Category Archives: Social Media

Mobile Fix – March 14

Mobile truly Mainstream?

This week we saw research suggesting that mobile ad revenue in the UK will surpass newspaper ad revenue. This year.

And over the next couple of years it will pass TV and be the biggest single medium. With 90% growth forecast this year and a total spend of £2.26billion, mobile is clearly mainstream. And given that a high proportion of this spend is with Google and a big chunk of the rest is response driven, mobile is a machine for making money.

But there is still a long way to go. With media brands seeing a huge switch in traffic from desktop to mobile, their ad revenue evaporates as mobile is sold too cheaply. Ecommerce brands see their customers migrate from desktop to mobile, but conversion falls away. Charities tell us their mobile traffic is surging, but donations drop.

IAB research shows that a quarter of the top financial service brands still don’t have a mobile presence. And over half hadn’t optimised their data capture. In many other sectors it’s even worse. And even when brands do have a mobile site its so often functional, rather than a fulfilling brand appropriate experience

We think the next step for mobile is to embrace creativity and use that to improve the user experience;

Make mobile sites more intuitive and rethink shopping carts, data capture and ways of paying.

Better ideas in better advertising formats. This is a video of the rich media responsive banners we mentioned last week – we’re keen to bring them to Europe ASAP.

Smarter thinking about tracking and research that enables brand metrics and response to be looked at across all screens – so we see the real value of mobile.

Brands must think about the digital experience first – and agencies need to get their best creative minds focused on digital. Or be prepared to cede their role as brand guardians to those that are Digital First.

Big Brands at SXSW

Austin Texas is the latest place to be adopted by the marketing community. Along with CES, MWC and Cannes, SXSW is now on the circuit for forward thinking brands and their ever protective agencies. 

The days when new services like Twitter and Foursquare blew up at SXSW and started their stellar growth with great buzz are over. It was big brands that hogged the limelight. But the reason for being there is to get closer to tech

“Some people say it’s gotten too big — but people have been saying that for ten years. Many of the most influential people and interesting people in the world of tech marketing can be found at parties and panels throughout the week.”

Whilst lots went on, for us – observing from Clerkenwell – Mondelez were the most adept brand there. It’s hard to imagine anything more on trend for SXSW than 3D printing of Oreo cookies. And this interview with their main Digital guy Bonin Bough gets into how and why some big brands are trying to use the start up world to reshape their business.

Big Brands struggle with digital

But whilst these SXSW events are high profile, it seems many brands don’t believe they can walk the walk, even if they get the talk right. A new Forrester survey says; 

While 74% of business executives say their company has a digital strategy, only 15% believe that their company has the skills and capabilities to execute on that strategy

Leaving aside the fact that 26% of execs don’t seem to think their company has a digital strategy, this lack of confidence is a big issue. Execs from General Mills, Kraft and Walgreens share their concerns here and Nestle have announced they are opening an office in Silicon Valley, to get closer to Tech.

And last week the excellent Albion Society ran an event about Intrepreneurs and the challenges of changing big business from the inside.

Further insight into how hard it is to change came at the excellent Firestarter talk from Russell Davies on how the Government is now dealing with digital. As he said It’s not complicated, its just hard. Neil Perkin who organises Firestarters has a good right up, as does our favourite Belgian blogger.

Lots of people in big brands are trying lots of ways to turn digital from a threat to an opportunity and there is a clear role for the right partners to help.   But taking a trip to Austin probably isn’t enough.

Mobile Money 

The Telegraph have a good round up of Wallet news, with another headline about how your phone is about to replace your wallet. We’re not so sure – the huge range of wallets available confuses consumers and until some clear winners emerge we think the sector will be dogged by the chicken and egg scenario.

And as some traditional cards embrace the contactless technology that mobile wallets use we find new issues. Travelling on the tube now means you hear constant announcements about Card Clash. Touching in with your Oyster whilst it’s in your wallet, risks having the transaction done by contactless card instead. Or, as well.

Mobile money is a big opportunity and we’ll keep seeing players iterate to try and get cut through and customer acceptance. But these tech gremlins slow progress down.

New features of Google Wallet show where things might be heading; the latest version now keeps track of your online purchases and delivery though looking at what comes to your Gmail account. Now its unclear whether that’s just things you bought with Google wallet or whether its anything from Amazon etc. Clearly Google can mine your Gmail for all online purchases and that data – neatly collected in your wallet  – is gold dust. The Wallet now also allows you to save loyalty programs and offers in one place – getting more and more like Apple Passbook.

We spoke at a retail round table on loyalty this week with key people from Tesco, Sainsbury, Whitbread and others. It was clear from the discussion that, so far, digital hasn’t really moved this sector on much. The plethora of offers and coupons is felt to have driven customer promiscuity rather than customer loyalty.

But with Beacons etc there is understanding that mobile could change things – if used smartly. We are more and more convinced that consumers probably want one place to manage their loyalty cards, coupons etc and Passbook and Google Wallet are well positioned. But Apple and Google probably need to do more to get these big brands on board.

