Category Archives: Social Media

Mobile Fix – March 8

Facebook Remix

The big news this week is happening as we write Fix – Facebook are to launch their latest redesign. Rumours suggest that the key feature will be to atomise the news feed making heroes of music feeds, photo feeds and perhaps even feeds of links friends have shared and updates from other apps like Instagram and RunKeeper. TechCrunch also remind us of a rumoured radical redesign of the mobile app that could be part of the redesign.

In a New York Times piece Zuckerberg is quoted as saying that;

“Advertisers want really rich things like big pictures or videos, and we haven’t provided those things historically,”

Remixing the experience so it looks more like Flipboard, Google +, Path etc could create an environment where ‘richer’ ads feel more at home. But will users go for that?

Teenagers over Facebook?

Stories of user malaise are circulating again, with new reports that teenagers don’t like Facebook and prefer to spend their time with Instagram and Snapchat

As we have talked about with Apple, with big success comes a big problem – early adopters want something new. Facebook crossed the chasm a while back and they can have a great future as the ITV of social – and let Instagram be the MTV.

The problem about users not liking advertising is an industry one rather than  just for Facebook (and everyone else in GAFA). We are always quick to argue against the myth that people don’t like advertising. People don’t like irrelevant advertising but they do like relevant, useful advertising – and it doesn’t hurt if it’s entertaining too.

Messaging Tapestry

We’ve been spending quite a lot of time looking at the ad opportunities on Facebook and they are quite intoxicating.  The wonderful granularity of targeting that Facebook allows means it is quite easy to find the right people. And there are now some really interesting rich media ad formats with video, through vendors like Celtra and Moontoast. Combine these with the huge reach that Facebook can deliver and it’s hard to argue with the Facebook pitch – especially when it comes to mobile.

But of course we see that many agencies are missing the opportunity by eschewing the targeting in favour of mass reach, with just one or two ads used. The real value of Facebook can only be unlocked with lots of creative work where each message is relevant to a specific target group. Building a messaging tapestry like this can still deliver huge numbers – and everyone sees relevant ads; it’s just a bit more work for the agency. But we are convinced the returns will make this worthwhile.

MIT has a good look at the considerable progress Facebook have made on mobile so far – with a good quote

Everyone, including Zuckerberg, worried that users might balk at ads mixed with posts from friends. So far, that hasn’t happened. Tests that Facebook ran found the insertion of ads reduced comments, likes, and other interaction with news feed updates by 2 percent, a small decline that the company deems acceptable.

Carolyn Everson, the head of sales at Facebook, shares this illuminating quote in a good interview;

“When Mark [Zuckerberg] first interviewed me, he said: ‘I want the content from marketers to be as good as that from your best friend.’ That was his vision – I don’t think we’re there yet; I think it’s a long-term vision that we have to get to – but the goal is to have marketing become as integrated an experience as any content you’d get from your friends.”

It’s our job to make this happen.

Google Delivers

In an interesting video interview the Google head of sales Nikesh Arora makes a similar point about advertising – people want advertising that’s virtually indistinguishable from information. Google built their business doing this with adwords – which 40% of UK consumers don’t know are ads.

Of course the key factor that caps adspend is the uncertainty over whether it works. And the best way to know whether it works is to be involved in the sale – something Google has got closer and closer to with analytics etc.

Now it seems Google want to go further. They capture the intent, they can facilitate the transaction with their wallet and now they are going to deliver the goods on the same day.

“The transaction is the ultimate click,..”

This takes them head to head with both Amazon and eBay who are trialing similar services.

As Marc Andreessen has said, all (most) of the dotcom ideas were good ideas, just too early. Kozmo was heavily backed and its model of 1hour delivery was popular with people  – they just burnt through their VC money really quickly. But just as ASOS looks a lot like and Groupon like LetsBuyIt, maybe the Kozmo idea will actually work now.

But as the supermarkets know, it’s not hard to acquire customers for home delivery services – it’s just hard to make money. For all the vans tearing around London streets delivering groceries it’s rumoured that the supermarkets lose £15 on each delivery.

Given that lots of people just aren’t at home to take delivery, we wonder if these same day services won’t be part of the colonization of the High Street by GAFA. eBay have experimented with popup stores, Amazon have lockers in Spar and the idea that Google should have retail stores in getting traction.

In a neat demonstration of just how intertwined GAFA is we saw data this week showing that the biggest user of Google paid search is Amazon – by a huge margin.

One group that does seem to buy the Google story is investors, with a lot of money switching from Apple to Google.

“It’s no coincidence that Google’s rise has coincided with Apple’s demise,” Elsheshai said. “Making money from services versus devices is growingly perceived as a better business model.”

Tesco TV

Tesco continue to build out there content play. They have hired top talent to run their book and music divisions.  And in an audacious move they are taking on Amazon and Netflix with a film and TV streaming service – which is free for their 16 million Clubcard customers.

With all the data they have on customers brands will be able to target advertising precisely  – and in theory they should be able to measure effectiveness through sales. This is a very significant move and we’ll come back to look at it in more detail soon.

Quick Reads

This week Amazon kicked off its new advertising play, with the launch of their mobile ad network for Android devices,

More smart thinking on how marketing is changing – this time from Forrester.

Nature thrives on complexity and so too does innovation. As of yet, few marketers are meeting the demands that accompany this seismic shift in consumer behavior, and the effects are showing

Growth hacking score high on buzzword bingo right now – this article explains and demonstrates how crucial this focus on the detail is. We think MoneyBall Marketing is a better term.

Our friends at eBay have shared their plans for this year;

In 2012 we exceeded our original targets for mobile sales reaching $13 billion and we’re expecting to see this grow to over $20 billion this year.

Ever wondered just how search actually works? How your esoteric search query triggers millions of results all nicely ordered in terms of relevance  – within a fraction of a second? Google shows you here.

