YouTube shifts away from paywall
YouTube is rolling back its pay wall after its parent company Alphabet reported a sharp decline in ad revenue growth.
The platform’s forthcoming original series and specials will be available for free with ads as it looks to generate more television-like content.
“While every other media company is building a paywall, we are headed in the opposite direction and now have more opportunities than ever to partner with advertisers and share our critically-acclaimed originals with our global audience,” YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl says in a statement.
Original shows were previously primarily available to subscribers of YouTube Premium, the company’s paid streaming service that costs $11.99 per month.
Alongside ad revenue decline YouTube has faced pressure from advertisers to increase its supply of television-like content that is suitable for sponsorship.
More programmes are expected to be announced later this year, with an emphasis on broadening outside of the US. As YouTube seeks to broaden its audience for original programming, it plans to direct half of its development budget to programmes aimed at viewers outside the United States, according to Reuters.
Burger King launches ‘unhappy meals’
Burger King is launching burger meals focused on “real” moods to help raise awareness about mental health.
The ‘Real Meals’, consisting of a Whopper, drink and fries, include the Blue Meal, Salty Meal, Yaaas Meal and DGAF (Don’t Give a F—) Meal.
The initiative, which is a collaboration with Mental Health America (MHA), is timed to Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
Already the launch is being dubbed by fans and the media as ‘unhappy meals’ in a swipe at rival McDonald’s iconic ‘Happy Meals’.
Burger King launched an ad on YouTube showing a montage of people in various emotional states, using the line: “No one is happy all the time. And that’s OK.”
The ad swaps Burger King’s well-known chorus from the 1970s, “Have it your way,” with “Feel your way”.
“Burger King restaurants understands that no one is happy all the time. That’s why they’re asking guests to order a Whopper meal based on however they might be feeling,” according to a statement.
Former Thomas Cook CMO Jamie Queen joins Buzz Bingo
Thomas Cook’s former group marketing director Jamie Queen is joining Buzz Bingo in the newly created role of chief commercial officer.
Buzz Bingo underwent a £40 million rebrand last September and the new role will see Queen lead the brand’s marketing as well as its gaming, food and drink operations.
Chris Matthews, CEO of Buzz Bingo says: “Jamie impressed us with his passion for understanding what drives customer behaviour, his interest in disruptive innovation and his ability to harness the latest technology. He has an excellent track-record in managing businesses across digital and retail platforms.
Danone launches kids’ allergy-friendly snack brand Marty’s
Danone is launching the UK’s first allergy-friendly snack brand for kids.
Designed for ages three and up, Marty’s is “dedicated to helping allergy-impacted children eat, play and socialise in a fun, inclusive and safe way”.
The chickpea crisps are egg, peanut and gluten free and will be available in three flavours. ready salted, cheese and onion and barbecue.
It was created in the brand’s innovation hub, Manifesto Innovation Accelerator, with the brand carrying out extensive research with affected children to ensure they tapped into what those with allergies were missing out.
The soft launch will include a digital push with the brand keen to “build a community first”.
The brand’s face, Marty the green martian, was also created with the help of children to represent “a parallel universe where they could eat anything and never worry”.
The crisps will be available in Ocado from June with other products expected in the coming months.
Beyond Meat’s stock doubles on debut
Stocks soared for Beyond Meat as it became the first all-vegan food producer to float on the stock market.
Beyond Meat jumped by more than 150% on debut from $1.5bn to $3.8bn minutes after trading began.
The Californian business is one of a number of startups that makes fake meat food from plant proteins and is stocked in the UK In Tesco.
Veganism is a growing trend for consumers with meat focused companies tapping into the trend. Earlier this year Burger King announced it would be partnering with a Beyond Meat rival to roll out its vegan Impossible Whopper.
Thursday, 2 May
Guardian returns a profit for first time in 20 years
The Guardian has recorded an operating profit for the full year, the first time the media company has been in the black since 1998.
