Mobile Fix – April 24

Wall Street

It’s that time of the quarter again, with GAFA etc reporting earnings to Wall, Street and – in the process – sharing some insights into how their business is doing.

Facebook went first and whilst revenues were close to targets the fact their profits were down due to increased R&D costs was of some concern with analysts.

The law of big numbers (which means growth has to flatten off at some time) has yet to kick in – with monthly active users up 13%. For marketers the figures on the continuing shift to mobile - almost 800 million daily mobile users – up 31% year on year  and 46% increase in mobile revenue has to be the best news.

Yahoo missed their earnings as they continue to turn the business around – but mobile growth and some financial engineering around their Japanese business did prove attractive to Wall Street. The changes to their search partnership with Bing sounds like they could prove interesting.

Google showed a 12% increase in revenue but the cost per click was down  - reflecting the growth of mobile which continues to be discounted.

Amazon showed a small loss as expected but for the first time gave figures on their Cloud business Amazon Web Services – making around $5bn a year.

Algorithm changes

The other big news this week was the awfully named Mobilegeddon – the change to the Google algorithm that got lots of slightly hysterical general news coverage. It is unclear as to when exactly the changes happened and the effects will take a while to surface but our friends at econsultancy have shared some practical advice.

And Facebook tweaked their algorithm too- seeking to better balance content from your friends with that from publishers.  If you have time, this long post from Ben Thompson is a good look at the implications of this switch.

Google Fi

Google continues to focus on improving how people can access the internet, with balloons in Africafibre in Austin and other US cities and now Fi – their MVNO service.

Their Mobile Virtual Network Operator –  which we floated as an idea back in 2006 – isn’t quite as ambitious as expected. Initially it’s only available to Nexus 6 users in certain US cities but the feature set is really interesting; talking and texting switches to wifi when available and data is a simple $10 per Gb – with a rebate for what you don’t use.

We don’t expect this ever to become a fully fledged alternative to Sprint or TMobile; their launch partners. Instead we think it is an exercise to show what’s possible – and encourage the industry to improve. A little like their Nexus products do for other hardware manufacturers. Switching automatically to the best available network (be that wifi or another MNO) makes perfect sense for the user – and hence for Google. Fi is – on part – designed to push the operators to work better together.

Facebook Hello

This week we saw Facebook also move a little closer to what an operator does with a new Android app called Hello. This uses your messenger contacts to mediate your phone calls – telling who is called and enabling you to block nuisance numbers. Coming the same week as WhatsApp allows you to call people as well as message them the inevitable redefining of the phone call is starting to happen.

This tweet we saw is a good summary of how the MNOs view Facebook;
Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao: on Facebook’s free-of-cost internet plan: “It is almost like Zuck does philanthropy, but with my money.”

Benjamin Evans has a good take on this struggle and doesn’t believe the Over The Top players like Google and Facebook want to be Mobile Network Operators – but they are going to drive change in how MNOs do business.

Some other interesting news from Facebook is around their desire to influence how people build apps for mobile. Famous for trumpeting the use of HTML5 for their first mobile efforts and equally famous for switching back to native to improve performance they are now pushing React Native.

This is a possible solution to the need to develop separately for iOS and Android and will be watched carefully. We have seen various hybrid tools promise to solve the issues of time and cost inherent in building twice, but the compromises have usually proved too much.

Digital & Mobile advertising continues to boom

New data from the IAB in the US and the UK evidence the ongoing health of digital advertising.

Mobile revenue in the US is up 76% for 2014 and is now worth slightly more than banners ads – and the digital total is just shy of $50bn a year. TV made $66bn in 2014 – down from $75 in 2013.

Here in the UK the total digital spend is now over £7bn, with mobile up 63% to £1.6bn.

Marin has a new report which looks at Mobile advertising around the world and is useful for benchmarking. And Google have published a guide to programmatic for brands which is full of useful advice on how to get the most out of digital. One thing we fully endorse is the need to stop building digital ads in Flash – but we would say that wouldn’t we as we are helping launch Responsive Ads in Europe; really rich media built in HTML5 that adapts to whatever screen it is seen on – dramatically reducing production costs and improving both impact and engagement.

There are a couple of clouds on the horizon though. Some App developers claim that they are bring priced out of Facebook and are looking to TV as an alternative. And comscore have shared some slight depressing research showing that around half of all digital ads in Europe aren’t viewable by their audience. We still have more to do to unlock the full potential of digital advertising.

Google Conversions

We continue to believe that  – for most brands – getting GAFA right is the best way of ensuring they take maximum advantage of the huge opportunities in mobile; essentially modern digital.

This week I keynoted at a Google event in Dublin for 300 of their top customers. It was great fun but the key thought I left with is just how much potential there is for smart brands to do more with Google. I learned huge amounts from 2 Google speakers ( @jos_tweets and @danielwaisberg )who talked through some of the measurement possibilities in Google Analytics. Including easy ways to track offline events and even use loyalty cards as a means of measuring ad effectiveness. @OptimiseOrDie then have great advice on testing and avoiding the many pitfalls. Finally @lukew gave a masterclass on designing for the mobile world.

Much of what they discussed applies equally well to Facebook or Yahoo etc – people can get real competitive advantage by being really good at this stuff because the odds are your competitors aren’t taking it that seriously.

You should be looking at how you get more than your fair share of value from GAFA and others. Once the videos of the sessions are up I will share them in Fix

Quick Reads

Facebook have some good advice on video – making the point that much of the impact is delivered in the first 10 seconds. It is surprising people don’t work harder at how to get cut through on Googles True View videos where you only pay when someone watches after the first 5 seconds. the whole ad if less than  30 secs or at least 30 secs of a longer one

A good take on the US TV market from the smart people at Redef.

The quest to improve/ solve delivery continues - Amazon will now deliver to the boot of your Audi in Munich. Is the next step a posh Instacart where you get paid if you take packages for friends and neighbours too?

Jonny Ives and Mark Newson took their Watch pitch to the Conde Nast Luxury Conference

Martin Sorrell shares lessons from Jack Ma of Alibaba. They are already valued higher than Amazon with just 5% of their revenue outside China. They plan to grow that to 50%.

Snapchat is changing how its sells ads.

We went to a fascinating Instagram event the other week – with Paul Smith speaking – where they shared some early success stories from brands using Instagram. These cases studies are here.

There is an instagram app for the Watch – do you really want to see your friends latest picture on your wrist?

We mentioned the other week that the elephant in the room for Spotify etc is that YouTube is the biggest player in music streaming – this article explains more about this.

And this long New Yorker piece on the guy broke the music industry is worth reading to better understand music piracy.

Finally…. I am out and about next week at the BSAC Film TV & Games conference and then at the Rutberg Summit. Rather than pontificating, I will be listening and learning. If you are at either event do come and say hello

Mobile Fix – April 17

Google So the EU is finally coming for Google. Over the past few years lots of people have made the pilgrimage to Brussels to talk about their experiences with Google – some asking for and getting anonymity. Google clearly refute the claims but it’s hard to see how they can avoid a hefty fine. The EU is also looking at Android. So this one will run and run.

In a lovely bit of irony the people whose complaints  started this whole investigation will have some more reasons to complain about Google next Tuesday. Foundem – a vertical search engine – apparently never got the memo about mobile and their site is not optimized.

Benedict Evans has a new blog about Google and the challenges that Mobile gives them  – as ever, worth reading.

And it looks like they are emulating Facebook with a custom audience type tool where you can target people based on the customer email addresses you upload. This shift from advertising that treats people as strangers to a model where you recognize people  – and ideally modify your message accordingly – makes so much sense. They are also looking at ways of letting people play with apps without actually downloading them.

And on YouTube the much rumoured subscription model appears to be on its way – with an email to video creators suggesting they will share in the revenue. Trying to reward the creators makes lots of sense as other platforms are attempting to tempt them away. And given the strength of YouTube as a source for music a move to a subscription model similar to Spotify etc also makes sense. Given how important video is for the young market, that spends the most on music, could this be an advantage over audio only services like Spotify? Now that a video view counts towards the Billboard chart, we can expect a continued focus on visuals – and as the Beyonce exclusive on iTunes showed, video can make a big difference.

