Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mobile Fix – November 21

Mobile Matures? 

This week feels like a switch was flipped. Or a target reached. Or is it just that mobile has finally grown up? 

A number of the things we have been predicting finally happened this week. Now these predictions weren’t like our (cheesy)  2002 Futurology piece where we called a fair bit of todays tech enabled world. 

These are more logical next steps or inevitabilities. But they have taken longer to happen than we expected.

Google use mobile optimised as a signal in ranking.

Google have finally announced that they are going to tell users which sites are mobile optimized. And they are going to experiment with using this data as a signal for ranking. So Google will now reward those people who have invested in their mobile experience. And (gently) start to penalize those who haven’t

If you think about it, Google has one key job; help the user find what they are looking for as quickly as possible.  Everything in the Google armoury has been focused on this – using your location, your previous search history, landing pages score etc. But until now Google has ignored one key factor – your device. Knowing you are using a smartphone and returning answers that are not mobile optimized doesn’t make any sense for the user.  Or for Google. But now they are correcting this anomaly and a huge amount of SEO work is about to be made redundant. 

If you don’t have a mobile site, now would be a good time to get one. And if you do have one, you should be constantly testing to make sure it’s as good as it can be – too many mobile sites are designed by desktop web people and are not really focused on touch and fat fingers. ( 

Google kicked out by Firefox

When we talk about GAFA and vertical stacks, we cover the way Google have been eased out of iOS. When the appstore was launched Google were baked in with 3 key integrations; the YouTube app that Apple built, Google maps as default and Google as the default choice is the Safari browser. As we all know Apple have evicted Google from Maps and if you want a YouTube app you have to go download the one Google made. Both have had an impact on Google, but they are still pretty big in Maps and Video on iOS 

We have long argued that, at some point, Apple will kick Google out of search by changing the default setting for search in Safari. They added DuckDuckGo, so the 4 options are now Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google and Yahoo, with Google getting the default tick – for which they pay around $3bn. And we are convinced that Bing and Yahoo would happily pay more.

Firefox have tested this scenario out and in just a few weeks time Yahoo will be the default search engine for the Firefox browser. We can’t imagine that both Bing and Yahoo aren’t pitching a similar deal to Apple every single day.

How long before Apple decide they would rather not have Google know what all their users are searching for? And such a deal could help Apple with legislators like the EU worry about the Google ‘dominance’ of search; by making the default setting an alphabetic one they could rebalance the market.

We’ve been advising our clients to focus more attention on Bing and Yahoo SEO for a while now – you should start too.

Apple have released some advice for developers focusing on the Watch; essential reading around on what can and can’t be done. The key thing for us is that the iPhone is heavily involved in most possibilities so as to leverage the more powerful CPUs and longer life of the phone. So the Watch is a peripheral rather than a wearable. Slightly pedantic I know, but we have to develop experiences that use both devices, not just the Watch.

And last in our told you so list, we now have some more good proof that mobile advertising can and does build brands. We laboured against the belief digital is purely a response medium 10 years ago and it’s slightly frustrating that the same mis-informed nonsense has been trotted out about mobile. But a good case study from Havas and Sky proves what many people have known all along – you can drive brand metrics and response metrics with mobile advertising.

You just need to think carefully about how you use the medium and recognize that an investment in good creative is just that – an investment. One that usually pays off.

Future of apps

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of debate about how apps are going to evolve. There is data showing that time spent in mobile apps is now more than the time spent using the browser on both desktop and mobile.

The Wall Street Journal take the view this means that the web is dying as the walled gardens of GAFA and others dominate. (We would argue that much of this time is actually games and music where one would have used a different device before smartphones).

The very nature of these apps is changing as the latest versions of both the Apple and the Android OS enable notifications purely etc to do more, reducing the need to open the apps. We pointed to this smart thinking about what that means for brand apps and one of the people who initiated the debate has come back to say his thinking as misinterpreted – apps are not dying – they are just evolving. 

Both these pieces are worth reading as is this other viewpoint what the web is pretty resilient and could still come out on top.

Just like they say in Hollywood, no-one know anything and brands should remain nimble and avoid making moves based purely on technology. Instead focus on creating valuable experiences for your customers on the devices they choose to use and in the channels where they spend their time.

Quick Reads

Flurry have some new research showing time spent in apps now exceeds time spent watching TV in the US. This doesn’t mean one should ditch TV but where are the examples of people looking to link these two hugely powerful media? There is huge potential to marry the power of TV with an immersive mobile experience; essentially delivering part 2 of the commercial.

Interesting look at how GAFA (and Microsoft) are developing their vertical stacks. And how their value has doubled in 3 years.

Snapchat say their ads work even though there is no targeting. Reach – combined with the targeting inherent in the channel – can be enough

Apple are poised to launch Beats and will use their next OS update to get it onto everyones iPhone 

Retailers continue to test how mobile can improve the instore experience. Target are trying in store navigation

And one of the major players in Beacons is rolling out new features to try and make it simpler to implement this technology.

BAT – the Chinese GAFA – have a way of investing in promising startups and using their reach and muscle to accelerate the growth. Could they bring this Kingmaker strategy to the West?

It seems Apple are about to enter programmatic advertising – at least according to this press release which got taken down after a couple of hours. 

Finally …More proof that content is king.  A podcast has gone viral and is getting over a million downloads for each episode. We believe episodic content has huge potential in modern digital. Imagine a 3 minute video version of something like Hollyoaks published on Facebook at 12 noon every day with storylines expanded in Snapchat Stories. A weekly omnibus on YouTube. And each character has a rich social presence too.

It’s time for brands to reinvent soap operas. We are developing an interesting format and would love to talk with potential partners and collaborators.

 

Mobile Fix – October 31

Apps; the CDs of Mobile?

As big music fans we were late into CDs. For quite a while after the launch of this “revolutionary new format” we stuck with buying the Vinyl albums. But eventually the convenience – and the difficulty getting a vinyl copy – saw us make the transition and now we’ve more CDs than Vinyl. 

Of course making the music digital led to a subtle change in how music was listened to; in the car a CD changer meant songs could be listened to randomly. Then along came the iPod and burning CDs to iTunes – there even used to be businesses offering this service – soon led to the Shuffle and Genius. More songs played randomly. Which essentially laid the way for streaming, where the song is the hero and the album concept devalued. 

Could we look at Apps the same way? Is web content the “analogue original” existing as destinations and do Apps package that content in a more convenient way? Are homepages of apps the mobile equivalent of CD racks? Now notifications and cards are staring to devalue the app experience by reducing the need to visit the app.

