How audio is changing lives for the better.

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At Spotify, we understand the power of audio. Music and podcasts bring joy to millions all over the world, and we see audio taking center stage as a result of our day-to-day screen burnout. And at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, we saw more clearly than ever how audio is changing people’s lives for the better. 

There is nowhere better than CES to see where technology is headed. Spotify was there all week, seeing the many — and sometimes surprising — ways technology is being used in every aspect of our life. This central role of technology is leading towards a big macro trend known as the “quantified self.” This trend is all about how we are using technology to understand ourselves better as humans — and how we are diagnosing, reporting, and creating tools to enhance people’s lives. 

One key trend of the “quantified self” is the number of applications that have audio as central to the solution. Audio is now helping people live a better life, supporting when screens are not relevant or indeed, individuals can’t see the screens because of visual impairment. I wanted to highlight four of the interesting solutions we saw, some incredibly sophisticated and life-changing, some more for fun!

Take OrCam’s MyEye 2 — a wonderful piece of technology for visually impaired or blind individuals that scans full-page texts, money notes, people and more, then reads it back to the visually impaired person through a small device worn on the ear. If there is a product in a shop, the person can scan the barcode and the product details will be read back to them, translating the visual world into speech. 

In a similar vein, there is Addison Care, a virtual caregiver who monitors in the home, making sure the individual’s vital signs are strong, while assessing their movement to look for signs of trouble. The system calls out reminders to take medicine and is mainly voice activated, something that is more intuitive to many older people. It is yet another exciting use of audio and technology that is changing lives for the better.

Not everything is serious and life-changing. We saw a lot about how voice assistants are being incorporated into every device imaginable. One of particular note was built into showerheads, giving you the chance to catch up on the day ahead, the weather, commute and traffic as you shower and of course, call out your favorite Spotify playlist or podcast! As a marketer, thinking how to connect in a world of screenless devices and screenless moments is going to be vital — how could you take advantage of Alexa in the shower if you knew that’s where someone was streaming?

Finally, we saw how voice will play a prominent role in the future of the auto industry. Auto brands announced massive screens for the driverless cars of tomorrow, and more cars announced integrations with voice assistants. Per Axios’ Sara Fischer, “one of the big themes at CES this year has been the race to own the media experience when cars go driverless.” Fischer noted that Lamborghini’s Huracán EVO will be adding Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant this year, while Amazon and Exxon also announced a deal to allow voice-enabled gas purchases. Meanwhile, Anker and JBL both revealed new Google Assistant-equipped devices that can plug into cars new and old. It’s clearer than ever that our voices will be the remote controls of the car — ultimately shaping the future of how we listen.

Thanks to continuous innovation happening with earbuds, connected speakers, cars and more, audio already surrounds our daily lives. Even still, all of these developments at CES showed just how much the role of audio will grow in our daily lives in the future. Of course, as we at Spotify aspire to become the world’s largest audio network, I’ll be keeping my ears open as more new devices, gadgets, and integrations are launched in 2020. And exploring and executing creative ways to bring brands along the journey. Here’s to another year of listening!

Advertisers need to press the reset button on digital

Agency Trading Desks. Independent trading desks. RTB Networks. Data networks. Managed service Desks. We have significantly added to the ecosystem in the last few years and on balance for the better I think. Of course there are concerns about transparency and who is doing what and the advertiser is being taken for a ride so on, but in totality we now see a more sophisticated digital ecosystem than three years ago which is a good thing.

However with that comes a need for everyone to refocus. There is a whole auditing, pitch consultant business, advertiser organisation business that is focused on Agency Trading Desks. I think part of the issue around Agency Trading Desks is that they are all different. Some are an extension of the agency, some are more akin to a department within an agency, some are out there in the extreme like Xaxis that has changed so significantly that it really no longer sits in the bracket at all and everything in between.

So when it comes to pitches, auditors, advertiser evaluations of the space they obsess with agency trading desks but not the wider market. My business and that of a company like Rocketfuel or Criteo or Quantcast are the same, we do the same. Plenty of people will argue the good and bad of both including me but for now put that aside, fundamentally we are the same, we cook with the same ingredients – the end plate of food looks and tastes different but we do the same. For that reason we compete with these companies, spend that we could argue should go to us goes to those companies and independent trade desks. So for me, we should all be judged the same by advertisers. The same rules should apply, if those rules are based on genuine concerns of an advertiser about their media investments then why would they not?

