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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 – 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 – July 11

Mobile &Money

On a recent project we did looking at mobile and money we found a great quote from US economist Paul Volcker

The only useful thing the banks have invented in the last 20 years is the ATM

For all the advances in online banking and mobile banking, essentially it’s the old paper statement made available on a screen. And whilst it’s now possible to pay someone using their phone number, you don’t get the impression any of the banks really wants to innovate. Most banks look at tech as a way of reducing costs rather than driving new services or innovating with products. 

But tech doesn’t always deliver in the way people want. The ATM led to people reducing bank visits and online/ mobile banking has eaten away at brand visits too. A few years ago people went to their bank branch twice a week. Now it’s likely to be twice a year or less. New research shows the era of the traditional bank branch is dead.

One of the best thinkers on banking is Brett King and his presentation at the Wired conference on money is well worth watching. His start up Moven is one of the most interesting start ups in banking – but the whole FinTech movment is massive – Accenture estimate there is almost £3bn invested in these start ups.

Talking with VCs about why there is the focus on FinTech reminds us of the Butch Cassidy quote; When asked why he robbed banks.

Because that’s where the money is.

VC Chris Dixon talks of why he is interested in Bitcoin

The payment industry is a $500 billion industry (or larger, depending on how you measure it). That means banks and payment companies charge $500B per year in fees to provide a service that mostly involves moving bits around the Internet. There are other services they provide like credit, security, and dispute resolution, but in any reasonable analysis these services should cost dramatically less than they currently do. The payment industry should be at least an order of magnitude smaller than it is today 

Just like every other sector digital is transforming the money industry and smart people are reimagining the business. If the incumbents don’t step up, they will be stepped over.

Google & the Future

One of the many things that came out of Google I/O the other week was Material Design which – just like Swift from the Apple WWDC  – didn’t seem that big a deal at the time. But on reflection these are significant changes to how digital experiences are designed and built. This is a deep dive into the implications of Material Design.

Just as the web is evolving from a text medium to a visual one, so will apps move from flat pages to something more like motion graphics. 

And if you want more on where Google is going watch this long interview with Larry & Sergey. Lots about the benefits of long term thinking versus the short horizon most companies have and some thoughts on how society will have to change as robots take over more and more jobs.

In one of our talks on GAFA & Vertical Stacks this week we had a great new example of the intense competition in GAFA – Google are taking on Amazon in the grocery home delivery market

Why would Google get into that space? Simple. Ads and Delivery.

On the ads they know many people go directly to Amazon when looking for a product, which impacts their search sales. So the more product they sell, the more search revenue they are likely to get.

But more importantly, grocery brands are amongst the biggest spenders on TV and if Google can link advertising with actual sales – measured by their grocery deliveries – they open up that market. Imagine how powerful the sales case for YouTube is when you can show the effect on sales through people seeing different frequency or sequence of ads.

And delivery is going to be key in ecommerce. Having vans driving around making grocery deliveries is a convenient tool for Google to deliver other goods – as is Uber. And we can expect driverless cars to be an ingredient too.

But Google isn’t neglecting the day job and Jason Spero talks here about their latest mobile ad innovations.

Samsung & China

Talking about GAFA we were asked if we think anyone can threaten their dominance? We have always felt the answer was probably no, as the other big players (Microsoft, eBay, Twitter etc) tend to have a narrower focus.

But we are rethinking this as we watch the Chinese BAT (Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent) grow.  They are only really active in China right now, but as the latest Samsung financial results show China is a big enough market to impact global performance.

One of the biggest factors in Samsung troubles is Xiaomi – the Chinese device manufacturer. New data from Flurry shows that their user base is very mobile savvy – spending 8% more time using apps than iPhone users in China

Xiaomi are spreading out across Asia – with a launch in India imminent – and if they continue to attract the most mobile savvy users they represent a significant threat to Apple as well as Samsung.

As and when BAT follow and start to look outside China they could threaten the GAFA dominance – especially in emerging markets. The size of BAT is already impressive  – but bear in mind that vast majority of their revenue is from China where only around an third of the population have internet access. When the whole country catches up with big cities and has levels similar to the West these 3 companies could be 2 or 3 times bigger.

newTV – the 7% switch

The Sunday Times chose a new TV show called Extant for its pick of the day for yesterday. And if you have been watching the World Cup you will have seen lots of ads for it. A SciFi thriller it looks like the latest attempt to capture viewers who liked Lost and XFiles etc.

The unusual thing is that it isn’t on ITV or the BBC. Or one of the SKY channels. It’s on Amazon Prime

Most people accept our premise that TV is changing and the newTV ecology is being watched by most. But with the traditional TV industry in good health, many feel there is little to worry about

This deck (by the guy behind those scary LUMA charts that some just how complicated the digital world is) should be a must read for anyone involved in TV or advertising.

If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing look at chart 65. This makes the point any media planner knows – the last few points of a TV spend are inefficient as they just deliver frequency rather than extra reach. Smart planners are always looking for the elusive light viewer and already that is driving much of the investment in online video.

But this deck makes the point that taking the ‘inefficient’ 7% and switching it to digital would double the digital market. And it wouldn’t be that good for traditional TV businesses margins.

Of course the digital experience needs to improve – right now there are two many ads and the balance needs to be improved – this research says there are 1 minute of ads for each 2 minutes of content.

There is a lot of money in flux – and those that make the moves quicker and smarter than the other brands in their sector can get real competitive advantage.

Quick Reads 

The whole world of Programmatic is moving very quickly and we suspect there is an element of emperors new clothes here; do brands and agencies really understand how this works and what the pros and cons are for them? This interview with GroupM top buyer shows the market is still evolving and his comments tend to make sense

Good thinking on Digital Transformation from Russell Davies

One of the key issues around Digital Transformation is whether you need a Chief Digital Officer or not. Smart Fix friend Peter Kim (who has just gone to Cheil as Chief Digital Officer) has written a good report on how best to approach this 

Last week we mentioned Google Wave as a product that Google tried and failed with – but probably learnt loads. This is a link to the Google wave homage to Pulp Fiction that actually works

Finally As more and more companies gather more and more data on consumers, the issue of ethics and responsibility is becoming more prominent. I just signed yet another 80+ page Ts&Cs for iTunes – I have no idea what I have agreed to and whilst I don’t worry that Apple is about to do evil, I do believe people are starting to get concerned. A story about the NSA may not get much traction with people yet we find consumers don’t like retargeting and when they realize that there data is being used to drive this they find it a little creepy. They don’t see being stalked by a brand as acceptable. This good article argues that GAFA etc need to act responsibly

Mobile Fix – May 30

New Mary Meeker

And she’s back. Mary Meeker shared a new deck at the recode conference yesterday and whilst there is not that much new, it’s still hugely influential.  The stats on growth no longer surprise but her thoughts on the changes caused by this growth are always interesting.