So the question is – what’s the Mobile equivalent of streaming? Will Apps no longer be needed as all the content and the functionality is distributed through the stream of notifications and cards? Do we see a near future where the home screen blends notifications with Tweets and social updates , mediated by some all powerful algorithm?

Given that Google Now gives us a glimpse of this future and the Apple home screen is evolving in a similar direction will GAFA control these streams? Is the power law of the top 25 apps coming from a small number of big players going to consolidate?

We continue to advise clients that they need to think through how they work with GAFA – partnerships and distribution across these big players – and Twitter is going to be key. Having Uber feature as an option within Google Maps is a huge win for them – helped by a $250 VC investment – and a disadvantage to their competitors.

There is lots happening with mobile content and services and just building an app doesn’t seem enough anymore. Having a Card strategy feels like a smart next step so that, as more opportunities to distribute your content/service arise, you have some learning on what works and what doesn’t.

CDs promised a better way to consume content but ended up a stepping stone to the atomisation of music. Are apps going the same way?

Lots more smart thinking on this topic in this piece – which ends with more good articles to read.

Twitter

Cards are probably most mature in Twitter and we think their new rapprochement with developers is likely to see more uses of Cards. How Fabric works with cards remains to be seen though.

One significant move from Twitter is to use the phone number as a way to sign in to apps, with Twitter handing the SMS authentication. This seems a win win as it makes it easier for the user and the app developer, and give developers an alternative to the Faustian pact they must do with Facebook and Google over the data shared on social sign ins. Fred Wilson sums up this sign in issue well.

But whilst the industry see the new tools as a step forward Wall Street still worry about user growth and it seems inevitable Twitter is going to make some changes so that new users can get more value from the service more quickly.

Twitter wants to create an “immersive experience” for users who do not log in and eventually generate revenue from promoted tweets “across the entire mobile app ecosystem”, Mr Costolo said..

We still think that curated lists could be a way to solve this problem; reading the tweets from a list of Leeds United players, fans and journalists for example would give people a quick easy way to follow the current Elland Road soap opera. Danny Sullivan makes a similar point when he argues that people should be able to follow interests rather than users. 

Whatever Twitter decide to do, they have to hope it works for both new users and for existing ones. Whilst lots of people – including us – love Twitter and find it really valuable, these days it is easy to lose traction and relevance can be lost really quickly. If they are going to offer New Twitter they should make sure Classic Twitter remains available too.

Facebook

The Facebook results didn’t disappoint many people, and they now have 456 million mobile only users.

This scale is encouraging their efforts to woo publishers and they are suggesting that media companies use Facebook as their primary distribution means for mobile, rather than bother with a proprietary app.

As we discussed earlier this could be one future and there are lots of upsides for publishers being in the stream rather than a diversion from it, but there are quite a few downsides too. As Wired point out, do we want Facebook to control everything we read or watch online? News Corp have been quick to say no, not ever but they largely exist outside of social as their firewall makes sharing their content pretty pointless.

Publishers need a smarter strategy around distribution. (The plan to sell the Guardian and Telegraph together is interesting too)

Money

Apple Pay is up and running in the US and seems to be quickly getting traction – Tim Cook talked of 1 million users in the first few days and we hear that’s now around 3 million.

But there is some resistance. A consortium of retailers are developing their own mobile payments service called CurrentC. The only problems seems to be that it won’t be ready unto next year, it uses QR codes and is quite complicated for both the user and the retailer. Oh, and it’s been hacked already.

These retailers are refusing to accept Apple Pay and some are even disabling their NFC terminalsTurning away people who want to use Apple Pay probably isn’t a huge issue right now but as the adoption grows it could be risky. Already other retailers are making a point that they do take Pay.

A primary point in CurrentC is that the retailers get data on what people are buying and that’s valuable – as the ShopKick acquisition showed – but given Apple are pushing privacy and not using any data from Pay, this could be a hard sell to consumers. But the other ambition is to reduce the fees paid to Credit Cards firms 

Techcrunch have a good look at CurrentC here.

Quick Reads

Is no news on iPad sales, good news? Probably not.

Facebook have launched another new app. Rooms. Described by the Guardian as reinventing the 1990s chat room you don’t have to use your real name which is further evidence that Mark Zuckerberg is less fixated on people having a single identity

An interesting way of looking at the Vertical Stack model we apply to GAFA

YouTube to offer an add free subscription model. Music Key is the Google play in music streaming and this report suggests it will have a big impact.

Is Google an Artificial Intelligence business? Good look at AI from Kevin Kelly 

A good Internet of Things video from Qualcomm

FinallyTim Cook has come out. It seems a little sad that this is seen as news

 

 

Mobile Fix – October 17

The Chinese are coming

At IAB Engage this week Martin Sorrel warned the audience that the Chinese are coming, and pointed out the size of Alibaba and the growth of Xiami as two examples. Fix readers know this and also that the size of BAT (Baidu Alibaba & Tencent) is based on a market where internet penetration is around half that of the UK, so lots more growth to come. Of course not having Google, eBay, Facebook and Twitter to compete with, helps this stellar growth. 

But the really interesting thing about China is that this Galapagos effect – an ecology cut off from the rest of the world – has inspired some fascinating business models. So there is a lot to learn from China, other than merely the growth story.

As this chart shows the messaging apps across Asia are developing business models other than taking ads and its likely Snapchat will be amongst the first to monetise their reach as a platform for other content and services.

And whilst Jony Ives may think that Xiaomi are little more than copycats this HBR piece shows they have an innovative business model that may prove more resilient than Apples.

If you want to dig a little deeper on China this report from Campaign Asia is worth a look.

New Devices

With Samsung, Google and Apple all launching new product this week we have seen each brand get their 15minutes of social buzz before the next launch. First the Samsung Note 4 had everyone extoling its virtues. Then along comes Google with their new Nexus 6 – even bigger than the 6+ their new tablet Nexus 9 and the new version of Android, Lollipop. Early indications are that the new devices are impressive and the look and feel of Lollipop is a clear improvement and the other features sound promising.

And then there are the new iPads – with lots of upgrades and some data on sales to counter the theory sales are flattening out.

The Xiaomi model of longer production windows for their product does look smart as they profit from falling component costs– what are Google and Apple going to do with the 7 that makes people what to upgrade? And what will the next iPads do?

Clearly the iPhone and the top end Androids work as Veblen goods – status symbols – or at least as social objects; many people have raised bendgate when they have seen our new iPhone 6 and we know people comment on the size of the 6+.

