Category Archives: facebook

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 19

Last week we said the world had changed and looked at how Retail and Media evidenced this. Now lets consider Broadcast and Agencies.

TV is changing 

TV has never been healthier. The ITV share price has never been higher and it’s now around 10 times what it was shortly before Adam Crozier joined as CEO. Part of the reason is that Liberty Media have bought a stake and are rumoured to be planning a takeover.

The programming has never been better. There are some iconic programmes that almost overshadow films. From the Sopranos to MadMen and the Wire to Breaking Bad.  Lots of great talent prefers TV to the Cinema now – partly because of the freedom of the medium.

And the research tells us lots people still like watching linear TV – ie in real time, rather than using DVRs to watch at other times – and perhaps fast forwarding through the ads 

However for brands it could be argued that things are different now. Much of the iconic programming is watched in ways where advertising isn’t available. As well as those seemingly unusual people who do choose to timeshift and fast forward ads, binging on box sets has become a thing. Netflix and Amazon are getting traction across Europe. The Chromecast is still selling well at Amazon. And viewing video on YouTube continues to grow.

These new(ish) behaviours may not be showing up on the industry research just yet but it feels inevitable they will eventually. And whilst tablets are clearly a big factor, the ubiquity of games consoles and growth in connected TVs (as well as Chromecast/Fire Apple TV) are driving change on the big screen too.

The economics of TV will continue to shift – Amazon winning a Golden Globe  – and Jeff Bezos dressing up to go collect it – shows how importantly Amazon view content. As does them signing up Woody Allen to do his first TV show. More evidence that Hollywood sees them as their new best friend. This interview with the head of HBO is good background reading on the evolution from cable to broadband.

Whilst the background to the North Korean movie premiering on YouTube etc may be unusual, it did give the industry a chance to see how that new window works. Once the window when a new movie was only available in cinemas was 6 months – but it’s now typically 4 before a movie is available on DVD and on demand. Given the Interview made $31m in the first couple of weeks in the US alone, newTV will be higher on most peoples attention now. The new Spike Lee movie will premier on Vimeo, weeks before the cinema release.

Things are changing and it looks like traditional TV advertising is likely to be squeezed. Of course brands have quite an interesting alternative as Facebook is getting close to matching ITV for both the reach and the time it takes to get that reach.

Agencies are changing – slowly

If the Broadcast advertising environment changes, then that’s another element of change for Agencies, many (most?) of which are struggling with the challenge of a digital world.

Smart agencies can and do make much more than TV commercials. But the pareto principle still sort of works with the majority of most agencies making the bulk of their money from TV.

One of the points we keep making in our workshops looking at digital transformation and disruption is that in virtually every industry someone from 1965 would struggle to recognize their business now; retail, transport, money and most others are total transformed. But teleport Don Draper from 1965 to today and he would probably feel quite at home. A little over dressed perhaps and perplexed by the fact the media people are now based somewhere else.

Now opportunities like mobile and social challenge existing structures but now some agencies are reverting to one digital team to cover all digital elements.

Technology is changing things too – at least in the media agencies, where programmatic excites CFOs and confuses client CMOs with a plethora of TLAs*

GroupMs Rob Norman explains how the automation of media is playing out within the industry as a whole, whilst explaining the WPP game plan.

But some clients aren’t that happy with the transparency in this new world and a senior Mondelez client expresses their frustration with agency margins – whilst accepting that client procurement has some responsibility for driving agencies to find new ways of making money. (He is also very bullish on Facebook and talks about their desire to innovate)

Fix Friend Neil Perkins runs a great set of events for Google called Firestarters and the inaugural New York one looked at the New Agency Operating System and there is some really smart thinking here.

Whilst Agencies may be resistant to change in some ways, their ability to solve big problems for brands remains hugely valuable – even if the comms tools used are changing.

The issue is that all the very smart thinking has tended to be given away for free whilst the agency makes it’s money out of making something. Now that making stuff is so much cheaper, there isn’t the money to indirectly fund the thinking. 

Working out how to solve this is the big issue for the industry. But we suspect that technology can help here. As programmatic matures it should allow the value of communications to be better understood. Can agencies start to be paid for being clever – by sharing in the value they create?