Her most shared chart is the Money one – showing that time spent remains out of kilter with where advertising money is spent. Her estimate of the Big Opportunity for Digital (AKA the Big Problem for Print) is that $30bn is in motion in the US – so probably over $50bn globally. And the vast majority is mobile.

As we have discussed before there is a lot of friction slowing this change, but we are convinced it is happening and it will probably accelerate.

One other key theme from this deck is that Meeker refutes the idea of a bubble and shares some convincing data to support that view.

The whole deck is worth spending time on, but if you want a quick take on the key points this Guardian piece is a good cheat sheet

Content, Curation & Anchors

So finally we have confirmation that the Apple beats deal is happening. It continues to divide people – Ben Evans calls it a Rorschach Blot – it confirms your view of Apple – visionaries or past it.

We have come back around to seeing Apple as real innovators and we think that they are poised to use content and services in really smart ways to protect and build their core hardware business. 

Some analysts support our view that the software side of Beats – is the streaming – is more important than the hardware- even though Apple say headphones will drive profits for them straight away. And their awesome production and sourcing skills should see that product improve and maybe even come down in price.

Another makes the point that Apple are now getting involved with Pop culture and you can understand the Beats acquisition by understanding Lady Gaga. Think back to the Beyonce deal where her album was debuted on iTunes as an exclusive with great success.

This type of promotion can be a win win and Apple have been actively looking for more – the Beats team should make that process a lot more effective and Tim Cook has been very vocal in his praise of the Beats team. Their role in bringing curation the Apple services will be really important.

Interestingly the Beyonce product was innovative in format as well as how it was promoted; it was all about video. We know that YouTube has a huge share of the music market with views counting towards the US charts. Could Apple use Beats and music as a way to kickstart their ambitions for TV too? Again a curated service could beat the slightly anarchic discovery within YouTube.

Either way Apple is going to use music as one of its Anchors. A service that is so useful – addictive even – that customers will be reluctant to consider a switch to an Android. Beats will almost certainly be available on Android devices but we expect it to be so baked into iOS that it’s a noticeably better experience.

And it looks like home automation could be another Apple Anchor. Once your smartphone turns on your heating and your lights, moving to another device becomes a chore.


We couldn’t make the IAB Mobile Engage event the other week, but we heard lots of good reports. One thing that got a few mentions was Twitters’ Bruce Daisley talking about how mobile users consume content in a stream. He makes the good point that even the newspaper sites now constantly update and some use a stream – the Guardians Politics blog works that way.

He also refers to the very interesting talk that Evan Spiegal of Snapchat made a while back where he talks about profiles no longer being necessary in a world where everyone is constantly connected. Your stream says everything about you – and if you don’t update it you are just not present.

This is a parallel to the death of the home page – as the New York Times lamented last week people just go to the stories they want to read – underlining the Big Problem for Print, as the key locations that are so valuable in the real world don’t translate into digital. And remember when we had homepages – the places we started our web session when we turned on the PC? Now most people never turn their device off and most browsers open with all the tabs you had open last time, so we’re sort of in our own stream even on PCs


In our work for media owners on what advertising needs to look like to deliver on that $50bn Big Opportunity for Digital we talk about Flow.  This is our term for advertising that doesn’t disrupt the Stream – like banners do. The most successful ad formats fit the Flow of the Stream – best evidenced by Facebook and Twitter, but also true of Google PPC ads and even TV. Look, I am searching for coffee shops and there are all these useful links to ones just around me. Or I am watching an extended piece of video and it occasionally stops and shows me short pieces of video that (sometimes) entertain me and inform me.

The quest for native is about trying to fit with the Flow but sometimes its more about masquerading as editorial – and the New York Times is writing a rule book on native

Bruce showed some good examples of creativity on Vine in his talk and makes the point that only people who consume media as a stream can really crack making content that fits. Here is a good selection of recent Vines and this is a good example of how a brand can use Snapchat by fitting with the Flow.

As these new short formats can deliver significant reach there is more interest in how to make them. As well as Vine and Instagram video, GIFs are getting used more and more in art as well as in marketing. And this new tool to make them is interesting.

We are keen to meet people with skills in this area – people like Son who get new ways of doing things – so please point us in the right direction. The space is getting more commercialized and there is a big opportunity for brands to benefit from these new skill 

Programmatic, Context and Fraud

The new ways of doing creative are moving more slowly than the new ways of doing media – and that may prove to be an issue.

Especially as the context of the message seems to be increasingly absent from the channel thinking. Is a Guardian reader really just as valuable when she is checking her Yahoo Mail as when she is reading the Guardian? We have pointed this out as a real problem before and liked this new thinking about the issue from a US publisher. We agree and are happy to work with anyone who can make some progress on this – is it an opportunity for a smart research programme? We tried last year and couldn’t get enough publishers to get involved. But proving the value of context might even help with the Big Problem for Print.

The FT have a good round up of how advertising is getting automated. If you are not too sure about the pros and cons of Programmatic its well worth a read. Especially as the scale is increasing with two major players partnering to better compete with Google and Facebook.

But as the ways of doing things evolves so too does the appetite for ad fraud. A Mercedes digital ad was seen by more computers than actual people. The fraud in adtech is a growing problem and will slow the shift to digital unless it is dealt with quickly and effectively.

Quick Reads

Interesting thoughts on web apps vs native apps. We still think that open standards will win out and the power of search makes good browser experiences essential for the vast majority of brands. Native apps are good for some brands but probably only really worthwhile for a minority.

No one has come close to cracking mobile and money. Yet. A new survey from Accenture looks at attitudes to banks in the US – and a large proportion would be quite happy to bank with Google or Apple. Here in Europe Vodafone still have ambitions in this space and their new partnership with Bluesource to scan in plastic loyalty cards is interesting.  GoCompare tell us most people don’t make the most of card based loyalty schemes, but we suspect Apple intend to solve this with Passbook as they create a money focused Anchor.