Hollywood gets YouTube

Disney are about to spend $500m buying Maker Studios  – one of the key players in video, with 9 of the top YouTube channels including the top rated one PewDiePie. This channel alone has 23 million subscribers and 267 million views in January alone. Following Dreamworks buying Awsomeness TV in a cheaper deal last year this move shows that Hollywood recognize the TV world is changing and don’t want to miss out.

Casting this as a bet on the future one video site said;

Maker – and other big MCNs – underscore 3 of the biggest emerging rules: (1) that talent can now break big without the backing of the traditional media, (2) that YouTube is a bona fide new distribution platform and (3) that traditional media’s grip on millennials may be slipping.

And underlining just how powerful TV ( whether delivered by a network, Netflix, YouTube or in a Box set) this piece looks at the excess of excellence in TV these days

Quick Reads

Facebook have announced their first Developer conference since 2011. Should we expect big news for apps inside the Facebook ecology?

The clever Monday Note people think people are underestimating Apple – pointing out they spending huge amounts on R&D. Are there new products in the pipeline? The author of a new book is less confident and thinks the magic has gone. But long time Apple watcher John Gruber takes issue with the book and ends by saying;

The simple truth, regarding Apple’s continuing ability to deliver breakthrough new products, is that we have to wait.

My sense is, we may not have to wait much longer.

One more thing on Apple – How Steve Jobs got the iPhone into Japan.

Some smart thinking from John Willshire on planning  - Fracking the Social web

And some smart thinking from Ben Evans on mobile, context and discovery 

Finally.. it’s 25 years since the web was invented and but we probably need to wait until September for the  20th anniversary of most people first web experiences – the first Netscape browser.

These are some stories from the first set of digital startups over 1994 and 95.

But the best piece of nostalgia is this clipping shared by VC Saul Klein

 

 

 

Mobile World Congress – The 4Ps of Mobile

Mobile World Congress is big, really big. 80000 people and 8 huge halls – plus many off site parties and events.

It’s changed and grown over the years – this post reflects on those changes – and 2014 saw it join Cannes, CES and SXSW as a place for brands and agencies to go learn what’s happening in Tech. Advertising has been the slightly poor relation in previous years, but its now clearly centre stage as the money ramps up – and the business models focus on ad revenue as the key monitisation.

 

Our 4Ps of Mobile Framework is now virtually vintage, but we still find it a good way to sort through the mélange of news, views, announcements and trends across mobile and social. So for Mobile Word Congress it’s the perfect tool.

Starting with the Devices at the centre of everything; MWC has always been about devices – we can remember seeing the DoCoMO stand covered in the next seasons new phones, many brightly coloured or patterned depending on which fashion company they had partnered with that year.

Whilst Google and Apple don’t show up, Samsung does and this year chose to announce significant new devices. The Galaxy S5 is the latest weapon in the war between Apple and Samsung for high end customers – those paying $500+ for a phone – often through a pricy monthly contract.

The screen on the S5 is a little bigger at 5.1 inches (the iPhone 5 is 4 inches) and has fingerprint scanner for locking the phone and authenticating PayPal transactions. We’re told people were trying out the devices, locking them with their fingerprints then wandering off, leaving them useless for anyone else. Oh, and it’s now waterproof.

Its an iteration of the hugely successful S4 and not that exciting; supporting our view that smartphones are now like the TV market – it’s very hard to stand out with hardware. Just as it’s hard to differentiate an LG from a Samsung in the TV department at John Lewis, it’s now hard to differentiate a Samsung from a HTC etc in the phone section. Everyone makes the bezels as small as possible so their screens are as big as possible, and the only opportunity for ‘design’ is the rear. To be fair an iPhone remains instantly recognizable – it will be interesting to see what the iPhone 6 does to standout.

Sony launched nicely designed tablets and smartphones, like just about everything else using Android.

Even Nokia announced a new phone that uses Android – sort of. They have chosen to use a forked version (like Amazon does) that means Google isn’t baked in, which must please their new owners Microsoft. They use their own Nokia appstore (it is relatively easy for developers to teak their android apps so they will work on these devices) and a range of MS products like Skype and Outlook. The interface is similar to the tiles that Windows Phone uses.

They are cheap, but are they cheap enough? Many OEMs see the low end market as the opportunity to go after and MWC was full of Chinese companies with good Android smartphones wholesaling at around $40. Firefox announced their own phone on their own OS that would sell for $25 – general view is that Android will probably get there first.

Mashable have a good round up of the main device news.

Wearables fit into Devices too and just like CES, everyone seems to have one on their stand. Samsung announced 3 new ones and their GearFit got lots of attention. With a curved screen and a heart rate sensor and we think it could trump the Nike Fuelband etc. But it is still most useful when paired with a phone, so again wearables peripherals.

Whilst Google didn’t show up they did steal some headlines with a leak that they are developing a Nexus watch, to be announced in June. Along with the Apple entry into this space that everyone expects, we think people will wait and see. Watches are so much of a statement we don’t think many will spend money on a Samsung etc that could look very dated against an Apple or Google device.

One other interesting fact about wearable  – Ben Evans tweeted he had seen just one person Google Glass; when you have 80k mobile people it’s odd that more people aren’t wearing them. Maybe even the evangelists aren’t that convinced?

