FB messenger bots and payments


It was inevitable that this was going to happen – FB would connect their payment engine to the bots. I am curious what the fine print is here since now you essentially have an App Store within the android/Apple ecosystem that gives you payments from within messenger or the bot. 

I assume that the iOS payment rules cascade down in this case since Apple doesn’t allow for a virtual or subscription item to be paid for outside of the Apple payment ecosystem. Curious how all this will be policed since I imagine folks are already trying to figure out how to take advantage of it?

For physical goods Apple will allow you to connect credit cards and other payment systems in but for virtual stuff that is not allowed. Seems this is all a slippery slope given that the app within the ecosystem now becomes another full fledged ecosystem in and of itself. At some point these hyper controlled app ecosystem rules will be hard to police.

What is super interesting is how FB just increased their revenue base overnight with one swoop since now you can buy a FB news feed ad to point to your bot:

In an effort to show Facebook’s commitment to its platform for bots, Marcus announced that all types of News Feed ads can point to them and users can share bots they enjoy with their friends. And instead of forcing all bot interactions to happen through text, developers can now build web views into conversations to pull in interfaces from their websites. This way you could scroll a list of flights, consume different types of media, or even play basic games while still in the chat window.

Been talking to other folks about explaining the bot gold rush will be no different than the app gold rush when it comes to how to get noticed – you will have to pay FB to get placement or use ads to point people to your bot. This is not some new free land grab opportunity – this will be like every other new platform. Pay to play. Yes – new business models will emerge but one will have to figure out how to rise above the other bots and get customers.

Obviously this is a new frontier but I see the app stores becoming bot stores as pretty apparent.

Is Facebook messenger going to be the main, dominate cross platform bot economy?

Updated :: More questions than answers on the facebook/liverail acquisition

Now we have Facebook actually shutting LiveRail down. This is what I ultimately expected would happen. Tough industry…


So what I originally feared has happened :: http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/07/facebook-liverail-ad-serving/

Quite a blow to some folks…


Been waiting to see if there was any proper analysis written dissecting the Facebook acquisition of liverail – so far I haven’t seen much.

There is some good notes over at statechery – http://stratechery.com/2014/daily-update-microsoft-phone-wearables-office-facebook-acquires-liverail-google-right-censor/. But I think this is for subscribers only:

Small excerpt:

This is another very smart and rather obvious acquisition for Facebook: they have the best user data, while video ads are the fastest-growing and most lucrative (on a per-ad basis) digital ad units. LiveRail ties the two together in a very nice, and almost certainly a very profitable bow.

I subscribe to the daily update and the comments part of stratechery – https://stratechery.com/membership/. I don’t comment much but I read all the updates and enjoy them.

So far the general digest of the deal is video is booming and video ads will boom and therefor Facebook should get in on the action. Rumor has it that a huge amount of youtube referral traffic is from Facebook but that Facebook doesn’t capitalize on it well. I am not sure this helps that issue much unless Facebook intends to build a proper video product and keep that action in the stream. If that were the plan then Facebook needs video advertising kit and liverail would obviously be a great fit.

What I am not seeing many people talk about is what happens to the customer centric side of or the b2b/b2b2c side of the liverail business under Facebook? I have no previous experience of integrating a product that one uses to build a consumer product that then is acquired by Facebook. We are not talking about things like Instagram but what liverail is for most people is something they don’t see. Consumer facing products like Spuul, for example, use liverail to power our video advertising. Something that really has nothing to do with Facebook or their goals. So I am curious to see what will eventually happen here. One thought is liverail gets better and due to the money, vision of Facebook they turn the platform into a full-scale offering to compete with google in the video ad space(doubleclick/adx). This would be the vision of Facebook starting to rival google in all things advertising and is not anchored to the Facebook product. Sure maybe user data and such helps here but the idea is I don’t need Facebook when I use liverail but that the product gets better at targeting/profile when Facebook is integrated. This might be cool.

The other idea, not the one I am hoping for, is that liverail starts to inwardly focus on being a tool for Facebook advertisers and becomes less and less the ecosystem play to rival google. I think one has to watch the technology or product direction some to see what happens. For example liverail missed the instream video ad play and is now playing catch up. Google acquired a company to solve this problem cause google is in it to win it. Liverail might also be able to win it with the Facebook backing.

