Category Archives: disruption

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.

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 – January 30

This week provided yet more evidence that mobile is changing everything.

Apple made more money than any other company ever. $18bn in profit in just 3 months. Only oil companies have come close. And Facebook blew through predictions to have a record quarter – their results deck is worth flicking through. Whilst the topline figures above are amazing, the stat we think most relevant is that over half a billion people use Facebook each month only from their mobile. And over on the other side of the world Alibaba customers spent over $50billion on their mobiles in 3 months.

The world has changed and we need to evolve marketing to take advantage..

Apple 

The huge success of the iPhone drives the Apple performance, as iPad growth continue to slow. It’s likely they sold more iPhones than all the devices that Samsung sold over the same quarter. And they lost more money due to currency fluctuations than Google made profit in Q3.

The watch is next and the talent drive continues with the hire of the person behind Burberry digital retail initiatives – who dreamt up things like this Christmas window display at Printemps in Paris.

Pay is a key Anchor for Apple – a service so good people will be reluctant to move to an Android – and a new deal takes it into 200k vending machines and self serve locations across the US

Facebook

Another key stat from the Facebook investors deck-  is that the Advertising ARPU is $8.26 – up 55% on the same quarter last year – whilst in Europe it is just $3.22 – up 36% on 2013. So despite fantastic growth, there is still more potential – supporting what we hear from brands.

They continue to grow their suite of tools for brands and a new tool lets advertisers test ads against control groups. The FT looks at their ambition to take TV budgets and concludes by quoting an analyst who says she thinks it will happen very slowly. We disagree. The ability to target video and optimise creative messaging using data will be hugely attractive to smart brands.

And the other end of their mission is to bring people in emerging markets onto Facebook which is helped by a new app for emerging markets. Designed to work on low end Android devices this ‘lite’ app is being launched in 8 markets across Africa and Asia.

Google

The Google results were OK - not quite good enough to beat estimates but healthy rises in revenue and income was 40% higher than the same period last year. Although this was helped by the proceeds of selling Motorola.

Google search share declined by 1.6% after Mozilla switched to Yahoo as its default search engine – showing its vulnerability to the same happening at Apple.

And they continue to drive new/better ways of connecting to the internet, with Fiber rolling out into new cities and investments in Elon Musks’ SpaceX  programme so they can use satellites to deliver internet access to remote parts of the world. But the most surprising thing is their rumoured partnership with Sprint to develop an MVNO – where US phone users could use Google as their phone network. It’s what Virgin and GiffGaff do in the UK and we suggested it was a good idea for Google back in 2006

Not all Google projects are on such a grand scale – the ability to pay bills via your gmail still solves a problem and is now available in the UK.

Amazon

Amazon beat estimates  - the first time for a while – and surprised everyone with a modest profit and impressive growth in Prime customers. But their wallet has been withdrawn - although the benefits to Amazon of knowing what people are spending on is so huge we are confident they will keep trying.

And they continue to try new products – they now offer email with a new WorkMail product.

Alibaba

Of course we now know that GAFA is not the only game in town and the moves made by BAT in China are increasingly influential. Yahoo cooked up a smart way of dealing with their hugely valuable Alibaba stake saving billions in taxes.

The key thing though is that Alibaba users spent $126 billion over the last quarter – of which $53 billion was on mobile.

Snapchat

There is a lot going on at Snapchat. Their news service looks really good. Their ad products are getting a good reaction.  And they are attracting brands looking to innovate, with ATT launching a scripted content play. The production company behind HollyOaks have already used Snapchat stories to reveal a storyline and we are convinced that episodic content with thrive on social media.

Adblocking

I think the ad industry massively underestimates the amount of ad blocking software that users deploy #Adblock

— Darren Herman (@dherman76) January 28, 2015

We agree with this tweet from a key person at Mozilla.  The economics of content creation are fragile enough without users avoiding the main monetization method. Our friends at econsultancy have taken a good look at how publishers play with pay walls and subscription barriers. We probably need better ad models to deal with this and Rezonence are doing some good work on this with their Freewall, as are TrueX for video, who were bought by Fox recently

Quick reads

An FT feature on mobile money points out that across Africa innovations with mobile continue to get mass market acceptance. Lots for Western banks to learn here.

