Mobile Fix – January 13

The ‘unlucky for some’ issue

NewTV + new advertising economics

This week Las Vegas is full of people gambling on what new tech products are likely to take off. The Consumer Electronics Show is now the tech trade show and most of the big players – other than Apple – are there.

But the hot area this year isn’t mobile, although Nokia have made a big impression with the Lumia there.. It’s all about connected (or Smart) TV, with Samsung, LG and Sony pushing new hardware and coming out as Google TV partners.

As background to the emergence of newTV – connected TV, 2screen and TV delivered over mobile devices – some new research heralds the decline of traditional broadcast TV.

Research from Accenture suggests that less than half the population watch broadcast TV on a TV– down from 72% in 2009. Instead people are watching TV on other devices – 33% on PCs and 10% on smartphones.

And new Neilsen data shows that 145 million people watch video online in the US, compared to to about 290 million who watch traditional TV. Of course much much more time is spent watching on traditional TV but Netflix is getting 10 hours a month and YouTube almost 3 – which is only going to grow.

Of course there is a way to go here – some data suggests that 25 million US households have internet connected TVs – but only around half are actually connected.

But around a third of the people who watched Downton Abbey, ITVs most popular show over Christmas, did so on timeshift – using Sky+ of ITV Player. And as we reported last week people are being weaned off cable subscriptions to find content online.

We continue to believe that traditional TV is losing the war for attention – and that mobile devices are capturing that attention. And the interesting thing about this theory is economics – as the attention shifts from one device to another does the money follow?

This week Sky made a big investment in 2Screen pioneer ZeeBox.  As well as adding social functionality to their already impressive range of mobile services Zeebox gives Sky a lever to disrupt the TV ad market in the UK. Right now advertising is a relatively small part of Sky revenues – they make most of their money from subscriptions – and as most of the audience is watching channels other than Sky, they only get ad revenue for a small portion of their customers viewing.

But now they can go to big advertisers and offer what they call Synchronised Ad Inventory– which means that when the ad appears in the middle break of X Factor on ITV, Zeebox will know which ad is on (by using the soundtrack to identify it) and can offer advertisers a way to offer additional content – a response mechanism or a part 2 to that ad. And that deal doesn’t involve ITV at all.

Sound a little futuristic? Shazam is already offering a similar service in the US where their app (now on around 175 million smartphones) recognises the ad from the soundtrack and serves up related content. Around a third of all the ads in the Superbowl are expected to use this service.

Our key prediction for 2012 is that smart brands will use mobile to deliver participation opportunities, where TV ads act as the invitation to participate.

New economics for Mobile Network Operators?

A business in France has launched a new service that is being lauded as the future for operators. Having ran a successful broadband business, Free combines 3G, WiFi, Femtocells and it’s own fibre network to deliver a fast mobile service at a very competitive price. One very smart feature is that each of the 5 million set top boxes in customers homes share a proportion of their bandwidth with other Free customers over WiFI – meaning they have one of the biggest WiFi clouds covering Paris and Lyon etc. Ewan Macleod has looked at Free too, calling it the most exciting announcement since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone

And a good article on Twilio also suggests that innovation from new players will disrupt the operators business model.

So as operators prepare to bid for the 4G Spectrum, in the UK – with the auction rules published today – they have to factor in how tech players are going to change their business. And the auction rules Ofcom have published are a little surprising as they don’t feature the expected guarantees for Three and Everything EveryWhere

Managing Social

Some of the smartest thinkers on Social work for Altimeter and one of their people has shared a good report on how to manage the proliferation of social media.

Still on social Booz & Co have produced a new metric for measuring the success of social – likes per $million of revenue.  Whilst the industry desperately needs some smart thinking around the real value of social, we’re not sure this makes much sense. The data would probably be more interesting if they used number of customers rather than the revenue.


John Battelle has produced a very interesting chart looking at how the GAFA companies (and Microsoft) compare across product categories.

Quick Reads

As the UK waits for the Kindle Fire, in the US people are starting to develop apps for it. We were invited to a developer event at CES focused on how to sell apps on the Kindle and US bank Wells Fargo have launched Kindle apps.

Clay Shirky has some typically clever thinking on newspapers and paywalls.

Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik has some good thinking on why companies are not getting real value from analytics.

We’ve had a number of conversations with clients about how email marketing needs rethinking given how many people are now reading emails on their smartphone. This data puts some numbers against this – a rise of 20 million in the US

The new edition of the Google Think Quarterly is out – well worth reading.


We’re on the board of the MMA and wanted to tell you about the next event. It’s taking place between 8.30 and 11 on February 1st  in Central London and features speakers from Groupon, Nielsen and Evans Cycles.

If you work for a brand we can get you a free ticket – just let us know.

  • Jez Pounder

    Surely, online video viewing won’t be catching up with traditional TV viewing any time soon – the Nielsen link above itself points out that though online video reach is 50% of TV, total time spent is a tiny 1.4%.
    I can see that attention may well be declining with all the 2nd screen distractions but (luckily for the broadcasters perhaps) it’s a lot harder to measure than time spent viewing ads…

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