So why don’t we start with what is asked of us? What do the agencies and advertisers want of us? Lets run through a few:

  • They want to see results line by line with associated cpms, cpc etc
  • They want brand safety – clear controls as to what we are buying
  • They want to know what tech we use and why – and how much does it cost?
  • They don’t want us to create large margins behind set cpas and cpcs etc
  • They want auditing rights on activity
  • They want private marketplaces and innovation with partners
  • They want detailed costs breakdowns

Those are just a selection. Articles in the past have commented on how the ATD is not held accountable but that is a falsehood. The pitch process would argue differently as well as regular reviews with advertisers that question in detail all of these areas, we are constantly evaluated on one level or another including our toughest challengers, the agencies we work with, and rightly so.

Trouble is on any plan spend is going not just to us, but to many of those companies mentioned above and many more in display, video and mobile. These companies are not held to the same standards and I think this should be investigated further. If a guidance paper for instance gets released to advertisers on ATDs, I can guarantee it will ask all those questions above (and more) but why just to ATDs? Any such guidance and evaluations now have to be extended to a wider group of companies and end the double standards.

I sat with a large group of advertisers and time and time again the issue of brand safety was raised. One of the core tenants of AOD is protection, and that is for a good reason, we are advertiser / agency focused, we know what they expect. So why would an advertiser invest in a company that provided no transparency at all? An ad appearing next to inappropriate content is still inappropriate regardless of how it got there. Blind buys should not be acceptable to any major advertiser. Why if you are concerned about how much money AOD makes do you not care about the 50-60% margins being reported in the company accounts of some of the other companies? I could go on but my point is that we cannot attach the ATD to the agency, but rather attach the RTB/programmatic industry to the standards of the agencies and ATDs, at least those like AOD. So I hope to see from the various trade bodies and the like a stance that widens the net of companies that it recommends should be evaluated in this new exciting programmatic world we live in, and avoid people having too much cake and eating it.

‘The Motorola Dynatac 800x – The whole was far greater than the sum of its parts

An excellent guest blog from Danny Hopwood – Director of Product AOD UK on Exchangewire mobile evolution

In 2011, mobile saw spend reach $3.9 billion globally and 2012 is expected to hit $6.2 billion. “This is the year of mobile,” most will say. It is here – and I think everyone may have felt a little underwhelmed by it.

There hasn’t been a massive parade, no free USB sticks shaped like an iPhone, and certainly no trophy taking the shape of a gold encrusted Motorola Dynatac 8000x (made famous by Gordon Gekko) engraved with “we did it”. Furthermore, mobile spend didn’t overtake TV spend.

However we have seen HTML5 become more important and we have seen businesses built around mobile, ad networks open up mobile inventory, DSP’s for mobile specifically come into existence, such as Strike Ad, and VC investors say, “I need a mobile start-up – stat!” CB Insights confirmed that it has reported on 102 mobile VC deals in 2011, and within those, any company with a photo or video-focus saw up to 30% of those deals.

It’s been a pretty exciting few months. Technology continues to develop and proliferate, with the likes of NFC (Near Field Communication) and 5G testing. Adfonic’s second quarter AdMetrics report shows that iOS saw its market SOV decrease from 45% in Q1 to 34% in Q2, whilst Android’s share increased from 38% to 46% over the same period. UDID’s are no more on iOS, and it looks as though Apple will roll out their own tracking tool. Cookies probably won’t come to mobile in the way we imagine for Android, or other devices for that matter. Fingerprinting scares me, as there still seems to be no regulatory authority behind it and no one seems to want to step up to the plate. There have been a number of articles highlighting both the benefits and the concerns around device fingerprinting. If you’re not familiar with fingerprinting, it’s a process in which a user’s device settings are collated and then assigned a unique ID – much like a cookie – to use for tracking purposes. These settings can range from brightness settings to browser settings, time zone and fonts. It requires many more data points and therefore is not as easy for the consumer to opt out of. Until we see a regulatory company behind device fingerprinting I don’t believe it will get the seal of approval from the wider industry.

