In the main, ad:tech ASEAN gathers what's considered an 'elite community of digital marketers, agencies, publishers and technology suppliers to share views on the latest industry trends, best practices and new technologies.' In Singapore, there were three concurrent breakout track sessions and keynotes focusing on the state of the industry – as well as ‘fireside chats’ on how digital marketers can plan for the future.
Quite a telling summary for the digital marketers convention came from Tito Costa, the MD of Zalora in Asia; "Mobile is a big revenue area for the e-commerce website. Smartphones are changing the way people use the internet and shop online, Costa said. The rollout of 3G in several markets in the region has meant that search on smartphones is exceptionally high.
For Zalora, social and mobile are the largest customer-acquisition channels, and as such most of the company's marketing budget is skewed to digital. He further said the company has taken a performance-based approach. That has allowed us to focus on what matters."
This effectively means a sharper focus will be on “measurability” going forward and (whilst there are now, (according to market-watcher Fiksu) as many as 300 mobile advertising networks around the world) it is fair to say Minimob, InternetQ's pioneering performance-based advertising platform has long been leading the way with this specific form of attribution.
As many as 3,000 trade visitors and company delegates bustled around the exhibition and conference zone, generating quite a bit of foot traffic to the Minimob stand, which saw hundreds of potential buyers (and sellers) drop-in to discuss the sharp end of monetization in today's App ecosystem. Interested parties heard at first-hand how Minimob can lead to a significant boost in the CPI-campaign (Cost per Installation) returns for developers, as well as direct advertisers, such as globally expanding Game publishers and App providers, hailing for example, from India.
The sheer level of global demand for this type of highly targeted performance-based advertising service has caught the interest of all the major social networks in recent months, but Minimob actually offers advertisers a simple way to cut through the clutter. Indeed, the uptake for the platform and ever-increasing number of clients, clearly shows it's the right platform, in the right place, at the right time.
InternetQ now has a long-established relationship with the organisers of the ad:tech series and continues to find exciting new business leads for Minimob - whether in San Francisco, New York or now, Singapore.
This time thanks to leading Mobile Operator CLARO working in close conjunction with InternetQ to successfully launch huge subscriber promotions in football-related mobile marketing campaigns, in countries like Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. CLARO has more than 63 million subscribers across the Latin American territory.
Given the intense interest in the “beautiful game” at present, these carefully crafted mobile campaigns enabled the audience to play thematic trivia games focused on pertinent football questions – and ultimately to win significant cash prizes and even automobiles; somewhat mirroring the dazzling lifestyles of the professional footballers we've seen on display in Brazil throughout the tournament. Indeed, now your average football fan, through his own skill and commitment, could get fast-tracked via his mobile device, to a life of luxury thanks to CLARO and InternetQ.
With the successful application of top management strategy and team tactics from InternetQ, the performance-based advertising logic -- consistently applied throughout the game -- delivered an outstanding result, reflecting a truly World Class level of user conversions averaging some 8.2% of subscribers. More importantly, this number is expected to be surpassed when it actually comes to "Finals" time, reaching as high as a 12.5% conversion rate when the final whistle blows!
As we now come to the “business end” of the global tournament in Brazil itself, and the fate of the lustrous “Jules Rimet” trophy is once again decided (well, for another four years at least) by those challenging and winning against the best-of-the-best; in Mobile terms InternetQ stands a pretty good chance of helping Claro lift the MNO version of the trophy!
Firstly, as co-organiser of MobileMonday Singapore, InternetQ VP Colin Miles helped emcee a buzzing night of insight and networking with delegates from around the World at Muddy Murphy's Irish Inn, the theme of the night was the state of "innovation in advertising" from SPB TV; a leading mobile video content provider. MobileMonday Singapore has some 1,800 members, is the accredited representative of the global MoMo network - which includes chapters in some 140+ countries worldwide.
