Now and Next
After a refreshing break we thought we would look a bit further forward than we usually do. Next rather than Now.
There is something really significant coming Next. Much of Now is reimagining for the mobile age what a relatively small group (PC users) has grown familiar with on the web. Combining the power of cloud computing with incredibly sophisticated computers in everyone’s pocket will enable new new things.
Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Machine Learning are all quite arcane technologies. But we now see GAFA and others unlocking their potential in ways that will be relevant to a mass market. Soon.
Perhaps the sexiest is VR and the links on Magic Leap etc that we shared in our last Fix were amongst the most popular – worth checking out if you haven’t seen them.
The Facebook push for Oculus is building. This video interview with Marc Zuckerberg on why it’s the next big thing is really interesting. When they talk about the 360 degree videos that already work in News Feed you can see how central to Facebook this is going to be.
Now Google have their own plans and they are pushing CardBoard – Oculus thrift – hard. We mentioned last time that the NYTimes plan to give 1 million away and many retailers are using it in store. The back story on how CardBoard was developed is an interesting look at how Google foster innovation. Playing with Google StreetView and Cardboard is fun too
We can’t imagine that Apple don’t have plans in this area too. Their acquisition of a firm with some VR patents suggests something is cooking.
AI or Artificial intelligence is perhaps less of a Hollywood technology but feeds these innovations and more practical ones too. Facebook are using it to identify kitten pictures and everything else in photos as well as using it to play games like Go. Google play in this space too with Deep Mind and Chinese BAT giant Baidu are very focused too with their AI powered app FaceYou now available in English. We have been playing with the Chinese version for a few weeks and everyone has loved it. Microsoft aren’t finding AI that easy though
If you want to see more useful applications of AI then the Facebook M personal assistant is getting good props from Californians (where the beta is restricted to)
And Google Now on Tap continues to give us a glimpse of the future – at least for Android users with CNN suggesting it might be Googles greatest invention. Our money is still on Adwords for that accolade –but that was inspired by GoTo.
A new feature on gmail that uses Machine Learning – a subset of AI – to offer suggested response for each email may vie for that accolade one day. More on how that tech works here on the Google research blog.
Not everything is coming out of GAFA – the founders of Siri have a new product that sounds really good.
If you want to dig deeper this takeaway from a Google event on Machine Learning is a good read. As is this in depth look at Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, and Deep Learning.
German tabloid Bild is claiming it’s decision to block adblockers from accessing their site has paid off. When asked to take out a subscription or turn off the software, most people elected to turn off the Ad Blocker software and access the site with ads visible.
This makes perfect sense to us – allowing people access to your content without the brand bargain of seeing ads is ludicrous. Especially when the adblocker is selling their own ads. But now that Firefox strips out ads and tracking when in Private Browsing we can expect more ad avoiding.
But even if the practice of blocking access to blockers rolls out, it’s not a real solution to the problem. We’re reminded of the old saying; When you are in a hole you should stop digging.
We can all take action today to prevent someone downloading an ad blocker tomorrow.
Lets stop running bad ads. Lets drop the interstitials and the pop ups. Lets manage our buys better and get better at frequency caps. Why don’t we take more care over targeting so the right people see the right ads? We’d like publishers to start saying no to poor ads. And we want brands to insist on better ads. We know spending more money on better creative is a good investment as it makes the money spent on media work harder.
There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.' Eldridge Cleaver
Our Route55 project is taking shape and we would love to talk with any brand, publisher or agency that wants to be part of the solution.
One platform that is clearly part of the solution is Facebook. Ad formats that aren’t intrusive, smart targeting and a degree of quality control are all working well for them.
Stellar performance in Facebooks latest results – with everything moving in the right direction. And even some growth in the US – despite all those stories that kids are moving their attention elsewhere. We saw a good quote a while back – Facebook has become like email – you may not love it but you have to use it.
If you dig into the figures it’s interesting that the gap between US revenue and Europe is widening – which suggests there is still plenty of potential for growth. In Q3 2013 European revenue per user was 56% of a US user – it’s now 48%. As major US brands export their marketing strategy we should see these gaps close.
This interview with Facebooks’ David Marcus is good insight into how key messaging is to Facebook - and to everyone else. He also talks a little about Facebook M
A key feature of Messaging is how other apps can be integrated and Slack is probably leading the way in the West. How betaworks have added their weather service Poncho to Slack is a good example of what is possible.
Another facet of messaging is the way notifications are becoming so much more versatile and more central to how people use mobile. The head of betaworks is very focused on notifications – we shared a round up of their recent workshop and videos of all the sessions are now available. This podcast with him is more good thinking. And the NYTimes now has a team of 11 focused on push notifications.
We see these new areas converging with advertising, as the same data and insight should drive all messaging to someone – and the same care and attention is needed to keep them useful and retain the permission for the dialogue
Digital Out of Home
We shared a video of a very interesting interactive Google outdoor ad the other week but unfortunately the post was from a friends’ Facebook and was set to private. We have tracked down a little more about it though and some background on how Google are taking their ad tech into outdoor. There is a little more here too – great example of smart thinking combining with a clever use of tech.
The Yahoo streaming of the NFL game in London went off without any hitches but doesn’t seem to have been a huge success either. Still it sets a precedent. Who is going to be next to take sports global? Verizon have struck an interesting deal with the NBA which will see original content exclusive for Verizon customers – including out of market games.
More and more startups are moving into the eBay Craigslist space. OfferUp in the US has raised lots of money. London based Depop is getting a lot of attention (their social integration is very good) and Facebook see it as a way to get more local
As well as BAT in China there are other startups getting huge growth and big valuations. These should probably be called Qilins rather than Unicorns though.
Chris Sacca is one of the most successful investors (Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Kickstarter…) and this profile is a great read.
Gremlins got to a couple of the links on media agencies in the last mail, so here they are again;
My former boss Irwin Gottlieb describes well here how the agency model needs to evolve and get closer to real value – the sale. And Rob Norman very eloquently describes what a media agency does to earn its crust
Snapchat is the new television and the best part is that users are in control of their very own show.
Finally …. I am out and about next week, doing a Mobile Fix live at the Mediatel Media Playground on Wednesday and on a panel talking Location and Context at the Festival of Marketing on Thursday. If you are there come and say hello.
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