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Fix/Friday — July 17

TikTok

The secret sauce of TikTok is how easy making a video is. Remember Facebook needed the Ice Bucket challenge to get people to make and share basic video. The TikTok app enables a much higher standard and some people are creating amazing work. I pointed out the talent of Julian Bass the other week and now he has the head of Disney commenting on his video.

Brands are taking notice too. Apple are a regular user of the TopView format - the first ad seen when opening the app. DrDre use the same format for their activity, encouraging people to participate in a hashtag challenge and earn a place in the new Asknikko video.

The plethora of TikTok Houses - where influencers live together - is inevitably morphing into a TV reality show

The politics around TiKTok continue to rumble on and Stratchery has a good analysis. The user community is reacting too. Our free webinar next week is all about the huge opportunity for brands to get involved with TikTok - sign up now.

As a Google friend used to say of Mobile, it’s not too late to be early.

Adtech

Experimentation with cookie free adtech is continuing. Here Adform and others have been buying programmatically using 1st party data.

The implications of Apple insisting on IDFA opt in are the latest element of the Perfect Storm and Ari Paparo of Beeswax has a good summary. Our friends at Yodel share their thinking too.

Terence Kawaja of Luma has shared his thinking on who might be buying adtech firms and why.

Get involved in this discussion in our Guild group on Adtech - lots of smart people talking under Chatham House rules. Now almost 150 people.

newTV

This week has seen Netflix value soar on the back of a very positive Goldman Sachs note. I will cover the latest results in the next Fix/newTV

Roku and Amazon Fire TV, together control about 70% of the U.S. streaming-TV-device market, according to Parks Associates. So far neither Peacock or HBO Max have agreed a deal with either.

In the coverage of the Peacock launch and the fact they will not be on either the Roku or Amazon platforms, we learned more about the advertising issue. Part of the dispute is around the share of subscription fees they take but the sticking point appears to be the amount of ad inventory they can sell. The standard that Roku ask for is 30% and I can’t imagine Amazon accepting less.

If they have been getting rights to sell these chunks with other partners, they are poised to dominate newTV advertising. With Amazon offering the best attribution we expect them to be able to achieve better rates than inhouse teams. And for both, the ability to offer a range of stations and hence programming should make their sales easier compared to individually dealing with a range of platforms.

Peacock want to combine their sales across platforms

With the $450m acquisition by Fox, Tubi are a key player too - claiming to be the largest ad funded streaming service. Here they talk about how they are integrated with the Programmatic world. One factor in their favour is a relatively low ad load - no more than 6 minutes per hour. Their CEO did a good podcast with Recode if you want to go deeper.

This is a little random but I saw that Lloyds bank have a new tool to help people identify and cancel subscriptions they no longer need - in three quick clicks. I think streaming subscriptions are very vulnerable to this sort of thing and as the recession hits, many of these services will struggle. The Tubi CEO mentions a calculation that all the money currently being invested in content cannot be recovered even if all the streaming services succeed.

Audio & Voice

Discovery is both the biggest challenge in modern digital - and the biggest opportunity. Getting something other than that which the algorithm wants to give you is hard - especially in podcasts. Spotify want to solve this and are launching a chart - similar to what Apple already do. But because data on podcasts is so mercurial, this will still be largely algorithm driven. It will be interesting to see how the various charts compare. They are also expanding into easern Europe - including Russia, which is a big market for streaming music.

Consolidation in audio continues with satellite radio service SiriusXM buying the Stitcher podcast business for $325m. Remember Sirius owns Pandora too.

The team at Penguin are taking audio seriously. With all that content and no real rules on what can be done this Commercial role is a great job for someone. Apple News are playing with definitions too - with audio stories of some of the best feature stories and an Audio summary of the news.

Hardware

In newTV, the dominance of Roku and the impact of the FireStick Chromecast and the new(ish) Comcast Xfinity Flex show the importance of hardware. The success of the Facebook Portal does too.

The Google ATAP lab - a relic of the Motorola deal that Google hung on to - is being less secretive about its hardware projects. From Google Home speakers to Jacquard fabric, there is lots going on. At the other end of the scale London based start up Kano has a cool new kids computer developed for Schools - in partnership with Microsoft

AR

The focus on hardware is arguably what has held back AR. The Glasses are ‘relatively’ easy but identifying how the customer experience goes from a nice gimmick to a must have is the hard part. As is building the software to deliver this.

Few are as good at hardware as Apple and the rumours about their glasses keep coming. A new story suggests a 2022 launch.

In conversations around AR I keep finding people are sceptical about the Glasses. My retort is always about how listening to music whilst walking around was once odd, too. It’s 40 years since the launch of the Walkman and this is a great read from the New Yorker - including this great William Gibson quote;

I am convinced Glasses will have an even bigger impact

Gaming

Gaming platforms have boomed during lockdown and their effect on culture is now recognised. BBH look at Animal Crossing, Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite and consider the effect of the lockdown. Whilst Microsoft closed Mixer, Twitch has prospered but gaming superstar Ninja has moved to YouTube

Merchant

This week's deep dive was on Merchant and you can catch up here. Insight on Brand Cathedrals, Last Mile, Grocery, Growth and more.

Since then we saw a list of the 25 fastest growing DTC brands - how many have you heard of?

And this nice piece on two of our favourite subjects - Amazon and live streaming. They are making the Amazon Live Creator app available to influencers and letting them earn affiliate fees and appear on Amazon Live following in the footsteps of people like Martha Stewart.

Plus

Our smart friends at Google have an interesting new ebook looking at the ‘messy middle’ of the purchase cycle using behavioural science. It’s 100 pages and looks really useful.

Creative AI Lab - great resource on all things AI and creativity. Easy to lose yourself in here.

Inside Facebook’s exclusive clubs for its top advertisers. Facebook works hard to stay close to big brands, hiring top talent to work with them and generally looking after them. As the image we opened with shows, it doesn't always work. But how many of those brands boycotting are spending normally on TV right now? Be sure to read the Facebook response to this FT article - linked at the end.

Facebook Considers Banning Political Ads Before US 2020 Election - I think this would be a smart move. It doesn’t solve all the problems but it's a start. Of course the definition of what is political becomes the issue.

Chinese ecommerce marketplace Pinduoduo has more than doubled in value in the last 3 months - but is it the biggest bubble in Chinese internet history?

Fascinating twitter thread on a layout generator. No code - just say what you want

Finally... Apple show us how to make a great ad. 7 minutes of branded entertainment on Working from Home.

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