Albeit small, the Guardian posted a profit of £800,000 in the year to April, a significant turnaround from a loss of £23m the previous year, and compared with a £57m loss three years ago.
Revenues increased 3% to £223m and the firm’s costs before exceptional items were £222m, compared to £235m the year before.
The Guardian reports that during the last year it had 655,000 regular monthly supporters across both print and digital, with another 300,000 making one-off contributions in the last 12 months.
Total monthly page views increased during the last three years from 790 million in January 2016 to 1.35 billion in March 2019.
However, operating profit does not include cash payments between £25m and £30m for capital costs or other business expenditures, meaning if these costs were considered the Guardian would still be a loss-making business, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, in a statement published in an article by the Guardian, the company’s news and media editor-in-chief Katharine Viner says: “In times of extraordinary political and economic upheaval the need for quality, independent reporting and commentary has never been greater. Guardian journalism is flourishing – holding the powerful to account and exploring new ideas.”
“Thanks to the support of our readers and the incredible hard work and talent of Guardian staff, we have reached an important financial milestone. We are now in a sustainable position, and better able to deliver on our purpose by producing outstanding journalism that understands and illuminates our times,” she adds.
Sport sponsorship to reach £35bn globally this year
Global sport sponsorship is predicted to climb by 4% to reach £35bn this year, according to research from Two Circles, cited by the BBC.
However, the research claims rights holders are “under-exploiting” sponsorship deals and that there could be an additional £14bn in revenue going unnoticed because of outdated rights packaging.
Financial services is the leading sector for sport sponsorship at 19%, followed by automotive (14%), airlines (13%), gambling (12%), alcohol (9%) and soft drinks (7%).
Two Circles boss Gareth Balch says rights holders haven’t changed how they sell their packages in 20 years. He refers to using linear TV coverage and failing to capitalise on the power of digital marketing.
However, sponsorship should grow by an average of 6% year on year between 2020 and 2024 to reach £48bn.
“Rights-holders are adapting, and we predict a sports sponsorship correction,” he says.
“By embracing the power of digital and data to create sponsorship assets that better satisfy the objectives of brands, rights-holders will realise the true value of their sponsorship businesses.”
Dave to shine a light on mental health in new podcast series
Dave is launching a new podcast titled ‘Conversations Against Living Miserably’, where comedians will share their personal experiences with mental health.
The podcast is part of a long-term partnership between the TV entertainment channel and male suicide prevention charity CALM.
The series will be broken into weekly 30-minute podcasts airing every Wednesday and will be hosted by award-winning comedian Lauren Pattison and mental health author Aaron Gillies who is also a CALM ambassador and the voice of Dave on social media.
Each episode features comedians from Matt Richardson to Elis James, Darren Harriot and Cariad Lloyd who will talk candidly about how they fight against living miserably.
Pattison and Gillies released a joint statement saying: “Whatever situation our listeners are in, we want them to be safe in the knowledge that they’re not alone and things will get better. We’ve had a lot of fun recording each episode and we hope everyone can take something from the brilliant stories and journeys our guests have shared.”
Conversations Against Living Miserably is available on all podcast platforms including iTunes, Spotify and Acast.
Manchester City is drawing on the knowledge of children
Manchester City has launched a new creative workshop to get a better understanding of how young people with an interest in science and technology view the future of football.
The ‘City Startup Challenge Kids’ initiative encourages children aged between 7 and 11 to look at enhancing match day experiences, with a focus on five key themes including sustainability, personalisation and a global approach.
Manchester City says the participants will be asked to come up with innovative ideas for the themes given, before presenting their idea to a panel of City Football Group representatives.
“We are delighted to launch City Startup Challenge Kids and hold our first workshop in July,” Nuria Tarre, CMO at City Football Group, says.
“At City Football Group we pride ourselves on integrating technology with football, being innovative and always thinking about what we could be doing differently, so it’s exciting for us to be engaging with a new group of creative thinkers as part of the group’s wider aim to engage with the next generation of football fans.”