* Three Letter Acronyms

Devices

Some seemingly well informed predictions about how the iPhone and iwatch will work together have emerged. The source has a good track record and the Companion app described makes sense.  It does reinforce our view that the watch is essentially a peripheral, or accessory, to the iPhone though.

But not everything in devices is driven by Apple. Often accused of copying the iPhone (and of theft by Jonny Ive) Chinese firm Xiaomi have announced a new phone that is pretty innovative. Described by their CEO as shorter, thinner and lighter than the iPhone 6+ the Mi Note is also much cheaper. The firm is now valued at $45 billion – around 4 times its total turnover last year.

Google are also pushing the boundaries of what a phone is, with their modular ProjectAra device. The first review is out – although they journalist wasn’t allowed to turn the phone on – and it does seem interesting. We should remember that its likely the Apple Watch will be modular in some way, so people can upgrade it as new iPhones come out. No-one is going to buy a watch that will be redundant after a couple of years.

Quick Reads

The evidence that the world has changed is everywhere;

Sales via smartphones and tablet devices recorded a 55% growth on the same period in 2013. £8bn was spent via mobiles this Christmas, compared to £5.1bn last year. The Index reveals that 37% of online sales are made on a mobile device; an estimated 8.9% of total retail sales.

Half of US internet users go to Facebook every day. Almost a third use it several times a day.

Facebook talk of a new visual language;

In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US.2 And every day, people upload more than 350 million photos on average to Facebook

Remember all that research that said Apps were much more used than the mobile web? Seems it is not that straightforward. As we keep saying, getting a good mobile web site is the first priority for brands – then consider what problem an app could solve for your customers.

And Snapchat are being bullish on advertising –asking brands for $750k a day.

We are fascinated by BlockChain – the technology that enables Bitcoin  – and think there are some fascinating opportunities around marketing and communications. But it is very complicated. This is a good attempt to explain what it is and why it matters

The smart people at PSFK run a great conference on retail – this video from the latest one features some Google advice on mobile and retail.

Finally LinkedIn is one of the big success stories of digital but it seems a little tired and slightly dated now. But the sunk cost for the millions of people who have kept their profile updated and built their networks would seem to make a successor unlikely. The new Facebook for Work could have a chance to displace it.

Pitched as a workplace collaboration tool it faces lots of competition from Yammer etc but Slack has shown that a better mousetrap does get adoption. If it does get traction, adding LinkedIn type profiles would be relatively straightforward.  Until then you can connect with me on Linkedin here.

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 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 

Mobile Fix – December 12

Apps still evolving

We have a view that apps are the CDs of mobile content; a clear winner over the ‘analog’ mobile web where so many sites still don’t work well for smartphone. But eventually the hunger for a stream will switch attention from apps just as they did from CDs. Notifications are the clear portender of this evolution, even if we don’t yet know what form the stream will take.

As ever, looking at China gives us a glimpse of an alternative to the western user experience. This long post from a US mobile guy working in China is fascinating and there is a lot to learn from his various examples. For instance the idea there is still life in voice input and QR codes is interesting, especially when you see the problems they are solving for Chinese users.

At LeWeb this week the webs inventor Tim Berners Lee spoke up in the apps vs web debate and – unsurprisingly – comes down on the side of the web. He makes the point that closing content up in apps make collaboration and sharing harder.

Deep Linking, one of the ways that apps are evolving, goes some way to addressing this. This is a good summary of the current state of deep linking. Again China is a good place to see some interesting examples. And Google – who have more to lose than most if apps win over the web – are pushing deep linking with new ways to benefits from deep linking in Android apps.

There are other ways to enrich the app experience and Layer give good examples of how their native communications make apps more useful.

If you are interested in user experience – and you really should be – its worth finding some time to read this design class that looks at Maps to make some key points about design. After seeing the attention to detail needed to get these things right, maybe brands will stop hiring their ad agency to do throwaway $20k apps and get some expert advice.

Talking of maps a new report on Googles mobile woes* says that Google Maps only has 100m monthly active users on the 400m iPhones in use. Being the default can be enough for a good enough product, even if there is a better one available. The Homescreen project shows Google maps is on 39% of homescreens versus 36% for Apple maps.

And Ben Evans makes the point that much of Google services aren’t that useful to civilians.

* We don’t subscribe to the Information so haven’t read this report – if anyone can share it with us we would be really grateful.

