Recent history has been filled with challenges within our marketplace and we can expect 2023 to bring its own set of hurdles. At MediaRadar, we are constantly monitoring the marketplace to provide key insights and advice to our clients to help them navigate this ever-changing media landscape. We see numerous new advertising opportunities emerging within the market. However, it is critical for media companies to be ready to capitalize on them at the right time.
Here are six of our predictions for 2023:
1. Rising interest rates will cause accelerated asset sales
Normally in a recession, we can expect to see consolidation of media companies, typically weaker firms looking for scale by pairing. And we will see this. But with rising interest rates and the cost of borrowing up significantly, some well-known companies are going to be pressured to spin-off assets to raise cash and pay down their debt. This may create unexpected industry fragmentation and what may seem like new competition in the marketplace since currently many buys are bundled.
- Disney may sell Hulu, or possibly ESPN. Just this week there are rumors Disney might dispatch ABC. Discovery is rumored to be renaming HBO MAX to only MAX. This may signal a desire to spin-off all or some of HBO.
- The Dolan family might sell AMC. The economics for small channels has changed. The family paid debt down in the past, when they sold Cablevision (now Altice).
- Over the last few years, we have seen SPACs created to acquire well-known media companies like Vice or Buzzfeed. However, some of these investments have registered lower-than-expected valuations and so investors are looking to get out.
2. Retail Media hype is cooling, but it’s also maturing
Last year the IAB Leadership Summit included a presentation with an executive from The GAP. This presentation outlined their plans for a bright ad supported business. The idea was right, but that business is already shut down. We’ve observed dozens of retailers who’ve made big announcements, but have not been able to scale their commerce media businesses.
However, retail advertising isn’t on the decline for everyone. Some retailers continue to make major investments, which are growing. Supermarkets perhaps have the most to gain. They have many ingredients for a successful business model – a captive audience, a strong presence in the local community, their consumers make frequent visits to their websites, and their core business performs at a much higher margin.
Grocery Companies have much to gain by adding a high-margin ad-supported retail advertising to their business model. This is why companies ranging from Walmart to Kroger’s are seeing success through retail media. Traditional media companies can capitalize on the return of ad dollars from failed retail media excursions. However, it is important to note that in certain areas, like CPG and grocery, that retail media is easily here to stay.
3. The Metaverse is not dead
The sense of schadenfreude for Meta (formerly just Facebook) is palpable, but this does not make the idea wrong. I read Neil Stephenson’s revolutionary thriller Snowcrash in university (the book was published 30 years ago), which foretells the metaverse, and more recently Ready Player One. I’m a believer. When the technology is in place, and affordable, it will be the next big thing. There will be an enormous ad business when the metaverse is realized. While I don’t think this will come to complete fruition in 2023, I do think media companies should be keeping an eye on this technology. It will open numerous advertising opportunities as it matures. We can’t let it sneak up on us.
4. ChatGPT will change the business of selling ads
At MediaRadar we observe more than 4.8m brands advertising in the United States. But to prepare thoughtful outreach for so many brands is far too time consuming for any individual ad sales team – at almost any ad-supported media company today. Sales teams don’t have the resources to canvas more than a small segment of the total market. However, ChatGPT will allow mass customization of outreach. We feel this will improve (that is, dramatically multiply) the number of advertisers a sales team could contact. It will collapse the time required by ad sellers to do their prep for marketers and agencies. You can expect more on this topic coming soon from our innovation lab.
5. Government spending is good for advertising
The war in Ukraine is driving advertising spend in key areas like, energy, agriculture, and defense. These will continue to flourish in 2023.
The U.S. government passed two key bills that will significantly impact the media industry. Both are going to drive unprecedented ad spending in the industries and local communities supporting these initiatives. The CHIPS and Science Act is a $250 billion bill that is dedicated to ensuring we no longer face computer chip shortages again. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. There will be $1 trillion dollars invested to update roads, bridges and tunnels across the U.S. These updates will create employment, travel and business opportunities for Americans – all which will require advertising to spread the word.
6. Sponsorship and exhibitor revenue from live events will be big, despite a looming recession
Our early analysis in Q1 suggests an especially robust market for live events. Pricing of sponsorship is up – often 20-30% above YR 2019 levels. Smart media companies will be creating and selling unique experiences, like NBCU’s BravoCon. Brands are eager to interact with customers in-person and these fun events will bring new advertising opportunities for media companies.
In 2023, we will face numerous challenges. However, there will also be meaningful opportunities for media companies to do well through the recession. When the competition hesitates, there’s room for some to move ahead even faster,