But because most tablets aren’t actually mobile- they stay at home or in the office – they don’t cause comment and therefore don’t act as social objects – so is the desire to upgrade to the very latest model less powerful?

And because so few people bother to make tablet optimized apps- a huge mistake in our opinion – is there less need to upgrade to benefit from the new version? 

Should ad fraud stop you investing in digital?

The recurring problem with fraud in digital advertising, is polluting the discussion over how much investment brands should be switching over to digital. Whilst the argument is clear – as consumers change their habits, so should brands that want to keep up – the background noise over fraud and viewability is a diversion.

The problem is that just as the sheer volume of money attracts VCs to invest in AdTech, it also attracts criminals. So the arms race between the adtech that can verify your spend is going in the right places and the bad guys is heating up.

This week we heard two great examples that demonstrate the problem. You have probably seen the meme of your porn name? The name of your first pet is the first name and your mothers maiden name is the surname – so mine is Pluto Clement. Great fun, but everyone now knows two answers to the most common security questions online.

Then at an event this week discussing fraud, one of the audience made the sensible comment that where a campaign is measured against a purchase, fraudulent views and invisible impression below the fold etc don’t really have any effect as the bots don’t buy things.

It turns out they do.

Filling forms online is pretty straightforward to a fraudster but they also have lists of stolen credit cards with which to make the purchase.  Eventually the sale will be cancelled and the money refunded to the person whose card is used, but the fraudster is long gone with the CPA commission.

Now having the right partners and paying attention to how your campaigns are being managed can protect you from most if not all of this. And not investing in digital for these reasons is no more sensible than pulling your money off TV because people do go make cups of tea when the ads are on.

On the panel at the Facebook upfronts this week I made the point that we now have an unprecedented situation; for the first time for a long time it is possible to get a significant competitive advantage on your sector.

Your rivals have the same distribution as you do, similar brand awareness and a product that is probably top parity. So gaining advantage has been hard.

But we are now at a point when being much better at mobile and social can give you a clear advantage.

Your competitors’ agencies are probably just as good at making the most of ITV etc as are yours. 

But if your team can get more reach, attention, engagement and, yes, sales from Facebook, Google etc then that’s a great place to be. 

What are you waiting for?

Quick Reads

The Mobile Marketing Association say that brands should invest 16% of their ad budget. Now the right figure for any brand depends on their objectives and strategy, but it’s clear most (all) brands should be spending more. What will you do if your main competitor gets there first?

Apple looking to revitalise their iAds offering with retargeting.

Benedict Evans has shared a good presentation on the Industrial Internet – another name for the Internet of Things

Are Yahoo going to invest their new found wealth in AdTech?

Twitter payments launched in France 

Delivery hots up – Amazon launch same day delivery with Pass My Parcel and Google extend Google Express

Pinterest is gearing up to be the next big ad opportunity. Are your agency partners geared up to advise you on this? Really?

Niche is an interesting now type of agency

Finally… no Fix next week as we are off to Cornwall for half term. But there will be a RCKSCK Friday Edit later today and next week, so if you’d like some tips on how to get the most out of London sign up here.

Mobile Fix – October 3

What Apps?

As a warm up for client workshops we often do a WhatApps exercise. We get everyone to unlock their phone and pass it to someone else and then get people to talk about what apps are on the homescreen of the phone they have.

It gets 3 important points over really well;

1/ People feel deeply uncomfortable seeing someone else holding their phone, demonstrating just what a very personal device it is – so marketing risks being very intrusive if not done really well

2/ Most people have a few of the same apps; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google search etc plus their bank app and a news app perhaps

3/ Everyone has a few niche apps that are very important to them – Dads have games for their kids, sports fans have apps about their team or sport, others have things like YPlan and apps for nights out or travel

And we are also starting to see that people are organizing their apps with the home screen for the most used apps and unused apps migrating to later screens and being forgotten about.

Knowing what apps someone has is hugely valuable for advertising and everyone is trying to get this insight. Apple and Google clearly have the best view but some others have good data too. Facebook has some knowledge through those apps that use Facebook connect in some way  – and where someone has downloaded as a result of a Facebook ads. 

With the Flurry acquisition Yahoo now have a pretty good view too and along with the Aviate launcher app they acquired a while back are building an interesting data set on the apps people have.

Whilst the number of new apps downloaded is declining, we believe there is still a huge opportunity to help people discover apps they will find useful/ entertaining. Especially given how poorly the app stores perform if you don’t know exactly what your are looking for. People have done very well with apps designed to help find new apps but just as Apple kicked out AppGratis last year they have just kicked out an iOS launcher app. Launcher was different to AppGratis and seemed a good way to improve how you use the apps you have – but Apple clearly don’t want anyone but them to know what apps you have.

Of course the other people who have some idea of what apps you have – at least theoretically – are operators and we think they are missing a trick by not providing a really elegant service that helps their customers discover new apps.  There have been some attempts but no one has nailed this; the upside of happier customers and a chance to get some of the burgeoning app download spend should make it a priority.

Facebook & Adtech

When Facebook bought the Atlas adtech business from Microsoft last year the price was rumoured to be around $50m – a very low price when Microsoft had paid $6bn+ for the whole aquantive business. Nothing much was heard about Atlas until recent rumours that it had been complete rebuilt to give Facebook a robust platform for serving and tracking ads.

Its now officially launched and is a big part of the new Facebook ad network where they use their profile data to target Facebook users across sites and apps outside the Facebook empire. It’s more evidence of the antipathy across GAFA and means Facebook starts to get a better view of what’s happening across the open web, which should let it improve ad performance within Facebook.

Mobile & Money

Building on our thoughts on Starbucks last week, mobile money is heating up. We see that Apple has hired two very senior Visa execs in Europe. And Capital One have launched a pretty good wallet app in the US whilst Barclaycard are rolling out their bPay bracelet – which is interesting but could do with some love from a designer.

But the big news is that eBay and PayPal are going to split into two companies. Many people believe PayPal will be more valuable on its own, but it will also probably be more attractive to a potential suitor who doesn’t want the distraction of eBay. Who could be interested? Well Google needs a response to Apple Pay and folding PayPal would be a great way to revive Google Wallet.

Content is King?

Last week we speculated that Softbank – now ran by ex Googler Nikesh Arora – could be interested in buying Yahoo, as they look to build out their Sprint and broadband business by adding content.

This line of thought is probably validated by the story that they are in talks to buy Dreamworks – the hugely successful movie studio ran by Jeffery Katzenberg.  