This is a good round up of the current state of mobile advertising  - agreeing with our take that its still early days yet. Yet again we find ourselves agreeing with Marc;

“I think mobile advertising is going to be more lucrative than Web,” said Marc Andreessen, the tech entrepreneur and investor, during an interview in New York City in December. He described a smartphone that knows you, your money, your habits, your wants: “The targeting is going to be amazing [and] more valuable.” He paused, and added, “These formats don’t exist yet. They have to be invented.”

Since we covered MWC last week we have read a few other reviews and these tow are well worth a look; Thomas Husson from Forrester and mobile guru Chetan Sharma

We have never been convinced by NFC, suspecting that something new will make it redundant before it gets anywhere near massmarket take up. And now we think we know what will take its place – Graphene.

New thinking from John Willshire is always welcome and this new deck is really thought provoking

Finally ….  we sometimes get stick from people over our constant refrain that our business is changing . Lots of people think it’s still pretty much business as usual – as long as you throw in a bit of social and use the latest buzzwords. This piece from the media team at New York agency Kirshenbaum shows the profound changes that result from embracing the new opportunities. – Everything you know about the media business is about to change.

We are out and about speaking at the moment. We have another talk at Google next week  – this time as part of their Squared initiative – then we are talking about Tablets at the WARC  Measuring Ad Effectiveness conference. And next week we will be taking part in the MediaTel Media Playground event  - always a very interesting event.

If you are at any of these events do come and say hello.

Mobile Fix – January 18

Music Disrupted

The demise of HMV and Blockbuster hasn’t surprised many people (except those of us amazed that Blockbuster still had over 400 stores). But it does disappoint. There is still a huge value in advice and discovery that the online players don’t do that well  – yet.

Just 5 years ago HMV was worth around £500m. All the factors in it’s demise were already here; Amazon was a major player, iPods were everywhere, Facebook was taking off. Whilst Spotify wasn’t around, LastFM was. And the VAT loophole that enabled people like Play (which is also closing its retail business) to undercut UK retailers has been closed. So why was the business valued at just £5m before they went into administration?

As we know smart retail businesses are combining their high street presence with online; for example most fashion brands sell through eBay and ASOS as well as their own stores and their own websites.

Whilst HMV diversified into other aspects of music such as live venues, and sought to innovate around eBooks when they owned Waterstones, they were slow to innovate around their core business.

The one bit of the business that really worked was (is) Fopp –who HMV saved from closure a few years back. With a big selection of music, books and DVDs (in quite small stores) aggressive pricing and helpful staff, we have spent much more time -and money – there than in HMV in recent years.

As the recent revival in local bookstores has shown, there is a market for good selection and advice, so people can discover new content. Even Amazon struggle with discovery – other than the simplistic people who like this, like this.

We think the next big step in this space is social discovery – where knowing what your friends like is a big help, but still quite unstructured. And where you could see what people who like similar things to you, are enjoying. We have a concept in this space we have been working on, so happy to share thoughts with anyone in this space.

Facebook does Search

Social discovery came into the spotlight this week with Facebook announcing their Graph Search – enabling users to see what their friend have done and what they like. It feels like this is still early days, with a limited beta program. By the time it goes public we expect it to have evolved – and to have some advertising opportunities baked in. John Battelle has some smart thinking about Graph Search here, where he speculates it will (eventually) extend to content and to all the stuff that gets into Facebook through the Open Graph.

One thing he mentions is that people will work to polish their profiles as they understand how people use search. So will people still check in to cool bars o Foursquare and review the new local restaurant on Yelp, when doing so in Facebook will better populate your profile?

Recall that when Google burst onto the scene, it prompted a dramatic response from owners of web pages, who immediately began rewiring their sites to be optimized for search. Similarly, Facebook’s Graph Search will incent Facebook users to “dress” themselves in better meta-data, so as to be properly represented in all those new structured results. People will start to update their profiles with more dates, photo tags, relationship statuses, and, and, and…you get the picture. No one wants to be left out of a consideration set, after all.

There is also a new requirement for brands on Facebook – working to ensure you get found in the right kind of searches. So SEO comes to social.

It is another example of how Facebook is slowly sucking the oxygen out of the web ecology, increasingly positioning themselves as a rival to Google as the one stop shop for brands looking to reach people online.

The FT points out that Google anticipated this move and that’s why they launched Google+. They also say;

The battle lines in the new search wars have now been drawn. From Amazon, which handles more product-related searches than any other company, to Apple’s iPhone-based Siri and now Facebook’s social search, the new combatants are starting from their own positions of relative advantage.

Retail Disruption

Last week we saw how some of the big retailers had fared over Christmas. We now have eBay sharing their success story – sales up by 18% in the last quarter with mobile for the year hitting $13bn. And Paypal did $14bn across the whole year.

Their CEO has been outlining plans to push Paypal into more retail partnerships – and says

Mobile is quickly becoming the new normal,

His forecast for this year is both eBay and Paypal to reach $20bn in sales. Of course in a flat economy that is a huge chunk if money that someone else is going to lose – so the tough times on the high street aren’t over yet.

Another big factor on the High Street is delivering targeted discounting and we think the best people in this space are ShopKick. This app has 4 million users making it the biggest shopping app other than Amazon eBay and Groupon.

They have announced they are profitable and their deals drove sales of $200m across their partner retailers. We expect them to arrive in Europe some time soon.

The interesting thing will be when they embrace payments, as without that they remain vulnerable to people like PayPal

Industrialising Creative

We were invited into Facebook this week to share our views on mobile and social advertising. We talked about the need for ads that fit into the Flow of content and discussed the depressing fact that most campaigns use a very small numbers of creative and there is little creative testing going on.

So we were please to see our friend Rob Norman articulate the issue in his own inimitable way;

.. levels of targeting granularity at IP, individual, household, set top box, zip plus four, zip and zone level and you can safely conclude that delivering exactly the right message to the right person at the exact time and place required, overlaid with feedback loops and data is a reality.

In all this lies a problem and it’s all about manufacturing the assets to populate the opportunity presented by the changes above.

As we keep saying, we need to find ways to industrialise creative production, without losing the magic of the idea. Are there any startups making any progress on this?

