1. Marketing budgets plateau after six years of growth
There were no changes in marketing budgets in the fourth quarter, with 16.4% of marketers reporting they plan to increase spend and 16.4% saying they plan to cut it, leading to a net balance of 0% and marking the end of six consecutive years of growth.
When looking ahead to the 2019/20 financial year, 27% of those surveyed anticipate growth compared to the 26% predicting cuts, giving a net balance of just 1%.
Additionally, the underlying pessimism is predicted to impact every media channel.
For instance, main media advertising was expected to fall in the fourth quarter, with a net balance of 6.5% expecting to cut budgets, compared to the 4.8% that anticipated increasing them in the previous quarter.
Internet, search and mobile budgets have also been affected. While they remain in growth, a net balance of just 2.1% of marketers saw rises in the fourth quarter, down from 13.6% in Q3 and 22.7% in Q2.
Source: IPA Bellwether
2. Amazon named consumers’ favourite retailer
Amazon has been named consumers’ favourite brand, with 14% naming the online retailer ahead of Marks and Spencer (4%), John Lewis (4%), Sainsbury’s (4%) and Tesco (3%).
However, some 33% of respondents say they don’t have a favourite brand.
Among the most mentioned brands, the majority of customers are loyal to them because they genuinely like them. For example, 89% say they feel their loyalty to John Lewis is genuine, followed by Marks and Spencer (88%), Sainsbury’s (71%), Tesco (71%) and Amazon (67%). Amazon ranks highest for customers who ‘feel their loyalty is habitual’ to the brand (33%).
Amazon’s dominance filters across both retail, media/entertainment and personal technology sectors.
3. Smart speakers to be the fastest-growing connected device
Smart speakers are predicted to be the fastest-growing connected device this year with 164 million units to be sold globally, up from 98 million in 2018.
The smart speaker market is also anticipated to grow by 63% year on year to £5.6bn in revenue.
By July 2018, 12% of UK adults had access to a smart speaker, compared to 19% in the US and 22% in China.
Meanwhile, radio is predicted to maintain its hold on UK media consumption with 47 million people listening to radio at least once a week. While global radio revenues are forecast to increase to £31.6bn, up 1% on 2019.
In addition, analysts predict sales related to 3D printing by large public companies will surpass £2.1bn in 2019 and £2.4bn in 2020, growing by 12.5% year on year.
4. Most users oblivious to their Facebook ad preferences
Some 74% of Facebook users in the US were unaware the platform kept a list of their traits and interests (in the ad preferences section) until they took part in a recent study.
The report found when directed to the ‘ad preferences’ page, 88% of Facebook users found the site had generated some material for them. Another 59% believe these categories reflect their real-life interests, while 27% say they are not very or not at all accurate in describing them.
Once shown how the platform classifies their interests, roughly half of Facebook users (51%) say they are not comfortable that the company created such a list.
Of this 51%, nearly three quarters (73%) say the platform’s categorisation of their politics is very or ‘somewhat’ accurate, while 27% say it describes them ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ accuratel
Source: Pew Research Centre
5. WPP sees merger and acquisition activity fall
WPP’s merger and acquisition activity fell last year, with the company only acquiring 15 marcoms companies in 2018, marking a 50% drop year on year. The decline is likely a consequence of restructuring plans driven by new CEO Mark Read.
Dentsu topped the 2018 list with 31 deals, followed by WPP and Accenture (on nine).
Despite the decline at WPP, overall deals in the sector increased 4% in 2018. Of 882 marketing and advertising deals, 126 were for full-service digital agencies, the biggest category.
Additionally, 22% of all marcoms deals completed globally this year were private equity-backed, a 79% increase on 2017.
Source: Results International