People

We have long argued that social and mobile are essentially the same thing, and having Mark Zuckerberg keynote at MWC proves this. Of course he talked about WhatsApp and made the point that their reach is complimentary to FB and a key part of internet.org, which he focused on. This is the project to get the rest of the world on the internet and Zuck sees that providing free messaging, search etc is crucial for the worlds poor.

His plea for operators to allow this free access for Internet.org – and this basket of free services designed for everyone – rests on persuading them that this acts as a gateway drug or onramp to get people using data, that they will pay for.

Well worth watching the keynote video

WhatsApp dominated the news – both as people debate the valuation – with Zuckerberg arguing he got a bargain and because of their announcement that they will add voice services later this year

Places

Location now seems like hygiene in mobile – its there and most people are finding ways to use it – but there is a long way to go. One of the first Addictive Ideas we hawked around the industry when we started was the idea of using mobile to validate credit card transactions abroad. When travelling we all get used to cards being declined because the UK fraud people decide it’s unusual you are in Seoul or San Francisco. But whilst I may not take a while to know if my card is missing or has been cloned, I know when my phone has gone almost instantly.

So we approached banks, credit cards, their agencies and anyone we could think of. Zero interest. But now Mastercard are launching a similar solution. It’s all about timing.

The Foursquare deal with Microsoft is seeing its first fruit with Cortana – the Micorsoft answer to Siri. The core use of Foursquare appears to be on the wane – of the 80k people at MWC just 2600 checked in.

Physical

Whilst QR codes are no longer fashionable, no one has told the Chinese who use them in lots of smart ways. WeChat enable people to follow someone by scanning their personal QR code and invite people to a group chat with one.

But all the energy in physical is now around beacons and Apple have announced their specs for iBeacons, as they look at impose their usual command and control on the space. Whilst at this stage they are regulating the hardware we suspect there will be some restrictions on how the service is used. Apple doesn’t want its customers to start getting spam everytime they come close to a Beacon and we think some best practice will be forthcoming.

And unsurprisingly the Internet of Things clichés were at MWC – what’s more Physical than connecting your toothbrush to your smartphone?

Promotions

Continuing the emerging markets focus, new research showed that there are 219 mobile money services in emerging markets – with 13 now having more than a million users.

Coming back closer to home Greggs now has a mobile loyalty scheme where food lovers can pay using their mobile. With Eat taking a slightly different approach working with Pouch from Weve, people are going to get more familiar with using their mobile in stores and this should drive more mobile transactions.

 

Read the rest of this weeks Mobile Fix here;

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/02/28/get-up-stay-up.html

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/02/28/messaging.html

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/02/28/new-tv-mobile-fix-feb-28.html

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/02/28/quick-reads-mobile-fix-feb-28.html

Get Up Stay Up

The key challenge for Graffiti artists in New York ( or anywhere)  is how to Get Up and how to Stay Up; how to get your art on the side of that subway train or high wall and is it good enough to Stay Up or will another artist decide they can do better and paint over your work?

It’s the same for Apps – how do you Get Up on a users home screen and how do you Stay Up, rather than being deleted or just pushed back across screens until your in the App Graveyard 7 or 8 screens back?

Just like the power laws that mean 80% of all Google traffic comes from the first page of results (with 80% of the rest from the second) and 80% of all TV viewing is from the first page of the Sky EPG, we suspect a huge amount of app usage is driven by those apps on the home screen

So the phone home screen has the same role – and we find apps can get put there then are relegated as new apps come along – over time the most useful stay there.

But we don’t know. There is very little data available on how people use apps. Apple and Google know what we have downloaded, and Apple know (?) how we have grouped apps. Facebook know through their Facebook Connect a lot of the apps we have –and some insight into how they are used. And Yahoo have a good idea on Android with their Aviate app.

The other people with really good insights into app usage are Flurry and their latest research shows the half life of apps – that is how long before the number of monthly average users hits 50% of its peak.

Half of apps lose half their peak users in just 3 months. For games the half life is 2 months whilst news apps average 7.

But for real insight you can’t beat talking to users and seeing what apps they have on their home screens is really valuable. But its not scalable. Or is it?

The clever people at Betaworks came up with a way of boosting their sample – people sharing their homescreen on Twitter and Instagram. From this they have built a fascinating report that is a must read. Our favourite fact is that 14% of people don’t have the phone ‘app’ on their home screen.

For further insight the new Deloitte report is interesting – one trend they note is that the number of apps downloaded is down by around 10%.

Messaging

Still lots of debate and buzz around messaging, and this chart comparing the cost per user of many big tech deals suggests WhatsApp was a bargain. The counter argument is that since messaging apps have access to the contacts book; the raw material of virality Facebook could have – and should have – built their own.

Of course they did and Facebook Messenger as a standalone app has done OK, but why take the long road. 

The CEO of Line shared his views in this interview and his thinking on new revenue streams like ecommerce and music distribution is interesting. This presentation from a Line event gets into a bit more detail on new developments, with a means for brands to message users and Stamps. They are also planning voice services too.

As a result of Line success and all the buzz around Messaging, the share price of Nayer (Lines Korean owner) is up by 80% and there are rumours that Softbank want to buy Line.

