Mobile Fix – March 22

Mobile advertising is broken

For our live Mobile Fix at the excellent MediaPlayground the other day we took a quick look at mobile advertising. Spending 20 minutes or so on the Guardian mobile site the night before, every campaign we saw failed for one reason or another. (We don’t think it’s the Guardians fault – it’s the Agency planning buying and creating each of the campaigns that is at fault)

By flicking about from the front page we found 4 brand campaigns, plus we saw Google adwords ads a few times too. Given 99% of the people seeing ads won’t click, we would have expected the messaging for all of them to work a bit harder. But when you do click, three of these four went through to a site that wasn’t otimised for mobile. The 4th ad drove to a Facebook page but also had the option to click through to the app – opening the iTunes store page. All fine – except we were using an Android phone.

We’re not going to name names here, but you can see the examples in the deck we shared at the event.

With honourable exceptions many brands are relying on the ad networks to chop up online creative, rather than invest in a creative agency to do the job properly. We remain convinced that mobile banners can and do build brands (our research project to evidence this is almost ready to roll – we just need another media owner to get involved – get in touch if you’re interested)

But as with any media, if you don’t put any effort into the creative, the targeting and the experience, you waste your money.

Sainsbury trialling new mobile shopping system

The opportunity for mobile in the grocery market excites lots of people. We know the big FMCG players have been looking at shopping list apps, mobile coupons etc for some time – and the big retailers are equally busy. This US piece is a good round up of the current state of play.

We have found that in the UK there is a new test underway, with Sainsbury trying a mobile shopping service in a handful of stores. The basic idea is that the shopper downloads the app (iOS and Android) and registers with their nectar card. Then at the store you scan the QR code, grab a carrier bag and off you go. As you choose an item you scan the barcode and put it into the bag. When you are finished you go to the check out, put your bag in the weighing area and scan the qr code on your app. The till tells you how much to pay and you pay in the normal way. Presumably the scale in the weighing area ‘checks’ your bag weighs the right amount for the goods you have scanned.

It’s an interesting idea as it should speed up the shopping process. The only flaw in the plan we have seen so far is that when you first get the leaflet announcing the service, you scan a QR code to start the application form.
But the page you go to isn’t optimised for mobile. Doh!

Google Keep/Google Go

Shortly after Google announced they were closing the much used Google Reader service, they launched a new service called Keep – which looks a lot like the Google answer to Evernote. There aren’t many services which inspire the passion that Evernote does, so Google will have a tough job luring people away them – especially when some question whether they will keep it going.

Now that may seem a little unfair given RSS is an old technology and Google claim usage has fallen – and they are closing lots of other things in their spring cleaning. But they do have a track record of opening and closing services – and Google Keep sounds a lot like Google Notebook which came and went a few years back.

But Keep is interesting – leveraging Google Cloud and with voice notes being automatically transcribed, and it is definitely worth a try. The real promise is how Google Now might use this repository of data to deliver a better service. Time will tell.

Whilst on the subject of productivity tools the acquisition of Mailbox by Dropbox came as something of a surprise. Mailbox is a new app that promises to vastly improve email. It launched in February with a smart marketing campaign that got hundreds of thousands of people queuing up to get the app. So to be bought for close to $100m within a month is pretty good going. And for DropBox to be the buyer rather than GAFA is an interesting move too.


YouTube celebrates one billion users this month and says that every one of the Top 100 US advertisers is running campaigns with them. Coupled with the explosion of interest in creating content specifically for YouTube, the disruption of TV is real.

FastCompany have a feature around the creative community focused on YouTube and it’s well worth reading. This focus on Big Frame, one of the main studios making shows and representing the talent that YouTube is making famous, is a good place to start;

Penna’s story mirrors YouTube’s own story in Hollywood. In the course of just a few years, she has gone from being a marginalized “weirdo who was into online video” into a digital power player.

As audiences spend time with YouTube etc the whole cord cutting thing becomes interesting. As Google expand their Kansas Fibre trial to more cities –albeit still in Kansas - a good FT article points out that John Malone – the new owner of Virgin Media – has gone back into US cable after a long absence.

Why? He thinks owning the cable is getting more valuable. But what customers want is changing;

Gerald Belson, head of Deloitte’s media and entertainment practice, says when it asked US consumers in previous years which services they most valued, 80 to 90 per cent put internet access and pay TV in the top three. This year, 93 per cent cent chose internet access but only 58 per cent named pay-TV. Among those aged 14 to 23, the pay-TV figure falls to 43 per cent.

A new report from Accenture looks at the way the TV world is changing and predicts;

Ten years from now, the TV will still be one of the largest pieces of furniture in the living room, and it will still have a central place in family life. But the TV business overall may be unrecognizable—certainly when compared to the operating models and industry makeup that prevail today.

With the news that Amazon is commissioning 11 new pilots, we agree.

Agencies in flux

More on how Agencies are facing competition – this time from Consultants. And Harvard Business Review has some good thinking from clients about how Agencies need to evolve;

But does the Madison Avenue business model survive their clients’ demands for content at scale delivered in much more nimble and efficient ways

Martin Sorrell wrote a piece on digital for the Telegraph and he makes an interesting new point on how WPP now see Google et al as less of a Frenemy and more of a competitor;

We compete not only with advertising and marketing and market research groups , but also with the new technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Amazon (which are essentially new media owners) and with technology consulting companies such as Infosys, Wipro, IBM, Accenture and Deloitte (our auditors!)

When you see GAFA as competitors, how can you advise clients on how to get the best from them? For all their bluster about digital, WPP spend around the same with Google, Facebook and Twitter as they do with Murdochs NewCorp. Wouldn’t brands get the best advice from people who see GAFA as partners rather than competitors?

An old Dilbert cartoon sums up the key problems Agencies still face – we give away too much thinking for free;

Quick Reads

More good thinking from Coke on content

In our talk at WARC last week we looked at tablets and this new article highlights just how really young kids are using them.

The clever people from Google owned Niantic Labs – who brought us the fascinating Field Trip app – have a new Android app out called Ingress. This is a Massively Multiplayer online Video game that uses Augmented Reality and it sounds really good – but we are waiting for our activation code to take part in the closed beta. If any of our many Google readers can speed this up, we’d be really grateful.

Book of the week

The new series of Madmen is on soon. And Howard Gossage is one of the true greats from that era. Never as well known as Bernbach and Ogilvy he was a real visionary. This review from DM Guru Drayton Bird sums the book up; He was doing stuff 50 years ago – perfectly – which foreshadows so much of what people are doing today – imperfectly in most cases. But doing it with extraordinary wit, panache, commitment – and above all results.
Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man is a really good read – perfect for the Easter holidays.

Finally ….some futurology. Back in 1967 an Adman called James Nelson made a film predicting 2017 and it’s quite prescient.

In 1988 the LA Times had a look at the year 2013 and got quite a few things right.  In around 2001 Orange had a go too and their video is a good look at mobile in particular.

And around the same time we did one, predicting 2010, which we remain really proud of.

The point is; the future is here. We have a wealth of fantastic new opportunities that millions of people are embracing. What are we waiting for?

With Easter next week Fix is taking a break and we’ll back on April 12.


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