Secondly, InternetQ was the chairman and moderator for the exciting "Mobile Marketing" track at CommunicAsia which featured some of the biggest names in the business: Yahoo, Singtel and Google, all pushing forward their vision of the App economy and where the advertising dollars seem to be heading in a hurry. InternetQ announced some of the results of the recent App Ecosystem report (issued by MEF), representing a 13-country survey of some 10,000 mobile consumers. This was followed by a strong debate on the impact of Social Media on Mobile Networks operators, with a “fireside chat” with some of Telenor's top marketing communications leaders.
Thirdly, to round things off, as Chairman of MEF Asia, InternetQ jointly hosted and co-sponsored the exclusive, international MEF Connects event at the neo-classical Fullerton Hotel; where a networking event of grand proportions enabled members (and potential members) from across the mobile ecosystem to mingle and swap ideas along with business cards. Attendees came from as far afield as the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and many other countries besides.
Co-sponsor and Board member Ravi Rajagopalan from Empays helped draw the crowd, which included several banks and financial institutions who were all looking to mobile payment services as a matter of some urgency!
Stay tuned for more global event updates and conference reports from InternetQ as we continue to drive the leadership agenda for Mobile Marketing all around the World.
I didn't have to wait long to see the flood of comments from industry experts, informing 'insiders' and random consumers speculate as to the possible reasons, strategic or otherwise.
Probably most controversially, a lot of backchat was triggered by the apparent 'happiness high' that Dr Dre seemed to be enjoying whilst basking in the reflected glory of potentially becoming the World's first 'Billionaire rapper'. Some off-the-cuff one-upmanship that reminded us of 'zeitgeist' Jay-Z entertainingly escalating the Bling stakes in his recent 'Picasso Baby' track.
But, if I was perhaps looking for an even more controversial statement, I wouldn't have needed to go further than find some key points outlined by outspoken music 'blogger' Bob Leftsitz. His take was not for the fainthearted in the corporate communications office at Cupertino.
"Tim Cook is an operations guy, he’s clueless, the company has no vision and this is evidence of it. Steve Jobs was famous for saying one thing and doing another, decrying this and then doing exactly that. Anybody with a brain knew that streaming was eclipsing downloads. Except at Apple, where they were adhering to Jobs’s philosophy. But it turns out Apple had no Plan B, no streaming service ready to be launched when necessary."
His abiding summary being that the purchase was motivated primarily for the Beats International streaming service.
When the news itself hit Facebook, I was also interested in what the people thought and swiftly got a dose of outlandish vitriol that in many ways gave the downside of social media creating 'breaking news' announcements prematurely and in an unguarded fashion.
Just to capture some of the funniest from people best described as ‘totally not’ being in the Apple ‘fanboy’ camp: "Apple Hipsters love a nice, polished turd and that's exactly what Beats products are…" Although, someone else explained it with a Randy Jackson-esque illustration... "Yo Dawg! I put your over hyped, overpriced, and technologically inferior yet stylish company, inside another over hyped, overpriced, technologically inferior yet stylish company”!
Can things be really this partisan on the question of ‘Why buy Beats’? And given that passions are running high, has the sheer volume of socially stated opinions started to drown out the actual elements of the deal? Yes, the Court of Public Opinion remains in session. Another blog, The AWL, covered a swath of intrigue and tried to harness the social media outcomes, but focused first and foremost on the inherent topic of Racism, big business and misplaced attempts to grab headlines.
When the M&A news ‘blew up’ on-or-around May 9th, I was conveniently perched on my couch to see the hastily arranged interview CNBC did with the cofounder of Monster Cable Products, Noel Lee (he being the accredited inventor of the original tech ‘smarts’ behind Beats headphones) and whilst he couldn’t shed much light on the terms of the deal itself, he knew he had missed out on a big pay day, having sold his stake to HTC several years ago.
The focus of the interview though, was perhaps more shocking in that the premise was basically along the lines that Apple had been paying close attention to Beats' marketing successes – and urgently required a #Trending transplant to somehow maintain relevance with the younger generation of affluent American adults seeking branded digital wear-ability.