Another innovation is Cards where you can add these to your videos for better interactivity – essentially upgrading annotation. For more on YouTube this video of Googles Matt Brittan from the recent Guardian event is worth watching

Facebook Facebook are revealing more about Atlas and this look at their approach to cross device is a good barometer for the potential Atlas has to solve the big issues facing digital marketing. For good insight into how brands are using Facebook, Nanigans data is pretty valuable. Their tools are used by some of the smartest brands (including eBay and Zynga) and their latest report shows the key trends for CPM, CPA etc and which products are growing share of spend. The data makes great reading for Facebook – clickthroughs up dramatically year on year and CPCs are reduced for ecommerce, although not for gaming.

Yahoo Yahoo seem to be getting better at their PR – they are finally getting some acknowledgement of the progress they are making. This profile of Marissa is pretty complementary and gives a good insight into how they are approaching things. Another story from the same issue looks at how they developed their mobile ad platform in a remarkably short time – folding in Flurry along the way.

With a good product set and still impressive reach they are well positioned except for one thing – they don’t have the first party data that makes Google, Facebook and even Twitter so effective for brands. Now lots of people do have a yahoo profile but a huge amount are dormant and as good as useless. Mine is linked to some old email address I no longer have access to.

But they have been clever about how to overcome this; their purchase of aviate - which allows users to better organise their apps – gave them a glimpse of what apps users have. Buying Flurry also gave them a great data set on which apps people have  – across both Android and iOS (Aviate only works on Android).

The latest rumour links them with buying FourSquare – which would give them the location data that is becoming so valuable for GAFA. They have lots of cash from their Alibaba stake and FourSquare would be a good use of money. And the Yahoo product skills could help reposition FourSquare a little as they do seem to have lost their mojo.

newTV We have been using the term newTV for years as it captures the changing nature of how people watch long form video. The pace of that change is accelerating and juxtaposition of multiple devices with the emergence of quad play business models means the number of people playing in this space is growing fast too. Like the fabled answer to the question why rob banks? (because that’s where the money is) we know why everyone from GAFA to the operators are infatuated by newTV. The combination of ad revenues and subscriptions make it a hugely profitable industry.

But the music industry used to be hugely profitable and so did News. The changes wrought by technology don’t always lead ot more money and the people in the old TV market worry that the revenue will start to evaporate if/when the model changes. A new Accenture report thinks the worlds love affair with the TV may be coming to an end. Reporting double digit drops in viewing various types of content on the TV screen. Much of this viewing has migrated to a second screen and the report argues that it is on these mobile screens that the industry need to win.

Eric Scherer of France televisions tends to agree;

“The TV industry will have to work on a mobile-first strategy. Not a digital-first strategy, but a mobile-first strategy, because mobile is now the first screen, and it’s taking time away from the TV.”

The video of his presentation at Mip last week is well worth watching. In it he mentions Meerkat and Persicope as the latest evidence of change and others are equally worried about torrent streaming app Popcorn Time which is now available on iOs with a bit of hacking about.

The talent in TV remains its key advantage and this long profile of HBO CEO  Richard Pepler reminds us that creativity is at the heart of the industry and that’s what people continue to value – even if only with their attention rather than their money in some cases.

On the same tip our FireTV stick  has just arrived and first impressions are good – and sales are reported to have been excellent. Along with the Chromecast and Apple TV the TV set becomes just another screen for content delivered over the internet. And the time to watch this content – along with all that Box set binging  – has to be eating away at the time spent watching the traditional TV programmes that so many brands still rely on for reach.

The Watch Having sold out within a matter of hours the pre launch is meeting the Apple goal of keeping people talking about the Watch. There have been dozens of reviews of the reviews of trying the watch and the general view is most people like it. As we have argued before the real test is whether these early adopters will continue to evangelise once they finally get their hands on it – or it on their hands.

A lot of that depends on the apps and a Fix friend at VC Balderton pointed us to a great blog post from their Citymapper friends. Here they talk through the design process for taking a hugely successful phone app to the watch – and the relentless focus needed to decide what to take out. Never has the Mies van der Rohe term Less is More been more apt.

The other challenge for Watch apps is how they handle notifications. Already overused by many apps, the watch could drive people to turn them off. This good piece makes the point of over use well and suggests we will get a solution –eventually. We need a great artificial intelligence effort to comb through our information, assess the urgency and relevance, and use a deep knowledge of who we are and what we think is important to deliver the right notifications at the right time

Essentially that is a version of what we need for advertising – real cleverness about the right time for the right message.

Amazon We spoke at the London Book Fair this week and one of the other speakers looked at Amazon and declared it wasn’t as big a threat as people thought – largely down to the fact that they aren’t that good at hardware as kindle sales seem to have plateaued and their phones and tablets haven’t sold well.

We disagree – see our comments on the FireTV stick earlier and the Kindle is a great success as software.

One other part of the business that people underestimate is AWS – their web services business that powers huge numbers of start up and corporates. This array of services has given Amazon a strong position in Cloud computing and is growing at 40% a year. Now they have added machine learning to the tools – democratizing a skill that is highly valued amongst many tech start ups. You still need a smart person to work out how to get the best from this tool but you no longer need a number of smart engineers to get into this space.

Quick Reads

Clever retail technology from US retailers Kate Spades

How the New York Times is going mobile first Wall Street has heard all the noise about Agencys rebates and si downgrading the holding companies as a result.

A look back at the early days of Buzzfeed and how they find the early viral hits

The idea of data drive creative we are exploring with @Route55 is getting traction – now Celtra have a product in the space. We believe the value is in how you use the tools, as much as the tool itself.

Deep Linking in apps is one of the most promising trends in mobile – but it has yet to deliver.

This Pew research on how the smartphone is essential for Travel is a good read

Our last Fix went out on Good Friday as many people missed it. Some of the content was good – with some very interesting data - and is still timely, so you may find it useful to read it here.

Finally …The digital industry continues to wrestle with ad fraud. The debates around viewability add to the murkiness of digital and provide excuses for laggards to – well – lag. Less than half of video ads were viewable last year. And in a great example of research telling you what you already know someone has done a study showing that ads that are viewable perform better than those that are not. We believe digital advertising has to deliver in 3 areas; it must be Viewable, Noticeable & Relevant. We have some work to do on all three.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobileand social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – April 3 – Easter edition

2 weeks to go until the new Google algorithm drops – and new data from Criteo shows the problem – UK consumers are going cross device but rate the mobile shopping experience as much worse than the desktop

Another Criteo report shows the size of the prize for those who do get it right– some 20% of ecommerce transactions are now mobile. And in Japan the mobile funnel is much more developed than in the West. Lots of good stuff in both reports

Talent, Content & Distribution

It was interesting to see how the launch of Tidal (the JayZ backed streaming service) went down. Almost everyone thought it unlikely to work and there was a certain cynicism over wealthy artists complaining that a platform wasn’t paying them fairly. Music blog Lefsetz was particularly scathing, arguing that people want free music and that the industry doesn’t have room for this new platform. There does seem to be a clear divide –the industry thinks streaming is a good thing and going to make a lot of money but the talent is less convinced – hence Tidal.

We’ve talked before about how GAFA and others are using exclusive content (JayZ for Samsung, Beyonce for Apple etc) to gain attention. That isn’t going to go away, so we think Tidal has some power. And in a world where YouTubers, Viners etc can build a huge audience – and revenue stream – organically, its naïve to think that talent like Kanye etc can’t use digital to distribute their art in a new way.

The Beats streaming service is imminent and their recognition of the power of curation suggests they could be a good partner for Tidal, in some way.

It’s interesting to compare the coverage with how people are looking at the idea Facebook will distribute publishers content for them. Jason Calcanis terms Facebook a serpent and warns us with a fable that it’s not going to end well for content owners.

But it’s the same as Tidal – the talent creating content need a strong platform for distribution and the platforms with the big audiences are attractive when building your own audience remains so hard. So to take advantage of someones reach you need to pay carriage.

A publisher needs to pay Facebook a revenue share. Beyonce gets a share of Spotify profits. ITV used to pay carriage fees to Sky. Brands pay rent to be in Westfield mall.

It’s all about recognizing the value exchange – so Apple pays rather less than its neighbours – and ensuring your brand stays salient. And constantly looking for new opportunities for distribution. Fix friend Neil Perkin sums up the argument for distributed thinking here.