This blending of content and pipes has always been talked of, but the AOL Time Warner debacle still scares most people off. Like most dotcom bubble hubris though, the issue was essentially one of timing – and poorly executing the merger.

Yahoo, Softbank & Alibaba

As we discussed last week these 3 companies are closely linked and this long article is a great look at how they came together. If you believe in fate, choosing then Chinese Civil servant Jack Ma (now the Alibaba founder) to guide Jerry Yang around the Great Wall of China in 1997 is right up there. A must read

newTV

If you talk to any enlightened media planner they will tell you they now see TV and online video as essentially the same thing; if you want to reach Downton viewers you are equally happy to buy them on broadcast TV or online catch up. And they also know that smart use of pre rolls or any of the online video formats will probably add reach to a traditional TV campaign, as the elusive light viewers are added.

But regulatory things are still more compartmentalized. Now that is starting to change. In the US it looks like regulators will treat online video services as the same as cable and satellite providers. This means they can get cheaper access to programming and the old divisions will start to melt away.

Some brands get this already and Mondelez have done a global deal with Google for video to accelerate their ambition to put 10% of their spend into online video.

Adding to the momentum is the new Twitter TV ratings, where Kantar will report on levels of Tweeting related to TV programming with data around how twitter affects audience.

Many years ago we tried to prove that data on recording a programme correlated with better engagement in the live viewing. If you like a show so much you record it when you are out, you probably are more attentive when actually watching it live. So ads in those programmes are probably more effective and more valuable.

Those enlightened media planners will be looking at whether Tweeting is a similar engagement metric 

Quick reads

Still play Angry Birds? No us neither. And they are firing 130 people. More proof that apps is a hits business.

Did you know people launch brands on Amazon? Coke and Pepsi have both launched products only available through Amazon.

Google have acquiesced to German publishers and won’t publish extracts from their stories – they will just show the headlines. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Product placement is getting tech – Music videos can now feature brands in a way that the product can be changed according to region etc.

The Google Internet of Things play is now public – The Physical Web. Very interesting.

Lots of the smart people at Tesco know that their real competition is going to be Amazon rather than Lidl, but (understandably) short term thinking is prevailing and they are going to sell or close Blinkbox

Apple debut Watch at our favourite Paris store, Colette. And as they reposition themselves as a luxury brand, Vogue profiles Jony Ive.

GE Enhance your Lighting is a great example of a brand using video and social really well.

We have mentioned Shopkick before – a great example of where mobile, physical and promotions meet. It’s been acquired for $200m to fund international expansion so expect to see it in Europe soon

Finally

We heard Peter Thiel talk about his excellent new book and lots of his thinking applies to any business – not just startups. In our Digital Transformation workshops we talk about how big companies can learn from startups and this book is very useful. So too is this Stanford lecture on how to start a Startup and this piece by YCombinators Paul Graham.

Oh, and we have finally revamped our website outlining the range of things we do for clients and for our own projects. <sell> If you ever need any help lets have a chat <sell/>

Mobile Fix – September 19

Thinking about Apple

The ramifications of the Apple launch last week continue. Pre sales of the new phones have gone very well – too well perhaps; as the wait time on Apple is weeks. Some of the operators were quick to offer the iPhones too and have done really well.

iOS8 is available and that has kept people thinking about Apple –once they could actually get it downloaded. It looks beautiful and the elegance of much of the interaction whets the appetite for the iPhone6 too.

We are also starting to get an understanding of just how much better the new devices are – and the camera in particular is getting a lot of praise. As we talked about last week, the Ice Bucket Challenge has taught millions of people that making and sharing video isn’t that hard. Add a great camera to that new expertise and we can expect some great content.

For a long time we have argued that video is going to be democratised just like music was with the launch of technologies like the Roland 808 –that enabled talented people to make music in their bedroom and bypass the traditional stranglehold of the record companies. As the explosive growth of YouTube has shown, the talent is there and even with a webcam they are making content people want to see. Better camera will accelerate this. SXSW showed a film shot entirely in an iPhone5 and the guy behind that is very bullish.

It’s the Apple watch that is driving most of the commentary though. Last week the feeling as the launch was a little vague and that was a bad thing.  This week the feeling seems to be that the vagueness was actually pretty smart – as it allows Apple to set the agenda over the coming months as they drip feed feature and functionality news. Talking in a US TV interview Tim Cook talks about their desire for developers to come on board before the device launches. Just like no one expected Uber, Moves or Flappy Bird when the iPhone launched, great watch apps could make the device a must have.

One of the best Apple commentator blogs is DaringFireball and he makes some good points over pricing – suggesting the gold watch could cost as much as $10k. He also gets into some of the possible functionality – which, along with some of Tim Cooks comments, make the Watch sound like less of a peripheral. It will clearly have many ways to enhance the iPhone in your pocket or bag but will be able to do a lot on its own. He also thinks that the S1 computer on a chip that powers the watch could be replaceable, meaning the Watch is truly comparable with luxury watches where people expect them to last a lifetime.

Ben Evans thoughts on the Watch are worth reading – particularly his point that the delight of glancing at your wrist, to see that Leeds have scored or that your flight is being called, could be just as addictive as the smartphone. People check their phones dozens of times a day – can a watch replace much of that? 

The chatter around Pay is more muted – largely because there is still a lack of real insight into how the service will roll out. Sure, we know the key points but as Apple need all the various partners on board, its not easy to see where they could end up in a couple of years. Right now the US is poised to move to Chip & Pin or Chip and signature, so retailers will have to upgrade their terminals. And just like in Europe most will include NFC technology. So Apple have been smart and adopted a less optimal technology largely because someone else is paying for the hardware roll out. And partnerships with Visa, Mastercard Amex etc make perfect sense. 

But one of the smartest investors Chamath Palihapitiya thinks Apple have pulled off a masterstroke. He believes Apple is poised to disrupt the global banking infrastructure in the next decade or so and earn trillions of dollars. He likens the deals with the credit card firms to the way they got the record labels to support itunes. And he thinks that – eventually – an iPhone will act as a POS terminal so you then don’t actually need the credit card. Very interesting.

It is worth watching the Tim Cook TV interview for a good take on where Apple is and some hints on what’s next. Asked about TV, he says its still stuck in the 70s and then politely declines to talk about their plans for the space. And he also talks about the move into enterprise and the IBM partnership. (this long Bloomberg interview covers a lot of these issues too)

Another piece of the jigsaw is the Apple announcement on privacy, making the point that advertising is a small part of their business and hence they can be very focused on privacy. It also makes the point that Apple don’t cooperate with the NSA – which begs the question who else can say that?

