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Fix / Friday — May 15

AdtechPerfectStorm

A few conversations about transparency post the ISBA report shared last week. The main sentiment - it’s not new news. No-one is that surprised that money (still) evaporates through the lumascape. People are surprised that brands of that stature still let their buyers use 150k websites and buy Nepalese calendar sites. Digiday summarise it well.

If this didn’t get sorted when the ANA etc looked at the issue years ago, why will it get sorted now? I think the Perfect Storm changes the weather for this - with Privacy and the demise of cookies everyone has to change their approach. The impact of the government accepting the recommendations of the Furman Report on digital competitiveness and the imminent CMA report on online platforms and digital advertising will also shake things up.

Within this pivot perhaps we can build in better transparency? But it comes back to that old quote; All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. Who is going to step up? What are you doing to get the right advice on these issues?

Google are being more open around their thinking for the post cookie world. They are running experiments on the interface for RTB and inviting advertising industry partners to provide input to these RTB experiments that minimize user data sharing and better protect user privacy. Digiday have some industry reaction.

newTV

In Wednesdays midweek Fix / newTV we looked at the Perfect Storm facing the TV industry - declining ad budgets and accelerated cord cutting. And lots more - catch up here.

We covered the bad press on Quibi - and why I still stand by my take that they will succeed eventually. One of the other optimists has a thread inviting people to share their views on why it’s not working - lots of insight and plenty to learn - and it’s not all negative.

And my conversation with an AVOD pioneer about why people are so vocal about the ads, led me back to this podcast with Joe Marchese who was trying to improve the ad mode in his time at Fox and now runs Attention Capital; a media and technology holding company

The Roku results for Q1 were good - revenue up a staggering 55% whilst subscribers grew by 37%. Asked about the likely impact of Covid their CFO said; “The positive for us in OTT is that for the money that’s left in marketers’ budgets, they’ll be looking for measurable and targeted spend.”

Audio / Voice

There has been a lot of debate over how the lockdown affects Audio - some data showing a decline for podcasts and others an increase. In their earnings call Spotify said ..the lockdown has seen exponentially more at-home listening as in-car usage dropped, with gaming platforms, televisions and home audio systems “exploding.”

It’s interesting that Terry does his talks as video when they could just as easily be a podcast. The distinction between the two is shrinking as so many are currently done over a Zoom call. Our friends at Spirit often release their best content as both a podcast and a YouTube video. Whilst Spotify downplay video in their earnings call - Video, an area into which the company made aggressive moves several years ago, will remain a “complementary” offering in addition to audio. - they are experimenting with video podcasts

If you want to go deeper this interview with the Spotify CEO is good - he sees an $18bn opportunity for ads

Our synthetic Radio Fix podcast - made with Amazon Polly - has a small but loyal following and I am really interested in this technology. A new post from Amazon shows how fast the space is moving. London is well represented in this sector with Sonantic and PaperCup - whilst Resemble and Lyrebird are the best of the West coast.

AR

The new Size Link feature from Shopify lets you see how something would fit into your home and they are also experimenting with product recognition. And a new Snap AR lens lets you do Spin paintings like Damien Hirst

Delivery / Last Mile

Because of the virus and the switch to ecommerce home delivery is a big focus for many. As we have covered the food delivery firms have seen mixed fortunes as their big brands (McDonalds, Pret, Wagamama) are closed. But the smart ones are delivering other things.

It’s the same in the US and Uber have seized the opportunity to try and buy GrubHub. I think the market will come down to a couple of key players and Uber and Amazon have the best chance - because they can maximise utilisation. The Uber drive can deliver between rides and Amazon have a whole range of products needing last mile delivery.

But does having powerful players help small restaurants? Not really. So many think this push for size will accelerate regulation.

Merchant

This NYT article looks at the major changes in peoples shopping behavior and highlights online grocery as one of the major beneficiaries. But the biggest winner is Instacart - a business model yet to take off in Europe. This idea of people taking your shopping list and doing your shopping for you is simple but making it happen efficiently can be complicated. An Irish firm have imported the model and plan to test in Bristol. If they can make it work they can probably expand quite quickly.

Most smart firms are at least experimenting. Pepsi have launched new DTC websites as they cut back on TV spend. Their volume - like Coke - is down significantly as so many of their outlets are shut. It’s not new - back in 2017 their CEO said DTC was growing brilliantly and their Ecommerce sales last year are quoted as $2bn.

That is why this space is so interesting - we are seeing major brands evolve their business models for the first time in a generation.

As Brand advertisers pause spending, some publishers see the opportunity for growth with DTC brands that are struggling with Facebook and Instagram ads, as costs and competition rise.

I think there is so much potential for a reimagined programmatic model here - matching DTC brands with Premium publisher readers.

Social

It’s all about TikTok. Many of the top YouTube memers are moving to TikTok. Hollywood is getting involved - all the Talent agencies are focusing on TikTok and advising their A list clients to be active on the platform.

Yes there is a lot of dross on there but you also find great examples of creativity - look at this homage to Wes Anderson 

Brands are beginning to get it - some good examples here from Chipotle, the NBA and GymShark. This Thread suggests that TikTok ads can be a good alternative - or addition - to Facebook.

If you want to better understand TikTok, a Fix friend has an excellent online course covering every aspect of the TikTok platform -- including how advertising works on there. Anthony wrote the seminal piece on Old Town Road and understands this space so well.

Plus

The absence of sports makes the heart grow fonder - I have been watching replays of every Leeds match I can find on Sky and reading every snippet of news that might foretell how the season ends and whether we get the glory we deserve. The oxygen around sports is strong and A16Z have invested in Sleeper which celebrates sports with chat, news and social features like Fantasy league. This is being extended to eSports too.

Web of 2PM with some smart thinking on DTC ideas taking shape

Kantar with a report on how to win in an increasingly personalised media world. Interesting but really frustrating format.

If you are interested in the agency world it’s worth flicking through the earnings call for Martin Sorrells S4 - with an overview of the trends they see and interesting examples of client work

Uber to invest in Lime - more escooters -- but at a lower valuation

Finally…. this business is still all about creativity - it's just that creativity can now be expressed in so many different ways. At it’s best ideas are tailored for the platform, so they make the most of that platform. Here are 100 of the best social ads.

Get inspired. And say no to the banners - the cockroaches of digital advertisin

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