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Mobile Fix - July 12


As we dig into the DTC world one of the more interesting companies we have found is Circle, who combine venture capital with venture creation and acceleration - focused on DTC. Their founder talks about their approach on this A16Z podcast about DTC and CPG.

People seem more bearish on DTC at the moment - here a Reckitt Benckiser exec looks at the lack of profits and this is a good thread on how to build brand within performance focused marketing. 2Pm get into the sociology of a brand and looks at how luxury fashion is different from most DTC.

Leveraging partnerships to drive store traffic is becoming more popular - Kohls are the latest retailer to accept Amazon returns and Macys are using Story to bring new brands into their stores


This long read on Grocery Retail is really interesting - how people are reimagining supermarkets to make them more experiential - getting them closer to the Brand Cathedrals we believe is the ideal. Also the research from Accenture (PDF) that they reference is fascinating - how people now eat out more than they eat at home and how people will soon have no reason to visit a supermarket.

….the introduction of online and mobile commerce has both consumers and retailers questioning the role and future of the traditional retail store.

Some similar themes are explored in this BoF piece on measuring the impact of stores - though we disagree that it’s the most important part. The Achilles Heel of physical stores is data - the knowledge of the customer is significantly less than online; which is why we spend so much time looking at ways of gathering 1st party data instore.

The CEO of Yoox Net a Porter sums up the challenge for the High Street;

Adtech Perfect Storm

The Great Hack is a new Netflix documentary looking at how GAFA uses data and how that data is being used by bad actors - particularly Cambridge Analytica. As the idea of data being manipulated to give us Trump and Brexit goes mainstream, it adds to the weather affecting adtech.

As do the regulators latest GDPR fines - £183m for British Airways and £99m for Marriot. These are the same people who warned the ad industry over the standard programmatic model just a few weeks ago. With the browser updates on how they enable cookies imminent it’s clear we need to move to a new model - and quickly (The ICO will issue their next report in just 6 months.) And as more evidence of teeth, UK regulators have nixed the Amazon investment in Deliveroo whilst they consider the implications.

But innovation seems slow. After 20 years of adtech the idea of quality seems now to be catching on - but it’s still the exception. It is sobering that in 2019 the IAB feel it is necessary to explain the adtech supply chain again as;

We know how valuable data driven marketing is when done well and as we find ways to better deal with privacy we can - and will - keep driving profitable business outcomes. It continues to be a complex market and things are changing fast - the new Luma report shows just how much M&A is taking place. You need to be sure you are getting good advice on how best to adapt to this new climate - and understanding your own tech stack is essential.


At Cannes a Forrester analyst got some headlines by suggesting marketers should redirect $19bn away from Tech and into Agency Creativity. His point was Customer Experience has stalled and CX should be rethought as Creative Experience - leading to differentiation in an increasingly commoditized world.

I tend to agree but would caveat this as small c creative rather than Big Idea big C Creative. Talking with Braze this week, it's clear that the wonderful Burger King ideas come from a true intersection between Tech and Creative thinking. Just like the Spirable activity for Deutsche Bahn. There are more great mobile campaigns here - all blending tech with smart creative ideas.

But where do you go for this type of thinking? Jellyfish make the point that marketers need Digital partners rather than Agencies. Someone who recognises that the best way to make a media budget work harder could be to improve the customer experience through better product pages. Or by speeding up the mobile website with AMP pages so conversion rates improve.

Voice & Audio

Lots of attention on Alexa giving health advice - which is actually little more than making the NHS web content available through voice. It makes sense though and adds another use case for smart speakers. There is more up and to the right data on Voice - this time on shopping.

Within the wealth of data in the PWC report we mentioned last week, they predict podcast ad revenue will top $1bn this year and some podcast creators are supplementing their income with live podcast shows where tickets can cost over $100.

The health of the whole digital audio ad market is shown in this study from Dax, showing Agencies and Brands are optimistic about the sector


It’s not just TikTok building their Western reach. Other Chinese apps are investing in mobile ads to drive US downloads. Retail app Shein is a major spender in appstores and on Facebook and is driving millions of downloads.

The South China Morning Post has released a very comprehensive report on the Chinese internet market. Lots of data and lots of insight too. The examples of Western apps taking inspiration from Chinese ones are really useful. In video China seems similar to the West in anticipating growth in subscriptions and an increased focus on creating original content.

So much good stuff here. (PDF)


The canary in the coal mine of new TV is Netflix - whether you think it has healthy future or that the tsunami of competitors will swamp it, it is the brand everyone talks about. Matthew Ball thinks all the doom is misplaced and goes into a deep analysis of their finances to prove this.

The one content area Netflix has steered clear of is sports, and the industry seems split on whether that’s a good idea or not. But their absence hasn’t affected the battles for rights. We have covered the GAFA appetite for sports a lot and Amazon looks to be the key player. (Their social coverage of sports is growing quickly too with a good Twitter presence)

This research looks at the tech players and sport in some detail and suggest Amazon is emerging as the leader. But London based DAZN are very active too and are now looking at the NFL

The BBC share our enthusiasm for Quibi - with an investment - as has ITV. The money probably isn’t much but it will help get commissions and the BBC are already working on shows for Quibi.

The US Media Kitchen team are leaning into OTT and this deck is a good summary of the market and the key players.

It’s 10 years since Amazon deleted a Kindle book that people had bought and refunded them when it became clear the publisher didn’t have the correct rights. The book in question? 1984 by George Orwell. Microsoft are about to do something similar. As they close down their ebook service all the books people had ‘bought’ will cease to work and Microsoft will issue refunds. When you buy something digital are you actually buying it?

As Facial Recognition goes mainstream tech firms and government are getting creative in how they access our pictures to train the AI. IBM took 1m pictures from Flickr and the FBI are using the US driving licence photos

People don’t like paying subscriptions; even people who like paying for news generally only pay one.

YouTuber Tom Scott has made a video series on How to build an app

Finally... we sometimes assume everyone is chasing the same people but the reach of mobile is now so big companies can have quite different strategies;

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