For more insight around messaging this blog from Taiwan is a good read.

Mobile Fix – February Feb 21

 Whatsapp 

When a tech acquisition is all over the newspapers and TV, you know that tech, mobile and social are truly mainstream. Ben puts it very well in his tweet.

Spending $19bn on anything will get you a lot of attention. Spending it on a service that most people don’t know that well- because its 450m users tend to be young and in emerging markets – invites some skepticism

But Facebook have the cash – they are giving away around 10% of their value to buy WhatsApp – and have a highly successful means of monetizing eyeballs, so getting a big chunk of extra eyeballs makes sense.

They also have ambitions to grow in emerging markets and this deal certainly helps there;

55 percent of those surveyed by Jana in India said they used WhatsApp the most among mobile apps; less than 1 percent said Facebook was their primary app. And it was a similar story in Brazil (63 percent favored WhatsApp versus 5.6 percent for Facebook) and Mexico (76 percent versus 5 percent).

And when Wall Street values FB at around $140 for each user, getting that extra chunk at just $35 per user make sense too.

But how is Facebook going to make the money that justifies this buy? Advertising is something that WhatsApp have never done and their ‘manifesto’ suggests they don’t want to. And blending ads with messages it less easy than mixing them into people newsfeeds.

Weve and others have shown you can monetise messaging, but WhatsApp don’t have much info on their users – but one imagines that Facebook will be using their customer audience technology to work out just how many people use both services. Linking a Facebook profile to a WhatsApp user instantly makes them more valuable –  if advertising is an option. ( You can use your Facebook profile on WhatsApp but it only uses the basic profile)

But maybe WhatsApp will become the FB lab for learning about the new business models – like stickers – that other Messaging apps are pioneering.

http://wattsjones.org.uk/post/61010619439/messagingappmonetisation

VC firm Sequoia talk of 4 numbers that explain the deal; 450m users, 32 employees, the $1 a year they charge users and the 0 marketing spend. Equally impressive is the return Sequoia are thought to make on the $60m they invested – $3.4bn

As well as being a billionaire, one of the funders will be feeling good about being bought by the firm that turned him down for a job back in 2009.

Wired have some good background on the firm and the team. And Ben Evans – now working with Facebook board member Marc Andreessen  – shares typically smart thinking.

GAFA

This deal supports our view that Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon essentially control the tech world. They have the power and the cash to ensure future innovations get snapped up, rather than become a significant competitor. Google have done more deals than any one else over the past 3 years and whilst they have bought Waze, Nest and Robot companies, WPP – in second place – have spent a lot less buying agencies.

Twitter, Yahoo and Microsoft are all players but don’t shape the ecology like GAFA do

StartUps

Given a business with just 32 people can grow into a global leader in just 5 years and command a value of $19bn, perhaps we should retire the idea of a bubble? Marc Andreessen talked at this weeks Goldman Sachs conference about tech still being in a depression;

He argued that advances in mobile and chip-making technology signaled exponential expansion of the market. He said tech isn’t overhyped and could have “decades” of growth ahead of it. Echoing economist Carlota Perez’s research, he said world-changing technologies like the web usually settle into a more mature deployment phase after an initial period of hype and investor frenzy.

Thomas Friedman, the author of the hugely influential The World is Flat, is equally bullish on startups – suggesting they are the best hope for the US economy.

And here in London, Mobile Monday held an interesting event looking at startups finance and acceleration, which we wrote up here. Our view is that the big funding investments tend to overshadow the real innovation;

Our take is that too many people focus on the quick win of an accelerator place and funding. The reality is that these are lottery wins – great when they happen, but not something to rely on.

Smart entrepreneurs get their team right and build a business around solving a problem. Getting people to pay for your solution validates your idea and demonstrates you have the grit and persistence to make a success of your business. And that story could well open the doors to the accelerators and the funding.

Quick reads 

Really interesting look at Social & Content from @revilopark Helping Celebs to Embrace Fans in the Social Sphere

Interesting look at a UK business building a YouTube channels for brands and rights owners.

eBay have published  a fascinating report on omnichannel retail. Essential reading. 

Netflix & HBO in  “an arms race in programming.

Smart thinking on Cards from @avc Fred Wilson

Madison Avenue cool on Apple and Amazon ad opportunities

We are finding the Yahoo Aviate app a good way to manage our Android homescreen. Well worth trying.

Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten have been busy; buying messaging app Vyber for $900m and opening a R&D centre in Paris – seeking the next big thing in ecommerce.

MIT have published a report on the 50 smartest companies. Well worth studying.

Finally….. the new Spike Jonze movie Her is about a man that falls in love with his Mobile OS – sort of Siri version 79. Who better to review it than the father of Artificial Intelligence Ray Kurzwell. He finds the whole construct quite feasible – except he sees it as more 2029 than 2025 as the film predicts.

