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Mobile Fix - September 4

The Sicily edition

With Ofcom telling us most people in the UK – at least those under 55 - see the smartphone (or tablet) as the device they would miss most the primacy of the TV set is over.
Why? Because everyone now knows that if you have a smartphone you can magic up whatever TV content you want and - with a Chromecast or an Amazon Fire  - throw it onto the nearest big screen. And the wealth of video content available on demand through your smartphone, makes the stasis of the EPG seem so outdated. Amazon now even allow US users to download their Prime content so you are no longer at the mercy of connectivity.
(As we have found on our travels around southern Europe – this edition is coming from Sicily – the whole mobile social castle is built on the sand of patchy 3G / 4G coverage and emaciated wifi connections that struggle with streaming music let alone video. Google are pushing new technology that is more effective at compressing video – but running into opposition.)
Assuming connectivity keeps getting better, we believe we’re entering a world of newTV where it’s about the content and not the screen. The pace of change is accelerating.
Google are fighting back against Amazon with their own gaming channel to take on Twitch. The business models that underpin TV and much of the content business are under a new scrutiny – is advertising really the best model? Google are starting to use YouTube as a sandbox to learn about subscription – so we may see better alternatives to the dreaded 30 second pre roll. Netflix is looking to disrupt the movie business just as it has the TV industry.
And this is an interesting blog post suggesting that the TV remains important- but we believe it is destined to be the dumb screen.
The biggest change though could be (will be) how Apple choose to reengineer the TV market, with a major release of AppleTV rumoured for next weeks event. Lots of speculation that they will push a platform rather than a product and the new device sounds something like a next generation console than a Chromecast or Fire.
The Doc Searls article we shared last week caused quite a debate on Twitter; partly because of the language – terming adtech as cancer is a little strong - and partly because of the view that you can divide advertising into two neat piles – brand and response – and the idea brand advertising doesn’t need adtech. (As we will highlight in our event we think adtech can be used really well for brand advertising)
But his general points have some merit. Talking with two senior publishers in the last week we hear they don’t believe adtech and programmatic is doing them any favours. And one is of the view that letting Facebook handle all their inventory that they don’t trade direct with clients will work out fine. The thoughts of this former Forbes exec seem to sum up the thoughts of many on the publishing side.
Agencies don’t all seem convinced about adtech and programmatic either – a survey says around  half don’t really trust programmatic.
And we know what consumers think as they are voting with their browsers – and this piece from someone who has used the content blockers in iOs9 makes the point the web experience is faster and ‘cleaner’.
The smart people at the Monday Note think this is the end for most ad supported website and new business models are needed. But will micro payments for content ever work?
The adtech ecology is still evolving and smarter solutions are emerging – some publishers and some brands and agencies increasingly favour private marketplaces.
One final point on this space – this piece suggests the dominance of Facebook and Google on mobile ads is a good thing as they have educated brands on the benefits of mobile – and that other sellers will now benefit. We tend to agree with GroupMs Rob Norman who is quoted – there is an widening moat between Google, Facebook and the rest. Does the rise of content blocking make it easier or harder for these to dominate? We would say it makes it easier – especially for Facebook.
If there is to be a micro payments solution for content it’s going to take advantage of Bitcoin to remove the friction of credit card payments etc. And Blockchain could resolve the issues of attribution of content so well demonstrated by the freebooting of YouTube videos onto Facebook (Facebook have a set of new tools to better police this problem)
This interview with VC Bill Tai gets deep into the problem of content attribution – who actually created the video,/article/ photo etc – and how instant micro payments might work as a form of tipping for content you enjoy.
Richard Branson is taking a keen interest in Bitcoin and Blockchain too – hosting an event in Necker Island along with Tais’ company. Here a bunch of very smart people got together to discuss the opportunity and the issues. Fix friend Oliver Luckett made the point that using Blockchain to track how content gets shared could be hugely valuable.
Our event
We are choosing to monetise Fix with our first event Do we need to fix Programmatic?  on October 19, hosted by our partners Google. Next week we will announce the next 2 speakers, but you can still get early bird tickets here.
Quick Reads
A clearer idea on how Facebook M  works  - their siri like assistant that has humans involved too.
And also from the Facebook team Instagram messaging gets better with improvements to Instagram Direct.  A shot across the bows for Snapchat?
US operators want to use WiFi spectrum to carry their cellular signals - worrying some they will crowd out WiFi providers
Two ex Googlers have a new app that lets people communicate with voice messages – we’re convinced audio is going to be really big.
How Uber works in China touches on lots of the issues that fascinate us – disruptive business models, the Galapagos effect of China (and what we might learn) and just how fierce the battle is to win. This piece suggests China may be the market where we find out if Uber can really win. And this is more on their key rival Didi Kuadi (backed by Alibaba and Tencent) who have invested in a Malaysian car firm to fight Uber.
ChartBeat is an essential tool for most publishers, allowing them real insight into how people are using their content. This whitepaper from them looks at using time spent rather than clicks as a metric for success. Ironically Chartbeat will probably be blocked by iOS9 too.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Autoplay on videos has always seemed an irritation to us – you read a story on the latest sensational signing by Leeds then move to another tab to get back to work and suddenly you can hear an ad playing – but it takes a while to hunt down the offending tab.  For some poor unsuspecting brand that’s a video view?
The annoyance of autoplay was elevated this week when the horrific footage of the news team being murdered was shared on social and autoplay meant millions of people couldn’t avoid seeing the carnage.
With viewability such a hot topic and still so ill defined, wouldn't it be better if people actively chose to play your video?
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