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Mobile Fix - June 5

Google I/O, newTV & Saving the Stream

Google I/O

Last weeks Google I/O developer event has dominated discussion this week – just like Apple WWDC will dominate next week (You can read a good preview of WWDC here)

The story that got the most headlines was the launch of Google Photos. When we have talked about Anchors – the services that GAFA use to try and get people to stay loyal to their platform - we have mainly focused on Music and Photos. Whilst Music is still fought over, the popularity of Spotify has blunted that strategy; who cares if all my music is locked into iTunes when I can get it all on Spotify on my Samsung phone?

Photos are different – we take more and more and share trillions but managing and finding specific ones is a challenge. The new Google service is a significant improvement on current services – including Apples –with image recognition in particular hugely improved.. And it is free no matter how many pictures you have. That’s an anchor.

This interview with Bradley Horowitz, who runs product on Streams, Photos and Sharing, dig deeper and, as the guy behind Yahoos acquisition of Flikr, he gets the space well. He gives a hint about the future use of these photos;

The big news for business was the evolution of Google Now into Now on Tap, where the context aware capabilities of Now are unleashed from the Now app and available on whatever app you are using. Simply tap the home button on your Android phone and Now will suggest some apps – and some web pages – that may be helpful. One example used is around movies – texting a friend about seeing something and you can pop up reviews, the YouTube trailer and cinema bookings. Really useful and part of the trend we described last week in messaging; smart services will increasingly anticipate what you may need and enable it in the stream – rather than requiring you to hunt and peck around the app icons on your homescreen.

This piece by one of Europes smartest VCs thinks Google may have nailed the age of context Of course the perfect device for this type of function is the Watch, but given the GAFA walled gardens this innovation is not going to get the Apple watch anytime soon. Could this sort of software give the Android watches a fighting chance?

There was lots more too – this is a full list, covering the Android Pay developments, their new OS for the internet of things, the partnership with GoPro to give Cardboard more content and much more. Well worth reading through as some of this will make a big impact in the coming months – particularly the ads and developer pages in the Play Store – a huge opportunity for anyone looking for app downloads. Will Apple make their app store more useful for developers?

And this long interview with Sundar Pichai – who is essentially running Google nowadays – is a must read for the big picture on Google.

Agencies & Media

In the ad agency world things have gone a little strange. Brands are always putting their accounts into review; ostensibly to get fresh thinking but (too) often procurement use pitches as a mechanism to drive down Agency fees. The odd thing is the sheer number of pitches now taking place. Most of the biggest spenders have announced reviews of their media business and no-one is quite sure why.

There are two strong theories.

The optimistic one is that brands have recognized the world has changed and want to make sure they have the right partner to navigate a digital world. So that’s bad for the companies with the smoke and mirrors and a handful of good digital people who fly around the world trying to convince people their local office really does get it. And it’s good for those who have invested properly in digital talent and started to evolve their business model to one that isn’t predicated on big TV spends.

The pessimistic theory is that clients are fed up with the opacity of agencies revenue from trading desks and their rush to programmatic, and are using pitches to get a new contract that reflects how the money is really made - ie driving down Agency fees.

As we move to a world where - arguably - spend volume doesn’t matter quite as much, could we see a new world order where smarter, more nimbler companies are truly valued for their thinking? Coke seem to be open to a new way of doing things – inviting creative agency Ogilvy to compete with a bunch of media agencies for their comms planning. And their approach to marketing is very influential amongst clients.

This look at how programmatic is changing Media agencies is a very timely read. We know of very smart smaller companies that have done a great job for big brands but keep being squeezed out when the incumbent holding company recognize the threat and roll out their global A team and promise the world – and slash the price.

When the dust settles on these reviews will we see a new order where the real talent -from the big and the small companies - is valued and suitably rewarded? Or will it just be a case of musical chairs, where a few people switch partners, everyone drives down agency remuneration and the good people are no longer affordable for the agencies?

newTV

The ecology of TV is changing – which is why we call it newTV - and something we have long predicted finally happened this week.

Yahoo have paid $20m for the rights to stream an NFL game live online. It’s the game which kicks off the NFL season and takes place in London – so hardly prime time in the US; 6.30 am on the West Coast. But it’s a chance for everyone to learn how this works and we remain convinced someone will go for more extensive sports rights soon.

There is no doubt that the quality of TV has never been better but some argue it’s unsustainable because the evolving business models don’t generate enough money to keep paying for them. Others think that if the way we measure TV across all devices then we may have a healthier debate about where the money is going. But consumers aren’t big fans of TV ads and the introduction of ads onto Netflix – albeit they are promos of other shows – has irked some people but Netflix don’t see the need for ads – yet.

With Chromecast (estimated to be in 6% of UK homes having doubled penetration in 6 months) and the Amazon Stick selling well, the digital world is increasingly on the TV screen as well as the tablet, phone and laptop. Convergence is here.

Bookmarking the Stream

An essential part of the Fix production process is Pocket, where we save everything we’ve seen over the week that may merit inclusion. In the past we used Delicious and there are a number of products that do what they did pretty well. But Pocket is probably the best and now has been baked into the latest version of the Firefox browser.

This ability to save gets more and more important as our stream of content flows faster and deeper – this article announcing the Firefox move makes the case well. The latest desktop version of Tweetdeck helpfully informs you how many new Tweets have arrived since you last checked – knowing that you have missed 2237 in the last 7 hours is quite depressing. One of the challenges of Twitter for newbies is that as you start to follow more people, you can quickly be overwhelmed by how much you have missed.

So making saving easier makes sense – as do things like screengrabbing which we also do lots of. These actions are powerful signals though – knowing what someone thinks is so important that they save it is valuable data. Whilst we measure and use the data on what people share, this seems like an undervalued resource. We can expect people to develop tools for this.

Quick reads

One of the things everyone expects from Apple next week is news about their Music product. This piece by Bob Lefsetz suggests Apple aren’t going to be able to reshape the music market. He is also quite scathing about Tidal, but this piece seems more balanced, recognising that exclusives – and the commitment of the artist involved - does give them a chance. Of course Apple and Tidal aren’t really fighting each other – or Spotify for that matter. They are fighting YouTube where everyone gets the music for free. We think Tidal will struggle on its own but there will we plenty of offers from GAFA to embrace them

PWC have issued their latest prediction for Media and Entertainment. This is a good summary of the UK findings. If anyone can help get us a copy of the Global report we would appreciate it.

Boston Consulting have an interesting report out too – on Digital Disruption.

The latest report in Social is out from Global Web Index – lots of good data here

Another of our long time predictions is that Apple will – eventually - kick Google out of it’s slot as default search engine in Safari. Could the data speech that Tim Cook made this week finally trigger this? Is Tim Cook happy that his customers are giving all that search data to Google? It’s time to make sure your SEO is as good on Bing as it is on Google.

Dribble used to be a great resource for cutting edge design but it’s now mainly pretty pictures of apps and sites. Intercom argue – rightly – that design is about solving problems

Dilbert always nails the lunacy of big business and tech. This Harvard Business Review celebration is great reading.

Finally… Old school adman Dave Trott writes a great blog and his common sense constantly reminds us that advertising can and should be a tool for driving business results. This piece on how Facebook use data is fantastic advice

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