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Mobile Fix – August 26


Last week the doom and gloom piece on Programmatic was the most read item in Fix. Despite the promise of Programmatic the jury is still out – even amongst some of its most likely supporters. A new survey by ISBA makes interesting reading showing clients are generally unconvinced–

Only a minority of clients (45%) believe that agency trading desks and demand-side platforms "enable a better media ROI through targeted media buys". That is unchanged since 2012, although more advertisers now actually disagree, while fewer "don’t know". 

In our conversations with brands, agencies and Ad Tech players we see two approaches to programmatic. Lots of people are focused on efficiency – this is a good way to buy lots of cheap inventory quickly. Rather less seem focused on effectiveness – that this is a great way to achieve surgical precision and deliver the right message at the right time.

With our love of dynamic creative we clearly support the latter but many of the publishers we talk with are concentrating on Private Marketplaces and enhanced IO deals where real value can be created. One publisher who is making programmatic work is Trinity Mirror who have seen a 40% rise in ad yields.

The other key theme in the ISBA report is around the downward pressure on agency remuneration (although the new WPP results don’t show any problems). One surprise is that in an era when measuring the effect of advertising has never been easier (ecommerce, store visit metrics etc) the incidence of payments by results has fallen dramatically and, of those deals that are still in place, a vast proportion don’t pay out. Is that a function of the agencies covered or are we really seeing less and less effective work?


The Google quest to make the mobile web better continues. They have announced that interstitials will reduce the quality score of the page, so incentivizing people not to use them.  Given how clearly irritating they are we are always surprised to see many smart brands still using them – probably seduced by their agency misrepresenting fat finger closing clicks as response.

Their AMP programme seems to be doing well too. Search for any new story and AMP articles are at the top of the results, so a clear incentive for publishers to use them, over and above the fast loading and the consequent benefits to readership and engagement.

The AMP technology is now starting to be used outside of news publishers and it is well suited to ecommerce, where slow loading pages so often prompts basket abandonment as well as reduced browsing. Could this develop into the standard way to build mobile web experiences? Desktop ecommerce tools like Magenta have generally struggled to cope with mobile, although some developers are becoming better at optimizing the mobile channel.

Whilst we could once have argued that Google was more focused on mobile web than apps – for fairly obvious reasons - they have a done a good job of promoting and improving the Android App ecology. But some developers still take an iOS first approach – again for fairly obvious reasons – and Google are very focused on ensuring as many apps as possible are available in Android too.

To help accelerate this, Google secretly acquired an app development firm that ports iOS apps into Android. Unclear as to how this will be deployed but we should expect to see some new tools and tech, before too long. With 5 million apps expected on the Apple App store by 2020 they have plenty to do.


The Edinburgh TV festival is the place the traditional TV industry gathers each summer and this year they had the Vice CEO Shane Smith deliver the main lecture. He talked about the need to embrace young audiences who he feels are being poorly served by traditional TV. He also anticipates lots of M&A as changing consumption patterns shake up the industry. Vice is rumoured to be a target for Disney who already hold a significant stake

The Olympics coverage in the US gives us a good look at how the world is changing. Despite everything being in the right time zone Rio viewing was down 15% versus London. One of their smart execs hit the nail on the head;

Well yes. If it was 1996 again, things would be different. But the missing audience was generally – surprise surprise - the young and interestingly the NBC channel on Snapchat did pretty well – with 2.2 billion views. But for this project they handed control to a bunch of Buzzfeed people – and this is a good insight into how they managed the task.

Vice know the habits of the young have changed;

As more and more consumption switches from text to video, with all the consequence issues around length, format etc, Buzzfeed are reorganizing around video, making the point that;

Bots, Chat & Voice

Whilst more digital content is consumed as video, the way we interact with content and services is changing too. There are thousands of Bots as we mentioned last week and it’s worth reading this good FT piece on Bots and the view there is a way to go yet. One Book Lovers Society bot on Messenger came up with good literary suggestions – then sent a FB Messenger notification recommending the new Jeffery Archer.  No matter how good the tech, you still need a good idea and you need to execute well.

The best learning comes from China and this Economist article on WeChat adds some smart thinking on the topic –

Voice is the other big change and we see that Amazon is teaching Alexa how the British speak English, so a UK launch isn’t far way. We also know a couple of UK brands are developing services (or Skills) for Alexa too.

A Scottish friend points out that Siri doesn’t do a great job with a Glaswegian accent, right now. But Viv, the new Voice service from the people who invented Siri and sold it to Apple, will allow anyone to develop services. So dealing with Glasgow, Leeds and Hackney accents may be easier in the future. This video of the VIV CEO talking about Conversational Commerce is a must watch.


Whats App  are looking ahead, with new Ts&Cs on privacy. The first headline is they will share your phone number with the rest of the family tech, which has some interesting possibilities. And they plan to;

How that fits with their No Ads, No Games No Gimmicks declaration remains to be seen.

And Facebook is testing AutoPlay ads with the Audio turned up. With their own research showing 80% of people hate this, we don’t think this will get traction. As we have been pointing out, all the evidence shows Facebook obsess over keeping their users happy and it’s unlikely a modest boost to ad revenue will derail that. Smart brands are getting good at using captions anyway.

They also have an interesting new development – a sophisticated set of tools and partners to measure store visits and sales. We believe this type of metric is going to become hugely important and since Google launched theirs in 2014 they have had a good take up.


We argue that smartphones are going the same way as the TV set, looking increasingly alike as the screen dominates. With the next iPhone just weeks away the rumours have started with talk of curved screens and missing jacks. But the interesting stuff is the software and iOS10 is now rolling out to the developers – and those brave enough to risk their primary phone to bugs and glitches. The main change is how the lock screen becomes so much more useful – with lots more Siri functionality expected.

Obviously Android have their own stories and the new Nexus sounds interesting – although the key question is whether it remains a niche product or do Google support HTC in taking on Samsung for the mass Android market? Given it is suggested the Nexus logo is to be replaced with the Google, maybe they will?

The Android software also has a new feature – Nearby uses your location to notify you of useful apps and sites, building on the new capabilities of Eddystone,  their Beacon tech. Again we are excited about location and this feels like a big deal – although it maybe early days still. Has your brand got a location strategy?

When considering the device market the big issue is just how dominant Apple is – this article suggests they take 75% of all profits in the marketplace. That’s what Google look at when they consider whether to go big with the Nexus.

Quick Reads

We are working with some friends who have a very interesting business solving the conundrum of crap wfi on trains and their content delivery network is really good. More to follow, but this story of how Cuban people deal with no internet access is inspirational.

Finally there has never been a bigger, faster more profound shift in consumer behavior than the mobile. We now take it for granted but the changes  - from the Selfie to Chat to just being always on – are fundamental for billions of people. The explosive growth of Pokemon GO is the latest example and this video of a stampede in Taiwan (caused by a Snorlax)is more evidence of how our culture is now a mobile one.

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