In the US iconic department store chain Neiman Marcus is up for sale. Many other retail chains are closing stores and each one erodes the business model of the mall they are situated in.
Rob Norman nails it;
Sears anchors one end of a mall. Sears is in deep deep trouble. Sears closes, foot traffic falls at nearby stores. The Sears workers and customers are gone, the other stores nearby cut also. Macy's is at the other end of the mall. Macy's is in trouble. Let's say Macy's closes. Without the anchors the ship lists, the ship sinks. The stores close, the restaurants close, the multiplex closes, the jobs evaporate. The parking lots empty, the gas stations close, the value of real estate collapses. It goes on. It goes badly. Very badly.
Walmart are responding with a new incubator called Store8 where they will invest in – and acquire - interesting businesses that have the potential to;
…change the course of retail five or 10 years out
A new Deloitte report looks at the challenges for retailers and shares some thoughts on how they see as the future - suggesting five types of retailer will emerge
The Entertainer, The Curator, The Deliverer, The Innovator and The Discounter.
But the relentless Amazon machine roles on. Whilst stores closing makes it harder for the ones remaining, as Amazon increases size it amortizes its costs across more customers and more sales. So them buying Dubai based Souq brings the MENA region into its footprint. Does that suggest problems ahead for the regions Mall based retail sector?
In some work we did for a luxury retailer opening in the region, we saw that ecommerce was small but growing fast - especially amongst the more frequent spenders. But the lack of an efficient postal system in many markets, throws up opportunities for click and collect.
Amazon are also launching new tools - a new service called Outfit Compare promised to help you choose which outfit best suits you with an Amazon stylist. Not really clear how it works or what they will do with it, but this is a good way of harvesting photos of what outfits customers like and an AI system can learn from this and start to offer suggestions.
On the high street John Lewis are giving a new app to their staff so they can help customers know what’s in stock. And now that Farfetch own iconic London fashion store Browns, they have a London event where they are due to announce their Store of The Future;
…seamlessly weaving technology into the customer experience
(If anyone can help me get an invitation to this event I would be very grateful)
Whilst luxury goods are a huge market the big prize in online retail is grocery and a new Criteo report gets into the details of this market;
We think there is an interesting ad model for FMCGs geared around adding items to basket – whilst delivering on brand metrics. And one of the most exciting elements of the mobile ad ecology is location and how driving store traffic is becoming a core competence. Our friends at Tamoco, Blis, Weve and xAd are very accomplished at this – in their different ways – as are Google and Facebook. And a really interesting French adtech firm is doing well in this space too
So a biscuit brand can serve store traffic ads just to those in the catchment area of stores stocking the product. Maybe with a coupon so effect can be measured.
As with just about everything we look at, the answer is to find the right blend of the old and the new.
Agencies & Google
You can’t have missed the Google /YouTube boycott this week. Brands - and one or two Agencies - have been quick to voice their complaints over ads appearing around distasteful content and quite a few have pulled their money. But from YouTube and the Google Display Network, rather than search – so not quite as drastic as its sounds.
Getting the wrong ad by the wrong content has always been an issue – Private Eye has ran a column about this for years. But the modern approach to media buying – chase audience and discounting context – creates the ingredients for bigger problems. As Google say, it’s pennies rather than pounds as the audience for this content is – thankfully – relatively small. And of course the people who see the ads in this bad context are people who are watching this content – usually out of choice.
With over 400 hours of content uploaded to Google every minute – by millions of people - this isn’t an easy problem to solve. But it’s clearly an important issue and one that needs solving.
Google have responded by promising to broaden the categories of sites where ads wont appear and employing ‘significant’ numbers of people and using AI to better police their content.
But a few people have pointed out that there is quite a lot agencies can do right now to minimise these problems. Brainlabs point out that good old Pareto applies to YouTube too – the top 2000 channels deliver around 70% of YouTube reach. And with currently available tools – whitelists etc - they can avoid the dodgy stuff. All that long tail content is usually a cost reducer and, like so much in life, if you buy cheap quantity you end up buying poor quality.
Stratchery goes further - probably a little too far – placing the blame with the agency. He argues that Google and Facebook are becoming the de facto choices for digital advertising and therefore Agencies should take responsibility for protecting their clients on these platforms.
Keith Weed of Unilever said they weren’t affected – probably because they had all the safeguards in place.
The problem with so much of the unacceptable content is similar to that of Fake news – who is uploading the content and could some sort of quality score verify their reputation? Monday Note goes into good detail here.
Hopefully the agencies who have pulled the money from Google have been busy investing it in digital properties where context isn’t a problem. Have the Guardian, Mail, Mirror, Telegraph etc seen this money flowing back? We came across great research from our friends at Inskin this week showing context is important;
- Consumers 37% more likely to click on trusted websites
- Repeated ads 40% more positively received on related websites
- Ads on well-known websites are rated up to 88% more positively
All these issues highlight the changing role for media agencies – where APIs and algorithms are becoming as (more?) important as trading relationships and volume. This is a look at how the big consultancies are getting involved in media buying.
Whilst the more traditional parts of the media industry may hope the Google problems will slow the decline in spend into old media, it’s more likely to accelerate the intrusion from these new players in Media.
Facebook have less issues around brand safety as generally the content users see in their feed results from what they liked and what their friends share.
But as they expand their people based marketing through the Facebook Advertising Network they bring in other content on the sites and apps they work with. So they have similar needs for a quality score.
Now they are enabling header bidding helping them deliver ads to their users off Facebook. This means they can avoid the ad load issues (of having too many ads in users feeds) that threatens to slow their growth. But now they are competing directly with Google for each ad impression.
(more on Header Bidders, Wrappers and Adapters here)
Demonstrating the ROI of their ads is a huge priority for Facebook and now they support the Nielsen Catalina research tool that enables brands to see the effect of both Facebook ads and TV ads on sales.
Within Instagram the sales effect is becoming more apparent as many fashion and luxury brands find the tap to view shopper buttons are effective at driving traffic.
With any platform, really understanding the intricacies and nuances helps you get the most from it. How can the emerging tactics of Pods help brands drive more views and engagement on Instagram?
Still more news on Voice. Last week we shared the Benedict Evans post on the challenges and this week we saw how accents can pose a problem. With Samsung making big claims about Bixby – their own voice assistant developed by the team that built Siri for Apple – it’s a busy market.
Lots of talk that the iPhone 8 will be all about AR
The new Apple app Clips – getting close to a Snap like experience on Video clips – supports this
More M&A from Mobile Network Operators. Dutch MNO Altice buys Video ad tech firm Teads. And speculation from the US that the legislators will encourage more of this
Good podcast on Tech and Entertainment in the 'Era of Mass Customization'from Marc Andreessen of A16Z and Reed Hasting of Netflix. And a good read on Netflix global ambitions
You really need to know about GDPR – this will help
Smart thinking on Mobile moments from On Device Research – including good data on driving footfall
CNN have 4.7m followers on Line and Cartier is using WeChat to grow in China
The top 100 Chinese Brands
Finally…. a good deck on Media Trends from Fix friend Tom Goodwin
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