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Mobile Fix - April 15

Facebook F8

The only place to start is F8 – the Facebook developer conference this week. Someone tweeted that the big news at the 2010 event was the Like button; the ambition is more obvious this year with a 10 year roadmap showing how much has been accomplished. The destination part of the roadmap shows connectivity, AI and AR/VR as the priorities – just as it is for the whole industry.

And that’s the remarkable thing about Facebook – it is essentially the digital experience for a huge number of people. The proportion of people using it, and the proportion of their time spent on it, remains staggering.

It’s worth spending time reading some of the rounds ups of what was covered – both to appreciate the breadth but also the progress being made. Techcrunch has a round up of everything covered but if you want a shorter read AdWeek has picked out 8 key themes.

Video

With F8 shared around the world through Facebook Live, there is no doubt video is a huge priority for them. And they will now take content from any device, so opening the door for existing Video players to adapt their content to suit Facebook –so we can expect smart TV production companies to start pushing live video through Facebook.

But we are not so convinced that Live Video has as much potential as some people think. The biggest change in the Old TV world recently has been the move from live – or scheduled – to on demand. Sky+ and the other DVRs let you watch a show when you want and a key attraction of Netflix etc is that you can watch what you want when you want.

And the social lift that benefits so much video takes time as the content propagates around the web. We think the future is more like about Frozen content – just as good as Fresh but preserved, so Catch Up is feasible. We expect that the live Product will evolve towards this.

The other issue with Live is that content is often improved by having time to polish it. The Selfie phenomenon and people instagramming their breakfast works because people can take a number of shots and decide on the best one – and even indulge in a little postproduction. Live video doesn’t give you those luxuries and once you see more chins and less hair than you expect, we think the thrill of live may wane a little. That’s why Snapchat focuses on ephemeral – it matters less if it’s gone in a few hours.

Tools like Masquerade mean video can be quickly tweaked and we expect Facebook to keep picking up apps that help foster the creativity of their users. It may be that doodles and this type of AR light will drive Live adoption – is there a Selfie type phenomenon for Live that will widen the appeal?

If there is such a thing as traditional online video then YouTube dominates it and we saw this week that over 2000 YouTube channels have more than I million subscribers. A big part of the success is around music – the Apple Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine says YouTube accounts for 40% of online music consumption. This FT piece looks at how the music industry is trying to get a better deal from them.

Bots, Apps and Mobile Websites

The hype over Bots has blown up so quickly but shows no sign of abating. One VC wonders if this week goes down as launch week for Bots, with F8 pushing how Messenger supports bots. The push back is here already with ChatBots being called spammy.

One issue is that too many people see Bots usurping Apps as the main interaction mode – and almost as many people argue that’s not true. Just as the myth that Apps dominate over mobile web pages isn’t true – someone described Facebook as a mobile web browser, given how much time in Facebook is spent reading mobile web content.

We have shared before our theory that Apps are the CDs of digital content  – a steppingstone to a more streaming like experience. The idea we flick through the various screens on our phone and choose an icon to click on, seems clunky when Google Now can anticipate what we might want. Just as I never want to have to search through hundreds of my CDs to find a track, when I can just ask Alexa to play it. Bots are part of this evolution but we will see numerous formats coexist.

This piece on the future without Apps is possibly misnamed but a good look at how content is being freed from within Apps through deep linking etc.

But mobile web has its own ups and downs. Google Accelerated Mobile Pages seem to be doing well, yet so many brands still have average mobile sites – if they have one at all. Google are soon launching a tool for SMEs to see how well their site works on mobile

It’s interesting to see how Facebook is encouraging businesses to use Messenger with new tools for their Pages. With over 3 million advertisers Facebook have a strong presence amongst SMEs and an interesting conversation this week had us wondering whether businesses may start to choose their Facebook page as their mobile home rather than a mobile web site?

Snapchat

Just as the data shows Facebook isn’t losing out to Snapchat amongst the young, another study suggests Instagram is losing ground to Snapchat now. This jockeying for position is good for headlines but obscures the main point; people are spending lots and lots of time in a number of different places.

Rather than worrying about which may be bigger or smaller in a few months wouldn’t it be better to work out what you could do now to get peoples attention? Testing and learning how to engage with young people on Snapchat and Instagram is a smart investment.

And new innovations like 3D stickers mean keeping up is constant challenge – but get it right and you have real competitive advantage over those of your rivals still marketing like it’s 2006

Amazon

Whilst digital advertising can get stuck in the weeds of fraud and ad blocking, done properly it is digital shelf space – a direct link to commerce. No one knows that better than Amazon and their ad efforts are treated as part of the sales process. This interview with their head of Global ad sales is well worth reading. If you are wondering why you don’t see Amazon on your media plan you might want to ask your agency if they have a trading agreement with them. Quite a few don’t and we have heard horror stories of brands missing great opportunities because their agency won’t get involved.

Quick Reads

Ad blocking hasn’t gone away – and this is a pernicious new approach. This week the Guardian are trying new approaches – ultimately publishers have to learn to say no. No to people who want to view the content with ads blocked. And no to advertisers who want to run bad ads.

Finally the IAB have published their latest numbers on digital ad spend. Overall spend is up 16% to £8.6bn and mobile growing by 60%. No surprises for Fix readers, but you have to ask whether you are doing enough? Mobile and Social are mass market, mainstream and many people are making lots of money from getting this right. There will never be a better time to invest, as the chances are your competitors don’t get this stuff right. Yet.

If you are reading Fix you get it. Just be sure you are backing your knowledge with enough money. Smart brands see digital ads as part of their sales process and will keep spending as long as the return is higher than the spend.

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