Lefsetz makes a great argument for distributed content by looking at how Buzzfeed approach making and sharing their films – making some good points about the music industry at the same time.

Reinventing shopping

What looked like yet another Brand April Fool, Amazon Dash is a real product and reminds us of the extent of Amazons ambition. Dash is a simple button, with a brand name on it, which connects to your wifi and places an order for that brand whenever it is pressed.Their video shows them stuck on the fridge, washer, coffee machine and cupboard – and they are working with White Goods firm to have these built in.

It solves a business problem for brands – how do I make sure my customers stay loyal to my brand – and a customer problem – how do I make sure I don’t run out of X. And it places Amazon right in the centre of grocery shopping.

In our view though this is something of a diversion. The real win for Amazon would be to unleash their Firefly app  - which identifies products through image search and a shazam like tool to recognize music. Currently only available on the few Fire phones, making this available on Ios and Android would be very smart. We have been playing with their Flow app (launched back in 2011) which does some of what Firefly does and its pretty good.

They also entered a new market with their Home Services – letting you find a plumber, someone to install your new TV or a music teacher. And they haven’t forgotten the Goat Grazing market. With their experience of Mechanical Turk, it was perhaps inevitable they would get to the TaskRabbit, TrustedPeople space eventually but a lot of start ups will be rethinking their business plans.

And a new Patent application shows them looking at retail stores where you simply pick your items and walk out without having to queue at a till. Many retailers are looking at innovations like this –Sainsbury have trials where you scan the barcodes of the products you put in your basket and then simply uses the weight of the basket as a check when you pay for what you have scanned. But we’re sure we will see Amazon stores on the High Street eventually.

Luxury & Tech

With the Watch per orders opening next Friday, it’s a good time to look at how tech is impacting luxury. The Criteo survey shows that Fashion and Luxury and is the ecommerce sector where mobile is most impactful- with around a third of sales via mobile.

And this week we see the merger of Net A Porter and Yoox, creating a Fashion powerhouse. Both hugely successful, these firms should be complimentary as NAP is brilliant at the shopping experience and content whilst Yoox has nailed the logistics.  This profile of the Yoox founder is a good read.

This combination should be better equipped to fight Amazon as they step up in fashion. Remember Bezos is quoted as saying

“In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food.”

Business of Fashion have a good round up of where Amazon is in Fashion and they haveopened an East London studio for Fashion photography for the site.

As Google remind us though, people now buy across channels and brands with an omni channel approach are likely to out perform those who are only online or only offline. Thisgood FT piece looks at how retail stores are used Brand Cathedrals by smart brands. Westfield are testing a new concept at their San Francisco mall to enable smaller brands to get a retail presence

Messaging & Social

For a long time the only generational divide in digital was between digital natives and digital immigrants. More recently we have started thinking about smartphone natives and smartphone immigrants and this chart suggests there is something in this. Bear in mind people under 18 aren’t included, so the bias to youth is almost certainly even more pronounced.

Flurry research shows that messaging apps are used much more than other apps and have a far better rate of retention.  A seminal piece by Ben Evans looks at messaging in the light of the Facebook announcements last week and it’s clear we are still early in the game.

So working out how to use these new opportunities is clearly vital for brands. As Gary Vaynerchuck pointed out at the Guardian Changing Media Summit the other week, Marketers Ruin everything so it’s important to get there early.  At an excellent Instagram event this week we heard from some brands on how they use that platform.

One the smartest thinkers – and doers –in social (along with Gary V) is Oliver Luckett and this interview is a good look at his approach.

As ever, it’s time to experiment.

Quick Reads

The regulators are starting to move against GAFA. As expected Google is likely to be subject to anti trust charges and Facebook use of data is coming under scrutiny.

Indias’ ecommerce leader has closed its mobile site and now drives everyone to it’s app

Is Periscope the final piece of the puzzle for Twitter? A gamechanger?

The Marketing cloud may not be all its made out to be

There is never anything to watch on the telly at Bank Holidays, but C4 have an interesting looking show on tech start ups in San Francisco on Monday night. Made by some friends, it could be worth watching.

Finally …as we enjoy the Easter break this long read about the implications of some of the tech trends is worth a look. Does the big switch to getting everything delivered free us up for lots more socializing and doing interesting things. Or does it turn us into hermits?

We are spending next week on the beach in Cornwall where delivery isn’t that big – yet. So no Fix next week – enjoy your break.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – March 27

3 weeks to go

Before we get into what’s happening now, it’s worth remembering that on April 21 everything changes. That’s the date the new Google Algorithm drops and it’s likely to really shake things up. By rewarding sites that are mobile friendly with a better ranking, it will dramatically change the results shown for many searches. Now the whole point of these changes is to improve the user experience and Google doesn’t pre announce much of the details. So the full effect – including issues such as how apps influence results – will only become apparent on the day.

It may be worth having your creative technologists shelve their Watch apps and Virtual Reality experiments for the moment, to look at something that will have a big effect on your business in the very near future.

FacebookIt has felt like a Facebook week this week. Last Friday we saw an excellent event showcasing Atlas and it was clear this is a major shift for the whole industry. Essentially Atlas will let you take all the smart targeting and measurement you are doing within Facebook (to work out who the really important people for your business) and amplify it by finding the same people across the internet.By doing this they solve the crucial issues of targeting, measuring reach and optimising frequency. Across devices. And highlight the fact that cookie based systems have inherent flaws on desktop as well as mobile.

Then at London Advertising Week I spoke on one of their panels, looking at what is holding mobile back. It won’t surprise anyone that we all agreed on measurement and creativity as key issues.

And in the past couple of days the Facebook developer conference f8 has unveiled lots of interesting initiatives (over 25 products and tools). Some are pretty geeky but the big news was around how apps that are connected with FB for logging in and sharing can be further integrated. Particularly with Messenger, where they are encouraging app developers to build messenger into their apps. They also now have app analytics and their creation of an embedded video player is highly significant as their functionality gets closer to that of YouTube.

In his keynote Zuck talked about their family of apps and the fact they built Messenger rather than bought it is a source of some pride. Being able to add emojis Gifs and videos to your chats on Messenger strengthens them against the new generation of Messenger apps. And the idea that businesses can use it to send receipts etc is really interesting. AsBen Evans tweets Facebook isn’t taking on WeChat. It’s taking on the iOS/Android notification panel

This Wired interview with him is a good take on their thinking and this live blog of the first day is worth flipping through for a topline of what was shared.

They did talk about their ad tech and LiveRail is turning out to have been a really significant acquisition as its use is extended from video to mobile and desktop. Obviously people are pointing out that they are now going head to head with Google in more and more areas. But that’s an inevitable consequence of their battle for advertising spend. For brands what matters is whether or not you are getting the most from both of these platforms. Neither can be ignored and arguably you should spend (nearly) all your time and money getting these platforms right before thinking of focusing on other opportunities.

Enchanted Media

The Facebook spherical videos look really cool and we can start to see how they see oculus rift as an evolution of video – a smart guy at Vodafone calls this space enchanted media. Facebook  looked at optical illusions and how VR can hack the brain when talking about Oculus. This video of Googles Magic Leap acquisition is also interesting, although some are questioning how real this video is – if that makes sense. We think this whole area may move faster than anyone expects – but is still too early for brands to worry about this. There are more urgent priorities.

Facebook and publishing

Facebook also featured in one of the big debates of the week as they seek to bring publishers and their content onto the Facebook platform. Opinion is divided on whether this is a smart move for publishers or a slippery slope.

It is likely that news will follow the same trajectory as clever brands who moved from creating destination websites to distributing their content around the web – going to where the people are rather than hoping they can be dragged to the destination. For news this has some logic despite the fact they once were true destinations. But just as TV stations gravitate to the platforms with eyeballs – Sky or cable etc – so too will news brands move to platforms like Facebook and SnapChat Discover.

Buzzfeed know this and are happy for their content to be shared and distributed anywhere. If you didn’t read the piece we shared last week on their new strategy do make the time – and the video is well worth watching too.

The challenge of course is how ad revenue gets shared and whether a good deal now may get changed in the future. The answer is that really good content remains rare and therefore valuable – and the Guardian, Vice, New York Times and Vanity Fair etc have proved better at creating and curating this than anyone else. So they should be OK. As long as advertisers recognize the value of the context that good content creates

Remember Foursquare?

