Category Archives: Social Media

Mobile Fix – February 27

Mobile TransformationA new report from Boston Consulting says that consumers benefit from mobile to the tune of $3.5 trillion globally – as much as $4k for each user. Whether you buy into this type of analysis or not, their data on what people would give up rather do without mobile Internet is quite powerful. The report is quite a long read but interesting.

Fix readers know that million of people have transformed how they live their lives because of mobile. What may be surprising is just how concentrated the attention is;

A report from Ericsson shows that around 2/3 of peoples mobile time is taken up by just 5 apps – with social and video dominating. If your mobile strategy is based around your app it’s an uphill struggle – especially as Kantar research suggests a quarter of Android apps are uninstalled within 10 minutes of being downloaded.But it is clear we are still quite early in this switch to mobile and there is lots of potential – the Flurry CEO predicting that 2015 is the year of mobile commerce.

In his talk at the Yahoo conference the other week he showed one chart that reinforces the size of the mobile opportunity – the OTT messaging apps now have more users than the mobile operators do

Mobile advertisingThe business model of this new mobile world is clearly advertising.  Stratchery make an interesting comparison between TV and Snapchat – big audiences with a good level of engagement but little or no targeting. And he makes the point that brands want big audiences, especially of young people. And that Snapchat have learned from Facebook that size matters so they are seen as;

the mobile messaging app with the rather old-fashioned business model ready and willing to take the place of TV.

US research shows that young people are just not watching traditional TV in the same numbers.

Mr Juenger at Bernstein Research argues that television is undergoing a “structural” migration from ad-supported networks to streaming video services. “We don’t think those viewers are coming back,” he warns.

But is that old fashioned business model enough anymore?New research approaches from Facebook Yahoo and others are correlating product purchase with ad exposure with increasing reliability. New academic research confirms what we have known for a long time – digital is equally able to drive brand metrics as TV is.

Smart marketers are moving a proportion of their TV spend to digital with Facebook a major beneficiary. But is taking a spot designed for TV into social media the best approach?

Facebooks new Atlas supremo reminded us on Twitter of a point ad guru Dave Trottt made – most advertising is academic because it either isn’t noticed or isn’t remembered.

Headroom: “£18.3bn is spent yearly in the UK on advertising. 4% remembered positively, 7% negatively, 89% not noticed/remembered”@davetrott

— Damian Burns (@damianburns) February 26, 2015

(Read the original Dave Trott article here)If 89% of ads are not noticed or remembered in traditional media should we really be taking the same ads into digital?

Advertising has also talked to strangers – because it had no alternative.

So ads have to be ‘bland’ enough to appeal to everyone. And bland doesn’t get noticed.

But in our brave new data driven world advertising to strangers is an anathema. We can know lots about the people we’re talking to, so we can and must tailor the message to be relevant.

It then has a better than 1 in 10 chance of being noticed.

So the economics of creative change – and when you blend in technology, we can industrialise creative production – and make it more effective.

SME s – The neglected ad opportunity

When we talk about advertising we all tend to focus on big brands spending large amounts through their agencies. But the hidden part of the advertising iceberg is the small advertisers who have a local footprint. Many of these SMEs have already weaned themselves off traditional media – look at how thin local press, trade press and directories tend to be these days.

A large element of Google growth has been these small advertisers using search as a wonderfully efficient way to reach customers.

But Facebook is making big inroads into this market – and seem to be taking revenue from Google. A friend tweeted about this;

Top analysis @brianwieser Pivotal Research: Small businesses represent 25% of @facebook ad revenue much of growth at the expense of @google

— Christophe Cauvy (@ChristopheCauvy) February 24, 2015

And Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview that Facebook now has 2 million active advertisers – up from 1.5m in the middle of last year. A smart Fix friend who works with smaller brands thinks Google is too slow and now focuses on finding leads on Facebook.

As recognition of this growth Facebook now has an app SMEs can use to manage their ads

Quick reads

Boom. As predicted Google are finally going to use mobile optimised as a signal in compiling search results and they expect it will have a significant impact in our search resultsYou have until April 21 to get a mobile site

Given the mystery over the Apple Car this detailed look at the auto industry is an interesting read. It’s noteworthy that the report is from a firm better known for focusing on mobile.

Following up our look at Mobile money last week Google have jumped back in the game by buying the wallet firm the US operators developed. Your enemies enemy can sometimes be your friend. Some think the big opportunity for Google is to buy PayPal.

And this report from Brightons’ smartest thinkers is a very good take on the trends shaping the financial industry.