Google & Nest

The $3bn acquisition of Nest did more than position Google as a key player in both the Internet of Things and the connected home. It also injected 300 people with an Apple DNA into Google. The CEO was instrumental in the launch of both the iPod and the original iPhone, and at Nest he attracted lots of Apple people.

This interview is a good reminder that Google value design thinking too.

Fashion tech

We have covered Londons dominance in FinTech before, but as well as leading the field in the Financial world London is a major player in Fashion Tech. This FT piece looks at Burberry as a great example of a luxury brand embracing digital and others using tech to show at London Fashion week. The Burberry Kisses campaign from last year is also worth a look – not least for showing how digital marketing is maturing 

Metrics & ROI

Preparing for a workshop for a Financial Services brand we have been looking at best practice in metrics. As ever the key is having a small number of important metrics to focus on and ensuring that everyone can see (and understand) what’s going on. The Don of analytics  Avinash Kaushik shows us how simple a dashboard can and should be. His latest look at Mobile measurement is essential reading too.

The desire for comparison means we often measure the same as everyone else, but here we see that a less usual measure can be really useful too. Weekly users is a lot more valuable metric than monthly users for many businesses.

Twitter – what’s next?

Comments from the new twitter CFO around improving the timeline in Twitter caused consternation. This is a thoughtful piece on how Twitter can evolve to deliver on the timeline that so many value and provide other ways for more discreet conversations 

Quick reads

Bubble anyone? A veteran VC doesn’t think so, but worries there is too much money going to startups, and that the burn rates are unsustainable for most of them.

A good case study on responsive design and ecommerce from long time Fix readers at Schuh 

Long article on the riser and rise of GoPro

The Economist takes a look at programmatic. Good round up on where adtech is and some of the key issues. Our favourite quote;

“We are only where search advertising was in 2001,”

Once called the Ministry of Magazines, IPC is probably managing the transistion from print to digital better than most. Newly rebranded as Time, this is a good interview with the man now running the business globally.

Finally the rise of growth hacking is seen by some as an indictment of marketings failings, but to us the technique of product/market fit is just modern marketing. This piece looks at how engineering works as a marketing tool. We think modern marketers work to the Malcolm X / Jean Paul Satre mantra By any means necessary. 

Mobile Fix – August 22

Evolving Video

One of the key themes for mobile and tech is video and our thoughts last week resonated with quite a few people – and someone pointed us to this fascinating celebration of unboxing videos. This development of the very popular haul videos – where people show off the results of their shopping trip – can be a little dull, but the toys videos from Disney Collector are staggeringly popular amongst toddlers (and their parents) with this unboxing of a Play Doh toy getting 45m views.

The scale of video can be surprising – for example over half of 18-24s in the US use Snapchat – and its rapid growth suggests it may go mainstream. With that sort of scale brands have been quick to find ways to use it as and Snapchat are now out selling to agencies focusing on SnapChat discovery.

This new service lets media brands share their content on the platform – with the Mail Online a likely early partner. This is the pitch deck they are using, which gives great insight into the platform

As we said last week the rate of innovation is astounding in this space and we see Vine have made a major move in allowing people to use their own videos as Vines now. Previously you had to create your 6 second video using the Vine app if you wanted to use the Vine distribution (although there were some hacks to get around this). As ever creativity flourishes where there are restrictions and we have seen some great examples.

Now you can just take any video and share it, will that water down the experience? Time will tell, but the danger is that brands just repurpose existing film and we would think that will tend not to work as well – but it will be popular with brands. Vine have also improved their desktop experience as they encourage people to explore the content

Instagram allowed this importing of video some time back and with a 15 second duration – the same as the standard US TV commercial – they have been popular with brands. They are now looking to monetise this with a new Advertising Chief.

Of course not everyone wants ads around their videos and Snapchat, Vine and Instagram now face the dilemma of getting the balance right. The people who have been most effective at monetizing video is YouTube and it’s rumoured they are about to offer an ad free version – getting the funding instead from users through a subscription service designed around music.

The stats keep getting bigger

The huge scale of the messaging and video apps leads VCs to say 100 million users is the new I million users. Whilst we used to cover the growth of mobile and smartphones, we stopped as the graphs all point to the top right hand corner and few people question the importance of mobile these days.

But the new UK data from the Office of National Statistics is worth considering. If only for us to recognize how far we have come 

38 million people access the Internet every day – 76% of adults – double the number in 2006. And 58% have used a mobile to access the internet – doubling since 2010. Lots of good data on what people do on the internet in the report

Perhaps even more convincing is data from another part of the Government which shows that over half of all driving tests are now booked on a smartphone or tablet. It’s interesting that the mobile element is up by 28% since March whilst the tablet figure is unchanged.

Some of this is due to the inexorable rise of mobile but it’s also down to the fact the Government now has excellent web services that are truly responsive and consequently work well for mobile. Too many brands have (finally) got to thinking about mobile but don’t yet realise they actually have a crap mobile site.  The government use data to keep improving their sites – a great example to follow.

The end for Apps?

In anticipation of the latest version of Deloittes 2014 Mobile report (due in early September) lots of press jumped on the stat that a third of smartphone owners don’t download any apps in a typical month.

Coupled with stories showing few app developers make any money, the general view seems to be that the App party is over. The FT takes a more reasoned look and points to the Apple research showing the impact of Apps on the European economy – claiming it’s created over 500k jobs.

We agree that civilians have already got most of the apps they want or need and it’s only the tech crowd who rush around downloading Swarm or Yo. But apps that do solve a real problem are still being launched – it’s just that the distribution model is broken as the bloated app stores hide the new amongst the million apps. 

Just like music, books and films, apps are now a hits business and, as people from those industries know, it’irs pretty much impossible to predict what will be a hit. So everyone tries to game the system and/ or spend a fortune on advertising.

It’s surprising that Google have yet to leverage their expertise in search on the Play store, but perhaps the new iPhone launch will give Apple a way to sort their appstore. The rumoured new form factor will drive smart app developers to adapt their apps to fit the bigger screen, whilst most of the Zombie apps won’t be updated 

So an Apple version of the PlayStore approach of showing only apps that are compatible with your device could be a help for users and developers. Do read the full FT piece as its full on useful insight.

Taxi wars

It’s a little surprising that an industry as old and unsophisticated as Taxis has emerged as a key battle ground for tech. But in many cities around the world there is a battle going on. 