A good take on driverless cars and how they will change the world – faster than you think. One thought – will Google use these as mobile wifi hotspots?

And Googles own futurologist Ray Kurzweil makes some very interesting predictions about the future here. In 25 years non biological intelligence (robots) will be a billion time smarter than biological intelligence (us)

We are increasingly convinced that O2O retailers are going to beat online pureplays. Having an offline presence makes so much sense and this article looks at how people like Warby Parker are investing in shops. And even good old fashioned mail order catalogues are enjoying something of a comeback. Combining the best of both worlds has to be the best bet.

This is an interesting look at how a Vine celebrity is created

With the inexorable rise of programmatic there is some debate over how agencies are approaching the space. This anonymous account of the UK scene is interesting but should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

But the targeting inherent in smart digital can cause unexpected problems. WeChat users have reacted angrily to a BMW campaign – people complaining that they haven’t been targeted.

Finally… this presentation from the DLD event in Munich last week is a must watch. One of the few people I have found that talks even faster than me, Scott Galloway gives a great take on GAFA.

 

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 3300 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 – January 23

newTVPicking up on last weeks thoughts on how TV is changing, the new KPMG research supports our view that watching on demand is growing rapidly – particularly amongst the young and the upmarket.US commentator Michael Wolff also picks up that TV is in the ascendance but points out that the quality needs to be high and it needs to cater to an audience that will pay for content. As we have pointed out in the past we may be moving to a world where the people who see advertising are the ones without much money. Because the rich will be able to avoid advertising whilst the poor won’t.

(On that tip we are seeing a general rise in ad avoiders with new data showing adblocking is growing in popularity. We will come back to this in the next few weeks.)

But Wollf sort of misses the point on digital – the future of TV and digital are inexorably intertwined.  The new players like Netflix and Amazon rely on broadband. BT Sport has turned off the service through the TV aerial and are now giving Chromecasts to their customers

This slightly overexcited piece looks at the background, newish players like Sling and how the US are trying to restrict the power of then cable companies.

And in Europe the push towards quad play has put O2 in play – with Sky a likely suitor although a merger with 3 is possible. now underway Much of our thinking around Quad play remains valid and we continue to believe that the media rights for the Premiership will show us what the new landscape looks like.

The latest entrant seems to be Discovery - who own a stake in Eurosport – and in turn are owned by John Malone, whose Liberty empire now own Virgin. Who have complained to Ofcom about the way the TV rights are handled- pointing out that fewer Premier League are shown in the UK versus top level games in other countries. So they look likely to bid for some rights too. Who else will get involved?

One piece of friction around TV is the fact the data isn’t that useful at the moment – research designed to facilitate trading around mass audience TV programmes doesn’t give the granularity now needed. Nor does it embrace newTV options like Netflix etc. The UK research people are moving ahead with new data on cross device viewing and on demand, which should be available soon.

Whilst the industry plays catch up, the pace of change continues. Yahoo – who have hired a lot of people with TV experience – are to show a Simon Cowell talent show focused on the DJs on the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene.

The money involved in EDM is huge, but whether Simon Cowell can add anything remains to be seen. And how a digital platform handles this type of content will be interesting.

Video

Whilst the Mary Meeker money chart (showing money has yet to follow audience onto mobile) remains burnt onto the retina of many, we are seeing TV spend migrate to digital. As the Omnicom quote from late last year showed, the rise of online video is being driven by a recognition that moving some money from TV to digital makes the campaign more efficient.

Facebook have partnered with Nielsen in the US to hammer this home. But whilst shaving 10%+ from TV budgets helps drive those quarterly numbers, the ambition is for more. Much more. With the upcoming Superbowl we will see a change as Facebook push brands to use their video player, rather than just sharing the YouTube video across Facebook. The way Facebook have built their player makes it much more prominent in the News Feed than a YouTube video. And they have auto play too. Whilst Facebook haven’t shared any research – yet - it seems the Facebook player is much better at getting engagement.

Mashable have more on this, pointing out that Buzzfeed has switched most of their video they share on Facebook from YouTube to the Facebook player. Of course it still makes sense to have your video on YouTube and, with Twitter Video imminent, brands will need to get really good at using all the channels.

