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Mobile Fix - October 9

One week to go
 
We’re putting the final touches to the content for our FixProgrammatic event on the 19th. Our speakers are going to highlight different aspects of the current state of the nation, and set us up for a stimulating panel, where we will try and get the best advice for brands that want to unlock the opportunities of data driven advertising. The constant backdrop of news on ad blocking and ad fraud has set the context but we remain optimistic that Programmatic can be made to work for all parties.
 
Some of the latest signups include people at DMGT, HSBC, Top Shop, General Mills as well as industry folks from Agenda21, Byyd. Mindshare and Celtra.
 
Come along and join the debate
 
Apple; Coming to the rescue of Mobile ads?
 
Right now advertising is a very small part of the Apple empire and recent quotes like this one from Tim Cook paint them as having a very different approach to Google and Facebook etc
 
 “We don’t collect a lot of your data and understand every detail about your life. That’s just not the business that we are in.”
 
But when you dig deeper it’s not quiet as binary. And you do have to dig quite deep to find what data Apple does collect. Go to Settings on your iPhone and click on Privacy – scroll right to the end and click on advertising the click on the last line – in a smaller font –that says about advertising & privacy. You see this;
That’s not that different to the stuff Google , Facebook etc collect and is plenty to enable the smart targeting that smart advertisers crave these days. And as their content plays expand – News, Music, (TV?) we should expect them to take an active involvement Immediate what ads you see. The still born (at least in the UK) iTunes Radio was designed as an ad supported service – and it’s hard to imagine that Beats is going to be that successful at driving subscriptions.
 
When iAds originally launched Steve Jobs said that mobile ads sucked and Apple wanted
 
.. to change the quality of the advertising. We’re all familiar with interactive ads on the web. They’re interactive, but they’re not capable of delivering emotion."
 
As they seek to persuade content creators to distribute their content through Apple News and Apple TV etc they need to be able to offer good monetization opportunities. Given money has yet to follow audience, can Apple drive up mobile ad revenues by improving the experience? As they facilitate ad blocking they can’t offer the same ‘poor’ ads in their services.
 
The original iAds launch foundered because Apple asked for too much money and become overly involved in ad creation. The $million commitment they originally wanted has gone and the minimum spend if now just $50. And they partnered with some adtech providers late last year so they can play in Programmatic. If they use Peek and Pop in new formats that keep people in their apps, they could be on to something. Watch this space.
 
( Instagram are experimenting with Peeking and Popping – can we expect Facebook ad formats to be using it before long?)
 
Making mobile ads better
 
Whilst a new ad blocker that strips our ads from apps got lots of headlines, we can see some glass half full thinking around. Been Choice works by acting as VPN and could in theory even take the ads out of Apple News. Digging into the app it does allow users to share info on themselves so they can earn rewards. So in a way this is a fairly clumsy attempt to build the ad regulator we speculated about last week. Someone will make a VRM approach work and empower users to monetise their own data, but this probably isn’t it.
 
US tech journalist Walter Mossberg sums it up with this quote;
 
I would gladly opt into seeing ads I found useful and relevant, just as I opt into reading content I find useful and relevant. And such opt-ins would even give the industry better information about what people might want to buy on a regular basis. If opting in is a bridge too far, I would even grudgingly settle for a clear, easy, universal way to opt out of ads that don't work for me, or which are clumsy and obtrusive. That, too, should be useful information for sophisticated, up-front advertisers and the ad buyers they employ.
 
(At the Rutberg event we spoke at earlier this year VCs Balderton mentioned they were seeing some clever approaches to VRM)
 
And Tom Goodwin has some typically smart thinking on how ads should evolve.
 
It is possible to create smart compelling advertising now, by using the tools available properly – this Diesel campaign uses 400 ads to make the most of the data in their programmatic media buy. We will be building on this thinking at our event on the 19th.
 
Making the mobile web better
 
Google have launched an initiative to counter the moves Apple and Facebook have made into the distribution space. Both Instant Articles and Apple News promise to deliver publishers content quicker than the web but Googles Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) looks to speed up the mobile web. An open initiative this probably helps reinforce the mobile web versus native apps – which is clearly in Googles’ interest. (Although to be fair Google does promote apps – recently running a workshop for Agencies to help them develop app based revenue streams)
 
These faster pages offer a better experience for users, but the issue of monetization remains and just how ads fit into this is yet to be resolved – but it sounds like Google will police the project to ensure they only run ads that do not detract from the user experience
 
This initiative fits well with our thoughts last week on speeding up the mobile experience through simplifying things. Now we need to look at reducing tracking scripts and speeding up ad delivery. At our event I will be sharing our thinking on Sous Vide Creative as an alternative to Dynamic Creative.
 