In China there is something of  a ceasefire, as Alibaba and Tencent scale back the massive incentives they were giving drivers to encourage use of their Taxi apps. At one point these reached 100RMB – 5 times the typical fare. This caused all the drivers to stop driving around and just wait for an app request – meaning it was virtually impossible to get a Taxi without using one of the apps. We also heard of people being thrown out of a cab so the driver could take a more lucrative app booking.

Of course the end game isn’t about the cab ride; in Chine the taxi apps were a Trojan horse for BAT to acquire users for their other services such as mobile payments and chat.

In the west the end game isn’t quite as clear but it seems likely home delivery and ecommerce will be critical. Uber are testing Corner Store in Washington DC – where users can request that an Uber driver deliver anything from Pampers to Popcorn – for a fixed price. There is a lot of action around delivery right now and we know WunWun are working with GetTaxi in some US cities. The NY Times has a good look at this space reminding us of Kozmo etc from dotcom boom days.

It’s clear that the taxi firms are a factor in the new model and the new API from Uber is an open invitation to startups to build in an Uber partnership. The first round of partners is more traditional – Open Table, Hotels and Airlines – but anyone can use the API. But if you do  use the API, you have to agree not to use any other Taxi firm – so it’s another angle on the landgrab going on across the major cities of the world.

And with the Google Ventures investment in Uber, transport (and eventually delivery?) is part of the vertical stack. In Google maps Uber is now offered as a choice of transport when looking for directions. Will we see GetTaxi, Hailo and Addison Lee in there at some time in the future? Perhaps,

The next episode of delivery will be around groceries – where all those Amazon vans trundling around the streets should enable Amazon to offer same day delivery of Amazon Prime. Could they decide to invest in one of the Taxi firms to accelerate that? Some think the economics of grocery will prove a problem for Amazon so cabs could be a cheaper option?

Quick Reads

Just as Uber is a tech firm rather than a transport business, can it be argued that Buzzfeed is a tech firm rather than a media business?

Beacons – like big data – is one of those topics that everyone talks about but there are few real examples. This Q&A is a good sense check on the topic.

Very interesting thinking on deep linking in mobile and what the implications might be

Sometimes the best call to action on mobile advertising is to make a call. Google are making it easier to measure these calls.

Finally smart mobile thinker Chetan Sharma believes we are just entering the Golden Age of Mobile. His new whitepaper on the Connected Intelligence Era (PDF) is quite a heavy read but a good look at how sensors and connected devices are going to change how we live.

 

Why not sign up for the weekly email version of Fix – delivered first thing every Friday morning.


Mobile Fix – July 11

Mobile &Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because that’s where the money is.

VC Chris Dixon talks of why he is interested in Bitcoin

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

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

Google & the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samsung & China

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

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

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

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

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

newTV – the 7% switch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Reads 

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

Good thinking on Digital Transformation from Russell Davies

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

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

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

Mobile Fix – March 21 – GAFA & BAT

GAFA

This was a big week for Google. Whilst everyone at SXSW was talking about wearable devices, Sunar Pichai – the head of Android said that ;

“When we think of wearables, we think of it as a platform. We see a world of sensors. Sensors can be small and powerful and gather a lot of information that can be useful for users. We want to build the right APIs for this world of sensors.”

This week they announced Android Wear – initially focused on watches. Developers can now tailor their apps to work with Android watches although many will already work well.  The new UI is focused on voice and contextual information – and right now it’s essentially Google Now on your wrist. Plus voice activation that uses the OK Google phrase as the trigger.

Within hours the first watches were announced. The Moto 360 from Motorola got most of the press but the LG G Watch looks really good too – and their experience collaborating on the Nexus phones should help them nail the experience.

When you boil this down though, the watch is little more than a second screen for your Android smartphone. A peripheral.

All the smartness and the connectivity stays with the smartphone.  Do Google plan to incorporate other data from other sensors? In his talk at SXSW Sunar Pichai talked about Mesh networking and digital tattoos – Motorola projects that are staying with Google, rather than being sold to Lenovo with the device business.

Mesh Networking is key to the Nest acquisition and we can all foresee being able to control heating, lights etc from your smartphone. But a digital tattoo – actually a sticker – could be the ultimate wearable;

The tattoo is made up of various sensors and gages, such as for tracking strain in multiple directions (how the user is flexing), EEG and EMG (electrical impulses in the skeletal structure or nerves), ECG (heart activity), and temperature, as well as light and other factors. In total, it’s a mini-lab for your arm, the side of your head, or anywhere else on the body.

Collecting that data within Android Wear enables a whole world of health apps.

The other big news this week was that the Chromecast went (back) on sale in the UK and a number of other key markets. Its already the best seller in Computer and Accessories on Amazon and we think it’s a must buy if you want to understand newTV. As can be seen from the reviews it’s well liked by buyers – and since we bought ours when they first launched in the US, we have used it lots.

And its usefulness is increased with apps for the iPlayer amongst others. The iPlayer announcement is worth reading as it shows how the BBC are thinking about newTV – one interesting point is that they are lobbying Google to get the kindle supported;

We recognize that the Kindle is an important device for BBC iPlayer in terms of usage and we have, on behalf of our users, asked Google to do what they can to support this platform.

Lets not hold our breath for that one 

It’s also been an interesting week for Google’s core business, search. At SXSW one of their people said

he “wouldn’t be surprised” if mobile search exceeded desktop queries this year

There has no official comment from Google who don’t want to get into mobile versus desktop as they (rightly) encourage people to think multiscreen and cross platform. But analysis of data from Marin – who handle around$6bn in search – suggests that mobile will be bigger than desktop in the US by the end of this year.

In terms of paid ad clicks, mobile will be over 50% by December. But the share of revenue lags  – mobile was around 34% of revenue at the end of 2013.

This data suggests something we’ve been predicting for years is getting close. If you think about Googles purpose it’s to give the user the best possible results for each search. This keeps the user happy (and loyal) and – because of the genius of the Google business model – keeps Google shareholders happy.

Over the years the results have improved through factoring in location, past search history, landing page quality score etc. But consistently Google fails to give its users the best experience in one key way – despite knowing the user is searching on their smartphone, the results include pages that are not optimized for mobile. 

How long before Google decide to make mobile optimization a key factor in the results shown? It has to happen at some time and this data shows the time is getting closer. Given the bemusing amount of sites that are still not mobile optimized, doing it too soon would make huge changes to results but as brands slowly, slowly adapt to mobile, it eventually will happen.

