By anyone’s standards 2016 has been a peculiar year. But, at Facebook HQ, the last 12 months has been largely business as usual. Of course, business as usual for the social networking giant can have a huge and lasting impact on countless other media businesses and (as we’ll see later) on billions of people across the globe.
Earlier this year, the overall value of the UK games market ‘soared’ past £4.1bn for the first time – so we are overdue a look at how publishers and developers achieve growth in the face of a prosperous secondary games market.
For the uninitiated, the secondary market covers the resale of second-hand games and trade-in (often for store credit). Retailers including Amazon, GAME, and HMV re-sell and, historically, this has been considered to the detriment of developers and publishers.
With Snapchat valued at as much as $35bn ahead of its forthcoming IPO, now seems like as good a time as any to look into the chat app’s explosion, and what it means for media businesses.
Over the last few months, I’ve spoken to dozens of senior digital executives, not just those in commercial and editorial roles, but also those in disciplines like social media strategy and audience development. Two things have become apparent from those conversations: firstly, chat apps are becoming an increasingly important part of online publishing strategies; secondly, no one really knows what to do with them, or how it’s going to play out.
Last Thursday’s annual BSME awards ceremony was a chance for magazine editors to get together and celebrate their successes – as well as commiserate with others who have not been so lucky.
At the moment, there is an increasing number of good news stories coming out of the magazine world. Yes, there are notable failures – or ‘corrections to the market’, as economists would put it – including the closure of InStyle, etc; but – whisper it – the industry is holding up.
In a previous post, we looked at the broad role the media played in Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory last week. Here, I want to look in a little bit more detail at one significant aspect – social media. Or, to put it more bluntly, we’re going to look at how Donald Trump bypassed the mainstream media and used Facebook and Twitter to help win the election.
Data from EzyInsights, an organisation that normally helps news publishers understand how stories play across social media, shows that in the run up to the election earlier this month Trump was often gaining three times more Facebook engagement – likes, reactions, shares, comments – as Clinton.
This is not a sentence that I will write very often: Michael Gove was right. The public are sick of experts.
Latest evidence, clearly, is Trump’s stunning electoral victory – despite every expert telling the US public that he was unfit for office. Earlier evidence of the public’s growing distaste for experts came in the form of the Brexit vote and, from a different direction, Jeremy Corbyn’s double-header victories, both against the grain of ‘right-thinking people’.
Whatever you think of these events, they are all indicative of the same sense of anger and distrust. Anger with the political classes and distrust of the ‘mainstream media’, which is seen to carry their voices and echo the consensus.
So, people are bypassing mainstream media altogether.
Have you ever played Job Simulator? It’s a virtual reality game set in 2050. In the game, jobs are automated and players take part in comical approximations of what real-world jobs must have been like to do when humans, rather than robots, had to perform them.
Let me tell you: it’s great fun! It might also be a window into a not-too-distant future of recruitment where VR could be used to prepare candidates for real-life job interviews and perhaps even the jobs themselves.
Across the TMT sector, convergence is back in a big way. The early 2000s were packed with mega-mergers like AOL and Time Warner, and the cross-market consolidation that saw the emergence of integrated offerings like Virgin Media.
Things quietened down after the financial crisis, but the last couple of years have seen a raft of big telecoms providers making moves back into the media.
From BT’s acquisition of Champions League and Premiership rights, to Verizon’s recent acquisitions of both AOL and Yahoo!, and now AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner, telecoms companies can’t get enough content right now.
The Press Association heralded a new phase of mechanised journalism in the UK with this week’s announcement that it will use ‘robot’ reporters to add to coverage of sport, business and elections.
The national reporting agency will augment its existing reportage, in the next few months, by offering ‘an extra level when it comes to short market reports, election results and football reporting,’ its editor-in-chief, Pete Clifton, told the Society of Editors conference.
According to the Press Gazette, Clifton told delegates the new service would work in a similar way to that used by Denmark’s national reporting agency, which produces hundreds of additional market reports a month with ‘robot’ journalists piecing together these simple stories.
Robot reporters might seem like something plucked from the pages of satirical science fiction, but their use is already very real.