Quick Reads

Ben Evans has found a way to hack Facebook to show what apps are being used and hence what mobile devices users have. There is some good detail in the data – and the key story is that Android is growing faster than iPhone. And there is more growth potential in Android too – so that’s why Facebook is hiring Android developers really fast.

Google have launched a new app that showcases some of the best mobile ads. Right now it’s Android only, so another reason to beg, borrow or steal the Nexus.

Following the success of PingIt for Barclays the ability to pay by text will roll out to the other banks in 2014 – without the need to set up a separate account as PingIt does.

These are some good examples of mobile ad campaigns that worked.

The new edition of Think with Google is now out. There is a good section on mobile and a look at the ads that did best on YouTube.

Finally we spent this evening listening to Seth Godin talking in London as a promotion for his new book. With a sell out crowd, he spoke for over an hour and was as inspiring as usual.

The best quote?

We live in revolutionary times but we have forgotten how to see opportunity

Mobile Fix – January 11

This week lots of the ad industry has gone to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. We’re not sure why people schlep there to wander around something like the Worlds biggest Currys store – but with even more annoying staff.  Seeing the latest hardware seems to miss the point that most of the innovation is now around software. The futility of the event seems best summarized by the Qualcomm keynote, which looks truly terrible.

Along with all the crystal ball gazing of 2013 predictions, we worry that this fixation with the latest and greatest gizmo is ultimately self defeating. Focusing on what’s next means you risk missing out on what’s already here.

In the last 100 days we have seen amazing new devices bought by millions of people – with the ‘old’ devices expanding the total reach of smartphones. In the US it’s estimated that 40% of homes now have tablets; wondering what will be the next big tablet seems less useful than writing a strategy to get your brand onto the tablets already out there.

Around half the population now have smartphones (and they are the half most brands need to reach). Around half of all social media users access Facebook and Twitter through mobile. And around half of all emails are read on mobile devices.

So our 2013 advice for brands is;

Park the future for the next few months and instead deal with the current ecology.

Make sure your marketing is truly Fit For Mobile. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing our Fit For Mobile audit which we have trialled with a couple of clients.

Lots of startups are looking to disrupt your industry. Do you know who the key ones are in your sector. Have you a strategy for how to benefit from these opportunities and limit the risks of new gatekeepers emerging?

As VC Saul Klein pointed out last month the average business in the UK is doing 8% of their business online – how do you do versus your competitors?

The latest Most Contagious covers loads of great marketing innovation – all delivered using the current ecology. Creative guru Steve Henry calls out some of best examples here. How does your marketing compare?

When you have got all this sorted, then you can start thinking about driverless cars and watches that act as phones.

Old media not dead yet.

New new thing myopia can also lead people to forget the strengths of traditional media. As this reports shows most old media business did very well in 2012 – with surging share prices – largely driven by the fact that money hasn’t followed audience. One of the ironies of this is that a lot of the money being made by old media is from selling access to new media – as the TV players still control lots of broadband access from the days they were selling the triple play – TV, Broadband and Telephone.

One of those three legs is very shaky as people move from landlines to mobile and the opportunity to sell expensive broadband is probably closing too. Not least because people like Google are getting into the business – launching a service in Kansas offering a service 100 times faster for around twice the price of ‘traditional’ broadband. They also offer a slow service – the same as the competition – for free.

Most media businesses have a strategy for how to evolve in a digital world – and  some actually seem to be working – so for brands the opportunity is to get the best of both worlds. And you do that by focusing on the here and now, rather than the now and next.

Santa delivered for some retailers

As the sales figures for the Christmas period come out it’s clear that the high street is a tough place right now. We were interested in how online sales have been a defining factor for lots of sectors. John Lewis were a clear winner - with online sales up 44% year on year and now accounting for a quarter of all sales. Debenhams online sales grew by 10% and now account for12% of all sales.

In the supermarket space the proportion of online sales continues to grow – Sainsbury online sales grew by 15% masking the poor performance in their stores and players like Morrisons who don’t have online (yet) are suffering.

The big problem that traditional retailers have to wrestle with is that online sales can be much less profitable. In Grocery most people accept that a delivery costs around £20, yet most customers pay around £5, if they pay anything. Some argue it’s a business model supermarkets like Morrisons should ignore.

eBay report their figures next week so we’ll see how the pure plays did – and an analyst expects that mobile will be around 16% of the total sales at $10bn.

Amazon is reported to be doing 8% of their sales on mobile – which seems low to us.

Nexus 4 As good as the iPhone and half the price.

One of the key devices launched in the last 100 days is the Nexus from Google (and LG). With a great spec and a great price, the sales of these devices was not handled that well, with the product coming in and out of stock and delivery dates a little opaque.

But the phone itself is very impressive. It’s had great reviews and we tend to agree with this former iPhone lover who is swooning over the Nexus 4. Is it better than the iPhone? Not so sure. But there is not much in it and it’s half the price.  We still tend to carry the iPhone around, because lots of apps aren’t yet available on Android. But that is changing. Fast.

We’re convinced that the Nexus5 – which we think will come from Google owned Motorola – could be a real game changer. They just need to get the retailing bit right.

And one of the reasons we switched to Android is to try Google Now – which is really impressive. An app that anticipates your needs is quite compelling; transport advice on how to get to the next meeting, share prices when stocks on your portfolio move, the weather forecast and by how much Leeds are losing. All ‘pushed’ to you.

The next generation of this will be amazing. We are seeing apps evolve into real services.

And Field Trip – another Google app – is also very cool; it throws up information on interesting places around your location – and will now include offers from ScoutMob. An iPhone version is on the way.

OK – some trend thinking

In amongst the shiny object hype, there is some good thinking out there on how 2013 might shape up;

The smart people at Deep Focus in New York have a really good deck out with their forecast for 2013. Their thinking on the ‘Confluence of Mobile, Social and Content Marketing’ makes a lot of sense.