Smart newTV

The new Ofcom report shows how the UK is now the worlds most advanced digital market – more money spent by consumers on ecommerce that anywhere else. And more money spent online by brands than any other country.

We are also the country with the most smart TVs; 22% of homes claim to have one and 84% are connected to the internet – so 18% of UK homes can watch Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon etc on their big screens. That’s not including PlayStations and xBoxes . Or Chromecast and Amazon Fires.

In the US Chromecast is doing really well and this chart shows how it is outperforming Apple TV. In the UK retail support is good with buyers rewarded with a Google Play voucher and a 3 month trail of NowTV. A Fix reader tells us that when you watch YouTube via the Chromecast the ads now play – so Google are selling TV ads in around about sort of way.

The FT asks whether streaming will lead to a new golden age of TV with Netfix and Amazon commissioning shows as well as YouTube and Vimeo encouraging new talent.

With Sky now selling TV with postcode targeting and Virgin introducing dynamic ad insertion brands can now use TV in a different smarter way –albeit with limited reach.

In its usual click bait fashion Business Insider declare TV is over, based on a range of US data about cord cutters. We don’t think that’s true but things are changing and a King Canute approach won’t work. There is lots of potential for brands to be early and be smart. Will we see a new golden age of TV advertising too?

Year in Review

Lots of looking back at 2014, inevitably at this time of year. It’s worth looking at how the key players see the year;

You Tube celebrate some of the years memes with their most famous YouTubers- who tend to be unrecognizable to anyone over 20

Twitter uses hashtags to show the key moments of the year and the perspective of an eclectic list of 20 celebs –from Lady Gaga to Gary Linekar via Bollywood start Amitabh Bachchan

Facebook has a video pulling together celebs and news – plus a bit of ice bucket challenge and you can did deeper on some key topics and events

Our key takeout is that these are no longer tech companies – they are media companies that both reflect and define culture.

Quick Reads

This is a really good look at how Facebook have transformed themselves into a major player in adtech.  And just how well positioned they now are to fight Google for the money moving from TV.

The Chinese are coming – 2 of the biggest digital media revenue companies and 4 of the fastest growing.

Wired digs into the point we keep making – most of the dotcom ideas were actually smart – they were just a decade too early.

Facebook are doing really well in video and making life difficult for YouTube. But smart brands know you need both – and that there is a lot of reach elsewhere on the Open Web

Too many people still lump tablets with mobile when all the evidence suggests tablets tend to be used in the home. So they should be considered as desktop alternatives. Google are recognizing this by focusing on context rather than devices. It’s worth checking to see whether your team are looking at tablets separately or are they distorting your data by treating them as mobile.

Monitise have aggregated lots of good data on mobile money.

The FT looks at the new social apps – and tell us that ello is doing well amongst female impersonators. Now that is niche.

Mobile Internet is worth £73billion to the major European economies.

Finally….Buzzfeed have a great listicle that proves that 2014 is the future.

Mobile Fix- December 5

Own Goal?

The moves in the Quad Play space we talked about last week continue, with rumours that Vodafone will take Blinkbox off Tescos’ hands to accelerate their move to video content. Blinkbox has had a lot of investment from Tesco when their management were focused in the potential threat from Amazon rather than the more urgent disruption from Aldi etc. This could be a good deal, which when added to the content Vodafone already offers to mobile customers (Netflix, Spotify and Sky Movies) and with a settop box would catapult them into the battle with Sky, BT and Talk Talk.

There are also rumours of a much bigger move by Vodafone; a takeover of Virgin owner Liberty Global which would give them a significant base of TV customers as well as their broadband network.

One area that will be impacted by these changes are the upcoming negotiations for the Premiership TV rights. BT changed the game by winning a chunk of games – surprising everyone – and used this to launch their TV offer and aggressively compete for broadband. If, as seems likely, they do end up with a mobile operator their appetite for football will increase.  The same applies for Vodafone.

In our opinion it’s the mobile rights that are more interesting.  News Group have the digital rights now having paid around £20m. That was apparently an increase on the previous deal when Yahoo had the desktop rights and ESPN bought the mobile rights – which they struggled to monetise.