The ultimate benefit of the transaction therefore coming in the form of Jimmy Iovine sitting on the Board. The same Iovine, I had only seen up-close on TV criticising, sorry mentoring, singers on the American Idol, season 12. Was he (and additionally the culturally impactful Dr Dre) in fact an acqui-hire and informally, but crucially, was Iovine addressable as the new Steve Jobs? Drumroll please.
Overall, and having read at least 50 articles, interviews and blog-posts on this sensitive subject, the consensus seems to agree that the deal was going to be done on the basis that the headphones couldn't be ‘consciously uncoupled’ from its dynamic new streaming service. And I quote: “Timothy Acuri of Cowen and Company also cited potential in the wearable electronics market for a potential Beats deal. But the analyst said he's more intrigued by the unique ‘personalization engine’ technology that drives the Beats Music subscription service.”
That Jimmy Iovine would also come along for the ride, giving him a famous leg up in the pantheon of global music influencers, and arguably helping to guide Apple back in to the centre of many consumers musical behaviour management –especially given the waning appetite for downloads being replaced by streaming propositions– was somewhat handy too.
But wait, hasn’t Dr Dre’s premature outburst put the mockers on the deal. To a degree, but even as the doubt is surfacing in certain quarters; the spin doctors are hard at work and the deal plays on.
For industry observers like myself, who’ve been watching the effect of digitization and broadband access on Music for nearly 20 years, it’s like a watershed moment; wearable music that can be streamed from the so-called Jukebox in the sky, makes perfect sense and puts a real slant on the term ‘surround sound’.
From a business perspective, and I speak as someone who works for a company pioneering the distribution of streaming music services the world over, it helps set a sizeable benchmark for value that we can use. In this case, conceivably valuing InternetQ’s social music streaming service Akazoo (www.akazoo.com) at around USD$320 million. That in itself, is not a bad answer to the reason why such a deal might finally be done – and the key people will acquiesce, actually 3.2 billion reasons.
Contributed by Colin JG Miles. @ColinMiles @InternetQ © All rights reserved. May 27th 2014.
InternetQ has recently gone down the route of increasing the frequency of its trading updates (to quarterly from half-yearly) to try to avail its shareholders of the pertinent headline news that’s being generated by its exciting range of global activities, particularly its ‘music streaming’ through Akazoo.
But to quote ProactiveInvestors responding to the initial trading update: "The impressive growth story at mobile marketing and digital entertainment specialist InternetQ (LON:INTQ) continued in the first quarter of 2014. All business divisions contributed to year-on-year revenue growth of 68% to €30.3mln, while adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) shot up 59% to €5.2mln. The company said EBITDA margins were higher than expected in both parts of its business."
Whilst clearly the results were chart-topping material from an investors point-of-view, probably the most intriguing word in the paragraph is "underlying", because it points to the overall direction of the company, its unfolding story – and where the ticker might eventually get to in the ‘charts’.
One ‘supportive’ underlying trend line might be the so-called Exponential Moving Average or EMA. "This type of moving average reacts faster to recent price changes than a simple moving average. In general, the 50- and 200-day EMAs are used as signals of long-term trends." A quick look at the EMA 200-day graph highlights that upward growth could well be a longer-term trend worth watching.
Likewise, if you look at underlying trends in the consumer marketplace, the shift to smart-phones and streaming music – with its potential influence on InternetQ's benchmark valuation – could prove impactful over time. In a follow-up piece, ProactiveInvestors also placed strong emphasis on the trending nature of the market for such Music providers and their incredible valuations.
So, what will it take to get us to the top of the charts? Well, in the end, it took the young Robbie Williams almost 27 weeks before finally hitting the coveted number one spot – and he went on to become one of the World’s most successful artists. Likewise, InternetQ looks to maintain its chart ranking over the long term, thanks to its upwardly mobile musical momentum.
