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Mobile Fix / February 21

Good Morning….I’m Simon Andrews, it’s first thing Friday and this my newsletter with news and my views on Mobile, Digital, Social and more. Lots of interesting subscribers in the last few days so you sharing works well — can we keep that up..

And let’s continue the conversation on Twitter — I’m @SimonBigPicture

Digital is reinventing the music business - read more in Audio below

TLDR - if you read just one thing make this A16Z focus on marketplaces; from AirBnB to Zeel, their top 100 is an interesting read, as their rapid growth can inform thinking for most businesses

Merchant

Some welcome recognition that this space is still very healthy even as we see some high profile businesses burn out. A senior Shopify exec talks of how their good Q4 demonstrates that DTC is no longer a fad. I like this quote;

While other companies are trying to build empires, we are arming the rebels. And, honestly, the rebels are winning.”

Adweek argue that it’s not all doom and gloom and the fact Walmart online sales grew by 35% shows omnichannel has become the norm. When a firm with the profile of L’Oreal says “Everything we do now is about DTC.” you know the world has changed. 16% of their sales are now online and that’s up by over 50% in a year.

But smart businesses do not deny opportunities by being dogmatic. Talking with AppearHere this week, the way businesses are using physical spaces as a marketing tactic keeps evolving. It's not just about temporary space - some brands are pioneering permanent locations and measuring their contribution beyond sales. And there is recognition that the demise of malls isn't all about online sales - the NYTimes cites Big Box stores, income inequality and the lust for experiences as key factors.

The partnership between Dirty Lemon and Walmart is a good example of how very different types of businesses are finding collaboration useful. And this audio interview with Buzzfeed head of Commerce highlights how content and commerce can thrive together - she sees Buzzfeed as curators of culture and commerce for millenials

Behind the strategic moves a lot of success for Merchants is about getting the tactics right. From choosing the right ecommerce platform - something that should be a priority for the huge number of businesses still using Magento1 - where support gets withdrawn in a couple of months - to minimising basket abandonment. These granular issues can be ignored by marketing but in our experience that’s a mistake. Often the easiest way to double the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is to halve basket abandonment. An easy win is often to remove the discount code box. But if you have a bespoke tech and need your CMS agency to make every change, that can be a problem.

newTV

Lots of subscribers clicked through to read the Nielsen report on streaming that we shared last week - there is lots of good stuff in there and Axios have done a good summary in Streaming TV explodes

The shift in viewing is so clear that even the most ardent supporters of tradTV are coming round to the idea that change is afoot. Or at least Change approaches as Mark Ritson says in this good piece Commercial TV’s decline is faster than we thought, but no one knows what’s next.

I think the BVoD angle is probably an irrelevance; the idea a Broadcaster enjoys any significant advantage in the Streaming Wars seems like wishful thinking. I do agree with much of what Ritson says - as my talk at Vidcon last year said The future of TV? It'll be ad-funded, stupid (I can share the full piece - hit reply) but we know that brands are being built in newTV already.

This look at YouTube shows how strong the competition is - with a great quote from the Netflix CEO

“We do wonder in the fullness of time, ‘Can we be as big as YouTube?’” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in July 2019. “YouTube is seven times larger than us, roughly, in viewing hours, and a phenomenal service. Of course, it’s free. So the real question is, can we produce enough content that people are willing to pay for?”

And I am told that the Machine Learning at Google is getting really good at working out what ad to show on YouTube, achieving significant improvements in the numbers watching past the skip now button. That builds on what we hear from Sky - showing addressable ads drives a significant reduction in channel switching. Showing the right ad to the right person at the right time will transform TV advertising - but that is more likely to come from GAFA than BVoD.

The low barriers to entry in newTV keeps attracting new entrants - Redbox have launched an ad funded streaming platform.

Finally, no company in newTV divides opinion like Quibi - so this interview of CEO Meg Whitman by VC Mark Suster is worth watching. I am still bullish - even when she describes Quibi as the DaVinciCode of content.