The UK government have made a huge success of improving their digital presence and it is being copied around the world. Most brands could learn something from the way they approach digital.

A good look at Line – the messaging app that makes vast amounts of money.

Is Pinterest the next big ad business?

Some good examples of retail blending with mobile

YouTube doesn’t make much money – even before the competition really gets going

good new blog post from Ben Evans pointing out that disruption in mobile comes from the top as well as the bottom.  And this is a good profile of Evans and his work for VC a16z

Finally…. I spent last Friday at the Techstars Demo Day. Having been a mentor to the really smart people at Big Data for Humans I had met all the teams at the start of the process. But I was astonished at how the 12 weeks had transformed some of them and the day was a succession of compelling pitches from really promising start ups. This list of some bigger, more established, start ups, reminds us how this start up energy translates into our everyday life.

Mobile Fix – January 30

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

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

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

Apple 

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

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

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

Facebook

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

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

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

Google

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

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

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

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

Amazon

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

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

Alibaba

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

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

Snapchat

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

Adblocking

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

— Darren Herman (@dherman76) January 28, 2015

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

Quick reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3300 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – January 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

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

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

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

Retail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so quick reads

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

WPP media agency MEC has a good preview of 2015

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

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

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

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

Our clients hire us to do strategy consulting, creative thinking and to create the mobile and social apps, mobile sites and ad formats needed to make the strategy deliver.

If you could do with some smart thinking or doing around any of the subjects we cover then do get in touch

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have 3400 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – January 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 – 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 – 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

 

 

 

Mobile Fix – September 26

Mobile & Money

As the details of Apple Pay become clearer, analysts are generally positive – although not quite as bullish as the Chamath Palihapitiya view we shared last week. Many people site Starbucks as evidence that payments can and do work.

In the last data we saw, Starbucks dominates mobile payments in the US. In 2012 around $500m was spent using mobile payments – and Starbucks was around 90% of that. They have been hugely successful – and now 15% of all their US transactions are using their app – but the Starbucks Chief Digital Officer points out it’s not just about payments – the loyalty aspect has been a big driver. 

They are one of the brands that Apple have partnered with for Pay – but interestingly they don’t intend to let people but coffee with Pay – just top up their Starbucks app. Their brand is so strong they have ambitions to expand outside of Starbucks;

“We want to get mobile ordering right first, but you could be hearing more about us in the mobile wallet or universal loyalty space sooner than later

A smart Fix reader made a similar point about the Oyster card and how it could have become a means of paying for items outside of Tube tickets. Now with a plethora of new players like PayM, Zapp Powa etc as well as the Mobile Operator wallets, PayPal and Google iPhone  et al users have a lot of options. But it seems to us that Pay will become a real Anchor for Apple by making it so easy.

And as more people use Pay, more retailers will come on board. Talking with UK supermarkets, they have resisted payments because they tended to slow down the checkouts. Starbucks have focused on their point of sale tech and processes; 

We were able to save 10 seconds a swipe for any kind of Starbucks card, mobile payment, credit card or debit card transaction. That ended up saving us 900,000 hours of line time a year. 

If Apple Pay can contribute to that sort of improved efficiency, people will rush to sign up.

(btw  – one of most hyped mobile money startups has been Clinkle; ran by a 23 year old, they raised $25m seed money and has a  long list of VCs as investors, along with Richard Branson. Lots of smart people have joined and many have quickly left. And it was in stealth so no-one knew quite what they were up to.

After 3 years it has finally launched a rather average debit card linked to an app. Sounds a lot like the Osper card we mentioned the other week)

The Chinese are coming

The Alibaba IPO was the biggest float ever, raising $25bn – eclipsing the $16bn that Facebook raised. Some have questioned the ethics of investing here – largely because the BAT Chinese digital giants  (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) benefit from having no competition from Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay etc in their home market.

There is a lot to learn from how these companies operate and we now look at BAT when consider the vertical stacks of GAFA. And this good article looks at how important China has become to the global tech economy – with good insight into their M&A activity.

But perhaps the most immediate effect of the IPO is that it (probably) puts Yahoo into play.

Yahoo’s market capitalization is about $39 billion, while its Alibaba stake is worth $37 billion and its Yahoo Japan stake is worth $8 billion.

So someone could buy Yahoo and sell those stakes and essentially get Yahoo for free. Who could that be? No doubt clever Private Equity people are hunched over their calculators right now, but to GAFA, Yahoo would be a valuable acquisition.

Despite some peoples misgivings over their progress under Marissa Mayer, Yahoo still have huge reach (on desktop and mobile) and throw off huge amounts of cash.

