If UK news channels are to be believed, then 2019 is looking like a bad year for business, and this usually reflects negatively on advertising budgets. To make matters worse, audiences are also fragmenting in our digital, multiplatform world, and TV is a dying medium (allegedly).
Yet while it is likely that the uncertainty running up to March 29th may dampen budgets, there is evidence that companies are actively investing in the UK and are gearing up to "do business" in the new post-Brexit landscape. Google, Facebook, Bloomberg and Amazon are all building new UK headquarters and increasing staff numbers.
According to recent figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the UK was the second-most popular destination for foreign direct investment in the first half of 2018. GBP51.22bn in overseas investment put us just behind China and ahead of the U.S. In fact, total investment spending in the UK grew faster than in any of the other G7 countries last year.
These companies are investing in the future of Britain, and they are here to seek talented employees, business friendly taxation and to grow market share. They are here for the long term, and many organisations such as PwC and investment banks believe that a more settled post-Brexit market will see continued growth in sectors such as Fintech and Biotechnology.
UK-based Fintech firms are expecting 88% growth over the next three years, and in 2017, British-based biotech firms raised a total of £1.2 billion through investment. So business is not so bleak post-Brexit.
We already know that leading digital players have turned to TV in recent years to consolidate brand trust and grow share. It is highly likely they will continue to do so in 2019 as we all lean in to the internet of everything.
Category re-inventors such as Deliveroo, Nutmeg, Monzo and Uber have all leveraged the power of TV to build market share, and we will see the emergence of new Fintech and digital players seeking to build brands in the brave new post-Brexit world. A review of recent major creative pitches indicates that Just Eat, Lidl, Coke, and Instagram and others are all gearing up for a busy 2019.
Smart broadcasters and publishers are investing in content, partnerships and technology to ensure that these emerging and growing brands can reach the Great British public in significant numbers. We all want to see continued delivery of strong TV formats by ITV, C4 and the BBC to bring audiences together for shared experiences.
Full ratings for the launch of "I’m a Celebrity" on ITV reveal that 13.7 million people tuned into see a fresh batch of stars enter the Australian jungle. Yes, 13.7 million! We do still watch event TV. "Love Island" peaked at 4.1m, keeping young audiences glued to their screens, the BBC’s "Killing Eve" and "Bodyguard" epics demonstrated that we still have an appetite for quality drama and that great TV can draw in younger audiences at peak.
Carolyn McCall is busy getting ITV ready to take on Netflix with content that stretches to cover partnerships (aka "BooHoo" and "Love Island") and events such as the X Factor Tour. Britain will be in need of great national moments in 2019 so it’s time for us to look past the moaning in Westminster and get working with brands to identify the opportunities ahead.
And if I had to bet my hard-earned cash on a second channel in 2019, I would feel confident in outdoor building on growth in 2018. Investment in digital formats has driven more creative usage by brands as diverse as O2, Waitrose and McDonald's.
Outdoor is often used to extend reach and frequency for TV activity and this looks likely to grow as a campaign structure in 2019. However, the greatest opportunity for outdoor in 2019 is the potential for a general election. Ladbrokes is offering 2/1 on an election in 2019, and Mrs May might welcome a break by March 30th.
Anything could happen in 2019 -- but I’m watching TV with excitement and interest and believe we haven’t seen the peak in outdoor yet. I’ll be tuning into 2019.