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April 2018

Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Bitcoin

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Google has joined Facebook and Twitter in banning bitcoin/cryptocurrency ads – citing a need to tackle “the kinds of risky investments that verge on gambling”. This raises questions around how far an ad platform can go to protect its audience before being accused of censorship (esp. when they do actually take gambling ads), but we’d like to take the opportunity presented by a respite in Bitcoin hype to look back on December’s price increase, and use it as an example to highlight the importance of understanding the thoughts and feelings behind consumer behaviour.

Google searches for bitcoin’ are now back to pre-December levels, and we see a similar return to the norm for its value; $6k in Oct 17’ and $7k in April ’18, with a $19K spike in Dec ‘17 ). But should this have come as a surprise?
Firstly we saw big brands getting involved. As MarketingWeek put it “big brands are capitalising on the blockchain buzz”, with the likes of Burger King offering their own coins in gimmicky stunts, and Walmart using the technology for stock & provenance tracking. However, knowledge of such innovations is likely to stay within the tech/marketing industries.

The real context is with the general public. Our most recent QT study asked finance & cryptocurrency questions to a nationally representative UK sample. We found that there’s a strong lack of confidence in financial institutions (-26%), and more people feeling less well-off vs. last year (29% vs. 24%, with a greater increase for young males). Considering this context, it’s no surprise that the idea of a bank-less peer-to-peer system that promised profits garnered lots of attention. A huge 90% of people are aware of Bitcoin and half of them (46%) feel that they understand it, again driven by the younger males.

Whilst only 4% of people claim to own Bitcoin (for a raft of reasons from price volatility to its use by criminals), the context of declining confidence in banks and people tightening their belts, plus the interest from 31 million people in the UK (46%) familiar with Bitcoin, all contribute to the rocketing of its price. We’re unlikely to ever be able to predict financial markets, but this recent phenomenon has highlighted the important of understanding the consumer behind the behaviour. By keeping a close pulse on consumer’s thoughts and feelings, Bitcoin’s meteoric rise (and fall as hype & profits fade) comes as less of a surprise.

What's Hot

In Connecting The World, WhatsApp Remains Facebook’s Missing Link

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In a month where Facebook has been under serious scrutiny, the Cambridge Analytica scandal may well have hidden another story around privacy and data protection. As a result of an investigation from the UK’s data protection watchdog – the ICO – Facebook has been told that any sharing of user data across the two platforms would in fact be illegal.

Back in 2014, when Facebook acquired Whatsapp for a cool £19bn, the social network were actually fined a significant £94m by the EU, for their dubious ways of attempting to link user accounts. The EU stated: “It imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The commission must be able to take decisions about mergers’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.”

The fine was imposed because Facebook had knowingly misled the EU by denying it could link a user’s identity across the two platforms, through their phone numbers. It was confirmed later, that Facebook executives in fact did know that this was possible and of course would have played a part in the business decision to go through with the merger.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, has talked often and proudly about his desire to connect the world, although this desire has brought about an eco system where a user is not only connected to friends. Any person with an account will have their data linked across Facebook and Messenger, even phone calls and text messages have been logged, with data detailing to whom and at what time.

These connections have built a large and powerful dataset, where advertisers are more easily and granularly connected to potential audiences. Having the capacity to connect their 1 billion-plus  Whatsapp users too, would give them an unprecedented advantage in an already un-diverse marketplace.

For advertisers, a potential link would likely be a positive move. Although Whatsapp won’t be able to reverse their main USP of message encryption, being able to link people further through their connections within message groups will allow for larger and more personal networks to be created and understood.

Opening Whatsapp up to Facebook targeting and giving access to advertisers in another highly engaged platform, will understandably be desirable in a time where fewer people are accessing Facebook and spending less time when they do.
The GDPR ruling will begin to highlight how Facebook and Whatsapp can move forward and whether any further connections can be made. However, given recent scandals, they must be even more careful not to lose the limited consumer trust.

As users become more savvy, Facebook will need to give them a reason to stay, rather than force them to use rival platforms. Their goal must still remain to be connecting people to people, not just to advertisers.

Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Bank Holidays

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The season is finally upon us. Not spring, not summer, but the season of glorious bank holiday weekends. Easter is of course one of the most rewarding, gifting us not just a Monday but also a Friday off work.

So how do Brits tend to spend their beloved bank holidays? We asked the nation back in May as part of the QT. 45% of Brits believe bank holidays are a time to relax at home or in the garden. A similar proportion choose to spend this time with family and friends.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all take to the shops! Only 7% of Brits like to go shopping for DIY items, and only 6% feel that the best sales are held over these periods. Perhaps this is because 3 in 10 find travelling over the bank holiday too stressful. Anyone who has been stuck behind a caravan on the M25 can attest to that!

Activities are for 1 in 4 (25%) of Brits, heavily weather dependent! This group refuse to make plans until they see the weather forecast. And with yet another beast from the east hitting much of Britain over Easter, who can blame them?

Londoners are more adventurous than the rest of the country when it comes to the extra time off – they’re 50% more likely to use them as an opportunity to go somewhere new! 1 in 5 choose to do this, and another 1 in 5 see this precious time as an opportunity to get their life admin done.

With the next bank holiday just five weeks away – what are you planning?