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Mobile Fix – July 7

Feature Arms Race

For all the headlines over Zuck stealing ideas from Evan Spiegel it is inevitable that everyone steals everyone else’s features. One of the main business learnings from the tech revolution driven by Mobile is that Product and User Experience are paramount. So if you can improve yours by taking inspiration from elsewhere, why wouldn’t you.

So it is no surprise that Facebook are testing a Houseparty clone. Whether group video chat is as appealing to the typical Facebook user as it is the very young cohort Houseparty attracted, it’s highly probable that Facebook can get more users than the original App.

Snap have the young user base that is quick to try new features so their pipeline continues. Anyone can now create a custom geo filter and at $6 an hour each could drive some significant revenue. Could pocket money spend contribute to the next quarters figures?

Other new features for users include the ability to create backdrops and remix voices. And a major change – now users can add links to their Snaps using PaperClip. This could work well for Influencers who can now drive traffic directly – but it’s less clear how tracking might work.

Look out for something similar on Instagram soon – though verified users can already add links to Stories. Still on Instagram this is a useful summary of how some big brands use the platform. Not sure I agree with everything but it’s a not a bad place to start.

Apple

We have long thought it odd that Apple – who revere their app developers and recognise their crucial role in the Apple ecology - don’t do more to facilitate ad revenue. For many (most) app developers advertising is their only significant revenue source. After a number of false starts there is now no one at a senior level in Apple who really gets advertising though.

In Apple News they have partnered with people like the Telegraph to sell ads, but now they seem to be relaxing the rules to allow top publishers to sell their own ads on their inventory in Apple News

The imminent demise of the tracking cookie on Safari – a huge amount of mobile traffic and some of the highest value audience - means the recent focus on trading audience will give way to context. This piece goes into some detail and makes the back to the future point this may well work better than the obsession with audience alone.

With the beta of iOs 11 now available we are seeing some details on the changes iPhone users will see when its launched properly September

Our friends at Yodel have dug in and spotted some interesting changes. One other change we think is significant is how the iPhone will tell you which apps are using your location. This already happens but is quite subtle – from September it will be much more obvious, which could prove problematic for apps that mine your location merely to sell on the data

Facebook & Video

With the summer just getting going, it’s a little depressing that Facebook are pushing their advertisers to be thinking about the Holiday season – which to we Brits means Christmas. They have shared some good insight into last year and it’s a useful read.

One key thing within this is confirmation that they now allow video in dynamic ads. This has been rumoured for a while and eagerly anticipated. Our work with PhotoSpire is demonstrating the effectiveness of combining the story telling capabilities of video with data driven context. They already work really well on Facebook and this is a new opportunity for their Engine.

There is unsurprisingly lots of interest around dynamic video and Accenture demoed a new video technology in Cannes. It sounds interesting but doesn’t seem that far ahead of what is already available.

And at Vidcon the other week we missed one really interesting new feature from YouTube. Amongst the announcements around the social aspects of watching and sharing video they mentioned a way to dynamically adapt video content to fill the screen whether it was shot vertically or horizontally. Given the costs of shooting two lots of content this could become widely used.

More on the Blockchain

The Goldman Sachs piece on the Blockchain was the most clicked and shared piece from last weeks Fix. It’s not clear whether that’s because it’s a stunning piece of content that shows how to tell stories in digital. Or maybe we are all hungry for better understanding of the Blockchain and particularly how it may affect advertising?

Fix Friend Neil Perkins has a great piece on the topic which is worth a read and this plain english guide is good too.

Amazon

The ramifications of Amazon buying Whole Foods continue to dominate any conversation around retail – and much else. Harvard Business Review makes the excellent point that every other retailers forward plans are now obsolete. In meetings we have had, the idea of physical retailers accessing more data to better serve customers now has more urgency. This is a good look at how some are trying to blend 1st party data on there customers with 3rd party data that gives them better understanding.

Ad Agency CEO David Sable argues much of the speculation misses the point – the deal is all about customers. And I would agree – the need for Digital Transformation is directly linked to a failure in customer insight; all the big brands now hiring CDOs managed to miss the fact there customers have gone mobile. No-one understands that better than Amazon and for everyone else it’s a race to see how they can combine real insight with the unique assets that their business has.

A visit to Mr Porter this week emphasizes how well organised and well funded the big players in ecommerce are these days. But as the Amazon deal proved - and the Farfetch model – physical stores have lots of advantages.

Quick Reads

Many of our conversations focus on how improving retention and advocacy can balance the drive for new customers – and change the economics. This look at onboarding goes into the details of how this can really impact growth when done well.

In China, Tencent is hugely successful – this article looks at their plans to emulate this position in the rest of the world. In both a sign of their size and an indication of how we may see the big players taking their responsibilities more seriously, they are to limit the time kids can spend playing their top game Honour of Kings. This game alone made $810m in the first quarter of this year.

The Apple TV show on Dr Dre we mentioned last week still appears to be lost, but an HBO show on Dre and Apple Music boss Jimmy Iovine is out in August. This is a good interview with Iovine and gets into the story of the Beats acquisition by Apple and their subsequent driving of Apple Music. And on a similar tip, the excellent new JayZ album has gone platinum, helped by a Tidal partnership with mobile operator Sprint.

Lots happening in FinTech, with mobile only Bank Tide raising $14m but the fragility of the ecosystem was demonstrated again when a number of key players went down this week for a couple of hours.

Now US mobile operator Verizon has launched Oath – their roll up of AOL and Yahoo – they are looking at partnering with other operators to pool their customer data, so they can better fight Facebook and Google. Much to learn from our friends at Weve. Their original model was a little ahead of its time, and also suffered from the brutal in fighting endemic between operators.

Finally …A good look at the battle between Uber and Black Cabs in London. Having always lived East I have more than my fair share of stores about Rude, Racist and Rip Off black cabs and now use Uber all the time. But at some point are they going to turn the screw on their passengers?

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