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Mobile Fix - October 16

Last chance; Salon

 

We’re checking the decks and tweaking the running order, but we’re pretty much ready for our Salon Do we need to fix Programmatic? We had more smart folk sign up this week– including people from Seven, Telfonica, MediaTel, Mindshare & Weve.

 

We still have some spaces left though, so ask yourself how best you can spend Monday morning? Debating the future of this business with some of the smartest people around or doing the same old same old?

 

Remember the quote we shared the other week;

“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

 

Looking forward to seeing everyone who wants to be part of the solution, bright and early on Monday morning.

 

Apps – the CDs of digital content?

 

Returning to an old theme we believe apps are going to turn out to be the CDs of digital content – a significant but ultimately transient technology.

 

I was late into CDs as I love vinyl and stuck with it longer than most before switching to buying CDS. As the shelves filled up with them finding a specific CD became harder and harder, so when the iPod came along I was quick to start burning the CDs into iTunes. Finding a track became a digital search and so much easier than a physical one. Next came running the iPod on a permanent shuffle; a rudimentary form of streaming. Real streaming has some appeal and discovery tools like the Spotify Discover Weekly is making it more useful. The shelves and cupboards with all the CDs never get touched.

 

So whilst Apps have done a pretty good job at taking attention from web pages, are they just as transient? Talking with consumers we see that more and more people cluster the handful of apps they use regularly on their home screen – with the rest languishing on later screens. And the notification counts alert people to what’s happening. My 15 year old son doesn’t use email because there is no easy way to see whether you have messages other than actually opening the app.

 

But with some people we are seeing that the notifications tab on the iPhone – and the Google Now on Tap (on Android) are starting to compete with the Homescreen. This good piece is perhaps a little premature in claiming the Homescreen is dead but there is a lot of sense here. To find an app I snap the screen down and use Spotlight Search – much easier than going through 15 screens of obscure icons. Asking Siri is probably even easier – even with a northern mumble.

 

And listing notifications in chronological order makes them much more useful.

 

With clients we talk a lot about the atomisation of content and about cards emerging as the best container for content. And about how notifications are becoming the best way to surface what is important. For the first time since Murdoch almost bought PointCast the web is morphing from pull to push.

 

This long piece by the betaworks team on notifications is a must read. There is a lot of smart thinking going into how notifications can be best managed and this summary of a workshop, with many of the key players, on the topic is fascinating.

 

Subtle changes such as the addition of the back button -almost hidden in the top left hand corner of your iPhone screen - change the way apps work too. Are they going to melt away into the background? In the short term we think they act like CDs in the age of iTunes; You download them but -as if you have have burned them -you never need open them. The notifications facilitate all your interaction with the app content and functionality.

 

The next evolution is where the streaming analogy makes sense. When messaging becomes the primary way to use your phone and app functions surface in messaging at the appropriate moment, then disappear. Slack Bots are doing some of this already and hearing David Marcus talk about the plans for Facebook Messenger as a tool for business to communicate with their customers, shows they are very focused on this evolution too.

 

We think it has some implications for advertising as well. Could there essentially be 3 types of message?

 

Messages I know I want – notifications you set up with your apps

 

Messages I know I don’t want – spam and bad ads – regulated by adblockers?

 

Messages I don’t know I want – serendipitous messages based on context and data points – AI driven and good ads? Google Field Trip - now baked into Google Now - is a good example, as is Foursquare and Swarm. Can programmatic done well delight users?

 

Lots of potential here – brands still probably need Apps, just like they still need optimized websites. But getting notifications right could be a big win.

 

Messaging First

 

Since joining from PayPal David Marcus has pushed out quite a lot of new features for Messenger and a good interview in Wired gets into the scale of their ambitions. Building on the thinking shared by Facebooks’ Boz a few weeks ago Marcus sees Messaging becoming the core function of mobile – learning lots from the Chinese experience. Adding AI driven functionality into Messenger encroaches on what apps are used for now and adds to our belief apps will fade into the background.

 

With a number of partners talking about how they have integrated their brands with Messenger this is an essential read.

