementing its position in home entertainment by serving a family-friendly eco-system of devices and media, leveraging its mammoth 25% share of UK e-commerce. Free-to-the-user YouTube remains the heavyweight with 35 million monthly unique users in the UK, although skewing strongly to Millennials, while those 55+ will take longer to move beyond catch-up TV to embrace a wider range of VOD options.

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    April 7, 2016

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2015: Diversified gr [...]

    The UK residential communications market maintained strong growth of 6% in Q4, helped by overlapping price increases at BT and TalkTalk, albeit mitigated by weaker volume growth as a result of the TalkTalk cyber-attack.

    This strong growth level benefits from multiple factors, including continually growing broadband adoption, broadband ARPU being boosted by the shift to superfast, price increases across line rental, calls and premium pay TV, and additional pay TV adoption at the lower end.

    We expect a modest dip in market revenue growth moving into 2016 as various one-off boosts drop out, but the underlying drivers of growth are sufficiently diversified to give us confidence that further downside is limited.

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    March 16, 2016

    Blocking in the free world: the threat of online ad blocking

    Currently at a manageable level, ad blocking has the potential to fatally undermine the business models of media owners that depend on advertising, as well as restricting advertisers’ ability to reach audiences online. To head off this threat, publishers, agencies and advertisers need to understand the diverse things that users do not like about digital advertising, fix them, and communicate this change of behaviour to audiences. The move from desktop to mobile, from banner to native and from web to apps provides advertisers and publishers with the opportunity to provide an acceptable advertising experience, ensuring that blocking of these new formats and properties never reaches the threatening levels currently on desktop.

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    March 1, 2016

    Native advertising in Europe to 2020

    Native advertising is growing sharply as a result of the shift in digital audiences and consumption to mobile devices, where limited screen size and usage modes favour formats that mirror the form or function of the platform and media. Publishers and advertisers are moving rapidly to exploit the opportunity. Publishers see unique native formats as a way to distinguish their ad offering in a highly commoditised internet advertising space, while advertisers and their agencies hope to get more bang for their buck. Between 2015 and 2020, we expect native advertising spend across Western Europe to grow by 156% to €13 billion, representing 52% of internet display and three quarters of net growth in internet display.
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    February 5, 2016

    BT Q3 2015/16 results: Fibre-driven accelerating revenue

    BT Group’s revenue growth accelerated to 4.7% in Q3; while this was helped by some beneficial one-offs, including the TalkTalk cyber-attack, the underlying trends also looked strong across all divisions. Fibre adoption had a record quarter, with growth particularly apparent at BT’s DSL competitors, helping to drive Openreach’s external revenue growth to 7%. BT completed the purchase of EE at the end of January, and BT will keep EE separate for consumer but fully integrate for business. We are sceptical of consumer-side revenue synergies, but the business side and cost synergies will significantly benefit going forward.
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    December 18, 2015

    Pandora’s 2016 music royalties to rise 12%

    The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) delivered its Web IV ruling on statutory SoundExchange licensing rates for webcasters for 2016-20, raising Pandora’s total music royalty costs by a forecast 12% in 2016. Had the CRB sided with SoundExchange, rates for Pandora’s non-subscription tier would have shot up 79%, leaving the company floundering in a sea of red ink. Nevertheless, these increased licensing costs for Pandora over 2016-20 will postpone the moment when the company attains net profitability.

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    December 17, 2015

    Property marketing outlook: Rightmove tightens its grip

    This is the second of our three reports in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on property, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook [2015-115]. Zoopla Property Group (ZPG) has been hit by new entrant OnTheMarket, and has diversified its publishing and revenue models. But OnTheMarket is a red herring in the marketplace, delivering the same charging model more expensively for estate agents than leading portals Rightmove and ZPG. Property marketing expenditure has been resilient this year, and we expect it to be roughly flat (a little down in real terms) over the next two to three years, largely a result of the print-to-digital transition depressing spend, but also because estate agents are feeling squeezed. Local newspaper print decline will roughly offset increases at the property portals and elsewhere, though print spend at the top of the market – brands such as Country Life, the FT and the Telegraph – remains robust, despite deep declining volumes of £1.5m homes.
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    December 16, 2015

    Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment category outlook

    The recruitment market is buoyant (up 10%), so portals, specialists and intermediaries are generally doing well, while local newspapers have lost some market share. Linkedin (professional social media, which has diversified into skills and training) and Indeed (freemium jobs aggregator, which provides performance charging and will introduce new services in 2016) are the key influences in the marketplace, and both are growing very strongly. The value chain in recruitment is being slowly restructured. Recruiter demand for highly skilled, specialist candidates does not have the labour supply to support it, sustaining marketing expenditure, though print spend continues to decline.