Given that Yahoo is still a major player in search its hard to see the EU etc allowing Google to swallow them without divesting the search business to Bing. But for Facebook and Apple they would get lots of content to feed their userbase. And Amazon would get lots of potential buyers that it currently has to advertise with Google to reach. And perhaps even Microsoft or Murdoch could be interested?

Or how about Softbank?. This Japanese company has been very aggressively trying to grow the US business with the merger with Sprint, but its pursuit of TMobile has been unsuccessful. Combing an operator with a content business like Yahoo has been talked about lots, but this could be a first.

As JV partners in Yahoo Japan, the two sides know each other well. And, of course, Softbank now has a new leader who knows a little about the digital space; Nikesh Aurora moved over from Google a few months ago. Is this how he makes his mark in his new role?

We think it’s unlikely that the Wolves of Wall Street will leave something this vulnerable (and valuable) alone, so watch this space.

Beacons

Just like Big Data there is rather more talk about Beacons than there is action. It’s clear there is huge potential, but so far few people have actually started to use them. This piece looks at some of the innovations around the internet of things that use beacons – but there isn’t a killer app. Yet

The people at Estimote have done much to shape the market, and this article considers how they see the potential – including indoor locations. We think that Beacons will be used for simple ideas that improve various situations. For example when Starbucks get around to pre ordering, how do they stop the coffee going cold before you get there? A beacon could detect when you arrive at the store and the coffee is made then and there – and you don’t need to wait.

This example of coupons in Passbook working really well shows the potential – and Beacons could add another dimension. There is a huge opportunity for good old fashioned sales promotion thinking (or Shopper Marketing as its now called).

We’re keen to help kick start this area, so hungry to work with retailers, restauranters etc to test out ideas and try and make some progress.

Quick Reads

Blackberry has a new square device that is going to save their business. We’ll see.

The clever people at Betaworks have revitalized Digg

Apple have bought a firm that makes it easy to create magazines for mobile. Another sign that content creation is being democratized. Will we see the return of the fanzine?

More good thinking on the Apple Watch

More proof that Apple are only human. After the live screening debacle at the launch event, the latest iOS update has been withdrawn.

Eric Schmidt has a new book out – How Google Works. It’s now on our Kindle but we are still engrossed in Goldeneye

Finally…we are big believers in the sharing economy and are looking to rollout our collaborative consumption platform SkratchMyBack in more regions. But the some elements of this movement are proving controversial.

In New York lots of people don’t approve of their neighbours renting to strangers and this long piece looks at both sides of the argument. And the way Uber treats its drivers is questioned in this MIT article. Enabling people to share their assets makes perfect sense but we need to consider the losers as well as celebrate the winners.

 

 

 

 

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 – June 27

 

Google I/O

The arms race continues. On Wednesday Google held their I/O developer event – the Android version of the Apple WWDC  a couple of weeks ago.

As well as sharing growth figures and a long list of new features, products and ideas – and having a bit of a pop over who does what first –  the event was notable as evidence Google want to take back some more control over how Android is used.

Android is only really useful to Google in two ways;

More Android devices means more distribution for Google products – feeding more data back to Google and giving them more eyeballs to sell ads against

More Android devices means less Apple devices. Every high-end android sale is probably a lost sale of an iPhone. So Google is less at risk to the ongoing Apple deGoogling of their ecology.

But when people can use Android without baking in Google, there is little advantage and Google have spent the last couple of years tightening their grip on the platform

Benedict Evans made the point that when people fork Android – creating their own flavour of Android – they lose much of the Google magic ingredients and that looks increasingly pointless (other than China where Google has different issues).

Like Apple, Google see a world where people effortlessly switch between devices – smartphones, watches, Chromebooks etc and Android and Chrome recognise and enable this. For example when you are wearing an Android watch your smartphone wont require you to use the pattern to unlock the home screen

As predicted when Pichai took over Android – whilst still running Chrome – the distance between Android and Chrome is shrinking. What this means for the ‘distance’ between native apps and the web is a topic for another day – but its clear that Google – essentially a web company – are looking to close this gap.

To get more on I/O its worth reading VC Fred Wilson  and this interview with Sundar Pichai is good background on Google and their take on GAFA. And if you want to dig deep then check out the I/O site – lots of good video on topics that are going to be really influential – like Material Design

Its also worth remembering what didn’t get mentioned – Glass, Robots and more

Ad Formats

One element of our talk at Facebook last week was about how little creativity gets applied to mobile advertising. Because many see banners as the work of the devil, they are ignored by most creatives and usually end up being worked on by junior staff. And doesn’t it show? 

