Fix / Friday — March 20

Like Glastonbury and the Eurovision Song Contest, our AdtechPerfectStorm event is on hold. As soon as we can, we will reschedule — but in the meantime I am going to accelerate some projects we would have announced at the event.

A couple of the areas we focus on are undoubtedly going to be radically affected by our current situation — new TV as audiences boom due to WFH and isolation, and Merchants as online shopping becomes the norm, at least for a while.

Hence, I am going to expand coverage of these key areas with a new focused email mid-week. To start each will run fortnightly, so every week there will be a new email that alternates between the topics — newTV and Merchants. Within each one we will have an etc section covering general items too. More on this next week.

And we want to better serve the community of Fix subscribers so will encourage comments, conversation and debate though a Fix Guild. More below.

Adtech perfect storm

Whilst our event is postponed I want to keep the conversation going and our Guild group — designed for the event — is now active.

Guild is a start up from Econsultancy founder Asley Friedlein, designed to be the world’s best messaging app for business, replacing chaotic WhatsApp groups and hectic Slack Channels.

The first Guild we are launching is all about AdTechPerfect Storm, and the place to discuss the topics that would have been covered at the event. Our Speakers and subscribers will share knowledge, experience and views on what happens next. I know you will add real value and am sure you will derive real value from this community. I would love you to join and participate in the debate. You can learn more and join in here

Brave have a new report suggesting Google use the vast amounts of data they hold, in non GDPR compliant ways. They believe that GDPR renders all RTB as ‘the largest data breach ever’ and keep finding ‘smoke’ which builds the belief in fire. The FT covered this and the comments are interesting. On Guild it was pointed out that Google are taking UK data back to the US — but Brave seem to be looking across EMEA.

Following the launch of the ReArch project at the IAB event in the US their Tech Lab president has been talking about their progress. The work that the Washington Post is doing with its Zeus project has been getting a good reaction and they are now rolling our their ad products to other publishers. Closer to home new research shows the Ozone project is getting good traction with readers — they now need to translate that into ad revenue.


With traditional stores closed in many places and stock shortages common place, ecommerce will gain traction. But it is not straightforward; online grocers are booked out for weeks. I saw Ocado had no free slots over the next 3 weeks — and now they have closed the site for a couple of days after such high traffic they thought they were facing a hackers denial-of-service attack. Tesco had just one slot before Easter and the first available on Waitrose is late April. Amazon have warned of delivery delays and are hiring 100k new staff in the US and increasing pay for existing workers through the end of April.

We know from China that this sort of situation can be very influential — the rise of Taobao dates from 2003 when the SARS virus caused big disruption and Alibaba switched from B2B. started at the same time.

So all the thinking about how you get more than your fair share of ‘presence’ in online shopping becomes even more important. As do emerging tactics like Instagram Checkout along with the subtle new ways to make the most of Google Shopping. Look at how Snap are disrupting cinema ticket sales.

Physical stores are clearly challenged right now and hence the timing for Ikea to push into ecommerce is good. As well as the Chinese initiative we mentioned last week, their new app lets you shop from the app and use AR to see how furniture would work in your home. It’s testing in a number of markets ; China, France and Netherlands. At the other end of the market luxury brands have been investing in retail pop ups.

The learnings from China on luxury are even more relevant as they appear to be getting back to some normality but this piece argues that having a digital outlet — as well — is crucial.

Someone tweeted that if you were to launch cult sportswear brand Supreme today it would look like MSCHF — this is more insight into this fascinating group

As we go deeper on Merchants it will let us feature more knowledge from practitioners — like this interview with a founder talking DTC acquisition. And this long look at how DTC brands use content. As ever, we are trying to surface advice and expertise that helps you do more.


As everyone spends more time online I think we will see more Influencers break out. Especially as TikTok continues to grow through the cross generational sharing facilitated by the close proximity of self-isolation. And most TikTok content looks like Saturday evening light entertainment — dance routines, karaoke and comedy sketches — so has wide appeal.

