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Mobile Fix - September 14

Agencies & Advertising

A high spot of this week was taking part in the Google Firestarters. With a great set of speakers - Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy, Tom Roach of BBH and Rebecca Burchnall of PHD and me - focused on the topic of Creativity and Data it was a fascinating debate. Everyone recognised that the divide between brand and performance (and all its subsets) is real, but that it makes no sense. So the question is how do we solve this?

A key issue - that sort of defines the debate - is the fact that the creative in so much mobile advertising is still generally bad. How do we get real talent focused on the area with all the growth and all the opportunity? The schism between specialist agencies seems to be a big factor. Media and Creative agencies just don’t talk enough.

The overall conclusion is that it isn’t about MadMen vs MathMen.

It’s about MadMen X MathMen.

Collaboration is the key. I have seen the huge benefits when this happens and we are very happy to invest time and effort in working with Creative agencies who want to close this gap.

The shape of Agencies is a hot topic and this week we learned more about Martin Sorrells plans with his prospectus - all about data and tech. The full prospectus is a 192 pages PDF so this summary may be easier. The key statement on the company strategy in the prospectus is worth focusing on;

Just as Sorell is looking for the next model, the industry is evolving too. Our friends at the AAR have formalised the work they do around innovation with a fascinating report on the new landscape of Innovation Partners. The report is written by Fix friend Neil Perkin - who also curates the Google Firestarter events - and his summary of the report is a good introduction.

One of the images I used in the Firestarters is from MadMen and it’s worth remembering that the Carousel pitch is about them redefining the Product rather than showing an ad and that’s why an Innovation Partner will be a lot more useful than a trad agency.


Spend any time on Amazon and you see lots more ads. Recode have taken a look and see lots of brands fighting to be on the first page. They think 8% of product page views come from sponsored ads - double a year ago. The company with that data estimates 7% of sales come from sponsored ads. With another source estimateing the average cost per click at 84 cents, you can see why Amazon ads are booming. WPP claimed that Amazon expertise was one of the factors in Mediacom winning the Mars business globally.

The scale of Amazon ambition is further demonstrated by the (beta) launch of their new attribution model. For the big picture on how seriously Amazon are taking ads read this NYT piece from last week - essential reading.

And this quote from a leading drinks brand is similar to what we hear from others.

Real competitive advantage to be had.


As Amazon shapes up to fight the duopoly, the other potentially big players in Ads are the Mobile Network Operators. But the Verizon push seems to be losing momentum. Whilst the suite of Oath products was launched this week the architect of their ad strategy Tim Armstrong has quit, with the new CEO of Verizon seemingly less enthusiastic about ads than the previous regime.

Over at AT&T the enthusiasm remains palpable. But their CEO isn’t focused on fighting Google and Facebook for digital ads - he wants to win at newTV.

The guy that is charged with making that happen is ex WPP exec Brian Lesser who was the driver of their AppNexus buy. This long piece in AdAge is great insight into his plans - and the challenges. His task;

It is interesting to speculate whether the ecology that Lesser is building gets shared with other Content firms and other MNOs. Success needs both data on users and content to carry the ads.

We are very excited about this evolution as the skills we have in addressable advertising are more transferable than big agency muscle around volume.

Peak Social?

New data from Pew suggests people in the US are rethinking how they use Facebook. Their study says a quarter of users have deleted the app rising to 44% amongst 18-29 year olds. And more are using it less.

Really? The survey was of 4500 people in early June. The Facebook data for Q2 shows US usage flatlining on both DAU and MAU - but nothing to suggest this mass desertion is true. But I do think there is some learning here - maybe people do now think using Facebook is something they aren’t “proud” of?

The bad news on Snap is real though. Influential Wall Street firm BTIG have lost patience and issued a sell notice, with a target price of $5 - around half of what the shares were trading at.


As High Street brands continue to make headlines for the wrong reasons, some are looking beyond expensive TV ads and rethinking their offer. Digital concierge service Jetblack is still niche right now but the Walmart investment suggest they see it scaling. This is a good interview with the founder.

Bloomingdales are bringing in permanent pop up experiences drawing on the thinking of Story, the boutique chain bought by Macys who own Bloomingdales.


With many of our friends and clients enjoying the glamour of Cologne this week for Dmexco we should look at some of the more interesting trends in adtech.

Ads.txt has been growing in popularity since launch and now we see some Agencies insisting on it as the initial worries about scale and price appear unfounded. But like anything in adtech, the details are crucially important and our friends at Infectious have highlighted some of the issues in a new report.

Our client Spirable gets a lot of love from Facebook and the new Facebook case study of their work with Hunter Boots shows why. Many of their clients see even better results and one of their biggest is now baking Spirable into their global tech stack.

French adtech giant Criteo is getting rather less love from Facebook - they have just been dropped as a Marketing Partner and the share price fell. They have had a tough time over the last couple of year as fraud rumours hit them and then the Apple privacy changes caused more falls. Many expected them to be hot hard by GDPR but that has had little effect to date. Losing access to some of Facebook support is a blow.

And with IOS12 rolling out this week the new restrictions on tracking in Safari should have significant effects - especially for Facebook as their like buttons on other sites are effectively turned off. And any adtech firms relying on probabilistic tracking - looking at browser configuration, installed fonts and plugins etc - is going to find life much tougher.

Podcasts & Audio

There is a lot happening with audio. Apple talk of over 500k podcasts and celebrated 50 billion downloads and streams a few months ago. New products keep emerging; Twitter Now is periscope for audio only and Google Shortwave is an experimental app trying to solve discovery.

It’s not just podcasts. The Google Go lightweight search app for developing markets can now read any website in up to 20 languages. Pocket does something similar. We believe that the days of people staring at their phone screen are coming to an end.

We have more and more of our clients investing in podcast ads and this is a good look at the developments around Ads in this space. The big challenge - and opportunity - is Discovery. It is still too hard to find good podcasts and we are looking to see who will solve this.

Quick Reads

As the Alibaba founder Jack Ma announces his plan to step down in a years time, this HBR piece on Alibaba and the future of business is a really good read. Lots to learn from China.

More UK news brands working together as the Ozone project expand - you can now buy digital ads in most of what was the national press, in one place. As people recognise the value of context this initiative should do well.

And this is a great analysis of how paywalls and ads can best coexist for publishers.

New iPhones are still a big deal. The new range looks good but it seems like Apple is losing its touch with product names. Paying $1100 for a online sounds like a definition of XS.

What’s cooking at the Media Kitchen

It’s properly back to school. As well as Firestarters we had a good Albion Society evening where the CDO of Jamie Oliver talked about their Digital transformation.

We kicked off with a new client by sharing the results of our deep dive Audit into their Search and Social. Lots of opportunity for improvement and a great platform to develop some smart thinking on how they accelerate their growth. (How confident are you that your search and social are on point?)

And an article from a New York colleague captured much of the sentiment of Firestarters; we need to put the magic back into advertising. As I said on Monday, Big Ideas come from collaboration; Media people working with Creatives and clients. We’re ready if you need some magic.


Mobile Fix - September 14

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