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Mobile Fix - September 11

I suppose we have to start with Apple. Well covered by just about everyone we don’t need to get into the products, but as with all these events it’s the details that emerge over the subsequent few days and weeks that are really interesting.
 
The biggest thing is probably that 3d touch migrates from watches to phone. With lots of possibilities for new UX developers will be poring over this. The slightly odd UX of Apple Music now seems to make sense and the ability to Peek and Pop changes how apps work and enhances deep linking.
 
It probably makes the strong apps stronger and makes it even harder for a new app to get traction. No matter how smart an idea, an established app could add that functionality and with Peep and Pop get it in front of more people than may ever find it in the appstore.
 
The launch of Apple TV is interesting but does it really do much more than Amazon Fire Stick does? Apps like Gilt for TV shopping were really uninspiring – and highlight the issue that all this content and services can be accessed on any of the devices shown at the event – so why is the TV so special? Gaming could become interesting for Apple but being the new Wii doesn’t inspire much either. Now developers have access to tvOS we should see some more interesting use cases and a periscope app for Apple TV sounds really intriguing
 
But the overall event emphasizes just how strong Apple is – with killer products across all the key sectors and a range of price points. And Gilt mentioned that 80% of their mobile sales come from iOS devices. Your business has to get Apple right to have a chance of success.
 
Business models
 
The one part of the mobile ecology where Apple doesn’t really play – at the moment – is ads. iAds will become more important as the Apple news app matures – many publishers are choosing to both sell their own inventory and let Apple do so too. Even so advertising will still be a very small slice of the Apple pie.
 
Business models based around ads have their problems as we are seeing with ad blockers etc and the fact highly successful businesses like Twitter still don’t have enough audience for some advertisers.
 
If you look at Facebook results you see the problem – their advertising ARPU in the US is $8.63 but is half that in Europe and in Asia its just $1.25. That’s not because they aren’t highly successful in those markets – it’s just that there isn’t that much ad revenue to be had.
 
So start ups in Asia have been more inventive than their western counterparts and found other business models. Whilst China and India get all the attention, there is a lot going on in other Asian markets too – with mcommerce proving very lucrative in markets like Thailand. Lots to learn from these markets.
 
Back home we are seeing a push towards sales with social buy buttons proliferating.  UK start up Depop is a great example of a start up that has commerce baked in. AndInstagram is proving very successful for those brands that know how to make the most of it.
 
As affiliate marketers know, the divide between ads and sales isn’t that big and if data driven targeting can get the right messages in front of the right people you may as well take a commission on a sale than a few pence per thousand eyeballs.
Net a Porter is probably the prime example – they produce great content and monetise that with sales of the products featured – and in fashion the margins are as much as 70% of the retail price. Their Publishing Director spoke at the excellent Dots conference last week and shared some stats on their success. This is a good look at how their efforts in social are paying off.
 
Ad blocking
 
Next Wednesday is a big day in our business. It’s the day iOS9 starts propagating around the mobile world and on past experience we can expect most Apple users will have it installed by the end of the year – with many well before.. So we’ll soon see the real effect of Content Blocking.
 
Still lots of discussion around the topic and the Israeli start up Shine that helped ignite the debate is now running ads in the FT imploring the GSMA to ZeroRate ads. It is hard to work out the current effects but seems likely that Content Blocking will affect apps as well as the mobile web.
 
With Apple very vocal about its opposition to tracking in ads, will we start to see ad blocking notifications similar to the way iOS8 helpfully reminds you on a regular basis that an app is using your location?
 
And given the probable latent demand for ad blocking we are now seeing start ups developing new ways to Ad Block. This is a slippery slope and we have seen few ideas on how to combat this. Putting some love and attention into the creative work would be a good start.
 

Facebook

The new Comscore data on the Top US apps shows how important GAFA is but also shows just how strong Facebook has become. WhatsApp didn’t show in the top 25 in June but with 900 million users it can’t be far off the chart. As deep linking and the new Peep and Pop will make launching new services off existing apps so much easier, so this domination isn’t going to go away.
Given the success of Facebook in converting these users into ad revenue there is lots of unhappy talk about Walled Gardens these days and Facebook is quite sensitive to the idea they are closed. So their head of Ad Tech has been answering the critics. 
Of course the really valuable data from Facebook is highly sought after for targeting on the open web but Atlas is the only option to do this. A campaign for Tommy Hilfiger suggest this works pretty well
Their new AI driven M service is also seen as a threat to Google dominance – but then again people see pretty much everything as a threat to Googles dominance.
Virtual Reality
As Apple showed, they have the rare skill of being able to watch and wait and see how a market develops, then step in at the right time and dominate it. As the hype over Virtual Reality builds we can imagine a Jony Ive designed headset in a couple of years.
But for now Facebook seem to be in the driving seat here too. Oculus is getting great feedback from those who have experienced it and this Vanity Fair piece is a great look at the space. We have enjoyed playing with Google Cardboard – neatly termed Oculus Thrift given its $20 price tag – and it’s clear there is something here. The question is whether it can cross the chasm from games to real life applications.
Creating compelling content is key and the tools to do this are appearing. GoPro have a camera designed specifically for VR and so too does Nokia
Fix Live
Our event is now our Salon - we intend to produce something rather more stimulating than a conference. We have had some smart people buy tickets already and are delighted to add two more great speakers; Erfan Djazmi of Essence is going to talk about the great work they are doing for Google and Henry Rowe of FaR Partners is going to review the latest trends in the marketplace. Given Essence won the Visa Programmatic business (when they appointed Starcom for the rest)  and FaR advise some of the smartest media owners, Erfan and Henry will add lots to our debate.
Quick Reads
Facebook have improved their Pages product – designed as the FB presence for business. Does a small business need a website anymore?
Evan Williams of Twitter (& Medium) doesn’t think publishers need a website either. This interview with John Battelle is a fascinating read and sort of gets into the whole issue of walled gardens too; Williams believes publishers should use platforms like Medium, Facebook and Apple like TV shows use Netflix. We tend to agree and see that for a publisher, Apple and Facebook are like Sky is for a TV channel – the platform where all the eyeballs are.
The Location space is evolving and Estimote ( a prime mover in Beacons) talk of nearables unlocking indoor location. This piece by one of the Estimote team sets out the vision.
Siri was a major part of the Apple event, being key to both the watch and the TV. It turns out that it is constantly listening and that might worry some over privacy. Yet given how clear Tim Cook has been that Apple dont use data etc for ads maybe they can get away with it? You have to suspect that a Google app won’t be allowed to do the same –or if it does those notifications will start to pop up.
Finally …we were intrigued to see that Google is supporting the many makers of Android watches by enabling pairing with iPhones. So if you prefer a Moto watch to an Apple one you can still use your favourite apps.
Apple are equally keen to build bridges – they now have an Android app. Called Move to iOS it is designed to make it easy to switch to Apple as this app harvests all your photos, messages and data so you don’t lose it in the switch.
And I am speaking about Real Time marketing at the Social Media Week event our friends at Seven are running next Friday. If you are there do come and say hello.
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