Axios Media Trends

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August 29, 2017

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1. Global media slump

Over the next five years, the annual global growth rate for the media and entertainment industry will be 4.2%, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates — slower that the predicted growth rate of global GDP. Revenue streams that have historically driven growth within the industry (like print advertising, music downloads and cinemas) are losing market share in the global economy as cheaper, more efficient digital mediums replace them, like digital advertising, music streaming and digital home video.

Why it matters: We're already starting to see the fundamental changes to advertising and movies play out in real time, with traditional media markets around the globe taking a hit:

  • Agencies report major losses: WPP — the world's biggest advertising agency and holding group — saw shares fall over 10% after it reported that ad spend for the remainder of the year is expected to drop due to political volatility in the U.K. and U.S. and economic volatility in key markets, like Russia, Brazil and China. Havas Group, another major ad agency, missed on Q2 earnings, blaming lowered ad spend from clients suffering from economic issues in emerging markets, like Brazil, Mexico, India and China. They also noted spending cuts in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) category — a big, industry-wide trend.
  • Traditional media continues to fall: Nine Entertainment Co., a major Australian TV network, posted a $160 million loss for the last fiscal year due mostly to a weak advertising market. On the movie front, box office revenue was down 70% this month compared to this time last year, as moviegoing in the U.S. continues to plateau.

Sound smart: The media and entertainment industry's biggest growth drivers — online video, video games, internet access and digital advertising — are growing rapidly, but not at a rate that's enough to support the major declines of traditional media, almost all of which were down year over year last quarter.

2. Pharma ad market skyrockets

Pharmaceutical advertising is skyrocketing: According to Standard Media Index, pharmaceutical advertising is booming, while other category leaders continue to decline. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Prescription ads generally target older audiences, which continue to be one of the top demographics for news. As news programming grows, the Pharma industry is taking advantage of that reach.
  • As baby boomers age, the audience for prescription drugs increases, which means the industry has more people to reach.
  • Pharma ads often cost more because of their length. (They have regulatory requirements to disclose side effects, dosages, etc., so they often need to take out 60-second ads as opposed to 30-second ads.)

Meanwhile, CPG spend cuts drive industry-wide declines: Agency reports of advertising losses in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail spaces is affecting the entire media, entertainment and advertising market, which used to rely on consumer package goods as one of itsa largest growth drivers.

  • WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell cited CPG losses as a part of its Q2 earnings misses. Sorrell says CPG makes up roughly a third of its revenue. Havas reported similar losses in the CPG category last quarter.
  • Some of the biggest consumer goods companies, like Procter and Gamble and Unilever, have been pulling back ad spend, particularly on digital, as a result of the overall economic volatility within the retail and packaged goods industries.

3. What happens to billboards, radio when cars drive themselves

Billboards have long been fixtures on the sides of highways and the radio dial has been a permanent staple of the automobile dashboard to cater to the most captive audience in cars — the driver. But those advertising avenues are going to shift as new forms of media compete for the attention of drivers and passengers who will no longer need to keep their eyes on the road.

The future of in-vehicle media: Media companies are already looking for ways to take over devices, surfaces and airtime in self-driving cars as human behavior on the road changes. "How cars are presently advertised to will have to change dramatically," said Dan Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers. "No longer will these ads be able to focus primarily on the drivers' perspective."

Kim Hart and I have more from the radio and billboard industries in the Axios stream.

4. The summer of making amends

Media companies that have been struggling to navigate Google and Facebook's dominance are finding that the duopoly has started to address their biggest demands this summer.

  1. Subscriptions and data: Both companies are working on features to support subscription efforts by publishers and Facebook says it will give publishers access to subscription payment and user data on its platform. Google is reportedly rethinking its "first-click free" policy, which has historically hindered subscription revenues.
  2. Ad Revenue: Facebook has made some adjustments to ad placement within Instant Articles to help publishers monetize their ads.
  3. Better brand visibility: Facebook added publisher logos to Trending and Search for increased brand visibility. Both companies have introduced efforts to algorithmically reward good publishers over spammy ones.

Why they're making nice: Mostly industry pressure, but the big tech platforms need publisher content to run ads against too. As we noted last week, there have been reports of slowed user-generated content on Facebook last year.

Why it matters: Despite these gains, both companies continued to report significant Q2 advertising growth, while the news-media industry continues to struggle. Jason Kint, who represents premium publishers through a trade association called Digital Content Next, tells Axios publishers have been pleased with the announcements, "but make no mistake, there is zero progress until they actually move the needle. The duopoly has THAT much control."