Visual recognition has been a promising feature of mobile for a while and the Google acquisition of WordLens reminds us what can be done with the camera. Camfind is an interesting app that combines algorithms with Mechanical Turk to identify products and provide links to buy them. How long before Amazon buy them? The most interesting uses of visual search are in Fashion and this interview with the CEO of London start up Cortexica is worth reading.

How Yahoo made itself relevant in Mobile – again

McKinsey think that companies must stop experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into full digital businesses. We sort of agree – experimentation is a good way to learn about news things like Streams and Flow – but it’s no longer enough to treat digital as emerging media. It’s now mainstream and a machine for making money. McKinsey have 7 habits of highly effective digital businesses. How many are you doing?

Finally….. the lure of Apple devices has been a core factor in their success since the early days. Here are some of their prototypes from the 1980s. But we don’t get the Bashful branding?


Mobile Fix – April 11

Mobile Innovation at risk?

I am currently rereading Burn Rate, Michael Wolf’s excellent book on his adventures running a content business in the early days of the web. Starting in 1996, his stories of VCs and startups still sound quite contemporary. The figures are amazingly small though – he talks of Excite having a $40million warchest.

But the thing that resonates most is the description of the shift taking place from AOL, Genie, Delphi and Prodigy towards the web – and the huge excitement as people moved from a controlled environment to the free web, where anyone could do what they want.

I’m old enough to remember that era – we had just started Poppe Tyson in London – and many prospective clients were still investing marketing budget in AOL and Compuserve.

As we discussed last week, the web seems to be taking a back seat on mobile and the rise of apps is arguably taking us back to that controlled era. Chris Dixon of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz points out;

Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations.

VC Fred Wilson agrees that the dominance of apps is stifling innovation and looking at the top 200 apps sees very few that are recent venture backed businesses.

GAFA are crucial in the discovery and distribution of apps and we all know that without a substantial budget for Facebook app install ads (etc) it’s nearly impossible to get an app to scale. And the appstore tax of 30% is a major factor too. Are the Vertical Stacks the new Walled Gardens?

The Net Neutrality arguments are designed to give similar status to the Mobile Networks – which, as we know, stifled innovation in mobile prior to the GAFA era. This is a good summary of the various points of view on apps and the threat to innovation.

Yet the combination of the mobile web and mobile search are still low cost options – and therefore great opportunities for innovation. And in our research we find that people think of apps as the icons on their home screen; click on them and something happens. Few know or care about them being native apps or bookmarks for mobile websites. If it solves a problem, it will probably earn its place.

So in our projects we usually advise that a blend of mobile web and native apps is the right way to go – together with smart thinking on how to use search and social to drive discovery and get than icon on the home screen.

As Ben Evans points out, the mobile opportunity is still wide open and current trends are no real indicator of where we might end up. The size of the mobile opportunity means that everyone needs to get involved and invest smartly in learning what works and what doesn’t for your business.

Reading Burn Rate you remember that those early days were just the start of the digital switch that has changed how millions of people live their lives and transformed every business sector.

We are now just at the start of the Mobile switch where billions of people are going to have their lives changed. And every business sector is going to get transformed again.

It’s time to experiment.

Social Evolution

A very experienced smart marketer slightly stumped us this week when he posed the question Why should I spend any effort on Facebook? He totally saw it was a valid media channel for ad buys, but with a modest number of followers he wonders why he should invest in time and content to grow his likes, when there is now little benefit in free reach. Of course as part of a social strategy of ubiquity, the effort in Facebook improves results on Twitter, Google+ etc as some content can be reused. And knowing what content resonates with fans does help improve ad performance.

But as the Facebook Feed evolves we see both users and brands frustrated with the experience. This TechCrunch piece gets into the details on how the Feed is now constructed and looks at the various complaints, but we don’t see a solution yet. John Batelle argues – quite convincingly – that Facebook should let the user take control.

It is essentially the same challenge that Twitter potentially has. Twitter is a hugely valuable service but you always have the nagging doubt that you may have missed some good stuff if you haven’t checked for a while. But I prefer that to a feed that Twitter have decided is the right one for me. Again we thinks lists are an underused asset for Twitter; setting up some specific lists allows for an occasional browse of a certain set of Twitterers, without needing to have those feeds in your timeline.

With a whole swathe of new ad formats on the way, Twitter is  ramping up their advertising push and by redesigning profile pages potentially make them much more usable. Some think that these profile pages could evolve to be someones main profile on the web; you may have a blog and a LinkedIn page but an improved Twitter profile would probably be a better representation of you.

Just as Facebook and Twitter share similar problems – and similar ad formats – the new profile pages makes Twitter look a lot like Facebook.

A couple of other useful bits on social;

This is a good roundup of thinking on what the ideal length of a Facebook, Twitter or Google+post is. We were told a while back by Facebook that the average brand message is much much longer than the average users posts – the challenge for a brand is finding a way to convey their character in as few words as possible. It has always amazed us that brands often leave their most important language – search ads and social – to inexperienced media buyers and project managers. There is wealth of copywriting talent that should be employed for these crucial tasks; the easiest way to double response to both search and social is great creative.

Twitter have shared why people follow brands; people want to hear from these brands – especially with promotions and special offers

Social Revolution

It’s clear that messaging is going to change social and Facebook are keen to stay ahead of the curve. They demonstrated this when they bought WhatsApp, but many questioned the role for their own Messenger service. They are now stripping out the Messenger functionality from the Facebook app, so users have to download the separate app – continuing the single purpose app strategy they showed with Paper.

This is a good take on Facebook messaging and the new Asian competitors; Line, WeChat and Kakao

Ex Facebook exec Christian Hernandez has a good look at these new apps in this piece on the pros and cons of relying on someone else’s platform. Well worth reading.

Hardware – Cheap & Useful

Working on an ebooks project a few years ago, we recommended the backers ( a number of publishers and a major retailer) to ignore the siren call of developing their own hardware and instead develop for the nascent tablet market as well as smartphones. As it turned out that was sound advice. Then

Now it is possible to develop hardware that is cheap enough and good enough to differentiate your business. Tesco are making a pretty good job of it with Hudl and Google are having a lot of success with Chromecast (we are less convinced about the Chromebooks).