PayPal have some good observations from their CEO – and we love their recognition that paying for stuff is not the problem that needs solving – it’s about the context of the transaction. Hailo works because it gets me a cab – not because it’s an easier way to pay the fare. Starbucks works because it gets me my double espresso quicker – not because I can pay for it with my phone.

John Battelle is one of our favourite thinkers and his predictions for 2013 are based on what he hopes to see.

Fast Company has collected the thoughts of some of tbe best strategists on how marketing will change in 2013. We loved the views of ex P&G CMO Jim Stengel

We will drop social from social media as all media is social; we will drop digital and mobile from digital & mobile marketing as all marketing is digital and mobile; we will drop advertising from advertising agency as their future is in helping clients creatively realize opportunities; we will drop global from global marketing officer as all marketing leaders need to be global in thought and intent.

And the Frog Design people get into the more futuristic stuff here.

Quick Reads

The Wall Street Journal has looked in depth at what 2013 might mean for GAFA. A must read.

Facebook continue to pioneer measuring the effectiveness of digital. They are doing some fascinating work with Walmart.

Ad blockers are still active. In France the Government had to tell ISP Free that they can’t block ads. It seems that Google ads were the target as operators look for a share of the revenues earned by people using their dumb pipes.

eConsultancy research shows brands see mobile optimization as the top priority for 2013 – we agree and our imminent FitforMobile audit should help here.

Finally  – one of our house IP projects is launching but still in beta. We have been working on a social business aimed at facilitating communities. is a service that connects people with some spare time and skills with people who need a bit of help. It is still a little raw but we’d love your help on getting this working. Have a look and sign up, tell your friends and let us know what you think.

And next Thursday we’re going to see Seth Godin who is in London to talk about his new book. If you are going to be there let us know.

Mobile Fix – December 14

With Big Data (ok, the Metro iPad app) suggesting this is the day our readers are most likely to have a hangover, we’ve gone easy on the reading matter and gone heavy on video.

So if you are feeling delicate post party, you can sit back and soak up wisdom.

Google have shared what the world has been searching for in 2012, and promoted it with this charming video. The full data is here.

Larry Page the CEO of Google has given an interesting interview that is worth reading. One quote stood out;

We’re still 1 percent to where we should be.

Lots of people would argue that part of the 99% progress still to come is to sort out their ecommerce capabilities. The sales of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 from Google Play have incensed lots of people as they are getting no feedback from customer service on when, or even if, they are going to get their orders.Given we have a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 7 on order as Christmas presents, we share the frustration. The thing is Amazon have set the bar for customer service so high.

One piece of good news for Google is that their native Maps app for the iPhone is now out and getting rave reviews.

The Apple CEO has also been talking to the press and one of the topics covered is the maps debacle.

The killer quote from the Tim Cook interview is;

Eighty percent of our revenues are from products that didn’t exist 60 days ago. Is there any other company that would do that?

One thing that the interview doesn’t get into is Apple TV. One of the best analysts is confident we’ll see it next year. This video predicts Apple TV and more phones, more often — including a cheaper one (under $200) by 2014. But if Jonny Ives were to fall under a bus – or get hit by a driverless car – things could be different. The charts from the presentation are here.

Whilst eBay and PayPal aren’t quite at GAFA level they are driving significant innovation and this interview with the CEO of PayPal is interesting stuff.

One of the topics we have been covering with clients quite a bit is the annexation of marketing by tech companies. Adobe has been buying marketing services firms, as have IBM, Oracle, Google and Salesforce.

So this interview with Michael Lazerow , the CEO of Salesforce is well worth watching. He mentions that;

Sales Force works with over 400m data points and their goal is to integrate marketers customer service, advertising, social and analytics to provide a single customer view which can be acted on. Successful companies in this space have to blend the science of data with the art of marketing.            

As these guys are close to the CEO and board of their customers, it does suggest agencies need to reframe their abilities if they are to get the attention of the decision makers at brands.

If you are still in a lean back mode, it is worth having a play with a new iPad app that we have been helping A&N Media on. Whirrld is a very cool way to discover what is popular all around the world. You can see what music, books, films, videos etc are trending in each city.

If you aren’t feeling too delicate, here is some more meaty stuff to absorb.

Firstly an apology. Last week the email gremlins broke the link for the new Mary Meeker deck – which is a must read; this one does work.

Ofcom have released a new study showing the UK is the most advanced market in the world for mobile, newTV and ecommerce. Are you making the most of this?

Fred Wilson has taken a good look at revenue models and advertising. Really useful thinking.

And the FT has focused on Big Data, with a number of very insightful articles.

This is the last Fix of the year and we’ll be back in January with our big picture view on 2013. If you want some trends in the meantime this deck from a smart friend is a good read.

Finally – last weeks offer of a free workshop got a good response and we have a number of sessions booked with brands. And we’ve been invited in by teams at Google and Facebook. But we still have some free time so if your team could use some provocative thinking about mobile and social, let me know.

And finally, finally we wanted to share our Soulful Christmas playlist with you. We find it goes best with a large glass of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Enjoy on Spotify

Mobile Fix – November 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native vs Banners

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

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

QR Codes are still alive & kicking

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

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

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

Bubble (Part2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mobile Fix – November 23

What’s the future of advertising?

Building on our thoughts last week on the emerging ecology of native advertising, we enjoyed this talk from Fred Wilson and Dave Morgan. They discus what’s happening in digital generally but get into some detail on how advertising is changing.

At one point Wilson answers a question by stressing that platforms with big audiences can and do monetise with advertising. He reminds us that Facebook is a success (with a huge valuation, $5bn in revenue and good profits) that Twitter is a success and believes Tumblr will be too.

The video is 45 minutes but well worth watching.

We agree that the money will follow eyeballs and ad revenue can fund these new businesses, but exactly what advertising will look like is not yet clear – particularly on smartphones and tablets.

Many think that it won’t be banners, but we see a place for them. Done properly – relevant creative and smart targeting – they can and do work. Both for response and for branding.

But the idea of brand messages that blend with the surrounding content has to make sense. In traditional media the advertising has adapted to it’s environment and feels native. Facebook sponsored messages and sponsored tweets are working well, as they are clearly native. As is paid search on Google. And each of these formats makes the transition to mobile easily.