#AdtechPerfectStorm

Our event is coming together. We have fixed the date - April 22nd at the IAB in Covent garden - and now just need to finalise the agenda and confirm our speakers. Following our share of the planned list of speakers last week, we had some great thoughts from Fix Subscribers and have added speakers from Essence and the Economist. Again, if you think you could add value, get in touch - interested in more super smart speakers and potential sponsors.

Full details - and tickets - next week - but save the date in your diary.

So much going on. Speculation that mobile IDFAs are the next victim of Privacy and Hitwise has closed - probably as a consequence of privacy issues. Some see vultures feasting on adtech firms and Paul Gubbins has a good summary of key issues in AdTech.

The malign issue of fraud still taints the industry and this interview with an Uber exec looks at what they call Historic ad fraud, which was quite a controversy in London when Uber initially blamed their agency Fetch.

Audio

Some years ago we shared a video of WME exec Marc Geiger who was one of the few that believed streaming was a good thing for the music industry. As the chart we opened with shows he was right and this FT piece goes deep into how profitable the business now is - with both Warner and Universal planning IPOs. Warner is now worth 10 times what it was sold for in 2011. Axios also focus on the music business with a piece including this good quote;

That vibe is helped by YouTube too - they paid $3billion to the music industry last year.

New research showed Google and Amazon ceded smart speaker market share to Chinese rivals in 2019, but we haven't seen any of these brands get real traction in the west.

Privacy

The EU is dialing up their requirement for GAFA to operate differently - now asking that data is made available to smaller competitors - in the way it works in Financial Services.

But as we take back control, it’s unclear how GDPR is going to play out for the UK. It makes perfect sense for us to continue to align with Europe on privacy. But perfect sense doesn't seem to be that popular.

If you are GAFA you have to accept there are two codes on conduct needed; one for the EU - so GDPR is adhered to by everyone - and one for the US where the California Privacy is setting a standard other states are likely to follow. The latest draft of CCPA has quite a few changes.

The last thing that GAFA lawyers want is a third code to follow and the UK just isn’t big or important enough to have them change their mind to accommodate wherever we end up. So it shouldn't be that surprising that Google are to treat UK data the same as US, by effectively switching all UK accounts from Europe to the US.

So you should probably have all your legal advisors get busy on the latest CCPA draft but should they drop their GDPR work? Quite where that leaves the ICO and their imminent action on UK adtech is a mystery. I am hoping to have someone from the ICO at our event, so that can be one of the topics.

News

With news that Google are in talks to pay publishers for content, the idea of GAFA funding news is finally getting traction. It's interesting to look back at the 2020 predictions from the Reuters Institute of Journalism where they compared the popularity of tech platforms amongst publishers. Would that be the same if Google developed their own News Product?

But the prospects for any News content is put in question by the dumb use of keyword blacklists - as this study shows;

Do you know whether your brand is part of this problem?

Amazon

The BBC Panorama programme on Amazon got lots of attention but seemed a hatchet job to me. This article covers most of the content from the TV show. It's worth reading but there is not much new here - nor anything particularly sinister.

In an odd coincidence (?) the US PBS show Frontline has just released a 2 hour documentary on Amazon, which looks to have a similar focus to the BBC but with a bit more gloss - Scott Galloway rather than someone who worked at Amazon 20 years ago. The trailer is here. Working out how to watch the full show is proving a problem so far. One for the VPN?

Etc

We keep looking at the Trump marketing campaign- lots to learn. It seems they are dialing down Facebook

In another election we see the first use of ‘Deepfakes’- but as means of personalising the ads

Super smart idea from Ikea in the MENA region - rewarding people who have travelled far with discounts based on how long it took to drive to the store

Google Moonshot team with Tips for unleashing radical creativity

Super smart thinking on Mobile ad creative: how to produce and deploy advertising creative at scale (one side effect of Spirable is how quick and easy it is to build assets on the self serve platform, so lends itself to this sort of approach)

Good thinking on Engineering Marketing from a FIx friend

Finally…..European startups are obsessed with profits. A good thing, as profits are probably the best way to prove a business actually works. And it’s also the best way to prove your marketing is working. Does yours make a profit?

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