Netmera: Value from Apps (Sponsored)

David Murphy meets Kaan Bingol, CEO and co-founder of Netmera, to learn how brands, and in particular retailers, are using its platform to engage their most – and least – loyal customers.

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12 Per Cent of Top UK Brands Run Mobile Ads Without a Mobile Site

IAB84 per cent of the top 250 UK advertisers have a mobile-optimised site, according to research by the IAB, and half of those optimised sites now leverage responsive web design.

69 of the top 250 brands are optimising their paid search for mobile, and 75 per cent ran a mobile display campaign in 2014. This should be great news – except that 12 per cent don’t actually have a mobile-optimised site for those ads to direct users to.

Auto brands are the consumer-facing brand most likely to have their site optimised for mobile (94 per cent), ahead of retail (88 per cent), travel (87 per cent) and FMCG brands (72 per cent).

68 per cent of the top 250 brands have an app. According to joint research with App Annie looking at download figures, the most popular branded app last year was eBay, followed by YouTube, Netflix, ITV Player and Amazon.

“The audit shows that brands are finally putting mobile as a top priority, which is great to see,” said IAB senior mobile executive Mike Reynolds. “There are still some gaps, though, especially when you consider that brands are spending their budgets on mobile advertising, however their shop fronts still aren’t optimised for mobile. Over the next 12 months I foresee that brands that have achieved the basics of mobile will focus on building on the quality of their mobile presence.”

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Google Expands App Install Ads with Video and Online Inventory

Google App AdGoogle has expanded its offering for app install ads, with the addition of online inventory, video formats and a ‘Conversion Optimiser’ tool.

Previously, app install ads could be displayed on the 650,000 apps in the AdMob in-app network, but Google has expanded its inventory to include the 2m sites in the Google Display Network.

It has also expanded the range of formats available for app install ads, with the addition of the ‘Video App Promo’ interstitial format.

These additions have been trialled with select advertisers. GREE International, publisher of Knights & Dragons and War of Nations, reports a 81 per cent increase in installs when adding the mobile Google Display Network to its campaigns. A campaign utilising the video interstitial format showed a 10 per cent higher install rate and 40 per cent lower cost-per-install.

The Conversion Optimiser is currently available to in-app advertisers only, and leverages data from the Google Play store to identify and target users who are more likely to spend money on paid apps or in-app purchases.

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WhatsApp Adds Voice Call Functionality

WApp callsWhatsApp has added a voice call feature to its Android messaging app.

The latest update to the app, v2.12.5, introduces a tabbed layout, breaking the app’s functionality into three parts: ‘Chats’, ‘Contacts’ and ‘Calls’. The latter enables the user to select any contact who also has the Android app installed and call them over a wi-fi or mobile data connection.

The functionality is expected to come to the iOS version of the app at some point in the near future.

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Lauren Laverne Launches Online Platform Supported by Native Ads

lauren laverneBBC 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne and Sam Baker, former editor of Cosmopolitan and Red magazine have launched a new online platform for women that will feature writing, audio and video, and will be supported using native advertising.

The new site, called The Pool, will include contributions from well-known figures including journalist Laura Craik, MasterChef winner and founder of the Wahaca restaurant chain Thomasina Miers, and beauty columnist Sali Hughes, with comedian Viv Groskop recording an agony aunt podcast.

According to the Guardian, the site will feature roughly 20 pieces of content a day, delivered in around seven or eight ‘drops’, and content will be labelled with how long it will take to consume.

“Whenever we talk to people, big internet users, people who are on their phones all the time, they felt completely overwhelmed with content, and if you look at how most people are delivering content, they are just producing huge amounts and hoping things will stick, and the quality of that is not always great,” said Baker. “We want to take a converse view and say ‘what’s the content she wants, where is she and how do we put that into her life?'”

The site, which will feature a responsive design, will be supported with native ad revenues, with at least one brand partner signed up for an annual tenancy, as well as funding from early stage investors Fourteen17.

“We drew up a list of companies in our fantasy list, and we are still working on the A-list, because everybody we went to said yes,” said Baker. “We are building bespoke packages of content.”

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IBM Set to Invest $3bn in Internet of Things Unit

IBM CEOIBM has announced it plans to invest $3bn (£2.03bn) over the next four years to establish a new unit focused on the Internet of Things that will built a cloud-based open IoT platform for clients and partners.

The computing pioneer has already worked on IoT applications with its Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities projects, which delivered solutions for water management, traffic congestion and customer loyalty, among others.

The new platform will enable manufacturers to design a produce a new generation of connected devices optimised for the Internet of Things, and help business leaders across a variety of industries to create systems that combine enterprise and IoT data for more informed decision-making.

“Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics. “IBM will enable clients and industry partners apply IoT data to build solutions based on an open platform. This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it’s a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters.”

According to IBM, 90 per cent of all data generated by mobiles and connected devices is never analysed or acted upon, with up to 60 per cent of this data beginning to lose value within milliseconds of being generated.

The company’s IoT cloud platform will aim to challenge this by providing new analytics services that will then be used to design and deliver vertical industry IoT solutions, as well as enabling users of IBM’s Bluemix platform-as-a-service to integrate IoT data easily into their operations.

