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Mobile Fix - March 9


We find civilians really don’t understand how their behaviour leaves signals across digital. So we do hear of people convinced their WhatsApp messages are being used to trigger ads or that Alexa is listening to every conversation. Which of course isn’t true.

This WSJ article is a good take on how signals are captured and used. Looking at GDPR through our Glass half full lens we believe that – as people understand the value exchange in how their data is used - they will recognise the benefits. Of course where there is not real value they will withdraw their consent.

Another WSJ article gets into location – one of the most widely used pieces of data. Apple toned down the blue bar that tells people which apps are using location but we think this will one of the first battle grounds. I know why Google wants to know where I am - and their results for coffee shops in Milan yesterday was a true value exchange. But when an app just uses someones SDK to sell my location, the value exchange is less clear.


The plundering of content - and particularly video – talent by GAFA continues. One of the driving forces behind the success of Buzzfeed has switched to Faceboook, paradoxically just as the new algorithm drives another video focused firm LittleThings out of the market

Researching newTV I found this really good PDF from the Variety looking at content will play out over 2018.

And we noted that GAFA now delivers reach better than the US TV networks

Just as the way the content is made and the way its distributed are rapidly evolving, the way we make ads need to evolve too. The push towards shorter ads is gaining momentum and is a factor in how networks are looking to reduce ad load. Fox want to reduce ads time to two minutes per hour –down from around 13 at the moment

Brand Safe?

The quest for brand safety is – bizarrely - hitting quality news providers hard. It is hard not to be cynical when so much in digital just isn’t thought through properly. The context provides by News is valuable – so why don’t more people invest in it? A trick we use often is to look through a days national newspapers and see all those big brands running press ads. Then look at the same titles mobile and desktop sites and see those brands are absent. Which media planning genius decides they want to reach those people who value the Guardian/ Telegraph / Times etc. But not the ones with smartphones?

Facebook see an opportunity to sell a brand safe environment but are getting some flak for not telling brands what the content will be – other than its going to be brand safe. As we keep saying, its not that hard to get brand safe environments – even on YouTube. You can buy by channel and for example Britains Got Talent has nearly 9 million subscribers with a number of videos with millions of views. But you don’t get that on the cheap.

New Direct Economy

This is a good piece on the rise of small brands and the poor response from the large incumbents drawing upon good Bain research. The tech start up ecosystem was fueled by possibility of a GAFA acquisition as an exit strategy. We think the possibility of the start ups, in food, drink, fashion, cosmetics etc that characterise the New Direct Economy, being bought by major players in those sectors will drive more investment.

A study in the FT suggests that online only businesses are thriving – the top 20 in the UK are up by 23%. That’s not news for Fix readers. But is there a ceiling on growth? Some successful firms are finding scaling hard and we noted that the key Bain ecommerce people are looking for thoughts on how scaling is working.

This issue goes back to a piece of thinking we have shared a number of times before – that often businesses don’t understand the real cost of acquiring new customers. Great results from search and social can cloud the issue that your target market is relatively limited.

Essentially, you can only eat low hanging fruit once

My New York colleagues at The Media Kitchen has long had a very smart philosophy; harvest demand before trying to create demand. But if you think of search as a queue of people for your product, you do eventually reach the end of the queue.

A wider set of media channels is one way out of this and the investment by start ups in out of home and other traditional media will continue to grow. But we expect a smarter use of these old media. Why don’t cross track posters have QR codes (or Shazam or Snap codes) to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi on most tube stations? Of how does someone use TV in away that recognises most people watching have their smartphone to hand? We see immediate search spikes from TV but when will someone design a part 2 to their TV ads that is accessed – for free – on mobile?

Amazon Money

We haven’t worked on a project requiring us to dig into digital money for a while, but we still see that it can have a profound effect on online commerce with most firms seeing a very high usage of Apple Pay, PayPal and to a lesser extent Android/ Google Pay.

The lure of the data thrown off by spending may be dimmed with GDPR but if you can use it within your first party data its really valuable. So its no surprise Amazon is embracing the opportunity with a current account in the US. They are already involved in banking of a sort as they lend money to their merchants


Although the first edition of Snap spectacle didn’t meet the internal expectations for sales, they are developing a second version – which may include AR.

New UK data shows that in the highly sought after 18 – 24 age range Snap is getting pretty close to Facebook; 89% reach versus 94%. Unfortunately this reach doesn’t seem to be bringing advertisers on board – most of their growth has been around app installs and worries about the young profile has restricted heavily regulated sectors like drink and gaming brands investing.

Their innovations do need some bespoke development and lots of brands think they can get all the reach they need with Facebook and Instagram. We are convinced that the extra effort in creating something that really fits a platform usually pays off. We are thinking of the Taco head lens and how Geico nail True View ads.

The best way to optimise a media budget is now to optimise the creative. Unfortunately many media people never talk to creative people (and vice versa) so most miss this opportunity.

Quick Reads

One thing we thing we liked this week was the TV industry celebrating the increased investment by online brands – now a major category. But given this news was shared as a positive note against the 7% drop in TV spend last year, doesn’t that mean that the fall in spend from traditional TV spenders is even more profound than the headline figures suggest?

In all the talk about online commerce on brand gets overlooked – eBay. But it is doing pretty well. And the smart people at Arete point out they have a healthy ad business too.

One key tenet of the criticism of the duopoly is around how the news business has been so badly affected by Google and Facebook. This opinion piece argues for legislation to protect the news business

A good look at how Amazon seem to be in a good position to benefit from the Internet of Things

Finally ….as brands do take some work in house, the ways that agencies add value has to evolve. Our friends at KBS Albion focus on product and proposition – and equip clients to build out the consequent comms using their own teams. This clarion call from Wiedens echoes this approach; our ability to solve problems using creativity is hugely valuable and that is what clients need from us all.

What’s cooking at The Media Kitchen

So the weather meant we had to cancel Milan last Friday and we made the trip yesterday– meaning we were the only Brits in Milan not going to the Arsenal game. With a travel strike across Milan, Fix was written on the last Alitalia flight home. (lets hope our trip turns out to be as productive as Arsenals)

A Fix friend invited me to the excellent Guardian Changing Media Summit this week. Amongst many interesting sessions I liked the fact GQ is Exec Producing films for Gucci with a 7 figure budget. Reminding me of the excellent 2 minute Hermes film running at Hackney Picturehouse. Luxury brands understand that great content gets attention and media should have ambition.

Finally Martin Sorrell spoke at the Guardian event and talked about how they were changing their structure. Which reminded me if the old Irish joke about getting somewhere – I wouldn’t start from here. He was pressed about the money going into the duopoly and he had a very sensible answer to that question. He pointed out that peoples media habits have changed and so media investment has to change. Refreshing to hear such good sense when the Flat Earth Society in marketing keep pining for a return for the good old days – and spreading the pernicious myth that the reason so much money goes into digital is down to the kickbacks for the agency. I have never met a client who doesn’t see a real return from their digital spend. If you are not seeing that ROI I would argue you are not doing it right. We are happy to help.


Fix is my thinking rather than that of MediaKitchen. We now have over 5600 subscribers across Google, Facebook, Snap, Yahoo etc as well as many VCs, Brands and Agencies.

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