If you look at the Cannes winners in mobile little could be called advertising and we think that’s a problem.

Yet if you treat banners as little billboards or posters you can convey an idea with them. You just need to have an idea to start with.

It’s clear that we need new formats and new ways of working to breathe life into mobile advertising and win back the attention of the talent. French publisher Le Monde are pushing a new format, which looks quite elegant. 

But the other issue around mobile and digital creative is the production costs – delivering a campaign that works across a whole range of different formats usually means that a disproportionate share of the budget goes on repurposing assets to fit a range of different shapes and sizes

Just as responsive sites is the right approach for most people building a web presence these days, we are convinced that responsive advertising is the only real answer for anyone wanting to unlock the value of digital advertising. We are working with our friends at Responsive Ads to bring their really effective platform to Europe. Beta trails at with the LA Times, Mashable and Mastercard and more have proven really successful at delivering Rich Media creative that can be adapted in real time. Google have a similar, though arguably less sophisticated tool and it has proven very effective for TalkTalk – reducing eCPA by 12%.

We will soon be knocking on the doors of European publishers and agencies to find partners for Responsive Ads – if you would like to jump the queue let me know.

Internet of things

Just prior to their I/O event Google made a further play in their internet of things strategy with Nest buying Dropcam – the video monitoring camera system – for $555m. They also announced they are launching a developer programme – with Mercedes, Jawbone and Whirpppol amongst the launch partners. This will be a space whare Google and Apple go head to head – how long before Apple stop selling Next and DropCam?

This interview with a garage door company gets into the detail of how these partnerships are being forged.

Recent Pew research suggests the internet of things will be thriving by 2025. We don’t think it will take that long.  The CEO of the newly merged Dixon Carphone talks of the connected home as part of the logic for the merger.

Quick Reads

Great example of how UX and design can transform a process from Virgin America

More on different ways to measure engagement or media performance. Upworthy use engagement minutes. Back in our Mindshare days we tried to get minutes earned – ie YouTube views – accepted as comparable to minutes bought (they are actually more valuable because people are viewing by choice rather than through interruption) Hard to get traction with the idea but as video gets real scale we think there is mileage in this.

Interesting take on the inexorable rise of Product Placement. The effect of this type of tactic is debatable but we did see evidence that Coke ads in the breaks of the US XFactor – where they had lots of product placement  – performed much better than the same ads on other shows.

The Daily Mail have hired the mastermind of Buzzfeeds advertising success. Should we look forward to brands in the sidebar of shame 

Finally if you think the animosity between GAFA and especially Apple and Google is bad take a look at BAT in China. People wanting to place World Cups bets with the Tencent mobile betting site QQ Lottery, were told they couldn’t pay with Alipay – the payments arm of Alibaba. Whilst it was claimed to be a technical issue many people suspect it’s the BAT vertical stack at play. 

Both companies resorted to social media and things got a little heated. At least GAFA remain fairly civil to each other.

Mobile Fix – June 20

Another week and more significant new products from GAFA.

The most anticipated was the Amazon Fire – their smartphone has been rumoured for years and it’s finally available- at least in the US. The UK website has no mention of it at the time of writing.

One key features is Dynamic Perspectives – a sort of 3d that seems to be powered by an accelerometer type tech that changes the content as you move the smartphone. It looks interesting but we suspect the partnership with AT&T is partly designed to get the device into all their shops where people can play with the phone and get the experience – the video isn’t going to be enough.

The other is Firefly , which is a sophisticated visual recognition tool – think a QR reader combined with a Google Goggles type of tech. This enables the device to ‘read’ text on posters, magazines and business cards and recognize live TV, movies and TV shows as well as hear songs. And they claim it will recognise 70 million products – letting you add items to your wish list or just order.

Why does Amazon need a smartphone of its own? The Vertical Stack means it makes sense to have a device that drives consumption and sales of its core products and the Kindle has proven this strategy – although no one has any idea on the number of devices sold.

It is worth reading the whole feature list as it is impressive – and if you are an Amazon prime customer it probably deserves consideration when you think about your next phone –especially as it saves you the $90 Prime fee.

There are lots of good points – the camera looks good and free cloud storage of all your photos is a good offer. They will extend their video help service MayDay so they should be good at getting people to understand more of the device capabilities. They even claim their headphones won’t tangle…..

But the price point puts the Fire into competition with the iPhone and the high end Androids and we can’t see that many people choosing it over the iPhone 6. We expect it to be a modest success – although we doubt we will ever hear about actual sales numbers (which is a problem for developers who won’t build unless they believe there is a substantial potential market for their apps.)

