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Mobile Fix - March 4

Content

With Netflix powering away and Amazon commissioning movies from luminaries like Spike Lee and Woody Allen the entertainment landscape is changing fast. New York VC Fred Wilson makes the point that new bundlers are emerging – Amazon and YouTube Red are competing to recruit subscribers and that drives their appetite for new rare content.

With some of the bigger clubs around Europe looking at a new alternative to the Champions League we should expect new entrants as media partners. With Facebook Live getting lots of investment all of GAFA would love a source of more exclusive video.

The smart people at Redef have taken an in depth look at the TV market, pointing out the business model issues that are now under pressure.

VR

We mentioned the Google partnership with Star Wars to give away branded Cardboards and the NYTimes giveaway of 1 million went well – we heard that Cardboards were being stolen from the letterboxes, leaving the newspaper. Now McDonalds are turning their kids meal box into a headset and Coke are doing something similar with their packaging.

There is something really exciting about VR and being a brand that introduces this to your customers has some value. These are only limited initiatives – 14 McDonalds in Sweden and one skiing game – but it can grow.

Advertising – good news

One player in particular escapes the adblocking conflict for now and their constant product releases look likely to strengthen their position.

Facebook keep improving their targeting – now you can segment according to behaviors, improving the granularity of Custom Audiences. Tiered Audiences also facilitates more customized creative

Those who see the benefits of these ad tools within Facebook are obviously keen to extend them outside and Facebook Audience Network – where sites like Huffington Post and Shazam can be used with Facebook targeting – is growing fast. This is a good look at the business and the story behind it.

Their other push into non Facebook properties is growing less quickly. Using Atlas ad serving – where Facebook data can be used to power campaigns on any site - requires businesses to make a transition from Googles’ DoubleClick. That is proving to be an issue for many brands, despite the apparent benefits of audience insight over cookie based targeting. We think that smart brands will end up running a number of adservers – the extra expense being justified by the improvements in efficiency, even if reporting becomes harder.

As well as improving the media elements, Facebook are also focused on improving creative with Canvas offering a new opportunity for brands to stand out.

Advertising Woes

The cheerleader for the Traditional Media Taliban is probably the AdContrarian. His always funny and usually quite well informed blog is constantly pointing out the issues facing digital marketing. His new post about why the online ad industry cannot reform itself has some truth in it. Quite a lot of the VC funded AdTech world isn’t actually that involved in the marketing world – many just peddle their voodoo to other Adtech players. You could erase some pretty big chunks of the Luma charts without impacting what really matters – the outcomes for brands

But the problem remains – a new IAB study shows 22% of UK Adults have used ad blockers. Encouragingly 54% would switch off the software if that was the only way to access the content. So Just Say No would work. And the idea of a value exchange is understood to some extent.

But it’s terribly clumsy isn’t it? And the debate is getting increasingly fractious – Tory Minister called it a modern day protection racket and AdBlock Plus responded with a mealy mouthed argument that they are paving the way to better ad formats. You can read more detail on the way AdBlock Plus operates on a blog post on their site.

We did get some positive reaction to our plea for Fix readers to stop running bad ads and try and ensure new activity is better – and we’ll report back on that. In the meantime, are you checking whether your house is made of glass?

Twitter

With share price struggling the jury seems to be still out on Twitter. As a loyal user it remains umissable to me, but as other platforms proliferate - and some appropriate some of the use cases of Twitter - we can see it is under pressure.

Fred Wilson points out the contradiction of Twitter – it’s still where people go when they have something to say. And the fact many people see this even though they are not logged in, shows the true value of Twitter is not being reflected in the data.

That said, Twitter is not welcoming to new or casual users – as this comprehensive ‘user manual’ shows. In my view the best thing they could do is buy Nuzzel and use that to drive an edited option – tweets the people you follow found valuable.

And blending that with a smart use of lists would be a quick win. Imagine if you could follow all your teams players in one click? Labour MPs, The cast of Coronation Street. Or the Top 50 Celebs. You get the idea – the Twitter equivalent of Lego Starter packs.

Ecology

As the web has evolved from destinations – home pages and individual sites – to networks, the question of how someone should build their digital presence remains challenging. We withdrew from developing apps as it’s increasingly hard to justify the investment, even though it’s never been cheaper to build. Getting users to download the app has got harder and harder – as this story of a mid sized app developers shows.

Instead, the right idea is to build where the people are – on a platform where the network effect can help drive adoption. But that route is fraught with difficulties too – many companies have been caught unawares by the platform changing. This smart thinking from a VC suggests it’s the right idea but needs to be approached with caution

As clever brands think about developing their presence in messaging apps, this thinking is really useful.

Live Video

Since Meerkat blew up at SXSW last year, the idea of live video has grown and grown. Twitter buying Periscope drove the market forward and now Facebook have their own dog in the fight. Seemingly Zuck is very excited by live video and they seem to be prioritizing it in the News Feed. One development over the competition is that you can keep Live Video on your timeline as long as you want, where as Periscope content is deleted after a day. This Frozen Content is a very important development

As part of the drive to grow Live Video, Facebook are talking with Hollywood to get celeb content – and is reportedly willing to pay for the content. Given the Hollywood Talent Agencies are very keen on developing both new revenue streams and building the social profile of their talent, this should be a good move.

We mentioned the other week that the new Instant Pages model, where anyone can add content and keep the ad revenue, could be a way to lure YouTube talent to Facebook. So could this.

There are many other players in this space – from Beckham backed MyEye to a new site aggregating live chats called Blab. The problem for everyone is that when Facebook steps in, it’s hard to compete – the point we make in theecology piece above.

Quick Reads

The Amazon tie up with Morrisons is a big move – how many brands are now trying to work out which of their products make the cut? And what sort of reviews have they on Amazon at the moment? Often supplied by 3rd parties we have seen some poor ratings driven by the high pricing by these unofficial wholesalers.

As we shared last week Instagram has 200k advertisers – now they have to regulate all those ads

Snapchat now does 8 billion video views a day – the same as the last figure shared by Facebook.

Out of home and mobile are natural partners. In the US Clear Channel are using mobile behavior to track the likely audience for each of their posters. We did a lot of work looking at this a couple of years ago and it is clear there is huge value here.

Finally – we think that mobile will eventually drive a new art form that is native to the device. Each new media eventually gets a way to define itself. The best example is how Cinema was just theatre filmed until the close up was invented by DW Griffiths.

Now VR could be the defining content for mobile – we expect it to be very big on current devices, without Oculus headsets. But maybe messaging could spark a new content format. The BBC have a new documentary series that will play out over a week as a Viber chat

Part of the ad conundrum is that the formats are not native to the device – they have been copied from desktop. Maybe it takes content to define how a device is best used, before advertisers pick it up. So lets hope the storytellers come up with some new thinking that we can use to tell stories about brands.

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