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Mobile Fix – September 22

Milan Baby


We mentioned the frightening scale of Fraud last week and it’s a big story this week as Uber sue their former agency Fetch alleging fraud. It’s unlikely to be as black and white as the story makes out, but it has woken everyone up to a problem that’s been lingering on the back burner for too long.

Given how much money bad actors make from fraud, there isn’t an easy way to solve this, as there is constant innovation from fraudsters. An AppNexus insider takes a comprehensive look at the issues here. At a City of London Police talk on this subject a while ago they stressed that criminals were moving from other digital frauds to ad tech as it was both easier and lucrative

With so many links in the chain it is easy to blame someone else but anyone taking money out of the system must be responsible for their part of the problem. Google have stepped up and, reversing their recent policy, will now refund brands the full amount of fraud, as does App Nexus already.

Is the sheer size of the industry, part of the problem? A smart friend - with a huge amount of experience of adtech - was at Dmexco and reckoned he had heard of around 14 of the220 firms exhibiting (PDF Floorplan here) . And pointing out how much of the available spend is taken by Google and Facebook these companies must be existing on fumes.

Does that lead to an environment where people don’t want to put in the hard yards needed to eliminate fraud? This overheard at dmexco piece supports this - are the FBI really looking at ad fraud? The City of London police take it pretty seriously too.

VC Fred Wilson made the point this week that businesses should be thinking about their burn rates more strategically. I imagine lost of the VCs funding these Dmexco firms might be doing similar back of fag packets calculations.

Another friend mentioned how visible Amazon were at Dmexco – when they weren’t at Cannes and this piece reminds us how they are ramping up ad sales.


Post WPP streamlining its networks others are debating the future of the industry. P&G and Diageo are rethinking how they use media agencies and Campaign believe we are seeing the start of a new era – or at least the old model is dead.

With this – and the Uber Fetch spat – it’s interesting to hear how Diageo are scoring all their digital partners.

But there is great work going in in media agencies – this article about signal planning from Fix friends in New York shows how smart people can add huge value with original thinking

One of the factors in the changing role for media agencies is how brands are increasingly going direct to adtech firms. We are seeing this in our work for Photospire Eagle Eye and mporium ; if you have a compelling proposition, smart brands will happily talk direct. We intend to do more in this space with Route55 in the coming months and looking for more brands to work with on strategy and growth.


Both Google and Facebook have got a kicking this week as it was realised that their ad targeting systems could be used to reach anti semitic people. Both systems are based on what people do or say on the platform and given there are Nazis etc the systems enable this. Both have moved quickly to prevent this happening but it does show that the media seem increasingly keen on stories that are negative for GAFA. And with just 2300 people on Facebook meeting the criteria it’s not a huge problem – although an unpleasant reminder of the world we live in.

John Battelle is a smart thinker on Google in particular and he digs deeper into the issues here

One lighter point – using employer targeting is a clever B2b tactic and can be very effective. In my early days at Mindshare – some 10 years ago- I ran a tongue in cheek recruitment campaign on Facebook using this tactic; Thinking of leaving Media Agency X? Come and talk to Mindshare.

We didn’t measure it too thoroughly, so not sure if we ever actually hired anyone through it, but I judged it a great success as 3 Agency CEOs went to Facebook and demanded the campaign was taken down. Facebook of course explained that there was nothing wrong with the campaign, and we kept it going for another few weeks to annoy these individuals.


With GDPR promising to throw much of current adtech tracking up in the air, Apple implementing their Safari restrictions has prompted predictable concerns.

But as Pagefair research shows most people don’t want to give consent for tracking so maybe Apple is coming out on the side of consumers rather than adtech.

I still think at some point Apple will re-enter the ad market to better serve their disciples in app development – many of whom rely on ad revenue as their main source of income. Could Apple develop some model that treats consumers well and maximizes ad revenue for app developers?

And on another old theme, now Apple have stopped tracking their users on the mobile web will they re look at how they facilitate Google tracking them through search?


I spent some time this week talking about Blockchain, Bitcoin and ether with an Israeli entrepreneur, who is very bullish. The Wall Street Journal are more on the fence

I do see the real possibilities for blockchain in marketing and we are keen to connect with others in London looking at this space. And looking to learn why I should take crypto currencies more seriously.


This weeks Fix is being written in Milan airport following a great Retail workshop with a Nike team, followed by a good meeting with a smart Italian luxury retailer. The key out take for me was that there is a huge opportunity to empower sales staff with tech and data, so the customer service in store is enhanced. And if your store staff can add data and insight back into the system that is a huge win too.

This Goldman Sachs podcast on retail is good insight and whilst I tend to disagree that much of the instore tech has real value I do think there views about people being a powerful asset for Bricks and mortar stores.

Quick Reads

Amazon may not be doing a phone – yet – but they are looking at spectacles that work with Alexa

How Big Tech makes a fortune at our expense – more of that negative comment on GAFA

Facebook making dynamic creative available to everyone. To do video well on Facebook you do need to talk with Photospire

Neilsen have bought Gracenote – the company that used to help itunes recognize what songs you were burning onto your iPod – that seems almost medieval now doesn’t it? Now they are using the tech for content recognition and to target ads. Sounds interesting but seemingly it’s still at proof of concept. Mporium do something similar by reading the subtitles of all the TV shows in real time and triggering highly relevant search and social ads.

Live sports audiences are getting older – in the US at least. We wonder if the sponsors realize this and when they do whether they may be pushing their sports towards digital, and the potential of a younger audience

As we mentioned last week Google are buying the Pixel handset business from HTC and there lots of leaks about their new devices launching on October 4 – including new Chromebooks and small Homes

The roster of Creative partners from Snap is expanding and good to see our friends a AdLudio and Wirewax in there

Finallya great interview with VC Chamath Palihapitiya where he shares some interesting ideas on replacing VC fuding with knowledge derived from data and AI. It’s well with a listen or a read

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