One high-profile critic of the decision was writer Irving Welsh (a Dylan fan). He said he considered it an ‘ill conceived nostalgia award’ for someone whose best work is long behind them. Really? Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter, the most recent British winners, both won many decades after their masterworks. Like Dylan, both had continued to plough their own idiosyncratic furrows, but their major works were behind them by the time they were recognised.
There was a time, not long ago, when owning a BlackBerry was the mark of a serious professional – someone who was always on, always reachable – well, not any more…
As other firms accelerated their development of business-friendly smartphones, BlackBerry stood still. So it will have come as little surprise to anyone who has followed its fortunes that the ailing technology company intends to no longer make handsets and instead focus on developing software.
As baby boomers move into retirement, a new generation of workers is bringing in fresh perspectives and expectations that will impact how businesses operate and, ultimately, how they perform. So, are you ready for Generation Collaborate?
Now, as the first wave of Millennials moves into management, they are being joined at work, in junior positions, by members of Generation Z – those born from the mid-1990s – and the combination of these two groups of digital natives is having a profound effect on workplace values.
The general tenor of the debate around the move of The Great British Bake Off from BBC to Channel 4 is that it is a travesty, equivalent to Love Productions selling the Crown Jewels. Bizarrely, even former Channel 4 CEO (and ex-BBC Chairman) Michael Grade has lambasted C4’s behaviour and warned that it was likely to hasten full privatisation.
As the prospect of C4’s privatisation has been on the cards for at least ten years, this seems a red herring. Surely, if it is going to be sold off, it needs to be commercially strong, and so the question should be: does buying Bake Off make commercial sense?
Talk to media executives about the major challenge brought about by the digital economy and some will talk about securing lines of revenue with new tech products while others will fret over replacing print revenues with online display.
How many, do you think, will worry about how their firm adapts internal practises to suit the next generation of employees and, in turn, to help it secure the best talent?
Well, if the findings of recent reports by EY, Deloitte, and PWC are accurate, then perhaps more should.
HFootball continues to blaze a trail in the world of unbelievable employment practices.
It’s a world where those seen as failures by many fans continue to get plum jobs, where a manager who has never won any significant silverware can become England boss, and where players are bought and sold with valuations that absolutely defy logic.
Here’s an example: today, Manchester United announced that Paul Pogba would be joining them. They are spending £89m on a player who left them for £800,000 only four years ago. In any other industry, this would be insane; but Man U are not alone. My club, Chelsea, seems keen to pay £60m for Lukaku, a player they sold for £28m only two years ago. And they have history here: in 1997 they bought Graeme LeSaux for £5m, having sold him for £700,000 a few years earlier. In 2015, Chelsea paid £23m for Matic, a player they had swapped four years earlier for a valuation of £3m.
The whole thing is indicative of a Premiership micro-economy which has no relationship with the wider travails of the last eight years. Average wages in the UK have increased from around £15,000 to £25,000 (a 67% increase) since 2000, with inflation pretty much in line. The average salary of first team players in the Premier League has gone from £410,000 in 2,000 to around £2m per year (with bonuses) in 2014/15– an increase of over 400%.
To put that in perspective, Microsoft offered $45bn for the business in 2008, but was turned down by the Yahoo’s then management on the basis that the business was worth much more. Way to go, as they say in Silicon Valley.
It’s only two weeks since the EU referendum and media businesses and their employees are still trying to get their heads around what Brexit might mean for the economy, and for the media industry in particular. The economic and political ramifications of the vote are likely to affect us all from years to come, and it’s too early to accurately say what might happen, but in our conversations with business leaders across the media sector a broad picture is starting to build up.
A colleague was recently sharing a cab with a senior sales director working for a traditional broadcaster and was amazed he had no idea of what affiliate marketing was.
It’s perhaps not as uncommon as my colleague might have thought, and many of our readers might be in a similar position. So, to spread a little light, here’s a simple explanation (those of you in the Affiliate Marketing world, turn away now!):
As the fallout over Brexit rumbles on, with infighting on all sides of the debate, it’s perhaps worth considering the part the media played in the run up to the polls.
The three main media influences – broadcast, newspapers (and their digital equivalents), and social media – all played very different but significant roles in the debate. For one reason or another, and whether through omission or policy, it is my view that all three ended up broadly supporting the intentions of the Leave campaign.