Does this trend mean the comeback for Branded Content? We launched Big Picture back in 2005 to focus on branded content and branded utility, but this never got much traction then and we spent most of our time on mobile and social.

But as this interesting article points out, Content seems to be king again, and lots of brands want to be part of the content people enjoy, rather than just interrupting it. With technology driving the context and content production costs falling, we see this area growing quickly.

As Real Time Buying disrupts how advertising is bought, we do see that change can happen really quickly – emarketer suggests RTB will grow from $2bn this year to nearly $8bn by 2016 – 28% of all digital display. The New York Time has a thoughtful piece on The New Algorithm of Web Marketing, including this quote from emarketer;

publishers were “going to have to double down to prove the value of their inventory as they compete with other, cheaper inventory.”

This innovation doesn’t just change the role of publishers – it can change the role of the media buyer too. This 4 year old article about a former boss, shows how agencies were thinking about the opportunity of data;

As far as Gotlieb is concerned, the rules have changed. In a world where ads can be customized to the individual and every click and ad view measured, he says, advertisers and media companies alike will gladly pay for his quantitative expertise. In five to seven years, he predicts, he may not represent advertisers at all. He will be an arbitrageur, buying ads in bulk, slicing them up for niche audiences, and reselling them at a premium. “Then,” says Gotlieb, “we don’t have to be transparent.”

Of course if we don’t use the technology to make advertising work better, people will use technology to make advertising disappear. A new ad blocker service is doing very well on Kickstarter.

But as Fred Wilson points out, it’s a myth that people don’t like advertising. Most people enjoy advertising that i relevant to them and well made. The stuff they hate is untargeted, uncreative ads – so it’s in everyone’s interest to solve this conundrum.

Measuring the effect of ads

Probably the deciding factor in whether or not native ads get real traction is whether they are seen to be effective. Online made life difficult by latching onto clickthrough as a key metric early on. As clickthroughs declined it has been hard to get the industry to pay attention to all the other research that shows online is really effective. In mobile we risk history repeating itself as click rates get talked up.

Facebook continue to lead the charge on digital ad measurement. Their scale and the data they hold on their customers gives them some huge advantages. We were told of a device manufacturer who was able to see what handsets were being used by the people who saw their ads (aggregated)– and compare that with fresh data a couple of months later. So they had clear data on how many people had changed phones over that period and how many had bought their brand.

Techcrunch has a good look at how the research works – and Business Insider has a linkbait headline saying this will kill Yahoo. On the contrary, any evidence that digital advertising works can only drive more investment in digital – and Yahoo is as likely to benefit from that as anyone. If you want to dig a little deeper into ad measurement Adweek have taken a look at mobile tracking.

Social is evolving

As social becomes recognised as a valid marketing tool we are seeing a more sophisticated approach from many. New York agency Deep Focus has reorganised their social team and launched a Newsroom for social media. They key thing here is a much faster pace – with ideas being executed within a day.

And a smart friend is using social to build the profile – and salary – of Hollywood celebrities. With partners like Sean Parker and Ari Emanuel, this looks like a great business.

But there is still quite a lot of froth around social, which this Onion video nails – Using Social Media to cover for a lack of original thought.


A YouTube executive has been talking up the Google view on NewTV and how they see YouTube as a TV platform. The comments on their ad innovation TrueView – where viewers can skip the ad after 5 seconds and the advertiser only pays for viewed ads – are interesting;

“We found TrueView to be effective for advertisers because they now only pay for views. It’s great for consumers because they can choose, and it’s great for content creators because the [revenue] that a content creator takes from a TrueView ad is higher than for a reservable pre-roll. Advertisers are paying for a particular audience or content type.”

In another interesting innovation Amex have invested in interactive TV in the US. With the rise of SmartTV and the ability to deliver apps onto TV, we are going to see more of this experimentation.


The Facebook IPO caused a few people to question the huge valuations being given to startups, and for the first time for while, some people suggest there is a bubble building up. Foursquare is the latest whipping boy but a number of ecommerce businesses are seeing down rounds – when new investment comes in against a lower valuation than previous investment.

We have wondered why starting a relatively straightforward ecommerce site makes a business so valuable. Especially when Amazon could enter your niche and probably crush you.

And even in London, some are wondering how viable many of the Silicon Roundabout startups are; we heard a smart commentator say there are too many people building useless apps, rather than real businesses. This article looks at how the app boom is proving tough for lots of wannabe entrepreneurs.

As we always say, to be successful you need to solve a problem. And a lot of the problems have been solved now. But we do agree with Marc Andreessen when is says we are not in a bubble;

“Tech stocks are trading at a 30 year low when compared to the multiples of industrials” Andreessen says “It’s the weirdest bubble when everyone hats everything”

Quick reads

Operators are starting to get their act together. Following on from Weve, we now have Orange partnering with Facebook to offer group calling – essentially being able to chat with your friends on Facebook .

Amazon now offer brand pages – so we could have So you can now start a business and have Amazon handle pretty much everything – including the site – leaving you just to find the customers. Maybe this is what all the cash strapped ecommerce businesses should do.

One ecommerce business that does seem to have a viable model is GiltGroupe. McKinsey have taken a look at how they are using data, mobile and social.

Over the past few months we have been playing with Banjo, Glancee, Highlight and some of the other people discovery apps. Notifications that say Facebook friend X is near you don’t seem that compelling – but you can see that a refined version could have some appeal. Just as Foursquare hasn’t gone mass market – yet – we do see that location has some way to go before it’s the next big thing. But as context it has to be valuable – in some way. This is a good round up of the key players.

If you have an hour to spare, it’s worth listening to this talk by Martin Sorrell, where he gets into the detail behind the WPP strategy. Interesting and entertaining too.

