This month we take a look at the big stories from the crazy worlds of marketing & advertising.
Facebook Conversation Topics wants to tell you what to talk about
Ever had the feeling that you’ve run out of things to say to your friends? Well, you’re in luck, because Facebook’s Messenger app is on hand with a range of ‘conversation topics’ to keep you and your friends chatting for hours.
The concept is simple: see what your friends on Facebook have been up to and build conversations around this information. It doubles as a more succinct newsfeed too, telling you what your nearest and dearest have been up to, where they’ve been and even what music they’re listening to.
The technology comes just a month after a user identified some code hidden in the Messenger app pointing to a new feature called Rooms. Slightly less promising than Conversations, this comes across more like a throwback to the days of internet chat-rooms, where people with a shared interest in topics can chat. Thankfully, it’s likely this version would eschew the anonymisation that made real internet chatrooms such a controversial feature of the newly burgeoning ‘world wide web’.
For anyone concerned about the state of humanity when we genuinely need algorithmic prompts to start conversations, you’re not alone. On the bright side, however, you’ll never be lost for words again.
Marketers now spend more on mobile display ad spend than PC & tablet
For anyone in doubt of the power of mobile marketing, behold! Mobile display ad spend has now officially overtaken spending on Desktop and tablet. A new study by PwC and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) this month revealed that mobile display ad spend reached £802m, £40m more than advertisers spent on PC and tablet. Digital advertising itself reached an all-time high of £4.78bn in the first half of 2016, the highest first-half growth rate in two years.
Mobile ad spend saw the biggest boost of all, however, with a 56% increase in the first half of 2016. In fact, 2016 has been a pretty good year for every area of mobile advertising. Ad spend on mobile sites grew 43% to £745m, while mobile video spend grew 129%, suggesting our mobile dependence could be turning into a full-blown addiction.
Consumer goods brands such as food, toiletries and clothing were responsible for 18.3% of the overall ad spend on mobile, with 18.3%, followed by travel & transport at 16.4% and automotive at 11.7%.
Paid search also received a boost courtesy of our mobile fixation, growing 18.1% to £2.49bn in the first six months of 2016. With recent YouGov data finding that 82% of smartphone users check their phones within an hour of waking (while 86% of 18-34s do so within half an hour), our mobile obsession doesn’t show any signs of abating soon.
Unilever and Tesco call an end to a very public tiff
October has been a month of uncertainty for people across the UK, especially as the reality of Brexit begins to spread from political hypothesising to real-world impact. That’s right, with all the potential pitfalls and profits of Brexit, few could have anticipated it would hit the yeast-based spread market so hard.
Marmite fans throughout Britain decried the news that Unilever, in response to the falling value of the post-Brexit pound, were increasing retail prices on some of the UK’s favourite foodstuffs.
The row looked set to embroil Tesco and Unilever in a very public spat. Thankfully the companies reached an agreement within 24 hours of the announcement.
Unilever released a statement explaining “We have been working closely together to reach this resolution and ensure our much-loved brands are once again fully available. For all those that missed us, thanks for all the love.” It may seem like a trivial issue for the haters, but the announcement elicited a collective sigh of relief from Marmite-addicts everywhere, not to mention providing some free publicity for the both parties involved.
The publicity didn’t necessarily benefit both parties, however. The day following Unilever’s announcement saw Tesco shares up 4.2 percent, while Unilever shares were down 0.7 percent.
Mcdonald’s: Ronald McDonald keeping a lower profile
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ll be aware of the clown craze sweeping the world. Theories ranging from an internet craze gotten out of hand to some extreme form of viral marketing for a re-adaptation of Stephen King’s It abounds, but there have been other, less expected responses. The ‘killer clown’ craze has also provoked a huge backlash against the entire profession of clowning, and it seems even the most well-known aren’t immune to the collective coulrophobia.
That’s right, even McDonalds’ own Ronald McDonald is laying low until the heat surrounding the killer clown craze dies down. McDonald’s said earlier this month that it is being “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events” as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.”
Despite ‘hoping’ to disassociate itself from the current creepy fad, a clown has been spotted lurking by a McDonald’s in the Australian town of Moe, Victoria. Several sightings of a male clown wielding an axe at cars exiting the drive-through of the fast-food restaurant earlier this month.
Whether Ronald himself was involved is doubtful, but perhaps it’s best he keeps a low profile until this craze has finally run itself into the ground.
Google steps in the smartphone ring with Pixel
Dubbed ‘the smartphone to end all smartphones’ by one, over-excited reviewer, this month saw the release of Pixel, Google’s first ever homegrown smartphone. As the first ever 100% Google Google designed phone, there was a lot of pressure on the Pixel to excel. That it’s the first phone to boast Android 7.1 and the reworked Google Assistant is being touted as the phone’s chief selling point.
Both of the newly launched Pixel phones come with a version of the aforementioned ‘Google Assistant’, promising new features including advances in artificial intelligence to improve personalised and voice-capable searches.
The phone’s physical design, with 5-in. or 5.5-in. screens and top-spec 12MP rear camera, have gone down reasonably well, although some thought-leaders have rightfully wondered why Google made the step into producing its own hardware at all.
The smartphones were just one aspect of the company’s new hardware push, however. Also unveiled at the conference were Google Home, a device that relies on Google Assistant, and a virtual reality headset/controller called Daydream View. Whether these releases will be enough to establish Google as a leader in the mobile hardware market remains unclear. It wouldn’t be the first time Google has made it late to the party only to become an industry leader.