Mobile Fix — January 19

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GAFA

We’ve all read the news about Facebook and their pivot to friends and family content at the expense of what Zuch calls public content. Now we are all trying to work out the implications.

It’s clear that publishers are going to suffer but the smart ones have seen the danger for a while and refocused — David Pemsel of the Guardian called it well last month;

Eighteen months ago, (Facebook) changed their algorithm, which showed their business model was derived on virality, not on the distribution of quality. We argue that quality, for societal reasons, as well as to derive ad revenue, should be part of their ecosystem. It’s not.

It feels like News has proven to be just too hard — and Facebook are walking away, which leaves Google in a strong position. Coupled with the imminent GDPR we will see more publishers look to strengthen their relationship with their readers in a much more direct way — as our friends at the Telegraph are doing with their drive for 10m registered users.

Whilst some are suggesting this will hit the revenues of Facebook, we’re not so sure. It’s working so well that few brands are likely to rethink spend and, if anything, taking out news — and fake news — reduces brand safety concerns. Carolyn Everson has been quick to reassure brands that little has changed — and she reiterated that relevant creative is the way to go — something we see a lot through our work with Photospire

As always, she said, the more relevant the creative is to its target audience, the lower the price an advertiser will pay.

Her comments on viewability and measurement are interesting too. Brands who can see the effect of the ads — Expedia, Amazon, Netflix — tend not to obsess about video viewability in the way traditional brands do.

Google are looking to dampen down concerns over brand safety with new restrictions on who can get ad revenue — the most significant change is that all videos in Google Preferred — (biggest reach) will all now be manually vetted.

But these moves from Facebook and Google doesn’t really detract from the siren voices alleging addiction, and those raising the issues of regulation haven’t gone away. The WSJ looks at the Antitrust case against GAFA and raises another cause for concern;

“The impact on innovation can be the most important competitive effect”

And Scott Galloway helpfully details how you could neatly split the companies and probably drive shareholder value too.

Return of the Mobile Web

The Facebook change is probably the final nail on the coffin for organic reach and the snake oil promised by so many social media experts. If you want to people on social platforms you have to pay for them.

But it is not clear how people like Unilad, Jungle and LadsBible will fare — as the Tubular Labs data shows their content has huge traffic and high engagement, so will Facebook dial that right down? Or does that content get migrated over to drive usage of the Watch channel? A new Watch Together feature being tested shows that Facebook understand the social dimension of watching newTV. Or are the days of content businesses prospering through embracing the newsfeed algorithm over?

So what happens next? We think there will be a revival of the mobile web. Facebook oriented social publisher NowThis has chosen to reopen their website — after 3 years.

Much neglected by many, we think the time spent on mobile web is underestimated through those stats on time spent with apps. Much of that time has been in Facebook and within that, lots of time is spent on mobile web when someone clicks a link in the feed. And where do we think all those mobile searches have been ending up anyway?

But many (most?) websites don’t really shine on mobile. A responsive site gets around the issue of the site not working on mobile, but there is huge competitive advantage to having a really good mobile site, as it’s very likely your competitors have a bad one. A further incentive is that Google will shortly start using the speed of your site as a factor in mobile search rankings,

Content

We talked last week about Telecom companies spending big on content and Verizon have invested in a new deal with the NBA so they have exclusive mobile rights on Yahoo Sports for the NBA League Pass — 1100 games over the season.

Interestingly NBA basketball has never done that well in the UK as it’s never had TV support, but could digital make a difference? The FT looks at last weeks NBA game in London as significant, as they seek to become a truly global sport.

The playbook for content that GAFA — and Netflix — follow comes from HBO, who pioneered the development of original high quality programming. You could argue they have been overshadowed by Netflix in recent years but an interesting analysis shows that while Netflix now dwarfs them in revenue, HBO are much more profitable. Profit is less of a concern to GAFA, who see content as a means to another end, but quality over quantity is a winning strategy in most cases.

New research from BARB looks at who has access to Netflix and Amazon in the UK, as well as other SVOD services like Now TV. With a third of all households subscribing to one of these services and a lot of having more than one, this is no longer a niche market.

This research also gives us a clue on how many people are using Chromecast or a Firestick, with 30% of unmatched viewing from TV sets indicating either a USB device or a TV app.

Barb data is the best we have in the UK for understanding TV viewing but 5000 or so People Meters leave much of the industry looking for the evolution of the methodology, to better capture the increasing complexity of viewing. This is a good look at some of the new approaches in the US

Machine Learning

Remember that advice that we should all learn to code? It looks like coding is another career where AI will take over. Here someone has taught a neural network how to code a basic HTML and CSS website based on a picture of a design mockup. HT @azeem.

Machine learning is being democratised with Google offering it as part of their cloud, following Amazon who made it available through AWS last year

And Google are sharing how machine learning is improving their Adwords product.

Quick Reads

Boston Consulting on accelerating digital innovation in CPG

Amazon are being cautious over Voice ads in Alexa. But this showcase of creative examples shows how serious they are about ads now.

The Guardian take an in depth look at Tencent

AI can be tricked — these stickers blow AI minds

The hottest new acronym is CDP — Customer Data Platforms. The key benefits of these new tools is an actionable single customer view, based on the brands first party data. Whilst we pride ourselves on being tech agnostic, our holding company MDC have recognised the potential for CDPs and launched our own Zero&One. If you would like to learn more about this space and the opportunity, let me know

Benedict Evans has a new blog on how Retail TV and Advertising are changing. As ever, its thought provoking stuff.

Deloitte have shared their 2018 predictions

Foursquare have a unique view on where people go — and their CEO is quite bullish on physical retail

Finally Aibo, the Sony Robotic dog, is back — now with AI (We drone on about our 2001 futurology video, but this is another of our predictions coming true. And with Boris Johnson talking about the tourist potential of Libya, we just need Leeds to return to winning ways.)

Whats cooking at The Media Kitchen?

Still lots of new business conversations, a pitch or two and interviews. I am keen to hire a superstar account director; someone who gets GAFA and is good with clients. If you know someone good point them my way

And if you find the topics we cover in Fix resonate with you, we should be talking. Whatever your marketing stack I feel sure we could probably add value. Lets discuss.

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