This year, the 59th Eurovision Song Contest held in Copenhagen, Denmark (the ESC has been broadcast since 1954) was beamed across Europe; as well as Australia, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, South Korea, New Zealand, and even the United States. As such, more than 125 million people were again expected to tune-in and cast their votes.
On this occasion, the 2nd Semi-Final also had the participation of Greece and Poland, and was held on Thursday 8th May. The countries received the seventh and eighth place respectively and so went on to participate in the Grand Final that was held on Saturday 10th May. By way of expansion, Australia also got its chance to make a guest appearance, in addition to the 26 other countries that had made the Grand Final (culled from the original semi-final count of 31 nations).
As you can imagine, this scale of public ballot creates a complex and challenging logistics exercise for the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) voting service provider, DIGAME; which once again turned to InternetQ in order to provide the rock-solid support and lightning fast matriculation of its platforms to deliver the results for Greece and Poland. In this case, both SMS and IVR were used to calculate the abiding judgement of the TV viewers.
InternetQ has a developing history with DIGAME and Eurovision, having provided the services for the past three years: in 2012, enabling the SMS voting for Greece and Turkey, in 2013 powering the SMS voting for Greece and Albania, and this year: supporting the SMS voting for Greece and Poland, as well as the IVR voting for Poland.
For the SMS vote, viewers could send the number of their favourite contestant to a 5-digit shortcode for a 21-minute window. In Poland, viewers could also call a premium line and vote up to 20 times through a single phone number. Despite the incredibly tight voting window, InternetQ managed to provide a reliable and highly-resilient service to DIGAME once more.
It probably goes without saying that pretty much the entire online world has shared the name and commented on the artistic qualities of the winning entrant, in this case Ms Conchita Wurst from Austria, and this somehow whets the future appetite for cultural controversy that the ESC always seems able to court. However, one thing that is not in question, is the veracity of the vote!
A few picks from the bubblier headlines of the recent set of audited results announcement do make for enticing reading, both for accountants and aficionados of the business itself. In short, revenue was up by 42% to €104.4 million with adjusted EBITDA up by 33% to €16.2 million – meaning adjusted Profit after income tax was up by 44% to €11.1 million. Trading remains in line with expectations and so, yet another year of significant growth is on the cards.
The abiding message is an effervescent one; InternetQ sees a massive opportunity in both the servicing and immediate monetisation of the burgeoning consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets. It is exactly the right time to pursue this expansive mantra given such firm financial foundations has been laid; investing in the future has never had a more definitive clarion-call than as of now.
From a stock market point of view, there are a number of technical ways of describing how InternetQ might see the task ahead. Of course, there are official definitions of what a dedicated “growth strategy” looks like: namely: “a Strategy aimed at winning larger market share, even at the expense of short-term earnings. Four broad growth strategies are diversification, product development, market penetration, and market development.” that's according to the business dictionary.
Or perhaps from the venture capitalists point of view, such as the freshly-minted guys at Google Capital who neatly summarised their approach to the future; “...we’ll be looking to invest in companies solely as they hit their growth phase. That means finding companies that have already built a solid foundation and are really ready to expand their business in big ways.” Indeed, rarely could a term be better-used to describe InternetQ's current vision.
Along with some of the positive news surrounding the results, investors themselves will take note of the fundamentals that come with the territory. For example, “growth investing” and reflects the following; “an Investment strategy that seeks stocks (shares) with superior earnings growth prospect, irrespective of their prices. Such stocks tend to have low dividend yields, less downside protection, higher volatility, and higher sensitivity to changes in interest rates than low growth shares. Firms with shares that trade at high valuation levels usually have high price-to- book (PB), price-to-earnings (PE), and price-to-sales (PS) ratios.” This is where due diligence always remains critical.
Whilst there has been a lot of fizz in the markets these days, the underlying trend is categorical, something clearly outlined by Panagiotis Dimitropoulos, (Founder and Chief Executive Officer): “InternetQ is now ideally placed to capitalise on a number of high-growth market opportunities and we look forward to continuing to create value for our shareholders.”
