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The Emerging Digital Landscape

It’s no secret that the media diet of the average consumer has changed in the past decade, with digital receiving an ever-growing share of Brits’ daily routines.

IPA Touchpoints Making Sense report 2022, found the commercial media time share of UK adults was 54% digital, up from 42% in 2015. For 16-34s, this disparity is even starker, with digital media accounting for 78% of time spent, up from 59% seven years prior.

But these figures only tell a fraction of the story. As commercial digital media has formed the lion’s share of our daily habits, so the number of digital channels has expanded.

IAB Compass has outlined four emerging channels with significant growth opportunity over the next three years: Connected TV (CTV), Gaming, Shoppable Ads and AR/VR. Commercial media investment in Gaming & CTV is set to double by 2026, showcasing the power of these channels to reach wide audiences.

According to the IAB report, CTV spend – including YouTube and BVOD – is forecast to reach an annual UK investment of £2.31bn by 2026, having already grown by an average of 40% each year since 2017.

Emerging channels all face challenges in standardisation and measurement. Yet, connected TV offers a low minimum spend compared to linear TV. It’s an avenue for smaller brands to deliver impactful, targeted campaigns, whilst complementing high reach linear TV and video formats for larger investments.

‘It’s a great time to be talking about CTV but more education is required,’ said James Wheatley, AV Director at the7stars. ‘According to BARB, in 2022, 82% of BVOD delivery is served to the big screen, whilst this number sits at 29% for YouTube activity.’

Clarity is needed around what value it’s driving on top of the linear, BVOD and YouTube activity, for new to market suppliers (such as Samsung, Roku and Rakuten.) But, James predicts, with supply and audiences growing, data capabilities will be developed: ‘it will become a much more common line on our AV plans.’

Despite long popularity, gaming, only recently began to flourish as a commercial advertising proposition, partly due to outdated gamer stereotypes. Yet, as the7stars recent whitepaper, Level Up: The Brand Opportunity in Gaming shows, almost half of UK gaming adults are over 35, with the ubiquity of smartphones allowing gaming to proliferate among a broader audience than ever before.

Such growth in the mobile gaming genre has fostered substantial media investment opportunity. The UK market is estimated to be worth £815bn currently, and mobile gaming ad investments outnumber those on traditional PC/console devices by more than a 10 to 1 margin. By 2026, ad spend in this arena is forecast to double, reaching £1.84bn by 2026 – with mobile ad expenditure accounting for an incredible £1.74bn alone.

Innovative ad solutions have emerged across the gaming landscape, offering brands creative solutions to reach highly engaged, passionate audiences. the7stars research shows significant appetite among UK gamers to welcome advertisers in return for in-game incentives.

As any media planner will testify, there is no practical one-size-fits-all approach today. With substantial growth opportunity over the next few years, brands need to consider a wide array of digital channels as part of any media strategy.