And so it begins
There are a number of themes that keep coming up in Fix and in our consulting work. The Vertical Stacks of GAFA are now well accepted and our nomenclature
is used widely. The idea of GAFA embracing content as a means of differentiation and driving usage once seemed unlikely, but now makes perfect sense. This is starting to change the economics of content. Friends at a Talent Agency tell us their work has evolved now their clients are courted by Netflix and Amazon as well as the BBC and Hollywood.
As the TV world knows, live events remain the most powerful draw and live sports is the ultimate. Now, finally, something we have suspected for a while has been confirmed; GAFA are actively looking for sports rights.
Facebook have confirmed they are talking with the NFL about live streaming games – with the two other key bidders being Amazon and Verizon. We also hear that Apple looked at this but don’t see it as sufficiently big enough.
As Wired put it The NFL on Facebook Is a Glimpse at the Radical Future of TV. Combining live sports with the social element of Facebook enables interesting new formats – look at what College Basketball are doing with March Madness on Apple TV – you can watch two games at once.
Football - sorry soccer – is the global sport and would probably be the best driver of growth for GAFA – so Sky, BT etc can expect more competition next time rights come up. We just have to hope Leeds can make it back to the top tier in time to participate in the next bonanza.
The one weakness of Facebook streaming sports is the small screen – could we see a Chromecast / Amazon Fire Stick product from Facebook to stream this content onto TVs?
Future of advertising agencies
Like many Fix readers I go back to Fix over the weekend to read/ watch some of the longer pieces again. Over the weekend I watched the full video from the CEO of Machine Zone talking about how they run $80m of ads to drive game downloads and it is a must watch. He measures everything, does it all in house and believes all media will be repriced according to the value it actually delivers.
So is this an edge case or is this approach going to gain traction?
Given the business model of driving downloads with the intention of driving in-app purchases outsourcing to agencies probably doesn’t make sense. For other brands its less clear cut.
Martin Sorrell believes clients taking Programmatic in house is a short term trend. But he would say that wouldn’t he. We know a number of very smart companies that are investing in having their own DMP – which will inevitably change how they work with agencies. A very interesting interview with the CEO of WPPs Xaxis is worth reading in this context as they have the possibility to develop a different sort of relationship with brands too.
There are many different ways of trading media these days – this is a great insight into most of the possibilities – and knowing whether your team or your partners can choose - and execute - the right ones is tough.
One point in that interview is especially interesting though. MachineZone give one reason for inhouse buying as they want to buy from everyone. As Xaxis“have “a limited relationship with Amazon” does that mean their clients can’t advertise on Amazon? Taking buying in house frees you from these restrictions but you need to do deals with everyone yourself. Equally we have spoken with brands who only spend on Facebook but feel they need an agency to help them get the most from their investment.
So, as ever, it is horses for courses, but smart brands are being more demanding about how their partners add value. As GAFA get better at demonstrating their effect – although everyone needs to remember that correlation doesn’t imply causation – the value added by agencies is arguably clearer than ever to see. This piece from an agency veteran points out all the ways agencies can add value – but how many actually do this?
Whilst Siri and Google Voice search have been in the vanguard for voice, it was the Apple Watch that made it feel really useful for me. Talking into the watch to dictate text messages works pretty well although it still feels ever so slightly Get Smart
Reading an email on the watch is painful, and so is having to go to the phone – the obvious UX is to have the email or any message read to you. Amazon Whispersync does this for Kindle and Speak Screen lets you do the same with your iPhone. For the Apple Watch you can use VoiceOver to have interface icons read to you – but to support Speak Screen you would need wireless headphones and it seems that will be standard with the iPhone 7, as the headphone jack is going.
There is quite a lot of action around earphones and this is a good round up. The other big play in voice is Alexa from Amazon – which we now have and are finding really useful. This NYT piece is very bullish on Alexa, and whilst using one in the UK has its issues, we would agree with the enthusiasm. Developers are attracted to the platform and one commentator suggests it could soon be a $1 billion business for Amazon.
At an event in London this week the chiefs of Trinity and the Guardian talked about what they were doing to counter the threat. The FT find that up to 20% of their ads are blocked and they are blocking the blockers too.
Now we need brands and agencies to do their part – to stop running bad ads. A couple of forward thinking media brands have stepped up to say they will audit their ads and stop the bad ones. We are working with them on some sort of manifesto for this to better define what bad ads are. Happy to collaborate with anyone keen to improve the situation.
Finally …as brands become media owners and content calendars and news rooms proliferate this is a good reminder that people probably don’t actually care about your content. So balancing quantity with quality becomes a key challenge. Lots to think about here.
We are out and about next week speaking at an ISBA event – if you are there do come and say hello
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