Finally  – when talking with brands we always talk about the disruption caused by the web in their sector – which took 15 years to play out – and make the point that mobile disruption will happen much quicker. Why? Because the installed base is already huge and new behaviours are already becoming embedded. Forrester now make a similar point;

However, mobile has the potential to be more disruptive than the Web. The mobile revolution will inevitably transform your business in the next decade, too —not because mobile will generate massive direct revenues but because it will trigger a more radical transformation toward systems of engagement.

Mobile Fix – October 12




Next 5 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









Next 10 weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Quick reads

Will Apple buy Twitter?

Gartner have forecast stellar growth for SoMoLo services

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

Atooma is a great example of how apps are becoming smarter

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

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

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


Mobile Fix – July 6

Tablets  – does size matter?

A week after launch the new Nexus7 tablet from Google is getting a lot of love and there seems to be a view that this form factor has a lot of appeal. As well as the success of the Kindle Fire the popularity of the Samsung Note (with the new version rumoured to launch at the same time at the iPhone 5) suggest lots of people are looking for something in between the smartphone and the iPad.

New York VC Fred Wilson has been playing with the Nexus for a few days and is a big fan – making the point that he uses it for calls too. We know quite a few people who have preordered theirs. And in the UK PC World are taking orders and quoting a deliver date of July 19.

Of course Apple aren’t going to let a new category emerge without taking part, so there are lots of rumours that they will announce a 7inch tablet at the same price point – a mini iPad. We’ve been saying for ages that Apple will enter this category but we’re convinced that it won’t be part of the iPad family.

The one area of the Apple product range that needs an update is the iPod and we think that Apple would be smart to bring in a new iPod that competes with the Nexus and the Fire. As well as revitalising the whole iPod range it would be great marketing to effectively reposition the Google and Amazon products away from the iPad.


One of our 20% projects is looking at how mobile could help revitalise high streets through a loyalty scheme that small stores could join. So we keep looking at the retail space and where the innovation is.

One huge area is where people go to stores to pick up items bought online. Much as we love Amazon, the delivery model is creaking with huge queues of people collecting Amazon parcels at the Post Office every time we go. (One of the most interesting rumours we heard this year is that Amazon could bid for Royal Mail)

In the US more than half of the items bought on are collected in store. In the UK House of Fraser have had some success with their .com stores in Liverpool and Glasgow – where you can try any product but you then order it on a screen and collect the next day. One of the benefits for the store is that people often buy something else when they come in to collect. Building on this, we understand that some UK high streets retailers are considering accepting ecommerce returns for other stores, in order to get the store traffic.

A new study from Deloitte suggests that mobile already influences about 5% of all US retail purchases and this is forecast to grow to between 17 – 21%. That sounds pretty significant, right? If you look at it in actual sales, this suggests mobile will influence $159bn in sales this year and around $700bn by 2016. As Forbes said Amazon Price Check may be evil but it’s the future.

Of course retailers recognise the need to innovate and an interesting study from Motorola says 74% of retailers recognise that developing a more engaging in store customer experience is going to be business critical.

Another new entrant into the space is IBM who have launched an app focused on grocery sales – using Augmented Reality.

And one more interesting thing we noticed – in the new Google maps service for Android you can search inside a number of buildings – including Selfridges, Harrods, John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser. The potential data from that is really interesting  – a little like the Tesco experimentation with using WiFI to track customers instore.

Mobile Money

Running alongside the disruption in retail is the innovation around money. Barclays are testing a service where all there business customers will be offered the ability to take card payments, so Square and/or iZetter are going to be here  – at scale – very soon.

Telefonica are busy agreeing partnerships with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and RIM to enable customers to pay for digital goods and services on their phone bill. And T Mobile are partnering with Mastercard to push NFC payments across Europe.


In the week when Amazon launch a HTML5 version of their Kindle app to avoid paying the Apple tax, we’re seeing moves from Google to help people developing mobile optimised sites with clear guidance on what they see as best practice.

The benefit of following this advice is advantage in the nascent world of mobile SEO. Our friends at econsultancy have a good summary here with a focus on responsive design. And this is an interesting infographic on HTML5

We are convinced that at some point Google will have to tweak their algorithm so that sites that are mobile optimised perform better in organic search on mobile than those that are not. This will cause a major upset, but it’s inevitable; Google is designed to give me the best results for my search and right now, on mobile, it doesn’t.

Measuring marketing 

With news from GroupM that digital adspend in the UK is going to grow by 14% this year (to around £5.3bn – largely at the expense of traditional media) it’s vital that brands have a full view of how various tactics work. McKinsey take an interesting look at the 5 questions brands should ask themselves to maximise effectiveness.

The big lie around media measurement is that digital is somehow less well measured than traditional. But the plumbing around mobile and social is still developing and so are the best techniques for measuring success. This new paper from iCrossing has some interesting thinking around how to measure social media. A new report from Forrester looks at how the various parts of a mobile campaign can be pieced together to track effectively. And Google have introduced new tools for help measure Android apps.

Quick Reads

Timeline is coming to Mobile next week?

YouView is going to launch in time for the Olympics – with Lord Sugar suggesting it could have the same impact as BSkyB. We’ll see. He did seem to commit the sort of schoolboy error that leads to people getting fired in his TV show, when he suggested prices of boxes will quickly drop from the £299 launch price. Telling people that a cheaper deal is imminent is hardly going to help sales in the early days is it?

The idea that people will watch ads in order to get a free service may work well on TV but we’re not convinced that it will work for Samba, a new mobile broadband service designed for iPads. Are the people who will watch ads to save money a good audience for advertisers like Clinique? And given McClarens cost around £200k it is another surprising ad to feature.

We’re fascinated by the innovative use of mobile in Africa and Asia and there is a lot to learn from how people are solving real problems with the smart use of simple technology.. This BBC report has some great examples of really clever thinking, using SMS.

As Twitter ads on mobile start to get traction Dick Costolo, the Twitter CEO tells the FT Twitter is now a Mobile First company

Following our favourite mobile winners at Cannes last week, the head judge picks the entries he really liked. Some good stuff here, including the Louis Vuitton Amble app which is one of our favourite examples of good branded content in mobile.

