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A glance across the media landscape for 2021

2020 saw the largest upheaval in media spend in living memory. In order to understand the media landscape for 2021, we need to explore what happened this year, because although the Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly affected audience behaviour in the short term, it is likely to have ramifications well into the future.

When lockdown was initially announced on March 16th, the industry remained fairly calm for the first week as news and potential implications began to sink in. Then all hell let loose, with the majority of advertisers deciding to pull activity, the reality of cancellations terms kicked in and advertisers were faced with the choice of cancelling with penalties or working with media owners and deferring until later in the year. As a result, overall expenditure between April-September 2020 Vs 2019 was down 27% with all channels affected).

· Cinema advertising has been decimated, despite attempts to bring it back following lockdown, with spend down -98% YoY since April.

· OOH has been hit by both the national and regional lockdowns, particularly commuter formats, despite claims that travelling is back to near 80% of pre – COVID levels.

· Radio claims to have received a boost and has benefitted from the huge amount spent by the Government on COVID-19 public information messages.

· Subsequently the media currencies that both OOH and radio trading relies on are being questioned, causing further lack of confidence.

· Magazine publishers continue to contract, reflecting the contraction in their readers and businesses.

· News brands experienced an increase based on their digital properties and both national and local news also benefitted from COVID-19 campaigns.

· Overall consumption of digital media increased, and despite a Q2 drop, this was reversed very quickly in Q3, reflected in the financial performance of the big tech companies.

· The lack of advertiser demand across TV and VOD meant prices fell by as much as 50%, with audiences continually growing due to the increase in working from home and furloughed audiences.

Latter 2020 has seen some advertisers come back with spend, but some categories such as travel and tourism are pretty much on hold, which is unlikely to change until the pandemic has ended; others such as e-commerce will continue to grow.

2021 Predictions for Media by Channel

· Cinema is likely to suffer a lasting effect, but we can see a big bounce back when this is over, likely to be Q4 and signified by the launch of James Bond.

· OOH will see increased use of digital formats allowing greater flexibility and putting pressure on availability. City centre and commuter focused formats will continue to suffer until the pandemic is over, but even after the pandemic is over, working patterns are likely to change which could affect exposure in the long term.

· Print-wise, both news and magazines will continue the downward trajectory with digital not making up for lost revenues.

· TV will continue to operate on shorter-term measures meaning some advertisers will book late, making planning cost estimations more difficult, especially if we bump along in and out of lockdowns. The growth in VOD is showing signs that it could be here to stay.

· Radio will continue to remain robust given the short lead times for booking and creative supply, although it remains to be seen if local advertisers will have the funds to return and fill the gap that will be left once the UK Government money reduces.

· Digital is likely to continue its overall growth, albeit on what was already a declining trajectory, but with the big tech companies taking an ever-larger proportion of spend. Much of this is being driven by the increase in e-commerce brand spends.

Link to the full article here.

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