A lot of companies also use liverail to build their own SSP’s in certain regions since this is a niche play but most folks don’t want to recreate the core ad plumbing. Time will tell if Facebook continues to support this use case of liverail.

For now I don’t know how to read the tea leafs here. Liverail must have wanted the exit versus going public. Good for them but now we are down one piece of independent plumbing used to make video ecosystems. This could be bad or possibly under the Facebook umbrella it actually gets more powerful.

Watching and waiting…

Watching the Aussie market and thinking about SVOD

In our little part of the world the most advanced video advertising market and the market with lots of OTT competition is generally considered to be Australia and New Zealand.

For example :: http://www.nokpis.com/2015/03/02/quickflix-is-starting-to-fall-apart/

Some of the players :: http://www.nokpis.com/ott-asia/#australia – guessing more are coming as well.

So it is interesting to read an article like this :: http://mumbrella.com.au/svod-catalyst-tv-evolution-278126

For example this is a very good point:

Subscription video services have a monetization model devoid of creativity.
They rely on subscriptions and subscriptions alone to bring in the mullah. It makes it easy to balance the books and has the potential to be quite lucrative in a market like the US where there is a whopping 115 million households that will potentially buy the product.
In comparison, Australia will only have nine million households to market to by 2016.
This means that the maximum revenue potential for the entire SVOD market is roughly $1.1b (based on a $10p/m subscription) in Australia.

But I think this also points to the fact that a large regional player looking at ANZ region as just a piece of the puzzle probably doesn’t care too much about the economics. To me the guys that have to worry about these numbers are the one or two country services. Like Quickflix for example which is already hurdling towards going out of business.

This is the good part though:

I am glad that the TV industry is getting scared.
This invasion of innovation and technology will hopefully spur the industry to evolve.
The SVOD infrastructure seems like the perfect foundation for a new ad funded model that blends the programmatic, targeting and measurement benefits of digital advertising with traditional television.
With a web-augmented and data fueled TV and ad experience the TV industry could have something financially viable on their hands. They could give people the tailored and on-demand content that they desire.
They could banish the Nielsen family and create a robust and reliable TV measurement model.
They could continue to sell us that precious ad space.
If the networks use this opportunity to evolve, the arrival of SVOD services could be the best thing to happen to Australian TV since Kerri-Anne Kennerley.

There is room for some innovation. There is either subscription model or freemium or just free with ads. There are lots of other ideas but generally what happens is the folks that own the content don’t allow the OTT services or the OTT aggregators room to innovate. They are stuck doing the same old thing and having to kowtow to the owners of the content. To me the lack of innovation around the OTT space has to be blamed on the content owners who frown on doing things like download or experimentation around social or payment models. That leaves the content owners needing to be the ones to come up with something cool. Maybe they can use TV to do that or try to take advantage of the what OTT can offer by coming up with something truly innovative.

I am not really holding my breath waiting for it to happen though.

The web is dying

There has been a string of posts lately discussing how the web is dying. I just find it weird because folks are acting like the web means using web browsers to view web pages. Seems such a silly notion of what the web is since to me it is just a fabric of connectivity that allows people to use browsers to look at content, it allows people to use apps like Spuul to watch movies or enables small devices to monitor a house from afar. Such a limited vision to say the web is about browsers and web pages.

First article was Farhad, who I like, talking about how the banner ad ruined the web. I get what he is trying to say but I don’t side with it. I think apps are just easier to use for the most part and normally I am holding my phone but I don’t think banner ads force me to use apps. Banners ads have ruined the experience of a lot of web pages but I think people tend to just go to other sites or use the app from the same provider. Not sure a case can be made that banners ads are destroying the web.

As always when tech journalists make such claims other journalists chime in on twitter.

Here is one good thread :: https://storify.com/dreampipe/conversation-with-mathewi-fmanjoo-and-digiphile

Some tweets to refute the advertising claims made about banners :: https://twitter.com/benkunz/status/530189087198572544

This one was funny and Farhad replied :: https://storify.com/dreampipe/conversation-with-benkunz-and-fmanjoo

I realize I don’t look at a lot of sites and the ones I do either don’t abuse banners or they don’t bug me but I know when I do hit a site with a horrid array of banners, popovers, popunders and such – I just bail. I am sure others do but guessing enough don’t to keep everything intact and working.

