Mobile Fix — May 10

8 min readMay 10, 2019


Privacy & AdTech

For months now the business has been speculating how (and when ) Google would react to the Apple changes on privacy with Safari and ITP2.1

With Tim Cook making privacy a core message — and Facebook embracing this at f8 last week — it was inevitable that changes would come. Not least because i feel the Google deal as the default search engine on Safari would have been a problem if they had very different privacy settings to the rest of the Apple environment.

It’s clear they are taking privacy seriously — with an opinion piece in the NYTImes from Sundar on Privacy should not be a luxury good. And at IO they announced changes to Chrome that will provide users with more transparency about how sites are using cookies, as well as simpler controls for cross-site cookies. Now the devil is in the detail and as these changes won’t be seen until later in the year, cue lots of speculation — especially on whether Google gain advantage over other adtech players.

The best commentary we have seen is from Bryan O’Kelly -

Bigger picture, if I’m an advertiser or publisher, I see this as one more sign that I should really be on the Google ad tech stack. Not because this explicitly biases the internet toward Google today (assuming that their cookies aren’t given special treatment) but because it’s so obvious that Google’s dominant browser market share will determine whether ads continue to work or not

Retargeting giant Criteo last week suggested that the impact of any changes would be limited — saying they were working hand in hand with Google. This week they contacted all their investors saying they think the effect will be neutral to low single figures negative

The ability of Google to shape the marketplace is no surprise — remember they just did it with their (eventual) switch to first party auctions. This is a good summary of the effect — with a useful before and after diagram

We live in interesting times. Once it’s no longer possible to use 3rd party cookies to stalk audiences around the web with cookie cutter creative, what happens? Will we see smart thinking on how to use 1st party data, context and rich creative to create ad experiences that deliver for everyone; audiences, brands and content makers?

There was lots of product news at GoogleIO too. This Wired round-up is a good summary. And the idea of mini apps in Search and Assistant is appealing — Google always keen to disrupt the idea of native apps and promote web apps. Again taking inspiration from WeChat.


Always lots going with Amazon but this deck selling their OTT inventory is particularly interesting. Whilst the audience is relatively limited — the Fire TV users, FreeDive on IMDB and their sports content — it will grow. One of the slides point to research showing Video viewers still want free content. Given Amazon double dip with ads — getting paid for running the ads, then making their cut when product is bought — we think it’s inevitable that ads will run on more of their inventory.

And one of our subscribers at Amazon pointed me to the beta launch of their new Attribution tool. This tool lets you measure the impact of display, search and video on Amazon sales. A really big deal — and whilst the main beta is in the US there is limited availability for UK and German brands. It’s for brands to apply, rather than agencies. Don’t sleep on this.

This oral history of Prime is really insightful and the Go store opening in New York — where they are now taking cash, is interesting too. But other retailers are innovating too — like this Walmart store of the future.


As podcasts become ubiquitous the infrastructure around them is developing too. The research and measurement is improving and discovery is getting better too. And the innovations in ads are worth watching too — like these voice ads from Unilever on Spotify

This A16Z podcast about podcasts is worth listening to — it’s early days in this new form of media, with lots of innovation.

We are looking at how Fix evolves into audio and have some great guests lined up — just deliberating on how to do it in a Fresh way. Video too? Fix news as well as talking with guests? Do we do themed episodes? Any ideas welcome.


Another week that showed #ContentisKing. Avengers Endgame is now the second biggest movie of all time and the end of Game of Thrones and LIne of Duty dominated conversation. But distribution matters too — as much of this country missed out on the epic Liverpool and Spurs games though the limited reach of BTSports. Unsurprisingly the final has caused a spike in new subscriptions but the last few years BT has made the Champions League final available for free on YouTube.

The progenitors of GameofThrones is HBO — who also gave us the Wire, Sopranos, Curb your Enthusiasm and so many more classics. But now their new owner AT&T is truly invested in TV, the creative force Richard Pepler is out. Replaced by a veteran Telecoms exec. But a Pepler aid is still in charge of programming.