As we started Fix with today, tech is changing things on a huge scale. And it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

 

 

GAFA earnings

Google, Apple Facebook and Amazon all report earnings this week so we’ll look at how they are faring. GAFA is one factor that drives so much of our work – with their huge reach they shape the market for everyone else; people and businesses.Apple reported first. Despite record sales for iPhones and iPads investors were disappointed by the guidance for the next quarter and shares dropped by around 8%The problem Apple have is that people expect them to keep inventing amazing new products. And because it’s been a while since the last one people are getting nervous. And Apples institutional secrecy doesn’t help.We suspect that Apple are poised to announce new products in payments, TV and wearables (or peripherals as we prefer to think of watches etc as you still need a smartphone close to get the most from them).Tim Cook dropped some hints;

“..the mobile payments area in general is one we’ve been intrigued with”

“We’re working on things you can’t see today.” 

“We have zero issue coming up with things that we want to do that we think we can disrupt in a major way……..The challenge is always to focus to the very few that deserve all of our energy.”

And there are some clues. On payments they have moved one of their key execs to focus on this space. And on their site Apple TV has moved from the iPod page to its own section and the same status as the iPhone and the iPad.

They are hiring talent from disparate industries and with $159bn in cash, almost 600 million credit card relationships and an army of devoted fans you would be foolish to write Apple off.

Facebook went next and amazed many. Revenues were up by 76% on the same quarter last year at $2.34bn – with mobile accounting for 53% – double then proportion of a year earlier.

Growth in daily and monthly active users occurred in all regions and mobile MAUs reached 945 million – mobile DAUs are 556m. It’s worth flicking through the deck that accompanied the announcement. Digging into this data we see that in every territory user growth continues and the proportion of MAUs that are DAU also grew – now at 62%. So the much publicised exodus of teenagers isn’t actually happening – although this group is more promiscuous in its use of other social apps.

So Facebook is clearly a mobile business now and after dropping hints about more mobile products they have announced Paper – a standalone mobile app that feels much more content focused. It’s clearly influenced by Flipboard – amongst others – and offers new ways of sharing content. It launches for IoS in the US next week – no news yet on when it comes it Europe or Android. Quite why they announced it before it’s available is unclear though.

The initial reaction is good and we should expect Facebook to continue to offer discreet apps that do certain of the multitude of things that Facebook offers – especially given the success of the Facebook Messenger app. This plays to the clear issues around navigation in mobile – a separate icon on the home screen is probably more efficient that searching within the app.

The initial version doesn’t appear to have any advertising, so seeing how they add that will be interesting. And it looks like video ads on mobile Facebook are imminent in the UK – a one off pop up offers you the option of restricting the silent autoplays to when you are on WiFi by adjusting your settings.

If you want more background on Facebook this interview with Zuck is worthwhile

Even before announcing their results Google have been busy this week. They paid $400m for London start up Deep Mind, underlining their commitment to Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. As they use their deep pockets to buy up business focusing on this area, one of their people said that Google employs;

less than 50 percent but certainly more than 5 percent” of the world’s leading experts on machine learning.

And that’s before the Deep Mind acquisition. They hadn’t released any product but were apparently working on a better recommendation engine for ecommerce, image search and games.

Google then surprised everyone with the sale of Motorola to Chinese tech firm Lenovo for $3bn – which means they paid just $4bn in total for all the patents that Motorola had. In their time Google have revitalised Motorola and the product line is now not bad. With the focus of Lenovo behind Moto, Google may have created an effective competitor for Samsung and rebalanced the Android ecology.

When the results did come out the Motorola sale made sense – the losses for Motorola had continued losing $384m in Q4. Otherwise the figures were good, beating estimates in everything but earnings per share

The surge in the number of clicks bought – largely driven by mobile – compensated for the fall in the cost per click – largely driven by mobile. This suggests that the best way for Google to boost its performance in the next year is to demonstrate the efficacy of mobile clicks – so brands are willing to pay more. We already see initiatives to improve mobile destinations and should expect an increased effort.

Everything Google does is designed to gather data – search, maps, Android, Nest etc – and no one is better at monetizing data than Google through their ad products. This interview with Susan Wojcicki shows the level of Googles ambition for extending their success into brand advertising. A must read.

Amazon seem poised to move into payments too. Their customer base isn’t as large as Apple, but with 230 million credit card relationships they can have a big influence. And of course the data they get on what people buy offline helps make their online sales smarter. The Kindle is central to the idea and would work as a checkout system. Amazon have already extended their reach online with a pay with Amazon option.

Results were very Amazon – they missed the estimates as they do quite often. But sales were up by 20% so their power continues to grow.

Read the rest of this weeks Mobile Fix;

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/01/31/newtv-sky-epg-update.html

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/01/31/messaging-apps-innovate.html

http://www.addictivemobile.com/blog/2014/01/31/mobile-fix-quick-reads-jan-31.html ‎

 

Facebook Content – what gets shared and why

As the organic reach of content diminishes – everyone is looking for ways to maximise the sharing they get. Facebook have announced that text only updates from brands will have reduced distribution – but most smart brands already know a picture is pretty essential.

But when you dig into what does get shared on Facebook its gets interesting.

Those publishers who get Facebook tend to do much better than traditional news sources. And they do it with a much smaller number of posts; Huffington Post has nearly 17000 posts to get into second place. Buzzfeed beat them with just under 3000 posts. But Upworthy came in third with just 220 posts.