Little over a fortnight after Microsoft paid $26bn for the social network, LinkedIn has introduced a mechanism for advertisers to buy programmatic ads that will display across the site.
In an effort to draw fresh revenue from LinkedIn’s 433m users, the new system will display banners across the LinkedIn desktop and supplement the subscription fees paid by premium users and sponsored content as the main sources of earnings.
For the uninitiated, programmatic ads are administered by a system that relies on complex algorithms to trigger ad deployment to a set of specific criteria. The process is versatile and quick. It allows advertisers to save resources by automating media buying at pre-determined rates, and book and optimise campaigns via a web interface. Optimisation ensures ads are only shown to desired audiences and on relevant pages – and with LinkedIn’s wealth of business professional indexed by industry, job type, gender, nationality, interests, skills and much more, brands will be able to really drill down to find the most valuable audiences for their ads.
The proposed acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft raises an interesting question: how much would you pay for your audience?
As I noted in an earlier blog, predictions have a habit of making you look foolish: but the $26bn valuation for a business with $3bn revenue and no discernible profit looks optimistic, at best. Given Microsoft’s earlier forays into unchartered waters (Nokia, Yammer) it would be best to view the move beyond its core competencies with caution.
LinkedIn is not dying: but a decreasing habit among its users suggests that it is not reaching the parts that other social media cannot reach.
Many people outside the commodities markets may not be aware of Argus Media. It is a 46 year-old business which provides data and content – principally – to the oil and gas markets. It grew fairly steadily until 2000, and then its growth increased exponentially. It now has turnover of over £100m, and operations around the world.
It seems barely possible, but it’s less than a decade since Amazon boss Jeff Bezos ordered his lieutenants to build the world’s first mass-market e-reader. The original Kindle was introduced to the public in 2007 and with it came the fear that its development marked the beginning of the end for printed books.
In the nine years since its launch, Kindle has been through eight generations, an LCD version has launched, along with various adaptors and applications that allow Amazon’s content to run on the slew of other platforms and technologies than have also come to market in this time.
Yet despite the digital explosion that has taken place, despite the consumer’s readiness to ditch old technology for new (honestly, when was the last time you read a printed newspaper?), and despite 2007’s fear for the future of the book, the situation we currently find ourselves in isn’t the one book-lovers feared.
The long-term viability of digital publications that rely on scaling audience has been called into question in the last few months. Digital advertising has continued to grow, but increasingly the idea of a business model focused on generating a massive readership or viewership is becoming outmoded by the fluctuating demands of advertisers.
There’s also a prevailing feeling in the media industry that there’s too much content chasing too little advertising cash. This doesn’t necessarily mean that cutting back on both content and audience size will be beneficial, just that a new way looking at the quality of content and its ‘appropriateness’ to the audience is taking hold.
With this new approach come a requirement for new skills, and increasingly digital media businesses are looking to hire heads of Audience Development to their senior management teams.
Each week I receive roughly 150 marketing emails. The majority get deleted without any consideration of the content, but last week two emails caught my eye and caused me to investigate further. Why? Believe it or not, they stood out from the rest because they used emojis in the subject line.
For the uninitiated, emojis are little graphics that are commonly used in text messages but are increasingly moving into other forms of communication. The two that caught my attention were an image of a car to start the subject line of an email about car finance and, similarly, a party image in a service upgrade message from one of my tech providers.
Well, so far, you might think, so boring; but there is a point to all this: according to a recent survey Brits are 63% more likely to open an email with an emoji accompanying the subject line.
In a candidate-driven jobs market smart employers need to go the extra mile to secure the services of high-quality people. Often, the best person to fill a vacancy isn’t even looking to change roles, so what can a prospective new employer do to garner their interest?
A new challenge and more money are usually the entry-level requirements, but when a prospect is already sufficiently well-off and is meeting challenges on a daily basis, what other incentives are likely to draw their attention?
Martin posted a blog last week about why salaries may not be the only consideration, and a couple of recent polls have attempted to find out how attractive other benefits may be to current and potential employees. Not surprisingly, on the surface, the two surveys have radically different findings.