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Mobile Fix - December 11


Staying with our when in a hole, stop digging approach, some more evidence of how broken mobile ads are. A NYT reporter shares our annoyance at pop ups and interstitials that are almost impossible to close. Brands should whether they really want to run this type of format – and looking closely at the campaign data. All those fat finger and false clicks result in fleeting visits. Google analytics data can show you what a waste of money these ads are.

We argue that publisher should say no to annoying formats too – the money is not worth alienating your readers and driving them to adblockers. Now, adtech can make it hard – very hard – for publishers to know who is advertising with them until it’s too late – as the Guardian found when trying not to run gun ads. (Probably not the best bit of targeting there from the Gun people.)

But how do Publishers get the control back? Will we see more and more private marketplaces (PMP)deals? Could we see a drive towards marquee ad formats on prime real estate? Our friends at Responsive are enjoying great results with publishers as their ads merit good prices from brands that want to deliver a rich experience and value context.

We mentioned that Google was streaming app content in search results and now this approach has been extended to ads – with some interesting trials from games and apps.

A Fix friend at Instagram has shared some very helpful tips on getting the most out of the platform


One of the most exiting innovations around mobile advertising is the launch of the 360 degree video in Facebook ads. With brands like Nestle and Samsung trialing this we expect good take up - have a look at the examples.

At a recent conference on VR games guru Jesse Schell shared 40 predictions for

VR over the next few years. You can watch the video here or flick through the slides here. Hard to call the accuracy but there is a lot happening and we think it’s going to be pretty big – and therefore interesting for brands.


Working out how best to play with GAFA is a key challenge for publishers. Most now recognise the distribution potential of Instant Articles, Apple News and Google News but worry about losing the connection with their readers.

For a while Google have been the key antagonists, with publishers concerned over snippets of their stories being shown on Google, yet reliant on the traffic driven by Google. Brussels is finally getting involved and it looks like a snippet tax – where Google pay the publishers for showing a snippet of their story - is imminent. But since the bureaucrats started looking at this, the ecology has changed and most publishers now have a relationship with some if not all of GAFA distribution tools.

These relationships are still in flux, with Facebook now amending the rules over publishers selling articles – now you can include an ad for every 350 words rather than 500. And publishers can now separate out their Facebook eyeballs and sell them discreetly, rather than having to bundle it with your more traditional traffic.

Just how new audiences will use tech platforms to consume news is the big question. Does reading a story on Donald Trump buffoonery in the Guardian make it more likely they will go there for other stories? Or does the platform morph into the news provider, with the Guardian as one possible source in a mosaic of stories? Surprisingly (?) Snapchat is proving a credible news source as it combines its’ users content with ‘traditional’ news reporting.

Another tech development that publishers are watching carefully in Blendle - a Dutch service that lets users make micro payments for articles. Launching now in the US it’s success in Europe makes it an interesting weapon in the fight against ad blockers. But it’s success is another blow to advertisers, as reach is denied them- just as it is on Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime video etc – subscription works for the platform and consumers, but not for brands.

What many people seem to forget is that Adblocking is not just a threat to publishers (and Agencies) business models. It is also a threat to Kelloggs, Coke and most consumer brands - who have built their business through cheap and easy access to mass market audiences via advertising.


At the WebSummit the other week in Dublin the head of product for Google Now talked about what the smartphone will look like in 5 years. She described 3 shifts

  • "On a phone, you want answers on the go. You don't have time to wade through screens. You want quick answers on the go. That's the first shift.
  • "The second shift ... unlike desktop, where the search engine was synonymous with finding information ... phones are about getting stuff done. [It's] about playing music through Spotify, or calling a cab using Uber ... In some sense it's not about getting answers, it's about getting stuff done.
  • "The third shift, which is closer to my heart on Google Now ... because [the phone is] such a partial-attention device, you want the information to find you, not just for you to find the information. And that's a big shift. It's a big shift certainly for new companies, and it's a big shift for Google as well."

You need to read the whole piece but to us it throws up a key question – how does the interface change? Going off to find the individual apps won’t work and we do think that notifications are going to be key but they need to get smarter.

The notifications concept is close to messaging and we think that is going to become a central theme. This piece from Intercom explores how messaging is evolving and everything we are seeing in China supports the notion that messaging is a major shift. A good demonstration of how simply chat works as an interface for commerce is Dispatch and this look at their launch is interesting. In time though, this approach will work within the messenger app you favour – Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc - rather than needing to open a specific app. If you didn’t read this last week a look at Chinese mcommerce within WeChat is a great insight.

Another example of how a service can be built within messaging apps is WhatsBot; a product of a hackathon but WhatsApp have banned it

Quick Reads

This interview with the new CEO of Huffington Post, makes the argument that we are in a post social world and content needs to be on Facebook, Snapchat etc. Just like it once had to be on Yahoo and AOL etc.

VC firm A16Z have invested in app developer Gigster thinking their approach of combining world class developers with AI can change the cottage industry of app development, where few companies have reached significant scale. One UK firm doing this well are our friends at CAF who have launched their own products to help enterprise mobilise.

For many years our thinking on content was based around the 1 9 90 rule that Jacob Neilsen popularized in the late 90s – basically 1% of a community create content, 9% share and 90% just consume. That held true for desktop but in mobile the friction involved in creating content has melted away and many more people create and share. Here a VC looks at the consequences of this.

This interview with (outgoing) CEO of Xaxis is a good look at the way WPP has driven adtech and programmatic. And this is a useful round up of how Programmatic is doing in Europe

We talked last week about how Apple could bundle content with devices to get subscription fees. This look at Googles Fi project reminds us that bundling connectivity with a device works too. Imagine adding the Champions League or NBA to that.

The front line of mobile and tech is probably retail. That’s where we see people using their smartphones to get an advantage in shopping – reviews, price comparison, who has it in stock etc. It’s where we see forward thinking retailers testing new ways to serve their customer. And it’s where new payments methods need to prove themselves and what mcommerce needs to beat. Chinese owned House of Fraser has been one of the more ambitious UK retailers and this interview with their Chief Customer Officer is a good read.

One retailer has decided to make their own play in Payments = Walmart don’t accept Apple Pay etc but have launched their own wallet.

Lots of great data from Ofcom on the Connected Nation– more next week as we dig into this

Finally ….in the week we learned that Google and Nasa have developed a computer that is 100 million times faster than your PC, we are reminded that IBM are still in the game with Watson and the many other R&D projects. There is a lot more change to come from technology and anyone waiting for things to settle down is going to be disappointed.

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