And it looks like it may have paid off for News Group. Digital subscribers to the Sun have doubled to 225k – with the Times reporting profit for the first time since 2001, so the Paywall seems to be working but growth in subscribers is slowing. How much of this growth is driven by the football is debatable, but £7.99 a month for the Sun and Footie seems reasonable value.

We have often suggested that GAFA could be bidders as Google and Apple look at their TV ambitions. As YouTube moves to a subscription model what better case study than the way Sky built their business on the back of the Premiership? And we still feel that content could become an Anchor for Apple – although they currently seem to prefer to retail other peoples rights in music, games and film.

The FT look at the main rights and how the balance could shift between Sky and BT. This time around the mobile rights are going to be worth a lot more and we can forsee more bidders. But as News Group have shown, you need a subscription revenue model to get the real value – ad revenue is just a nice bonus.

Ad Avoiders

Whilst a surprising number of people choose to us adblockers most ad avoiding is less calculated, More and more content providers are choosing to offer ad free services for subscribers – Spotify, Netflix etc. And if you buy or rent content through iTunes or Amazon its ad free. And YouTube are moving to an ad free subscription model.

This opinion piece from betaworks summarises it well – the rich can avoid advertising through subscription, whilst the poor will just have to put up with ads. You can even imagine that Spotify source the worst ads to drive people to upgrade from their free service.

This article makes the point that we have made advertising so cheap it’s no longer that attractive for many publishers – especially when people also block ads too. But it makes the very good point that, whilst inventory is virtually infinite, peoples attention is fixed. And consequently, quite rare. 

And that’s what all marketers really want to buy  – the attention of the right people. There is a media issue here – being willing to pay the right price for the right amount of attention. And a creative one too; having just the right message to make the most of that attention.

App Ads

Wall Street takes a real interest in advertising, given the number of adtech companies that have floated as well as GAFA dominating the market in terms of sheer size.

Barclays have released a fascinating report that looks at many of the big tech players and makes a good job of explaining the market – including the rise of programmatic where they are bullish. Their conclusion is that the market will reward the biggest players and that Facebook and Google are likely to grow at the expense of the rest. This supports our view that brands should be maximizing their investment with Facebook and Google and trying to understand how to make the most of these 2 huge opportunities.

Despite protestations the key drivers of Facebook growth –and most of the rest – is still app download advertising – although both Google and Facebook are very focused on getting brands on board.

TechCrunch have a good look at the app download ad market and get into some detail on what Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing to improve their attractiveness to app developers. Fabric from Twitter and Parse from Facebook are really smart attempts to get closer to developers and bake themselves into the app landscape 

Of course Google and Apple could change this market overnight were they ever to sort out their appstores. It is amazing that Google can’t use their unrivalled expertise in search to make Play easier for users to find things. And it’s equally amazing that Apple, with their obsession over user experience, leave users to stumble through long lists of apps, in seemingly random categories.

A smart VC, that used to be at Facebook, has a good look at how Facebook are using Parse and think it has huge potential.

There are huge revenues at stake in this area and anyone who can help improve performance can make a lot of friends 

Mobile Only

The data on Black Friday and Cyber Monday show a huge increase in mobile usage. But it’s just not surprising anymore. More big brands are spending money on mobile – but that’s is only natural.

The surprise is that other brands seem to have missed the fact 35 million people in the UK are using a smartphone to rewire how they live their lives. Eric Schmidt makes this point well when he talks of the world moving from Mobile First to Mobile Only

Benedict Evans has a new blog post where he talks of the New Questions in Mobile. This is really interesting stuff and we’re excited about the future possibilities of cards, notifications and deep linking between apps. But the war is over and Mobile has won – there are just too many brands acting like Japanese soldiers who didn’t get the memo and continue to fight the old battles.

For the first time in a long time brands can get real competitive advantage by being much much better at this new stuff than their rivals. Let the laggards focus on their big Christmas telly ad whilst you unlock the value of your data with smart advertising that delivers the right message at the right time to millions of your customers.

Quick Reads

At a Ridley Scott premiere this week we were reminded of a quote we heard that the tech people like Scott use in epic movies, only takes a few years to arrive on everyones laptops. The new Beyonce video demonstrates how tech is transforming the creative world, with a great film shot entirely on an iPhone.

Blending retail with tech and mobile is still more talked about than real but a new eBay initiative shows what is possible.