And we think that the Firefly technology could soon emerge as a standalone app (just like the Kindle software). The upside for Amazon of millions of people using their tech as a way to discover products and content is too valuable to leave this locked in a proprietary device that will never reach more than a fraction of the potential userbase.

This is a good take on the launch and this is the FT view. Techcrunch walk through the features you won’t get elsewhere. Wired take a view on the hidden agenda behind the launch – but we’d argue little is actually hidden 

Slingshot

The other launch was also anticipated – mainly because Facebook launched Slingshot by accident a couple of weeks back. The official launch was this week and early reaction has been good.

Pigeonholed as a Snapchat clone, Slingshot makes it easy to take photos videos and selfies and lets the user customize them with drawings and captions – then you send it to your friends. The shot can only be viewed once – like Snapchat – but the time period isn’t fixed at 10 seconds. But they only get to see your picture – or shot – when they send a shot back. This is a new behavior and feels counterintuitive – but we think people will get used to it.

It also means that Slingshot has the one thing that Snapchat doesn’t  – a way to send to all your friends. The reciprocal model means that it shouldn’t descend into spam.

The app is only available in the US appstores at the moment but, if you know how to get around that, the service works fine in the UK.

Like all the messenger apps, Slingshot uses your contact list to find users amongst your friends – as well as tapping into your friends on Facebook. Mashable has a good look at the service and an interview with the team behind it.

The last Facebook new app Paper has been updated but has yet to launch outside the US suggesting it hasn’t got traction – so everyone will be watching to see how fast Slingshot grows 

Social Retail

Last week we mentioned that Goldman Sachs are very bullish about the opportunity for Amazon to disrupt grocery with their home delivery service that is rolling out across the US – and strongly rumoured to be heading to the UK.

We also recently mentioned another grocery start up that is getting traction – Instacart. Here you hire a personal shopper who takes your shopping list and goes and buys everything delivering back to you.  The idea seems niche at first but as the collaborative consumption world grows the idea does seem to have legs – in every sense. VC Andreessen Horowitz see the potential and have just invested $44m and one of their people will join the board. Along with AirBnB, Uber (who the Instacart founder used when he start the business as he didn’t have a car) and even our own Skratch, the idea of using digital technology to connect people and unlock the value of their time and/or assets is fascinating.

Publishing

Of all the sectors facing disruption, publishing probably gets most attention. One of the most agile and most successful at managing their evolution is the FT – who have been at it a long time – we worked on the launch of FT.com in 1999. This Nieman piece is a good look at how they are evolving how they work ;

“The biggest challenge for the FT, we feel, lies not in its transition to digital, which can be achieved with web-savvy staff, but in the transition of the print staff to this ‘post-news’ method.”

But as Fix readers know the bigger challenge is monetizing the audience and the FT are innovating in this area too. Their new focus is on time spent rather than a simple view and it will be worth watching to see how successful this new metric is.

Regional newspapers are going through a similar evolution – albeit possibly at a slower pace. This really good look at how smart publishers are focusing on their audiences rather than the platform is a must read. Regional audiences are really valuable to brands and especially to retailers. Who wants to advertise to people who don’t live near enough to use your stores?

Ben Evans has curated a set of interesting charts on digital news drawn from a Reuters report on The Study of Journalism.

Seth Godin has a typically smart look at what publishers should be doing to adapt to the digital world –and warns of Buzzfeed envy.

Quick reads

An interesting look at Google moving beyond search

How Facebook works with advertisers to make ads sharable

A couple of must read articles on Apple in the NYTImes. An in depth look at how Tim Cook is making his mark and an interview with Jonny Ive

We have talked about the way tech firms are starting to use content exclusives to drive usage (eg Beyonce and iTunes & Samsung and JayZ). This article argues that the key for music services is the depth of content rather than a few exclusives. As a marketing tool both exclusives and curation will, in our opinion, differentiate what can be commodity services.

Finally – I am speaking at Facebook tomorrow on the current mobile advertising climate – if you are there come and say hello. This article suggesting we have no idea whether digital advertising works will fuel the debate. Much of the research they point to has been debunked and we know – like many digital businesses – that digital advertising can – and does – work. They point to a study by the author that proves Location, Repetition and Proximity increase ad effectiveness.

Our view remains that, done properly, digital advertising – and mobile – solve a problem for users and becomes advertising so good it’s a service 

The problem is most of it isn’t done properly. Too often its left to the media owner to chop up desktop assets or it’s done by a junior team that doesn’t quite get the big idea and only have a little time to devote to it.

If you want to dramatically improve your advertising, we’re happy to help