Since dividing into two apps Foursquare and Swarm seem to have lost their way. Swarm doesn’t offer the same ‘buzz’ for checking in and Foursquare seems to throw out random notifications telling me what the glaring obvious. At Advertising Week it helpfully tells me that the coffee is good at Bafta.

The founder has shared his thoughts on their 6th birthday and talks about how Foursquare now powers location tagging on Twitter.

Their asset is their very impressive database of places. We have never found anywhere not on Foursquare  – from surfers bars on quite beaches in Srl Lanka to bacalhau bars in Sao Paulos’ market. So their future seems to be more around a data layer than a service. Their head of product tells the story of the app split and gives a good insight into how to run product

Meerkat madness continues

Everyone seems to be on meerkat now and we have seen some good stuff and lots and lots of average stuff. We even tried to live stream Nile Rodgers and Chic from the Roundhouse last Friday but the connection wasn’t quite good enough.

It is clear that live streaming is a thing and there are already lots of ancillary services launching to add functions like discovery and saving/sharing. Twitter owned Periscope is now out of beta and available for downloadYouNow - who have been doing live streaming for a while – is getting more attention.

The VC who has invested in Meerkat talks about how they see video evolving – Spontaneous Togetherness.

Quick Reads

As Meerkat proves Mobile operators nightmares do come true, it is interesting that BT celebrate their return to mobile with deals that offer just 500mb of data. Video means people need more data and that leads to more money for operators – as long as their networks can cope. This is a good look at how both BT and the merged 3 and O2 are approaching the market.

Razorfish share their thoughts on the future of retail

The EU want a single digital market – so expect battles with content owners who prefer country by country deals

Twitter have launched cashtags so you can play people – and Businesses – over Twitter

More on Apple TV and it’s likely effect on cable cutting and Amazon are pushing their new Fire dongle – a Chromecast competitor.

Finally… as we wait for more news on the Apple Watch it’s interesting to look some of the past work by Marc Newson who Jonny Ives hired to help him design the Watch. This Newson metal chair is expected to sell for $2m

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & ContentOur clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – March 20

Facebook money

Ever since they poached David Marcus from Paypal we have known that Facebook were going to get into money and they have now launched their payment service for Messenger. It’s very simple – once you have added a debit card to your account – and it’s free. (Credit cards aren’t accepted right now because of the fraud risk and the fees) Once it’s all working we can expect it to roll out to the WhatsApp user base too.

With Forrester estimating mobile payments will triple to $142bn by 2019, this puts Facebook in the money game – but we think the real prize is people paying for things rather than paying their friends. Which is why the interesting news from Facebook this week is their purchase of shopping curation site The Find.

Whilst big brands are switching spend to Facebook it’s the smaller advertisers who arguably can have the most impact – the 2 million advertisers. Demonstrating how well the new Products ads work by enabling payments would solve the attribution issue once and for all.

One of the most prolific bloggers about Financial Services wonders whether banks are heading for their Kodak/Nokia moment.

Another of the smarter thinkers around Money has 5 suggestions on what banks should be thinking about – which all make good sense. But is anyone listening?

And the innovation is coming from everywhere – in China Alibaba are trialling facial recognition for payments – which sounds similar to what Square does in the US and what Paypal trialled in Richmond.

Wearables & Proximity; Mickey Mouse technology?

Halifax Bank is trying a wearable that reads your heartbeat to unlock your account  but it seems rather complicated and one suspects a double espresso or running up the stairs might cause a problem.  This sounds more like a PR stunt.

The Disney wristband sounds like a PR stunt too, but they do seem to have a really exciting service – because it solves real problems. This longish piece is worth reading as it also gets into how proximity can be helpful. If you are thinking about beacons – and who isn’t ?  – there is a lot to learn here.

And the new VC backed bus service in San Francisco is a good use case for Bluetooth / proximity. As well as showing how tech (and tech focused investment) is starting to impact every aspect of life. One other interesting example is Subway rewarding customers who use their instore wifi. Why – because the data is so valuable – knowing how often someone visits your stores can drive your CRM and  – now  – your programmatic and retargeting. The ability to connect your physical world with the digital world enables great experiences for customers

Programmatic going mainstream

As mentioned here a while back WPP are looking to take a stake in DunnHumby – the Tesco owned data powerhouse that drove the phenomenal success of the Tesco Clubcard and now works with retailers around the world. Now cynics may suggest this story has popped up again because Tesco is reviewing its £100m media account – something Sir Martin has been after for years. How better to out maneuver the competition than by negotiating for an acquisition?

But it would be an expensive tactic and the real value of Dunn Humby is the data which could fuel the WPP programmatic play. Just like their stake in MySupermarket and the recent deal with Comscore this deal would fit with WPPs ambitions in data and insight – well explained in this WSJ piece.

Whilst programmatic and its plethora of TLAs* can be a little arcane for many, it is going mainstream very quickly. Every publisher is trying to work out their best  approach – the UK ‘quality’ news brands have combined to launch the Pangea alliance. This alliance lets the publishers combine their reach and their data to better battle GAFA in programmatic buys.

Of course the original Pangea continent eventually split and formed the various continents we are familiar with today. Can this alliance last? The first thing the buyers will do is try and see which approach gets the best value – buy everything from Pangea or divide and conquer and deal direct.

Smart clients see the opportunity and are experimenting – this look at what some UK brands are doing is interesting. A few are even taking programmatic in house – Kelloggs are very positive about their experience and the numbers for taking it inhouse seem to add up – if you know what you are doing.

*Three Letter Acronyms

Missing Metrics

We have argued before that the industry obsessions with metrics – like clicks and views – that are poor surrogates for what really counts; impact on sales.

P&G know a little about marketing and they have called for more consistency around advertising and the sales outcome. This interview with Global Brand Office is good insight into how smart brands are approaching digital; he sees further growth from the current 35% share for digital.

Unilever are also looking for better research but want to move from recall and persuasion to measuring engagement.

A new study from the Mobile Marketing Association provides some real metrics – they replicated the studies the IAB did for digital 10 years ago to measure the impact of mobile in multi channel campaigns for Coke, Walmart, Mastercard and others. All the studies showed a very positive impact for mobile – on footfall in stores, purchase intent and actual sales. They argue that mobile merits a double digit share of total spend – not just of the digital budget,

Apps for news

This is an interesting look at how the news industry uses apps – and argues that most publishers would be better to concentrate on mobile web. It also tackles the myth about app use dominating mobile use – pointing out that a huge proportion of the time allocated to the Facebook app is actually spent on web pages delivered within Facebook.

There are more voices arguing for the mobile web over apps – and this piece points out that notifications reduce the need for apps.

There is no right or wrong answer – as ever the right strategy is dictated by the problem you are solving – for your business and for your customer.

Meerkat & Periscope

There is no doubt that the app that won SXSW this year was Meerkat. It is everywhere and everyone is streaming – although lots of them are not that interesting. We did see one example that demonstrates just how disruptive it will be. Social media guru Gary Veynerchuck gave a great keynote at this weeks Guardian Changing Media Summit – and he streamed it on Meerkat. Not a perfect experience but it worked really well and the 250+ people watching didn’t pay the £999 delegate fee.

As we predicted though, Twitter – who have just bought similar business Periscope – are reducing the social graph integration of Meerkat – giving them just 2 hours notice. Some good perspective here.

Lots going on at Twitter – a new second screen experience and – maybe – a new homepage. Gary V is unconvinced by Twitter and in his talk he calls on them to sort the ‘noise’ https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/and find a way to emulate the Facebok feed – and their algorythms

Quick reads

The Homescreen project is an interesting insight into how people use apps and someone has dug further into the data to see how people group them- suggesting how the apps are primarily used.

The Apple retail stores are a huge success for Apple – arguably one of their most effective marketing tools. It turns out that they tend to pay reduced rents in malls given their ability to pull in shoppers.

More on Apple  - looks like they are finally going to make a play in TV content

More good insight into how Buzzfeed distribute content

Facebook and Deloitte publish good research into Mums in the UK

The big trend for agencies and brands at SxSW was the Start Up competitions –  but with 80 taking place the standard was variable. They are not as easy as they seem and like hacks a couple of years ago it can look like start ups are being exploited.