 

Doom & gloom for advertising?

 

Is advertising really about to blow up? This article makes some good points about the challenges facing the industry, but in an over hysterical way. In fact it misses what we see as the key factor – outsiders like management consultancies and system integrators see advertising as their next big opportunity and are pushing agencies out of the way. As clients consider how best to embrace data driven marketing the capabilities of a KPMG or a CapGemini can seem attractive. But as most of these firms would admit, they don’t do creativity – which remains advertisings most potent weapon. It’s just that the current structures of agencies seem ill equipped to use that weapon where its needed most - in programmatic.

 

Just read this good piece on one of advertisings relatively unsung heroes – Howard Gossage. We have mentioned him before and recommended a great book on him. His way of thinking is so relevant for today and we believe a back to the future approach can have huge impact in todays marketing environment

 

More from us on this on Monday.

 

More new Facebook product

 

New formats from Facebook shorten the gap between ads and purchasing by allowing users to browse product catalogues straight from the ad – a sort of Instant Article for ecommerce

 

Along with a new Shopping section on the favourites list, Facebook are seeking to make them essential for ecommerce and taking the fight to Google and Amazon shopping ads.

 

Bacardi have invested heavily in these formats too - using them to show more content rather than products for sale.

Video & New TV

 

As video ad revenue booms Facebook are creating a dedicated place within Facebook to go watch video – a sort of YouTube. Its very likely that this will quickly garner the latest videos from the entertainment industry but we think the dominance of YouTube on video viewing is quite safe for the moment. The sheer quantity of material on YouTube is a huge moat – whatever you are interested the chances are someone has uploaded huge amounts if related video to YouTube over the last decade

 

We’re enjoyed a Facebook meme at the moment where people are challenged to post great soul songs each day for 7 days and challenge someone else to do the same. Every single one we have seen is a YouTube clip; some just the record cover and the audio track whilst others are obscure live recordings – we’ll share one of ours at the end of the mail. Facebook can never match that granularity, but they can and will have the next 10 music videos seen by over a billion people.

 

Driving video ad revenues unites Facebook and Google. The UK head of Google suggested this week that brands should shift a quarter of their TV budget to YouTube – with data from a new Google tool supporting this. Last year someone from an Omnicom agency said something similar – move 10-25% to online. Common sense says that light TV viewers are probably best reached online

 

Our problem with this is that taking an ad designed for TV and putting it online just isn’t good enough. New research from Harvard shows that tailoring the ads to the context is essential. The study gives examples including a Duracell ad that got 12 million views on YouTube in just 2 weeks.

 

Smart brands tailor their creative to the medium – look at how Apple use Snapchat and this Geico ad is a genius way to make the most of YouTube True View format.

 

You need to really understand how a medium works and then create a bespoke message that leverages that. If that sounds expensive, consider how expensive media is that just gets ignored.

 

(A Coke exec goes into some detail on how they approach paid social here)

 

Quick Reads

 

German publisher Axel Springer blocks adblock users from reading their top tabloid. A smart move, that should be copied by every publisher.

 

Google now get more mobile searches than desktop.

 

Getting a customer to commit long term is the ideal for any brand. GE are talking of working with Amazon Web Services for the next 140 years

 

Google Cardboard - the Oculus Thrift as it costs around $30 -now works with Google Street View

 

Good profile of LinkedIns’ Reed Hoffman

 

This is a good look at Londons’ FashionTech giant Lyst

 

Really smart thinking from Benedict Evans - Mobile is not a neutral platform

 

Fascinating new report from Pubmatic shows - amongst other things - that mobile CPMs are rising. With more money coming into mobile and good inventory remaining relatively rare we can expect this trend to continue. So investing in good creative makes even more sense.

 

How Xiaomi became Chinas Apple

 

Finally we are still thinking through our RCKSCK project and found this thinking on the interest graph fascinating. The tectonic plates of mobile are still shifting and we are still working out how best the technology can be used. As AI becomes more mainstream and apps evolve, we are trying to better meet human needs and creativity remains the best tool we have to realise the potential.

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