TV in flux
 
This hour long video from the recent RTS conference is a good look at what’s happening in TV and how people see the future. As well as traditional TV execs the panel includes a senior YouTuber and Benedict Evans. The stats shared at the start of the session are quite illuminating.
 
The opportunity to use data to target TV ads is in its infancy but this Wired piece is worth a read as it looks at one specific tool (Civis) and at the general trend. And this New York Time feature is an in depth look at the trends too, including a good example from Honda.
 
And if you have some time this New Yorker article gets into the relationship between advertising and TV – especially around product integration. As regulators try to have social media videos work to the same rules as traditional TV - on how brands can be integrated - this is interesting subject.
 
(Many many years ago I was approached by a company that claimed they could do product placement on ITV – even though it was then not allowed. Being skeptical I asked them to prove it by getting a coffee brand I was working with onto Coronation Street. Two weeks later I happened to be watching and Alf Roberts – the proprietor of the Corner Shop – held a jar of Mellow Birds in full view as he spoke to another character. The following morning it turned out most of the client team had noticed it too – but the client lawyers didn’t want to explore any further. We got closer by agreeing to have Nintendo featured in the Home & Away summer episodes that would run pre Christmas in the UK (product placement was then legal in Australia). But the budget was pulled.)
 
Twitter – Phoenix?
 
With Jack back as CEO it seems Twitter might be able to get their mojo back. It's not as if they are in the ashes but Wall Street has virtually written them off and many loyal users are questioning the product.
 
The success of Twitter has created something of a problem in that it is virtually impossible to keep on top of the feed – there is now just so much content. Part of this comes from the steady growth in the number of people you follow. We use lists to better manage this, but it feels like the product needs to evolve.
 
We have a theory that Frozen content is almost as valuable as Fresh content, By Frozen we mean those tweets that are flagged up as whilst you were away. Nuzzel also helps with Frozen content by alerting you to tweets that your friends have retweeted or favourited.
 
So there is lots of potential to adjust product to help people see more of what they value. And also potential to relax the 140 characters – at least so urls and others names don’t eat up the allocation. This is a good profile of the new Jack and he seems to be ready to balance running both Square and Twitter. It’s also reassuring that Adam Bain - the key commercial guy at Twitter – has been elevated from running sales to be COO.
 
In a typically deep analysis Stratechery is pretty positive about the prospects for Twitter. Lets hope he is correct.
Btw – we tweet work stuff @addictivemobile and I do a wider range @simonbigpicture – do connect.
 
Quick Reads
 
Facebook are testing out a dislike button – and as we predicted  - it’s emoji based and covers a wider range of emotions
 
And you can now use a video for your Facebook profile picture. Will brands start to sponsor these? They can now ‘sponsor’ selfies on Snapchat.
 
In the more traditional advertising arms race Facebook  are now readying their DSP
 
As Instagram ads roll out this is a good look at how brands are using organic posts to engage their customers. And an early look at a modest ad spend on Instagram
 
As an alternative to ad funding, micropayments have long held promise butBlendle is now starting to get traction with publishers and users
 
Is the home screen dead?  Notifications and widgets are starting to replace clicking on buttons.
 
The GAFA battlefield heats up. Amazon is to stop selling Google Chromecast and Apple TV – because they don’t interact well with Amazon prime video. Is this just a way to strong arm Google and Apple into supporting Amazon video?
 
Few people have had a career like Barry Diller – he ran Paramount studios, launched Fox TV and then a visit to a home shopping TV station converted him to ecommerce and he now runs Expedia, Match and more. This interview is a great look into how unreal VC valuations are and he also shares his view on what’s happening to TV.
 
Finally  - The New York Times has used an adblocker to measure the impact of ads and associated tracking on users data plans by looking at the load times of the top 50 news sites. In over half the examples it takes longer to load the ads than it does the editorial content.
This is a broken industry but we can fix it Come along to our salon on the 19thand help us figure out how we can make it easier for brands to reach the right people at the right time. And fund the content that we all value at the same time.
 
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