Brands are getting better at using Influencers as this piece on TikTok shows. But it needs a smart, brave client who is happy to give up control — as YouTuber David Dobrik says;

That’s the worst about advertisers, when they don’t understand [how to work with us.] You’re giving it to a YouTuber because YouTubers are personalities and they know their channels best. Don’t give them a script. Give them a couple of things they should hit but really let them make it their own because [if you give them a script] it’s not going to ever be as good as that person making it their own.

So it’s great to see our friends at RB nail it with the HandWash Challenge for Dettol on TikTok, which already has over 10 billion views. It ticks (sorry) all the boxes — timely, bespoke for the platform and right on brand.

Influencers are hugely important for the platforms as they have the ability to attract the eyeballs that get sold to advertisers. Making sure the big influencers can make money is therefore key and Google are seen to be really good at this — especially with their Google Preferred programme. And with such potential to make money this US college trains people to be influencers

Not sure on their recruitment criteria, but if you were wondering why TikTok talent looks so attractive it seems their moderators suppress posts created by users deemed too ugly, poor, or disabled for the platform


When the EU asks Netflix to switch content to Standard rather than HD to preserve bandwidth you know this crisis is a double edged sword for newTV.

On one side people have time and therefore the audiences are bigger — the FT take a look across Europe and Italy is probably a good indicator; “Total audience is increasing by 10, 15, even 20 per cent,”

But on the other, content is an issue — no sports, no studio audiences, no guests and productions are closing down; Eastenders at one end and a bunch of Hollywood titles at the other.

US Sports network ESPN probably have the biggest problem — and a Wall Street analyst captures the issue well;

Think about the TV ecosystem as a huge Jenga game, which is already under extreme stress. The last piece holding up the whole thing is sports, and in the last 24 hours, you’ve pulled that piece out for an unknown amount of time.”

The other ecosystem under stress is Cinema and with Theatres closing, the Studios are taking their new films straight to consumers on Streaming services. NBC Universal is making Trolls World Tour available for $20 on a range of services at the same time as it opens on the few cinemas still operating — smashing the Theatrical Window that usually dictates movie openings. We can’t see the traditional window coming back.

As ad revenue tumbles along with the share prices, M&A is still going on. Fox have bought ad supported streaming service Tubi for $400m. This follows Comcast buying Xumo and the Viacom purchase of Pluto. Interestingly Fox say they will fund this deal by selling their stake in Roku — which is highly sought after, so seeing who buys that stake will be interesting.

Another much mooted deal could be on. Well a low profile analyst got some press by suggesting that Apple might buy Disney, given how its’ value had fallen. Disney is now valued at around $165bn and Apple has over $100bn in cash. But I think that deal was more likely when Steve Jobs was alive and close to Bob Iger of Disney. Iger was on the board of Apple until recently and has said he believes there would have been a merger had Jobs still been alive. I can’t see Tim Cook and the new Disney guy making this happen. It’s worth reading the Bob Iger story and this is a good look at how he built an empire.

When Iger made the switch from CEO to executive chairman he talked of “getting everything right creatively,” and he is now looking at how to streamline Disney+

On the Netflix tip this new service NetflixParty where you view together — whilst apart — is really fun. We suggested a similar idea when scoping a TV guide app years ago — any programme is more entertaining when you are watching with mates. But it still doesn’t solve the big problem of discovery — what should I watch and which service is it on?

A good source of news on media is Flashes and Flames and they pointed out an interesting model for newTV — TWiT — well worth a read.

And adtech legend Paul Gubbins has collated a great summary of what’s happening with ConnectedTV. Really comprehensive.


With more and more products the Amazon ad offering is complicated — so the emerging ecosystem of advisors and agencies is welcome. A new service from London based Nozzle gets into how search works with interesting findings on branded vs generic terms. Their new PPC audit tool makes this insight actionable.

