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Five key media tech trends from August

August was an interesting month in media tech. With reports of fading fortunes in the agency and tech sectors, media owners seemed to fare more positively, with a raft of new revenue models being written about. Here, we look at five of the key media tech trends to emerge from the month.

Ad industry woes

Reports continued throughout August on the fading fortunes of the agency sector. WPP, one of the four largest advertising agencies in the world, slashed its growth forecasts for the second time in a year, as shares in the company fell by 11 per cent. It’s indicative of a sector that has been struggling to get to grips with the increasing might of Facebook and Google, who can of course offer comprehensive services to brands directly at scale. 

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, also cited wider macro level variables for the global slowdown in advertising spend: “In the last year or so, growth has become even more difficult to find, perhaps due to increasing social, political and economic volatility,” he said. “For example with the rise of populism typified by surprise election results in the United Kingdom and the United States and bumpy growth in... Brazil, Russia and China.” 

If you’re interested in following the fortunes of the global advertising agency sector more specifically, then CMO Today, produced by the Wall street Journal and contributed to by the excellent Lara O’Reilly, is a leading source

 

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Media owner wins

Closer to home, we saw a range of stories charting the emergence of new media owner models. Right at the start of the month, British Vogue’s new editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, announced the launch of an exciting new partnership with Snapchat, which will see the publication publish three exclusive Snapchat Discover editions per week. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed announced that it would now be offering banner advertising on its pages, using third party programmatic providers to help it take advantage of its impressive scale.

With a 2018 IPO looming, the company will undoubtedly benefit from such an injection of revenue: "Our aims are both tactical and strategic," BuzzFeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti told Business Insider. "Tactically, programmatic has improved in terms of loading times, mobile experience, and ad quality and opens up another way for us to monetise our huge audience. The move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we've built business teams to implement native monetisation." 

Additionally, FIPP spoke to Edson Ferrão, head of digital for Brazil’s Grupo Abril, who talked us through the strategy that had led the company to achieve a 46 per cent upturn in overall programmatic revenue by decluttering its ad-space and decreasing inventory by 35 per cent. It’s another great example of how the industry appears to be refocussing on quality over quantity – a service that traditional publishers are ideally placed to deliver online.

 
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Google publisher subscription tools

Of course no monthly media tech round-up would be complete without mentioning Facebook and Google, and we begin here with the latter as it’s the more positive of the two stories. It seems that Google is readying further tools to help boost news publisher subscriptions. We’ve reported many times here on the FIPP website about the benefits of better leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages programme (AMP) and this looks to be an extension of that. The new capabilities will leverage Google’s impressive ad-targeting technology as well as its mobile payment services. 

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on the move: “It’s all part of Google’s broader effort to keep consumers and content-makers returning to the web, the lifeblood of its ads business.” This is an interesting angle to take because it highlights the necessity of good content in generating ad-revenues, and it also brings us nicely onto…

 

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Facebook

A new report from eMarketer encouraged much industry chatter in August, as it predicted usage amongst the social network’s 12-17yr old and 18-24yr old age groups in the US to fall, as younger audiences further migrate towards Instagram and Snapchat. This is slightly less harrowing for Mark Zuckerberg than it may initially seem, given that the Facebook founder also now owns Instagram as well. But it does highlight another interesting trend within the mainstream media tech sector. With Messenger and WhatsApp taking care of chat, and Instagram and Snapchat cornering the photo-sharing market, Facebook’s original role in combining these two elements within the environment of a fully public forum appears to be splitting in two. 

This is interesting not only anthropologically at macro level, but also when we look specifically at the industry trend. We know that Facebook, like Google, is exploring ways to leverage publisher subscription models through its platform. It just might be that with user generated content polarising between images and instant messaging, and retreating back from public towards private forums, the model of publishing ads in and around user timelines that it has so far thrived on may need to be updated. Ultimately, this means more engaging content and especially in light of the new subscription models being rolled out by Facebook and Google, it will be interesting to see how their own fortunes intertwine with those of publishers going forward.   

 

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US Box Office in decline

And finally, an interesting story to come out of the wider media industry last month: new research from comScore showed that the US Box office has suffered its slowest summer in 10 years. The Hollywood Reporter called it a historic decline, as one weekend grossed the lowest return in ticket sales for 16 years. While all sorts of variables, as Martin Sorrell tells us above, are currently at play, the underpinning trend is undoubtedly one of technological change. In the same weekend the Mayweather-McGregor boxing match, itself beamed out to movie theatres as well as homes, reportedly smashed through the $400m mark in paid viewings. Additionally Netflix continues to make further in-roads into traditional television eyeballs. It’s all indicative of a wider audience trend away from traditional media consumption models and towards more versatile, and digital, forms of viewing – another one to watch! 

 

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