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Mobile Fix – May 22

Ads – the Good News

The bad news about digital advertising ( see below) gets lots of attention but there is lots of innovation going on.  The Financial Times have rolled out their new Cost per Hour ad model where brands are charged for how long their ad is seen for. As well as solving the issue of viewability it seems to correlate well with performance –the white paper is very detailed but worth a look to better understand the thinking behind this.

Our thinking is that for any advertising to work it needs to deliver against 3 criteria

Viewable, Noticeable & Relevant

Any new model that lifts the standard for advertising has to be welcomed.

Microsoft – who are still relatively big players in digital advertising have published a new study into Attention, which is worth a look.

As the fervor about the AOL Verizon deal wanes, it’s worth remembering that advertising and the AOL adtech in particular drove this deal. And advertising remains the dominant business model in most digital businesses. Whilst the adtech business may have been overinvested in and there could be a bit of a bubble, solving advertising problems – like viewability, fraud and the generally appalling standard of creative – remains a big opportunity.

Brands depend on ads to tell people about their products and people value ads that help them discover and buy the things they need.  And content creators still find ads a really good way to be rewarded for their ability to aggregate an audience.

Advertising – The Bad News – Ad Blocking & Ad Fraud

Ad blocking got lots of attention again this week, triggered by an FT article suggesting some European Mobile Network Operators are about to use ad blockers to put pressure on GAFA for a share of ad revenue. Whilst the MNO view of OTT players such as Google remains fairly hostile we don’t think anyone is about to go nuclear on this.

Reading the article it feels like the Startup with the adblocking tech (Shine) have got themselves some great PR with a bit of a smoke and mirrors press release. Although the fact they have investment from people who own 3 and now O2 does add to the credibility. But we think the regulators would take a dim view of such interference with the user experience in order to disrupt rivals business models.

We have been digging into ad blocking for a while and were introduced to Pagefair – a Dublin based White hat firm that (sort of) blocks ad blocking  - who have a great take on the space. They confirm that typically ad blocking is in double figures on desktop but mobile hasn’t been that impacted – yet. They pointed out a new app getting great take up in China and India and having a dramatic effect on publishers; the user proposition is that this app saves the user data by blocking ‘unnecessary’ ads. The new Android app from the key European AdBlockers is now in open beta and they talk of saving on data and saving battery life.

Now that logic may appeal more to regulators. Finding innovative ways to reduce a users data usage – and hence charge them less – might play better in Brussels. But at the end of the day the business model for any ad blocker is essentially extortion. They take out other peoples ads and put their own back in – through agreements with major players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft

There is a real danger that this slippery slope accelerates. Imagine for instance a free wifi provider deciding they can save themselves quite a lot of bandwidth  – and therefore money – by blocking the ads. They then work out there is another revenue stream from reinserting other peoples ads. Would regulators care? Would consumers?

One of the conundrums of the modern digital world is that the Brands and Agencies don’t take digital advertising that seriously. The talent – generally – doesn’t focus on it and the money still lags behind eyeballs. It seems everyone would rather play with content and look for organic ways to reach people and drive advocacy.

The people who do really believe in the potential of digital advertising are the fraudsters and criminals who have moved on from banking fraud and credit cards scam to focus on skimming money from digital advertising – with over $6bn to be made in 2015. The biggest loser is Google – as they have the biggest share of ads – and this is a fascinating look at their efforts to prevent ad fraud.

Music & Video

At around the same time that Vodafone announced almost half their data in Europe is used for video, Spotify stepped up with a new video product. As we’ve talked about, YouTube is one of the major sources for music streaming and as they move to a subscription model Spotify respond with the introduction of video and podcasts – working with partners like Vice and Comedy Central. The initiative seems designed to counter the imminent launch of the new Apple / Beats service – almost certainly announced at WWDC on June 8 and rumoured to launch later in June.

The Vodafone results show huge growth for Instagram (+120%) and Snapchat (+260%) over the last 6 months underlining the evolution from Text to Pictures to Video we keep talking about in our client work. Imagine the effect of Periscope and Merkat on the next set of figures from Vodafone

After the New Upfronts in the US Google have a good summary of the opportunities for brands with online video

Atomisation of news

Following the launch of Instant Pages from Facebook last week there are two divergent strategies for publishers – atomize your content and distribute it far and wide and think of it as (revenue generating) marketing or keep it behind a paywall and treat it like golddust and hope people can’t do without it.

Quartz are firmly in the atomization camp and talk of their business as an API;

 “So when we say Quartz is an API, we don’t mean publish once and send it everywhere. We mean Quartz can go anywhere our readers are, in whatever form is appropriate.”

GroupMs Rob Norman shares some typically good thinking on the news business and looks at those News businesses that are supported by taxpayers or corporate profits – public service news. The new players on content can seem to have a very different agenda – ViralNova is one the most controversial media companies  - using click bait headlines and a sophisticate understanding of how and why people share, they have grown to be very influential and very profitable.

There are some more promising business models being tried and Blendle is one of the most interesting – an iTunes of journalism. But in the past most news organisations were funded by advertising (and to some extent cover price) but now the move to mobile is undermining that. Some blame agencies for not wanting to run ads in hard news but the bigger issue seems to us that the context isn’t valued. Our project to learn whether a NYT reader is move valuable when reading NYT content versus reaching them on Yahoo Mail etc is gathering momentum. If you are a premium publisher and interested in taking part please get in touch.


Again ahead of the June 8 Apple event, reports suggest they are shelving the idea of creating an Apple TV set. We think they are much more likely to focus on a peripheral like a set top box or a dongle, that will work with whatever TV set you have. Our Amazon Stick has been a revelation, getting much more usage than our Chromecast. Why? Because Amazon have all the key apps preinstalled and a great TV interface, making the user experience really good. For example despite have the complete Breaking Bad boxset, watching it on Netflix via the Amazon stick is so much easier. Amazon are pushing it with TV advertising and have dropped the UK price to £25. If you want to see the future of TV we suggest you buy one.