As part of the commitment to IoT platforms, IBM also announced a new global strategic alliance with The Weather Company, collecting data from more than 100,000 weather sensors and aircraft as well as millions of smartphones, buildings and vehicles to help industries understand the impact the weather has on their business outcomes.

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Search Ad Spending to Exceed $80bn in 2015

google search adSearch ad spending will surpass $80bn (£54bn) this year, up 16.2 per cent year on year, and representing almost half of the $170.85bn set to be spent on digital ads worldwide in 2015.

Research by eMarketer suggests that while the rate of growth is beginning to slow for search ad spending, it will remain in double figures until 2018, and will total $130.58bn in 2019.

Google remains the dominant player in search ads, and while it’s market share has dipped slightly year-on-year, it has seen growth of 15.7 per cent, taking its total expected search ad revenue to $44.46bn, over half of the search ad spending globally.

Baidu, China’s largest search advertisers, held second place, with an 8.8 per cent market share, and revenues up 34.2 per cent year on year to $7.18bn. The company’s growth is a testament to the increasing influence of China on the global scale, with search ad spending in China reaching $14.9bn this year, accounting for 18.2 per cent of the market and up 32.8 per cent on 2014.

Microsoft and Yahoo held on to third and fourth places respectively, with market shares of 4.2 per cent and 2.3 per cent. While both saw growth, Microsoft’s has dramatically slowed over the past three years, dropping from 48.7 per cent to 18.5 per cent. Yahoo’s growth, while lower, reversed the drop it saw last year, with growth increasing to 6.9 per cent from 4.8 per cent.

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Clarks Kicks Off Desert Boots Campaign on WhatsApp

clarks desert bootsShoe manufacturer and retailer Clarks is using the WhatsApp OTT messaging platform for a digital project aimed at bringing the story of its Clarks Desert Boot to life for fans of the brand.

As part of promotion efforts for its Clarks Originals line, users of the messaging app will be prompted to add a new number to their contacts via teaser films on social media. Users will then receive messages, images, playlists and video content through the app from four figures from the history of the boot.

The project will be introduced by Nathan Clark, who as a British soldier in Burma, came across a simple suede and crepe boot design worn by officers who had found them in Cairo. Returning home to the tiny village of Street where his family’s shoe business was based, he convinced them to adopt the style.

The campaign then introduces three new figures, each with its own WhatsApp identity, representing the Mod subculture, the 1968 student riots in Paris and the birth of reggae in 1970s Kingston, all of which had strong ties to the Clarks Desert Boot design.

“We want to take you back in time,” wrote Clarks in a blog post on the project. “Back to when riotous French students filled the cobbled streets of Paris, to 70s Kingston were the heart and soul of reggae music resonated through the streets of Trenchtown, and directly into the epicentre of 60s British youth culture where a group of modernists were busy creating a legacy of fashion and music. What do these stories have in common? The Clarks Desert Boot.”

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Mobile Transactions Increase 10 per cent in Three Months in US

criteo_rgbMobile commerce adoption is becoming faster and faster, with mobile transactions increasing by 10 per cent in just three months in the US, and larger screen sizes and better mobile sites driving mCommerce.

The figures come from performance marketing tech firm Criteo‘s ‘State of Mobile Commerce’ report for Q1 2015, which also showed that mobile devices are now responsible for over a third of all eCommerce.

“The huge growth in mobile transactions over the past quarter shows that consumers are now very comfortable purchasing on smartphones across all categories,” said Jonathan Wolf, chief product officer for Criteo. “There really is no limit to this growth – mobile is now more than half of all eCommerce transactions in advanced markets like Japan and South Korea.”

According to the report, improvements in mobile sites and responsive design, along with the trend towards larger screens, mean that consumers are increasingly happy to shop on smartphones, which are replacing tablets as the dominant device for mCommerce.

In the UK, smartphones now account for 44 per cent of mobile purchases. Mobile accounts for 45 per cent of all eCommerce in the UK, and is predicted to reach 40 per cent globally by the end of the year.

In addition, mobile devices continue to be popular for browsing, with consumers now viewing equal amounts of products on desktops and smartphones, with only lower conversion rates holding mobile back from true equity.

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Slack Funding Round Values Work Chat App at $2.76bn

slack comboWorkplace chat app Slack is set to announce a new funding round in the next few weeks, raising up to $160m (£107m) in investment and placing the value of the company at around $2.76bn.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the popularity of the app has seen the startup more than double its valuation in less than five months, and has attracted investment from DST Global, Institutional Venture Partners, Horizon Ventures and Index Ventures, among others.

The new investors have committed $135m during this round, and Slack maintains the option to raise another $25m from existing or new investors without beginning another full funding round.

Slack’s rapid rise is built on its popularity as an enterprise app, enabling coworkers to chat and discuss work, and unlike many high-valued consumer-facing startups, it has been seeing growing revenues from its business users.

Slack boasts around 500,000 daily users, over a quarter of whom pay a monthly cost of at least $6.67 to access premium features. The company’s business model generally involves hooking workers with its free version, then convincing bosses of the worth of the premium service.

In October, Stewart Butterfield, chief executive of the firm, was quoted saying that the company was raising money simply because it was in demand with investors, rather than due to any need for money, and in fact Slack could run on the amount of cash it had at the time for 60 years.

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