Mobile Fix: Apple Pay, Mad Men vs. Math Men and China

Mobile Fix: Apple Pay, Mad Men vs. Math Men and China

Mobile money, blending art and science and a major digital threat from China make for an interesting week in mobile, writes Simon Andrews, founder of Addictive!

Mobile Money

The word on Apple Pay seems positive in the US. As this article points out, the rapid adoption is one of the key strengths of Apple. And this well thought through post points out the strategic importance of Pay for Apple.

Having tested all the key ingredients Apple could launch a fully ready product and they are taking advantage of the fact the upcoming switch to chip and pin requires everyone to install a new POS terminal – (nearly) all of which will have NFC.

As we mentioned last week, US retailers have an alternative system – CurrentC – brewing and some stores have refused to accept Pay in the meantime – switching off the NFC terminals as it’s the only certain way to stop Pay. This interview with the CEO of CurrentC doesn’t suggest that Apple has much of a fight on their hands.

It’s hard to see anyone really countering Pay in the iOS ecology so I guess the opportunity for all these other mobile money players is Android, but can any get the scale to dominate?

The obvious contenders are Google, Amazon and PayPal. It seems to have gone quiet at Google Wallet but we should expect some movement. And newly independent Paypal is still innovating – its One Touch payment is coming to Europe soon.

Amazon showed one strategy with its partnership with AllSaints. As well as being able to pay using your Amazon account, being a Prime member gets you free shipping. As they get more sites using the Amazon pay button, an offline payments system makes more sense. But will high street retailers feel comfortable partnering with Amazon and sharing data on purchases?

As well as helping push payments this partnership is probably part of a bigger Amazon (stealth) push into fashion.

Mad Men/Math Men

It’s one of the most persistent clichés, but the tension between Mad Men and Math Men gets repeated because it’s largely true.

The chief creative officer of Facebook has made an impassioned plea for creative people (the talent celebrated in Mad Men) to get more involved in the distribution of ads. He is right that at the moment the Math Men tend to drive the digital element and the benefits of right/left brain collaboration are lacking.

Too many creative people still dismiss digital as banner ads and on their 20th anniversary they are getting a bit of a kicking. Somewhat unjustly, really, as lots of very smart digital creative has – and continues – to make them work for both brand and a response. But too often they are left to the last minute and given to the most junior people. On mobile it’s even worse, as too often desktop assets run unchanged – just smaller – or are chopped up by mac jockies at the media network.

But there are better formats as we find ways of integrating messages into the flow of people’s mobile stream.

Michael Wolff laments the loss of the old (Mad Men) advertising world here, but we remain optimistic – you can blend art and science and those brands that do can perform alchemy; turning the lead of small ad formats into the gold of customer attention and action.

We have been doing a lot of work looking at how programmatic and creative interface and we see a huge divide. And a huge opportunity.

The best way to improve any programmatic campaign is by making the creative more relevant and more effective. As we develop our new project in this space we’re keen to talk with anyone who wants to see the two worlds realign. If you are interested get in touch.


As the debate continues over how apps and mobile content evolve can we learn from China? Their BAT (Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba), like our GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) are dominant and shaping the market. And finding the big switch to mobile a challenge.

Because of the great firewall that keeps US competitors like Google, Facebook and Twitter out of China, the Galapagos effect is interesting as it shows alternatives to the way our market is changing.

It’s the largest internet market by far – with over 632 million internet users it’s over twice the size of the US in second place with around 270 million users – even though penetration is relatively low at 48%. When/if it gets to the UK figure of 90% the market would be over 1.2 billion users – the vast majority by that time on mobile.

The three big players in BAT see messaging apps as the key to maintaining their dominance and both Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily to compete with the Tencent owned WeChat and QQ.

And these apps that have daily usage often have ‘smaller’ apps bundled within them; the most quoted example is a hotel booking app in Baidu maps. As linking apps becomes more common we expect this focus on partnerships to grow in the West too.

Alibaba have taken another approach that has paid off really well. They invented the idea of Singles Day, where Chinese people who don’t have a partner treat themselves with some online shopping. Last year this event drove nearly $6bn in sales – twice the size of the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Of course, just as the Chinese own lots of physical infrastructure in the West, who is to say they won’t become equally acquisitive of digital businesses?

Visual recognition

One of the issues for the CurrentC people is that their payments system uses QR codes and despite that being hugely successful for Starbucks it positions the product as a little dated.

Even Google Goggles seem quite old hat now – but their acquisition of WordLens suggests they are still moving forward.

One area where there is lots of action is in FashionTech where a Shazam for clothes is the Holy Grail for many. Upmarket US department store Neiman Marcus has been quick to embrace mobile, launching a new service called Snap Find Shop. Using a Canadian technology called Slyce, shoppers take snaps of clothes or pictures of clothes and the NM app shows you matching items.

That’s actually quite hard to pull off and this piece points out the difficulties and looks at the various players – many of whom are in London.

One killer application of this tech is in making print catalogues and magazines shoppable. When Net-a-Porter launched its print magazine Porter they also launched a Layar-powered app to make all the content shoppable. Other AR players like Blippar (who now own Layar) are active in this space too.

This is an edited and abridged version of Mobile Fix – click here to read the full article on Addictive!’s website

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