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Mobile Fix – March 11

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.

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?

It’s well worth reading the new report from ReDef on the future of TV to get a sense of where all this might be going

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.

He is spending on TV – but only because he can see the effect on the digital ads and their response. More background on his campaigns here.

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?

Amazon

Live video is quickly becoming a thing. Amazon now has a live fashion show that let’s you shop as you watch – their own QVC. With over 30 million items of apparel and accessories Amazon has quickly become a major player in Fashion

In this interesting look at how ecommerce has impacted US department store Nordstrom, they estimate Amazon already has a $10bn business in Fashion

Voice

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.

There are some interesting start ups playing with voice and worth watching; Anchor allows people add a voice commentary to any content and is a little like UK start up SoundMite

JustSayNo

Some of the bigger UK publishers are now blocking readers using ad blockers and this will only grow as the IAB have developed a toolkit for publishers

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.

Quick Reads

We talked about the pros and cons of building on platforms last week. A good demonstration of the downside is that Instagram now block deep links to other social platforms.

Mobile Payments are broken. We have done quite a bit of work around this topic and is fascinating – especially with so many new players seeking to reimagine the space

Google gets into the trip planning market –great way for them to get deeper involved in flight bookings etc but many startups focused on this opportunity face being collateral damage

Smart thinking in the future of news from Emily Bell – How Facebook is eating the world

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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