The tsunami of negative sentiment on digital advertising keeps getting stronger. A NYT piece
places ads as the central villain - at the heart of all the problems; fake news, fake followers, fake reviews, Russia, brand safety and more. But it does acknowledge that advertising pays for most of the good stuff too.
But for those of us who know that the smart use of GAFA drives real value for their businesses, not much changes. We have avoided brand safety issues through recognising that cheap gets you crap in most parts of life. The same attitude has minimised problems with fraud. And our businesses have come to rely on driving business metrics through search social and automated advertising.
A good GQ piece on the many new brands emerging in sportswear makes the point well;
It is good to be aware of these debates and prudent to think how peoples attitudes to their phones may evolve. But the smartest option in marketing right now is being in the vanguard of digital, seizing the opportunity to cost effectively put the right message in front of the right people at the right time, and measure the effect. That’s not going to change any time soon.
Now I would say that wouldn’t I? But listening to the P&G earnings call and hearing them talk of the benefits from Precision Media Buying fueled by Data and Digital Tech suggests its an idea whose time has come. ( 21minutes in on their earnings call)
Much of the coverage of latest Facebook results has focused on the slight dip in time spent - and their first ever drop in user numbers - albeit slight. And we saw speculation that Facebook users now spend a billion hours a day on the platform - similar to YouTube who announced their billion hours a year ago.
As ever, digging into the figures in the earnings deck is interesting - especially as the rest of world lags so far behind the US. Despite a stellar performance from Europe their ARPU is still only a third of that in the US. Along with the focus on the potential from SMEs - which we mentioned last week - this suggest there is lots more growth here. On the earnings call a number of SMEs were mentioned and London is now full of outdoor ads telling the SME story.
Instagram gets quite a lot of coverage and that all seems to be going really well but some are concerned it is getting too like Facebook. The way that the product has evolved has been impressive - even though much is inspired by certain people in LA - but maybe the increases in ad load and recommended posts is going too fast?
Within all the negativity, Facebook is the lightning rod. This Vanity Fair piece is a good example of how Zuckerberg is now painted as a ruthless exec and the privacy concerns are turning into conspiracy theories.
As the ad industry lusts after someone to slow the duopoly momentum, Amazon does seem likely to be the third player. Just as the big agencies are switching money to them, so too are the SMEs that market their products through Amazon. This WSJ article looks at some good examples and it’s clear that Google and Facebook are going to be put under some pressure
Morgan Stanley see the opportunity for ads with Amazon, and this is a big factor in their bullish prediction that Amazon stock could rise by over 50%, making the company the first trillion dollar business.
As part of their push to connect online and offline Amazon are experimenting with QR codes. I am a long time fan of QR codes - and always felt the tech was hindered by poor use cases from poor marketers. We tried very hard to persuade a UK publisher to embrace them but were probably a little early. Now the camera is so central to a smartphone, they make perfect sense and Snap, Spotify and others - as well as the Chinese enthusiasm - will make them mainstream pretty quickly.
Whilst driven by the EU, the scope of GDPR is global and we are seeing its effect on products and business practices that affect everyone. Initiatives from Google, Facebook and Amazon will apply globally but are driven by the imminent legislation from Brussels.
No-one really knows what the effects of GDPR will be, but most agree the impact will be huge. This is a good take on how the various parts of the ad tech stack may fare. I am writing a paper on the subject for our US clients - if anyone is interested in seeing it, let me know.
One point we are making to everyone we talk with is the value of getting your own first party data in order. Some are looking at smart CRM to gain new enhanced consent and others are looking at how they better use their touchpoints. In retail we think smart ways of getting shopper data will come to the fore and Walmart is a good example. As is the news that Sainsbury are taking ownership of Nectar.
Hollywood legend Jeffrey Katzenberg sees the potential for a new type of short form video that is native to mobile, and is starting to build his company. Others see the potential in what we call newTV; Mammoth Media - a new Studio or Production company - has raised $13m to develop mobile first content - including a partnership with Skype.
Just as GAFA sees huge potential in content, so do their Chinese counterparts in BAT. Tencent have invested in the firm that makes Mission Impossible. They have been active in Film for a while and backed Kong a couple of years ago. You can usually tell when Chinese money is involved as one of the lead characters will be Chinese and a local version expands their role to appeal to a Chinese audience.
As Google use their Chrome browser to cut down on bad ads they also plan to enable people to opt out of reminder ads. Not that many people know about the Google Ad Manager but we think it be promoted more in the coming months.
A16Z are a good source of insight into China and thinking through what that might mean for us in the West. This look at Super Apps is fascinating - especially the focus on what Mobile First means. It echoes our concerns over desktop thinking, which limits mobile in so many organisations.
Finally… Maybe 2018 is finally the Year of mobile. WARC point out that Mobile has passed TV spend in the UK. But name me a good mobile campaign? We are going to Fix that. Want to get involved?
Want to make the most of your marketing in 2018 ? We can help as advisers or doers. Whether its media thinking, creative optimisation or tech stack issues we can probably help. Lets talk.
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