Finally ...some typically smart thinking from our friend Peter Kim of soclal business firm Dachis. Peter looks at how the big tech firms are seeking to own the user experience. The thinking is similar to how we see GAFA, but Peter chooses to include Microsoft rather than Amazon.

And we are still looking for people to take desks with us – if you need a new home in Clerkenwell get in touch.



Mobile Fix -June 29

It’s 5 years this week since the iPhone launched. Whilst we have been doing bits and pieces with mobile since 2002 its pretty clear that the Decade of Mobile started with the iPhone.

It is worth considering just how profound the effect of the iPhone has been. It has made $150bn in revenue and created so much value elsewhere in the ecosystem it has facilitated. It has created a huge amount of jobs and changed all our lives.  Arguable it also in the process of destroying value as huge businesses like Dell, HP, RIM and others are reeling.

It’s clear that the next 5 years are likely to be more challenging as operators question the value of subsiding devices and competitors step up with better products.  But so far we have seen little to suggest a radical shake up of the status quo is imminent.

So we should all raise a glass to Apple.

Google 1/O

If anyone is to rain on that parade, it’s likely to be Google. As they build out their vertical stack to compete with Apple (Hardware, software, content storage and sales, payments and social) we should expect strong products.

At their I/O developer conference this week Google have shown some interesting products. The Google Glasses are on preorder and exciting lots of people – not least because of the cool way they demo’d the product with live skydiving. Their entertainment product has been announcedand the Nexus Q – billed as the first social streaming media player does look interesting. Withtheir TV play coming to the UK over the summer Google are competing for the living room too.

But the big product news from I/O was the much anticipated Nexus Tablet – the Nexus 7. Billed by many as a Kindle killer, to us it confirmed that Google intend to take their Android pricing strategy for phones into tablets. At $200 the Nexus will appeal to a different audience to the iPad and is most likely to cannabilise the Kindle Fire – dependent of course on what the new one does.

Just as the Android phones largely sell at a cheaper price point than the iPhone, so Google can expand the tablet market without having to go head to head with the iPad. But we suspect that – just as they have done with premium Android phones like the Samsung galaxy 3 – they will launch a tablet at the top end of the market at some point. Could that be the first product from newly owned Motorola?

And like Amazon, Google aren’t looking to make a profit from the hardware – they want to cement their position in the content space and make money there. Of course Apple make stacks of money from both hardware and software.

Other cool stuff from Google is a teaser about the Chrome Lab coming to the Science Museum this summer – and obviously available online too.

And next time someone rolls out that chestnut about HTML5 not being ready for prime time,show them these wonderful mobile experiments from Google  - all using the various technologies that we shorthand as HTML5.


As our friends from Mobile Money Network illustrate just how much effect mobile is having on retail – payments and beyond – PayPal are reorganising to make their structure simpler and faster – and to be (even) more mobile focused.

One US player that hasn’t made it over here yet is Shopkick – where people check in at stores to get vouchers and offers based on their profile. Participating stores (which include Macys, Best Buy and Target) install a box on the wall that emits a high frequency noise that the app uses to identify the location. They have now partnered with Mastercard to deliver rewards – showing how mobile is disrupting both retail and money.

Whilst they have spent this week sorting out some IT problems, RBS are also innovating with mobile with their new GetCash service; anyone using it can send people a code via SMS that enables the recipient to get money from any ATM without needing a card. Perfect if you are having problems with your bank account ….

Of course this type of service has been available in markets like Kenya for years. As William Gibson says; The future is here – its just not evenly distributed.


Whilst Martin Sorrell may not think Facebook has much of a future as an ad medium, his counterpart at Havas disagrees, believing Facebook will end up being more valuable than Google.

Given they have much clearer routes to monetizing things like deals than Google currently does, we tend to agree – and the news that Facebook are dropping credits to focus on payments suggests this will become key.

And new data is emerging that shows mobile ads on Facebook are getting a higher CPM than desktop which is very promising – as is the news that Zappo are getting a great ROI from their Facebook ads – $3.50 revenue from every $1 spent.

One slightly odd move from Facebook this weeks shows where their head is. If a brand has a Facebook app, you are able to access the profile data of those who have installed the app and your messages are much less vulnerable to edgerank. But a key factor for many brands has been the opportunity to access the email address of the users and therefore speak to them outside of Facebook. A while back Facebook moved to make this permission based but now they have gone a step further to try and keep everything within their walled garden.

This week they quietly charged your main email address to a Facebook one – your Facebook user name You can  – in theory – change it back but they are not making it easy. And US comedian Jimmy Kimmel summed up many peoples views with this clip on his TV show.

As Tube WiFi rolls out in London, Virgin are trying to have operators rent bandwidth to offer to their customers. They have a powerful argument as people increasingly expect to be able to get online and we don’t think anyone will want to be seen as denying their customers connectivity on the Central line.

There are quite a few people looking to reinvent connectivity. We have talked about Karma who encourage people to share their 4G bandwidth with strangers and Free in France who use their customers settop boxes to create 4 million WIFI hotspots across France.

A new player in this space is OpenGarden, a start up that has had rave reviews from New York VC Fred Wilson. Their app (currently for Android only) lets one device share its connectivity with any other around it – tethering without charges or limits. Unsurprisingly the operators aren’t keen and AT&T has asked Google to make it unavailable to their customers. So far it’s still on Play but well worth watching.


Last week we saw Mobile come of age with the first dedicated awards in Cannes for Mobile.

There were some really interesting winners and we suggest you take 20 minutes to watch these videos.

The key thing to us was that nearly all the winners were evidence that starting with a strong idea is crucial – then use the technology to bring that idea to life. We still see too many examples of mobile marketing where it’s all about technology, with any idea added on as an afterthought.

RGA won the Titanium with their work for Nike Fuelband – demonstrating the potential for marketing and product development to be blended. The perfect opportunity for mobile.

The Google project looking at reimagining iconic ad campaigns for the digital age bore fruit forCoke with the mobile version of Buy the World a coke winning gold.

