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Mobile Fix - April 7

Dennis Healey famously applied it to politics but the quote When in a hole, you stop digging applies well to the ad industry right now.

We’ve known about fraud, transparency, brand safety and terrible ads for a while now. But until recently we kept digging.

With all the furore over the past few weeks it does feel that we are finally stopping digging. Perhaps the best evidence is BetterAds – the Coalition supported by Google and Facebook, Unilever & P&G and a good slice of the ad industry. Their first output is research into which ads people like least – showing pretty much want you would expect; people hate pop ups, flashing ads etc.

It stops short of saying what ads it does recommend, and it’s a little worrying that the ads that appear to do best is the innocuous banner, which we think are largely unreadable and as good as invisible.

One of the trades ran a piece suggesting that publishers could improve things by charging less for good ads. Or should publishers just refuse to run ads that aren’t very good?  It’s hard to make that sort of judgement but ultimately the media owner controls the user experience and suffers when people don’t like it. As the Ezoic guys have shown taking the revenue from an annoying ad that drives people away, costs you in lost revenue from the potentially longer session.

Have you stopped digging? Are your ads now better than they were? Are you measuring brand effect rather than clicks? The ones that go first get the advantages

P&G essentially kicked off the current debate and they now have an action plan for agencies – asking them to consolidate skills and services. This quest for simplicity is echoed in how they look at the advertising supply chain. The Guardian legal squabble with Rubicon is going to keep this issue in the headlines and as the intricacies and nuances of automated advertising come under the spotlight, we think many brands are going to be surprised. This piece shows just how complicated things get.

Doc Searls has been thinking about digital advertising longer than most – this quote from his Cluetrain Manifesto was on our Big Picture business cards

He thinks it’s time to fire adtech – and makes the good point that GDPR will dramatically change the space. He does make the good point that advertising can flourish on digital   - but we need to do it smarter. Worth reading.

Some don’t care that much about these issues as they are focused on measurable outcomes – and are more focused on testing what works and what doesn’t.

Which makes sense, but we heard some ominous warnings from the City of London Police who are very focused on digital crime. The bad guys, who used to hack people to get their bank account, have moved into adtech as its easier and more profitable. These guys are very tech savvy and building tools to complete orders is quite straightforward, use stolen credit card numbers.

So your ecommerce data may look really good – but you need to watch for the credit card charge backs that arise a few weeks later. By which time the fraudsters have taken their cost per sale commission and disappeared.

The US IAB shared smart thinking on the problem ending with a call to arms for the whole industry;

It’s time for you to make our supply chain 99.9999999999% safe.

What can you do? We think brands need to get confidence in their investment in the ad supply chain. Do you understand how your money is being spent - and who with – and know that you are measuring the right things?

A topline audit doesn’t need to take that long and will highlight any areas where deeper digging is worthwhile.

Amazon & Ads

Amazon ad revenue could be as much as $3.5bn in 2017 – 65% growth. They keep Sorrell awake at night and there is lots of talk about how the dominance of Amazon could kill off ads  - if I am clicking my Amazon Dash Button or asking Alexa to order more soap powder, what’s the point of ads?

The latest McKinsey thinking on how the marketing funnel has morphed into a loop suggests there will still be a role for ads – but also that Amazon is a pretty good place to be with your ads as the initial consideration set is decided on. The ability to target prospective buyers and convert in the same place makes Amazon a natural home for Shopper marketing budgets too. A new move is to get involved in Influencers – rethinking how Affiliates work for them. Again this makes perfect sense as it helps sell product on Amazon.

The same insight and data allow Amazon to play in the wider programmatic space too – and one survey thinks they are used by more brands than Googles DBM. This rapid adoption has got others worried. (More on why Wall Street thinks so highly of Amazon)

And Apple seem to be more active in advertising. Having shelved iAds, then dropping their ad funded music service before launch in major markets, many think Apple have no appetite for ads. But they have lots of inventory on Apple News and partner with NBC to sell ads across that. As they move into more services – like Apple TV - will ads become more important?

They keep their options open. To both support their Disciples – the app developers  - and their customers, they could decide to help clean up mobile ads. It’s one way to make the user experience better. That was the original ambition of Steve Jobs.

GAFA & Content

Amazon have been the pioneers with content – winning Oscars along the way - and now they have done the most prescient deal for sports content. Their deal with the NFL lets them show 10 Thursday night Football games. At $50m its not cheap – five times more than Twitter paid for a similar deal last year – but they should be able to sell merchandise. And remember Amazon now sell tickets too.

It has started. Apple have hired a YouTube exec to help their efforts in video. Snap are commissioning original shows from MGM. And Google, Facebook and Twitter were outbid for this deal

If you want to Anchor people to your platform you need compelling content  - that can’t be got elsewhere. Exclusives are important – as Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated. Another example  - an excellent Beyonce curated play list on Tidal

Quick Reads

The CEO of News Corp on Fake News and the Digital duopoly. Interesting to see how aggressively he talks of Google and Facebook.

The push into ads from the Management Consultancies is real. Accenture have now hired the very talented guy behind the Trinity Mirror programmatic success. This is a good talk by him on the big changes he drove there.

Snap launch their Search tool making the UX slightly less impenetrable for those outside their core user base

And they now do App Install ads – only surprise is it took them so long. But can they avoid cluttering the platform with irrelevant ads?

The raw materials of marketing are attention and data. This is quite an academic study on attention from a Law school. Some interesting thinking.

Foursquare finding clever things to do with all that location data  - this time with Samsung

Not quite GAFA but Sky are a major media platform that really gets tech – and they are acquiring digital content creators.

WeChat expanding in Europe – Luxury already see this as a crucial platform

Fix Friends Neil Perkin and Peter Abraham have written the definitive book on digital transformation

A good new research study from Google shows that GenZ – 13 to 17 year olds - are very different in how they use mobile – including much higher viewing of video. The study is US based but with 2 boys in this age group I see this every day in London.

When we were in Sydney at the end of last year we learned that the Banks over there are very tech focused. And they were collaborating to try and win the right to ignore Apple Pay and instead access the NFC chip in the iPhone for their own payment solution. Apple took the threat very seriously and have now won the legal battle

Finally…  there is so much going on with Messenger. With a billion monthly average users it is bigger than Snap, Instagram and Twitter combined. Too many Agency Creative Technologists have made lame Bots that mimic a poor IVR service. But the innovation keeps coming – With Messenger now leveraging AI to make M suggestions of functionality – really interesting

No Fix next week as we take an Easter break

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