The best idea from each theme will be explored further and could be tested at a City Football Group club next season, while a range of other prizes will also be on offer to the stand-out groups, such as behind-the-scenes and match day experiences.
The event takes place at the City Football Academy on Saturday, 6 July.
Harrods opens charity pop-up in central London
Harrods has for the second time opened its charity pop-up ‘Fashion Re-told’ in partnership with the child abuse charity NSPCC.
The department store says it’s hoping to change consumers’ perceptions of pre-worn clothes, while championing sustainability.
“Harrods is synonymous with luxury retail, and our employees are the industry leaders in designing and delivering the most luxurious shopping experiences for our customers. With Fashion Re-Told, our ambition is to change the public’s perception of charitable shopping by offering a Harrods-level of service, product range and shopping experience,” Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, says.
“We want Fashion Re-Told customers to leave not only knowing that they have raised money for a hugely important cause, but also having bought a luxury item and experienced a truly unique shopping experience.”
The second-hand or “pre-loved” section includes items by designers like Chloé, Missoni, Calvin Klein and Balmain. Harrods has also introduced a homeware section featuring products from Tom Dixon and Gucci.
The pop-up is located in a retail space on Marylebone High Street which is donated by property owner Howard de Walden Estate and will run from today (2 May) to 2 June.
Last year the pop-up made £110,000 and hopes to drive even more sales in its second year.
All proceeds generated by Fashion Re-Told will go towards the NSPCC’s services, helping to support children in London and protect them from abuse and neglect.
Wednesday, 1 May
Facebook ramps up ecommerce focus amid app reboot
Facebook is poised to roll out secure payments across WhatsApp following a successful trial in India, amid a suite of changes to its apps focused firmly on ecommerce.
Starting next week, consumers browsing Instagram will be able to tap on what influencers are wearing and buy it on the spot, rather than leaving the app or asking from details in the comments or via direct messaging.
Instagram users will now be able to share a post without a photo or video using the new Create Mode, meaning they will be able to post using tools like interactive sticker or effects. The social site is also trialling a “private like counts” feature that hides the “likes” a post attracts from viewers, but not the account holder.
On Facebook Messenger the plan is to make it easier for businesses to connect with potential customers by adding lead generation templates to the ad manager function. This means businesses will be able to create an ad that drives people to a Q&A in Facebook Messenger to learn more about their customers.
Facebook has also developed an appointment service that allows users to book appointments with companies in a messenger conversation.
The social network is also rolling out its Facebook Dating product to 14 new countries and unveiling a feature called Secret Crush.
The new tool allows users to select up to nine of their Facebook friends they want to express an interest in. If one of these friends has opted into Facebook Dating they will receive a notification saying that someone has a crush on them and if they have added the user to their Secret Crush list it will be a match.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes the changes as a move to create a “more privacy-focused social platform”.
Sainsbury’s puts cost of failed Asda merger at £46m
Sainbury’s failed merger with Asda has cost the business £46m, according to its latest results.
Pre-tax profit took a 41.6% hit, dropping to £239m from £409m the previous year, as a result of a one-off cost of £396m, which includes the cost of preparing merger, which was ruled out by the competition regulator last week.
Sales at supermarket grew 2.1% to £32.4bn in the year to 9 March thanks to a 6.9% surge in online sales and 3.7% sales growth at its smaller format convenience stores. Some £4.7bn of Sainsbury’s sales now start online.
By comparison, supermarket sales rose by just 1%, although Sainsbury’s credited this to the integration of Argos stores in 281 supermarkets and the roll-out of Argos collection points to 207 convenience stores. Sainsbury’s claims the Argos integration has, to date, delivered £160m in synergies. This year the chain plans to invest in improving over 400 of its supermarkets.
Having yesterday unveiled the trial of its first checkout-free grocery store in London, Sainsbury’s is also pressing ahead with the roll-out of its SmartShop self-scan service, which is now in more than 100 supermarkets. Argos’ Pay@Browse function is now available in 162 stores, enabling customers to pay without queuing, and Sainsbury’s is also trialling its digital Nectar service in Wales ahead of a broader roll-out later this year.
