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Mobile Fix - November 22

Agencies

With some interesting thinking around on the plight of Agencies we return to this subject. Noah Brier was an influential NY digital ad guy and - despite being out of the space for a while - has a really good take on the issues. He argues that big business are now convinced on digital and therefore taking it inhouse. It’s a point we have made for ages - when digital becomes a core competence you can’t afford to outsource it - in every sense of the word.

This is a topic I discuss in some detail with both Rory Sutherland and Tom Goodwin on our RadioFix podcasts, The problem is that Agencies have never managed to be paid for the value they create - the Alchemy as Rory terms it in his excellent book. Instead most Agencies have become Factories that charge for their output - TV Commercials, Media Plans, Apps, Digital Transformation Workshops ( with free PostIt notes) etc.

And eventually people realise that making things with artisans in London is a luxury - and find cheaper suppliers.

The consultants moving into the space have some clear advantages - Board level relationships, a more commercial approach and a culture of offshoring to reduce costs. Ex agency head Nikki Mendoca of Accenture points out that Marketing and business transformation are inextricably linked. Their creative Agency Karmarama has a good new report Brand Nirvana on Closing The Human Experience Gap which has some interesting research including that people are willing to spend more on brands that treat them like humans,

But it’s Alchemy that business wants / needs and Agencies used to be the best place to get that amazing thinking - do brands now need to go direct to the talent?-

This Monday Note piece on building a new brand shows how essential smart thinking is - you don’t get that from many Agencies but individuals are really valuable.

Then what replaces Agencies? FazeClan are influencers,content creators and eGamers. They also do DTC ,Tech and Talent. And brands are queueing up.

Banks

Last week Google announced they were going into banking and this look at now Chinese smartphone firm Xiaomi got into banking is interesting. To be fair it’s more accurate to say that Google are getting into payments - with a traditional banking partner for actual banking. But in Asia most people are unbanked so there is a huge opportunity - talking today with someone in Jakarta i heard that people there use GoJek like cash.

The closest UK business are Monzo and this week they were found to be the most recommended brand in the UK. That’s a good sign of brand strength and it must come from the experience of being a customer - which is the only way to really build a brand. Everyone I know loves their iPhone but that is 100% down to the ongoing experience of using the device - even though Apple do great ads.

So this debate over brand or performance always amazes me. The best solution for any brand is being bought and used - so brand and performance ads need to work together. And for Monzo one genius piece of marketing is their unmistakable Coral card, which drives great word of mouth.

Privacy

The ICO - the FDPR regulator - held another event this week warning the UK adtech industry it still needs to clean up its act - without giving too many specifics.

Google have made some significant changes - some which seem related to the ICO talk and others less so. The reduction in context information seems to meet the ICO concerns that content being read can be used to bracket people by race, sexual identify etc. But some in the industry are questioning this.

The bigger picture with Google can be found at their Chrome Developer Forum where the theme Protecting users on a thriving web shows the balancing act they face. Apple are very focused on privacy and the fact that some of their actions on Safari degrade the web experience doesn’t really matter to them - they want everyone to use apps instead of the mobile web. Google want to protect privacy and protect the web ecology too. This video from the Forum is a good summary of the issues and the Google approach

And Google have updated their policy on Political Ads. We also saw they have updated their privacy policy to recognise the needs of the California Privacy law and they have mandated all their ad partners do the same.

Social Commerce

So much going on around social commerce and influencers. Micro influencers have an authenticity that many of the more established ones lack and millenials are a big opportunity. A Fix reader shared their thinking on this and their research is really interesting. A great way of unlocking this potential is Soreto which enables anyone to share their purchases and be paid when a friend buys.

The potential for this type of money saving / making is highlighted by PayPal paying $4bn for Honey - a US platform for shopping and rewards.

And the latest move by TilTok to let influencers add ecommerce links to their bio means we will see a massive shift of attention to TikTok as influencers migrate.

