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.
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
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
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
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/>