The Watch

Our Apple Watch finally arrived. Beautifully packaged and some weeks ahead of the schedule, Apple really get the user experience from the start. But getting the most from the device is going to take a while as it less intuitive than the iPhone – or even the iPod. The most obvious issue is that most of the apps need reimagining; they take too long to load and many seem clunky. Probably because most were built without using the device. Version 1.01 of the apps will give us all a better insight into how the device adds value to the iPhone that you still need pretty close at hand.

We can see why some are returning theirs and accept that the experience could be improved but we’ll be sticking with it to better understand it. The one key thing we have learnt is that the future is going to be about the right bit of content arriving at just the right time – so the ideas of cards and notifications seem more important than ever. And we are using Siri much more than I ever do on the iPhone. Oddly the thing we think the Watch would most benefit from is Google Now. Ben Thomson of Strachery goes deep on this here

The other big play in peripherals are Glasses and Google are rethinking Google Glasses, using the talent they brought on board with the Next acquisition. Bear in mind most of these are ex Apple people, many of whom were key to the iPod and other devices.

Quick Reads

We have been pushing the idea of episodic video content on Facebook etc for a while and MIC have proven the model. Their series Flip The Script has reached 33 million views on Facebook. The way they approach content is really interesting and we wonder why couldn’t a brand do the same?

Google are planning to add buy buttons to paid search ads on Mobile – working with brands like Macy’s. This goes to the heart of their battle with Amazon where more and more commerce searches originate as people go straight to Amazon. Another front of this war with Amazon is Google Express, the grocery delivery service Google have been testing in New York, San Francisco and some other US cities. But a series of senior execs have left causing questions over the future of the programme.

A Design mistake we have made – along with many other people – is the hamburger menu on mobile devices. For designers it solves lots of problems, but the mistake is that no one bothered to tell the user what it means. Adding the word menu to this icon increase clickthrough by 70%. At the Google event I keynoted a few weeks ago Luke Wroblewski did a brilliant presentation on mobile design and he covers Hamburger menus as well as kebab ones. It’s a long video but you can learn a lot about design from him.

The IAB FAQ on programmatic is really useful and a good antidote to all those people who insist on confusing everyone with a plethora of TLAs.* Get past the arcane differences between DSPs and SSPs and programmatic is a huge opportunity to make advertising better. * Three letter acronyms

Deloitte have a new research paper on the Digital Divide that focuses on retail – suggesting digital will influence over $2 Trillion of retail sales in the US this year.

This is a good view on what winning at Search looks like. In our experience most brands could do a lot better at search – particularly mobile search.

This new interview with Marissa Mayer is a really good insight into Yahoo. But she makes a point about Apps dominating how people spend their time on mobile, which we tend to disagree with. Whilst the data does show a huge proportion of time the spent on mobile is within Apps this does include music and gaming. Which of course – prior to mobile – were typically accessed through different devices. And the data also puts everything you do on social as app time – even though much time on Facebook etc is spent reading content other people have shared – usually web content wrapped in Facebook. A key question we are always asked is whether people should focus on apps or a mobile site and this is my answer from that Google event in Dublin. Benedict Evans also covered it in a recent blog post. Apps are important but a good mobile web experience has to be the first priority.

Benedict also nails the Mobile First issue in another post; The most complete digital experience is now mobile, and desktop is the restricted one;it’s actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the internet. 

Finally… It’s been a while since I attended a Google Zeitgeist but the feedback from this years was as good as ever. You could even go for a run with Mo Farrer. Most of the talks are available on the web and the best one is probably Demis Hassabis of DeepMind talking about AI. Really worth watching. And if you want to dig deeper into AI this interview with Andrew Ng (who was Googles top guy on the subject before moving to Baidu) is worth reading. His take on how people can learn to be more creative is particularly interesting

And we are out and about in a couple of weeks. Our friends at @Balderton have asked me to give a talk for some of their friends and family  - and there are some spaces for Fix readers available. If you can make June 3 RSVP here

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

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

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

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – May 15

AOL Verizon

We’re not sure anyone really understands the logic of Verizon buying AOL, but at  $4.4bn you have to congratulate ex Googler Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO, on his deal making.

Around the time when the Verizon rumours first started – and were denied by AOL – AOL was hammered by poor Q4 results with the share price dropping 12%. So that probably focused some minds. Q1was better though with the adtech – which is really what Verizon want - delivering good revenues

The deal shows the difference between the US Mobile Network Operators strategy, with Verizon going after mobile advertising in the US whilst AT&T look more at the quad play through their DirectTv deal, and diversifying into Latam. But will Verizon have any interest in the non US portion of the AOL business? Or even the media assets like Huffington Pos

One thing the deal does do is underline the logic of the Mobile Network Operators taking advertising seriously. Operators have  – in theory – rich first party data on their customers and that should help them compete with Google and Facebook. Telefonica certainly do believe in mobile ads and the decision of O2 to continue with Weve when the partners walked away, suggests they do too. We should expect Vodafone to step up their efforts, as their CEO is reported to believe in ads as a revenue stream, but they are probably on the 5th or 6th ad team by now as previous incumbents were let go in their regular reshuffles.

But can the Verizon AOL deal make them the number 3 player after Google & Facebook? – as this analysis shows there are a few credible contenders. The ad industry take on the deal is mixed but this piece by Sarah Lacy thinks the deal is ‘batshit insane’

In an interesting bit of timing we were reminded this week that another ex Googler Nikesh Arora also has a US MNO to play with. As part of his anointment as the eventual successor to Softbank founder Masayoshi Son, Aroras experience running T Mobile in Europe will clearly help the rethinking of Sprint. But could the Softbank investment in Yahoo ( via the Yahoo Japan JV) trigger a more strategic interest in some sort of a Sprint/Yahoo deal?

