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10 essential media stats from October 2019

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Snapchat’s resurgence, Global Advertising projections for 2020, Instagram’s struggle with disinformation, digital vs. traditional media habits, the BBC’s youth problem, Vox Media’s podcast punt and social commerce in China.

Here’s our regular round-up of the Top 10 stats from the past month:

1: Snapchat revenue up 50% in the past year

Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app has bounced back from a declining and static user base in mid-2018, to add 7 million daily active users in the past quarter. 

Globally, 210 million people now use the app each day, up from 186 million this time last year. The fastest growth for the service is coming from outside of North America and Europe.

Meanwhile, revenue increased 50% to $446 million in Q3 2019, compared to the prior year.

On the content front, “Total daily time spent by Snapchatters watching Discover increased by 40% year-over-year,” their Q3 2019 earnings statement said

“Snap also said users opened the app 30 times per day, up from 25 times per day as of July 2018,” Techcrunch reported, “showing it’s still highly sticky and being used for rapid-fire visual communication.”

2: Japan has the highest % of time spent using traditional media

In Japan, on a typical day, consumers spend an average of 1 hour 52 mins with digital media (39%), compared to 2 hours 59 mins with traditional media. 

Conversely, in Vietnam, 7 hours 12 mins (74%) are spent on average using digital channels, with traditional media averaging 2 hours 34 mins. 

The findings, part of a fascinating, data-rich report from GlobalWebIndex on traditional vs. digital media across 41 markets, also highlights that “16-24s report being online for almost three hours longer per day than 55-64s,” and that “over 85% use another device as they watch television.” 

“While socializing with friends and family through social media and messaging services is the most common simultaneous activity, some 8 in 10 also read news and play games,” the authors note. “Encouragingly for marketers, very large shares also research the products they see on TV, which strengthens the notion that second-screening is more of a complement than a competitor to TV advertising,” they add.

3: Less than half of young people in the UK watch BBC TV each week

“Among 12-15 year olds, the BBC brand is less well known than Netflix and YouTube,” Ofcom, the UK Communications Regulator, note in their annual report on the BBC. 

Numerous stats outline the challenge that Auntie is facing with this demographic. 

For the first time, fewer than half (49%) of young people (those aged 16-24) watched BBC TV channels in an average week last year. For men aged 16-24 this drops to 46%. 

Moreover, the study finds that people aged 16-34 spend about half the amount of time that all individuals spend with the BBC (1 hour 12 mins vs. 2 hours 33 mins.)

“If younger audiences don’t engage with the BBC, then public support for the licence fee in future could be eroded,” Ofcom warns. “This will undermine the BBC’s ability to fund content to deliver its Mission and Public Purposes. We believe this is a significant risk to the future sustainability of the BBC.”

4: Vox Media now has more than 200 podcasts

The pivot to podcasts continues. Last month we highlighted that podcasts account for half of Slate’s revenue this year, up from 28% the year before. 

This month, Axios revealed that Vox Media now publishes over 200 podcasts. What’s especially striking about this, is that this is up from 75 at the start of the year. 

“Vox Media acquired two companies this year to help bolster its podcast business,” Axios reminds us, namely “Epic Magazine and New York Media.” 

“It plans to integrate franchises from both companies into its podcast network in 2020,” Media Reporter Sara Fischer writes, as the company continues to double-down on its podcast bet.

5: Taboola and Outbrain are merging into a $2 billion company

“If you’ve been on the internet in the last 10 years, you couldn’t have missed them,” recode observes. “Rows of small, box-shaped ads at the bottom of articles on news sites, promising to take you to more articles — or to find an amazing credit card or a too-good-be-true solution for belly fat or to see what really happened to that teen TV star from a long time ago.”

Two of the most prominent proponents of this type of ad-tech, Taboola and Outbrain are to merge, ostensibly to try and take on the digital advertising dominance of Facebook, Google and Amazon. 

“The combined company will have over 2,000 employees across 23 offices, serving over 20,000 clients in more than 50 countries across the North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions,” Outbrain’s website states, in a statement announcing the deal. 

As we noted earlier this year in our report, 50 Ways To Make Media Pay, many publishers have found relationships with these types of providers to be financially beneficial. A relationship between Taboola and Gannett was estimated to bring in $55 million for the publisher, with Time Inc generating more than $100 million in revenue through a partnership with Outbrain.