A fascinating NewYorker article looks at what drives these viral breakouts -

…two features predictably determined an article’s success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader.

There is more to it than this, but the obvious problem is that as more people us the formula it gets less effective. But is has worked incredibly well for ViralNova – just 8 months old and in 7th place – from just 105 posts. This one man band claims to be very profitable – as he looks to sell the business 

If you want to dig deeper the Facebook data team have looked at how memes evolve on Facebook and see parallels with genes; well worth a read. And our friends at Unruly have some smart thinking and useful tools around sharing nd spreading.

But you can be too clever. Two Princeton PHds have used the maths of infectious diseases to predict the death of Facebook by 2017. Using the rise and fall of MySpace and the decreased searches for Facebook in Google trends they foresee a rapid drop in usage. Of course it could be that having a Facebook button to press on ones phone means you need to use search a little less often?

Mobile Fix – January 17

In our piece on CES last week we talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) as a big theme – but were a little scathing about connected fridges, connected toothbrushes and connected coffee cups.

Google then paid $3.2 billion in cash for a connected thermometer company, so what do we know?

But with the Nest acquisition Google get so much more than a business that has sold maybe just over a million devices;

They are getting some phenomenal talent. One of the founders designed the iPod and has been able to lure many people from Apple to Nest. Whilst Google have got a lot better at design and UX recently, this injection of talent should have a big effect.

They now have a successful foothold in the connected home  – which means they can revive some of the thinking behind the Android@Home debacle. Abandoned before launch a couple of years back, the idea of using Android as the infrastructure behind the connected home still makes lots of sense. A connected Fridge makes a lot more sense if Tesco or Ocado can use a common infrastructure – like Android – to connect. And a wide range of OEMs already use Android in consumer technology 

The other thing Google get from this deal is data. They will know when people are in their houses and which rooms they are in. They will know when people are cold and when they are too hot. And expanding the Nest range gives them lots of other data points in the future; maybe even knowing what that connected fridge is running short of.

Google feeds off data like this to make its ad products better. Having this simple business model gives Google a clear advantage over the other IoT players. Cisco want to be the glue, but they need to sell the hardware and software to make money. Wolfram have a play in connected devices but again it is unclear how they would make money.

Sorry for harping on about our futurology project yet again, but in there we talked about Tesco sponsoring the connected fridge so they handled the restocking of the groceries. Could Google afford to subsidise connected home appliances because of the data and the marketing opportunity it gives them? Amazon does that with the Kindle. And Google does it a little in their WiFi and Fiber projects.

Given Google have around $50billion in their cash reserves and their stock is at an all time high – and has just about doubled from June 2012 – this isn’t that big a buy for them. But we think it’s really significant and worth watching. 

One thing we are pretty sure about; Nest won’t stay on sale in the Apple store.

Mobile & Money

Whilst O2 shelved their plans for a mobile wallet, there is still huge momentum in the space. Weve are pushing ahead with their plans and recognise that initiating the transaction through an offer makes more sense than just launching a wallet app. They are also looking to use loyalty cards as a core component, which makes sense. Paypal continues to innovate but a new player has grabbed the headlines this week.

Zapp is backed by a number of leading banks in the UK and promises to spend millions building its brand. There isn’t a lot of detail about yet, but digging around we see a slightly convoluted user experience; you find something you want to buy using your smartphone browser and hit the pay by Zapp button. Your bank app is opened and you sign in, then you see the Zapp transaction. You choose which account you want to pay from, confirm with a click and you are taken back to the retail site to see a receipt for the payment. The goods have to be sent to the address your bank has in record.

For launch Zapp will just work with online purchasing –with instore promised later.

We’re not convinced this is the next big thing. Is this really that much easier than paying by debit card – or Paypal? Anyone wanting to use a credit card can’t use this option. Anyone wanting the parcel delivered to work can’t use this option. And the task of persuading retailers to add this option isn’t going to be easy – we suspect the millions on marketing are designed to get retailers signed up. Maybe then people will follow – but there will be more compelling options available.

In this good look at how eBay is fighting Amazon for the future of retail, the PayPal mobile payments app sounds impressive – lots of personalization and a blend of offline and online whilst in store. And Square is now valued at $5billion. The bar is being set very high in this space.

And some think banks haven’t got their act fully together on mobile and security yet, which could hold the whole sector back. This report suggests 90% of mobile banking apps have security issues.

Creative & Social

Talk with anyone about Facebook and the subject of too many ads comes up. We suspect the problem is less about quantity and more about quality.

With all that targeting capability brands can target people really precisely. But without creative that is tailored to that group, the potential of additional targeting is diminished.

Facebook are retiring Sponsored Stories and extending the social actions to all formats. With the erosion in organic reach for posted content, the logic for creating better brand messaging is obvious; good free posts will go further through sharing and good paid for content is more likely to work – justifying the media spend. When we spoke at Facebook in the summer this was a hot topic and continues to be so.

But for agencies this remains a problem – industrializing the creation and production of content at scale needs lots of people and lots of time. So the cost is high. But given great creative can have a huge effect on performance this effort can be the best way to make your ad budget go farther.