The Watch

Looking at eBay we can see all those scalpers who were queuing outside Dover Street Market are making some money – but there is little premium on the Apple prices. And there are a few people talking about their dissatisfaction but we think its too early to call – only when the majority of apps have been reworked to reflect how the device works will we know what the user experience is like.

A review of the latest Google Android Wear watch shows its take some iteration to get these devices right.

Facebook & Content

After all the soul searching from publishers when Facebook announced their plans to ‘host’ publisher content a number of the smartest ones have done the deal and Instant Articles are now a thing. Loading 10 times faster than currently the user experience should be improved and the deal for publishers is good – enabling them to control the content and the business models.

But is interesting how many of the partnering publishers talk of tests and experiments – suggesting this isn’t a done deal yet as everyone we have talked to on the publisher side is worried about the potential for them to lose control as and when the deals are renegotiated.

Buzzfeed are the most positive reflecting their belief that putting content everywhere will serve them well.  The NYMag take on the New York Times involvement demonstrates some local needling but the fact the NYT has made their well received Now app free shows how complicated the world is for publishers.

We do need the ad business to work out a way to better support great publishers – otherwise they really are going go to struggle to survive. We are looking at reviving an old project where we planned to work with a bunch of publishers to see whether the context they offer is truly valuable to advertisers. It’s hard to believe that ads reaching NYT (for example) readers whilst they are browsing eBay or checking their Yahoo mail are just as effective as the ones read within the publishers own content.  If you are interested in getting involved let us know.

Quick reads

Google have launched some new mobile ad units and confirmed that mobile search volume now exceeds desktop in many markets.

The blending of online and offline commerce continues with Fashion tech giant Farfetch buying iconic London retailer Browns. Their South Molton Street stores were the definitive Brand Cathedrals for major fashion brands over the last few decades.

Fix friend Emil Gal shares some smart thinking about TrueViews new interactive ads format

The rumours about the next iPhone – the 6S – have started. It will seemingly be the same sizes as the 6 and 6+ so there won’t be the 4inch version many expected. Just as the Flurry data showed, devices are trending bigger and this week in Milan we saw someone using a Galaxy tablet to make a call. There will be a new colour; Rose Gold – so you will now be able to match your phone with your Watch .

Facebook are giving more support to app developers with FBStart . Blending advice and access to FB staff with valuable benefits from a bunch of partners, this should be a good way for FB to get access to new apps early on. If nothing else they can start pitching app download ads early. Seriously, Facebook want to create better partnerships with the developer community that can only strengthen their position in the mobile ecosystem.

Snapchat continue to iterate their ad opportunities with a new Two Pennies format in their Discover section. This 10 second video ad isn’t cheap at $20 CPM but with people spending 9 minutes in the Daily Mail content in Discover it should do well. But quite what a view is has yet to be clarified; most brands paying that price would want a full 10 second viewing.

Marc Andreessen is a major player in tech and VC and this (long) New Yorker profile is a really interesting insight into him and the VC firm he runs.

With Video evolving fast this is a good piece on how tech is changing Hollywood. With speakers from Buzzfeed and Pixar this is worth spending some time on. Particularly when people are predicting Netflix could be worth $100bn.

Chinese giant Tencent announced good results for Q1, making good revenues from gaming in particular.

From the Android partnership with Google around the KitKat software update Nestle have clearly kept up the dialogue and now have changed the KitKat product name to YouTube on millions of packs. The idea of linking the famous KitKat break with watching YouTube videos makes perfect sense.

Our friends at Accenture have an interesting report on what brands need to Be Digital.

VivaKis’ Marco Bertozzi is one of the smartest thinkers (and doers) in Programmatic and he shares his view on how clients are starting to get Programmatic and hence get most from it.

Finally the new business models derived from the Over The Top approach of smart agile brands bypassing the cable companies and MNOs are starting to be adopted by brands. This HBR piece calls out Permission Marketing (one of our favourite pieces of thinking and still hugely influential in how we work) and outlines a fresh way to think about your business. Well worth reading.

Mobile Fix – April 3 – Easter edition

2 weeks to go until the new Google algorithm drops – and new data from Criteo shows the problem – UK consumers are going cross device but rate the mobile shopping experience as much worse than the desktop

Another Criteo report shows the size of the prize for those who do get it right– some 20% of ecommerce transactions are now mobile. And in Japan the mobile funnel is much more developed than in the West. Lots of good stuff in both reports

Talent, Content & Distribution

It was interesting to see how the launch of Tidal (the JayZ backed streaming service) went down. Almost everyone thought it unlikely to work and there was a certain cynicism over wealthy artists complaining that a platform wasn’t paying them fairly. Music blog Lefsetz was particularly scathing, arguing that people want free music and that the industry doesn’t have room for this new platform. There does seem to be a clear divide –the industry thinks streaming is a good thing and going to make a lot of money but the talent is less convinced – hence Tidal.

We’ve talked before about how GAFA and others are using exclusive content (JayZ for Samsung, Beyonce for Apple etc) to gain attention. That isn’t going to go away, so we think Tidal has some power. And in a world where YouTubers, Viners etc can build a huge audience – and revenue stream – organically, its naïve to think that talent like Kanye etc can’t use digital to distribute their art in a new way.

The Beats streaming service is imminent and their recognition of the power of curation suggests they could be a good partner for Tidal, in some way.

It’s interesting to compare the coverage with how people are looking at the idea Facebook will distribute publishers content for them. Jason Calcanis terms Facebook a serpent and warns us with a fable that it’s not going to end well for content owners.

But it’s the same as Tidal – the talent creating content need a strong platform for distribution and the platforms with the big audiences are attractive when building your own audience remains so hard. So to take advantage of someones reach you need to pay carriage.