I feel mobile has a lot of potential, and I don’t think we have even scratched the surface yet. Currently mobile is simple, it’s certainly the way I speak about mobile within AOD. We keep it simple because it is.

I hear all sorts of industry “fixes” to solve areas of retargeting. For example, one solution making the rounds at the moment is to merge various different tracking systems like UDID and cookies (on available devices), fingerprinting, ad server log files and campaign data to give a nearly accurate view of a user across devices. This is an example of great innovation, but also potentially another layer of danger to privacy and it’s not reliable enough. What if UDID is removed from the rest of the platforms and cookies follow suit? The fixes don’t have enough longevity to provide reliability.

This highlights my qualms with mobile. Despite achieving a sustainable mobile market in terms of spend; we haven’t quite achieved what mobile is really capable of achieving. I say we, because I think it’s important everyone realises no one tech provider, or genius in a basement, is going to solve this for us.

Mobile, though, can be activated at scale, delivering performance and acting as extensions to your campaigns. We do have to be honest on its capabilities presently and stop trying to complicate it. If someone were to be dedicated enough to read five articles on mobile, it would become apparent very quickly that mobile is simple.
AOD was the first agency trading desk to launch mobile, and we see it working incredibly well, but I can see what else it could do if it had the component parts. I think there are four ways to solve these issues:

Formats are still pretty limited on RTB mobile for now (300×250, 320×50, 468×60, 728×90). Some vendors have more, but if you want scale you have to go for the lowest common denominator. They do the job, but I think they need to be able to do more. HTML5 will help to answer this, but I still see creative agencies sending over flash files hindering the adoption of HTML5.

Digital Creative Houses
On the topic of HTML5, I hope we see more companies like SOMO (Gareth Davies of SOMO recently wrote a piece on mobile), Sencha’s HTML5 tools, the IAB’s ORMMA and MRAID projects and Celtra. These companies will speed up HTML5 adoption and clients’ mobile understanding.

I can’t help but think that if a creative agency wanted to revolutionise themselves and start with a great initial footing in the market they would opt for HTML5 only; ensuring they spread the message to all clients, agencies and publishers of the benefits. It might be hard initially, but you could see the long-term benefits in being the first creative outfit to do it and commit to it.

Client/Advertiser Adoption
A more powerful and easier route of HTML5 adoption would be if it came from the clients themselves. They need to take the plunge, it’s not even a plunge it’s a big fluffy mattress of improved creative output, design flexibility, richer executions and easier implementation. You can still back it up with Flash, but a mobile creative in HTML5 is going to start to make this industry push the boundaries and innovate on what we have already done. I have seen this start to happen, and quite recently helped a client to holistically adopt HTML5 for all their online activity.

We Are Going to Have to Make This Market
Mobile advertising was supposed to provide a connection to that constant consumer companion. Many will say it does and that their technology can pin-point users to five metres away. I believe the only ones that can do this are the carriers within their respective countries. I’m not aware of carriers that have been doing this, but I hope they do. This is the “we” part of my earlier point. There are many stakeholders in this industry who all hold very important parts to the mobile market. These stakeholders take shape in advertisers, agencies, publishers, carriers and technology companies.

Each one of these stakeholders is trying to carve out their own piece of the pie. They have a right to as they got to the solution more quickly than others, but they only have the solution for their specialism. I don’t expect O2/Vodafone/T-Mobile to come up with a DSP. I expect them to find a solution to allow their carrier GPS signals to be used for geo-targeting, within another DSP in real time.

I also don’t expect publishers to make mobile inventory available at cheap prices through RTB. I expect them to make it a profitable revenue stream for themselves, but also to help rectify the issues with targeting that mobile currently has. They are in an advantageous position to help; they just need to start focusing on it. I am in no way belittling what innovation has already been accomplished by many publishers; I just know there is much more to be done.