Google have shared some good examples of work that goes the extra mile and how it has spayed off for Burberry, VW and others.

newTV

Sky Adsmart is finally here, with a good selection of brands using the opportunity to targeting their TV spend based on geography and household profile. It will be interesting to see how these brands get on.

Addressable TV is a big focus for Google and this report looks at their strategy and their options. It’s clear that sport would be a good place to start and watching BT take on Sky shows how to do this.

But rather than going for the big expensive deals could Google find a smarter cheaper way in? The NBA game at the O2 last night sold out quickly and its clear that basketball has a big following in the UK yet it gets little or no TV coverage. Sky showed some playoff games last season and BT shows some games now. But could YouTube make a deal with the NBA to show their games in countries where they don’t have a TV deal? And could they do a similar deal to show Premier League soccer in the US.

Dreamworks have partnered with YouTube to produce YouTubeNation, a show that curates the best YouTube content and provides playlists. Is there an opportunity to do the same thing with a more local flavour here in Europe?

Quick Reads 

Samsung are rumoured to be investing in Deezer

This is the Yahoo memo announcing their key ad person is out. Given he may walk away with over $40m after little more than a year he probably isn’t that upset 

Brands can now target on Twitter using customer email addresses. Facebook offer something similar meaning brands need to rethink their CRM strategy.

A media Agency friend pointed out that a key reason for schlepping to Las Vegas for CES is the chance to discuss media deals with the big digital players – often without ever making it the show.

Net Neutrality is an issue in the US after a legal ruling – suggesting Comcast, Verizo etc can start to choose which content has priority. VC Fred Wilson articulates the issues here. It is less of an issue in Europe where we have much more competition but we will feel the effects.

Apple told to compensate parents whose kids fell for the in app purchasing scams where kids buy $65 bundles of smurfberries etc. Wonder if that applies here as we are £35 down. Surprised that Apple risks it reputation by letting these practices fester for so long.

A great example of using data – how Google reads the house numbers in Street View 

China has half a billion mobile web users

Finally a Gartner survey says less than 1% of apps will be considered a financial success. The survey doesn’t look at brand apps but given other research showing most are rarely downloaded, there has been a lot of money wasted. Not many brands need an app, but they all need a Mobile Strategy. That’s where we can help.

 

 

Retail Evolution

Deloitte research says that mobile influences $18bn of UK retail sales this year – and that is forecast to grow to $41bn by 2017. But we suspect most UK retailers are like their counterparts in the US, where research suggests they are struggling with mobile and social;

“Retailers know they must embrace multiple channels to stay competitive this holiday season,” says Natalie Kotlyar, partner in the Retail and Consumer Products practice at BDO . “But the truth is, many brands are playing catch up with the digital movement. Consumers have come to expect social engagement; mobile is now the challenging frontier for many brands seeking to test the waters more before making a major investment during such a critical season.”

We think this may change quickly as Apple lead by example with beacons in all their stores. They have been demonstrating the technology, but the use cases don’t sound that exciting;

Using the iBeacon feature, the app will notify you if the computer you ordered is ready for pickup, for example. Show a clerk your screen with the order number, and the clerk will get it for you. Walking by an iPhone table? You may get a message asking if you want to upgrade, check your upgrade availability and see if you can get money for trading in your old phone.

The Shopkick trlal with Macy’s is probably a better example

As one article points out;

It’s easy to be down on this technology—location-based push advertising sounds like both a privacy disaster and a threat to our peace and quiet.

But, like any other technology, good ideas can help gain user acceptance. Our favourite example so far is a UK firm with an interesting new business model. As the people behind the mobile versions of a number of magazines they are now offering cafes and bars the opportunity to subscribe, so their customers can read the magazines for free whilst on the premises. This is a useful service for both the venue and the customer – and creates a new revenue stream for the magazine publisher.

Foursquare are leveraging their data to focus more on allowing retailers to use the location of uses to make offers too.

Knowing where somewhere is –inside or nearby your store – has real value. But that value in only unlocked when the idea is right and the message adds value for the user.

Mobile Fix – November 22 – the future is already here

The future is already here The Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora has pointed out something we believe in too.

The disruption has happened. The future is here. Now we need to invent what comes next. And it will take the collective imagination and creative energy of all of us to redefine the role of our industry, to rethink the way billions of people interact with the Web and, in turn, with the changing world around them.

Like William Gibson we think;

The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed. 

We don’t believe there is a lot of big new stuff coming down the line. Mobile will keep getting bigger. Social will keep getting deeper into our lives. And whilst we will see more hardware innovation, the cleverness will remain in the smartphone; aided by cheap connectivity like Chromecast.

So for business this means we need to make the most of what we have, and do it in a way that allows us to iterate and adapt as things evolve. But for all those people waiting for things to slow down before they get involved, the overall pace of change isn’t going to slow.

As Marc Andreessen says Software is eating the world and whatever business you are in, no matter how much digital and tech has disrupted your sector, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Looking at Marketing, Andreessen points out there is lots to do, saying;

I know two things for sure. One: I know for sure that most offline marketing spending is going to move online in the next five to 10 years. The reason I know that for sure is because most consumer attention is moving online, just look at how people are spending their time. Offline media consumption generally is dropping, certainly on a relative basis, and increasingly on an absolute basis. And so if the majority of people’s time and attention is going to be online, then you’re going to want to reach them online.