Despite the merger with Asda being blocked last week, chief executive Mike Coupe continues to back the supermarket to deliver growth.
“I am confident in our strategy and also clear on what we need to do to continue to evolve the business in a highly competitive market where shopping habits continue to change,” he states.
iPhone revenue drops 17% as Apple shifts focus to services
Sales of Apple iPhone fell at their steepest rate yet, with revenue dropping by 17% to $31bn (£23.8bn) in the three months to the end of March.
The tech giant struck an optimistic tone, however, stating that sales were stronger towards the end of March, including in China where Apple opted to slash prices for the iPhone in a bid to boost demand.
While still a smaller element of the business, revenue from services rose to $11.4bn (£8.7bn) from $9.8bn (£7.5bn) during the same quarter in 2018. The company is attempting to move its business model away from its reliance on iPhone sales towards new services like streaming platform Apple TV+, announced in March.
Apple’s sales during the three-month period reached $58bn (£44.6bn), which despite beating analysts’ estimates are below sales of $61.1bn (£47bn) recorded in the second quarter of 2018. Despite the price cuts, sales in China were down 20%. Furthermore, profits for the second quarter fell to $11.5bn (£8.8bn) compared to $13.8bn (£10.6bn) in the same period last year.
App and delivery account for one in 10 sales at McDonald’s
Orders via McDonald’s app and delivery service accounted for almost one in 10 first quarter sales at the chain.
Speaking yesterday, Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said the fast food retailer was tapping into customer demand for choice, value and convenience, despite the challenging times on the high street.
The Telegraph reports that the new veggie wrap and Big Mac with bacon helped drive sales during a “very strong” quarter for McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland. The McCafe drinks range, which today launches a new iced latte, grew 8% year on year.
Pomroy also praised McDonald’s decision in September to begin replacing plastic straws with paper alternatives in the UK and Ireland, saying the move has “met customer expectations on sustainability”. He added that the chain was working with 17,500 British farmers to reduce the salt and sugar content of its products.
Global sales rose by 5.4% in the three months to 31 March, the fast food giant’s fifteenth consecutive quarter of growth. US sales rose by 4.5%, with McDonald’s pulling out the success of a bacon promotion, a two for $5 mix and match deal and the popularity of its Donut Sticks. First quarter international sales rose by 6%, driven by the UK and France.
However, revenue fell by 4% to £4.95bn (£3.81bn) due to franchising costs.
Heineken unveils first TV campaign for Old Mout Cider
Old Mout Cider and conservation organisation the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have joined forces for a new campaign aimed at protecting half a million acres of habitat around the world.
The first TV campaign from the Heineken-owned cider brand stars an adventurous kiwi who, once endangered himself, sets out on a journey to help protect other animals’ habitats. He meets the WWF panda on his travels and together they team up to save endangered animals across the world.
The campaign will be backed by an on-trade activation in over 1,500 pubs, where a 30p donation to WWF will be made for every bottle purchased.
The WWF tie-up is described as the “next chapter” in Old Mout’s sustainability agenda and marks the beginning of a summer-long integrated campaign communicating the brand’s purpose.
This year will see Old Mout’s largest media presence to date, as well as festival activations including the return of the Kiwi Camp at the Isle of Wight festival and the camp’s first appearance at the Boardmasters festival in Cornwall.
“Our ambition is to lead the way as the most sustainable cider – setting the standard to help protect our planet,” says Emma Sherwood-Smith, cider marketing director at Heineken.
“Our partnership with WWF acknowledges the work we’ve done so far for the kiwi in New Zealand and our success in making our cider and packaging the most sustainable it can be.”
Tuesday, 30 April
Sainsbury’s opens UK’s first checkout-less supermarket
Sainsbury’s is trialling an Amazon Go-style store where customers will be able to pay via a smartphone app without having to go through a checkout.
The local convenience store in Holborn in Central London, where more than 80% of in-store transactions were already cashless, is the UK’s first till-free supermarket.