A publisher needs to pay Facebook a revenue share. Beyonce gets a share of Spotify profits. ITV used to pay carriage fees to Sky. Brands pay rent to be in Westfield mall.

It’s all about recognizing the value exchange – so Apple pays rather less than its neighbours – and ensuring your brand stays salient. And constantly looking for new opportunities for distribution. Fix friend Neil Perkin sums up the argument for distributed thinking here.

Lefsetz makes a great argument for distributed content by looking at how Buzzfeed approach making and sharing their films – making some good points about the music industry at the same time.

Reinventing shopping

What looked like yet another Brand April Fool, Amazon Dash is a real product and reminds us of the extent of Amazons ambition. Dash is a simple button, with a brand name on it, which connects to your wifi and places an order for that brand whenever it is pressed.Their video shows them stuck on the fridge, washer, coffee machine and cupboard – and they are working with White Goods firm to have these built in.

It solves a business problem for brands – how do I make sure my customers stay loyal to my brand – and a customer problem – how do I make sure I don’t run out of X. And it places Amazon right in the centre of grocery shopping.

In our view though this is something of a diversion. The real win for Amazon would be to unleash their Firefly app  - which identifies products through image search and a shazam like tool to recognize music. Currently only available on the few Fire phones, making this available on Ios and Android would be very smart. We have been playing with their Flow app (launched back in 2011) which does some of what Firefly does and its pretty good.

They also entered a new market with their Home Services – letting you find a plumber, someone to install your new TV or a music teacher. And they haven’t forgotten the Goat Grazing market. With their experience of Mechanical Turk, it was perhaps inevitable they would get to the TaskRabbit, TrustedPeople space eventually but a lot of start ups will be rethinking their business plans.

And a new Patent application shows them looking at retail stores where you simply pick your items and walk out without having to queue at a till. Many retailers are looking at innovations like this –Sainsbury have trials where you scan the barcodes of the products you put in your basket and then simply uses the weight of the basket as a check when you pay for what you have scanned. But we’re sure we will see Amazon stores on the High Street eventually.

Luxury & Tech

With the Watch per orders opening next Friday, it’s a good time to look at how tech is impacting luxury. The Criteo survey shows that Fashion and Luxury and is the ecommerce sector where mobile is most impactful- with around a third of sales via mobile.

And this week we see the merger of Net A Porter and Yoox, creating a Fashion powerhouse. Both hugely successful, these firms should be complimentary as NAP is brilliant at the shopping experience and content whilst Yoox has nailed the logistics.  This profile of the Yoox founder is a good read.

This combination should be better equipped to fight Amazon as they step up in fashion. Remember Bezos is quoted as saying

“In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food.”

Business of Fashion have a good round up of where Amazon is in Fashion and they haveopened an East London studio for Fashion photography for the site.

As Google remind us though, people now buy across channels and brands with an omni channel approach are likely to out perform those who are only online or only offline. Thisgood FT piece looks at how retail stores are used Brand Cathedrals by smart brands. Westfield are testing a new concept at their San Francisco mall to enable smaller brands to get a retail presence

Messaging & Social

For a long time the only generational divide in digital was between digital natives and digital immigrants. More recently we have started thinking about smartphone natives and smartphone immigrants and this chart suggests there is something in this. Bear in mind people under 18 aren’t included, so the bias to youth is almost certainly even more pronounced.

Flurry research shows that messaging apps are used much more than other apps and have a far better rate of retention.  A seminal piece by Ben Evans looks at messaging in the light of the Facebook announcements last week and it’s clear we are still early in the game.

So working out how to use these new opportunities is clearly vital for brands. As Gary Vaynerchuck pointed out at the Guardian Changing Media Summit the other week, Marketers Ruin everything so it’s important to get there early.  At an excellent Instagram event this week we heard from some brands on how they use that platform.

One the smartest thinkers – and doers –in social (along with Gary V) is Oliver Luckett and this interview is a good look at his approach.

As ever, it’s time to experiment.

Quick Reads

The regulators are starting to move against GAFA. As expected Google is likely to be subject to anti trust charges and Facebook use of data is coming under scrutiny.

Indias’ ecommerce leader has closed its mobile site and now drives everyone to it’s app

Is Periscope the final piece of the puzzle for Twitter? A gamechanger?

The Marketing cloud may not be all its made out to be

There is never anything to watch on the telly at Bank Holidays, but C4 have an interesting looking show on tech start ups in San Francisco on Monday night. Made by some friends, it could be worth watching.

Finally …as we enjoy the Easter break this long read about the implications of some of the tech trends is worth a look. Does the big switch to getting everything delivered free us up for lots more socializing and doing interesting things. Or does it turn us into hermits?

We are spending next week on the beach in Cornwall where delivery isn’t that big – yet. So no Fix next week – enjoy your break.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

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

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

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – March 20

Facebook money

Ever since they poached David Marcus from Paypal we have known that Facebook were going to get into money and they have now launched their payment service for Messenger. It’s very simple – once you have added a debit card to your account – and it’s free. (Credit cards aren’t accepted right now because of the fraud risk and the fees) Once it’s all working we can expect it to roll out to the WhatsApp user base too.

With Forrester estimating mobile payments will triple to $142bn by 2019, this puts Facebook in the money game – but we think the real prize is people paying for things rather than paying their friends. Which is why the interesting news from Facebook this week is their purchase of shopping curation site The Find.

Whilst big brands are switching spend to Facebook it’s the smaller advertisers who arguably can have the most impact – the 2 million advertisers. Demonstrating how well the new Products ads work by enabling payments would solve the attribution issue once and for all.

One of the most prolific bloggers about Financial Services wonders whether banks are heading for their Kodak/Nokia moment.

Another of the smarter thinkers around Money has 5 suggestions on what banks should be thinking about – which all make good sense. But is anyone listening?

