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This past month has seen a mix of captivating trends and breaking stories. From the BBC’s surprising announcement about its potential advertising commercialisation through audio channels, to the insurance sector demonstrating remarkable resilience and introducing new disruptor brands, there’s no shortage of buzz. And if that’s not enough, we’re also hearing firsthand from media owners in the realm of social media navigating the ever-evolving social landscape. Here we explore each of these in a bit more detail.

The BBC’s bold move: advertising on audio platforms

News broke that the BBC is poised to venture into uncharted territory by introducing advertising on its radio and podcast content via third-party platforms like Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify. While this strategic move could bolster commercial revenue for the public service broadcaster, it has ignited some debate within the industry. Ads are expected to appear on smaller factual, drama and comedy content initially, with popular programs following suit if successful. News and current affairs content will remain ad-free.

Introducing ads on BBC’s audio content is a contentious decision. It’s apparent that it will boost revenue for the BBC, however it risks compromising the BBC’s reputation for ad-free quality programming. Striking a balance between financial sustainability and maintaining public trust should be the priority. Not only this, but it will also cause tension with other broadcasters and media houses in general. There’s a question of whether this approach is fair and if it’s going to destroy the advertising industry as it exists now. Although the BBC has announced it will advertise on audio programmes, that is not to say it won’t expand to other channels and platforms in the future. This could take away from competitors who don’t have public funding and start to damage trade substantially.

Reading into why the BBC is looking for this opportunity is interesting. It seems unlikely that it is purely just for commercial benefit, but considerably to do with the pressure and actions of the Conservative government. This government over the years has significantly reduced the BBC’s funding, impacting talent retention and programme quality. It has also been threatened with license funding being withdrawn by the current government and will undoubtedly be trying to make up for the license freeze during the pandemic.

In this high-stakes game, the BBC treads carefully, navigating the fine line between tradition and adaptation. The outcome will shape not only its own future but also the broader media landscape.

Resilience in insurance and shake-ups with new start-ups entering the scene

Working with entrepreneurial clients in the business insurance sector, we know first-hand that it takes a solid brand strategy, competitive edge and distinctive, strategic marketing to stand out. With 90% of adults holding at least one insurance policy, the insurance sector is withstanding challenges during a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting many others. Categories such as pet and travel insurance which are among the dominating categories have also shown robust market performance. Intriguingly, the crisis has, in some cases, highlighted the importance of insurance, particularly in travel.

However, this resilience doesn’t grant insurers freedom for complacency. Whilst these economic pressures haven’t drastically affected the industry’s valuation, they have certainly reshaped consumer behaviour and expectations. It appears that policy scrutiny is on the rise, leading to several pivotal consumer trends and innovations that are likely to define the industry’s future, here’s a few which stood out.

  1. Consumer shopping habits: As consumers tighten their budgets, affordability becomes a top priority when shopping for insurance. Many UK consumers are turning to price comparison websites including new entrants to the market such as Amazon Insurance Store, yet surprisingly, a large number are showing loyalty and sticking with their current providers.
  2. Improving policy management using tech: Most UK consumers prefer limited interactions with their insurers, creating an opportunity for companies to enhance loyalty through regular, positive engagement via provider apps. Examples like the Vitality Health Insurance app showcase how in-app rewards can improve customer experience and encourage policy renewal.
  3. Recognising the rising importance of sustainability: Consumer awareness of environmental issues is on the rise, driving interest in sustainable and ethical insurance options. While currently niche, these offerings are likely to become more prominent as sustainability efforts increase.
  4. New innovators entering the scene: Recently launched Insurtech “Blip” seeks to disrupt the UK insurance market with its profit-sharing model. The brand aims to provide affordable and comprehensive business insurance for small enterprises. Its unique approach focuses on returning up to 10% of total policy premiums to policyholders, fostering a sense of community and transparency. Gary Ross, the firm’s founder and chief executive, emphasises the importance of restoring trust between companies and insurers, particularly for smaller independent businesses facing financial risks. It’s apparent that in a time of need with SME’s grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, it’s essential to rebuild trust between companies and insurers.

What’s happening on the social scene? A month of social media insights

In March we invited a diverse mix of media owners from the social media realm to our offices to update us on the social landscape. We soaked up key insights on the opportunities currently available to clients and brands and the trends that are capturing people at the moment. We heard loud and clear that social just keeps on growing, remaining the popular marketing choice for so many brands and companies.

Lisa Batty from TikTok highlighted its transformation from a platform for self-expression during lockdown to a fully-fledged creative hub and search engine by 2023. TikTok’s algorithm tailors content to users, diversifying its influence across topics from fashion to finance. With an audience-first approach, TikTok’s skippable ads reap high engagement rates, with 61% of brands seen for the first time on the platform prompting action from 92% of users. WeAre8 reminded us of its unique planet positive offering, presenting a platform free from hate and supporting positive change through incentivised, opt-in ads fostering community, engagement and happiness. It has recently partnered with the BBC on a distribution deal for BBC Earth content; the first of its kind between the platform and a broadcaster. The partnership paves the way for new commercial opportunities by bringing together social media with the premium digital inventory of BBC Studios. Meanwhile, Fifty and Meta both paid attention to how AI can be leveraged in order to craft efficiency, gain actionable audience insights and sustainable media strategies which are aligned with client objectives.  With AI revolutionising the advertising and marketing space, brands are embracing personalised experiences and redefining targeting methods to stay ahead in the digital landscape.


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