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Mobile Fix - October 13

New Chapter

As subscribers to my weekly newsletter Fix know, I have strong opinions on how advertising needs to develop. Much of the consulting work I do through addictive has advertising at — or close to — its heart. We have worked with Brands, Agencies, Platforms and Adtech firms — all seeking to make more of the ad market

I have been looking at how to get more deeply involved — again — for a while.

Having so much experience across both Creative and Media agencies I have been exploring both options, but realised that to deliver real value you need to be able to influence both.

So I am delighted to tell you I am starting a new chapter, taking addictive into The Media Kitchen — the award winning digital US Media Agency that is part of KBS — and in turn, part of MDC.

A key part of my new role is to grow the European business and hence I will work closely with my friends at Albion, who joined the KBS family a couple of years ago.

Combining the talent, skills and experience of addictive, The Media Kitchen and KBS Albion give us a formidable set of capabilities — across Strategy, Product and Proposition development, Creative and Media.

The Media Kitchen won Programmatic Agency of the year in 2014 and Mobile Agency of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. We will draw upon their amazing US team and already have one of their smartest people working in London.

Done properly, advertising creates huge value for Brands, Content Creators and People. Media — in its widest sense — is the tool where innovation and rigour can make a big difference. And I am convinced that the best way to make media investment work harder is to optimise the creative.

We are looking to work with businesses across Europe that are hungry for growth and — using whichever of our skills are most appropriate — we seek to drive real value.

We recognise that smart businesses are increasingly seeing some aspects of digital as a core competence and expanding their internal capabilities. We understand this and support these businesses with market intelligence, unbiased advice on adtech stacks and creative direction.

I will continue to share my thinking through Fix and we will make sure we don’t turn it into a puff piece for the agency — but we will share news and work when relevant.

I am very excited about this move. I think there is a huge opportunity for a fresh approach and I think we have a good chance to shake things up and make things better for everyone.

Both The Media Kitchen and I believe in collaboration, so we are keen to hear from anyone who wants to help us. Businesses who want to grow. Media owners — and AdTech firms — who want to innovate. And Talent that wants a place to do your best work.

If we have just one philosophy, it is this; By any means necessary.

Tech & People

Lots more press on how smartphones aren’t always a good thing. Along with more stories on taxes etc it seems that GAFA are being scrutinised more than ever before. Is this just a fairly late recognition that the new economy is getting to be the whole economy? At least the growing bits.

The FT spent some time with London kids to understand how their world is shaped by their phones. The Guardian have interviewed a bunch of Silicon Valley refuseniks who – fearful of how addictive their phones are – are rejecting the Attention Economy. The Wall Street Journal have a piece on how smartphones hijack our minds, with some more evidence. In a good interview Google CEO Sundar Pichai questions whether people want to move as fast as the tech is developing.

The huge success of smartphones is because they solve lots of problems for people. But we can see that people will start to recognize that things have possibly swung too far and they will get better at regulating their use.

Retail

One fascinating way people in the US monitor the health of stores is comparing satellite pictures to see how full the car parks are. Guess what – the week after Amazon bought Whole Foods their car parks were busier.

A great quote from the CEO of Instacart. Walmart dialed another number and bought competitor Parcel. And the impact of Amazon is felt in the UK too with Tesco trialing checkout free supermarkets – like Amazon Go.

Some initiatives are more developed and House of Fraser have combined their loyalty card with their app. As a way to better service loyal customers, apps can perform well and the ability to collect - consensual - 1st party data will make them an increased focus.

Apple Boss Tim Cook was interviewed in Vogue about Fashion and Retail and made some big claims about the potential for AR. We are less bullish on AR but do agree that the tech that really drives retail will be the shoppers own smartphone, rather than any instore tech. Much of our work in retail is around how the customers device can (subtly) announce them in store and enable them to get highly personalised service from the store staff.

Another area in retail we are fascinated by is the relentless rise of the hobby retailer. We look at Drops and Depop and the army of Shopify store owners. The next level up are Amazon Third party sellers where small companies can quickly grow and even sell their business on for huge multiples.