And the innovation is coming from everywhere – in China Alibaba are trialling facial recognition for payments – which sounds similar to what Square does in the US and what Paypal trialled in Richmond.

Wearables & Proximity; Mickey Mouse technology?

Halifax Bank is trying a wearable that reads your heartbeat to unlock your account  but it seems rather complicated and one suspects a double espresso or running up the stairs might cause a problem.  This sounds more like a PR stunt.

The Disney wristband sounds like a PR stunt too, but they do seem to have a really exciting service – because it solves real problems. This longish piece is worth reading as it also gets into how proximity can be helpful. If you are thinking about beacons – and who isn’t ?  – there is a lot to learn here.

And the new VC backed bus service in San Francisco is a good use case for Bluetooth / proximity. As well as showing how tech (and tech focused investment) is starting to impact every aspect of life. One other interesting example is Subway rewarding customers who use their instore wifi. Why – because the data is so valuable – knowing how often someone visits your stores can drive your CRM and  – now  – your programmatic and retargeting. The ability to connect your physical world with the digital world enables great experiences for customers

Programmatic going mainstream

As mentioned here a while back WPP are looking to take a stake in DunnHumby – the Tesco owned data powerhouse that drove the phenomenal success of the Tesco Clubcard and now works with retailers around the world. Now cynics may suggest this story has popped up again because Tesco is reviewing its £100m media account – something Sir Martin has been after for years. How better to out maneuver the competition than by negotiating for an acquisition?

But it would be an expensive tactic and the real value of Dunn Humby is the data which could fuel the WPP programmatic play. Just like their stake in MySupermarket and the recent deal with Comscore this deal would fit with WPPs ambitions in data and insight – well explained in this WSJ piece.

Whilst programmatic and its plethora of TLAs* can be a little arcane for many, it is going mainstream very quickly. Every publisher is trying to work out their best  approach – the UK ‘quality’ news brands have combined to launch the Pangea alliance. This alliance lets the publishers combine their reach and their data to better battle GAFA in programmatic buys.

Of course the original Pangea continent eventually split and formed the various continents we are familiar with today. Can this alliance last? The first thing the buyers will do is try and see which approach gets the best value – buy everything from Pangea or divide and conquer and deal direct.

Smart clients see the opportunity and are experimenting – this look at what some UK brands are doing is interesting. A few are even taking programmatic in house – Kelloggs are very positive about their experience and the numbers for taking it inhouse seem to add up – if you know what you are doing.

*Three Letter Acronyms

Missing Metrics

We have argued before that the industry obsessions with metrics – like clicks and views – that are poor surrogates for what really counts; impact on sales.

P&G know a little about marketing and they have called for more consistency around advertising and the sales outcome. This interview with Global Brand Office is good insight into how smart brands are approaching digital; he sees further growth from the current 35% share for digital.

Unilever are also looking for better research but want to move from recall and persuasion to measuring engagement.

A new study from the Mobile Marketing Association provides some real metrics – they replicated the studies the IAB did for digital 10 years ago to measure the impact of mobile in multi channel campaigns for Coke, Walmart, Mastercard and others. All the studies showed a very positive impact for mobile – on footfall in stores, purchase intent and actual sales. They argue that mobile merits a double digit share of total spend – not just of the digital budget,

Apps for news

This is an interesting look at how the news industry uses apps – and argues that most publishers would be better to concentrate on mobile web. It also tackles the myth about app use dominating mobile use – pointing out that a huge proportion of the time allocated to the Facebook app is actually spent on web pages delivered within Facebook.

There are more voices arguing for the mobile web over apps – and this piece points out that notifications reduce the need for apps.

There is no right or wrong answer – as ever the right strategy is dictated by the problem you are solving – for your business and for your customer.

Meerkat & Periscope

There is no doubt that the app that won SXSW this year was Meerkat. It is everywhere and everyone is streaming – although lots of them are not that interesting. We did see one example that demonstrates just how disruptive it will be. Social media guru Gary Veynerchuck gave a great keynote at this weeks Guardian Changing Media Summit – and he streamed it on Meerkat. Not a perfect experience but it worked really well and the 250+ people watching didn’t pay the £999 delegate fee.

As we predicted though, Twitter – who have just bought similar business Periscope – are reducing the social graph integration of Meerkat – giving them just 2 hours notice. Some good perspective here.

Lots going on at Twitter – a new second screen experience and – maybe – a new homepage. Gary V is unconvinced by Twitter and in his talk he calls on them to sort the ‘noise’ find a way to emulate the Facebok feed – and their algorythms

Quick reads

The Homescreen project is an interesting insight into how people use apps and someone has dug further into the data to see how people group them- suggesting how the apps are primarily used.

The Apple retail stores are a huge success for Apple – arguably one of their most effective marketing tools. It turns out that they tend to pay reduced rents in malls given their ability to pull in shoppers.

More on Apple  - looks like they are finally going to make a play in TV content

More good insight into how Buzzfeed distribute content

Facebook and Deloitte publish good research into Mums in the UK

The big trend for agencies and brands at SxSW was the Start Up competitions –  but with 80 taking place the standard was variable. They are not as easy as they seem and like hacks a couple of years ago it can look like start ups are being exploited.

Finally , with CES, MWC and SxSW over the next stop on the merry go round is Cannes. Google and AKQA have a good round up of what it takes to win a Futures Lion

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

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

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

We produce Mobile Fix every week to share news and views on mobile and related topics. We have over 3500 subscribers across tech firms like Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo etc as well as many Brands and Agencies. We’re happy for you to forward this mail to anyone you think might be interested. If they do find it useful they can sign up for email here.

Mobile Fix – February 15

Video Era

Connectivity has given us 3 Internet eras.

Dial up modems gave us a text based internet – not that different to the dial up walled gardens of AOL and Prodigy that preceded it. Then Broadband gave us an Internet with pictures – you no longer groaned when a page had a photo on it and things like Flickr took off. Now with 4G and mobile we are clearly in the Video era.