Finally , with CES, MWC and SxSW over the next stop on the merry go round is Cannes. Google and AKQA have a good round up of what it takes to win a Futures Lion

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

March 13

Video evolves

Almost exactly 10 years after the launch of YouTube we have probably seen the next step in the evolution of video ; live ephemeral video from Meerkat

In the 10 days since I signed up after seeing it on Product Hunt, the vast majority of my notifications have been from Meerkat – both as many of the people I follow on Twitter sign up and others go ‘live now’. Much of the content is peoples first attempts and not that interesting, but we are starting to see some interesting use cases. For example smart VC @cape has been using it to talk with some of their start ups. There were a couple of people streaming the Watch launch and news channel CNBC have used it for some news coverage

To get an idea of how people are using it this early piece is good but probably the best take so far is from VC Mark Suster who really understands video. But Variety already suggest it is losing its cool .

And Twitter have just acquired Periscope which sounds pretty similar – and being able to leverage the Twitter ecology is obviously going to be crucial. This description of Periscope talks up the possibilities.

Whichever service wins out, the genie is out of the bottle. Take just one obvious use case – football. The Premier league have been trying to get Vines of goals taken down but I see Leeds goals on Facebook Twitter etc all the time; imagine someone filming the whole game on Meerkat. Or Periscope.

The user experience isn’t currently great but this is a new format and it is going to disrupt a lot of things.

A new model for creating and consuming video is emerging and Peter Chernin (formerly Rupert Murdochs right hand man) believes we are heading for the golden age of video.

It’s just not clear where advertising fits.

That Watch

The other big story this week was the Apple Watch. But we actually didn’t learn very much we didn’t know before. No information on the tech, vague hints about battery life and we don’t even know the dimensions – it looks like quite a deep piece of equipment.

Probably the best commentator on Apple is Neil Cybart and his take on the launch is worth reading. The markets weren’t impressed and neither is the fashion industry.

Our view is that the launch will do pretty well as there are plenty of people who love Apple and will want to be seen with the device asap. We will only really know about the long term success when these people start showing their watches off to their friends. Word of mouth from passionate iPhone users drove that success. Will the same thing work for the watch? For that to happen the battery life needs to be good and the apps need to convince. Time will tell.

They still make laptops? 

The surprise at the event was the launch of the new Macbook which got quite mixed reviews, with many thinking the current Air and Pro are better. With great timing Google launched their new Chromebooks – which are getting great reviews.

We have long argued that – at some point – Apple gets the Levis 501 problem. Yes they are great jeans but when everyone else has them, it’s time to find an alternative. Look around any artisan coffee shop in London, Lisbon, LA or Leeds and everyone has a Macbook. How long before having a Chromebook or the Experia Z4 is the cool choice? And what does that do to the Apple ecology?

If you are in London you can play with the new Chromebooks (and the very impressive Nexus 6) at Googles first ever retail store. It’s not quite the Brand Cathedral that Apple typically does – being a part of the Currys store on Tottneham Court Road –but it is worth a visit.

Audio – next big thing?

One thing we can be sure the Watch will do is popularize voice commands. There is a whole Dick Tracy thing about talking into your watch and Siri (and Google) has taught us how to do this. Google research shows that teens love voice search and we expect the rest of us will catch up.

There is a likely new dimension though – text to voice. If I get an alert on my watch about a new email, why do I have to try and read it on my watch or get out my phone? Why can’t it be read to me – hopefully, for everyone elses sake -  through my Bluetooth head set?

If you hack around with the iPhone accessibility settings you can get anything read out but you have to redo it for each web page or email. But we find using it with Kindle works quite well. Expect to see a lot of innovation around this in the next few months And, sorry -yes, we did predict this in our futurology piece back in 2001

Quick Reads

The Apple app store was down for 12 hours– is that enough to impact on Facebook and Yahoo next quarter figures?

We are fascinated by the similarities  – and differences – between GAFA and their Galapogos equivalents BAT (Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent). An interesting move sees Amazon open a store on the Alibaba owned Tmall to try and build their business in China. And Alibaba have invested $200m in Snapchat – at a valuation of $15bn. Which raises the intriguing question; what are Snapchat spending all this money on?

They are also doing quite well on advertising – in their new Discover section Snapchat is getting $100cpm with no targeting and no clickthrough.

Depressingly, over half of UK media agencies regularly leave mobile off their plans! This article looks at some of the excuses.

The tension between many clients and their agencies over remuneration erupts again, with GroupM denying allegations they profit from rebates. One of the media industries best informed bloggers gives his perspective. This distrust is likely to get worse as brands begin to understand the significance of their data and worry about who they share it with.

A look at where Buzzfeed find all those cat videos

This is a good look at the threat from GAFA for banking – from the head of Spains top bank BBVA. And this is how BBVA is embracing digital. Plus some smart advice on how banks should be thinking about payments and how they should be experimenting.

Facebook are helping brands deliver their messaging by letting them target formats by device type. So on a smartphone with a good connection the video shows and those on a poor connection or a low end device get still images. This is the first green shoots of ads that are optimized to their audience – as Kelloggs say “30% is the media; 70% is the creative, as far as I’m concerned,”

And they are sharing their treasure trove of insights with their advertisers in their new Topic Data

This is an  excellent piece on the need for creative to evolve to take advantage of the programmatic opportunity. And this piece on the age of context – by an ex Google and Facebook exec turned VC – details the opportunity. Follow @Route55 for more news on our progress in this space.

Finally…This stuff might just work. BooHoo profits up by 27%. Could it be down to this?

Mobile now represents almost half of all traffic and daily unique visitors to its website, which markets and sells own-brand clothing and shoes to a core market of 16 to 24-year-olds. Mobile conversion improved by more than 40 per cent in the past quarter, it said.

Everyone in your sector knows how to use TV and old media. They have sorted their distribution and pricing, just as you have. But the chances are, they are pretty poor at mobile and social.

So if you do mobile really really well you can get real competitive advantage. What are we waiting for?

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – March 6

The Missing Metrics

…..in a survey of CEOs, close to three out of four agreed with the following statement: marketers “are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate.

This worrying fact comes from a good McKinsey piece which actually makes the argument that we are at the dawn of a golden age in marketing. The piece is well worth reading and its premise that science and storytelling can be combined to great effect is compelling.

But we also think it points out a major issue for marketing – Missing Metrics.

In many of our conversations with brands the substance of digital metrics is questioned. Clicks, visits and impressions  – polluted by worries over viewability and bots – aren’t seen as valid. Especially at board level, where they obsess over customers, revenues and profits.

Clearly reliable attribution is the holy grail but one missing metric is around brand effect – the data points that have driven traditional marketing for generations. Shouldn’t we adopt that in mobile? It is possible to pretest mobile creative for brand metrics and to optimize programmatic around brand metrics. Why aren’t we doing this more?

The second Missing Metric is around how advertising can and does annoy people. See that same ad again and again? Video ads that autoplay with the sound up? Pops ups and interstials – where the X to close is so small it’s almost impossible not to end up clicking through? And the relentless retargeting, stalking you around the web?

If brands could measure just how many people were annoyed by these clumsy tactics, would they still do them? There is a macro metric around annoying people – the rise in adblocking.  Perhaps we should all just imagine there is such a micro metric too and recognize that pissing people off probably isn’t a good idea.

The best answer to adblocking is to make advertising better. As we no longer have to treat people as strangers, we can now use data to really understand which ads are relevant to people. And therefore less likely to annoy. And more likely to be effective.

Traditional & Digital

On a similar tip we see that smart brands know that a mix of old and new media makes sense. Which is why we favour aligning around brand metrics. Whilst the agency world isn’t that well organized to deliver this type of support, these clients are able to orchestrate different people to deliver the best of both worlds.

It’s worth remembering that GAFA are pretty big on traditional media too. Facebook have a UK ad campaign live at the moment – developed inhouse. And Google spent £45m (almost as much as Ford) in 2013 – making it the UKs 31st biggest advertiser and Amazon outspent Vauxhall coming in at number 40.

They know – like we do – that what’s important is marketing that’s right for the digital age, rather than digital marketing.

(You can get a better idea of how Google approach marketing in this interview with their marketing supremo)

News Media

New data on the readership of the UKs newspapers shows the migration to mobile – with print now the smallest proportion for many titles. Key exception being Murdochs titles, which have a tiny digital readership.

