1. Mergers and acquisitions are an overarching trend in the media world, and have made our list the multiple years in a row. In 2019, M&A activity was primarily focused on two main areas:

    • More traditional media companies seeking to strengthen their offerings in order to compete with Internet giants like Google and Facebook (Viacom and CBS re-combining into ViacomCBS
    • Rather than undertaking the Herculean task of building their own platforms, larger players like Roku and Xandr are acquiring existing technology solutions to round out their offerings
  2. As entertainment viewing on linear television continues to erode significantly, live sports have begun to stand out more than ever as a bastion of stability. This is particularly true for the NFL and college football, with the former actually seeing a slight increase in viewing this season.

  3. The streaming wars have begun in earnest, with BET+, Disney+, and Apple TV+ all launching in the last few months and more services coming down the pike next year.

  4. Virtual MVPDs have not been able to offset declines for traditional MVPDs, and are now actively shedding customers every quarter as price increases have caused the value proposition to erode.

    • Read More: 4Q19 Media Access Quarterly
  5. Digital growth is increasingly fueled by small business and the growth of e-Commerce, rather than organic growth from national consumer brands. Of the $8 billion of new search advertising spending in the US this year, incremental spend by new small business advertisers ($2.6 billion), and e-Commerce ($1.9 billion), represented more than half of those new dollars. As a result, big digital publishers are increasingly focusing new product development on tools to help small businesses create, manage, and optimize, ad campaigns quickly and easily despite the lack of resources of most small businesses.

  6. Audio media bounced back this year, as linear radio ad revenue stabilized following decreases of -2% per year in recent years and major media owners going in and out of bankruptcy. Adding in the fast-growing advertising revenues of digital audio and podcasting, and total audio media ad sales increased by almost +2% to $16.7 billion.

  7. Targeting specific households with addressable advertising on television is more important than ever for many brands. OTT has become the method of choice for doing this, with traditional local cable addressable through the set top box falling out of favor. OTT spending passed $3 billion this year, with continued strong growth rates, while set top box addressable growth slowed despite representing less than $1 billion of total spending.

  8. Despite new regulations and data-privacy pushback, programmatic advertising continues to be the default way of buying digital media. Additionally, consumers remain receptive to personalized ads. Across all digital formats, programmatically targeted campaigns now represent 86% of all digital advertising budgets, and will increase to represent more than 90% of total digital spending by 2023.

  9. With the 2020 Presidential election approaching, major social media platforms begun to take positions on accepting political advertising dollars. TikTok and Twitter announced complete bans on political ads, while Facebook opted to stay the course.

  10. Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) and other disrupter brands are impacting the ad marketplace, both in specific industries and on television in particular as they look to build brand recognition in a bigger way.