Two: The other thing I know is that marketing spending hasn’t moved over yet, and it’s primarily my industry’s fault. The consumer Internet industry, really the consumer Internet media industry, has done a terrible job over the last 20 years at giving brands the marketing solutions that they need. Solutions that provide the level of trust—the provable metrics, audience segmentation, and targeting—and the assurance that if something goes wrong it’ll be made good: all the things that traditional advertising companies have been very good at providing.

Of course the tools we do have – even the humble banner – do provide really useful tools and metrics but adtech has a way to go.  The CEO of AOL also argues that advertising is about to transform – suggesting the automation of media through programmatic or exchange buying will free up more time for creativity. We would like to agree but the talent isn’t necessarily sitting in the right places, right now for this welcome transition to happen.

Bubble?

In the excellent Everything Store book on Amazon, we learn Jeff Bezos was looking for investment in 1995 and he forecast sales in 2000 of $74m – and if things went really well they could get as high as $114m.

Amazon sales in 2000 were actually $1.64bn. So getting forecast right isn’t that easy. Even if you are as smart as Jeff Bezos.

Henry Blodgett takes a calm look at Snapchat and shows why a $3bn valuation is actually quite reasonable – if they can get traction with advertisers. And we think it has as good a chance as Instagram etc.

…based on the valuations of other “web scale” social platforms — Twitter ($22 billion), Facebook ($115 billion), and LinkedIn ($26 billion) — $3 billion just doesn’t seem that outrageous.

New data this week supports this – Snapchat users share 400m photos a day – more than Facebook.

The skepticism over Snapchat is a function of what we call Blackberry Myopia.

When we meet someone who is not that enthusiastic about mobile, social and content, we always ask what phone they use. So, so often we get told they use a Blackberry. And if you still use one of those it’s like it must have been watching TV in black & white when colour TV arrived.

If you don’t experience smartphones, Twitter and YouTube etc you just don’t get it. And you are not really qualified to advise your clients or colleagues.

Snapchat, WhatsApp and Line all suffer from this. Some brands are playing with Snapchat – probably for the PR buzz more than anything else – but we expect youth focused brands to experiment more.

Reinventing retail

Few sectors are feeling the effects of disruption more than retail. As the majority of shoppers now have smartphones and more and more realize the potential to improve shopping, showrooming becomes the norm. The word even made the shortlist for the OED Word of the Year, but lost out to Selfie.

The next big change is retailers using beacons to improve the shopping experience and the first people to do so is – unsurprisingly  – Apple. 

With some of the most profitable retail space in the world – and one of the worlds smartest retailers at the helm – everyone will be watching to see how Apple use their own technology.

One of the most successful US retail apps ShopKick is also trialing beacons and there seems to be some competition to get going before Apple. The ShopKick model relied on an audio signal from a box installed in each store and clearly they see beacons as an improvement. And they will have it working on Android too.

The ShopKick model is pretty sophisticated – rewarding users with offers as they enter a store. The system looks at previous stores visited and offers redeemed to determine what is the best offer for that store to make.

This is both the opportunity and the problem with retail and mobile. It’s easy to give away margin, but the art is knowing what is the best offer to make to motivate a sale and maximise the profit. Just like the early days of Foursquare when stores used to give the mayor a free coffee etc. The smart thing may be to give a buy one get one free so they bring a friend. Sales Promotion has never been that cool but it is now the sexiest market discipline and we should all be reading old school experts like Stan Rapp and Don Schultz

New techniques like smart shopping screens are getting more traction too, with eBay putting them in more and more places. And a new Nielsen study looks at what attributes drive loyalty in different markets.

Retail is going to keep evolving.  Those who are testing and learning how mobile, social and tech affect them, have got a chance to evolve too.

TV & Twitter

This vjdeo of Twitters Chief Media Scientist (watch that job title get copied) talking about the synergy between TV and Twitter is worth half an hour of your time.

If you only have a minute this article covers some of the points

Quick ReadsThe guys at Percolate have a really good take on content marketing and this deck on The State of Content Marketing is well worth reading

This article looking at Amazon and Alibaba picks up some of the points we made last week and looks at the prospects for Amazon in India and other markets.

Mondelez are taking mobile more seriously than most and this article looks at how they are working with startups.

Our favourite data guru has shared his views on how to prioritise digital marketing initiatives. The Digital Awesome Staircase from Avinash Kaushik suggests getting a acceptable website as the first step and a great mobile experience as the second.

One of the original big thinkers on Digital was Nicholas Negroponte and he is still active at the MIT Media Lab. This interview is really interesting – especially his focus on education. And he agrees the next big changes are not in computing but in genomics and biology.

Finally….  If you are reading this on our weekly email you already know how powerful email is.  The ability to read email on mobiles  – in those stolen moments waiting in a line etc – can be an intrusion but it has led to a revival in smart email marketing. New McKinsey data shows how effective it can be – if done properly.

And the email address is the one thing that connects your consumers profile on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon etc so we think it has great potential for cross platform measurement.