Murdoch has a subscription model but everyone else relies on ad revenue. And the industry seems to have decided that a reader holding their smartphone is worth considerably less than a reader with newsprint on their fingers.

So we can imagine the economics here, as the cpm for mobile is likely to be a fraction of that for print. But conversions are so much lower on mobile, I hear you cry. No-one knows much about the conversions on print but brands know a full page in a tabloid gets the attention of the reader.

If we can’t find a way to better capture the value of the mobile users attention, the future for these newspapers doesn’t look that healthy.

The other part of the news landscape seems to be doing better. Vice and Buzzfeed are setting the agenda and Upworthy are seen as the fastest growing media economy of all time. Now you could debate whether you should lump all these brands in the same news bucket, but many do – and the old school print legacy people are increasingly adopting behaviours from these newcomers.

This piece lauding Buzzfeed as the most important news organisation in the world is worth reading. And so is this Guardian piece on Upworthy. This article looking at the secret sauce driving viral content at these sites is worth a look too.

But ultimately it comes down to monetization and whether the only option for the old players is to learn the new tricks of native and viral video.

We still think that good old fashioned advertising can work on mobile and the news sites can prosper through delivering the attention of their readers through compelling creative. That’s why we have partnered with ResponsiveAds to launch their platform in Europe – rich, engaging messaging that works across devices and reduces the time and cost of production. If you want to make your advertising work harder get in touch

Mobile Money

Whilst Apple don’t talk about their progress with Pay, Chase Manhattan say they have provisioned over 1 million wallets – so momentum is good. And their data suggests Pay customers are more active. There is more activity in the market with PayPal making an interesting acquisition and Google announcing their new payments service, snappily called Android Pay. Maybe the Google marketing people didn’t get involved in that one.

Of course activity around finance attracts the interest of crooks too and it seems they are targeting Apple stores as they take Apple Pay and sell things that are easily sold on. It’s not actually a weakness in the tech but rather the banks system for onboarding new customers. But the headlines are all focused on Pay and this inevitablty adds to the friction around growing mobile payments.

GAFA & Product

In the run up to Mobile World, Congress we gained some good insight into GAFA with interviews with key people at Facebook and Google.

Chris Cox is the Chief Product Officer at Facebook and this video of an interview with him is worth the 50 minutes

He talks for the first time about Facebook’ ambition to have publishers upload their content directly onto Facebook (probably similar in concept if not in execution to Snapchats Discover?). But he admits publishers are proving reticent. No surprise there then. He also talks about their focus on video. Again, well worth watching.

As is this interview with Sundar Pichai of Google – Larry Pages go to guy for product. With a lot of responsibility (essentially everything other than YouTube and adsales) he covers a lot of topics. The key insights are the likely dismantling of Google+ – with popular elements like Hangouts and Photos standing more alone – and their plans for monetizing Play store with search ads.

And he carefully answers a question about the Google search in ioS – saying it’s a long term deal and ..

I think how search manifests in iOS will work out just fine. We have a long term search partnership and are working together with them, and we’ll have to see.

As we mentioned last week the competition between Facebook and Google for ad spend is heating up. A UK commentator thinks Facebook new product ads are going to hurt Google and we are told Walmart have pulled out of Google Shoping ads. A very interesting space to watch.

MWC

70k people schlepped to Barcelona this week for the Mobile World Congress. We resisted the temptation and just missed a few good parties and a lot of walking.

As well as lots of new devices – which all look just the same – from everyone apart than Apple, the ad agencies and vendors were the main attraction with lots of meeting rooms booked. And the odd party.

The head of probably the biggest player in mobile adbuying wrote a good summary of the key themes of the event from a marketing viewpoint.

And Mark Zuckerberg gave a talk on Internet.org – the drive to get more people from emerging markets online. People from MNOs joined him and he pushed them to provide the free data to hook people into – eventually – paying for it.

Quick Reads 

More good stuff on understanding the Blockchain

A good look at BAT – the Chinese GAFA – and how they are getting into mobile.

And a look at how Brushers game Alibaba -  faking sales and reviews to improve their ranking.

The Instagram advertising portfolio is expanding with Carousel ads.

A number of mobile operators are cooperating to push the mobile as key to the digital identity of users. Given that people keep their phone numbers and the way SMS is increasingly used to confirm sign ups, this makes good sense. And puts the MNO right back in the game with first party data.

Finally …it’s worth revisiting the McKinsey report we mentioned earlier. They ask 5 questions to see if you are prepared for this golden age of marketing. How do you score?

  1. Are we taking advantage of the science of data and research to uncover new insights, or are we working off yesterday’s facts, assertions, and heuristics?
  2. Do we fully exploit the power of marketing to enhance the substance—that is, the products, services, and experiences—we offer our customers, or are we just selling hard with a “me-too” mind-set?
  3. Do we have a clear brand story that echoes through cyberspace, or do we feel that we aren’t quite capturing hearts and minds?
  4. Have we created simplifiers within our organization, or have complex matrices become a logjam?
  5. Are we faster or slower to market than our competition?

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – February 27

Mobile TransformationA new report from Boston Consulting says that consumers benefit from mobile to the tune of $3.5 trillion globally – as much as $4k for each user. Whether you buy into this type of analysis or not, their data on what people would give up rather do without mobile Internet is quite powerful. The report is quite a long read but interesting.

Fix readers know that million of people have transformed how they live their lives because of mobile. What may be surprising is just how concentrated the attention is;

A report from Ericsson shows that around 2/3 of peoples mobile time is taken up by just 5 apps – with social and video dominating. If your mobile strategy is based around your app it’s an uphill struggle – especially as Kantar research suggests a quarter of Android apps are uninstalled within 10 minutes of being downloaded.But it is clear we are still quite early in this switch to mobile and there is lots of potential – the Flurry CEO predicting that 2015 is the year of mobile commerce.

In his talk at the Yahoo conference the other week he showed one chart that reinforces the size of the mobile opportunity – the OTT messaging apps now have more users than the mobile operators do

Mobile advertisingThe business model of this new mobile world is clearly advertising.  Stratchery make an interesting comparison between TV and Snapchat – big audiences with a good level of engagement but little or no targeting. And he makes the point that brands want big audiences, especially of young people. And that Snapchat have learned from Facebook that size matters so they are seen as;

the mobile messaging app with the rather old-fashioned business model ready and willing to take the place of TV.

US research shows that young people are just not watching traditional TV in the same numbers.

Mr Juenger at Bernstein Research argues that television is undergoing a “structural” migration from ad-supported networks to streaming video services. “We don’t think those viewers are coming back,” he warns.

But is that old fashioned business model enough anymore?New research approaches from Facebook Yahoo and others are correlating product purchase with ad exposure with increasing reliability. New academic research confirms what we have known for a long time – digital is equally able to drive brand metrics as TV is.

Smart marketers are moving a proportion of their TV spend to digital with Facebook a major beneficiary. But is taking a spot designed for TV into social media the best approach?

Facebooks new Atlas supremo reminded us on Twitter of a point ad guru Dave Trottt made – most advertising is academic because it either isn’t noticed or isn’t remembered.

Headroom: “£18.3bn is spent yearly in the UK on advertising. 4% remembered positively, 7% negatively, 89% not noticed/remembered”@davetrott

— Damian Burns (@damianburns) February 26, 2015

(Read the original Dave Trott article here)If 89% of ads are not noticed or remembered in traditional media should we really be taking the same ads into digital?

Advertising has also talked to strangers – because it had no alternative.

So ads have to be ‘bland’ enough to appeal to everyone. And bland doesn’t get noticed.

But in our brave new data driven world advertising to strangers is an anathema. We can know lots about the people we’re talking to, so we can and must tailor the message to be relevant.

It then has a better than 1 in 10 chance of being noticed.

So the economics of creative change – and when you blend in technology, we can industrialise creative production – and make it more effective.

SME s – The neglected ad opportunity

When we talk about advertising we all tend to focus on big brands spending large amounts through their agencies. But the hidden part of the advertising iceberg is the small advertisers who have a local footprint. Many of these SMEs have already weaned themselves off traditional media – look at how thin local press, trade press and directories tend to be these days.

A large element of Google growth has been these small advertisers using search as a wonderfully efficient way to reach customers.

