5 Tech things we learned in August

The next big things in tech are approaching but the duopoly may well still dominate these new channels too, with data the key currency in the new digital world.

All of the above have implications for brands & marketers as they add further channels for marketing, monetisation, and touchpoints for data collection. Whilst these these will undoubtedly have an impact the tech future, the present continues to be dominated by 2 giants.

Duopoly continues…

Google & Facebook take over a quarter of UK internet time (at 17% & 11% respectively) and with this likely to continue to grow both are continuing to develop their ad & content products.

Google’s ad business is more than 3x bigger than the UK’s total ad spend, slightly larger than China’s, and around 40% the size of US’ — the biggest ad market in the world.

For instance; Google is pitching its YouTube player with ad inventory controls, testing swipeable carousel mobile product card ads, and reportedly launching AMP-based Snapchat features. Images are clearly key as Google Image Search gets more like Pinterest as it now aims to connect users to related images; whilst there’s also the reported Snapchat Discover-like feature Stamp.

Meanwhile; Facebook scored a better-than-expected Q2 as revenue jumped 47% YoY to $9.3bn (98% of which came from ads & 87% of that mobile) — though as news feed ads fall they will focus more on video & Messenger for revenue. Messenger monetisation will be helped by the acquisition of Ozlo — a AI assistant startup. Facebook also started testing offline retargeting ads whereby retailers can target users online that have visited their store.

…but contenders rising

The Google-Facebook duopoly in digital advertising looks like a difficult one to break, but as well as newly formed Oath, Amazon could be a contender. According to several agency executives Amazon is pitching to become an “ad platform leader” with a widening network that now includes Amazon’s Echo personal assistant and its Prime Video service. Added to that is the amount of user, historical purchase and intent data Amazon holds on consumers globally

With advertising shifting to safer environments (something Oath is playing on too) Amazon could offer an environment devoid of risky content on-site, and a targeted approach off-site. In addition, the Amazon’s new social service Spark could be another contributor to a strengthening ad proposition.

Another contender is Snapchat. Snapchat’s youth appeal is putting pressure on Facebook with eMarketer predicting that the social giant will see a decline in the 12–17 age group, with Snapchat surpassing it for that age group as well as the 13–24 age group for certain ad metrics. Despite a difficult Q2 for Snapchat it has been courting advertisers aggressively as well as planning to invest more in content and increasing engagement with publisher Stories

Chatbots to drive ecommerce revenue?

Growing revenue is a constant battle for ecommerce sites — optimising funnels, check-out pages, and CTAs. While technology usage continues to shift towards mobile there’s bound to be new channels of revenue generation and chatbots are one serious contender. For instance; 2bn messages are sent over Messenger between Facebook users & businesses each month. Whether it’s raising awareness for a brand, enabling transactions, acquiring new customers, or delivering superior customer service, Messenger can be a core part of business solutions.

There’s even a number of companies that have linked chatbots to rises in sales. According to the Chatbot Report 2017 35% of consumers wants businesses to adopt more chatbots whilst around 57% have already used them. 21% of UK consumers would consider purchasing from a chatbot.

With chatbots one potential new revenue stream, a number of players have been exploring other new channels. For instance; a number of ecommerce players — such as ASOS — are moving into visual search or integrating it into their offerings. This will only continue given the power of Instagram/Facebook, popularity of Snapchat among younger generations, and increasing use of images in marketing e.g. high performance of PLAs.

Giants explore new revenue channels

It’s worth keeping an eye on the various ways companies — particularly in ecommerce — seek new revenue channels. For instance; A number of ecommerce players — such as ASOS — are moving into visual search or integrating it into their offerings — this will only continue given the power of Instagram/Facebook, popularity of Snapchat among younger generations, and increasing use of images in marketing e.g. high performance of PLAs. Amazon is another ecommerce player looking at new revenue channels; and there are rumours linked them to start selling events tickets. Amazon already has huge troves of interest-data, relationships with music industry and drives payments via its platform. Partnerships will likely be key here.

Data the new currency — but consumer power is coming!

Personal data management platforms are on the rise and most recently one of the leading ones in the UK Digi.me merged with Personal — a US-based one — to help them expand internationally. The Digi.Me platform enables consumers to keep & manage their data on a platform of their choosing, whilst enabling companies to build their digital services upon Digi.Me. These kind of platforms combined with new EU & UK data policies are placing the power back in consumers’ hands, making the data ecosystem tricky.

The GDPR covering the whole of the EU is the most obvious big change in data; but equally marketers must be aware of the UK’s new data protection bill. As well as the abilities to manage, delete and move their own data between services the updated UK data protection legislation will also expand the definition of personal data to include IP addresses, Internet cookies and DNA; and make it a criminal offence to re-identify individuals from anonymized data.;

Some other interesting things:

  • Attention in the age of Artificial Intelligence. Smartphones & social media have created short attention-span consumers that now demand fast-loading content. Using artificial intelligence is touted by many — including ourselves — as the solution to getting consumers’ attention across ads, content, and much more as the tech develops.
  • Transparency is top priority for 47% of marketers in a global survey by the WFA, whlst brand safety was 2nd but escalating quickly, whilst ad fraud and viewability continue to be issues.
  • Whilst traditional radio advertising may be struggling — with much of the rest of traditional media — podcasts could be a key audio channel as it continues to rise in the US and the UK.
  • With an estimated 2.7m muslims in the UK there’s an opportunity to take some of the muslim pound — a market said to be worth around £20.5bn annually.
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