Our 2018 E&M Summit: cutting through the uncertainty to target the opportunities
01 October 2018
Last week, we hosted our 2018 Media Summit, a fast-paced 90-minute session attended by over 120 industry leaders and decision-makers at London’s iconic Picturehouse Central. The audience experienced a whistle-stop tour of the findings from our latest UK Entertainment & Media Outlook – and enjoyed a series of debates and presentations that provided a fascinating snapshot of the industry’s current issues and opportunities.
Overall, this year’s Outlook paints a relatively bright picture of the prospects for UK media companies. Total industry revenues are projected to rise at 3% compounded annually over the coming five years, roughly in line with other major markets. This growth will be underpinned by ongoing developments around the three key themes of convergence, connections and trust.
We’ll take a more detailed look at the findings from the Outlook – and their implications for media companies – in an upcoming blog post. But the discussions at the Summit certainly underlined our research’s relevance and resonance for the industry, reflecting how companies are putting digital transformation and trust at the heart of their strategies in today’s uncertain and rapidly-evolving environment.
Following the opening presentation on the Outlook, the opening panel debate among a group of leading industry investors yielded a frank but generally positive discussion of the challenges posed by the current widespread uncertainty. In response to the “exam question” of how to make a success of investing in the UK media sector, the consensus was that while the effects on the industry of events such as Brexit are very difficult to call, there are still great long-term investment opportunities out there.
One investor summed up the mood: “We need to be prudent when thinking about new investments in UK media, and be aware of the potential downside. But we as an institution are very much open for business here. What we’re focused on is finding investments that we think offer strong growth across the cycle.”
The issue of how to deliver this sustained growth was addressed in the next session – a first-hand account of the digital transformation of a major household-name media business. The speaker described how his company’s revenue had remained static through the digital transition, and then moved back into growth during the subsequent evolution phase.
He talked about how to become a truly digital business (not just 100% of revenues being digital), and much of this focused around the cultural change that is required. The transformation was held together by 10 cultural principles that the team embraced, which were supported by a morale-boosting / culture-changing office move. This has resulted in a more customer-centric, simplified, collaborative, and lean business which is going from strength to strength in the market.
Significantly, he pointed out that the full impact on the company’s market valuation only kicked in once the success of the transformation was clear. “All the hard yards we did early on weren’t initially recognised in the value of the business,” he explained. “But once you’ve made the transition and people can see the way forward, then they reward you accordingly.”
The Summit ended on a high note, with a lively debate on the future of advertising led by a panel drawn from the agency, AdTech and advertiser communities. In the face of monumental change across all industries, a panellist from the advertiser side commented that the very nature of marketing is being challenged. “Marketing is starting to get to grips with data, and using it to construct differentiated journeys and superior customer experiences,” he said.
A key theme of the discussion was the need to protect brands from being positioned alongside inappropriate content. An ad agency panellist commented: “We’re now in the business of brand safety. That’s certainly part of our job in terms of minimising risks for clients – we need to make sure brands are in safe places.” Another participant added: “Brand safety will be an ongoing challenge – not just with platforms, but publishers too.”
If you wish to know more about the latest trends, opportunities in the entertainment and media industry and how we can help you, please contact me.