Amazon have done a brilliant job with the Kindle, straddling both hardware and software, and Fire seems to have started well – it’s the bestseller in electronics on

Their latest piece of hardware is really intriguing. Dash lets users scan a barcode of any product to add it to their shopping list – and it can also work with voice too. It is only available to customers of AmazonFresh – their grocery home delivery service currently in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The biggest problem for people like Ocado and Tesco is online grocery basket size tends to be smaller than a shopper in store as the impulse buys don’t happen. But once on the list they tend to be reordered again and again.

So for Amazon to have a tool that people can use around the kitchen to reorder should be great for both retention and revenue. And as a physical object it should also help with customer acquisition as people see it in their friends’ houses.

Most of the smart people we know in the Grocery business are convinced that its only a matter of time until Amazon launch Fresh in the UK. This is a good look at the US market for home delivered grocery and it reminds us that dotcom casualties like Webvan actually did have market impact – it was just way too early.

Interestingly Dash has dotcom ancestry too. Does anyone remember CueCat? Launched in 2000 this barcode scanner needed to be plugged into a PC before it could read a code on a product or in an ad. Called one of the 25 worst tech products of all time, it didn’t last long. But as we see with Dash, these ideas have real potential once you unlock them from the desktop and define the problem that needs solving.

Marc Andreessen says;

“All the dot-com ideas were correct,” “They were all too early. They are happening now.”

We’re looking for content ideas in Burn Rate to reimagine for today.

Quick(ish) Reads

Dropbox is looking to play a bigger role in its millions of users lives, with new apps for email and photo sharing.

The Music business isn’t in as bad a state as many think. This profile of Lucian Grainge suggests streaming will soon turn into a major revenue stream

The New York Times has an interesting new app called NYT Now and it’s getting good reaction. With a subscription model and native ads, the key question is whether it differentiated enough from the Times itself?

There is a lot of interest in news content at the moment, with a focus on niche plays. But the business model is in question; as the writer of Burn Rate points out, the ad business wants scale.

When Google sold Motorola it kept the bit that is designing a modular phone. This is a sneak peak of Ara. And you can sign up to help design the project by doing Special Missions

A good look at Yahoo mobile ambitions and the thinking behind their excellent Aviate app.

Finally.. a couple of our agency friends questioned our take last week that the Agency world hasn’t embraced tech yet.

But this week Agency bible Campaign is running a story saying;

Confidence in creating digital and mobile campaigns is still low among marcoms and media professionals in the UK

Another survey suggests many Marketers don’t really get the idea of ROI and hence struggle to demonstrate the true value of marketing to their board.

And client de jour Bonin Bough suggest Creative agencies aren’t necessarily the best partners for brands

Creative agencies used to manage 100% of our communications; now they manage 60% or 50%. As that happens, we keep adding agencies which is not sustainable,” 

Now obviously this is a generalization and there is some great talent within Agencies producing great work. For smart clients who really do get it.

But nearly 20 years into the Digital Switch it’s still a little patchy and you have to ask yourself if you are getting the right thinking on mobile, social and content from your existing partners.

Or do you need some provocative Big Picture thinking?

(No Fix next week as we will be eating Chocolate in St Ives. If you fancy a change from Eggs check out our friends at CocoaRunners who can send you a box of fabulous artisan chocolate. If you use this link and use ADDICTIVE as the code you get a £3 discount and we get a free bar. Enjoy.

If you would like to get Mobile Fix by email each week you can sign up here.

And if you need help profiting from Mobile, Social and Content get in touch.

Mobile Fix – April 4

Mobile  - Problem or Opportunity?

We spoke on a good Adweek panel organized by Weve this week. Along with other sessions across the event, we were left with the feeling that there is quite a lot of friction holding mobile back. Lack of clarity of measurement , lack of creativity, dissatisfaction with formats etc.

And a couple of smart people in the US make similar points this week. Ian Schafer of Deep Focus suggests the digital ad economy is heading for a correction as the stuff that works on desktop doesn’t translate to mobile.

And Barry Lowenthal of The Media Kitchen points out many mobile focused businesses are rejecting advertising as a business model – which is a problem for those who need to reach consumers when they are on mobile.

Now we probably don’t need reminding just how big the mobile opportunity is (but these 5 charts do a great job) but if the ad industry doesn’t make the most of this others will.

The CMO of Walmart is a big believer in adtech and is bringing in engineers to help solve the problem.;

“There are so many choices on where you can put your precious investment. It’s a software problem.”

And here in the UK a Tesco exec talks about the lack of expertise around mobile;

“Lack of expertise is a big challenge, not just in our company, but a lot of agencies don’t get it. They claim they do, but if you scratch the surface they don’t.”

Whilst tech and mobile have disrupted many sectors – retail, money, publishing, transport etc the changes in marketing are less apparent. Someone from any of these sectors 50 years ago would struggle to recognize their business now.

Yet as MadMen proves, someone from a 1965 agency would feel fairly at home in an Agency today. Which either means we’re immune to disruption. Or it just hasn’t happened. Yet.

Mobile is a huge opportunity. Embracing the possibilities of mobile, social and content can be the way we change the way Agencies add value for clients. Or we can leave it in the too hard box and let the consultancies eat our lunch.

It’s time to experiment.

Apps vs Browsers

A perennial question on mobile is whether brands should focus on apps or moble web. Various studies have shown that most brands apps struggle to get users and even once downloaded often languish on the last screen before being deleted. And the surge in mobile search  - along with huge mobile use of email and social – means a mobile optimized site in a must have.

But new research from Flurry suggests that the vast majority of time spent in mobile is spent in app – as much as 86%in the US.

Data from Comscore suggests  a similar profile – and shows  mobile app usage now accounts for more time than desktop. 

We still believe the mobile web is vital; the fact that half of searches are now mobile underlines this, as does anecdotal evidence.

If your brand doesn’t have a mobile optimized site you are at a serious disadvantage. Not having an app is much less critical. 

“TV is just an app”

A big week for newTV – the term we use for the fusing of digital video and traditional TV. BT have thrown their weight behind the Chromecast with all their sports available this way to their Broadband customers – potentially reducing their reliance on Sky – their main rival. It also has the potential to reduce their reliance on YouView where other partners include the main free to air broadcaster. The C4 CEO is skeptical about Chromecast calling it; 

one of “a plethora of devices that will trickle into homes”.