If you want to dig deeper this is a good look at some of the video tactics you can use between YouTube and Facebook, which gets into some more detail on how Buzzfeed does this. And long time YouTube fan VC Mark Suster explains his thinking on how to build a successful YouTube business.

This is an area we are fascinated by and we would love to find some brands to partner with to explore this huge opportunity. If you are interested, get in touch.

Retail

Our coverage of retail changing sparked lots of conversations, with the general point being that people have changed their behavior whilst shopping and retailers and brands have yet to work out how to respond.

The best example we know is still Shopkick where they have significant scale and solve a problem for both retailers and users. This video of one of their key people is a must watch.

Another retail brand we admire is Nordstrom. We use them as examples in Digital Transformation workshops often – not least for the way they have organized their Labs to drive real innovation. This Harvard Business Review article celebrates their digital strategy.

One of our mantras is that brands need to find a way to solve a customers problem whilst solving their own business problem. Most marketing failures are when something achieves just one side of this equation. Starbucks are another brand we often focus in in workshops as they are really really good at this.

Most of their innovation improves their business process and makes their customers happy. The latest example is wireless charging for customers smartphones.  Now they just need to sort the coffee.

The biggest investment in retail currently is around grocery deliveries with Amazon and Google pushing ahead in the US and Instacart is now valued at $2bn. The Wall Street Journal has gone back to look at Webvan which IPOd in 1999 and was worth $8bn before it imploded.  With mobile now mass market, many of these dotcom busts are being recognized as great ideas launched too early.

Quick Reads

Despite them being so unfashionable we are still convinced QR codes have a future and the Chinese are showing how they should be used. Alibaba have invested in an Israeli firm that is focused on this space.

Flurry point out that the end of the PC is coming, but spend any time in a Starbucks or other coffee shop and you can see that the laptop is still the device of choice for some people for some tasks at least some of the time. The same applies in most offices, so smart brands build experiences that work across devices – so WhatsApp now have a desktop product. And we love the fact they use a QR code to connect your mobile to the desktop service.

It is still possible to have a good idea and go viral overnight. It’s not always a good thing as the story of the Glitter ecommerce firm shows. We tweeted this and were followed by two more Glitter sites within minutes.

Talking of Twitter we met a smart analyst who is convinced Twitter is doomed until they change leadership and direction. We tend to disagree but accept that the product needs to evolve to make it easier to use for civilians. Our solution would be around Twitter lists and this post shows how someone uses them very effectively.

In our Vertical Stack work on GAFA the lack of a Facebook hardware play is probably the biggest anomaly. But as Home showed they do have ambitions in hardware and it now seems Facebook came close to investing in Xiaomi. That would be a very interesting collaboration.

This is a good look at how Google continue to innovate around search. Quite long but very thorough, it’s a must read – as are the follow up articles.

We believe that getting really good at using the emerging platforms is a vital skill for brands as there can be real competitive advantage here. Here are 10 good examples of campaigns on WeChat. What can we learn here?

More on Snapchat and advertising – they are partnering with media to distribute content

Not so quick reads

There are some good reports around at the moment that are worth digging into;

WPP media agency MEC has a good preview of 2015

Behavioural Insights specialists Canvas8 asked lots of experts (and us) for thoughts on the big shifts expected in 2015

And the clever people at WeAreSocial have put together a hugely detailed document of stats around mobile social and digital. Essential stuff.

Finally – we are out and about again and next week I am speaking at a fascinating event about Programmatic and Branding organized by the smart people at Infectious. My bit is around the huge opportunity for creative that works with programmatic – drawing upon all that data to make more relevant and more effective ads. If you work at a brand and are interested in this area we may be able to squeeze you in – let me know.

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 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 – January 9

Happy New Year

It’s 2015 and the world has changed.  Flurry tells us app usage grew by 76% in 2014. Variety point to 3 key deals from last year with the potential to transform the entertainment industry. Video views on Facebook grew by 75%. Messaging is huge and WhatsApp has 700m monthly users. And the Washington Post points out that tech disruption is only really getting started.

Everything is Mobile. Everything is Social. Anything is possible.

And smart brands have never had a better opportunity to profit from change, as their slow competitors continue to do what they did 5 years ago. What are you waiting for?

