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.
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.
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.