My premise is the web is not dying and banners exist and work. Like it or not.

Further to this Gruber writes about how apps are part of the web – I tend to agree. The web is much bigger and more successful due to the advent of smartphones and smartphone apps. We could talk a lot about how some experiences might be better as a web page versus an app or how some apps make for terrible apps just like some web pages are horrible too but this is all about user experience. It is not an issue with the web or issues about an app versus the web. Users can vote by using whatever interface they like but regardless it is all the web.

In closing, the web is thriving – no matter how you look at it.


My new fav podcast

I am sure these guys don’t need my promotion but going to do so anyway.

This is one of my fav podcasts right now: http://stratechery.com/2014/podcast-exponent-episode-022-peak-google-monologue-edition/

I actually had a nice email exchange with James and my comment to him was that it covers tech but gets into the human stuff as well. They don’t diverge too much into politics, sports and so on but they talk tech, argue and discuss the impact on humanity. It is also not too long to make it a regular habit.

I assume these guys must be killing it.

I have not heard this episode yet but seems they discuss peak Google more which I wrote about here :: http://www.nokpis.com/2014/10/23/calling-the-top-on-google/


Calling the top on Google?

I love Ben’s work and find myself glued to his podcast as well – especially digging this episode on cable and the great unbundling :: Exponent: 021: Gamergate of Thrones

What I dig about Ben is his willingness to go out on a limb a bit with some provocative ideas. Discussing peak Google is for sure a bold claim.

However I must admit I tend to agree. They have one cash cow and in other parts of advertising – video, mobile, native and brand – they are not the clear winner. Search adversities will wane some day and they must follow up with another trick. I think Facebook will be the clear winner when it comes to mobile advertising but Twitter is also going to make a go of it, http://www.mopub.com/

Google is obviously working on a lot of stuff and some of it will hit and some won’t but the question remains – will they remain the giant they are today? I don’t know to be honest.

Peak Google :: http://stratechery.com/2014/peak-google/

Dare we trust Twitter?

I love Twitter but I must admit I only ever see it via tweetbot. At Spuul we have started to use Mopub and will be comparing it to the new Facebook ad product. I must admit that wherever possible in the ad space I try to use google as little as possible.

Now enter Twitter with something interesting around logging in. At Spuul we do a lot of telco integrations and we always enable some form of login via mobile phone number. Problem is that each integration is locked to that specific carrier and therefore not super portable.

If Twitter has truly built a handy global phone number based login system that I can just drop into a mobile app – I am intrigued.

Problem is, as we all know, Twitter has a habit of effing over developers but for my products I am not interested in Twitter integration but the other services they are offering like Digits and Mopub.


Times they are a changing and I may just go with the flow…

Video consolidation pace is pretty staggering

Looks like I spoke too soon – maybe another deal going down already – http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/20/sources-yahoo-in-talks-to-buy-video-ad-platform-brightroll-for-around-700m/

Some of you may or may not follow all the companies in the “video” space but since I am in the space I can’t stop watching. Lately though the pace of acquisitions has been hectic. Couple this with all the announcements these past few weeks about all the content guys getting into launching their own OTT services and you can see that their is a land grab going on. I won’t list all the players but yesterday I was having a meeting with Brightcove and talking to a senior Zencoder employee about the space and the consolidation. Zencoder was a yCombinator company that was bought by Brightcove so they kicked off some of this activity.

Liverail bought by Facebook – this was the other big ad player in the region so now we have Videoplaza being bought by Ooyala :: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/20/ooyala-buys-euro-video-ad-startup-videoplaza-in-its-first-acquisition/ . Ooyala was just recently bought by Telstra.

Viki was bought by Rakuten which kicked off activity in this region.

Dramafever was just picked up by Softbank. Their big competitor Crunchyroll was picked up The Chernin Group.

The list goes on and on but the more this pace quickens the more I realize there are not that many independent players left to work with in the space which means the products we all use to build video based sites are shrinking pretty rapidly. This is partially the reason why at Spuul we try to roll a lot of our own kit – we never know anymore what product we are using if it will still be around.

Nutty times!