By any measure, 2013 has failed to meet expectations. Following the once-in-a-lifetime highs of London 2012, this was tipped to be a rather uneventful 12 months.
Campaign’s comprehensive annual review issue comes out next week, so I want to highlight some less-discussed developments. Starting with TV, which continues to draw far too much attention and advertising for a supposedly dying medium – Group M now forecasts adspend up 6.8 per cent after a stellar second half.
A reinvigorated ITV has led the charge, attracting 370 new advertisers. Less recognised has been Channel 5, where Nick Bampton’s team has generated an additional £40 million through new partnerships to total around £350 million. Tie-ups with brands such as Shop Direct (Big Brother), Maximuscle (boxing) and Dixons (The Gadget Show) go beyond TV share deals to incorporate sponsorships, product placements, e-commerce and, in the case of Shop Direct, even a new magazine.
Meanwhile, the arrival of BT Sport and its battle with Sky has captured the headlines, but let’s not forget Virgin Media. Bought by Liberty Global this summer, the cable operator with broadband packages of up to 100Mb has quietly been getting its £23 billion entertainment house in order – expect to hear much more in 2014.
'The speed at which Facebook turned the tables shows what can be done when people face the same direction'
In press, innovation has included two national paywalls (Telegraph, Sun), global web extensions (Guardian and Mail in Australia), print redesigns (Mirror, Independent), better content solutions (across the board) and new subscription offers (Financial Times, Sun, Times). Last week’s news that Arnaud de Puyfontaine is leaving Hearst, six months after the resignation of Sylvia Auton at IPC Media, means two of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers approach 2014 without chief executives.
Consolidation continues in radio, with the sales team at Absolute no doubt particularly enjoying beating rivals at Bauer Media at the Campaign Media Awards last month. Next year they'll be part of the same P&L led by Bauer's chief executive Paul Keenan.
Meanwhile, Global’s purchase of GMG Radio continues to languish in no-man’s land after being blocked by the regulator. The uncertainty has rocked the morale of more than 250 staff at Smooth and Real Radio, and the best option now looks like Global selling the stations to a friendly third party and controlling by proxy.
Cinema has woken up to the digital revolution, with DCM attempting to reposition it as a modern and flexible medium for advertisers. DCM has brought 250 new brands to screens this year and with production costs for cinema ads now slashed by 80 per cent and lead times shortened by 90 per cent, it will be hoping to attract many more in 2014 (more DCM cinema info here).
In digital pure-plays, 2013 will be remembered for Twitter’s well-managed IPO – a year earlier than anticipated. But my contender for media moment of the year is Facebook’s mobile success. From a standing start 18 months ago, when many saw its lack of mobile offering representing the beginning of the end, Facebook now commands 25 per cent of all time spent on mobiles.
The launch of Facebook’s Home app on Android has helped attract 900 million monthly mobile users – and ads have followed, accounting for 49 per cent of the company’s $1.8 billion ad revenues in Q3. The speed at which Facebook turned the tables is testament to what can be done when the right people face the same direction. Humbling? Perhaps. Inspirational? Definitely.
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