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Mobile Fix – November 11


Another good interview with Jeff Bezos – one part of which covered his acquisition of the Washington Post. This quote (from the transcript) is worth sharing as it is applicable to so many businesses nowadays;

We need to go from making a relatively large amount of money per reader on a relatively small number of readers. That is the historic model of "The Post", to a model where we make a relatively small amount of money per reader on a very large number of readers. That is the new model.

Our favourite VC Chamath Palihapitiyas is long on Amazon - he believes it will become worth $3 trillion and he has a Hedge Fund running alongside his VC firm which has done well with his Amazon investment.

Are Apps unnecessary?

We are doing a series of Learning Sessions for a major Agency group and one topic that always comes up is App versus Website. Long time readers will know we have always been bullish about mobile web and see Apps as a supporting opportunity for delivering service and utility to existing customers.

Over the years various technologies have promised to diminish the appeal of native apps but nothing has really worked that well. A good native app can give people an extraordinary user experience. The new Uber app is a good example – although a brave move to change a UI that so many people rely on.

But the Browser alternatives are getting better - and gjven how hard it is to get an App downloaded these days, some are doubling down on a great mobile web experience. As we mentioned a few months ago Patagonia have retired their app, instead relying on a mobile site built using Google Progressive Web Apps technology.

Last year Indian ecommerce giant FlipKart made the headlines when they announced they wouldn’t have a mobile site at all and offered an App only business. That didn’t work out too well and earlier this year they launched Flipkart lite which also uses Progressive Web App tech to deliver a much faster loading experience even on poor networks.

And just this week I met with the founders of Tantrum, an interesting Content Community and Commerce business aimed at parents. With content across all the key social channels and a good website, they have decided they just don’t need an app at the moment.

We have never been convinced that Google really embrace Apps – even though they do a great job with the Play store and the way that maybe - team works with developers. An open web suits search best and with Google also pushing Android Instant Apps they are helping evolve the technology towards a state where apps aren’t that necessary. (And Fix friends OnlyDeadFish pointed out that WeChat are trying a similar approach).

A year ago we asked whether Apps were the CD of mobile content. As Notifications become more prevalent, are apps a stepping stone to a world where streaming is a better metaphor?

Fold in the inexorable rise of Messaging apps and the emergence of Chat and an App loses its primacy – when it is easy to order an Uber from your Echo or in Slack is the app essential? If you want to dig deeper this is a good place to start

(And one other observation – my other half replaced her Macbook Air with a Chromeboook this week and doing everything in the browser works amazingly well.)

Brand Ads on Mobile

My second digital business was opening the London office for Poppe Tyson ( the people who invented DoubleClick) in 1995 with two good friends. Along the way we merged with Modem who had done the first banner ad for AT&T on the HotWired site. The clickthough was 40% and despite the fact it’s been falling ever since, that metric remains key to digital marketing. Smart people know that digital also has a brand building effect – we proved it in 2001with our YesSirNoSir project

So with all that experience of digital ads it is frustrating that most mobile advertising has little thought behind it. One mantra we have been pushing in the agency learning is 42 million people with smartphone spending 3 hours a day on them. That is a huge opportunity for connecting people with brands and measuring shifts in saliency, brand favourability and purchase intent is a much more useful approach than obsessing about the 1 in 1000 people who might click. With the possibilities of programmatic buying and the data driven rich creative canvas that people like our friends at Cablato enable, brands can test and learn what has the best effect

Our friends at On Device Research are one of the key players in measuring brand metrics on mobile and they have a fascinating new study out showing that emotion is a vital element in mobile ads.

Sometime soon someone is going to start creating mobile advertising that does drive emotion and does build brands, and they – and their clients - are going to do really well. Who is it going to be?

Missed opportunity?

An annual ritual of the Traditional Media Taliban (Lets all go back to the good old days) is the celebration of the Christmas ads. The new John Lewis ad was released on social yesterday and our friends at Tubular shared that it had achieved 7 million views by lunchtime. So by the time you read this, that’s probably 15 to 20 million people that have chosen to go watch the ad – and it’s just as emotional on an smartphone as on a smart TV.

The digital elements of these big budget spectaculars often feel like a bit of an afterthought. There is a Snapchat lens but only yesterday and a filter geo located around their stores. You can experience an Oculus Rift version in the John Lewis store on Oxford Street and there is a quite nice 360 version on YouTube that can be enjoyed with Google Cardboard. But it’s not promoted on the John Lewis YouTube homepage so it only has a few thousand views. And they have Twitter stickers too. Hopefully they are buying Facebook video ads too?

But is that it? With 42 million people in the UK spending around 3 hours a day on their smartphones there is so much more that could be done. A simple Shazam partnership could have millions of people playing with the 360 in their living rooms. They could have sold Cardboards in their stores (all proceeds to charity). And John Lewis would own VR in most consumers eyes.

Given they probably saved a bit of money by not having an original idea , you would expect a little more.


Twitters problems persist – their COO and main commercial guy Adam Bain is to leave. Hard to see what Twitter does now. They still have huge traction with a pretty dedicated set of users. But Wall Street want growth and none of the current team seem to know how to do that. And no-one wants to buy them.. Ex Goldman Sachs banker Antony Noto moves from CFO to COO.

Given their dominant position in real time news a push into video makes sense, so their partnerships with the NFL etc – a move Noto has been instrumental in – could be their path to reinvention. This Quartz piece is a good take on Twitter and as a Fix friend put it, they are Indispensable for some. Irrelevant for many

Quick Reads

Last week we shared the trailer for the new work on ad effectiveness from Les Binet and Peter Field – now the full interview is available

A Guardian journalist has tried Amazon Dash buttons - and doesn’t like them. We think they work best with an Amazon Fresh delivery but as we shared last week they do work really well for some brands.

Magic Leap has entranced everyone lucky enough to see the demo and they have raised $1.4billion. It seems the product is a pair of glasses and they are 18 months away. Well worth reading.

Snap spectacles are now on sale – but so far only through a vending machine on Venice Beach. If any Fix readers in LA can get us a pair we will reimburse you.

Agencies struggle to make Snapchat ads – surprise surprise. And someone has leaked one of the media pitch decks – and they are not cheap – surprise surprise.

Facebook want to sell TV ads on Apple TV and Roku – and when you watch a video on Facebook they now suggest watching it on your TV screen through the Wi-Fi network.

I am constantly amazed that good publishers tarnish their sites with horrible Outbrain and Taboola ads. Reading about the resurgency of Leeds United in the Yorkshire Evening Post is somewhat spoilt by tasteless pictures at the bottom of the page - and we don’t mean Joey Barton. Even the Daily Mail does it. So it’s good to see that many publishers are recognizing the money isn’t worth it and dropping these ads

Finally… the Chairman of the IAB gave a masterclass on mobile at the recent IAB Engage. A good call to action, making the point that Mobile isn’t a subset of the internet; it is the internet. He argues that advertising will change more in the next 5 years than in the last 100 and we agree (And it’s very flattering that Fix gets a mention in his talk)

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