The Chinese influence on new developments in messaging continues – everyone wants to be the western WeChat.

Google have a good report on viewability

Finally… one simple benefit of digital is that you can now learn from the best people in any field. Follow them on Twitter, read their decks on Slideshare and find interviews on YouTube. This long interview with Reid Hoffman (Linked In & PayPal) is very good. 

 

Mobile Fix – November 28

WhatApps

As we mentioned before we play WhatApps at the start of any workshop we do; people pass around their unlocked phone so others can see what apps are on their homescreen. As well as reminding people just how personal their phone is, people see that people tend to have a number of the really popular apps and a few that are very personal to them.

Twitter is the latest media company to take an interest in what apps you have downloaded. By doing this they claim to deliver tailored content that you might be interested in. This plays to their need to better engage new and occasional users who don’t follow many people and hence tend to see little content when they use Twitter

In a happy coincidence, this same data can also be used to better target advertising and equips Twitter with a stronger argument to win spend from the app download campaigns that still drive a large proportion of mobile ad spend.

We think there is good learning for any brand from the apps that have been downloaded. In the old days we believed that knowing which TV shows people watched, and the newspapers and magazines they read, was a much richer insight into people than their age or social class. Now apps probably define people as well or perhaps even better than much of the other data available.

Apple and Google have the best knowledge here through their, appstores. Facebook have a good idea through the apps that use the social login. And Yahoo with the acquisition of Flurry and Aviate, are building their understanding.

And this is why peoples homescreens are so interesting. Betaworks probably started this with their study of people sharing their homescreen on Twitter and Instagram. Now they have launched an app that makes it easy for you to share your homescreen. #Homescreen takes your screenshot and posts it to Twitter and adds it to a website, where people can hover over the apps to see how popular they are. You can see ours on the site here.

We find more and more people are starting to organize their apps and for many people the home screen is where the most used apps are – so this should become a great source of data on which apps are getting the most traction.

Quad play 

The revival of BT continues and they are believed to be in the market for a mobile operator and either O2 or EE could soon be swallowed up so BT can offer their customers a complete comms package.

The mobile operators have pushed broadband in the past but none have made that much progress, with O2 handing their broadband customers over to Sky. EE have preserved and Vodafone are now taking it seriously.

Virgin have been very aggressive and their cross selling is shaking up the market as they use the experience of new owner Liberty to focus on a Quad Play – Mobile and fixed line telephony, home broadband and TV.

It’s the TV service that has really turned BT around and TalkTalk have used YouView to offer a reasonable TV service which has given them around 1m TV customers. They are switching their MVNO from Vodafone to O2 and are being very aggressive on pricing 

Vodafone hinted they are going to offer TV services bundled with their home broadband and they are getting closer and closer to Sky – who have long lusted after a mobile offer. 

So what does this mean for brands? Advertising has never been that significant for any of these players when compared to subscriber revenues – in the last quarter Sky took £104m in ad revenue against subscriber revenue of £1.6bn – but technology will change that.

Sky has started to make money from their AdSmart offer where brands can target individual postcodes (and targeted TV is getting traction in the US) Weve is now starting to drive mobile ad revenues for the mobile operators. And as cross device tracking improves – take a look at what Device9 are doing – the ability to run activity on both targeted TV and the smartphones of viewers watching that TV show will be feasible.  That sort of opportunity will drive significant  revenues and as the operators have to compete on price to attract and retain customers, ad revenue will become much more important to them

(Good background on the Quad play here)

Dialogue Marketing

Last week we talked about the pieces falling into place as mobile matures, and now its time to focus on what brands can get from this mass market opportunity.

Like Marc Andreessen we believe that much of the thinking of the dotcom boom was actually quite sensible – it’s just that the scale of users weren’t there. With 35 million people in the UK using smartphones, digital is now both mass market and mature.

One line of thinking that we really believed in was the idea of 1 to 1 marketing. Championed by Peppers and Rodgers this approach argued that we could talk to people as individuals. Lots of email marketing has it’s roots in this thinking (although very little gets it right) and we developed the idea further to come up with Dialogue Marketing, where the ability to see some ones actions (their digital body language) also informs how you talk with them. DLKW Dialogue was so named to try and live up to this and we did some really interesting work across all digital channels.

