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Running the economy on optimism alone

26 Jul 2019  |  David Pidgeon 
Running the economy on optimism alone

It's often hard to tell from our readers what the true split is between Leave, Remain and that jaded, weary-eyed mass in-between.

Certainly, we try to publish views from all three camps, but our guess is that, largely, the media and advertising sectors - huddled inside the M25 - are pro-European, and have as much leftist ideals as can be accommodated by being entrenched in a business-critical service sector.

To that end, the news this week that Brexiteers are finally leading the country might cause outbursts of jubilation as much as wretched and furious tweeting, but we suspect a lot more of the latter.

Yet, whatever your personal views, one thing is certain: the uncertainty of the UK's future and the impact leaving the EU might have continues to negatively impact the ad sector. The economy needs stability if clients are to fully commit to spending big ad money, and all this political change hampers that.

So what does adland want from this new (and furiously right wing) government?

In the short term, and with only a business hat on, they want anything to unlock the stasis.

As Paul Bainsfair, director general of IPA, told us: "our industry is urgently seeking clarity and confidence from its prime minister regarding the UK's economic path."

Marketing budgets are flatlining, and right at the moment when all this shiny new adtech the industry has been playing with – in all mediums - is really starting to deliver the goods.

Can Boris Johnson really do that by ushering the UK towards a no-deal Brexit?

"One thing [Boris Johnson] has in spades, and which the advertising industry thrives on, is his trademark optimism," says David Walsh, chief business officer, Mindshare UK.

"Should Britain get behind him, it could arguably create an atmosphere of resilience, drive consumer motivation, and turbocharge the economy."

Johnson has also long been a champion of creativity and press freedoms, so perhaps that might give some assurances to the media and advertising industries.

But whatever happens next, and whatever emotions it stirs within you, the silly season – as noted by Raymond Snoddy – is most certainly cancelled this year.


ITV faces challenges, but still has everything to play for

Despite seeing total ad revenues drop -5% in the first half of the year, ITV’s online revenues were up 18%, boosted by the continuing success of Love Island - which is now due to be milked like a factory farm cow and will get two seasons each year.

There are wise investments in addressable too, and fingers crossed that BritBox – which will launch later this year - will be able to muscle in on a tough SVOD market.

"The shoots of recovery are clearly visible and if all goes to plan, ITV is actually in a very strong position," says Tom Roberts, CEO, Tribal Worldwide London.

ITV has learnt the hard lessons of its failed ITV Digital service offer 20 years ago, Roberts says, and now has "relative mastery" of the digital ecosystem - which means it is offering advertisers targeted access to around 80% of 16-34 year olds.

"Audiences may have changed, but ITV is changing with them," he says.

Roberts' views about ITV were echoed by other advertiser bosses we spoke with. There’s certainly a strong sense of goodwill, trust and positive sentiment.

The industry is also pleased that ITV will be extending its amnesty on late booking fees to cope with a topsy-turvy market.

As Gregor Chalmers, AV director at The Specialist Works, told us, advertisers are increasingly looking for more flexibility in their media plans, so this is a "smart move" by ITV as it look to position itself as a partner rather than just a supplier – staying absolutely true to its mission statement announced at the end of last year.



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