AR

The original front runner in AR and VR appears to faltering. Magic Leap has seen two key execs leave and they are rumoured to have used their patents as security for more funds. They have kept raising money whilst restricting news on their product to occasional leaks - but we were always told by VC etc that the product was amazing. They also said that about the Segway.

newTV

Did you know that Disney tested out streaming with an app in the UK called DisneyLife? I had forgotten but we did mention it at the time in Fix. The learnings led (eventually) to Disney+ and this NYT piece looks at the journey ending with this great quote from the Comcast CEO ( who bought Sky)

The expansion of addressable TV in the UK is getting traction even though some are concerned at the premium pricing. One of the key players is this space are TheTradeDesk and their UK lead spoke on a panel at the excellent RampUp event this week saying she thought it likely some of the streaming services will take ads. Her CEO agrees and makes a good case on this video for why he thinks it is inevitable that Netflix will eventually show ads.

Faris has a great piece on Product Placement - the ads Netflix are taking right now.

The key issue in the growth of addressable TV is measurement - unless you are confident in the audience you are reaching why would you pay the premium? Part of the problem is that digital measurement and metrics are seen as incompatible with trad TV metrics. In the US Google have added Nielsen reach data to their reach planner. Will be interesting to see the reaction.

China

The success of Alibaba Singles day is almost a cliche - $38bn sales on the day and that’s 26% up on last year. To really understand the scale look at what happens to your systems and your logistics. Chaos

The footprint of China is bigger than you think - their investment in Africa is colossal and Jack Ma sees ecommerce as a huge opportunity in Africa

Bytedance are planning a music service; they already play a huge role in music as people use songs in their videos but now are looking at a more traditional service to rival Spotify and Apple. And their CEO is making out they are quite independent of China. Not sure this will work and with Zuck having dinner with Trump again (along with Peter Theil who thinks the Chinese have infiltrated Google) the Chinese issue is not going away.

This long New York Times piece looks at how the SuperApps have changed life in China and draws parallels with Google and Facebook efforts to import some of this approach into the west. It’s a great read but it does focus on the big city life in China, yet small villages have also been affected - many are TaoBao villages.

DTC

Business of Fashion has a good piece on the problems facing VC funded DTC brands - many of whom are finding they can’t sustain the growth the heady valuations demand. My thinking on Bonsai Brands still stands - getting beyond a certain size may just not be possible for many of these businesses.

One of the issues is that freely available VC money combined with a hunger for growth leads to frantic ad spending - and often a hasty switch from digital to traditional. Sifted look at this and cover the smart people at Habito who have been very methodical in how they expand their marketing - helped by outstanding creative. Unfortunately many others have wasted money on weak creative and woeful strategy.

Even if the bubble does burst the core principles of DTC are a great growth strategy and will continue to influence the rest of business.

As Nike focus on their own DTC efforts their new design studio looks really interesting

Coty buying Kylie Jenners 5 year old DTC brand for $600m was the big story this week. It’s easy to be critical but she has built a very good business very quickly and whilst that level of fame obviously helps, she got a lot of other things right too.

The other way is to grow your own and Clorox is doing just that, hiring DTC execs and building its own tech stack. Their first brand is now out; Objective.

In building the team Clorox recognised the dangers of culture clash and it seems Walmart is suffering from this as it tries to integrate its bought brands with its legacy business.

This VC is looking at how Shopify compares to Amazon and suggests an interesting ad model for Shopify. Good read.

And Amazon has lead to a US TaoBao village - a small town in Montana full of people repackaging goods to be sold on Amazon. Fascinating look at how ecommerce drives adjacent businesses - could this be one answer to driving investment and employment in UK small towns?

Quick Reads

GaryV on how to make 64 pieces of content in a day. Slightly cringy but reinforces that making social content is now quick and cheap

The FT says Facebook has 400m fake accounts and as fast as they close them down..

Finally... the founder of one of the best early Digital agencies Barbarian has a good response to the recent stories knocking digital.

I know that digital ads can be hugely positive but often they are executed badly. If you need help on the architecture of your digital advertising I can help.

Working with you and your team we can identify the quick wins and seize the opportunity to dramatically improve what you are doing. If you need more / different builders we can find them. And we can help you make the most of GAFA too.

Lets Fix things..

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