On the tech side of industry, I think it’s a bit cloak and dagger. Platforms are everywhere and everyone can do everything – but we all know what is possible and what is achievable with the current state of technology and infrastructure. We need to demystify the market and start to talk honestly about what is and isn’t possible. My favourite example at the moment is geo-fencing. geo-fencing is only possible with a Wi-Fi connection, and even then, accuracy diminishes the further the device is from the Wi-Fi spot. To my knowledge, latest figures pinned Wi-Fi penetration at 73% of all UK households. Fantastic! It’s growing and it’s in the household, but what use is a Wi-Fi connection for local targeting to the mobile advertising market if someone is sitting at home on the internet? So when a vendor is asked if they can geo-fence, they will say “yes”, but they need to be honest that is based on Wi-Fi coverage that is household-based and not carrier networks.

We need this level of penetration on a street level while users are outside of their homes. Admittedly, the Olympics forced the UK’s hand, and the resultant underground Wi-Fi project at least begins to bring this to stations, but it’s still not street level.

Companies within our industry, and probably more outside of it, have these answers and these capabilities. We just need to start working together to join them up. O2/T-Mobile/Vodafone could open up their GPS signals to a DSP, publishers could pass more information on registration data or location in the bid request. We could remove the need for the cookie and fingerprinting all together on mobile!

It might be too much to expect from the mobile market, and I’ll admit I’m glossing over a few big questions around businesses, allowing their specialisms to become part of something else.

I am not ignoring areas like privacy or consumer consent, far from it; it’s only with agreement on what the potential of this market is, when all the components come together, that we can answer this subject.

The Motorola Dynatac 8000x had many components to it, but the whole was far greater than the sum of its parts. I think we could learn a lot from this logic. Motorola did, and launched the first commercial mobile. I believe that if we got our collective heads, and our businesses, together we could do the same for mobile, and have a gold encrusted Motorola Dynatac 8000x with “we did it” engraved on it.

Battle for the living room. Apple vs Windows vs Google.

These three companies are battling it out in a number of arenas, phones, TV, PC/mobile operating systems and each time one of them launches something the others follow, they take turns. Well I was thinking about the launch of the new Windows phone 7 the other day and how it compares to the iPhone and the same thing came back to me..I am all in with Apple, so even if it’s brilliant I won’t get one.

It goes further too, at home I have 3 sets of speakers for Apple, I have Airport Express, an iPad and close to getting Apple TV so if Apple actually allowed me to seamlessly link this all up, which they don’t, then that’s my house completely apple-fied. I am talking hardware and systems I guess, the actual programs and sites they carry whether it be Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc should all be universally accessible but the systems that carry them? Some believe that eventually all these platforms will communicate, that consumer pressure will make it so, but I am not so sure. Apple has not bowed to pressure from it’s own customers to get its equipment talking to itself, so what chance getting it to talk with Android or windows. Further proof of this is the fact that Windows Live is aggregating FB feeds and messenger from Yahoo but point blank refuses to include Gtalk.

So actually these brands are not fighting for a phone marketplace, they want your home! Microsoft have the phone, PC and Xbox. The Xbox is basically a home entertainment centre with streaming movies, music, links back to the phone as well as catch up TV and Facebook messenger etc so they have a great foot hold. This all leaves Google without the physical foot hold on your room until that is Google TV. So in a few years I think you will need to choose who your team is, that way you will have a seamlessly linked home and mobile experience.

Question is, which team are you backing? I am in too deep with Apple now so that’s easy, but who knows, maybe Apple will let me pull up my itunes music on my Xbox? No chance!!

Business cards the sex end of business courtship

I realized the other day that I had been in touch with someone at work for weeks and had never seen so much as a business email or phone number. Or that I had lost the number of one of my best friends from University and yet had never lost touch. Staying in touch now is through a plethora of different channels where they do the hard work for you.

There was a time when my contacts in my phone were like gold dust, a pain to lose and painful to replace and yet now I am less precious about it all because some kind website or other has those people just a click away. My roller deck is kind of old fashioned looking, every time I deal my way through business cards I do think how backward it all feels.

