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Mobile Fix — February 16

Direct Brand Economy

Rather than the new Davids or DNVBs, we prefer this term that the IAB are pushing, as a name for the plethora of startups that focus on a product they sell direct. They are interesting to us as they use digital platforms for their core business processes and are therefore role models for older brands, who need to better navigate the new ecology of commerce. In his address at an IAB event, Randall Rothenberg talks about why they are significant

Today, if you’ve got an idea for a better toothpaste, you can make it yourself. And market it, sell it, and deliver it yourself. You can find, sell, and deliver to your health-conscious segment… You can start a subscription service… Or you can “unbrand” it and bring it straight home, at a discount.

The IAB has pulled together a good list of the top 250 in the US and their criteria are covered here. Read Randalls talk and you see why the whole industry should be watching this space.

There is lots of good thinking about these nascent business models; this Mckinsey report is fascinating and looking at the Box model shows how volatile consumer subscriptions can be.

A French VC is excited about the possibilities and their post on why consumer startups can be the next big thing is worth reading too.

A good Wharton study looks deeper and sees that customer retention and loyalty is a much underrated factor in valuing these companies. Using this approach they were able to see some fragility in Blue Apron before their share price plummeted. It is interesting that we see more and more evidence that existing customers drive growth most of the industry is obsessed with the Byron Sharp view that constant acquisition of new customers is the only way to grow. As ever, it is more nuanced than that.

With the skills our friends at KBS Albion have in product and proposition development (Skype, Giff Gaff, Ada etc) and our expertise in driving growth, we think we are well placed to help in this space. So we are talking with some new brands, forward thinking old brands and with VCs. If you would like to talk about this sector, get in touch.


As we work towards our newTV event in April we keep seeing clues as to where that world is heading. TV ad spend in the US was down 7.8% last year. Viewing at the 4 broadcasters was down 10% on the core 18–49 demographic. And some of that money must have followed the eyeballs to Facebook video.

“Facebook and Google are cleaning our clocks because they have targeting,’’ said Peter Rice, head of Fox’s TV networks group. “I don’t think the advertising product is as good,’’ adding that TV will take a bigger slice of ad sales as it implements better targeting.

Where there are strong OTT opportunities the money isn’t flowing — which we suspect is down to the agencies involved. This is probably a sweeping generalisation but the people buying broadcast don’t get the targeting opportunity and those buying Facebook video etc don’t see the OTT world as their space. Our hypotheses is that it is easier for those used to data driven, precision buying on GAFA will better adjust to the OTT world than those relying on volume deals to buy broadcast.

Selling video against the duopoly is tough and AT&T are majoring on brand safety in their pitch.

The UK is experiencing similar levels of change and ITV has ambitious plans to introduce targeted ads later this year.

People tend not to be too concerned about the tech delivering their favourite content or the platform — instead relishing the ability to watch anything anywhere with the smartphone as the access point. This US piece looks at cable cutting and how YouTube TV is a good contender to replace.

Brands need to be equally agnostic

Peak Facebook

After the slight decline in Q4 audience for Facebook on the US we now see research predicting more churn especially amongst the young. Along with anecdotal stories about people spending less time and taking a break, the tobacco comparison continues — this time MondayNote weighs in

An in depth Wired piece goes into the last two years inside Facebook — focusing on fake news, Russia and the Trump campaign — and does nothing to change the negative narrative.

The relentless growth of GAFA has to slow at some point — that’s a sign of maturity. If you have almost half the population of the US using Facebook every day can you really expect more growth? But it seems to have Facebook concerned; look at these ads i saw in my Feed this week.

Should brands be concerned? Not really — hundreds of millions of people spend a lot of time there and enjoy that time. So it’s still the place to do precision advertising at scale. And done properly it is highly cost effective.

This BBC clip on the Trump campaign talks about how Cambridge Analytics has over 30000 campaigns running at a time. To get him elected you needed to be really good at Facebook ads. And if you are, you can use them to sell your products too.