Amazon itself is also getting better at understanding search — using Machine Learning to predict the context of a search. Whilst this is currently used to deliver more relevant results, to improve the customer experience — you can see how valuable it could be to advertisers.

There is a lot happening with Twitch — it continues to be a major player in gaming but we see new sides to the site; the Amazon deal with US Women’s soccer will play out on Twitch with 24 live games for free. More events are using Twitch as their platform which I am sure is accelerating as live events move online. And a partnership with Comscore means there will be robust measurement of audiences.

Not all coverage of Amazon is positive — this Chinese comparison of the Amazon work in luxury is fairly damning — making the case for the Chinese as much stronger


I thought the Sorrell interview we shared the other week — here if you missed it — was gold. He really gets Personalisation at Scale and his thinking on data and creative is right on the money. So I was surprised to see a number of Flat Earth Marketers dismiss it as mere buzzwords. Here is a guy who has called the ad industry correctly for 3 decades and you could argue his exit was timed perfectly. With WPP now worth just $6bn could he try and buy it back?

This interview in the Telegraph is a good read and he hasn’t lost his ability to cause controversy.

“You definitely today would have more value in Group M on its own than in the whole of WPP.”

Sorrell wrote the foreword for Michael Farmers’ Madison Avenue Manslaughter — a great read on where agencies went wrong. He revives his core arguments here;

If creative agencies really believed in the quality of their creative work and its positive effect on client brands, then they’d fight for premium prices, which would mean higher billing rates for their people. After all, this is what the consulting firms have been doing for more than four decades, paying their people exceptionally well and marking them up 5 times for their billing rates.

Agencies have never been paid properly for the value they create — but now creative is recognised as the best tool to improve media performance, there is a new model for charging that rewards smart thinking


Hangouts and Zoom calls have become the norm. As the NYT says Zoom is where we work, go to school and party these days and we are seeing new behaviours where people just leave the screen on. The runaway success of Zoom (this is a great profile of the firm and their future plans) has inspired a legion of companies offering similar service — Around is the latest

It’s also worth reading an old Seth Godin piece on the etiquette of video calls. And avoid this.


Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, gears up for the global stage

This letter from Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital is a good read

TikTok opens up to programmatic with The Trade Desk deal | News

The Apple credit card seems to be doing pretty well

Vox Media and Google launch “Concert Local” ad network

PE firms keen to say they are open for business and have money to invest — same with our friends at Kindred.

The Man Behind the Plan to Remake FedEx

More CPG firms taking Voice seriously

We opened with a great chart on M&A from GAFA and Microsoft. Look at how much money Microsoft has spent.

Joe Marchese is one of the most interesting people in our business and this podcast is a must listen

How football clubs are becoming more like media businesses

Apple fined record €1.1bn by French competition regulator

Eames Chairs, Economy Plus, and Cupcakes: So Premiocre

Great VR demo from the 80s

TikTok opens up to programmatic with The Trade Desk deal | News

Finally …. Lots of us are struggling with these challenging times and helping local businesses seems like the right thing to do. And you can treat yourself at the same time. Most of these are Hackney ish but most can deliver.

Max makes the best smoked salmon and whilst the many great restaurants he supplies have closed, he is still smoking. Kirsten does wonderful cakes, stocked by Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason but still sells from Hackney Wick. The best chocolate is from Cocoa Runners — order a monthly box for an amazing treat.

A couple of local restaurants are doing take away and delivery. MyNeighbourstheDumplings is great Asian food and our favourite Bistroteque is doing Mothers Day delivery and it may be by one of their Drag Queens.

You need to look on point for all these Zoom calls so check the brilliant menswear at Form&Thread.

And both the Pavilion and E5Bakery bake amazing bread and serve great coffee.

All these businesses have been started by local entrepreneurs and they deserve a future, so lets do what we can to keep them going.

If any local readers fancy a chat, I am up for walking meetings over the next few weeks, with a takeaway coffee from either the Pavilion or E5. If we stay 2 metres apart we should be OK. Hit reply.

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