Taboola’s partners include CNBC, NBC News, USA TODAY, BILD, Sankei, Huffington Post, Microsoft, Business Insider, The Independent, El Mundo, and Le Figaro; while Outbrain has worked with CNN, BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Spiegel Online, El País and Sky News. 

“However,” our report said, “moves to revenue-sharing models (based on cost per click), brand safety (including consumer views on this types of advertising/recommendations) as well as how search engines view these types of ads, are leading to a potential rethink and refresh of this approach.” It will be interesting to see if this merger changes that.

6: 62% of Americans say social networks have too much control over the news mix users see

Data from the Pew Research Center highlighted the on-going tension between audiences using social media for news, and their disquiet with it.

“About eight-in-ten U.S. adults (82%) say social media sites treat some news organizations differently than others,” their research found, “about five times the share saying all news organizations are treated the same (16%).”

More widely, around six-in-ten (62%) of respondents indicated that social media companies have too much control over range of news that people see on their sites, this compares with 15% who say that social networks don’t have enough control.

Despite concerns about news mix,  as well as biased and inaccurate news on social media, “more than half of U.S. adults get news from social media often or sometimes (55%), up from 47% in 2018,” Pew discovered. Meanwhile, “about three-in-ten Americans now get news on social media often (28%), up from 20% in 2018.”

7: Instagram removes 50 accounts linked to a Russian-backed influence campaign

Consumer concerns about social media are only likely to increase as elections loom in the UK and the US, with Instagram – rather than Facebook – increasingly being the new digital battleground.

Paul Barrett, a New York University NYU professor, has said “I absolutely expect Instagram to be a magnet for disinformation in 2020.” In September, he published a report identifying how social networks should prepare for the 2020 US elections.

Separately, Mark Zuckerberg told NBC News, “We do see today Russia and Iran and China increasingly with more sophisticated tactics are trying to interfere in elections.” 

Commenting on the closures of 50 Russian-backed Instagram accounts, Facebook stated that: “This campaign showed some links to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and had the hallmarks of a well-resourced operation that took consistent operational security steps to conceal their identity and location.”

“The people behind this operation often posted on both sides of political issues including topics like US elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, confederate ideas, conservatism and liberalism. They also maintained accounts presenting themselves as local in some swing states, and posed as either conservatives or progressives,” they added.

Predictions for Disinformation and the 2020 election. Paul Barrett, NYU.

8: Global advertising forecast to be worth $656bn in 2020

As we reported here at What’s New In Publishing last month, advertising spend is set to rise next year by 6.0% to $656bn.

According to WARC, the international marketing intelligence service, all 19 product categories that they track will see growth. 

The fastest growing categories, which will see advertising spend increase ahead of the global rate, are: financial services (+11.8%), household & domestic (+10.5%), transport & tourism (+9.0%), telecoms & utilities (+8.5%), technology & electronics (+8.4%), alcoholic drinks (+6.9%), automotive (+6.8%) and soft drinks (+6.5%). 

Globally, internet advertising will account for over half of advertiser spend. In 2020, this market is expected to be worth $336bn, with investment in performance marketing, online video and social media predominantly driving this growth, as spending on Facebook, Google and Amazon plateaus.

9: Tweets with video see 10x more engagement than those without

This was one of the standout stats in a round-up of the power of video marketing by Social Media Today. 

Citing data from Twitter, they noted that “promoted Tweets with videos save more than 50% on cost-per-engagement.” 

A number of other social networks are also seeing video outperform other types of post:

“Done right, video content can drive greater response than other social content types. But ‘done right’ is the key element,” they advise.

10: In China, 25% of online shoppers have purchased directly through a social channel, up from 7% in 2017

McKinsey’s 2019 report into digital consumer trends in China offers a wide range of fascinating insights into this large, distinctive, market. For brands and publishers, it also offers some potential hints into how areas, such as social commerce, may also develop (in China and other markets).

“It’s still early days,” the report reminds us, “and the playbook for success is still being written, but we’ve already seen 8 different use cases of brands leveraging WeChat mini-programs to drive sales, from attention-grabbing games and quizzes to one-off opportunities to purchase unique products from online and physical stores.” 

As we explore in our new guide to eCommerce, other social networks are carefully watching China’s lead in this space. 

Trends to note from China, many of which will be familiar, including efforts to convert awareness generated of products on social into sales, as well as the role of influencers, user-generated content (UGC), and recommendations from friends/contacts, in driving purchase behaviours.