But Facebook is making big inroads into this market – and seem to be taking revenue from Google. A friend tweeted about this;

Top analysis @brianwieser Pivotal Research: Small businesses represent 25% of @facebook ad revenue much of growth at the expense of @google

— Christophe Cauvy (@ChristopheCauvy) February 24, 2015

And Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview that Facebook now has 2 million active advertisers – up from 1.5m in the middle of last year. A smart Fix friend who works with smaller brands thinks Google is too slow and now focuses on finding leads on Facebook.

As recognition of this growth Facebook now has an app SMEs can use to manage their ads

Quick reads

Boom. As predicted Google are finally going to use mobile optimised as a signal in compiling search results and they expect it will have a significant impact in our search resultsYou have until April 21 to get a mobile site

Given the mystery over the Apple Car this detailed look at the auto industry is an interesting read. It’s noteworthy that the report is from a firm better known for focusing on mobile.

Following up our look at Mobile money last week Google have jumped back in the game by buying the wallet firm the US operators developed. Your enemies enemy can sometimes be your friend. Some think the big opportunity for Google is to buy PayPal.

And this report from Brightons’ smartest thinkers is a very good take on the trends shaping the financial industry.

The UK government have made a huge success of improving their digital presence and it is being copied around the world. Most brands could learn something from the way they approach digital.

A good look at Line – the messaging app that makes vast amounts of money.

Is Pinterest the next big ad business?

Some good examples of retail blending with mobile

YouTube doesn’t make much money – even before the competition really gets going

good new blog post from Ben Evans pointing out that disruption in mobile comes from the top as well as the bottom.  And this is a good profile of Evans and his work for VC a16z

Finally…. I spent last Friday at the Techstars Demo Day. Having been a mentor to the really smart people at Big Data for Humans I had met all the teams at the start of the process. But I was astonished at how the 12 weeks had transformed some of them and the day was a succession of compelling pitches from really promising start ups. This list of some bigger, more established, start ups, reminds us how this start up energy translates into our everyday life.

Mobile Fix – February 20 – Money, Location, Apple Watch & Car & much more

Mobile & Money

Currently there are two fairly distinct centres of gravity in mobile money. One is here in the west where incumbents are looking to use mobile to reduce costs. The other is in emerging markets where people see the potential to transform peoples live through better access to financial tools.

These two will collide before too long – with incumbents disrupted by allowing new players to offer better tools and products.

MPesa as now widely accepted as a huge success story – inspiring services like PingIT in the UK. Now Bill Gates is talking about the potential to transform more lives;

“In the next 15 years, digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives. By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payments with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.”

But if you spend any time looking at what Western banks are doing, it’s fairly unimpressive. Essentially the core element of banking technology hasn’t changed in generations; the written ledger was translated into the paper bank statement listing transactions in date order. Online banking took that statement and made it scrollable and with mobile they have just made it a bit smaller.  The smart people at Adaptive have been looking at this space and have a very interesting report looking at how the big bank apps fare – and how they could be easily improved.

The tsunami of money invested in Fintech hopes to disrupt these firms and we will see lots of activity in this space.  Spain is shaping up as an early mover with lots of innovation – both from existing banks and startups. And the impact of Apple Pay is yet to be seen – but early indicators suggest it is going to be successful. This MIT piece is very positive;

None of the individual technologies is novel, but Apple turned them into a service that is demonstrably easier than any other.

Samsung have stepped into this space with the purchase of LoopPay – where retailers don’t need to change their existing POS systems so potentially this will work in more places than Pay. Both Apple and Samsung see that having your mobile wallet on your smartphone is a potential Anchor – keeping you buying the same make of device.

We can’t talk about mobile and money without mentioning Bitcoin. This video from the FT is a good simple explanation of a terribly complicated space. And Dave Birch, one of the smartest thinkers on mobile money, talks about how Blockchain may be more interesting than Bitcoin. Let’s not forget that really smart people see Bitcoin as (potentially) having more impact than the Internet.

Apple Watch

We are now just weeks away from the Apple watch going on sale and the hype is building. A very long (but fascinating) article on Jonathan Ives manages to capture the spirit of Apples designers and gets over their obsession for delighting users. And it makes you really want the watch.

Lots of brands we talk with are thinking about what to do with Watch. It’s clear that the potential for notifications is huge – but making them useful – even valuable  – rather than annoying, is the challenge. Some great thinking in this piece, that digs into the Apple guidance for Interface. There is a big prize here to make the killer app for the Watch and it may well be someone unexpected who does break through.

The more tantalizing question is what apps will cause high engagement on the Watch by itself, with minimal iPhone app interaction? That’s what a Watch-first killer app will look like. 

Location, location ,location

An event we spoke at last year coined the notion that location is the cookie of mobile. At it’s most simple we know people that use the broad location of the user to thwart ad fraud. And at the bespoke end, clever people are identifying real football fans by their presence at the Emirates, Elland Road and even Old Trafford at certain times.  Using location history or in real time can be a significant aid to targeting.

The intersection of location and local has huge potential too, as Facebook recognise with their hyper local ads targeting people within 1 mile of a store and their new Place Tips.

Fix friend Russell Buckley digs deeper in this piece on hyper local. And banks are starting to use location to reduce fraud  - and remove a major irritation to regular travellers. Rather than declining a transaction because it’s in a foreign country, the banks will now use location data from the phone to see if that is also in the same country. We pitched this concept to a number of banks 5 years ago, with a business case around the fact a traveller will choose to use a card where the change of a decline is reduced. I think we were a little too early.

The other hot spot in location is beacons and we are seeing more experimentation. A trial with a Swedish newspaper and Unilever shows how they can be used them to gather data to drive retargeting.

The potential for connecting mobile with the real world is enormous  - this report speculates it could influence $40bn in US retail sales next year. The friction is the tech back up needed to scale beacons in a robust way. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in this space. One of the best startups in this space seem to have cracked this and their partnership with one of the worlds biggest retailers should be a great case study - when they can go public with it.

Apple Car

As we all now know, it looks like Apple want to play with cars.  People in the automotive industry say it’s not their best idea but experts in musicplayers, phones and the watch industry have told Apple the same in the past.  The long New Yorker piece on Ives points out he used to drive a vintage DB4, so he gets cars and has taste.

This FT article points out that Google is partnering with firms like Bosch rather than Ford to develop their cars, as the proportion of a cars cost for electronics has doubled in the last 10 years – with the cost of the electronic parts in the average car now hitting 40% of the total car cost.

And Tesla have shown you can enter the car market and be disruptive. Some predict that Apple will buy Tesla to get traction.  When you have Google driverless cars being tested, Uber changing the economics of owning a car, Daimler replicating Boris Bikes model for cars  and electronic charging points sprouting all over London, the transport market is clearly in flux. Why couldn’t Apple take it to the next level?

Quick reads

A look at what Facebook are doing with Artificial Intelligence and deep learning.

The New York Times know they need a distributed presence across digital and this is a good look at how they use Instagram

Apple do product placement at another level – a whole Modern Family episode filmed on iPhones and played out on Apple devices.

The question Facebook never answer is just how much of their revenue is app install advertising. Now a report says the total spend in the US will be nearly $5bn this year. It’s hard to say how robust this figure is but we do know mobile agencies that are spending ten of millions of dollars on app install ads every month. As brands see the value of apps to their business they can justify significant spend on acquiring a new customer. We saw MyFitnessPal bought for a figure that represented around $5 a user, and King, Amazon and Google etc will know what they can afford to keep spending.

Route55 – Using Tech to make Creative better

Our interest in this space is constantly reinforced by new evidence that tech can add real value. A new Microsoft tool is better at recognizing images than people are. Ikea create 75% of their catalogues using CGI. Nike sent personalised  videos to 100k users of their apps – and this approach could work as a programmatic buy. Facebook have a new ad format where brands can promote a range of their products by tailoring the ad to data on the viewer. (Our friends at HighStreet can already do a lot of this with Google Shopping ads etc )

New research from Celtra highlights how brands want to do more with programmatic but struggle with the current tools and the investment of time and money needed to make creative work harder.

We are working to solve this and we’re looking for brands that want to collaborate with us. We are exploring how we unlock the value of creative optimised against the data signals that programmatic throws off.  Keep in touch with this project by following @Route55 

Finally …. At Chinese New Year it’s a tradition to give friends and family a red envelope containing cash. As you might expect this behaviour has migrated to mobile and last year around 20 million envelopes were sent on WeChat.