I find now with such a connected world that I am approached by a mixture of friends and business colleagues through any number of channels. Sometimes it’s a tweet, but that is still not quite there yet as many of my friends have just reached Facebook so Twitter is like a distant dream. Work people on the other hand, far more, starts with a Tweet and then it’s like a courtship depending on the keenness of both parties as to how quickly it progresses! Is it straight to sharing emails? Perhaps a dalliance around Linkedin, takes things on a step further without full exposure of’s an interesting progression. Perhaps this is why we have cards, it’s like consummation, you have been on an electronic courtship and now you have met and been able to exchange paper titles and verify you are both real.

Once you have crossed all the barriers then you can contact people in so many ways, I have often checked my work email to find that note someone sent me to no avail, ah well it must be in Linkedin, nope, Facebook and on it goes, Foursquare has now moved the game on to straight stalking. I said no the other day to a couple of people, last thing I want is a couple of weirdos following me around and trying to sell me data!

All of this of course means we hardly pick up the phone, the calls are drying up and texts and FB and LI are taking over, you don’t need a call, you just saw them check in at Soho House. I think generally we are over calls and cards. Maybe not the girls, but the boys definitely, It’s always better face to face, so let’s use every means of technical kit to get us face to face and so we can get down to the serious business of exchanging old pieces of worn out card..

Contact me on….

New Facebook push notifications will mean mobile dominates FB usage, even in the office

Marco Bertozzi:07:01:10
Discussion around whether or not Facebook should be banned in the office has pushed more and more people towards using mobile as the primary route to Facebook interaction. The numbers are impressive about how much people update their status via their mobile.

Now work will arguably be more interrupted than ever as people to take up Facebook’s new 3.1 update that allows push notifications to your iphone. At least before people often left FB open on their screen and could see messages easily, now they will be shovelling through their bags and desks as their phone beeps with that expectant moment when you wonder which of your friends has sought you out! The facts according to Razorfish annual study – Razorfish Feed – are scary for the workplace, apparently the average connected person updates their FB pages every 37 minutes, the full report can be found here:

Click to access Razorfish_FEED09_Webinar.pdf

Facebook is part of life now so I think offices that ban its use need to get over it as it is here to stay and part of our communication, I would rather see banned the trend of recent years of everyone wearing headphones at work. It is the most depressing of sights to see a bank of people all with headphones, no one learning from each other, no one knowing if your team member is talking utter rubbish on the phone. The office has changed, lets worry about things that stop people communicating rather than things that encourage it.

A review of digital media predictions for 2010

Marco Bertozzi 10.12.09
As we leave 2009 we start to see the endless list of predictions for 2010, some interesting, some very topline some very specific but all worth having a read if you want to see how 2010 is going to be shaped. It is only a selection, if you want to add yours then leave a comment at the end. I have researched a fair few of them and listed out the main issues for 2010.

As I am keen to make it clear that I have used other people’s musings I have listed them below for you to have a look through as well, but my suggestions may speed things up!

1. Status updates and Tweet burn out will result in a little more culling / blocking of ‘friends’, reducing the social element of social media.

2. Real time search, recently launched by Google will mean brands need to work much harder to stay on top of the sentiments being expressed around them. People will be able to complain in an instant and have it up on the web. It will also make SEO and PPC far more complicated and require very frequent reviews of price and position vs the content around it.

3. Facebook and direct Tweets will replace personal email as the preferred route to reach people.

4. Mobile commerce taking off through a more Apple App store approach to paying for goods, anyone who buys apps on the iphone knows just how easy it is to buy loads of things that you wouldn’t if you had to put your card in every time.

5. As many companies ban social media sites at work, the mobile will be the guilty pleasure and escape from work shackles.

6. Commercialisation of the Twitter audience, I am sure it will come with a vengeance and hopefully some innovative new ad approaches.

7. Less of a prediction, more of an interesting thing to watch, the battle of online news content, to pay for or not? My view is still an Ad funded model as the victor.

8. Convergeance of video and TV. youtube and Hulu and the like taking ever more film / TV content online.

9. The rise of commercial applications as a route to making the most of the social phenomenon where shouting at your audience while they are ‘hanging out’ does not work.

10. Media agencies making some genuinely large structural, technological and commercial changes to future proof themselves in a market where the 2% margin model does not pay.

Below are a few of the links, there are many more, would be great if you added your predictions in the comments section.″″”>