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Mobile Fix  -  May 27

Adblocking goes Nuclear

Ad blocking advocates Shine have finally got their sister company Three (they share investors) to implement ad blocking in the UK and they seem to have gone for the most aggressive approach. It will ask its’ UK customers for permission, then block all ads for one day (other than Facebook and Twitter which its’ tech probably can’t block). This Godfather esque approach seems designed to rattle content owners. We think the best response would be to have all publishers block access to their content to any Three customer (or anyone else) with adblocking switched on. When faced with blocked content a significant proportion of people will turn off their ad blocker.

Clearly the value exchange in mobile ads needed to be rebalanced but this aggressive approach isn’t helpful. If you or I wander into a Three store and pick up a phone case or charger and attempt to leave without paying, I think there would be consequences.

Now, once upon a time, Three were one of the few MNOs who encouraged mobile advertising and when Apple and others ran video ads around 2005, part of that deal was that the advertiser Zero Rated the data needed to watch the video, so they picked up the data cost and not the customer. That model is coming back and makes good sense. If the plethora of Luma adtech firms can take up to 40% of a mobile ad budget, then it’s not unreasonable that the companies who provide the bandwidth get paid something, by someone other than the end user. But there are better ways of affecting this evolution.

New Model Advertising

Building on this idea of a value exchange Faris Yacob talks eloquently about the war for attention – his book on the subject is well worth reading. There are some smart thinkers looking at how advertising works and can evolve – and we like this take on media design as an improvement on media planning. Our clever friends at PSFK have a new report of the future of advertising that is worthy of your attention

Mobile Advertising

In the trenches of mobile advertising there is plenty going on. A new Luma report highlights the problems (including viewability, fraud and adblocking) but there is good news too. A fascinating Celtra event this week showed how it’s possible to ‘translate’ a traditional TVC to a mobile format – essentially shorter and vertical - and still deliver the core message. Especially if you sequence a number of ads to deliver an episodic experience. Some findings from InMobi support the vertical or portrait concept too.

Unsurprising research shows that people prefer short, silent non auto play ads that run at the end of content.  When people have the choice of sound, 85% watch in silence. So captioning is a smart idea.

To make short video ads work, we need to rethink our approach. Google has some good insight into time pressure and how that affects people and the way they respond to mobile ads – context is so important.

New Model Agency

Talking with various people post our #MakingMobileAdsBetter breakfast, the question keeps coming up of where do brands turn for help in this area. Lots of publishers do a great job of developing creative for activity running on their platform, but few agencies seem to be stepping up.

The UsTwo team understand better than most how a modern ‘agency’ can prosper and their (long) read on the state of the industry – the Digital Nation – is an essential read. The bottom line is that an agency can develop its own IP – but it’s a long hard road.

And Betaworks - the other company that epitomizes the potential for a modern agency – have shared their approach to investing. A key insight from both is that successful companies have to be great at collaborating and, in our experience, the insecurities of traditional agencies – and the battle for revenues - can make this hard to achieve.

Google I/O again

The I/O developers event Google did last week is the gift that keeps giving. So much was announced that some of the significant news is only now becoming clear.

Instant Apps is a huge change and has real ramifications for how apps work. Essentially, if you need to perform a task like paying for parking, you click a link and Google Play gives you just the elements of the app needed for that task. Like deep linking this starts to blur the distinction between apps and webpages – which suits Google just fine. Depending on what app developers need to do to make their apps compliant, this should be pretty big, as Google say it will work on devices still running JellyBean – so any Android device since 2012.

The other thing we think is important is the way that Nearby Notifications means that beacons can now trigger apps; either ones you have already installed – even though the app may not be open – and apps you haven’t already got can be downloaded by directing the user to the Play Store. This video  - at around 15 minutes in –shows some good use cases, with Target as an example. Given the amount of time and money spent driving app installs this could be really big.

There is more depth on these new opportunities in this interview with the guy behind the Google Physical Web initiative. We are big believers in locations and the palette of possibilities keeps expanding. Great news for our friends as Tamo.co and we would be happy to help any brands looking to take advantage of location and how it is evolving.

More from Google in this video on building for billions, looking at what is happening with Android

And, recognising that over half of all Google searches are now on mobile, the way you buy Adwords campaigns is changing, so you can now bid different amounts for different devices. In fact this is going back to how it used to be. It is sobering to remember that Google essentially stopped allowing advertisers to select devices in adwords because so few people were buying mobile ads.

And ads on maps are being introduced – similar to the way Google owned Waze offers location ads - offering even more flexibility

New TV

This long, in depth, look at the new emerging business models for video from ReDef is worth reading. We think things are changing very quickly and the suggestion that video breaks into 3 types of Feed; Scale, Social and Identity is really interesting.

And this VC viewpoint on the speed of change is also worth reading.

Quick Reads

Google are using AI to count the calories of the food you eat from photos. So those instagrams of your breakfast may finally serve a purpose. We pitched a similar idea to Nestle in 2009, but that relied on the community adding calorie information for common food items.

Twitter has finally announced that they are simplifying their UX – so the 140 characters doesn’t now have to include @names in replies nor photos etc. These are welcome changes, but we still think there is lots to be done with lists etc to make Twitter easier to get real value from.

A good look at Mobile Commerce from the viewpoint of the fashion business– echoing the point we often make that conversion in some Asian markets is much higher, indicating that mobile sites can be made much more user friendly

Snapchat is raising money at a rumoured $20 billion valuation, so turning down a $3bn offer from Facebook no longer looks so daft.

Finally Apple is coming under some scrutiny to see whether it can compete on AI With their next Develop event just 2 weeks away you would be foolish to underestimate Apple, but all the interesting action does seem to be away from the hardware. Their core strategy has to be to keep the development community focusing on their platforms. To do that they need to help their developers make money – so we still think they may – at some point - start to take advertising more seriously.

Its half term next week so  no Fix , but normal service will be resumed on June 10

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