Content

The tech giants have upended much of society, but even they have difficulty understanding and navigating the chaos of the new platforms they have built. It’s not quite clear, yet, that they have the future all wrapped up

In line with the new scrutiny mentioned earlier, the GAFA push into content has its critics too. The NYTimes thinks cultural domination is a possibility but doesn’t think GAFA quite get content.

This is essentially the same argument made in the 1980s when CAA became really good at persuading Japanese hardware companies to invest in the content their devices facilitated. Plenty of people were happy to advise the new players then and the same is true now.

The new team at Apple are meeting everyone as they seek the next big show. The price of entry is rising though – This year Netflix spend $6bn on content with Amazon spending $4.5bn.

It’s easy to write off YouTube as User Generated Content and teen Vloggers but they want to play with the grown ups too. The Super Size Me sequel will debut on You Tube Red after a limited theatrical release. This long look at You Tube is a good read.

The push by Google into Stamp – a content platform built on the super fast loading AMP protocol –should be considered along with the ambitions for YouTube. It’s unclear how or when Stamp will manifest itself but they are paying firms to make short form video content for the platform.

So far the new players have rejected advertising (even YouTube Red) but that may be changing. Amazon are courting brands around ad opportunities within its video content. As old TV evolves into new TV, throwing out the most resilient ad format (mid content ad breaks) might be foolish. Although it’s likely that the ad length will be - generally – shorter.

Snap

The product pipeline at Snap keeps producing; now it is maps. Evan mentioned it in his Vanity Fair interview but more details here. This long Wired interview with him goes into the back story and is well worth reading. And the FT look into their new Context Cards.

There is no doubt that Snap really understand their audience and that is their license to succeed..

Everyone will copy their features but it’s hard to get them to resonate with other – older – audiences.

Amazon

At the UK upfronts Amazon shared their pitch to brands and it’s less about ads and more about getting brands to be part of the Amazon ecology, with a push for Voice.

Whilst the grocery competition rushes to get last mile delivery sorted, Amazon are testing new elements to their own delivery infrastructure that challenge Fedex and UPS. Getting the right stuff to people fast is a core competence for Amazon and they have shown how they can seize a real advantage; for example partnering with the US Post Office to get Sunday deliveries. In the past they have even managed to combine the two elements with Minion packaging

Their customer obsession comes through well in this interview with the Chief Customer Officer of Amazon. His point about learning from Whole Foods on the grocery supply chain will terrify UK Grocers – it was this knowledge they felt would protect their business.

The most vertically integrated UK Grocer is Morrisons and they already supply Amazon with a lot of their groceries. The Whole Foods deal doesn’t do a lot for Amazon in the UK – a Morrisons acquisition would transform the market.

Creativity

The missing ingredient in digital advertising is creativity. Most is pretty dire- largely because most people don’t invest time or money into it. If you look hard enough though there is some good work going on and as prep for a workshop with Amazon on Mobile advertising, we surfaced some good stuff.

Snap are encouraging good work and their 3D Lens are getting a good reaction from Brands and Users. This look at their AdWeek presentation has some good examples. And our friends at Adludio are now partnering with Snap to run their engaging haptic formats across Snapchat.

The smart people at Shazam have some nice work at the moment – this Asda campaign is a great example of what’s possible when you blend TV with Mobile

A Fix friend at Google sums up the opportunity – Creativity is the X factor in Programmatic – and all digital ads. When spending their sizeable budgets selling apps and hardware, the internal Google teams say that 70% of the effectiveness of their campaign is down to the creative.

One smart way to encourage good work is to offer a better media deal and publisher Fusion Media are doing just that - ads that get higher engagement get bonus inventory.

Quick Reads

Apple hire some advertising talent – a Fix friend from Weve is going to run their Search business

Google trying to gain adoption for AMP – whilst publishers find ads load too slowly for AMP. A dirty secret of programmatic is that the plumbing is too slow – the ads sometimes arrive after the person has gone. A problem for either the brand or the publisher.

Finally an event I was at this week emphasized the divide between traditional and digital. Now neither of those words makes that much sense but you know what I mean. We all know that smart people blend old and new. A Fix friend has some smart thinking on a new model of marketing that reflects this reality.

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