Whilst everyone focuses on the upcoming battle between Netflix and Disney the imminent service from AT&T / Warner Media needs to be a contender too. They have the back catalogue from HBO and, through Warner, they have all 10 seasons of Friends. But in the new AppTV world you need fresh meat to drive subscriptions — as well as library to minimise churn — so all eyes will be on HBO.

Whilst the launch of Warner will be ad free, they do have plans to introduce an ad supported layer. YouTube is the latest to recognise that an ad supported service makes sense and soon all their Originals will be available free, with ads.

We firmly believe that ContentisKIng but we keep coming back to this Bob Iger quote; Create great content and distribute in innovative ways. It’s that simple

On that point Matthew Ball shared his ‘most important chart’ on the new formats that tech enables. Lots of innovation and opportunity here.

For traditional Broadcasters things remain tough. ITV shares slipped as they reported a decline in advertising of 7% in Q1 and forecasting a 6% drop for the first half of 2019. Their online audience is growing though and with BritFlix scheduled for later this year their monetisation of their digital viewers will be crucial. With their recent Amobee deal in place they have good tech, but it’s unclear what data they have.

And there is still opportunity in their core product — I like the simple idea from NBCI of using QR codes on TV ads. Everyone watching TV has their smartphone by their side and QR codes are a really effective way of connecting to digital content. (And I am shocked we don’t see them used more on OOH).

Quick Reads

As Angela Ahrendt leaves her role running retail for Apple, her legacy doesn’t seem to be as glowing as one might have thought. These Brand Cathedrals are the most profitable real estate in retail — only Tiffany come close on revenue per square foot — and they drive so much footfall they can strike amazing deals with landlords. But with customer satisfaction scores dropping the new regime is thought to be pushing back to the early concepts of the stores -making it easier to just buy something.

McKinsey on the right Digital Platform strategy. Not easy to work out what they actually mean here; one definition they give elsewhere is Think of a platform not just as technology but as a service, or what Silicon Valley calls a “product.” People pay $millions for this thinking?

Still on consultancies I saw a new Accenture TV ad in the centre break of the Simpsons. I think Agency folk can relax for now.

In a delightful irony Quantcast is the latest adtech firm to be investigated over GDPR. You will recognise the name as they are by far the most visible player in Consent Management Platforms — the name of the annoying pop ups that ask if you are OK with cookies

More concerns over TokTok and data — someone who sued Cambridge Analytica has been digging into how TikTik handle data.

More on privacy with this excellent piece on Palantir; the data firm started by Peter Theil — the first investor in Facebook — with investment from the CIA. The article is from the slow media team at Tortoise — really interesting start up in News

Somehow managed to not include the big news last week in Premium Publishing — The Guardian strategy is working and they are making money. Great content and a really smart team prove that quality does matter This analysis from NiemanLabs gets into the detail. .

Axel Springer is also thriving — but their profit driver is online classifieds. And from the Premium Publishers in New Zealand a reminder that this sector has some real advantages in viewability versus social ads.

As sports betting becomes legal in some US states Deloitte look at the opportunity for combining TV and betting

Detailed look at financial modeling on DTC brands. The example he uses is Harrys — a 6 year old razor start-up that has just been bought for $1.4bn

Finally… My scepticism last week on Autonomous cars caused some good conversations. The smartest VC in Jerusalem shared this piece on how automation causes problems in the partnership between the system and the driver. The New Yorker has a long article on The Fight for the Right to Drive

This Medium piece laments how convenience drives data capture and facial recognition. The FT Rich Peoples Problems think it’s time to kill off the chatbots — arguing the convenience isn’t worth the time spent. And I was told that Scott Galloway is not convinced either;

I think self-driving cars will be the next VR in that it’s going to wreck a bunch of venture capital firms.

People embrace tech that makes their life easier. I think that people are going to look harder at tech that doesn’t really deliver. Unidentified object in the packing area is a step too far. And so too is ditching the Uber driver.

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