The Toy Toyota campaign also got Gold as did the really cool blend on mobile and Digital Out of Home for Pennies for Life from our good friends at DLKWLowe. (Who we’ve been doing mobile training for this week)

One campaign we hadn’t seen before was Parking Douche from Russia – a very clever way to use location to counter anti social behaviour.

Quick Reads

The Apple purchase of app discovery service Chomp seems to be making a difference. People are seeing the iTunes app store search returning better results. There is still along way to go to make it fit for purpose, but this looks like a promising start.

HTML5 Games are starting to demonstrate the potential of the technology.

Microsoft are buying enterprise focused social network Yammer

Finally…  we really enjoyed doing our talk at the Dachis Social Business Summit last week where we talked about SoMoLo as the sweet spot for brands. Other speakers included Forrester, IBM and GiffGaff – and amongst other things we learnt from IBM that 68% of all social activity is done on a mobile device. The overall theme was around how social and mobile can deliver engagement at scale and this is a theme that Pepsico expand on here.

As the worlds of mobile and social merge and the new behaviours driven by these new technologies go mass market – and enable engagement at scale – we’ve been thinking about how an agency is best structured to help their clients profit from this disrupted marketplace. (We’re trying to sort out a new website so doing some navel gazing)

The CEO of Crispin Porter has written a powerful memo to his staff asking for a fundamentally different way to build a brand. And the latest addition to the WPP empire, Azaz Ahmed talks of the AKQA story and how they seek to add value for clients. Both well worth reading.

Mobile Fix -June 22


This week the most interesting stories are around Microsoft. The new Microsoft tablet – called the Surface  - looks good and has impressed most people – although details like price and launch date remain unknown. Clearly a response to the iPad, the Surface is also a big part of the Windows8 story. As the big play for Microsoft the success of the software (which has received a pretty positive response) depends on getting hardware companies to use and use it properly. The Surface is a way to encourage the market to use Windows8 to its full potential.
Microsoft is also moving forwards with the mobile use of Windows8 with the launch of Windows Phone 8 – which again has garnered positive reaction. Except it has emerged that all those early adopters of Windows Phones who bought the Nokia Lumia, have been sold a bit of a pup ( as they say in Leeds).
There is no way to upgrade phones that work on WP7 – like the Lumia – which sounds like a good way to alienate some of your most valuable customers.
We would be amazed if Microsoft and Nokia didn’t announce some sort of programme to swap WP7 Lumia for the new WP8 device – so it could be a good marketing ploy to boost the launch in the Autumn.

Amazon have announced that their app store is going international – which suggests the Kindle Fire is too.
The Amazon app store for Android has been a big success in the US and will be available in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain this summer – with more countries following,
Despite some suggestion sales were faltering, the consensus seems to be that the Fire is still selling well. And there are lots of rumours that the Kindle2 will launch shortly – so could it be that Europe will get the new device or will we get the old one? Our feeling is that Amazon would look to maximise the attractiveness to developers by making the Kindle 2 more widely available. So we should get the new Fire here in the next couple of months.
The other players in ebook readers are having a hard time. Barnes and Noble results this week showed that their ereader the Nook suffering a 10% drop in sales.

As Google prepares for its I/O Developer conference next week there are rumours that they will announce their next play in the Tablet market, with the much anticipated Nexus Tablet – probably built by ASUS. Then again some of the rumours are driven by people analyzing the Android App for the event and taking clues from subtle differences in colours and transparencies. These could suggest we’ll see the next version of Android software – Jelly Bean Sandwich. We’ll see.

Quick Reads
Some back story on the Apple conference last week – interesting reading on just how smart everyone at Apple seems to be. And how much they love developers.

Silicon Alley Insider has rolled up lots of stats into a good deck on Mobile advertising. They look at why the growth is – so far – surprisingly slow.

Paypal have revealed more about their retail payments app – including a partnership with our friends at EageEye. The video is a good explanation of their approach – which minimises the need for retailers to reengineer their EPOS systems – or wait for NFC.

As we see signs that Facebook mobile ads are working well – and out performing desktop - we hear that Martin Sorrell isn’t convinced by Facebook as an ad medium. Maybe he should check with his Ford team, as they (along with a number of other brands) have stepped up to say that Facebook is working well for them. And Barclaycard say that Facebook outperformed other digital channels.

AdAge has a must read article looking at research studies that show digital to be as effective as TV in selling FMCG product. And new initiatives like Digital GRPs suggest it can be used to extend the reach of TV campaigns.
The ROI work that we’ve done so far has demonstrated that digital is better than TV,” said P&G Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard

Google Product VP Bradley Horowitz has been talking about the progress of Google+ - claiming there are more than 170 million users. But still no clarity on the number of active users.

We talk a lot about how digital is driven by a handful of firms – GAFA. Well this infographic reminds us that US traditional media is equally dominated by a handful of businesses; Disney, News Corp, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner and GE – who are rumoured to be looking at BSkyB as an acquisition.

New UK research shows 42% of smartphone users check prices online whilst in store – and 13% have switched store after finding a better deal.

Twitter is getting better at search – apparently worrying Google

The Economist think QR codes are finally taking off – whilst it’s not a fashionable view, we tend to agree

A good interview with the publisher of the MIT Technology Review says Apps are a waste of time for publishers

The push into content from Supermarkets continues. Last week Sainsbury bought ebook firm anobii and a while back Tesco bought video firm BlinkBox. This week Tesco bought digital music startup We7

Finally a couple of campaigns we wish we had done.
The New BA campaign has a great Facebook app where adding your postcode personalises the ad – showing a Jumbo going down your street. Whilst it’s a simplified version of the HTML5 technique that Chris Milk and Google pioneered for Arcade Fire a couple of years ago, this is a smart advertising. A good idea is executed through a smart use of technology.
(If you aren’t in the UK use EC1R 0DP to see the Jumbo outside our office)

Cult musician Rufus Wainwright has used Instagram to promote his new album – asking fans to contribute a picture representing a word from the song – which are then used to create the music video.