Monthly Archives

March 2019

Next Gen: 5G and The Future

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It’s been a long time coming but 5G – fifth generation mobile networks – may be about to arrive in the UK.

Earlier this year mobile network EE trialled its superfast 5G network on the biggest scale – live at the BAFTA Awards – as it unveiled the “world’s first” AI stylist.

Digital supermodel Shudu was brought to life at the event via holographic technology to capture the outfits of A-list guests and share shots with fans through a chatbot. With this came the news that 5G will begin to roll out across the UK by mid-late 2019.

First generation networks were introduced in the 1980s, but carried voice only; an early wireless cellular technology largely reserved for business use. 2G brought about mobile for the masses, with users able to send information via SMS, while 3G provided an upgrade in the form of smartphones and mobile broadband.

Fast-forward to 4G – networks designed to support sustained data bandwidth – and this now provides the basis for the continuing growth of the app-economy. Speed matters; 4G has the ability to accommodate high-speed activities such as video streaming, video calls and gaming without the need for a wi-fi connection.

The effect of the introduction of 5G is the subject of much speculation, however one of the more obvious benefits will be much faster internet connectivity.

Users will have access to wider coverage and more stable connections. Ian Fogg from OpenSignal, a mobile data analytics company, argued that: “Whatever we do now with our smartphones we’ll be able to do faster and better”. Video calls should become clearer, and wearable fitness devices could monitor health in real-time – alerting doctors as soon as any emergency arises.

Gamers should notice shorter delays and fewer lag effects improving the gaming experience without the need for wi-fi connection – meaning gaming on-the-go could become ever more popular.

In a media environment enhanced by 5G, there will be more opportunity than ever for super-fast load speeds. Extra-fast wireless connectivity and improved quality of video will mean that the demand for video will likely increase.

This will also likely mean higher-than-ever expectations for site load times and video play speed; brands will need to ensure that websites are optimised for mobile performance and for ecommerce sites that the customer journey is quick and painless.

With speedier tech also comes richer augmented reality experiences, all via mobile devices, meaning there will be further opportunity for personalisation in real-time.

Ultimately, companies such as Uber, Instagram and Spotify had only just launched at the introduction of 4G – so we can only contemplate what new technologies or services will come about via the future of 5G.

It may take a few years for everyone to be connected, but what we do know is that tech continues to drive change. And change is coming.

Local Hero: Why Media Matters

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After a month of buyouts and announcements, the dial’s been moved on local radio. Global Radio recently announced it would no longer air regional breakfast and drivetime shows in favour of national programming, while NewsUK has sold off most of its local radio stations to invest in its national stations talkSPORT and Virgin Radio.

The move from Global, described as “a huge step for the commercial radio sector”, will see 40 of its local breakfast shows replaced by national programming across the Capital, Smooth and Heart networks. Drivetime, evening and weekend programmes will also be reduced, and ten of its 24 local stations – including Cambridge, Norwich, Essex and Kent – will be closed. The announcement comes as part of Global’s longer-term project to bring hundreds of local stations into several national brands – and puts over 100 jobs at risk.

Until last year Ofcom required that local radio stations produce their own breakfast show, but under new regulations introduced in October 2018, local radio stations now have a minimum requirement of just three hours of local programming during the daytime.

While commercial radio is seeing success – reaching record ad revenues of £713m in 2018 according to the latest RAJAR reports – the decision’s likely been made by Global to allow it to invest in its national programming as competition intensifies from digital services such as Spotify.

In the print industry too there’s been a shift from local to national. Earlier this year the Essex town of Harlow saw the closure of its last remaining local publication Harlow Star – and in doing so became the largest region in the UK without a local newspaper.

Meanwhile an independent review into journalism in the UK released in February suggested that local newspapers are important not only to the future of sustainable journalism but contribute to “a functioning democracy” – and recommended that public funds should be used to support local public-interest news. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright responded with a rallying cry to the industry, claiming it can “overcome the challenges it faces from a changing market”.

Local media isn’t just of benefit to the public interest but can be to advertisers as well.

A huge amount of Brits still have a strong sense of local identity, with 90% agreeing they are proud of the area they live in (“Consumer Catalyst”). Local media allows consumers to feel a part of their community – even if it’s as simple as hearing local voices and regional accents on the radio, as argued by broadcaster Mark Lawson.

Brands can tap into this, ensuring they speak to consumers in a meaningful way, and allowing all minorities (regional or otherwise) to feel represented in advertising – as we at the7stars discussed in our whitepaper “Representing?”.

In an era of increasing uncertainty, fake news and “post-truth”, local news is also a trusted medium, with 74% of Brits agreeing they trust the information in their local newspaper, and 73% saying the same about local commercial radio – compared to just 22% for social media (YouGov).

A separate report from Oxford University released last year found that local newspapers have a “trust ranking” higher than any national publication – at 6.42 compared to score of 6.35 out of 10 given to best performing national The Times.

National campaigns can bring unprecedented scale and drive fame for brands but when it comes to building trust – arguably a metric more important than it’s ever been before – local can still be a hero.

What's Hot

The Hotline – March 2019

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Instagram is testing a feature which will allow users to buy products within the app. Checkout, a feature currently in beta in the US, may be rolled out if successful. It was previously suggested that Instagram would be launching a standalone app, IG Shopping, but it is unclear whether these plans are now on hold. Nike and Uniqlo are among the 20 brands involved in the test.

Apple announced the launch of its streaming service AppleTV+ this month. An updated version of the Apple TV app will be released in May ahead of the launch of Apple TV+, an ad-free subscription service set to host Apple’s original TV content. Apple’s TV app allows users to make a single payment from an account to access content from multiple streaming and pay-TV services, such as HBO, Showtime and Amazon Prime in the US.

Twitter has announced the launch of a new prototype app Twttr to allow the testing of new features. Currently the social media platform is testing a feature to make it easier for users to follow and join conversations, while also hiding abusive messages. The announcement comes after a feature roll-out earlier this month allowing users to hide replies to their tweets from specific users, with Twitter’s senior product manager suggesting it will give users “more control” over the conversations they start.

TI Media has announced the closure of Now magazine, with the final issue to go on sale on 2nd April. The publisher has described “changing dynamics of the celebrity market” since the launch of the magazine in 1996 and has seen falling circulation and a drop-off in advertising revenue in recent years. In the latest ABC figures Now’s circulation had been down 11.9% period-on-period to just 45,000.