As these eras roll out, nothing disappears – but people gravitate to the richer experiences and decades of Hollywood and TV show us that people like watching video. But whilst something that looks a lot  like TV is more appealing to many marketers than the previous internet era ever was, we should recognise that quite a lot has changed.

The means of production are now in everyones hands. Just like the smartphone has more tech than the Apollo Space mission the average smartphone user now has a video camera and editing tools virtually as good as a Hollywood director

So everyone is rushing to make and share video. The Ice Bucket challenge was a huge success for Facebook, as well as the charity, as millions of people learned how easy it is to make and share a video.

Naturally lots of people are turning to those who have made a success of online video – the YouTube vloggers and the Vine superstars. The BBC have drafted in Zoella to give the Comic Relief Celebrity Bake Off some street cred. And one of the keynote sessions at the ISBA Conference ( ISBA is the advertisers trade union) is the MD of Google sharing the stage with MD of Talent Agency Gleam who represent Zoella and many other social media celebs.

We think that focusing on these celebs are sort of missing the point. The potential of online video is about more than here today and probably gone tomorrow teenagers. There is some real talent here, but are endorsements from these people really worth what they cost?

We think the focus should be understanding the tropes of these media and how to get the most out of each new channel. The talent can clearly help here but brands should be thinking through how they can create content for Vine, Snapchat and Facebook that delivers their message.

VC Mark Suster knows more about the video space than most and points out here that most online video companies will fail. His key point is the content people think it’s all about the content and the tech people think its all about the tech. It is, of course, a balance between both. His forensic analysis of how Upworthy do it is a must read.

One of Susters big investment successes  – and a key source of his knowledge – is Maker, which was bought by Disney for $500m. Here one of their key execs looks at how they use data to identify the talent they should bring on board. And how they know when these creators are ready to work with brands.

Twitter too now see video as major opportunity – at the Goldman Sachs conference this week Dick Costello talked about how video storytelling fits well into their platform. And they have bought the US social media talent agency Niche to help connect the talent with the brands.

VC Jason Calcanis – who also knows a bit about video – sees video as a big step for Twitter and suggests that sharing revenue with users could drive growth.

Pointing out that its coming up for 10 years old, The Sunday Telegraph have a good round up of YouTube and How It Has Changed the World.


Talk to anyone in digital marketing and you soon get to talking about attribution. Knowing what works is still the holy grail in digital – despite billions being spent on traditional marketing with relatively little accountability.

Google has got rich on last click attribution as most revenue goes to the provider of the last click – whether that be search or affiliates. But everyone knows its a more complicated, nuanced story and that brand activity has an effect. As does many aspects of digital beyond the source of that list click before the purchase or other action. Fold in a multi device world and it just gets worse.

One reason that mobile ads have taken so long to scale is that people are still reluctant to complete a form or entering a credit card on mobile – so whilst mobile marketing probably did have an effect, they go to a tablet or desktop to complete the transaction and the crude attribution models we have reward that click. Knowing which half of marketing is wasted continues to be a problem.

So it’s no surprise to find that publishers continue to see the surge in mobile traffic a problem

The nearest thing we have to an answer is first part data. Google and Facebook and others with continually logged in users can – in theory – know exactly what marketing messages their users have seen within their empire. The bigger that empire, the more useful that first party data. As long as your users T&Cs let you use it for that purpose.

Facebook are probably winning here, as their huge reach of constantly logged in users gives them the best market visibility. And their nascent Atlas play looks to extend that empire. Google come close but it seems they have issues with what data they can use. Whilst they know exactly where each Google user has been across a day by tracking their smartphone, they can’t use that to show someone turning up at a Walmart store an hour after seeing a Walmart ad. Instead they have to use

aggregated, anonymized data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population.

Now if you are the worlds largest agency group – who see Google and Facebook as frenemies – this is really annoying. The people with the best idea of what works are the vendors and the WPP spend with GAFA grows significantly every year.

So their latest bit of M&A is for WPP to buy 20% of the leading online measurement company Comscore – using some of their Kantar business and cash. Remember they recently bought a similar stake in Rentrack – who are the leading measurement company in TV so they could

… integrate its national and local TV measurement with a number of Kantar’s US-based services that focus on digital media and purchase data, providing US advertisers, agencies, TV networks and local TV stations with even more powerful tools to understand consumers’ TV and purchasing habits.

With significant stakes in these two complimentary businesses – and the talent in WPP – they must hope to cook up a way to better understand the interplay between TV, digital and purchases. State of the art attribution. If they do crack this they have the chance to take back the ringmaster position, deciding where brands should spend their money.  Otherwise GAFA and programmatic will continue to erode their influence and position.

Quick Reads

Facebook have a new tool that looks at user reaction to ads to determine relevancy. This is an interesting step –and like the Quality Score tool Google uses to assess search ads – makes for a better user experience.

We were reminded of this analysis suggesting Facebook is charging more for ads. We think this is down to the increasing share of ads that are video – but it also supports our view that the healthy growth of mobile advertising hides a polarized market. Those with relatively rare first part data are making more and more money whilst the ad networks with infinite supply of raw undifferentiated inventory are flatlining.

An interesting look at how ecommerce is changing the business model of retail. This is focused on fashion but the thinking applies to other sectors too.

We mentioned last week that some fitness apps were acquitted by Sportwear brand Under Armour. This rolling up of apps continues with Rocket buying a number of food takeaway apps across a number of markets. This is probably a good indicator that we are quite early in this game; whilst big players can acquire smaller apps, it leaves market opportunities for smaller more nimbler niche players. Consider the coffee shops in London. The early mover Seattle was bought by Starbucks and then the big chains like Costa and Nero arrived and the market seemed sewn up. But today most every street has a cool independent coffee shop doing pretty well. As one of our smart Google friends says about mobile – It’s still not too late to be early.