But digital advertising spend then was a fraction of what it is now and CRM was another silo, often handled by another client team / and or agency. 

Now the idea of fusing CRM and digital advertising is really feasible. Why? Because all the messaging gets delivered on the same device –a smartphone. And the CRM data on existing customers can be fused with first and third party data on individuals to target digital ads. Equally CRM can now be actioned through social (to some extent) and through app notifications

Custom audiences on Facebook and Twitter are hugely powerful tools – enabling your existing customers to be targeted – and helping find lookalikes. Yet few brands are using the services – perhaps because the idea of paying to reach people who have already given you permission to email them seems a little extravagant. Yet with Mailchimp saying typical open rates struggle to get over 20%, new ways to reactivate these users can be a really good investment.

It is getting easier to track people across devices and across channels. And many marketers recognize that getting more purchasing from existing customers can be a more effective approach than trying to find new users. 

Of course advertising has always reached both existing customers as well as prospective ones. In smart digital advertising the level of targeting sophistication means brands can choose whether or not to speak with existing customers. But in most cases taking advantage of what you know about an existing customer should make driving a sale easier. 

The one thing needed to deliver Dialogue Marketing though, is a range of creative messaging that fit the targeting – if you just give everyone the same message then you are probably wasting money on the targeting. This is still the Achilles heel of programmatic.

Quick Reads 

QR Codes just will not die. Despite many experts declaring them over, businesses are still finding ways to use them. Powa are trialing payments with Tesco using QR codes and the airlines find they work really well for boarding passes. A new firm is pushing a modified version of QR codes but we wonder whether they can get people to use yet another app.

Getting one of the YouTube stars to wax lyrical about your product to their millions of fans has got a lot of brands and agencies very excited. And the pay rate has got the YouTube stars pretty worked up too. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has dampened this enthusiasm, pointing out you have to make it clear when a brand has paid for a mention. Lots of native advertising is running the risk of an ASA sanction.

Dark Social is a huge factor in sharing. This is the new term for sharing done outside Facebook, Twitter and the other trackable social platforms. It includes email and messaging, which is how lots of content gets shared. 

Last week we talked about Firefox changing its search partner to Yahoo and speculation is increasing around the Apple relationship with Google search that we mentioned. Now we see this pop up when you leave a Yahoo page on Safari. It doesn’t actually work, but it’s an interesting tactic.

Facebook have launched a new initiative to help app developers, including some funding

Finally… We see music as the canary in the coalmine for digital content. What happens to music is a pretty good glimpse of the future. So the way the US charts are changing is fascinating – including streaming and YouTube views as well as purchases and radio play gives you a much richer data set. And that data will now be a much better indicator of just how popular a track is as frequency of consumption is monitored as well. How might consumption data change the way other digital content is value and funded? 

 

Mobile Fix – November 14

It’s all about Video

“Five years ago, Facebook primarily consisted of text …if you fast forward five years, it’s probably going to be mostly video.”

Mark Zuckerberg

We missed this quote from a couple of weeks ago, but along with Susan Wojicki statement that over half of all YouTube viewing is now mobile this backs up our conviction that it’s now all about video. Now.

That’s why Yahoo bought BrightRoll – so they can continue to grow their display revenues and capitalize on the shift to online video spending by big brands. And look at the how the EMEA Yahoo team has so much experience in TV.

Some Yahoo investors seem to think that a merger with AOL would be a smart move as that would give the joint entity a third place position after Google and Facebook – but still some way behind. We tend to agree with this piece defending Marissa Mayer. With the hire of a top ad sales person from Amazon, the team seems well positioned. And this new buy shows they have a plan.

Video is display 2.0. It’s what brand advertisers love. It’s a format that elegantly and easily transitions from broadcast television to PC to mobile and even to wearables. This is why video is a key part of our strategy. 

It’s all about Music

Along with photos we see music as a key Anchor, something that GAFA have to offer to have a chance to keep people within their vertical stacks. We still have thousands of tracks in iTunes many of which aren’t on Spotify etc and migrating them to a new service is a lot of friction. The threat to the money Amazon made selling music CDs by Apples iTunes store arguably kicked off the tension between GAFA, and all now have strong music strategies.

