Fix / Friday — December 11

Regulation

Two stories emphasise the way regulators are starting to affect the industry.

In Europe, France fines Google and Amazon for the way they used cookies. The Google response centred on this;

”that French rules and regulatory guidance are uncertain and constantly evolving.”

Which is true of most markets rules and regulations regarding Cookies and GDPR. Call me cynical, but I am sure politicians all over Europe are looking at that €142m and thinking what they could do with a similar windfall. Post Covid I believe GAFA will be seen as the Golden Goose.

In the US Facebook has come under a different scrutiny, with antitrust regulators arguing they have illegally crushed competition — and that the Instagram and WhatsApp deals should “be unwound” This one is going to keep the lawyers busy for years — and it’s hard to see how this would address the real issues with GAFA

And do only successful deals get unwound? I am sure News would like to unwind their $580m purchase of MySpace and Verizon may feel the same way about their $4.83bn

Yahoo buy.

Benedict Evans has the best writing about regulation — worth following

newTV

The pace of change in newTV is accelerating. The Disney Investor day happened last night (too late for inclusion here, but we will get into it in our Deep Dive on Wednesday)

Disney is expected to announce a lot of new films and explain how some will still go into theatre and others will go straight to streaming. The feeling is they are not going all in on streaming like WarnerBros — but everything is geared to building Disney+.

They have been able to watch the reaction to the Warner bombshell and will look to choose their fights. In particular they will want to avoid upsetting their talent in the way Warner has. This thread is a good summary of the talent issue — making the point that the real beef is from the Agents who package the movies and are very good at protecting their margin.

Christopher Nolan who was so vocal about Tenet opening in cinemas, has taken a hit as that film hasn’t covered costs yet.

It seems the Agents were able to get $10m each for the main stars of WonderWoman to secure their agreement to a streaming launch. And a CAA exec said

“Precedent is being set over the value of talent and what kind of transparency is essential to creating equitable partnerships,

All of these moves should be treated as possibilities rather than certainties. Everyone is trying to work out what their options are and what they could do. And everyone is learning as they go along. Christmas audiences for these streaming launches is the next significant data point.

Disney and others face similar questions with their legacy TV businesses, like ABC. Each of their 5 keys channels has lost around 10m viewers over the last 10 years.

As one analyst asks;

The question is: how far does the TV universe have to decline before they decide to start shifting high-profile content over? It would rewrite their whole economic livelihood.”

With so much going on we have programmed two events on Streaming and its implications for January, in partnership with FTI Consulting. Under the headline of; New Economics of newTV; How Streaming changes the math — we have free Zoom webinars on both January 12 and January 19. More details and our panelists at this Eventbrite page. You are welcome to join us for both events — just make sure you get 2 tickets.

And look out for our Deep Dive on Wednesday when we will get right back into this and the rest of newTV.

Adtech

I am working with a US Creative Tech firm that enables really rich display ads — ones that enhance the experience rather than the drab little banners that waste users time and advertisers money. So I was interested to see that Chrome will now intervene into the ad process and decide not to show an ad if they deem it unsuitable. This example is in the New York Times and the reason given “This ad used too many resources for your device, so Chrome removed it.”

We mentioned the Chrome plan to block heavy ads back in May but this is the first time I have seen it in action. Our Creative Tech friends have an elegant workaround, but is it appropriate for Google to do this?

And we also see Google bickering with Barry Dillers IAC over how they use Chrome Browser extensions — it sounds like a modern version of the tool bars that some ISPs used to impose on their customers. An IAC exec was pretty forthright;

“Google has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from us to advertise and distribute these products in the Chrome Store,”. “There’s nothing new here — Google has used their position to reduce our browser business to the last small corner of the internet, which they’re now seeking to quash.”

With Google driving the Sandbox initiative which will shape online privacy and the whole Display ecology, Chrome is a powerful player. The Chrome Developer Summit took place this week — lots of interesting talks and resources and Programmatic expert Simon Harris has a thread speculating on how Chrome secures Google domination of the advertising ecosystem, even if Google were to sell (or unwind) their DoubleClick business.

Some good background on the display ad business from Monday Note, asking Did Google and Facebook kill the media revenue model? He concludes

The answer to that is clearly no. Some industries rise while others die. This is the way it works

The FT believes the Global ad market set for rebound after weathering Covid storm

Facebook have found another error — this time in their Conversion Lift tool;

“While making improvements to our measurement products, we found a technical issue that impacted some conversion lift tests,”. “We’ve fixed this and are working with advertisers that have impacted studies.”

Merchant

In our deep dive on Wednesday we covered CPG & DTC / Luxury / High Street / Live Streaming (with UK examples) and Grocery Food & Delivery. Catch up here.

The distance between ads on Instagram and buying is shrinking. The latest example is the UK small business shoppable catalogue. Curated by creators, the catalogue is full of products from small brands that these creators rate. The form factor is intriguing — a PDF with clickable links.

L’Oreal are one of the most forward thinking CPG firms and walk the walk better than most. Their investment in AR firm ModiFace has been really effective — their app sit on a number of retailer sites — including Amazon — enabling people to try L’Oreal products. Now they have invested in Replika — a social commerce platform. This quote from their CDO shows their ambition;

The rise of social commerce is a great opportunity for our brands to reinvent the consumer beauty experience worldwide. We are very excited to partner with Replika Software, a pioneer in the field, to create social commerce at scale. Our ambition is to crack this new channel and create a healthy and dynamic ecosystem of social sellers for the beauty category”

Plus+

Our friends at Wirewax have developed an Android TV app for Google which looks really interesting — you can shop from the video and pause to look up profiles, locations etc with an instant Google search.

Uber abandons effort to develop own self-driving vehicle One technology that I am unconvinced by.

Social Strikes Back — good collection of articles on social from VC A16Z

Facebook reveals ‘Rival Peak,’ an audience-driven reality show and cloud game

The startup behind Facebook’s new reality show wants to upend cloud entertainment

52 things I learned in 2020. T Loved number 3 — how smart personalisation works.

Pencil & Sephora — MGC Case Study — more good stuff from Pencil

Airbnb Fell Flat Last Year on a Marketing Plan Inspired by Booking.com,

Crypto for Creators: From Art Galleries to ‘Tokenized’ Collectibles

Celebrities Like Cardi B Could Turn OnlyFans Into a Billion-Dollar Media Company

How Amazon Attribution (beta) and Perpetua helped CPG brand grow ROAS by 8.2X

Finally…. it’s that time again — this is the full Addictive Soulful Christmas playlist — hours of Soul, Jazz and Reggae Christmas songs so you can avoid the usual dross. Enjoy.

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Pattern Recognition / Strategy / Consulting / Creative Thinking from Simon Andrews — Sharing knowledge through our email newsletter Mobile Fix every Friday