One thing is clear though – brands that have a mobile friendly presence can get competitive advantage through mobile search and, as one article pointed out, the Marin data suggests that is especially so in the UK;

An intriguing perspective in Marin’s report is its comparisons of different international markets. In the UK, for instance, more paid search clicks come from mobile and a greater proportion of agency spending goes to mobile search. But the cost per click on mobile is 75 percent less than in the US, which shows that the American market is already more competitive and mature.

In every case we have looked at the cost of making the site mobile friendly can be quickly recouped through the additional value unlocked through mobile.

Finally on Google, Larry Page was interviewed at TED this week and talked about the many things Google are doing – and we loved this quote

Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it?

Facebook have had a good week too. Video ads are finally here – but in a slightly muted way. The 15 seconds videos will start playing silently as they appear on screen – and stop if people scroll past. Sound will only come on if people tap the ads – when they expand to full screen and the audio starts.

The 15 seconds is interesting – that’s the most common format for US TV and some people worry that brands will just start running their TV spots on Facebook – especially as they are being sold in a TV like way with GRPs etc.  Recognising the danger Facebook are working with a firm called Ace Metrix to pre test ads – so creative is assessed for engagement;

Ace Metrix will allow us to objectively measure the creative quality of the video in the Facebook environment, and highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness and emotional resonance

We don’t know what happens if Ace doesn’t rate your ad – do Facebook stop you running it? – but this has to be a good thing. We are working with a smart company that is introducing this type of research for mobile advertising and it makes perfect sense that – before you spend the media money – you asses the creative to ensure  it delivers on brand metrics. 

Facebook gets a hard time from some quarters and Forrester keep suggesting that they are failing marketers. Fix friends the MagicBeanlab have refuted the claims with an interesting post – suggesting that it may be marketers are failing to us Facebook properly. And as the way brands use Facebook evolves there seems to be more agencies fighting to control this area of their clients marketing.

This week saw Facebook launch some research into digital in the UK and a key finding is that mobile is almost as big as desktop in terms of time spent and will shortly take the lead.

Amazon had a quieter week but rumours about new hardware continue. Given their push of Video – with all Prime customers now getting access with it now bundled – their strategy for TV requires a hardware play.

As we saw with Chromecast the forked version of Android they use means the Kindle isn’t supported and nor does Apple TV work for them. So the Vertical Stack ecology means Amazon need a way to ensure content bought or streamed through them is not denied access to their customers TV set.

A set top box isn’t that much of a surprise – especially as Amazon is so powerful as a retailer for TV and accessories. But suggestions they will bundle Hulu and Netflix is less expected.

To us this is probably an example of your enemies enemies are your friends. Rather than get into a fight with Netflix  – who have made a strong play in TV tech with their DIAL initiative (developed along with YouTube) – they can build their own route into customer homes

So lots going in GAFA – but not much from Apple. They have launched a cheaper phone – an 8gb iPhone 5C – but not in the US. Trouble is, it’s just not that cheap. In the UK it’s £429 – £130 more than an, arguably superior, 16gb Nexus 5.

ITunes radio still hasn’t arrived in the UK – it sounds like a good service and the advertising proposition makes sense.

Given nature abhors a vacuum and that lots of people now like to stick the boot in, Apple is getting some bad press – partly driven by the PR for the new book Haunted Empirewhich Tim Cook calls nonsense.

Business Insider has a field day with its Worst Case Scenario – hedging its bets whilst painting a future where Apple has lost its way.

But even as they list all the sectors where Apple may or may not have faltered, you are reminded just have active Apple have been.

One area where they are definitely moving things forward is ibeacons and it has been noted that the latest iPhone update turns your Bluetooth on. We think that Passbook is a hugely underused opportunity unlocked by beacons and bluetooth; on millions of peoples phones and perfectly positioned to handle the loyalty schemes and offers that iBeacons can trigger. And if they fold in the credit card details they hold for hundreds of millions of people, they could very quickly dominate the mobile wallet space.

It feels a little premature to write Apple off.

BAT

GAFA remains the key drivers for mobile social and tech around the world. But we are big fans of the William Gibson quote;

the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.

And whilst GAFA is rooted on the West Coast of the US, much of the most interesting innovation is coming from the other side of the Pacific.

The Chinese market is fascinating. The imminent IPO of Alibaba could value them at as much as $140bn and they just invested $215m in Tango, one of the few big messaging apps based in the US.

And if we think the Vertical Stack model works for GAFA we see similar strategies from BAT – the big Chinese firms Baido, Alibaba & Tencent– but played out much more aggressively.

This infographic shows how Alibaba and Tencent compete in virtually all digital sectors.

The most recent conflict has been in taxis where Didi Dache (Tencent) and Kuadi Dache (Alibaba) are battling for customers.  If you have been to Shanghai or Beijing you will know about the traffic and how crucial taxis are. The BAT strategy is to get people used to paying for taxis using their apps and migrate them to buying other products and services with their apps. The ability to offer bigger tips through these apps has made them very popular with taxi drivers, but with slightly anarchic results – if you didn’t book with an app then you just can’t get a ride. So the Shanghai government has stepped in to regulate the market.

This FT article on Mobile Wars is a really good look at the Chinese market as is this look at App Slingers

Quick Reads

Really smart thinking on media and content. We are fascinated by the thought that some media companies are

technology companies first, publishers second, because they approach content as a product first and foremost.

More data on Mobile ad spend showing that it’s a 2 horse race between Google and Facebook. Pandora and YP (Yellow Pages) are a long way behind.

Building on the news about Chromecast and the Amazon set-top box this article thinks the future of TV is pretty great.

Very smart analyst Peter Kim worked as a UberX driver during SXSW

A good summary of native advertising

Finally ……The Daily Mail – the most popular newsbrand on mobile in the UK has finally gone mobile optimized. The home page is still the same as the desktop but the story pages are now mobile friendly. What’s everyone else waiting for?

 

 

 

 

Mobile Fix – March 7

Given we’re in the post MWC pre SXSW lull, we decided to go back to the future – and look at some of the things that have gone out of fashion but are still major parts of the digital ecology.

Banners are dead? 

It’s almost 20 years since the first banner was run and they have never got much love. Despite clearly working for ecommerce and other response focused brands they have always been derided. And as a tool for branding they have never gained any credit – despite lots of evidence that they can and do drive traditional brand metrics and clear proof they can drive sales – particularly for CPG (FMCG) brands.