Seizing the moment then, InternetQ proudly announced the launch of its co-branded "WIND Akazoo" unlimited music streaming service (featuring as many as 20 million songs) for their entire customer base, which equates to roughly 3.5 million people.
The flexibility of the model was key, and in this case, Akazoo offered a "stand alone" tariff, meaning users could get one month free streaming and then enjoy a competitively priced subscriptions thereafter. Given today's multiscreen world, they could also ubiquitously stream music across several channels (mobile, tablet & PC) as well as utilize ‘offline’ listening through mobile.
To make this easy, users download the application (which is customized for WIND customers) through Google Play and Apple Store. Most invitingly, all users got to enjoy unlimited data streaming with Akazoo (basically zero-rated charges on data) until June. Operators realise that data suppression is a hot topic in today’s OTT environment and they are aggressively using this tactic to encourage adoption of premium value added services, something emphasized by a certain Mark Zuckerberg in Barcelona!
On that note, to date, WIND itself has invested more than €2 billion in its infrastructure and new technology. This strategy has established the company as the only Telecommunications provider in Greece, offering Mobile, Fixed Telephony and Internet services.
Given the above, it is a sure sign that the 'Wind of Change' is upon us and yes, that now comes without any sting in the tail for subscribers thanks to Freemium and data suppression business models.
Why? Because offering unlimited music across multiple devices for consumers is a model that trumps all others. By way of an example, you could enjoy listening the Scorpions – without physically having to own, download, rip, convert, store and back-up your copy of ‘Crazy World’; access is key, whereas digital ownership is actually considered a burden in this day and age.
For the record, Forbes magazine highlighted that music streaming was up 32 percent in 2013, while digital download sales were down about 6 percent. "People prefer convenience when it comes to technology, and streaming is so much more convenient than any other type of music consumption method that there’s no contest. You’re going to see streaming explode for real in 2014."
Boom! We agree, so keep checking this blog and listen out for Akazoo’s explosive growth this year.
Spaces were bigger, stands grander and above all else, InternetQ's own twin peaks featuring Minimob and Akazoo stood head-and-shoulders above the rest of the exhibitors, with attendees often stopping in their tracks to take in the chic messaging as they casually wandered-by.
Not only that, the local TV station gave InternetQ a ringing endorsement by shooting its “piece to camera” news segment opening right in front of the Minimob "This Is Money" headline, asking (in Spanish) whether the App economy itself was capable of generating the kind of cash that exhibitor confidence seemed to be suggesting it could?
For its part, and by any measure, the InternetQ team was a hive of activity with visitors from around the world dropping-in to close deals – or enquire about the best way they might take advantage of the smartphone future that is rapidly enveloping the world about us. A lengthening list of clients and potential clients spanning the six continents meant that the comfy seating area was often jam-packed. As such, InternetQ’s company experts were in high demand when it came to outlining the opportunities for mobile publishers and advertising networks via Minimob; as well as illustrating the glittering potential for social music implementations globally through its Akazoo platform.
Major speeches came and went and the crowds likewise ebbed and flowed, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg referenced the compelling nature of OTT services to extend and expand the Operator relationships with its subscribers. He did a fine job of showing how MNOs could work with Facebook to generate revenue. Likewise, Akazoo is fully intertwined with Facebook and stands to gain from this tacit acceptance of its networking power to benefit and not bind operators.
In truth, the main theme of the show pinpointed that OTT services and low-cost, high spec hardware are radically altering the shape of our business. Those providers that offered a hand of friendship and a road map for success to mobile network operators would be in prime position to inherit the future: The creation of wealth in Mobile is best done through collaboration and not by limitation.
Indeed, the pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow can almost be touched, with numbers suggesting that USD$77 billion will be generated specifically by the App economy alone. Reaching-up to grasp this innovative future –and thereby creating ‘what’s next’– is what InternetQ is all about; as such, its rapid ascent will continue unabated.