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Mobile Fix — November 8

Political Ads

I have been arguing for a while that Facebook should stop running political ads and now Twitter have just done that. Interesting that the main complaints are from Russia and Trump. Facebook have been quick to say they won’t follow suit where Shery Sandberg says the revenue is not worth the controversy.

The whole situation is complicated by the difference between here and the US, where political ads can be bought on TV so the bias is towards people who have big budgets. in the UK you can't buy political ads on TV, so that issue doesn't arise,

Essentially this is not about free speech, but about paid speech.

I think that running unchecked ads for politicians sours the environment for those brands that know how effective Facebook advertising can be. Do we want Facebook users to be trained that you can’t trust the promoted messages you see on Facebook?

I do think that Facebook will stop running ads before the 2020 election - but we may have the UK election as evidence that paid ads are a really bad idea.


For once the focus of new TV is on this side of the Atlantic with Britbox launching. There are comments about whether people will pay twice for content, having paid the BBC licence fee but I think that's a red herring. It didn't stop people buying DVDs, etc.

I think the big question for the UK is what happens with Sky. In the US, we've got a few years of cable cutting going on and many people moving away from pay TV. So, the cost of those cable services is getting replaced by streaming services.

We don't have any data to suggest that Sky is seeing similar issues. So on top of your Sky bill people need an appetite to add more streaming services. Maybe for Disney with all those movies you cannot see anywhere else. But maybe not for the BBC/ ITV programming, lots of which is fairly widely available across the Sky EPG.

The other issue is that the BBC, ITV and C4, because of their reputation for great content, do lots of partnerships with American networks (and other countries) to make co-productions.

Going forward, is that in jeopardy if BBC or ITV want them to have their second window be on Britbox? If the partners on Killing Eve want to go to Netflix, can Britbox compete? The war for talent and the inflation in talent cost is so high now that funding does depend on where the programme will be shown.

It’s interesting that the NBC streaming service Peacock has announced that they may have an ad funded version. I'm convinced that we're going to see this happen more and more. Amazon has done it with IMDb TV ( soon to come to Europe). The logic of having an advertiser supported service (as a way of recruiting customers to subscribe but also monetizing this content) is compelling.

Washington Post have got a good summary of the streaming services. And when you go down that list you wonder how many of those are going to get people paying up for them. Every month.

How they handle Sports is unclear but GAFA seem more focused; we hear that Amazon Prime could end up with the UK La Liga rights - after they were taken back from ElevenSports who struggled to sell subscriptions.

And a new report from our friends at Tubular suggests there is around $13bn being left on the video table because measurement isn’t yet good enough


Apple keep upping the ante on Privacy - they have revamped the Privacy part of their website to be really clear on what they do to protect privacy. The section on search stands out;

With the Smart Search field in Safari, you can type website names, web addresses, and search queries all in one place. Safari minimizes the amount of data sent to third-party search engines — for example, it won’t share cookies or your precise location, which may happen if you search by other means. Safari also offers the option to set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine, allowing you to search the web without being tracked.

What it doesn’t say is that if you follow the default setting, Google handles your search and you’re on your own.

The Washington Post has a good piece on how sites are fingerprinting you across the web, mentioning half-way through that they do it too. The New York Times ran a piece on how you are scored, with all the data that companies hold on you as part of their service. All of this looks creepy and no-one is making a case for the positives.

AdExchanger has an interesting piece, posing a simple question that no one else will answer; What happens to programmatic advertising as cookies crumble away?

Talking about the current and imminent effects of GDPR, California Privacy and the browser changes, we use the hashtag #AdtechPerfectStorm. And our Wily Coyote picture to show that people are running out of road with this. Yet the silence is deafening. Identity solutions will work across individuals sites and across Trade Desk, AppNexus and GAFA - but sharing them only works with a third party cookie.

The winners are going to be those publishers able to aggregate valuable audiences in a suitable context. If you haven’t read the paper on Why publishers are missing out on data-driven revenue from our friends at Permutive, you should


We’re fascinated by the role Shopify plays in the DTC environment. They now have a million customers and their investments seem destined to position themselves as an anti Amazon. The hunger to hold on to data and be integral to the success of their customers was demonstrated with their squabble with MailChimp,which resulted in MailChimp dropping out of the Shopify App Store. And now Shopify have their own email service which appears to be pretty good. Being fully integrated with the rest of Shopify, Shopify email gives merchants really strong capabilities to send event driven marketing campaigns and measure results.

It is being given away for free for now to a limited number of retailers, but no concrete decision on pricing yet.

In our experience most brands need a dual strategy - DTC with Shopify and a well organised presence on Amazon. Working out the timing and the relationship between the two is where success lies.

As we approach Black Friday, this is a pretty fallow time for most ecommerce businesses.

But the smart ones are tinkering with their site and their tactics and getting ready for

the big weekend. Some interesting tips in this piece about Shopify apps that may help and here about abandoned carts notifications and how to use messenger and SMS as part of your marketing.

Wholesale seems almost a contradiction to DTC but there are interesting connections happening. We mentioned Ark last week and now a VC is talking up Faire which gets DTC brands distribution in hundreds of small stores.