Dixons are more positive – saying they sold one every 4 seconds on first day of sales – and it’s still the top seller on Amazon.

Amazon now have their own streaming device; the Amazon Fire.  At $99 it looks good and they make a point of comparing it to Chromecast and Apple TV where its higher spec may justify the higher price. No word on when it will be available in the UK – but we would expect it to be soon and with some UK partners – like BT and BBC iPlayer.


Another piece in the Vertical Stack and another device to support, if you are a content player.

A US presentation on the future of TV is worth looking at – and this quote is interesting;

“As you unbox the cable box and allow other devices to become the TV experience, you’re going to get much better consumer experiences,” Mr. Greenfield said. “On the flip side of that, TV is just an app.”

The charts from this presentation are available here.

As we said when talking about Disney last week, this game is about creative transformation rather than revolution, as the money involved is huge – old school traditional media companies that sell video are hugely profitable

So they want to protect their business and new media companies want a share.

As a further incentive for brands and agencies to move TV budget to online video YouTube will now guarantee audiences for big spenders – and reserve them space in top shows. Sounds a lot like TV.

Yahoo have ambitions here too. Already a big player in online video Yahoo are rumoured to be planning a YouTube rival and looking to poach some of the YouTube stars. There is some latent dissatisfaction with YouTube but the lack of a viable alternative has meant there has been little churn yet.

Ben Evans has written a really good piece on TV too

Twitter & TV

One area where TV is embracing digital is through social. New research from Twitter shows the symbiotic relationship – evidenced by 4.2 million tweets using the Brits hashtag. And one very interesting snippet is the finding that being retweeted is strong social capital.

Building on this, Twitter are buying 2screen analytics firms in Europe – SecondSync in the UK and Mesagraph in France. Both have strong relationships with broadcasters in their markets.

So we should expect more lame use of #hashtags in the end frames on TV ads, but smart brands will find better ways of unlocking the social element. We think that brands could have a role as curators on Twitter – maybe using Lists an underexploited asset of Twitter.

For example could a Champions League sponsor direct fans to a curated Twitter list for each match – featuring the players and pundits who are likely to add value for that particular game?

This is good thinking around the potential for curation.

Net Neutrality

One key issue around TV switching from cable to broadband is capacity. In a turkey not voting for Christmas type surprise, EU Mobile network operators have come out against Net Neutrality.  The EU believe there is a compromise to be had;

“If we all agree on the need to end blocking and throttling, and we agree on the need to manage specialised services carefully, then the debate that we are having is about how we achieve this, not about being for or against the open Internet,”

But MNOs are not keen on building the fatter pipes that YouTube, Netflix etc need, without some way of profiting

As BT looks to re-enter the mobile market with a quad play – landline , broadband, TV and now mobile – we have a complicated ecology.  And it is possible BT will emulate the strategy of French ISP Free where their extensive broadband network – coupled with Femtocells – could give them an advantage in coverage.

The one thing MNOs lack is content, so will we see BT extend their content strategy to mobile? With all that TV money at stake, the idea of your enemies enemy is your friend springs to mind. There are still rumours of a tie up between Vodafone and BSkyB.

Mobile Money

Whilst the various mobile wallet initiatives struggle to get traction, mobile banking has really taken off for existing banks. Over 12 million people have downloaded banking apps and usage has doubled to 18.6 million transactions a week.

The downside of this for the banks is that footfall in their branches has dropped dramatically – down 30% at RBS/NatWest over 4 years.

As new services launch  – like PayM which enables people to make payments to anyone whose mobile number you know –, this is a one way trend.

PayPals David Marcus has shared their view on how this is going to play out – and with news that MPesa, the African money success story is coming to Europe, disruption is going to continue.

The question is whether new players can drive the change or do existing banks – along with Visa and Mastercard – have enough as incumbents to win?

(Looking even further ahead this futurology piece imagines money in 2040)

Quick Reads

The move to omni channel is not just a western phenomenon. Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba is investing in Chinese department stores.

IBM is investing in their services division to build what is essentially a global digital agency. IT giant. Cognizant are aggressively growing their consulting business and Accenture have made a really big hire too. Tough competition for agencies.

A good look at the ingredients of a successful social campaign – #Selfie

After Apple potentially reshape the marketing world with low energy Bluetooth and beacons are they about to do the same with Multipeer Connectivity and Mesh networks?

It’s 10 years since Gmail launched

Are we getting over excited about Big Data?  This good FT piece makes the case for Big Insight and points out the flaws in some of most discussed examples of Big Data success

Tesco are getting into adtech Can we expect Tesco to use their big data to target ads for the products they stock?

Finally ….As we have mentioned before, no-one has told the Chinese that the QR code is over. Nor, it seems, that local newspapers are dead. So they are combining the two to create portable online shopping catalogues

We think there is real potential to connect local press with digital via the mobile. This is worth watching.

Mobile Fix – April 12

Facebook Home

So Home from Facebook has arrived and it’s … interesting. Because of the limited range of android handsets that Home will work on, its initial impact may be a little muted. And as a sort of modern equivalent of a Google Toolbar it’s likely to only really appeal to hardcore users. But with a billion users you don’t need big percentages to make a big impact.

Home underlines the laser focus on mobile that Facebook now has and is a clear signal of intention – so the reaction of Google and Apple will be interesting.

Does Google tighten it’s hold on Android to curb the enthusiasm of Facebook and Amazon to hide data from Google? Or do they push forward with Chrome and evolve that into a mobile operating system?

For Apple this is also an issue. There is no way that Apple would allow anything like Home, but on the basis your enemies enemy is your friend, we should expect to see even deeper integration of Facebook on the next version of iOS. For a more in depth look at Home, you should read this Guardian blog.

Advertising will be included and we think Facebook may be about to realize one of the most enduring mobile business models – homescreen advertising. Lots of people have tried to build a business monetizing the fact we look at our phones 150 times a day – but outside Celltick in Asia no-one has made this work. Maybe Facebook can

This good Vanity Fair article on Facebook is worth a read too – a typically thorough look at how their approach to advertising has evolved.

But just out is some really big news from Facebook; Partner Categories - a new targeting option that uses data from 3rd parties such as Acxiom and Datalogix. This allows brands to target people based on actual purchase behaviour – although anonymity is preserved.

