Fix/Friday —March 5
Google are going all in on Privacy and have made it clear they will no longer support any form of tracking. Their Sandbox initiatives continue and it seems their FloCs concert will be renamed as Web Crowds. With regulators everywhere taking an interest in ads, daata/targeting and GAFA, I think Google have recognised the inevitable and want to be really clear that they are out of the targeting game. Most people have seen this coming, but as the purveyors of various ID work arounds continue to advocate for new forms of tracking Google is being crystal clear. And given their control over a significant chunk of the ad market and the Chrome browser, all the other solutions are unlikely to fly in the Google ecosystem. Still more to come as this WSJ piece points out
“These are proposals that read like a company that’s under enormous regulatory pressure and is trying to find a last-minute plausible compromise to stave off regulation,”
There is a good discussion on this topic in our Guild group — do join in — and lots of coverage. This good Adweek piece ironically demonstrates the problem — the article is full of horrible MPUs, enabled by Google. Crap ads that pollute the user experience and earn pennies. What comes next has to be better than this.
I think many people do get this and see this adtech perfect storm as an opportunity to improve things — here is some smart thinking from Mediacom. When we talked about the new Spotify ad product the other week we argued that we can do more, with less.
And as the media options simplify, maybe we can devote more time to the creative? We know that creative is the best way to improve campaign performance, so it’s time well spent.
Look at these Display ads running across Conde Nast sites in the US. Big bold ads, that are highly effective and inexpensive to develop. Why don’t your ads look like that?
It was interesting to listen to the Disney CEO talk at a Morgan Stanley event and hear about how they have coped with Covid. Variety has a good summary but I was most interested to hear that over 50% of Disney+ subscribers do not have kids. And he stressed the impressive growth of advertising at Hulu. You may be able to watch the full interview here.
Recode nail the challenge for all the new streaming services with some good data showing everyone already has Netflix and no one plans to give it up.
Roku keep strengthening their ads business — now they are acquiring the Nielsen advanced advertising business. This gives them both automatic content recognition (ACR) technology and a dynamic ad insertion (DAI) system — meaning they can replace an ad in a linear TV show with one targeted at the household level. Adding linear to their streaming reach is a big deal — but they need the agreement of the linear TV station to get this inventory.
I remember meeting the Slingbox team in 2008 who saw a similar ad deal as the business model for their impressive tech. But as we predicted, no one would (then) allow them to muddy the waters in their ad sales. With lots of advertisers and the ability to use data to command a higher price, maybe Roku can get some traction. This video interview with their Product VP is good background.
Roku are also building their business globally — there is a great job here for someone to help with Biz Dev in London
This week our deep dive was all about Merchants — we covered Challenger brands, the burgeoning competition in Last Mile, Livestreaming, Retail Media (including two great papers from Goldman Sachs and Google) and Customer Acquisition. Catch up here.
The till free Amazon Fresh store concept has arrived in the UK — with a relatively small store in Ealing — and talk of more stores across London. Waitrose has opened its third dark store in London as they grow their delivery business.
Good media businesses are always looking to improve their content offering and DMGT look to have made a smart move with their acquisition of New Scientist magazine.
Equally, good businesses adapt and pivot. eBay is to merge with Norway’s Adevinta to create the worlds biggest classified ads business — but needs to sell Gumtree to meet regulators conditions.
And for Verizon, the relaxation of sports betting in the US is a way to restore their media business — particularly Yahoo Sports and their Fantasy Football leagues. They also stream some NFL games, so this deal with a betting partner could be lucrative.
Looking at smart media moves, you have to consider Rupert Murdoch and his plans for Fox. He has the $71bn he made from the sale to Disney and restrictions from the deal have now expired. He also has whatever bounty he got as part of the recent Google deal.
This FT piece is a must read; Rupert Murdoch at 90: Fox, succession and ‘one more big play’
The Facebook AR glasses are on their way. Their CFO told the Morgan Stanley event that the first edition is not going to be anywhere near where we want to eventually go but Boz publicly pondering whether they should include facial recognition or not suggests the tech is pretty advanced.
Twitters Jack Dorsey announced his Fintech business Square is to acquire Tidal, the music service started by JayZ. Sounds odd, but looks like a play on the Creator economy — and remember the most successful Square product is the Cash payment App — made famous by working with lots of Hip Hop talent. Influencers everywhere.
IPA TouchPoints report reveals diverging commercial media habits
I helped build ByteDance’s censorship machine
The smart people at Stripe on The Age of the Ear
Spotify to launch a new high-end subscription service — HiFi
A16Z — NFTs and a Thousand True Fans
Shockingly Real Tom Cruise Deepfakes Are Invading TikTok
Finally.. one of the other good Morgan Stanley sessions was with Martin Sorrel and Scott Spirit of S4Capital. One thing that really resonated was SMS talking of them needing to really understand 20 or so companies;
GAFA / Spotify / Netflix / Snap / Pinterest / Twitter
Alibaba / Tencent / Tiktok /JD.com / Xiomai
LG / Samsung
Salesforce / Adobe / Oracle / IBM / SAP
Essentially, that’s what we do — help you understand what is going on, with a slightly narrower focus of GAFA and the next 11. And help you understand what it means for you and your business.
This is useful as I am thinking about how we develop Fix — and you can help by completing this survey to help me to better understand what people like and don’t like right now
Thanks so much to those who have already taken part — it is proving really helpful already.