It will still accept payments by cash and card but customers will have to go via the helpdesk.
However, it will not sell items which require age verification, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
“We know our customers value their time and many want to shop as quickly as possible,” says Sainsbury’s group chief digital officer, Clodagh Moriarty.
“Technology is key to that. This is an experiment rather than a new format for us. It hasn’t been done in the UK before and we’re really excited to understand how our customers respond to the app experience.”
The trial will run for an initial three months, with further roll-out dependent on shopper feedback.
Dettol launches sustainability campaign
Dettol is launching a sustainability campaign alongside two new eco-products as part of its pledge to make all of its products 100% recyclable and reusable by 2025.
The Trigger Project, which has been developed by McCann London, launches with two ads confronting significant ecological issues, such as plastic in the ocean and landfill waste.
The ads feature two new Dettol products: Surface Wipes made from biodegradable plant fibres and Dettol’s first-to-market Spray Refills, which use 70% less plastic.
Dettol is hoping to create a “trigger moment” towards more responsible cleaning.
“We believe we have a responsibility to help clean up the world and that starts at home,” says marketing manager Ciaran Lyne.
“The Dettol Trigger Project will incorporate a range of initiatives to help reduce impact on the environment. We have a lot of work to do but this is the start of an exciting journey.”
The campaign will run for three months across TV, cinema and out-of-home, as well as in-store and social activity and a Metro cover wrap telling the full story of The Trigger Project.
Spotify hits 100 million paying subscribers
Music streaming service Spotify has reached 100 million paying subscribers.
Driven by a better-than-expected performance in North America, its second-largest market, Spotify Premium subscribers were up 32% year on year in the first quarter, reaching the high end of its guidance range of 97-100 million.
Meanwhile, monthly active users grew 26% to 217 million, slightly lower than the midpoint of the company’s 215-220 million guidance.
Total revenue for Q1 grew 33% year on year to €1.5bn (£1.3bn), while premium revenue was up 34% to €1.4bn (£1.2bn) and ad-supported revenue grew 24% to €126m (£109m).
However, the company still reported an operating loss of €47m (£41m) for the quarter – a significant change from the €94m (£81m) profit it made in Q4 2018.
Soccer Aid to include female players for first time
Female ex-professional football players will play alongside male counterparts for the first time in this year’s Soccer Aid for Unicef charity football match.
Working in partnership with the Football Association, match organisers have agreed to allow two top tier female players to play on each team for the full 90 minutes alongside a mix of male ex-footballers and celebrities.
“This is a hugely positive step forward for football, and for girls across the world who don’t want to be told what they can or can’t do,” says Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities.
“It’s right that the FA supports equality, and we must keep moving forward to make sure female athletes have all the same opportunities as men.”
The game at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge on 16 June, which will be broadcast on ITV and STV, will be monitored by Brunel University researchers who are conducting an ongoing study for the FA into mixed adult participation in recreational football.
Ex-England internationals Rachel Yankey OBE and Katie Chapman will be the first female players to feature for the Soccer Aid for Unicef England team, co-managed by Sam Allardyce and Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid.
Late Easter and warm weather boost UK supermarket sales
Following a slow start to the year, consumer spending in the grocery sector increased by 5.9% for the four weeks to 20 April, the highest level since the late Easter in 2014 and the summer heatwave of 2013.
According to Nielsen data, the unseasonably warm weather, coupled with Mother’s Day and the late Easter bank holiday weekend, all contributed to the improvement in sales growth.
For the week ending Easter Saturday (20 April), overall sales peaked at +15%, as shoppers bought into attractive seasonal offers that complemented the warm weather, both in store and online.
Over the 12 week period, all grocers – aside from Sainsbury’s – experienced growth, with Aldi and Lidl maintaining their double digit growth and combined market share of 16%.
Retailers with smaller stores, such as the Co-operative (+3.5%) and Iceland (+4.5%), continued to outperform the average market growth, whilst food and drink sales increased by +1.6% at Marks & Spencer, its best performance since the summer of 2018.