My talk at Adludio last week was focused on how DTC brands need to think about marketing and what channels merit testing. The continued improvements in Google Shopping Ads make them a prime candidate - and this is a good summary of why.


Always lots to learn from China and Ex Google chief Eric Schmidt this week talked about the need for the west to continue to cooperate with China around AI, as they're making such good progress

Closer to our interests this is a great example of image recognition from ecommerce site taobao. Rather than describe a contact lens holder just take a picture of it, and simple visual search shows you which ones to buy. Similar tech is available from Amazon and more but it’s rarely that simple.

One of the problems visiting China is that as a foreigner you don't have access to the payment systems that work for everything but now Alipay and Ant financial now allow travellers a 90 day e wallet, so they can actually participate in the Chinese economy, the same as local people. The parent company Alibaba reported good figures for Q3 - although the 40% growth was their lowest improvement for 2 years. The results were party credited to better shopper targeting - increasingly helping merchants target consumers based on their personal preferences

One interesting development this week was that the Chinese authorities set a curfew for under 18 year olds playing video games. You're allowed 90 minutes during the week - none after 10pm - and a bit more of the weekend - and every person has to register to prove their age. I wonder whether watching lots of TikTok videos will come under the same scrutiny.

We are fascinated by the whole South Asian region, there's lots going on and this new report from Google looks at the what they call 100 billion dollar tech economy across Southeast Asia. Swipe Up and Right has lots of interesting learning. Fascinating companies and the sheer size of these markets is something that we occasionally forget

A Fix friend from Beeswax talks about the five challenges facing mobile marketing. And a Fix friend at Google summarises four of the programmatic myths that still plague our space.

He eloquently raises the point that programmatic can be used with smart creative

Premium inventory and brand building.


As the Google acquisition of Fitbit was confirmed the importance of peripherals never been clearer. The new Apple Pro earpods have had a great reaction and so too have the Amazon Echo earbuds with Bose noise reduction.

The latest Google Nest hub has the biggest screen so far and can now work with facial recognition - using local AI. And VC firm Loup have a good piece on Apples grander vision for wearables - estimating that 75m Earbuds have been sold to date.

Hardware is interesting again because suddenly people are investing in it again. And the imminent 5g rollout is going to make a difference to this as well. We talked about 5g connected the other week at Kinetic and we emphasise how speed changed everything; What takes an hour now, will take a minute and what takes a minute now, will take a second. And what takes seconds now, will be instant.

Gig economy. 

One of the TV ads that Amazon runs at the moment, shows what a happy place it is working in their fulfilment centre. You can even book a tour to go and visit yourself. (This is the US version)

We think people are working out that the people making all these deliveries, driving your Uber and bringing your Chicken Tikka Masala are actually under quite a lot of pressure.The new Ken Loach film addresses this and an open letter to the founder and CEO of instacart summarises this point really well pointing out some of the poor practices they've undertaken, (like others) like reducing the sharing of tips with delivery people, etc.

And Om Malik echoes much of this in a good piece on what’s wrong with the gig economy, talking about his experience of a food delivery.

When we talk with retailers one thing we've stressed is that the main reason people go to stores isn't for products anymore; it's for the people (a thought we first heard from Best Buy)

So as well as the impact of technology, the smartest thing to do is to go check out your competitors stores. Find the really good people that are working there - the ones with the big smile on their face and that are good with customers - and lure them away. Pay them a bit more than average and treat them well so you got better staff than everybody else has. It’s the winning strategy in retail.

I think at some point these firms are going to work that out that you can make your drivers and delivery people happy and that improves the last 20 feet. Making the delivery a good interaction with your customers is a small investment that really pays off.

Quick Reads

a16z VC Andrew Chen has another great piece on the X of Y startup ideas. Describing something as a Tinder for X or the Airbnb for Y makes lots of sense.

A long Campaign piece where editor Claire Beale interviews Gary Vaynerchuck and find it hard to agree on much. I think Gary Vee is a brilliant (if annoying) self publicist, and whilst there's a lot of hype, he has been really good at understanding how you make the most of digital channels in a way that I don't think Campaign really does.

Watch this Deep Fake to see how much trouble this tech is going to bring

A report on Influencers - haven’t read it but looks interesting

Microsoft Cortana has given up fighting Siri Alexa and Google and now wants to be a PA - reading your emails to you.

Ad Agencies don’t get older people. As well as firing all their staff at the first sign of grey hair, in work for clients they ignore where the money is and target young people

Interesting deck on Deep Tech trends - where software and science collide

Uber are getting into the ads business - starting with selling ads to restaurants in their Eat app

Finally….. The IPA has good data on how people use their smartphones - the infographic we opened with. Maybe all their Agency members will start making ads that reflect how the world has changed? The Christmas ads are being announced - how many will take advantage of the way everyone uses Tech to make their lives easier?

In our podcast with Rory Sutherland he makes the point that WPP doesn’t have an R&D team and we discuss that Rory is behind the only new product in advertising for a generation; Behavioural Economics Thinking.

Is all the talent in Agencies wasted on producing the same sort of thing they did 5, 10, 15, 50 years ago? The Christmas ads will give us a clue.

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