Retail

Some sectors are changing faster than others and retail is one of the canaries in the coal mines everyone should be watching. Over Christmas we saw that digital has profoundly changed the way people shopped.

John Lewis saw over a third of their sales online – up 19% – with click and collect bigger than home delivery. House of Fraser saw digital sales increase by 31%.  Mobile was a key factor with John Lewis telling us their mobile sales on Christmas Day peaked during Downton Abbey.

This year we will see more of this online offline mélange, with delivery and click to collect driving who succeeds and who doesn’t.  Making your stores work for you as both experiences that inspire purchases and destinations for the collection (and returns) of ecommerce is key. But lots of the high street are struggling with this.

Amazon sort of won Christmas in the UK, as they managed to make their delivery system work just as well over the holidays as it does normally. So too did Ocado. The people that had problems with late or non deliveries of parcels and groceries are not going to give people a second chance next Christmas. Owning delivery is an increasingly important part of vertical stack.

Ebay are looking at how they stay relevant and as well as the Rebecca Minkoff concept stores we mentioned they have an interesting innovation lab too. And Westfield are being very active, looking at ways of keeping their malls an attractive option. In this interview their head of digital talks about their experimentation with search on apps and using beacons to connect before people arrive at a mall.

Knowing how online and offline channels are connected remains the holy grail and the new Google metric of Store Visits as a Conversion Action in Adwords. Now the scarily detailed  data Google have on its app users would let them see exactly who and when visits each store, but that would freak out those concerned with privacy. Instead Google use estimates from aggregated anonymous data from a sample of people with location enabled on their phones.

One fascinating snippet from the Flurry data shows how shopping apps are used across a typical day and commuting and lunch times are key. US retailer Target view mobile as the new front door to their store.

This whole area is clearly crucial for online and ecommerce retailers, but it is also hugely important for the brands stocked in these stores.

Media

The other canary is Media – a business that is attracting increased investment but it’s still unclear as to whether new entrants will find the mobile world any easier than legacy media. The poster child of the sector is Vice, which has attracted investment and partnerships from a number of old media businesses.

Digiday have a good look at the difficulties faced by those who seek to emulate Vice, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. And Elizabeth Spiers – who has been involved in some of the better attempts – goes into detail on how to be a good media owner. Essentially, be good at herding cats. Though this long New Yorker read on the King of Clickbait shows that you can still do pretty well by gaming the system.

And this piece from an investor boils media businesses down to one thing; Revenue. And he predicts carnage in 2015 as the VCs look for a return – or at least some indications that one is likely.

Apps

As the Flurry data shows apps are taking a bigger and bigger proportion of peoples time on mobile – reflecting the fact that a handful of destinations now monopolise peoples attention.

The new data from Apple showing that their AppStore revenues grew by 50% in 2014 – to around $15bn – proving some people are making a good living from apps

But the very nature of apps continues to morph and whilst the constellation effect (where an app ‘splits into two or more connected apps) doesn’t seem to be working that well, deep linking is getting traction.

This long piece from the NYTimes gets into some detail on who is doing what with deep linking. And this piece from the former Deezer head of Mobile gets right into how to make it work. Both essential reads.

Along with things like motion design, this level of sophistication means app development a now a fairly rare, specialist skill. Even though there are still lots of mac jockies knocking out cheap and cheerful ones, that are unlikely to ever get any traction.

Forrester have taken to calling mobile the anti channel as it eliminates the whole notion of channels by blurring online and offline. Their new report suggests only 4% of brands are truly prepared to take full advantage of mobile. Getting your apps right is a big part of this – along with a truly mobile optimized site.

Quick Reads

Twitter found Ev makes a great case for better metrics. Monthly users just isn’t goo enough

Google continue to push for faster cheaper internet access – now with a new way to make wifi work with an underused section of wireless spectrum.

A new book dishes lots of dirt on Yahoo. VC Jason Calcanis comes out in strong support of CEO Marissa Mayer. And it looks likely they will merge Flurry with Gemini to take on Google and Facebook for mobile ad revenue.