This ability to blend the precision of direct marketing with the scale of Facebook is really exciting.

Quantity – now what about Quality?

The recent mobile push from Facebook isn’t reflected in these figures but the new numbers on mobile advertising in the UK are impressive. At £526m it’s up 2000% since 2008 and now accounts for around 10% of total digital spend. The £300m of fresh money accounts for half of the overall digital growth over the last year.

Search is still dominant at 69% of the mobile total (versus 58% of all digital), so Google are the major beneficiary. With both Apple and Amazon hiring salespeople we can expect lots of energy from GAFA helping drive this space forward.

Clearly there is still lots of potential growth but any brand should question why mobile isn’t a substantial part of their digital marketing now.

So the quantity of mobile advertising is doing OK – we would argue that the quality has a way to go. But with that level of spend we’d expect brands to start investing in creative that makes the most of the opportunity. However we see mobile suffering from the issues that plague digital as a whole – a lack of focus on how creative can transform the economics of digital marketing campaigns.

Some former colleagues from our Modem Poppe days talk about how they see online;

My philosophy has been if you’re not serving the customer with what you put online you’re going to end up in a bad place. Most [banners] aren’t serving value. They’re in the business of interrupting what you’re doing. There’s a limited creativity that’s been applied with what you can do with that space and the space itself is very limiting

The Brazilification of advertising

(This has nothing to do with Agencies being scalped by client procurement teams…. )

With MadMen back, there is quite a lot of looking back at the golden age of advertising. In one piece Keith Reinhard of DDB points out;

A lot of bad ads were created at that time too that we don’t remember and that we shouldn’t remember

But in that golden age the craft and tools needed to make advertising were rare and expensive. Laying out and typesetting the VW Lemon ad was a craft, as was preparing it for printing. Now it can be done by anyone on a laptop really quickly.

So it seems prescient that we come across Blur in the same week. This UK start up acts as an exchange for business services and a large proportion of the jobs are around marketing. In the FT they report 359 briefs in the first quarter, with an average value of $11k.

The live briefs cover all sorts of marketing needs, with a lot having a budget of £2500. That would buy around 3 hours of a designer at some London agencies but the site has lots of big clients listed and glowing endorsements; Butlins were…”thrilled with the results at half the price of other alternatives for our apps” Now some Butlins apps look like they were designed and built by Redcoats, but others aren’t bad, so this service works for some clients.

Brands are waking up to that fact that making stuff has never been cheaper – - we are seeing clients realize that the assets inexpensively created for Facebook and YouTube can be used in traditional media – causing them to question the usual cost structure for traditional media production.

Of course some brands will always be happy to pay top dollar for the top talent and the top tier agencies – especially the ones owned by a tech firm – have a fairly secure future. And there will be a growing market for the people who offer their services through Blur and all the similar services.

But for the agencies in the middle, Brazilification is real.

Brazilification – the widening gulf between the rich and the poor and the accompanying disappearance of the middle classes.

–      Douglas Coupland – GenerationX

The rebirth of branded content

Content marketing is getting a lot of attention right now and Buzzfeed are the most obvious example of how successful it can be. With link baiting headlines and lists of the cutest cat photos the new UK version is similar to the US one – but tailored for a British sense of humour.

It’s easy to dismiss this, but they are getting client traction – this in depth look at the US business suggests they could make $40m in revenue from brands like Pepsi and Virgin Mobile. One thing that is really interesting is their thinking around how and why things get spread – they believe there is a Bored at Work group who drive sharing and they make viral hits. This deck from the founder gets into more detail on their approach.

We’re very interested in this space, especially as we see native advertising as being a driver for mobile advertising. Of course the space is not new – we launched Big Picture as a content agency in 1995, but got distracted by social (My Space) and mobile apps for Java phones. Back then the hot term was Branded Content and whilst much of the work focused on brand funded TV there was one example that demonstrated that done correctly, this stuff can work incredibly well. BMWs  series of short films The Hire was viewed over 100 million times – in the days before YouTube so each episode was watched on the BMW site in a special player that had to be downloaded. And before Facebook, so all the sharing was done via email.


One of the factors that makes content marketing so promising is the constant evolvement of new TV. We looked at how Hollywood is embracing YouTube last month and there is now a good look at the UK scene. As well as this article there is a good series of YouTube shows exploring the whole sector . Not its unlikey any of these people will turn out to be the next David Frost or david Attenburgh. But there is a good chance that the next Piers Morgan or Ant and Dec will emerge through these channels, but we don’t think the transition to traditional TV is as likely as it once was.

There is so much money in TV its hugely attractive to new players who want to disrupt it. From Google investing in content through YouTube channels to Tesco investing in content and launching Clubcard TV there is lots of change. The games consoles and tablets are preparing the way for connected TVs and people are looking to learn now. This interview with the head of Tesco Digital Entertainment is worth reading;

We believe we are well placed to ride the entertainment on demand swell at this critical time as entertainment migrates from physical to digital.

And technology could play a part too – in the US a start up called Aereo is shaking the market up by allowing people to watch the key channels on their smartphones, tablets and PCs by exploiting a loophole in the US legislation. Backed by Barry Diller this could have a huge effect on the US market.

TVCatchUp is Europe has a similar approach, but its unclear following a new European court ruling what will happen next.

Neither of these players affect the advertising within the channels they carry but Michael Woolf has written a good piece on how advertising is so easy to avoid these days. He argues that – over the 6 year life of the MadMen series – the way people consume content has changed, whilst industry hasn’t.

In a very interesting talk, Susan Wojcicki of Google makes the case that – in the future – ad views will be voluntary. With TrueView ads on YouTube Google only get paid if people choose not to skip the ad – and around 70% of all YouTube ads are now TrueView.  There has been a 40% drop off in ad viewing but one 4 minute ad for Pepsi has been seen 33 million times.

Is this the future? If so the Brazilification continues – only those that can create content people want to watch are going to get paid.

Quick Reads

Google have upated their excellent Think Insights with new content around mobile Gen C – their take on the YouTube audience.

Saul Klein shared his thinking around the fact that the internet economy accounts for over 8% of the UKs GDP. This world leading position makes the UK a great place to be involved with digital. The presentation is a must watch.

Google + is now bigger than Twitter.

Foursquare has raised another $41m  – can they now define their business model?

Yahoo is wooing Apple to get more of their content onto the iPhone. Is this a threat for Google?