The new Google service is Music Key and it builds on the often overlooked fact that YouTube is already the biggest source of music listening on digital. The new service looks strong – this analysis by Musically is a good read – and raises the bar for Apple and Beats.

They were helped in the PR battle by Taylor Swift pulling all her music from Spotify. Music Key has all Taylor Swifts old music but doesn’t have the new one either. Swift and her label contend that Spotify isn’t paying them anywhere near enough money, but Spotify disagree.

The Music industry is divided over the future; those who believe streaming is going to generate much more money for labels and artists are seen as overly optimistic by the rest, who think making money from selling recordings is over and its now all about live shows. 

The next stage in music is ad funded streaming and we expect that YouTube will continue to be a big player here as non subscribers watching music videos will still be pretty huge.  A combined Beats / iTunes radio is expected to launch with ad funded models early in 2015 and we’ll see whether brands can take advantage of this opportunity with better creative. Anyone who has spent any time listening to the ads on the free Spotify service may be not be that optimistic.

We can expect to see lots more exclusive windows of top artists new albums – see JayZ with Samsung and Beyonce with Apple – as the key players see the value of being able to offer something their rivals cannot.

The other players in music are also active; SoundCloud has raised quite a lot of money and have now signed a deal with Warner where the label gets paid whenever one of their tracks is featured in a mix or a DJ session.

And the original music start up LastFM – now owned by CBS – is still around and we understand they are going to focus on discovery with their fantastic Scrobbler technology, with the music delivery left to Spotify etc.

Retail

We talked last week of the activity in visual recognition and Fashion Tech. The other side of this coin is how retail are using visual recognition and mobile in general. As we have covered before, most of the big supermarkets are playing with Beacons but none feel ready to subject their shoppers to personalized messages – yet. Asda are the latest to trial the technology – and we know their colleagues from Walmart have been scouring Europe to see who is doing what.

In our view, the big opportunity is around personalized pricing as a way to counter the general cheapness of Lidl etc. The next Clubcard type step change in retail will be a big player using a ShopKick style service to deliver real time discounts, funded by the brands of course. 

The FT have an interesting round up of what retailers are doing including the Asda partnership with Zappar to celebrate Halloween.

Singles Day

The online shopping frenzy that Alibaba invented, took place this week and broke all the records. They took $9.3 billion – up by around 50% on last year and 43% of the orders were on mobile. To give that some context, Amazon takes $166million on an average day.

This is a fascinating look into how the Alibaba team ran the day – lots to learn.

Quick Reads

Sweden has embraced electronic money

Square are looking to exploit the shift to chip and pin cards in the US.

Amazon are commissioning more original programming – and so are Netflix.

Twitter have a new expression of their mission and want Wall Street to see they are bigger than they thought

Amazon are experimenting with using Taxis for delivery – the smart people at GetTaxi have been looking at that too

More smart thinking on the evolution of apps – how they are changing from destinations to distribution tools

Finally… if you want to read a good business book the FT have published a list of the best ones from the past few years.

Mobile Fix – November 7

Mobile Money

The word on Apple Pay seems positive in the US. As this article points out the rapid adoption is one of the key strengths of Apple.  And this well thought through post points out the strategic importance of Pay for Apple. Having tested all the key ingredients Apple could launch a fully ready product and they are taking advantage of the fact the upcoming switch to chip and pin requires everyone to install new POS terminal – (nearly) all of which will have NFC.

As we mentioned last week, US retailers have an alternative system – CurrentC – brewing and some stores have refused to accept Pay in the meantime – switching off the NFC terminals as it’s the only certain way to stop Pay. This interview with the CEO of CurrentC doesn’t suggest that Apple have much of a fight on their hands.

It’s hard to see anyone really countering Pay in the iOS ecology so I guess the opportunity for all these other Mobile Money players is Android, But can any get the scale to dominate? 

The obvious contenders are Google, Amazon & PayPal. It seems to have gone quiet at Google Wallet but we should expect some movement. And newly independent Paypal are still innovating – their One Touch payment is coming to Europe soon.

Amazon showed one strategy with their partnership with AllSaints. As well as being able to pay using your Amazon account, being a Prime member gets you free shipping.  As they get more sites using the Amazon pay button, an offline payments system makes more sense. But will high street retailers feel comfortable partnering with Amazon and sharing data on purchases 

As well as helping push payments this partnership is probably part of a bigger Amazon (stealth) push into fashion.