This prejudice has carried over and been amplified on mobile. Obviously the smaller screen size means they tend to be both smaller and more visible – but again, they work.

Goldman Sachs report that MCommerce will grow from $133bn in 2013 to $204 in 2014 – and mobile advertising is a key element in that growth.

Things like native are going to be important and more and more media owners are adopting them. But are they really scalable to the extent they can drive the market? We saw that the Daily Mail is now running what might be termed Native, but older readers may recognize it as what used to be called sponsorship or advertorial

Banners can and will get better and we are seeing the early signs of a new creativity. Some friends in the US are pioneering truly responsive banner ads that adapt to whatever screen they are on – and incorporate rich media. These ads for Mastercard are running for SXSW and feature live Twitter feeds, video and map driven navigation.

The tools for measuring the effect of mobile banners are also evolving. Our favourite analytics guru Avinash Kaushik describes the numerous options for brand metrics here. But the holy grail is being able to get an idea of brand effect in (nearly) real time – so that creative can be optimized just as media is optimized. This too is imminent and some friends will shortly launch this service.

(If you would like to know more about either of these innovations give us a shout)

We don’t believe banners are going away and we think smart brands will look at how they can get the most from this format.

QR codes are dead?

As we pointed out the other week, no-one has told the Chinese that QR codes are pointless – and they are using them in lots of interesting ways

No-one has told serial entrepreneur Dan Wagner either and he has launched a new business with QR codes as a central element. PowaTag promises to start a ‘retail revolution’ by making mobile shopping easy. QR codes are read on print and point of sale, and an audio watermark works in TV and YouTube. Coupled with a mobile wallet and one click  buying, Wagner thinks this is Britains first potential Google or Facebook

Getting past the hype, he seems to have lots of retailers signed up and he might just get past the chicken and the egg dilemma of mobile – can you get enough people to download the app to keep the retailers pushing it?

Back in 2009 TMobile had a huge success with an ad that featured a Flash Dance. Everyone in Shoreditch knew that Flashdances were over, but TMobile recognised that no one had told the rest of the UK.

No-one has told the average mobile user that banners and QR codes are dead – so maybe smart use of them can be successful.

Pre Loaded Phones are dead? 

In the early days of mobile the holy grail for a game developer or content producer was persuading a network to preload their content on the mobiles they were selling. In the era before app stores this was really the only way to get significant reach.

Once the Appstores came along this approach when out of fashion, but it is now coming back.

The Samsung S5 isn’t particularly exciting as hardware – as we said last week its getting harder and harder to get standout as hardware. But you can make some noise with content. Their JayZ partnership got lots of attention and the new S5 has $500 worth of content including free access to the Wall Street Journal, premium member ship of Evernote and Runkeeper and free cloud storage. Users can also gets discounts when they use the Paypal to buy from certain retailers.

This type of deal will become a key BizDev tool for apps and a common marketing feature for devices.

And it could be a game changer in the battle for TV services. The new Roku Streaming Stick is a Chromecast like device that plugs into the back of your TV and gives you just about any of the online video services through its 1200 apps.  And it’s available in the UK soon. 

But it gives you essentially the same as the Google Chromecast and the Apple TV. We think that we will see differentiation through content;  a 3 month subscription to Netflix or HBO would be a good way to drive sales and that’s likely to appeal to the content channels too.

But Charmath Palihapitiya – VC and owner of NBA team Golden State Warriors – has  a reallyinteresting view on how sports rights could reshape this market. Asked whether it’s likely that Apple or Google or Amazon will buy the rights for a major sports league in the next couple of years he says its 100% likely. Why – because the only way people will pay a premium for an Apple TV will be bundled sports. A must watch video.

Subsidised Data is dead?

As the Net Neutrality debate rolls on, Netflix have struck a deal with Comcast so their quality is better for users.  No one is saying how much Netflix have paid but the idea of better service for paying customers is contentious – but good business for both sides

On mobile it used to be the case that some advertisers would pay for the data costs of their messages so users didn’t have to. Again this went out of fashion and in the era of all you can eat data the operators had to pick up the tab. 

But it now seems to be back. AT&T have announced a sponsored data service ;

Data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company, with AT&T picking out the healthcare, retail, media and entertainment and financial services industries as prime targets.

Telefonica are experimenting with this type of approach too. Our friend Simon Birkenhead said;

“Telefónica Germany is already running an advertising-financed mobile phone tariff called Netzclub. This allows users of the service to surf the internet with their mobile for free and make phone calls or send text messages for a low fee. In return customers receive special offers from various brands and products directly to their mobile phones, which allows them to benefit from special offers for things such as games, music or lifestyle products.”

The world of content, mobile and social is evolving quickly and just like in Hollywood; Nobody knows anything 

Quick reads

Google tell us Mobile First is dead – brands now need to develop messaging that works on multiple devices simultaneously. (Like the responsive banners mentioned above)

Recognising the value of the signed in user Yahoo is turning off Facebook and Google logins and encouraging people to sign in, so they have  better data on their users – which should translate to better revenues.

Mondelez continue to lead the pack on Corporate venturing with their latest start up programme – partnering with PreHype to develop two new startups (Pranksta and Betabox) that their brands can leverage. Unilever should soon be announcing the results of their similar GoGlobal initiative.

US Retailers are seeing huge number of mobile only shoppers – 50% of Target online shoppers online accessed via mobile.

Flipboard has acquired a rival Zite

Good look at Facebook Paper and its implications for building apps

Apple announced their push into automotive with CarPlay. Not sure what you do if you are an Android user?

Planning for Networks is a great piece of thinking on how to think about the digital space. If you like it you can vote for it in Neil Perkins Post of the Month. Lots of good stuff this month.

A really good deck on the Internet of Everything

The Man Who Invented Bitcoin has been revealed

Is the Back to the Future Hoverboard coming true?

Finally…One of the tropes we use when talking about the tech disruption is that in many sectors affected by digital – music, publishing, retail, transport etc – someone from that industry 50 years ago would now find the world unrecognizable.

Yet a character from Madmen transported here from 1964 would find the agency world quite familiar – the tailoring is not quite as good and the drinks cabinet is less visible but otherwise …

So to us this suggests one of two possibilities; Either the world of advertising is immune to the changes digital has wrought. Or, the disruption hasn’t happened. Yet.

The annexation of marketing by tech firms like Adobe and Salesforce and consultancies such as Accenture and Deloitte is one factor. And the fact

Marketers are doing more in house is another.

Is your agency facing the future – or is it still focused on the way things used to be?

 

 

 

 

 

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