5. Gut Check: "The duopoly has THAT much control."

6. Google and Facebook's biggest weapon: apps

Smartphone apps account for half of all time spent with digital media, according to comScore's Mobile apps report, and two companies own the overwhelming majority of the most-trafficked apps: Google and Facebook. (Snapchat, with 50% penetration among app users, is the top-ranked app not owned by Facebook or Google.) Overall, when it comes to time spent on mobile, 87% of mobile time spent is on apps vs. only 13% on mobile web, even though mobile web often receives higher traffic.

  • Why it matters: Smartphone users spend 96% of their app time within their Top 10 most used apps and Smartphone users spend half their time on their #1 most used app, according to comScore. Google and Facebook own the overwhelming majority of traffic to these apps and are the #1 app for every age group.
  • Younger users love apps: Users ages 18-24 spend a whopping 66% of their total media time in mobile apps, or 3.2 hours per day on mobile apps. Younger users are more likely to place YouTube as the top app, instead of Facebook, and are much more likely to rank Snapchat as a top app.
  • Facebook's app dominance: When it comes to desktop and video traffic, Google is king. But on mobile, Facebook is the clear winner. Facebook maintains its position as the #1 app in monthly users, with 81% penetration among mobile app users. Nearly half (46%) of smartphone users have Facebook on their home screen.

Top apps by category and population penetration in the U.S.:

  • Social: Facebook, 93%
  • News: Apple News, 77%
  • Retail: Amazon, 75%
  • Gaming: Words with Friends, 67%
  • Travel: Uber, 27%
  • Sports: ESPN, 23%
  • Dating: Tinder, 11%

Follow the money: in-app advertising has become the one of the fastest-growing mobile ad mediums, with revenue set to surpass $53 billion by 2020. App Annie estimates that by 2020, gross revenue across all app stores will exceed $101 billion globally.

7. Logos matters: Millennials delete ugly apps

Millennials are 10 times as likely to delete an app off of their phone due to its appearance, according to comScore's latest Mobile App report. They're also more likely to position apps on their phones based on 'thumb reach,' as nearly 3/4 of millennials consider this when positioning apps on the home screen. Meanwhile, 55+ year-olds are 5 times as likely as millennials to only operate their smartphone with two hands.

8. The next big media IPOs to watch

Spotify, Vice and Roku have hinted at potential IPOs this year, and all three have made significant steps in reaching those goals over the past few weeks:

  • Spotify: The music streaming giant renewed its a licensing deal with Warner Music Group last week, clearing the way for a potential IPO. It had previously renegotiated deals with Sony and Unversal Music group this spring. It will likely do a direct listing IPO this fall. Axios' Kim Hart explains the direct listing here.
  • Roku: The streaming hardware company has increased its U.S. market share to 37% in Q1 2017 from 30% a year ago, per Business Insider. "Roku still commands market leadership over Amazon, Google, Apple, and others when it comes to media player ownership in the US." Sources tell WSJ Roku plans to launch an IPO before the end of the year.
  • Vice: Vice's investment in hard news documentaries has been paying off. Its on-the-ground coverage of the chaos in Charlottesville claimed national attention and was considered a breakout moment for the media company, which landed $450 million in funding ahead of potential IPO, bringing its valuation to $5.7 billion.


BuzzFeed is ditching its anti-banner-ad stance to better cash in on its huge audience, Business Insider reports. "This is a marked departure for the media company, which had firmly rejected traditional banner ads since its inception," BI's Tanya Dua writes. "BuzzFeed instead has pioneered the native-advertising format, driving millions of readers toward its signature posts, quizzes, and videos that are produced as paid advertising. It has long run banner ads that connect to these in-house native ads."

CBS buying Australia's Ten Networks, Variety reports. "Network Ten's creditors had included Lachlan Murdoch, executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox and News Corp., and Australian media magnate Bruce Gordon," Variety's Todd Spangler writes. "The two executives had been said to have considered making a bid of their own."

10. 1 important thing: Snap Maps aid Harvey rescue efforts

If you don't use Snap Maps, it's a feature within Snapchat that lets you zoom out to see a map of the globe while highlighting major events happening all over the world in real time with crowdsourced videos. It also shows you where your friends are in the world in real time (if they choose to share their location on the map — It updates when your friends open the app.)

  • Nearly 300,000 crowdsourced Snaps from people on the ground in Houston have been submitted to Snapchat's "Harvey" story over the past three days, more than four times the amount of submissions Snapchat received during last year's storm in Louisiana.
  • Yesterday, Snap added a new element to the ongoing Harvey "Our Story" that allows users to swipe up on Harvey Snaps to donate to the Red Cross. It's the first use of this in a news-focused "Our Story."

Why it matters: Snapchat has been collecting crowdsourced footage to create "stories" for events for years, but its functionality has become more sophisticated with addition of Snap Maps this spring, which lets those in breaking news or emergency situations identify help and resources by location in real time. Through Snap Maps, users knew when the power went out in their friends' neighborhoods or if someone needed rescuing before news outlets could report them.

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