Some clients  and Agencies are skeptical about the rush to Exchange or Trading Desk buying in media

Google Blink seems to have restarted the browser wars – and may slow down the rate of adoption of HTML5

Book of the week – Paul Adams is the man who architected Google + before moving to Facebook . This book is a really good look at how people are connected and how sharing works. Whilst it draws on lots of academic thinking Grouped is very readable and highly recommended.

Finally ….one  of the true MadMen Maurice Saatchi has weighed in with some smart thinking on mobile advertising;

A good specialist mobile agency will help to reduce the complexity of mobile and retain the simplicity that needs to govern a brand’s advertising outlook. Brands need to be free to focus on the age-old truths of advertising which is getting clear and impactful messages to the right customer. Mobile even extends this to delivering it in the right place and at the right time.

We’ll be talking about this sort of thing at the Facebook mobile event later today – if you are there do come and say hello.

Mobile Fix – November 30

So we’ve all read the memo. Mobile is mass market and it’s a machine for making money.

We’re now much less interested in stats about what % of people have smartphones etc. In most key markets the majority of economically interesting people are embracing the new behaviours that mobile enables.

The important thing now seems to be how brands are taking advantage of these new opportunities.

With the start of the holiday shopping season last week we see continued growth in mobile. IBM data shows that in the US online sales were up by 21% on Black Friday – with the mobile share up significantly. 24% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailers site – up from 14% last year.

All those brands that haven’t got around to developing a mobile site can breathe a little easier, as it’s tablets that are the main devices used for mobile purchases – so the desktop site works OK for these users. But there is a little bit of chicken and egg here – if more sites worked on smartphones we believe we would see more mobile sales. The bounce rate of c40% for mobile devices backs this up.

One stat that has caused some excitement is that the Twitter referral traffic was exactly zero. Cue lots of people saying social doesn’t work; but do people really tweet about retail stores?

The smart players have invested in mobile friendly sites and data on Cyber Monday shows this is paying off. eBay mobile sales doubled on the Monday compared to a year ago and Paypal volume almost tripled. Amazons sales were up 42% on the previous year.

Given the economic climate in the US is still pretty grim, this growth has come from someone else. Comscore says that online sales on Cyber Monday were around $1.5bn. So some retailers have lost a huge chunk of sales to the big boys; it will be interesting to see who the victims were when we get data on q4 sales.

Native vs Banners

Our look at natïve advertising last week has prompted some interesting conversations. And there does seem to be a growing number of people suggesting the banner is dead – or at least dying. Again, we’re not convinced; we believe we will see a wider variety of formats but the banners still have a place.

Just to up the pressure on the industry to find mobile ad formats that work, a mobile version of AdBlocker is about to launch. This can block all ads in the browser and within apps – apparently including Facebook. The desktop version is used by over 50m people.

QR Codes are still alive & kicking

Whilst the cool kids don’t like them, QR codes continue to get traction with clever brands. P&G tend to think their marketing through and are pushing QR codes on print advertising for their shampoo brands and Gillette. And this use by Toyota is well thought through too.

Of course a perfectly viable marketing tactic is let down by people using it badly – this econsultancy article points out many of the errors people keep making.

Our mobile site Quite Easy Really is designed for anyone to use with a QR campaign – explaining what the tech is about and linking to QR readers to download.

Bubble (Part2)

Last week we considered whether we were in a bubble with tech valuations so high. New York VC Fred Wilson has a typically smart look at why VC funding of consumer web and mobile companies is down 42%. He points out that digital is now 20 years old and behaviours are getting fixed – making it harder to create space for new businesses.

And with mobile it’s now more expensive to launch a business – because you need to develop for the web, iOS and Android. And having achieved a download, it’s hard to keep people using the app. Business Insider points out that formerly hot apps SocialCam, Viddy & DrawSomething have all seen huge falls in user numbers – by up to 95%

There is something of a shift to enterprise too, but the key point is that

the first two factors are also making it harder for consumer internet companies (web and mobile) to breakout which is more and more a prerequisite for funding

We’d argue that part of the problem is that start ups have given up on marketing. It’s easy to find startups talking about the product being the key thing and really hard to find ones that see that smart marketing may have a role to play. In some ways this is a reaction to the dotcom boom, when we spent most of our time talking to naïve entrepreneurs wanting to put their poorly thought through dotcom business on TV. In both London and New York ad agencies became adept at transferring VC money to the TV companies, as start ups thought a wacky TV ad was the way to go.

But the better mousetrap thinking is equally naïve. With so many people coming up with similar ideas a great product isn’t enough. Digital marketing is so much more powerful these days; maybe online and mobile advertising have a role to play in driving adoption and usage?

Quick reads

* Our friend Neil Perkin has a really interesting look at the challenges and opportunity for Facebook.

Marissa Mayer has given her first interview since joining Yahoo and obviously she talks about Mobile

This is a huge opportunity for us because we have the content and all the information people want on their phones

* We learnt lots at an interesting lunch with Comscore today. One thing is now public, with a new service enabling us to see how people are using US sites by platform. For example the data shows that Google has 211m users in total – with 189m on desktop and 109m on mobile. Really interesting to note that Yahoo has 95m mobile users – second only to Google. We look forward to seeing the European data.

Interesting thinking on the need for agencies to change from NY agency Deep Focus. Love the Clay Shirkey quote;

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”

* With Android growing really quickly it seems Apple is finally going to adopt the Nano strategy and launch a much cheaper device.  The Nano strategy refers to the way Apple launched a much cheaper iPod and destroyed the competition.

Chinese brands are producing smartphones at lower price points and taking significant market share in China. Gionee sells more than HTC and Lenovo is outselling Apple and closing on Samsung.

Finally….. Mary Meeker has a rival. Whilst her decks have been the go to source of good data on all things digital and mobile, the Business Insider deck on the future of the Internet is really good too.

Well worth spending 10 minutes flicking through. Then take a few minutes to think through how this affects you.  Are you poised to win in this new world, or could you be one of the losers?

And we’re on the road, speaking at the Millward Brown Conference next week. If you are there do come and say hello.

Mobile Fix – October 12




Next 5 years

As we learn that mobile ad spend in the UK should exceed £500m this year, we found some futurology from AdAge very interesting; what marketing will look like in 5 years times.