China

As the debate continues over how apps and mobile content evolve what can we learn from China? Their BAT, like our GAFA , are dominant and shaping the market. And finding the big switch to mobile something of a challenge.

Because of the great firewall that keeps US competitors like Google, Facebook & Twitter out of China, the Galapagos effect is interesting as it shows alternatives to the way our market is changing.

It’s the largest internet market by far – with 632m internet users it’s over the twice the size of the US (in second place with c270m users) – even though penetration is relatively low at 48%. When/if it gets to the UK figure of 90% the market would be over 1.2 billion users – the vast majority by that time on mobile.

The three big players in BAT (Baidu, Tencent & Alibaba) see messaging apps as the key to maintaining their dominance and both Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily to compete with the Tencent owned WeChat and QQ.

These apps that have daily usage often have ‘smaller’ apps bundled within them; the most quoted example is a hotel booking app bundled in the Baidu maps. As linking between apps become more common we expect this focus on partnerships to grow in the West too.

Alibaba have taken another approach that has paid off really well. They invented the idea of Singles Day, where Chinese people who don’t have a partner treat themselves with some online shopping. Last year this event drove nearly $6bn in sales – twice the size of the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and with Alibaba sales up by 54% in the last quarter expectations are high for this November 11.

Of course just as the Chinese own lots of physical infrastructure in the west who is to say they don’t become equally acquisitive of digital businesses?

Visual recognition

One of the issues for the CurrentC people in their fight with Apple, is that their payments system uses QR codes and, despite that being hugely successful for Starbucks, it positions the product as a little dated. Even Google Goggles seem quite old hat now – but their acquisition of WordLens suggests they are still moving forward .

One area where there is lots of action is in FashionTech where a Shazam for clothes is the Holy Grail for many. Upmarket US department store Neiman Marcus have been quick to embrace mobile and have launched a new service called Snap Find Shop. Using a Canadian technology called Slyce, shoppers take snaps of clothes or pictures of clothes and the NM app shows you matching items.

That’s actually quite hard to pull off and this piece points out the difficulties andlooks at the various players – many of whom are in London.

One killer application of this tech is in making print catalogues and magazines shoppable. When Net a Porter launched their print magazine Porter they also launched a Layar powered app to make all the content shoppable. Other AR players like Blippar (who now own Layar) are active in this space too.

Mad Men/Math Men

It’s one of the most persistent clichés, but the tension between Mad Men and Math men gets repeated because it’s largely true.

The Chief Creative Officer of Facebook has made an impassioned plea for creative people (the talent celebrated in MadMen) to get more involved in the distribution of ads. He is right that at the moment the Math Men tend to drive the digital element and the benefits of right/left brain collaboration are lacking.

Too many creative people still dismiss digital as just banner ads and on their 20th anniversary they are getting a bit of a kicking. Somewhat unjustly really , as many very smart digital creatives have and continue to make them work for both brand and response. But too often they are left to the last minute and given to the most junior people. On mobile it’s even worse, as frequently desktop assets run unchanged  – just smaller – or are chopped up by mac jockies at the media network.

But there are better formats on mobile, as we find ways of integrating messages into the flow of peoples mobile stream.

Michael Wolff laments the loss of the old (Mad Men) advertising world here, but we remain optimistic – you can blend art and science and those brands that do can perform alchemy; turning the lead of small ad formats into the golf of customer attention and action.

We have been doing a lot of work looking at how Programmatic and Creative interface and we see a huge divide. And a huge opportunity.

The best way to improve any Programmatic campaign is by making the creative more relevant and more effective. As we develop our new project in this space we’re keen to talk with anyone who wants to see the two worlds realign. If you are interested get in touch.

Quick Reads 

Building on the Apps are the new CDs thought we shared last week Forrester have made 8 predictions  on how apps are going to change

And a look at how Messaging Apps are so addictive

An interesting look at how Facebook are approaching partners in Europe

More on the new Twitter developer tools Fabric

Good stats on the rapid rise of Mobile Search – you need to be getting this right, right now.

Finally – our favourite media remains Vanity Fair magazine which always has a great mix of insightful articles. This one on the Uber CEO is well worth reading