However, shoppers are continuing to shift spend away from the ‘big four’ – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda – which have seen their combined market share fall to 64% over the last three months.
“The underlying trend here seems to be that economising rather than compromising is still the key consumer mindset,” says Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.
“Looking ahead, it will be important for retailers and brands to keep up sales momentum through increased promotional activity as we head into the summer of 2019 in order to match the levels of last year’s hot summer and the boost from the World.”
Monday, 29 April
Samaritans works with Facebook and Google to reduce online harm
Suicide prevention charity Samaritans is working with tech giants including Facebook, Google and Snapchat to help limit the impact of harmful online content as part of a new government-backed campaign.
The initiative comes as the government looks to crack down on social media companies showing harmful content such as terrorism, child abuse, self-harm and suicide, which is becoming a growing concern.
The government has said it will create an independent watchdog and legislate for a statutory duty of care from social media firms, but this could take months or even years, so ministers are keen to find ways to change the behaviour of tech giants in the meantime and make platforms safer for users.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is due to outline plans for the new scheme at a roundtable later today.
Apple expected to report further iPhone sales drop
Apple’s latest quarterly results are expected to show a continuation of the slump to iPhone sales first reported in January, despite its share price rising.
Wall Street is expecting iPhone revenues to be 17% lower than the same period last year, when it reports its latest quarterly figures on Tuesday. This is worse than the 14% drop recorded in the previous quarter.
This decline is expected to lead to a 5% fall in Apple’s overall revenue to $57.4bn – the same decrease as last quarter – very different to the 16% growth of its past fiscal year.
The rise to Apple’s shares reflects growing confidence on Wall Street that January’s iPhone slump and profit warning was a one-off blip rather than the beginning of a sustained decline. Shares in the tech giant have added about $300bn since the shock last quarter, meaning it got within 1% of the $1trn threshold it first crossed last summer.
Avengers: Endgame breaks box office records with $1.2bn debut
Disney has smashed box office records with Avengers: Endgame taking $1.2bn in global ticket sales during its opening run.
It beats last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which set the record at $640m, and becomes the fastest film to break the $1bn threshold, doing so in just five days.
Walt Disney studios chairman Alan Horn describes the film as a “monumental success”.
The movie is the 22nd in the Marvel Studios superhero franchise, which began in 2008 with Iron Man.
Horn adds: “Though Endgame is far from an end for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these first 22 films constitute a sprawling achievement, and this weekend’s monumental success is a testament to the world they’ve envisioned, the talent involved, and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world.”
Jaguar Land Rover to reward drivers who share data with cryptocurrency
Jaguar Land Rover is developing “smart wallet” technology that will allow it to reward drivers that share data with the IOTA cryptocurrency.
The auto manufacturer plans to install the software in its cars, which will automatically report useful data, including traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions such as pot holes, to navigation providers or local authorities in return for IOTA coins.
These coins can then be used to pay for tolls, parking or charging electric cars.
The technology is being tested at Jaguar Land Rover’s software engineering base in Shannon, Ireland. So far, vehicles including the Jaguar F-PACE and the Range Rover Velar have been fitted with smart wallet features.
Uber seeks $91.5bn valuation making it the second biggest in US tech history
Uber is seeking a valuation of up to $91.5bn, making it this year’s largest IPO and putting it on track to become Silicon Valley’s second-largest IPO ever behind Facebook.
However, the valuation is lower than previously hoped for. The ride-hailing app is pitching shares to investors at between $44 and $50, meaning the initial valuation could be $80.5bn at the lower end.
Uber had suggested to some investors last month that the price range would be $48 to $55, which would have valued it at up to $100bn. It is also lower than the $120bn suggested by investment banks last year.
If it achieves the top end of the range, Uber stands to raise as much as $9bn itself from the IPO, while existing investors such as SoftBank, Benchmark and co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garett Camp could also sell up to $1.4bn worth of stock.