I still think that a business as usual approach makes sense, despite the challenging times. At some point life will get back to some sort of normal and businesses still need to serve their customers. The best thing we can all do over the coming weeks is invest our time in getting smarter. I hope Fix can help.
As the summary says it makes recommendations for changes to the UK’s competition framework that are needed to face the economic challenges posed by digital markets, in the UK and internationally. Their report recommends updating the rules governing merger and antitrust enforcement, as well as proposing a bold set of pro-competition measures to open up digital markets.
A super smart Fix reader pointed out that this was given the go ahead in the budget the other week;
To ensure that the UK remains a dynamic and competitive regulatory environment, the government is launching a Reforming Regulation Initiative to collect ideas for regulatory reform, as well as implementing the recommendations of the Furman Review of digital competition, publishing further detail on the Financial Services Bill which will ensure that the UK maintains its world-leading regulatory standards and openess to international markets.
One consequence of this is lower costs for those that are tempted to spend - Socialbakers shares good data on the rising audiences on social and the falling spend - creating opportunities for brave businesses with the right product. This is backed up by data from Nest who are proposing global thinking to capture value from markets that are recovering quicker.
There is some macro thinking around too; Sorrell talks about how the crisis will accelerate digital transformation and a good Digiday piece recognises there is no long term now: it’s a total focus on the short term - another Sorrell quote.
I am always fascinated by new behaviour from people. Combine new technology with life and you get people adapting their behaviours; think of the Selfie - invented by people around the world when they saw their phone now had 2 cameras. This crisis is already driving Video calls for all of us WFH - some more tips here from the NYTimes - but the interesting stuff happening is all about people rather than work.
We have talked about Houseparty before - it was the hot Group Video Chat app for a while and Facebook tried to buy it, then launched their own version Bonfire - which they closed last year. HouseParty was bought by Fortnite developer Epic last year and we talked then about the desire to add a social layer to games. But whatever Epic paid it has turned out to be a bargain as Lockdown has pushed it to the top of the App Download charts.
This desire to socialise around video is not going to go away - within a keynote on 5G for Kinetic late last year I talked about always on video chats and I think we are seeing this take hold now. Instagram are testing shared watching on Instagram as part of their CoVid activity
This should be a great time for DTC businesses but the demand in some categories has been overwhelming. Amazon are struggling, so for mere mortals….
None of the UK supermarkets have any delivery slots at the moment and the Ocado queue regularly tops 20k people
The FT have a good analysis of the growth of online across southern Europe as Covid hits but grocers there have had similar issues to the UK. At the same time Amazon are to stop shipping non essential items in France and Italy. US analyst Dan Frommer has a good look at the US grocery scene with some insight on Instacart. And in India both Amazon and Flipkart are having problems
No-one makes any money doing online grocery and funding that level of hires for any time is expensive, but will people go back to schlepping to the stores once they have relied on online for a few months? These retailers certainly hope not.
Disney+ launches this week with perfect timing - the ideal audience all sat at home desperate for distraction. But they did launch with a lower quality stream after being asked to delay to protect precious bandwidth. US data shows a huge spike in subscriptions for most streaming services - Disney up 300% on the previous week and Netflix up 47% - although Apple was apparently only up by 10%
Forrester cover the launch and sum up the implication for everyone;
Amazon have been smart though - they have made all their kids programmes available for free. It’s worth noting that Disney are keen to emphasise the new service is a Family one rather than a Kids one.
And ESPN has revealed what it plans to do without the live sport the service is built around - in this interview a key exec talks about repackaging classic games and balancing news with stunt programming. Sky is doing similar things over here - I watched Leeds thrash Liverpool (from 2000) followed by an interview about the game and last Sunday they showed 15 minutes highlights of all the Leeds games this season - perfect for Mothers Day. But they also have a button on the site to let you pause your Sports subscription.
Given the combination of a huge choice of content and a massive audience, the market is still lacking a guide to what is worth watching. Watchworthy is a new app using Machine Learning to try and solve this
And as we opened with - the Regulators are coming.
The Wolves are at the door.
But new interesting approaches are emerging. Google is testing its ADH as a buying tool and it demonstrates the advantages of good 1st party data. It’s all about those higher-frequency, emotion-rich relationships
There are some great examples where firms have used 1st party data to really understand their customers and then found smart ways to rethink their approach to marketing. But when you find that sort of insight ,you keep it to yourself.
AS ESPN and Sky consider their Sports content they have to be looking at eSports. Lots of people are investing heavily in Call of Duty franchises which draw huge audiences to live events. Ceding this space to Twitch or YouTube would be a costly error. But it's too late for Call of Duty as that is part of the 3 year deal YouTube have signed with Activision - valued at $160m
Voice and Audio
We are big fans of turning written content into audio - with Always In buds I think the natural way of consuming content will be audio and we see more publishers recognise this. So the New York Times buying a company that specializes in turning long form writing into audio sort of makes sense.
Unsurprisingly the launch of the new iPad wasn’t big news given the timing. But hidden in the features is a LIDAR scanner that is a significant step for Apple and AR. This video is a good demonstration.
The big topic across our whole industry is ad effectiveness. The old chestnut of not knowing which half of the ad spend is wasted remains highly topical. Amazon are about to enter the debate and are hiring a global lead on Ad Measurement
Fascinated by MSCHF - this week they reinvented Product Placement by editing Pride and Prejudice to feature dozens of DTC brands and sold all the copies - over text. They will have similar influence to Supreme over the next few years.
Finally... I am rereading Snow Crash after 20 plus years and it's just as good as the first time - or actually better as we now see how prescient Neal Stevenson was. His take on the Metaverse seems really timely now; Mathew Ball says every big tech CEO has a well thumbed copy in their office. It's worth reading Balls essay on the Metaverse.
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