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Mobile Fix - January 15

So CES is over and the ad industry digerati are heading home with their fractious hangovers and their virtually fictitious expense claims. Much of what went on in Las Vegas is gadget show stuff but the focus on cars and tech is getting really interesting as it’s now driving business models. As with many other sectors the focus is moving from product to service and the big players are recognising they need to partner with tech startups to fight new entrants. We dug deep into this market a couple of years ago when developing the apps for Easycar and it’s fascinating how much is going on – even then.

For the best take on CES you need to be on the tour my ex boss Irwin Gottlieb does each year and this summary of this years is worth reading. As are these round ups;

Virtual & Augmented Reality was big at CES with Oculus Rift going on sale and getting the headlines. As this report on CES shows there is a huge amount going on here but there is still along way to go.

Google are very keen to play in this space and have now moved the guy behind their Cardboard initiative into a full time focus on VR – with his previous responsibilities for apps like Drive and Gmail being taken over by their new Cloud supremo

Given that a key challenge for VR is content the way Google have made Street View and YouTube work on Cardboard should help them but they need ways of getting Cardboard into more peoples hands. We can expect to see more promotions like their StarWars one in the US – where you could get a Star Wars branded Cardboard for free – and you could even choose between a BB8 or a Stormtrooper version.

Growth remains the overriding objective for just about any company, which is why is why Growth Hacking is such an attractive idea.

But it is one of those misused and misunderstood phrases that gets overused – like going viral. The focus on product is starting to infiltrate the ad world – and it is possibly best summed up by John Willshires mantra Making things people want > Making People want things

This post is a good introduction to Growth Hacking and how it’s seeks to balance acquisition with retention. There is a lot of noise around the subject and this is quite a good introduction.

Like just about anything worthwhile, as you dig deeper there is a whole lot more to consider – this piece by one of the Soundcloud team covers the Mobile Growth Stack and it is fascinating.

There is more detail here than most people need but it does highlight how much is involved in modern marketing. This is a nice story of how sometimes it all comes together and you don’t need any budget at all

Of course the good old fashioned stuff is still important and TV is mentioned as part of the stack. The relationship between TV and search is covered in this article, with lots of smart advice on how to optimize against your own and your competitors’ activity.

Our Christmas reading included the new Part2 of How Brands Grow – the Holy Grail for many FMCG marketers. Reconciling their compelling argument for reach as the main driver of growth with the ability to improve product and nurture retention is going to be a recurring theme in 2016.

Snapchat continues to perplex many of our clients and friends. The UI takes a lot of getting used to and whilst it’s stellar growth continues, some argue that its complexity is precluding brands and publishers from spending.

We’re not so sure that simplifying the experience to suit casual users is a good idea. The millions of people who do use it – who tend to be young – seem pretty happy with it and manage perfectly well. And smart marketers are realising that investing time and effort to understand the platform will pay dividends. US social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk is putting a lot of time in and he is building a following there.

We remember talking with brands about MySpace in 2005 and many thought the anarchic look of the platform – when everyone customised their page with the wildest fonts, colours and even simple HTML coding – was too raw for them. Those brands that did invest time and effort, and understood the subtleties of the top 8 friends etc did well. But can advertising be integrated without spoiling the Snapchat user experience? Probably.

So we would counsel you to get on Snapchat – this WSJ guide may be helpful – and you can use the QR code below to add me as a friend. (More proof QR codes are back)

Video is a big part of the appeal of Snapchat and YouTube have been very visible in the past couple of weeks reminding us just how strong they are. You can watch the full presentation from YouTubes’ Robert Kynci here – and there is also a full transcript of the hour long talk. He makes the point that music and video are now more connected than ever and plugs their music service as well as their VR content.

Apple hasn’t really taken advertising that seriously. Back in October we looked at their various assets and surmised that they could come to the rescue of mobile ads. Our smart friends at Arete said they didn’t think Apple had the DNA to go into ads – and it looks like they could be right as Apple is phasing out its saleforce. But the fact they are also opening up the iAds platform so publishers can sell through it, suggests they can still be a significant player. As we argued back in October they have the data and the reach to impact the market. Watch this space.

They are also continuing to buy interesting businesses, with the latest a firm that specializes in AI that can be used with facial recognition to determine emotions

Quick Reads

Paul Adams has been instrumental in both Facebook and Google+, so his thinking on product is really interesting

And this new ChatBot service across messaging apps is fascinating. Probably here for longer than Peach – which also has an interesting interface

There is lots of talk about how tech is changing retail but researching for a new project it’s clear there isnt much action. These predictions on retail are worth reading though.

Finally we shared Ben Evans predictions last week and this podcast where he explains them in some detail is worth listening to.

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