Forrester nail some of the myths about Apps.

Fix readers know most of this but the US PBS have a good general view on how mobile is changing how the news is delivered. A good read.

This long read from Stratchery looks in depth at how Apple are evolving and it picks up some of the themes from our Anchor theory – how Apple create services so compelling that the “cost”of switching from the iPhone is very high. He mentions the CarPlay, which we haven’t focused on yet. We are convinced Apple want to make music an Anchor with Beats and their new Apple Photo service looks like it could be another Anchor. We were asked to help someone consider how Photos was going to evolve with mobile and whilst the project never happened, the preliminary work was fascinating. Our parents had one or two albums with all the key photos from their life, yet we take dozens of pictures which are all stored in various places online. Finding a specific one  – or even a good one – takes forever. Our initial thinking was that social feedback could be used as a quality indicator – if you had lots of Facebook likes then that picture –and ones like it – had a value.

When we first came up with the GAFA idea back in 2010 we were asked about excluding Microsoft. It has never felt like an omission as – for all their size and reach – they never did anything that moved the market. Even the Nokia debacle felt like a diversion. But they now do seem to be stepping up. This piece looks at their new strategy and latest moves – a very interesting read.

Finally ….we keep coming back to Bitcoin and Blockchain as what’s next. This is a good piece on these topics from someone who thinks they will be bigger than the internet. A long but worthwhile read.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

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

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

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

Mobile Fix – January 19

Last week we said the world had changed and looked at how Retail and Media evidenced this. Now lets consider Broadcast and Agencies.

TV is changing 

TV has never been healthier. The ITV share price has never been higher and it’s now around 10 times what it was shortly before Adam Crozier joined as CEO. Part of the reason is that Liberty Media have bought a stake and are rumoured to be planning a takeover.

The programming has never been better. There are some iconic programmes that almost overshadow films. From the Sopranos to MadMen and the Wire to Breaking Bad.  Lots of great talent prefers TV to the Cinema now – partly because of the freedom of the medium.

And the research tells us lots people still like watching linear TV – ie in real time, rather than using DVRs to watch at other times – and perhaps fast forwarding through the ads 

However for brands it could be argued that things are different now. Much of the iconic programming is watched in ways where advertising isn’t available. As well as those seemingly unusual people who do choose to timeshift and fast forward ads, binging on box sets has become a thing. Netflix and Amazon are getting traction across Europe. The Chromecast is still selling well at Amazon. And viewing video on YouTube continues to grow.

These new(ish) behaviours may not be showing up on the industry research just yet but it feels inevitable they will eventually. And whilst tablets are clearly a big factor, the ubiquity of games consoles and growth in connected TVs (as well as Chromecast/Fire Apple TV) are driving change on the big screen too.

The economics of TV will continue to shift – Amazon winning a Golden Globe  – and Jeff Bezos dressing up to go collect it – shows how importantly Amazon view content. As does them signing up Woody Allen to do his first TV show. More evidence that Hollywood sees them as their new best friend. This interview with the head of HBO is good background reading on the evolution from cable to broadband.

Whilst the background to the North Korean movie premiering on YouTube etc may be unusual, it did give the industry a chance to see how that new window works. Once the window when a new movie was only available in cinemas was 6 months – but it’s now typically 4 before a movie is available on DVD and on demand. Given the Interview made $31m in the first couple of weeks in the US alone, newTV will be higher on most peoples attention now. The new Spike Lee movie will premier on Vimeo, weeks before the cinema release.

Things are changing and it looks like traditional TV advertising is likely to be squeezed. Of course brands have quite an interesting alternative as Facebook is getting close to matching ITV for both the reach and the time it takes to get that reach.

Agencies are changing – slowly

If the Broadcast advertising environment changes, then that’s another element of change for Agencies, many (most?) of which are struggling with the challenge of a digital world.

Smart agencies can and do make much more than TV commercials. But the pareto principle still sort of works with the majority of most agencies making the bulk of their money from TV.

One of the points we keep making in our workshops looking at digital transformation and disruption is that in virtually every industry someone from 1965 would struggle to recognize their business now; retail, transport, money and most others are total transformed. But teleport Don Draper from 1965 to today and he would probably feel quite at home. A little over dressed perhaps and perplexed by the fact the media people are now based somewhere else.

Now opportunities like mobile and social challenge existing structures but now some agencies are reverting to one digital team to cover all digital elements.

Technology is changing things too – at least in the media agencies, where programmatic excites CFOs and confuses client CMOs with a plethora of TLAs*

GroupMs Rob Norman explains how the automation of media is playing out within the industry as a whole, whilst explaining the WPP game plan.

But some clients aren’t that happy with the transparency in this new world and a senior Mondelez client expresses their frustration with agency margins – whilst accepting that client procurement has some responsibility for driving agencies to find new ways of making money. (He is also very bullish on Facebook and talks about their desire to innovate)

Fix Friend Neil Perkins runs a great set of events for Google called Firestarters and the inaugural New York one looked at the New Agency Operating System and there is some really smart thinking here.

Whilst Agencies may be resistant to change in some ways, their ability to solve big problems for brands remains hugely valuable – even if the comms tools used are changing.

The issue is that all the very smart thinking has tended to be given away for free whilst the agency makes it’s money out of making something. Now that making stuff is so much cheaper, there isn’t the money to indirectly fund the thinking. 

Working out how to solve this is the big issue for the industry. But we suspect that technology can help here. As programmatic matures it should allow the value of communications to be better understood. Can agencies start to be paid for being clever – by sharing in the value they create?

* Three Letter Acronyms


Some seemingly well informed predictions about how the iPhone and iwatch will work together have emerged. The source has a good track record and the Companion app described makes sense.  It does reinforce our view that the watch is essentially a peripheral, or accessory, to the iPhone though.