The suggestion is that the trends we have seen over the last few years will really shake up marketing. We have been arguing that both the technology and the consumer behaviours are going mainstream very quickly.

The article is well worth reading and the action points make really good sense;

Up your mobile spend now so you can test and benchmark in the future

Hire the right people so you can start thinking of TV investment as a data play, if not a direct-response channel

Get out of the mindset that reach and awareness are enough and don’t use models that fail to build in room for experimentation with new channels

Agencies, open the kimono on costs. Marketers, don’t assume your agencies aren’t open to new compensation programs. Both need to get on the same page when it comes to metrics. But don’t be cheap

Hyper-bundle. Think broadly about user experience and designing all consumer interactions as a user-experience expert would.

Pilot integrations of IT and marketing. Start small, with a single product or service









Next 10 weeks

In our presentations over the past few months we have been illustrating the momentum of mobile by looking at the big changes to the ecology we expect by Christmas – just 72 shopping days to go.

The iPhone 5 is out and selling really well – and the 4s price has dropped so more people can afford an iPhone.

The next big Android phone is probably going to be the Nexus from our former clients at LG – early reports suggest LG have got their mojo back and this is going to be a great device.

On tablets we will have the KindleFire from October 25th. The Nexus and the Samsung Android tablets seem to be selling well. And we’re just days away from the iPad mini – and the iPad4. Both will use the new Lightening Connector and will be on sale by Christmas. So Santa is going to be delivering lots of tablets this year – validating the OFCOM data showing 11% of the population have tablets and 17% expect to buy one within a year

But as well as all these new devices, we’re also going to have 4G. Everything Everywhere launch their service at the end of the month and, with the auction pulled forward all the networks will offer 4G in the first half of next year. Free WiFI is becoming ubiquitous too – most coffee shops offer it and many retailers are making it available

Whilst the iPad mini will probably be WIFI only ( like the Kindle Fire) the iPad 4 and the new iPhone will utilise 4G and the impact of the extra speed will be a gamechanger. The BBC did a test showing that 4G can be 10 times faster than 3G

So millions more people will have powerful new devices and faster connections. Blend that with the innovations in mobile services and content and it’s clear the pace of change is going to get even faster too. Interesting times.

Right Now

The news that the UK mobile adspend will exceed £500m is great news. It is still hugely biased to search, and consequently response focused, but as brands see the ROI from this spend, growth will accelerate.

Of course, many people struggle to deal with the  dynamics of the current market, with the majority of brands still missing out through not being Fit For Mobile

The Chief Marketers Officer Council say that 47% of their members are dissatisfied with their mobile efforts – blaming a lack of resource and talent.  Just 14% are happy with the results of their mobile activities. A new Forrester survey shows most brands are spending under $500k on mobile – with the result that;

.. eBusiness professionals lack the funding they need to build mobile services, integrate mobile services with their back-end infrastructure, and build out teams with the right skills in-house

One of the key findings of the Forrester study is that many clients are taking mobile inhouse  – which is backed up by an article in Adweek. This makes lots of sense as mobile will be key for most brands and over time they need to take ownership of their mobile assets – just as they have with their web presence.

“It’s so integral to the brand that you own your destiny in mobile,”

Having builders in house who can update your mobile and social assets is only part of the issue though. We believe most brands still need smart thinking on how their market is changing and what the threats and opportunities are.

But getting good advice is hard in a market that is largely populated by vendors selling whatever their factory or platform provides as the solution –whatever the problem.

So we see a role for architects – experts who really get the market and consumers, as well as having a deep understanding of mobile. Architects can determine just what the builder should actually build for maximum strategic benefit and for ROI.

Which is why we’re structured as we are – smart thinkers in house who really get people, marketing and mobile and a partnership with great builders. This model has worked incredibly well for us over the last 10 years – on all sorts of projects from websites to brand funded TV shows to desktop apps before they were called apps. It’s perfect for today.

And this approach enables us to build robust business cases for the investment needed (internally and externally) to profit from mobile.


Google continue their sterling efforts to drive mobile investment from brands with an update of their Mobile Playbook. Lots of good data and smart advice – including a focus on the need for great creative work. And Google continue their push into content with the roll out of their premium channels on YouTube - 60 new channels of content commisioned from suppliers like the BBC and Endemol. And the guy behind this move says “This is the first screen, so when you talk about second screen, you are talking about the television.

The testing of the Facebook Want button is an attempt to harvest the intent that Pinterest captures so well  – and will allow Facebook to monetise that intent through ads and eventually ecommerce.

Passbook from Apple is a clear attempt to create a service that offers huge utility for both businesses and consumers – and potentially make it harder to switch from Apple to Android. We have seen some UK brands (Odeon and Harvester) sign up now and a trial for the Baseball League in the US was a big success.

Our friends at Econsultancy have a good look at why Amazon is being so successful with mobile. And following the launch of the Amazon Media Network an interview with their head of Advertising describes the thinking behind the move into ads

Quick reads

Will Apple buy Twitter?

Gartner have forecast stellar growth for SoMoLo services

Business Insider have a great set of slides with data on the state of the internet – with lots on mobile and social obviously

Atooma is a great example of how apps are becoming smarter

No real surprise but Mobile is key to the reinvention of Yahoo

Si Cross from Facebook has shared insight into the Facebook view on HTML5 – as he puts it Facebooks problems are not everyones problems

Finally …we’re out and about, doing more speaking. This week we spoke at the CMA on native and HTML5 apps and next week we’re talking at the World Media Group Digital Communications day. Also on Tuesday we have the next MMA  Breakfast Briefing  - where the speakers include Xbox. If you are a brand, we can get you a free ticket – just let us know.


New HTML5 Mobile site for Men’s Health

We’re delighted that one of our projects for Hearst Magazines has now gone live. The Men’s Health mobile site has been completely revamped, with much improved search and navigation to surface all the content from the desktop website.

We felt that it was vital that the mobile site worked from the same backend as the desktop site so users could access all the content. And we saw that the workout videos merited much higher priority as users could access them in the gym to guide their exercise routines.

After agreeing the strategy with the Men’s Health and Hearst teams we designed all the UX and then developed the entire presentation layer using HTML5, CSS and JQuery etc. The backend integration was handled internally.

The previous mobile site has seen good traffic levels despite limited functionality and we’re hopeful this will be even more successful.

You can enjoy the new mobile site at