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Mobile Fix - June 19

Ad blocking

This topic isn’t going away. Some smart thinkers have weighed in with their views; GroupMs John Montgomery and Bydds Victor Malachard both make lots of sense. But with Apples move we can’t help thinking this issue has gone nuclear and no amount of common sense is going to resolve it.

It is possible to block the ad blockers – PageFair in Dublin have pioneered this and now an ex Googler is offering a similar service. We went back to the paper PageFair published last year to remind ourselves of the size of the problem – pre Apple - 144m people chose to use ad blockers.

Our view is that the bigger threat now comes from people wanting to reduce the data they use – be that consumers who want to reduce their bill or MNOs / WiFi companies who would like to free up bandwidth to speed up their service. We get into more on this in our podcast with Balderton on AdBlocking.

A couple of new developments from Google highlight how this data issue is moving centre stage – they are pushing lighter and hence faster web pages in Indonesia and India and they are highlighting in search which pages are slow to load.

Just as Facebook have done with their light App, the focus is emerging markets where bandwidth is relatively scarce and, for most consumers, relatively expensive. But we see similar concerns over download speeds in mature markets too and services that offer to speed things up by reducing the amount of data will find an audience here in the West.

Ultimately publishers need to make their value proposition clear – if you don’t pay for the content through seeing ads or paying a subscription, then you can’t see the content.

But even this is potentially undermined by the emergence of Facebook, Apple and Google as (re)distributors – could stonewalling the people using adblockers drive them to consume the content on one of the GAFA news aggregators?

Ad tech

The latest deck from Luma is a great summary of the adtech market but their core point seems to be that the market is over supplied and a bloodbath is likely as the market consolidates. A WSJ article makes a similar point as it says VC money for the sector is drying up;

A view from Krux makes the point that many of these zombie adtech companies have been limping around for a while, but as both Facebook and Google step up their products and services in this space, many companies look like they are more about a feature than a product. And it’s not just Google and Facebook – Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce are all extending their marketing automation cloud into the advertising space

If you want a good take on programmatic and where it may be heading this is a good – long – read.


This is a good explanation of the Atlas product from Facebook and why it deserves to be taken very seriously.

And this interview with the head of Facebook in EMEA is a well worth reading too.


Whilst Atlas talk about People Marketing, Google are now talking Moments. This article goes into the Moments well and covers the DoubleClick conference where a number of interesting new products were announced. With a focus on cross device measurement and a push into Programmatic this is quite a big move. This piece compares the Google products with the Facebook ones and sees a division between deterministic and probabilistic data. Because Google routinely get the regulators attention they are using their logged in user data more sparingly than Facebook do. Given the EU has started to look at Facebook too, this difference in approach may be temporary.

Facial recognition

The next GAFA issue likely to get attention in Brussels is facial recognition. Google are using it to power their new Photo service and Facebook Moments uses it too

It’s also becoming a big issue in the US where they are trying to get some voluntary code of conduct. but with no luck so far. With more and more pictures taken and technology getting better, this is going to be a significant issue. It’s already quite easy to search Google Images with a picture. And the Police are very interested in this technology – storing some 18m peoples photos on a database and last week scanned the face of everyone attending a festival in Leicester. They have been filming football fans attending matches for some years.

We get asked about privacy a lot at our workshops and our answer is always that people seem less concerned about what GAFA knows than the fact we have more CCTV cameras in London than anywhere else in the world.

Rethinking Apps

We have been thinking a lot about how the news from both Google IO and Apple WWDC indicates that Apps are evolving. Wired think they are in a race to kill the app but we think that’s a little extreme (although this new story also suggests this). Deep linking does change everything and we think that services that mine apps and web pages for the contextually relevant information (or action) are the future. But what does mobile learn from the web and the search model that is so mature on desktop? Do the walled gardens of GAFA mean brands need to build two different services? Can the web not bridge the walled gardens?

Delivery and the Shared Economy

You don’t need to spend that long in San Francisco to see it’s not like anywhere else. It’s the one place that makes you question the William Gibson quote – The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

How much of this could make it outside tech enclaves like SF, Brooklyn and East London is the question VCs are wrestling with; we always ask Would it work in Leeds?

A new app from Amazon might inform us – this will let anyone deliver amazon parcels for a small fee. We have placed our social experiment Skratch on hold while we rethink what will work. Any smart ideas and collaboration welcome.

Quick Reads

As he prepares for Cannes, Evan Spiegal has taken a few moments out to explain what Snapchat is all about. But in a curious low res video shot in landscape…. Given he is imploring brands to switch to portrait video – as they are 9 times more likely to be viewed - that’s a little odd.

This video interview with Marissa Mayer is worth watching. Some good insights into their product and the ads; We’re the biggest media company that gets tech and the biggest tech company that gets media

A new report from Barb makes interesting reading – one key stat is that 14% of UK homes subscribed to Netflix at the end of 2014 – up from 10% at the start of the year.

The key Designer for Google Search does a Reddit AMA and talks about Material Design , Google Maps and more

Amazon are debuting one of their TV shows on Facebook. We think FB is a great platform for episodic content.

Google are bidding to buy DunnHumby – all that shopping data could

really help with attribution

Finally – As AI gets lots of coverage – and the new C4 show Humans is good look at the subject - an early experiment highlights some issues. The Sony Aibo robot dog was quite a breakthough in 1999 and we featured it in our futurology video.

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