A good piece on BlockChain – the technology behind BitCoin that may have more potential than the currency

A valuable part of the Tesco firesale ( after TalkTalk bought Blinkbox) is Dunn Humby. This firm was profiting from data before anyone started with the Big Data cliché and where it ends up will be a good sign of how the industry us shaping up. WPP have made it clear they are interested but some private equity firms have also declared an interest. Any of the big players in adtech and marketing automation would find this a smart acquisition. Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce are all looking to help brands make the most of their data services and even Facebook and Google could benefit from the expertise here.

Facebook search has matured and their ability to mine the resultant data is quite amazing. Maybe Dunn Humby would help here.

A teenagers view on social media

Nike ( and AKQA ) show us the future of advertising – 100k personalised videos. Smart use of data to make layered/relevant messaging.

Finally…there is some more quality thinking around what is likely to happen in 2015, so here are three of our favourites;

John Battelle

Benedict Evans

Fred Wilson

Mobile Fix – Dec 19 – The Christmas Issue

On holiday already? Go straight here and enjoy the soundtrack for your Christmas

Still working? Scroll down

Have a Soulful Christmas - from addictive!

 

It’s that time when everyone either does a round up of the year or predictions. But we’re going to resist the temptation. As they say in Hollywood, No-one knows anything And our last attempt at predicting the future back in 2002 still stands up quite well.

So instead we thought we should focus on some of the big questions for 2015; 

Will the M&A fervor around AdTech ever quieten down? Fox have just paid $200m for an interesting video ad startup.  Or will VC money start to flow elsewhere? In the excellent Google Ventures summary of their year Life Sciences got the biggest chunk of their investment.

Who will win the battle for the money migrating from TV to digital? Google or Facebook? Facebook seem to be winning the battle for display. And this analysis of the reach of the new Apple ad on Facebook shows video is getting really interesting too; broadly 20m views on Facebook (vs 2m on YouTube) is more than you would get with an ad in a big TV show like NCIS. Not that scientific, but more evidence that Facebook can now get close to the reach of TV. Finally a quote from one of the key AdTech people at Facebook sums up their pitch; “Don’t spend a dollar unless you know that dollar is delivering ROI,”

What is the next big thing in messaging? Payments are going to be important; Facebook have poached another PayPal exec to work with David Marcus who made the same switch earlier this year. Kik have a smart new idea on how to use hashtags to create micro social networks.

Which of the next tier firms has the best chance to grow? Twitter are going after app download ads with their new features around phone activation. Even with all their smart acquisitions are Yahoo hampered by their CEO? – this is a pretty damning attack on Marissa. 

Will peripherals* get significant traction? The idea that Netflix will serve up recommendations to your smart watch shows what a lack of imagination there is around watches and wearables. Right now – like Google Glass – they don’t solve a problem for civilians. *Given none of the watches etc seem to function properly without a smartphone close by, we think wearables is a misnomer and peripherals a much better term.

Are QR codes going to be cool again? We have pointed out that WeChat reinvented them in China and amongst the leaked SnapChat emails we see they paid $50m for a startup focused on QR codes and NFC, beacons etc. The ability to instantly connect mobile with the physical world is a big deal, even if we haven’t really worked out what to do with it yet.

Can anyone make a success of Media on digital? Michael Wolff thinks its all crap but Wired has a good look at some of the newer players like Circa and Buzzfeed. John Battelle has some good advice; To me, just one question matters when it comes to a publication and whether it has a chance of long term success: Is it a must read?

And how will Programmatic change the ad industry? It’s already making big changes to the media side of the industry – and this interview with GroupMs  Rob Norman is well worth reading.  Next it’s the turn of the Creatives to adapt. Or not.

Over the next couple of weeks you will probably have some time for reading so we recommend you flick through these;

The 10 year anniversary ContagiousX.

Boston Consulting have shared a good report on Mobile in Europe

Criteo have an interesting Slideshare on the state of mobile commerce

The guy behind the XPrize and the Singularity Hub has a good post on Mobile, the megatrend of the decade.

And if you get really bored you should read this and change all your passwords.

Finally 2015 is going to be another rollercoaster ride on innovation, change and hype. Those that seize the mass market opportunity of ubiquitous mobile with a social layer baked in can profit. Those that hang back and keep repeating their old strategy are running out of time. It’s time to experiment.

Now we recommend you recharge the batteries and are delighted to share our soundtrack for a Soulful Christmas. Best enjoyed with a large glass of something red.

Have a great Christmas