With a valuation of around $16bn ( Fidelity keep adjusting their valuation albeit slightly) Snapchat continue to drive headlines. This week Viacom – the company that once was the best way for investors to invest in youth (with MTV, Spike, BET, Nickleodeon & Paramount) agreed to sell ads for Snapchat which should improve their ad revenue significantly.
A guide on How to Snapchat like a Teen got lost of shares this week as it capture perfectly how alien the app is to most people out of their teens. And just how addictive it is for teens – people doodle like crazy
Back in 2005 with our Big Picture business we became ‘experts’ on friending on MySpace etc and the creativity and passion that MySpace triggered then is now being expressed on Snapchat – a release from the strict formatting of Facebook and Twitter.
One grown up who gets it is Gary Vaynerchuck – who is convinced Snapchat will broaden out and become key for other demographics. His history of Snapchat gets into how the app works and is worth a read too.
This week tech guru Scoble described a new VR business called Meta as the most impressive demo he had ever seen – and he has seen a lot. Techcrunch tell us a bit more about it here. Another new startup is Pantomine and their demo does remind us that some this is a little too like Second Life for comfort.
But if you download the New York Times VR app and spend some time with the films they developed for Sundance you can see the potential. The Mini film is a good first step for brands – if anyone has the vision to reimagine the brilliant BMW Branded Content The Hire then it will almost certainly be in VR. And it works really well watching just on a smartphone without the Cardboard player.
“The industry needs to make a clear admission that the historic model for producing newspapers is bust,”
Of course this article is behind the paywall and the FT this week tells us they have 780k paying readers – so paywalls can work.
But getting the ad model to work is still the primary challenge . Quartz are one of the best of the new publishers at blending in brand messages and chargjng high rates. This type of deal is bespoke and reflects the unique qualities of the editorial environment – something that just doesn’t happen when you go pure programmatic.
I am always amazed to flick through a newspaper and see full page ads from brands that are absent from the desktop and mobile versions of the same publications. Are there really planners out there deciding they do want to reach the people who own the country in the FT and their wives in the Daily Mail – but only the ones who still buy print copies?
We have had a lot of fun with the voice activation in the Amazon Fire TV app – controlling the TV and Fire Stick through voice commands makes perfect sense and it works quite well. The Echo though is the real deal. This standalone speaker gets rave reviews from everyone using it in the US and being able to command Spotify etc by voice is equally good fun. Amazon bought a Superbowl ad for it – and hopefully the UK will start to sell it soon. At the moment you need to buy one through eBay, if you don’t know anyone making a US trip.
We think that lots of the clever thinking around building services that work in Messaging apps through text commands will migrate really well to Echo. Imagine a P&G washing service – Alexa; What temperature should I wash my wool sweater at?
It’s coming up to a year since the Apple Watch dropped and whilst there is a general air of slight disappointment, I was struck yesterday that at a meeting with top tier programmatic people 3 of the 5 people (including me) were still wearing the Watch. The use cases seem to be around Apple Pay and deciding whether or not to answer phone calls – as well as telling the time – so it hasn’t quite changed the world yet.
This article by a watch expert is interesting in that the Watch industry does respect the Apple watch and expects more from it – accepting that it could displace a traditional watch. Now I would still prefer the vintage Paul Newman Rolex Daytona pictured next to the article but that costs $153k - so the Apple `watch is an affordable substitute for the moment.
China & Mobile & Money
In the week everyone got terribly excited about the Superbowl, the worlds most popular TV show was taking place in China. Over 700m people watch the Lunar New Year show live – and this year the audience who watched it online grew 41% to reach 138m. That is around 23m more than the total who watched the Superbowl in the US.
Further evidence of both the huge scale in China and the mass adoption of online is the news that WeChat was used to distribute over 8 billion Red Envelopes from 420m users– whilst rivals QQ did 2.2bn envelopes from 308m users. Red Envelope is the Chinese New Year tradition of gifting money to friends that has grown hugely online.
This works as a customer acquisition tool and, as you have to add a bank card to your account to take part, it has been a massive accelerator of payments. I imagine David Marcus and the rest of the Facebook Messenger team must be looking for some sort of similar event that could kick start mobile payments on Messenger in the way Ice Bucket Challenge kicked off video on Facebook.
There is a lot to learn from China – the Galapagos effect of not having GAFA there means BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) innovate in different ways. This list of 10 Chinese apps shows us a glimpse of what is going on from Chinese entrepreneurs outside of BAT. Little Red Book has been very interesting inspiration as we reimagine RCKSCK
Running a business with 700m users and growing revenue by 50% year on year should make you a star. But when the business is Twitter those results don’t get you very far. The user base isn’t growing so the revenue growth is being ignored.
They continue to launch new ad formats and have a good commercial team. But the issue is with the product. It is very important to lots of people in lots of different ways. I value it for tech news and my sons like it to follow Kanye. The NYT think they could scale back their ambitions and focus more.
Marketing for the year we live in
We mentioned GaryV earlier for his Snapchat piece, but this Adweek article on Marketing for the year you live in is really timely. It’s a call to action and to focus on the new marketing opportunities, which we obviously totally support.
At an event this week the nice people at Odgers organised a panel discussion about the rise of the Chief Digital Officer. The general view was that one token digital person on a board isn’t going to make a huge difference – but it is a step in the right direction.
My take is that the issue for these FTSE 100 companies isn’t really around digital – it’s about a lack of consumer insight. Their problems with disruption and competition from start ups is because they missed the fact their customers have chosen to rearrange how they live their lives. To make the most of the benefits of a pocket supercomputer, permanently connected to all the information in the world, people now behave differently. So business needs to behave differently.
Bringing it back to marketing a new IAB study tells us that people use their phones when watching TV – through the shows and through the breaks. Useful info and the data supports a common sense view (although I suspect that the Traditional Telly Taliban will be quick to find fault with the survey)
It reminds us of a US TV exec telling advertisers they didn’t need to worry about DVRs and fast forwarding any more.
It’s 2016 and we all know the world is different now. So if your marketing plans still look like they used to, that is probably a problem.
It’s time to do marketing for the year we live in.
Google owned Waze is getting traction in London – lots of Uber drivers seem to use it now to find the quickest routes. All that data benefits all the users. But should that data be with a private company?
Finally more good stuff from Seth Godin
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