As the great and the good in the Ad industry return to work post Cannes, the FT sums up a fairly wide spread view – repeated by a Media Agency CEO to me just this week - that the dominance of Facebook and Google is an issue. As the piece points out it is an issue for the ad agencies but seemingly less so for the clients quoted. Give the strengths of these two in terms of reach, rich formats and quite a lot of research on effectiveness, versus much of the competition, things are not going to change that much. A possible balance could come form the telecoms firms which have huge reach and lots of invaluable first party data. Verizon get the headlines – especially since their AOL acquisition – but others like Telefonica and Sprint are innovating too.
A lot of the interest in Snapchat can be credited to the fact they are big and they are not Facebook and Google. Yahoo do well for pretty much the same reasons and should they end up part of Verizon the WPPs etc would be very happy.
The rapid growth of Amazon as an ad play isn’t mentioned by the FT – although their reputed push into own label is – but we understand few of the big media Agencies have trading agreements with Amazon, so they are spending very little. Despite this Amazon keep developing new inventory and now they will be selling ads on the lock screens of smartphone they are subsidizing the purchase price of. So just like the Fire tablets and Kindle, people can chose to buy a Motorola or Blu smartphone for half price in return for accepting ads on the lock screen.
Now one can be sniffy about ads that reach people who are saving money to see the ads, but for a significant chunk of the population this is probably quite appealing. And given Amazon really want to run ads for products they sell, the effectiveness should be easy to measure.
One marketing tool that Amazon does get traction with is the dash buttons – where a branded widget is stuck on the fridge or washing machine and a simple click adds the brand to your Amazon basket. It is going to add lots more brand to this programme despite some research saying only half the people with them actually but through them. But having a brand logo right at the point of usage has to have some brand value too.
Prime, at its core, is about changing consumer behavior by reducing friction. Companies and brands of all types could learn a lot from Prime.
Some big brands are recognizing the opportunity of mobile video and the imminent Stella Artois campaign looks promising. There are some interesting experiments around video entertainment and the growth of Live should accelerate this. But making live video isn’t that straightforward as this piece points out.
Experimentation with video makes perfect sense and YouTube are encouraging this. In a speech at VidCon – where 25000 creators and fans gathered last week – CEO Susan Wojcicki was very focused on supporting the community that YouTube have built, recognising how other platforms want to lure away their Disciples.
It’s a shame that much of the discussion around how video is evolving gets bogged down in disputes with the traditional media Taliban. As Wojcicki says
“It’s clear that digital media and traditional linear media are blending together.”
There are tow good long reads on how TV is evolving and how – inevitably - mobile video is going to take a significant chunk of audience and revenue away from linear TV. Strachery does his usual in depth look and considers how the audiences is shifting and suggest the current health of TV spend is a dead cat bounce. Redef has more analysis of the US market and reach similar conclusions.
The two formats are intrinsically intertwined and smart brands will use both. But in our view the thinking will increasingly start with the mobile format and the spend on both media and production will shift to favour the growing reach and improving targeting of mobile. As one of the worlds biggest advertisers now says to its Agencies; No Mobile. No Meeting.
The new mobile video opportunities are complicated though and need smart thinking to get the most from them. This reverse engineering of the YouTube algorithm looks at how one can get into real detail of how your content is being viewed and start to develop strateges to improve performance.
VR & AR
We cant talk about video with out considering the hot topics of AR and VR.
Twitter are entering the space and building a dedicated team headed up by a hire from Apple. One of the key people at mysterious Magic Leap has been predicting how mixed reality will impact peoples lives. And this video looks at the tech behind one of the most widely used AR experiences - Snapchat Filters
“We have this vision of a shift from mobile-first to an AI-first world over many years,”
And to better utilize all the data they have, Google are seeking our permission to blend browsing history with account information, which should give the better cross device insight – a potential advantage over Facebook where so much usage is mobile only. We have already had the Chrome pop up and we’ll be watching the MyActivity page where we can manage our ad profile. There is some more background here.
For a while we have been talking about the Brand Algorithms versus Peoples Algorithms and this new move from Google plays to this enhanced control. New starts up like People.io Citizen.me and Donate Your Data are all giving people the ability to own and profit from their own data. Interestingly DonateyourData is working with Xaxis, so could this be a tactic to give them their own first party data?
At their excellent ThinkRetail event in London this week we learned more about some of their products. It seems the Store Visit metric is working well – with research showing that for every mobile sale driven by mobile ads, there are four incremental store visits.
And one more piece of news – Google have launched Bloks – a very cool project helping kids to programme
Another topic mentioned at the ThinkRetail event was Beacons and their eddystone initiative – termed Location and Proximity Superpowers - looks like breathing new life into how beacons are used. Later this year they will partner with some retailers to install Beacons so they can better track store visits.
In a presentation from Argos their CDO mentioned that they use Beacons to identify when someone collecting an item is close to the store – meaning they can reduce waiting time to under 1 minute.
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