But not everything in devices is driven by Apple. Often accused of copying the iPhone (and of theft by Jonny Ive) Chinese firm Xiaomi have announced a new phone that is pretty innovative. Described by their CEO as shorter, thinner and lighter than the iPhone 6+ the Mi Note is also much cheaper. The firm is now valued at $45 billion – around 4 times its total turnover last year.

Google are also pushing the boundaries of what a phone is, with their modular ProjectAra device. The first review is out – although they journalist wasn’t allowed to turn the phone on – and it does seem interesting. We should remember that its likely the Apple Watch will be modular in some way, so people can upgrade it as new iPhones come out. No-one is going to buy a watch that will be redundant after a couple of years.

Quick Reads

The evidence that the world has changed is everywhere;

Sales via smartphones and tablet devices recorded a 55% growth on the same period in 2013. £8bn was spent via mobiles this Christmas, compared to £5.1bn last year. The Index reveals that 37% of online sales are made on a mobile device; an estimated 8.9% of total retail sales.

Half of US internet users go to Facebook every day. Almost a third use it several times a day.

Facebook talk of a new visual language;

In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US.2 And every day, people upload more than 350 million photos on average to Facebook

Remember all that research that said Apps were much more used than the mobile web? Seems it is not that straightforward. As we keep saying, getting a good mobile web site is the first priority for brands – then consider what problem an app could solve for your customers.

And Snapchat are being bullish on advertising –asking brands for $750k a day.

We are fascinated by BlockChain – the technology that enables Bitcoin  – and think there are some fascinating opportunities around marketing and communications. But it is very complicated. This is a good attempt to explain what it is and why it matters

The smart people at PSFK run a great conference on retail – this video from the latest one features some Google advice on mobile and retail.

Finally LinkedIn is one of the big success stories of digital but it seems a little tired and slightly dated now. But the sunk cost for the millions of people who have kept their profile updated and built their networks would seem to make a successor unlikely. The new Facebook for Work could have a chance to displace it.

Pitched as a workplace collaboration tool it faces lots of competition from Yammer etc but Slack has shown that a better mousetrap does get adoption. If it does get traction, adding LinkedIn type profiles would be relatively straightforward.  Until then you can connect with me on Linkedin here.

Addictive helps businesses profit from Mobile, Social & Content

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

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

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







Mobile Fix – Dec 19 – The Christmas Issue

On holiday already? Go straight here and enjoy the soundtrack for your Christmas

Still working? Scroll down

Have a Soulful Christmas - from addictive!


It’s that time when everyone either does a round up of the year or predictions. But we’re going to resist the temptation. As they say in Hollywood, No-one knows anything And our last attempt at predicting the future back in 2002 still stands up quite well.

So instead we thought we should focus on some of the big questions for 2015; 

Will the M&A fervor around AdTech ever quieten down? Fox have just paid $200m for an interesting video ad startup.  Or will VC money start to flow elsewhere? In the excellent Google Ventures summary of their year Life Sciences got the biggest chunk of their investment.

Who will win the battle for the money migrating from TV to digital? Google or Facebook? Facebook seem to be winning the battle for display. And this analysis of the reach of the new Apple ad on Facebook shows video is getting really interesting too; broadly 20m views on Facebook (vs 2m on YouTube) is more than you would get with an ad in a big TV show like NCIS. Not that scientific, but more evidence that Facebook can now get close to the reach of TV. Finally a quote from one of the key AdTech people at Facebook sums up their pitch; “Don’t spend a dollar unless you know that dollar is delivering ROI,”

What is the next big thing in messaging? Payments are going to be important; Facebook have poached another PayPal exec to work with David Marcus who made the same switch earlier this year. Kik have a smart new idea on how to use hashtags to create micro social networks.

Which of the next tier firms has the best chance to grow? Twitter are going after app download ads with their new features around phone activation. Even with all their smart acquisitions are Yahoo hampered by their CEO? – this is a pretty damning attack on Marissa. 

Will peripherals* get significant traction? The idea that Netflix will serve up recommendations to your smart watch shows what a lack of imagination there is around watches and wearables. Right now – like Google Glass – they don’t solve a problem for civilians. *Given none of the watches etc seem to function properly without a smartphone close by, we think wearables is a misnomer and peripherals a much better term.

Are QR codes going to be cool again? We have pointed out that WeChat reinvented them in China and amongst the leaked SnapChat emails we see they paid $50m for a startup focused on QR codes and NFC, beacons etc. The ability to instantly connect mobile with the physical world is a big deal, even if we haven’t really worked out what to do with it yet.

Can anyone make a success of Media on digital? Michael Wolff thinks its all crap but Wired has a good look at some of the newer players like Circa and Buzzfeed. John Battelle has some good advice; To me, just one question matters when it comes to a publication and whether it has a chance of long term success: Is it a must read?

And how will Programmatic change the ad industry? It’s already making big changes to the media side of the industry – and this interview with GroupMs  Rob Norman is well worth reading.  Next it’s the turn of the Creatives to adapt. Or not.

Over the next couple of weeks you will probably have some time for reading so we recommend you flick through these;

The 10 year anniversary ContagiousX.

Boston Consulting have shared a good report on Mobile in Europe

Criteo have an interesting Slideshare on the state of mobile commerce

The guy behind the XPrize and the Singularity Hub has a good post on Mobile, the megatrend of the decade.

And if you get really bored you should read this and change all your passwords.

Finally 2015 is going to be another rollercoaster ride on innovation, change and hype. Those that seize the mass market opportunity of ubiquitous mobile with a social layer baked in can profit. Those that hang back and keep repeating their old strategy are running out of time. It’s time to experiment.

Now we recommend you recharge the batteries and are delighted to share our soundtrack for a Soulful Christmas. Best enjoyed with a large glass of something red.

Have a great Christmas 

Mobile Fix – November 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.


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.


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)


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.