Back from the beach, a longish one as so much is going on — as ever..

New data on the most popular apps (PDF) shows us that GAFA is still key but there are lots of interesting new players.


This new eMarketer study showing a third of programmatic spend ends up as ‘fees’ is going to fuel debate at DMEXCO and beyond. I think it’s misleading as it bundles lots of very different things together. One may argue that the DSP fees are too high but spending on Moat to understand what was really seen is good value. Our friends at Spirable facilitate remarkable marketing across Display that would be impossible without their tech, and the ROI is clear. But essentially brands end up with the Tech Stack they deserve. If your partners can’t explain exactly what every element does and why it’s good value, then you should be concerned.

The rising tide of privacy is going to sink many adtech firms and the scale of Criteo makes them a clear indicator. So it’s good to see them doing reasonably well. But the general climate is causing many to question the very concept of Real Time Bidding that underpins Programmatic, with Brian O’Kelley saying

OK, but is RTB, one of those mechanisms, incompatible with GDPR?

“Yes,” said O’Kelley, who helped originate RTB when he was CTO at Right Media in the early 2000s. “I think it probably is.”

Some still see opportunity — an experienced team have bought the contextual targeting division of Sizmek and our friends at Ezoic have raised $33m to continue their quest to improve user experience and revenue for their customers. There is lots of smart thinking happening; The Ozone project is focusing on the context of their premium publishing partners, with new tech.

And smart brands are rethinking their approach; here Stubhub talk about how they make the most of their first party data.

DTC & Retail

Gin Lane, a branding agency that specialised in DTC, has morphed into a DTC holding company. My Bonsai Brands piece predicted this sort of move and it’s interesting that it’s marketing thinking driving this.

In many ways marketing is the key discriminator for DTC and yet Branding is seen by many as something you do at the start then it’s all about performance marketing — or Growth. As ever it’s about both and this article makes a lot of sense

Choosing the right location is a huge part of the brand — especially in the luxury sector — and the rise of Pop Ups (and particularly our friends at Appear Here) is covered here.

Nike buys AI firm that predicts what consumers want and The department store of the future is using actors to sell you stuff


The latest Ofcom study shows the decline of broadcast in the UK — down by 20% between 2010 and 2018. Amongst the young it’s a much steeper decline — its virtually halved. The Flat Earth society of Trad Ad commentators point out that young people have always watched less but as they grow older they watch more. Well to a point. Maybe we miss this moment when people adopt pipe and slippers, start liking Werther Originals and put their iPhones down? But the 35–44 group is still down by a third. And;

But 42% of adults consider online video services to be their main way of watching TV and film, and 38% of SVoD users can imagine not watching broadcast TV at all in five years’ time

It’s a similar story in the US where new data shows cord cutting accelerating and the new Comscore TV Viewership report has lots of good data.

As Bloomberg put it The Streaming Video-on-Demand War Is Going to Get Bloody.

Ofcom approves BBC streaming plan for iPlayer — getting rid of the 30 day limit. But what does that mean for Britbox if the BBC keep some of their gems for iPlayer? ITV were supportive whilst C4 expressed some reservations. Given many BBC projects are co-productions the complex rights of TV shows means this area is going to be hard to manage. Running BritBox is going to be a huge challenge.

Disney has announced pricing for their streaming service and — no surprise — it’s very competitive. Disney+, ESPN and Hulu will cost $12.99 — the same as Netflix and cheaper than HBOMax. Their share price stumbled this week reminding us that Disney is mortal and can miss their numbers like everyone else. All these prices are notional as the upcoming winter of Dis(counted) Content will see lots of launch offers. This should play well for Disney as they can bundle their other assets — theme parks, cruises etc.

Quibi continue to get great press and the talent they are attracting is still making headlines but can they get the subscribers for a dedicated mobile service when everyone else is fighting for the same audience with a big screen offer? We expect that all the services will work on mobile — just like they do now — but does Quibi need a Chromecast type service for big screens too?

In what I think is one of the next big stories, Facebook have announced their entry into the world of newTV with a Chat device similar to their Portal. They are talking with Disney et al to add streaming services to this device. We have talked a number of times before about their disadvantage to the rest of GAFA, without a connection to the big screen, so this is a big deal.

