Mobile Fix – may 11

Silicon Valley soccer?

Premier League is one of the most valuable global sports franchises and, whilst its glamour is diminished by the continued absence of Leeds United, the next auction of TV rights will be lucrative. As we talked about recently, the success of Sky is/was  based on their acquisition of the Premier League rights back in the 90s.

Given that the Premier League have designed the new packages in such a way as to make them attractive to Google and Apple, we wonder whether this could be a big step forward for newTV. As the rights are being sold on a technology neutral basis, the winners can exploit the rights on any device. So as well as taking mobile sports to the next level, the winner could use them to kick start Google TV or Apple TV.

For anyone to justify the costs of these rights they’ll use them across traditional TV and digital channels. By 2013, when these rights come into play, smart TVs are likely to be a significant sector of the market – along with TV apps. So Google or Apple will be able to reach TV audiences through apps as well as their much anticipated dedicated TV services.

One obvious vehicle for the football is YouTube, where Google are investing $200m in marketing support for their new channel focused approach. Looking at how they present the channel opportunity for advertisers shows just how far YouTube has come. And their new YouTube playbook for advertisers is a good source of inspiration on how to use video online

Future of Advertising

Our polemic on the future of advertising last week got some good reaction and we see this debate happening in quite a few places.

Jeff Dachis – who’s first digital agency Razorfish was one of our key competitors when we were running Modem Media/Poppe Tyson in the 90s – now runs Dachis Group, one of the smartest social media “agencies”. Talking about Facebook, APIs and big data he had this to say about social in general;

Previously, brands could either get scale (e.g. buy a Super Bowl ad) or deep engagement (i.e. street teams and events).  I believe social represents the key to brand marketers achieving engagement at scale.

And a Nike marketer said this;

“A whole industry is stuck on trying to force old metrics on to new channels”

“once you have established a direct relationship with a consumer, you don’t need to advertise to them”

But traditional agencies still seem unsure about Facebook. Just like when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, when you’re all about advertising you want everything to look like an ad – ie a box or rectangle where you can put your message. Having said that the FT reports that premium ad prices on Facebook are still rising so it’s working for somebody.

John Battelle has written a typically thoughtful piece on why we need advertising to work online – otherwise the content creation that drives the majority of the eyeballs could cease. He doesn’t have the answer though – I think that’s our challenge.

Facebook App store

One key theme for Facebook is driving HTML5 and – counter intuitively – the open web. They don’t want Apple and Google to dominate mobile and worry that if their walled gardens prosper, the Facebook walled garden may not. This summary of the Silicon Valleys war for the mobile web is a good summary of the current positions.

A big step forward is the announcement of a Facebook appstore. With support for paid apps and in app purchases we expect to see more developers invest time and effort in getting prominence here. Whilst people will still go to the Apple appstore or Google Play to install the apps, the opportunity for discovery will make it valuable.

Given the size of the Facebook user base this will be an essential for any developers – and as they will support webapps too it could herald a major change in the mobile ecosystem. This picture from a presentation by Facebook mobile guru James Pearce shows the size of the opportunity; mobile web traffic is bigger than iOS and Android combined.

One thought is that  – given the opportunity to activate people who have liked your brand on Facebook – this move could give a new leash of life to brand apps. So long as they are good (useful and/or entertaining) brand apps.

Mobile Stats

We’re less interested in stats these days as we think everyone has read the memo – mobile is mass market now. So hearing that mobile is now 10% of the total internet usage seems impressive but not really news. There are lots of stats in a new report from Chetan Sharma, coupled with some smart thinking on why mobile is so important;

Having the best knowledge about the user to help drive the transaction is simple the most valuable currency of commerce

This deck will be plundered by everyone doing a mobile trends deck – especially those agencies whose mobile expertise is one man and a dog eared Mary Meeker deck.

Operators launching apps

Along with many others we’ve been critical of operators not investing in mobile content and services for their customers and leaving it to GAFA to take all the new value being created.

We’re delighted to see that some operators are fighting back – leveraging their huge customer base and technology advantage to come up with interesting services. As well as the action around wallets, Telefonica have launched a messaging app to counter whatsapp etc. Given the impact on their revenues (operators lost $14bn in revenue in 2011)  as SMS volume shrinks due to people instant messaging, this is a no brainer.

The Orange 2screen TV app is a little more left field, but also interesting. Whilst Skype and Zeebox have got an early advantage in this space we expect lots more entrants – so why shouldn’t an operator play? We haven’t had chance to use the service yet but the technology is interesting as it uses visual to synchronise rather than audio used by Shazam and others.

One big advantage they have is the ability to pre install on customers new phones – at least on Android – so we expect to see that tactic come back into fashion.

More Mobile Money

Mastercard have announced their play in mobile money – PayPass isn’t that different from other initiatives but they are pushing it as an open platform – so any card can be added to the wallet. Its also white label so other people can launch their own product using this platform.

A US VC has written a good summary of the current state – suggesting that Apple are happy to use wallets to help sell more devices and that Google are happy to use the transactional data to help target advertising. Whilst we agree that both those outcomes are very important, we don’t think that any of GAFA will pass up the chance to take a share of payments they facilitate.

Quick Reads

Some of tbe publishers who rushed into apps are having a rethink. This piece from MITs Technology Review is a good look at how the economics of apps don’t add up for some – and the FT switch to HTML5 looks like becoming a trend.

There has been some comment that Zynga buying DrawSomething looks like a bad deal, as the popularity of the game wanes. Techcrunch has a good look at the deal and decides it did make sense.

The Economist has a good article on the Internet of Things

Building on the idea of mobile enabling lots of devices we loved this Japanese integration of iPhone with toys.

The Head of Digital at the BBC wants to “make 2012 for digital what the Coronation was for TV.”

US retailer Target has decided it doesn’t want to encourage Showrooming and is stopping selling the Amazon Kindle. We wonder if Tesco well ever follow suit?

We’re enjoying the Eric Ries book The Lean StartUp and this is a good piece on one of the key elements – The Pivot

Finally we still have a couple of desks going spare, so if you know anyone looking for space do let us know

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