This year over 1 billion envelopes were sent. This huge growth was partly driven by a Chinese TV show which invited users to shake their WeChat app at certain points in the show, to have a chance to win  a share of $80million donated by corporate sponsors. This show generated 11 billion shakes – at one point over 800million per minute.

The sheer scale of China is amazing but the thing for Fix readers to think about is that the power of combining TV and mobile has yet to be unlocked in the west. Imagine if ITV and Shazam combined to do this sort of thing?. Or the BBC and Facebook? Or what if a brand comes up with a truly compelling reason to interact with their TV commercial.

Xin Nian Kuai Le

 

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3400 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – February 15

Video Era

Connectivity has given us 3 Internet eras.

Dial up modems gave us a text based internet – not that different to the dial up walled gardens of AOL and Prodigy that preceded it. Then Broadband gave us an Internet with pictures – you no longer groaned when a page had a photo on it and things like Flickr took off. Now with 4G and mobile we are clearly in the Video era.

As these eras roll out, nothing disappears – but people gravitate to the richer experiences and decades of Hollywood and TV show us that people like watching video. But whilst something that looks a lot  like TV is more appealing to many marketers than the previous internet era ever was, we should recognise that quite a lot has changed.

The means of production are now in everyones hands. Just like the smartphone has more tech than the Apollo Space mission the average smartphone user now has a video camera and editing tools virtually as good as a Hollywood director

So everyone is rushing to make and share video. The Ice Bucket challenge was a huge success for Facebook, as well as the charity, as millions of people learned how easy it is to make and share a video.

Naturally lots of people are turning to those who have made a success of online video – the YouTube vloggers and the Vine superstars. The BBC have drafted in Zoella to give the Comic Relief Celebrity Bake Off some street cred. And one of the keynote sessions at the ISBA Conference ( ISBA is the advertisers trade union) is the MD of Google sharing the stage with MD of Talent Agency Gleam who represent Zoella and many other social media celebs.

We think that focusing on these celebs are sort of missing the point. The potential of online video is about more than here today and probably gone tomorrow teenagers. There is some real talent here, but are endorsements from these people really worth what they cost?

We think the focus should be understanding the tropes of these media and how to get the most out of each new channel. The talent can clearly help here but brands should be thinking through how they can create content for Vine, Snapchat and Facebook that delivers their message.

VC Mark Suster knows more about the video space than most and points out here that most online video companies will fail. His key point is the content people think it’s all about the content and the tech people think its all about the tech. It is, of course, a balance between both. His forensic analysis of how Upworthy do it is a must read.

One of Susters big investment successes  – and a key source of his knowledge – is Maker, which was bought by Disney for $500m. Here one of their key execs looks at how they use data to identify the talent they should bring on board. And how they know when these creators are ready to work with brands.

Twitter too now see video as major opportunity – at the Goldman Sachs conference this week Dick Costello talked about how video storytelling fits well into their platform. And they have bought the US social media talent agency Niche to help connect the talent with the brands.

VC Jason Calcanis – who also knows a bit about video – sees video as a big step for Twitter and suggests that sharing revenue with users could drive growth.

Pointing out that its coming up for 10 years old, The Sunday Telegraph have a good round up of YouTube and How It Has Changed the World.

Attribution

Talk to anyone in digital marketing and you soon get to talking about attribution. Knowing what works is still the holy grail in digital – despite billions being spent on traditional marketing with relatively little accountability.

Google has got rich on last click attribution as most revenue goes to the provider of the last click – whether that be search or affiliates. But everyone knows its a more complicated, nuanced story and that brand activity has an effect. As does many aspects of digital beyond the source of that list click before the purchase or other action. Fold in a multi device world and it just gets worse.

One reason that mobile ads have taken so long to scale is that people are still reluctant to complete a form or entering a credit card on mobile – so whilst mobile marketing probably did have an effect, they go to a tablet or desktop to complete the transaction and the crude attribution models we have reward that click. Knowing which half of marketing is wasted continues to be a problem.

So it’s no surprise to find that publishers continue to see the surge in mobile traffic a problem

The nearest thing we have to an answer is first part data. Google and Facebook and others with continually logged in users can – in theory – know exactly what marketing messages their users have seen within their empire. The bigger that empire, the more useful that first party data. As long as your users T&Cs let you use it for that purpose.

Facebook are probably winning here, as their huge reach of constantly logged in users gives them the best market visibility. And their nascent Atlas play looks to extend that empire. Google come close but it seems they have issues with what data they can use. Whilst they know exactly where each Google user has been across a day by tracking their smartphone, they can’t use that to show someone turning up at a Walmart store an hour after seeing a Walmart ad. Instead they have to use

aggregated, anonymized data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population.

Now if you are the worlds largest agency group – who see Google and Facebook as frenemies – this is really annoying. The people with the best idea of what works are the vendors and the WPP spend with GAFA grows significantly every year.

So their latest bit of M&A is for WPP to buy 20% of the leading online measurement company Comscore – using some of their Kantar business and cash. Remember they recently bought a similar stake in Rentrack – who are the leading measurement company in TV so they could

… integrate its national and local TV measurement with a number of Kantar’s US-based services that focus on digital media and purchase data, providing US advertisers, agencies, TV networks and local TV stations with even more powerful tools to understand consumers’ TV and purchasing habits.

With significant stakes in these two complimentary businesses – and the talent in WPP – they must hope to cook up a way to better understand the interplay between TV, digital and purchases. State of the art attribution. If they do crack this they have the chance to take back the ringmaster position, deciding where brands should spend their money.  Otherwise GAFA and programmatic will continue to erode their influence and position.

Quick Reads

Facebook have a new tool that looks at user reaction to ads to determine relevancy. This is an interesting step –and like the Quality Score tool Google uses to assess search ads – makes for a better user experience.

We were reminded of this analysis suggesting Facebook is charging more for ads. We think this is down to the increasing share of ads that are video – but it also supports our view that the healthy growth of mobile advertising hides a polarized market. Those with relatively rare first part data are making more and more money whilst the ad networks with infinite supply of raw undifferentiated inventory are flatlining.

An interesting look at how ecommerce is changing the business model of retail. This is focused on fashion but the thinking applies to other sectors too.

We mentioned last week that some fitness apps were acquitted by Sportwear brand Under Armour. This rolling up of apps continues with Rocket buying a number of food takeaway apps across a number of markets. This is probably a good indicator that we are quite early in this game; whilst big players can acquire smaller apps, it leaves market opportunities for smaller more nimbler niche players. Consider the coffee shops in London. The early mover Seattle was bought by Starbucks and then the big chains like Costa and Nero arrived and the market seemed sewn up. But today most every street has a cool independent coffee shop doing pretty well. As one of our smart Google friends says about mobile – It’s still not too late to be early.

Forrester nail some of the myths about Apps.

Fix readers know most of this but the US PBS have a good general view on how mobile is changing how the news is delivered. A good read.

This long read from Stratchery looks in depth at how Apple are evolving and it picks up some of the themes from our Anchor theory – how Apple create services so compelling that the “cost”of switching from the iPhone is very high. He mentions the CarPlay, which we haven’t focused on yet. We are convinced Apple want to make music an Anchor with Beats and their new Apple Photo service looks like it could be another Anchor. We were asked to help someone consider how Photos was going to evolve with mobile and whilst the project never happened, the preliminary work was fascinating. Our parents had one or two albums with all the key photos from their life, yet we take dozens of pictures which are all stored in various places online. Finding a specific one  – or even a good one – takes forever. Our initial thinking was that social feedback could be used as a quality indicator – if you had lots of Facebook likes then that picture –and ones like it – had a value.

When we first came up with the GAFA idea back in 2010 we were asked about excluding Microsoft. It has never felt like an omission as – for all their size and reach – they never did anything that moved the market. Even the Nokia debacle felt like a diversion. But they now do seem to be stepping up. This piece looks at their new strategy and latest moves – a very interesting read.

Finally ….we keep coming back to Bitcoin and Blockchain as what’s next. This is a good piece on these topics from someone who thinks they will be bigger than the internet. A long but worthwhile read.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3400 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.