And given the Facebook predilection for ad revenue it should be a significant player in newTV ad dollars, bringing all that data to TV. The news that Amazon was enabling PMPs through the TradeDesk and dataxu as well as the Amazon DSP got a lot of attention but some of the excitement abated when it became clear that the Amazon data on purchases is only available through the Amazon tech.

I was interested to see that Disney are talking up how Plus will improve their ad offering even though there are no ads on the main service.

Food Wars

The consolidation in food delivery firms is speeding up. Amsterdam based wants to buy the UK based Just Eat and in the US Door Dash buys rival food service firm Caviar for $410m — from Square who bought it a couple of years ago for $90m to help build their business amongst restaurants

Amazon Restaurants has closed in the US and the UK and the recent attempt by Amazon to buy a stake in Deliveroo has incurred the scrutiny of UK regulators who say they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect it’s a takeaway takeover.

The FT go deep into this category and point out that all the players are suffering. The next stage is all about Dark Kitchens, so the firms evolve from delivery into food preparation too. An early player in this was Indian firm Rebel Foods — who have 235 kitchens across India and have just raised $125m. One of the investing VCs wrote about this category a few months ago pointing that tech firms in all markets see food delivery as a way of being indispensable to their customers. And where you can improve utilisation of delivery staff, even better — which is why Amazon and Uber will be the ultimate winners and the current M&A is an attempt to become the must have for these tech giants

Media Companies

Still lots of activity in old media. There is consolidation in US newspapers with the top two firms poised to merge. I mentioned the possible acquisition of a big local press player here the other week; Mirror owner in talks to buy Johnston Press assets like the Yorkshire Evening Post.

New ways of using trad news keep being tried — with aggregator SmartNews doing well in the US. But others are still looking to eat their lunch, The Athletic launched in the UK this week and they have cherry picked some of the best sports journalists from local press, recognising their knowledge and base of followers.

At the risk of annoying one or two readers, let’s use top of the table Leeds United as an example. The Yorkshire Evening Post (one of the titles the Mirror Group may end up with) had a good journalist doing great coverage of Leeds. With 166k Twitter followers (We’re not famous anymore?) he was a big asset and I would imagine he drove a lot of traffic. But Phil Hay is now with the Athletic and I guess even some Yorkshireman will pay the subscription to follow him and read of our adventures this season.

The opportunity to create really valuable media properties is attracting investors. Former Fox exec Joe Marchese has been mentioned in Fix many times and his new fund is focused on quality media.

“In a world where amazing stories are getting lost in a sea of ‘content’ and filters are determined by AI, there is a massive market opportunity for curators,”

His partner was formerly head of Content at Snap and before that a key Murdoch exec —and his announcement of the new firm is also worth reading.

We think there is a long overdue flight to quality media and alongside that an opportunity to reinvent advertising, in a way that adds value to the media experience rather than distracting or even destroying it.

Quick Reads

This long piece by Mathew Ball on how sequels and franchises are hitting the Cinemas hard is a good read and impacts newTV. The MoviePass debacle didn’t help much either

Interesting new data from Zenith on global ad spend trends and the prediction that by 2021 over half of all global ad spend will be digital.

And groupM argue that much of the growth in digital comes from digital endemics — and the contribution of the long tail is relatively small. Not sure i agree with that.

Kantar have produced a China Social Media Landscape Whitepaper

Chinese Companies Call in U.S. Superheroes to Win Streaming Wars — licensing comic IP

McKinsey and their technology blueprint for personalization at scale

Fascinating look at Indian retail and how Amazon are considering a stake in Reliance

How London became a test case for using facial recognition in democracies

Great Scrapbook on Strategy and Planning from Chopshop

Some beef between the US chapter of the IAB and some of their publishers members around privacy, with the big US newspapers welcoming privacy initiatives like the GDPR as a way to curb GAFA

Snapchat launches ‘instant’ tool for creating vertical ads — a good start for their long tail advertisers and hopefully leads them to recognising the importance of creative in driving media results. And the former Amazon exec who is turning Snap’s ad business around

Finally… it’s important to recognise and celebrate Creativity. Whilst there is still too much crap out there, we still see some great ideas. Enjoy and be inspired.

(Reminder, in case you missed this last week; some personal news as I close out my time with TMK and go back to being independent after the summer. I am keen to talk and plot with potential collaborators, partners and clients so do get in touch if you think we could help each other in any way. More to follow as I develop my plans.)

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