A widely reported speech by Unilever CMO Keith Weed talks about their insistence that platforms be responsible, saying Social media should build social responsibility. Jon Mew of the IAB puts it well in his commentary on the speech

…it cannot be easy as a CMO when you haven’t grown up in a digital world to fully understand it and know how to get the most from it. The easy thing to do in that situation is to stick with what you know and resist change, but that’s not the approach Unilever takes.

Facebook and everyone else gets the message they need to learn and adapt, and few are as good at evolving their product to meet their disparate users needs as Facebook have proved to be. But making a similar point to our long tail story last week, someone asks do big advertisers even matter to GAFA?

We have probably seen Peak Facebook but it is going to be a significant player for some time.

Mobile Web

We are seeing an increasing recognition that brands need to get the Mobile Web right. The Google PDF on good mobile site design was the most clicked item in last weeks Fix,

At the event i spoke at in New York last week a number of speakers covered the mobile web — including a fascinating talk from Google on Accelerated Mobile Pages and on Progressive Web Apps — soon to be called PWAMP? I think that was a joke but you never know; they are two sides of the same coin. Both add an extra dimension to the mobile web, speeding up the pages; which is crucial in keeping visitors on your site and helpful in search as Google rewards fast loading sites.

New functionality within AMP keeps arriving — now it’s possible to have Snap like stories on mobile web pages and it can be used to improve email. And Googles’ ambition to make this an industry initiative, rather than one of theirs, is helped with Microsoft supporting Progressive Web Apps. And it looks like support from Safari and iOS isn’t that far away.

One issue slowing down adoption of these technologies has been finding talent to implement them; many web agencies don’t really get mobile and usually resort to a simple responsive site as their solution. So AMP and PWA don’t get the priority they deserve. The sponsors of the event Ezoic have stepped up with convertors for AMP and now for PWA for their customers.

The other significant development in mobile web is the Chrome ad blocker which kicked into action this week. It works across both desktop and mobile but it is on the smaller screen of mobile where many of the bad ad formats are so annoying.


The domestic Premier League rights hasn’t caused any big upsets — Sky and BT have bought the majority of the games and saved a bit of money against the record prices paid last time around. The two new experimental packages are still to be sold and these are more likely to be of interest to Amazon or Facebook. But because of the companies circling Sky — Disney, Fox and Comcast — this auction is big news in the US, even if GAFA don’t get involved. The fact China paid $700m for the Premier League rights is proof of the global appeal.

Quick Reads

Gartners take on Customer data Platforms — the latest thing in AdTech

Snap hope to lure influencers back with data they can use to persuade brands to pay them more

Still on the measurement tip Facebook have given Marketing Partner Status to Branch for their attribution tool.

Criteo bounced back with good figures after their warning on how the Safari curb on tracking may affect them. They are still confident that GDPR won’t have a significant effect — but many doubt that.

Our friends at OnDeviceResearch shared some impressive figures on ROI for digital ads by FMCG brands. Using an interesting new technique they estimate that for each £1 spent the average return was £4.28

Ex agency man on the end of Agencies as we know them. Working closely with our friends at KBS Albion we see new ways of adding real value.

After their reset call last year, P&G came out this week and declared that enough progress has been made for them to continue spending heavily on digital

Do you focus on the purchasers of your brand ? Or the users. Interesting HBR analysis

Snap offering free ads to Instagram advertisers

Scott Galloways call to break up GAFA — from Esquire magazine.

More good insight into China and BAT

Finally the audience at the New York event last week was publishers. But as well as the big well known ones, there were a number of niche publishers with very successful businesses. Just as the new digital world enables the Direct Brand Economy we opened with, so too does it enable Modern Media brands. Our friends at Vida are working to nurture these new media brands and this piece looks at how Clique blend Media and eCommerce

Fix is my thinking rather than that of Media Kitchen. We now have over 5600 subscribers across Google, Facebook, Snap, Yahoo etc as well as many VCs, Brands and Agencies.

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