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Media chiefs are optimistic about the year ahead in spite of a looming recession and forecasts of lower adspend growth than in 2022. 

ITV’s managing director, commercial, Kelly Williams, told a recent Campaign breakfast briefing that ITV’s new streaming platform, ITVX, and investments in fresh content would help the broadcaster through the next 12 months when linear TV adspend has been forecast by Dentsu to remain flat.

He said: “The economic headwinds aspects are going to have some kind of effect, although I think this is a slightly different recession from previous recessions.

“Corporate profitability is holding up pretty well and we’ve got full employment. So we’re preparing for a relatively quick recovery, potentially in the second half of this year as inflation starts to come under control.”

 

Williams said that streaming will be a “growth engine” of TV, and in particular ITV’s new streaming platform ITVX, which was launched in December 2022.

He added: “We’re only a month in but the signs are pretty good. We’ve seen consumption grow by 98% and monthly active users are up 85%. So I feel very positive and optimistic about the year ahead.”

Williams previously told Campaign an increase in the amount of programming offered on ITVX compared with the streaming platform it replaced, ITV Hub, would provide advertisers with more online ad inventory and the ability to buy and target ads on a self-serve basis by using ITV’s existing online ad sales platform Planet V.

Hearst chief commercial officer Jane Wolfson, who also joined the breakfast briefing panel, was also upbeat and said the publishing company was more resilient to economic shocks than in previous recessions. This includes Hearst’s recent launch of its experiential division Hearst X.

“The diversity of what we offer is so different from the previous recession, where we were pretty much more one dimensional in terms of what we had to offer. Our (magazine) brands were more limited to single platforms, that’s just not the case any more,” she said. 

“I’ve been around and seen through tough times by innovating and diversifying (our offering). Similarly, from a data point of view, knowing our audiences is extremely important, being able to target them better, and we have a direct relationship with those audiences and we are very in tune with what their needs are.”

Spotify head of sales, EMEA, Rak Patel said that although “blind optimism is a dangerous thing”, the industry has reasons to be upbeat.

“Our industry is about inspiring, educating and influencing,” he said.

Patel added: “We should be optimistic because we can innovate through building partnerships with the best clients.

“One of the things that’s really important to us when we think about digital audio, and podcasting, is that we’re seeing a very similar journey that digital video went on over the last 15 years… when it comes to scale, when it comes to the ad experience, interactivity and measurability.”

Patel added that adspend in podcasting is predicted to reach €1.5bn in the EMEA region by the end of this year and that Spotify’s team in the UK and EMEA has doubled in size in the past year.

 

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