The European digital media sector is set for positive growth in 2009, according to new research from investment bank GP Bullhound.
The bank forecasts that specific sectors are likely to defy the economic downturn and continue to show strong growth in 2009 with the mobile industry at the forefront.
The mobile industry will see renewed interest and growth in the coming year following the success of the iPhone and developments such as Google’s Android resulting in consumers taking ‘PC’ habits with them on the go.
According to a recent M:Metrics survey, iPhone users are ten times more likely to use web search, six-20 times more likely to view video content and 100 times more likely to access a social network.
Manish Madhvani, partner at GP Bullhound, said, “We believe the success of the iPhone third party application environment is forcing a shift in the way the mobile industry deals with developers, materially improving the business model for mobile software developers and Internet companies wanting to target the fourth screen.”
The growth in mobile is also likely to impact on the success of digital agencies. GP Bullhound expects to see a general slowdown in their growth in 2009, those agencies with strong mobile, web, social media and viral seeding teams are likely to benefit from convergence and the emergence of larger budgets in these areas.
The use of casual gaming sites also increases in a downturn, according to the bank. It expects a number of these websites to feature heavily in 2009, particularly those that charge per game or operate a subscription model - especially old favourites such as King.com and new players Playfish, Gameduell and Spineworld.
Online fashion retailers are also likely to display unprecedented growth as consumers shift spending from the high street to online.
Madhvani explain, “For years, traditional retailers have feared revenue cannibalisation and brand destruction from most e-commerce related activities. However, the key online fashion brands have now demonstrated that selling through the Internet can actually enhance brand perception through exceptional customer service, value added merchandise and exclusive online clubs.”
In addition to the success of multi-brand sites such as ASOS, Net-a-Porter and Yoox, new online shopping models will see significant growth including private sales firms which deal with excess stock like Vente Privee and social shopping sites such as Kaboodle and Osoyou built around the entertainment and communal aspects of clothes shopping.
However, while 2009 looks set for digital growth, GP Bullhound expects the year will be tough digital publishers as they feel the pressure on advertising revenue.
Madhvani added, “Digital publishers will have to innovate to generate additional revenue streams via subscriptions and harnessing their stables of online users to generate incremental ecommerce revenues. We are seeing some of the key publishers add innovative services where readers can purchase the new goods and services they are reading about.”
GP Bullhound’s forecasts come in the midst of “doom and gloom” and offer a ray of hope for the advertising industry in 2009.
Earlier this week, WPP’s chief executive Martin Sorrell told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that he was concerned about the advertising marketplace next year given the recession and massive fluctuations in the stock market.
He predicted that the financial markets would recover by the middle of next year but added that the industry would not see and change for the better until 2010.
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