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If you want to know how seriously any public company takes mobile, then take a look at the annual/quarterly reports.
While top Chinese retailers, banks and internet companies are keen to share their mobile success with their investors, their US equivalents are often shy to reveal their numbers… especially the biggest US retailers.
While researching a series of in-depth m-commerce reports for ClickZ Intelligence, I needed to establish which of the world’s biggest countries are really making headway with mobile. The results are worth sharing.
The methodology was simple
1) Use Forbes’ Global 2000 as a guide.
2) Stick to US and Chinese companies (as they dominate the Forbes list).
3) Concentrate on consumer facing businesses where mobile isn’t the core business, but should be a very significant sales channel, so retailers, restaurant chains, banks and internet companies are in; but mobile companies and oil companies and manufacturers are out.
4) Then check the latest annual (2015) and quarterly statements (Q1 and Q2 2016) to see which detailed mobile performance – only hard numbers; PR fluff was ignored.
The results were striking:
- The top Chinese banks, retailers and internet companies all (of those considered) detail mobile performance, often in considerable depth.
- Three out of four top US banks declare mobile numbers. But not in as much detail as the top four Chinese banks.
- Of the two US internet giants, only one details mobile performance: Facebook. Alphabet (Google), surprisingly, doesn’t.
- Not one of the Top 10 US retailers from Wal-Mart to Amazon.com, shared mobile stats in their recent annual or quarterly report.
The US retailers were a big shock – especially Amazon. In 2016, you have to ask: why we couldn’t find any indication of mobile performance in financial reports of the US top retailers?
And, more importantly, you have to ask: why aren’t investors and analysts asking the same thing?
The more financial reports you look at the more you come to the conclusion: Chinese companies – and their investors – take mobile more seriously.
They saw the mobile opportunity earlier; they made it a priority to re-engineer their companies to take full advantage; and now they want investors to benchmark them on their impressive mobile performance.
Alibaba: the benchmark in mobile performance and reporting
This month the Chinese ecommerce retail market place Alibaba redefined what it means to be “mobile first” announcing that it has 427 million mobile monthly active users (MAU) – out of a total of Alibaba’s 434 million total users.
In the latest quarter (Q2, 2016), mobile accounted for a stunning 75% of value of all goods bought and sold on the platform and 75% of its revenues.
Just to put Alibaba’s 427 million mobile users into perspective:
- The entire population of the US is 324 million.
- Walmart’s global customer base 260 million (Note: Walmart measures weekly shoppers; Alibaba’s are monthly).
The wake-up call for all companies is twofold
- A mobile-first strategy delivers tangible rewards.
- How well the markets received the news…
Financial investors and analysts loved Alibaba’s results. On announcement of the Q2 results, the stock leaped to its highest level for 18 months.
This is the carrot: impressive mobile performance is increasingly a factor (one of several) that encourages investors to purchase stock.
The question is: when will US investors / analyst start to use the stick to punish (US) companies that keep their mobile numbers a secret?
US investors are becoming well acquainted with, and increasingly attracted to the Chinese retail and internet companies such as Alibaba, JD.com, Baidu and Tencent (all of which detail impressive mobile performance in their financial reports; all of which saw their share price improve on the latest results.
Three out of four are quoted on US markets: Alibaba is listed on the NYSE; JD.com and Baidu on Nasdaq (Tencent is listed on HKSE), which means they’ll remain front of mind.
Stick and carrot – Facebook’s mobile story
Any US company that doesn’t believe how seriously US investors take mobile needs to look at Facebook’s recent financial history.
One of the main reasons Facebook’s share price went into freefall post its 2012 IPO was that investors were very unimpressed with its mobile story. One of the main reasons they love it now is because they are impressed with its mobile numbers.
As recounted by Fortune in 2015:
Facebook used its weakness on mobile as a motivator. When the company went public it had no meaningful revenue from mobile. Within 18 months, Facebook delivered a magnificent about-face on mobile, quieting the haters in the process. By the end of 2013, more than half of Facebook’s revenue came from mobile ads. “You want mobile revenue? We’ll show you mobile revenue!” the company seemed to say. Wall Street rewarded the company by trading up its stock.
Today Facebook wants to be measured on its mobile record. In its Q2 2016 results statement it couldn’t shout louder about its mobile success:
Second Quarter 2016 Operational Highlights
- Daily active users (DAUs) – DAUs were 1.13 billion on average for June 2016, an increase of 17% year-over-year.
- Mobile DAUs – Mobile DAUs were 1.03 billion on average for June 2016, an increase of 22% year-over-year.
Second Quarter 2016 Other Financial Highlights
- Mobile advertising revenue – Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 84% of advertising revenue for the second quarter of 2016, up from approximately 76% of advertising revenue in the second quarter of 2015.
The phenomenal rise of Facebook’s stock price, see FB, from mid-2013 tells you everything you need to know about investor attitude to mobile.
How the largest companies rack up on mobile transparency
By way of research we looked at the recent annual and/or quarterly reports and earning statements of relevant companies from the world’s biggest public companies according to Forbes, which is dominated by Chinese and US companies, to see to what extent (if at all) mobile performance is displayed.
The Forbes rankings are based on a mix of revenue, profits, assets and market value.
Three Chinese banks occupy the top three Forbes rankings, with a fourth in sixth ranking. All four appear to have made mobile banking a priority over recent years and the numbers are staggering. At the end of 2015, they have 590 million mobile banking customers between them. That’s 1.8 times larger than the population of the United States.
- Industrial & Commercial Bank of China has 190 million mobile customers, with annual transaction volume of over RMB800 billion (US$121 billion), which is approximately 38% of its customer base. (Source 2015 Annual Report)
- China Construction Bank has 182.84 million (up by 25% year on year) mobile banking users, with a transaction volume was RMB15.4 trillion (US$2.3 trillion), which is approximately 54% of its customer base. (Source 2015 Annual Report)
- Agricultural Bank of China has 140 million mobile customers, with annual transaction volume of over RMB9.6 trillion (US$1.5 trillion), this is approximately 29.5% of customer base. (Source 2015 Annual Report)
- Bank of China has 79 million mobile customers, with annual transaction volume of over RMB5.2 billion (US$0.7 billion), the proportion of the customer base that is mobile is unclear. (Source 2015 Annual Report)
Three of the top four US banks share mobile banking numbers. Although mobile customers are dwarfed by the vast numbers of their Chinese counterparts are a significant proportion of their total user base.
- JP Morgan Chase (Global Rank 5) has 24.8 million active mobile customers. As JPMC only counts its customer base by households (59.2 million), rather than individuals, it is unclear what proportion of customer are mobile. Mobile transaction value is unavailable. (Source Q2 2016 results).
- Wells Fargo (Global Rank 7) has 18 million mobile active users. This is approximately 25.7% of customer base. Mobile transaction value is unavailable. (Source Q2 2016 results)
- Bank of America (Global Rank 11) has 20.2 million active mobile banking customers in Q2 2016. It is unclear what proportion this is of the total customer base. But it does reveal in its investor presentation that mobile equates to 17% of total deposit, and on a weekly basis it is the most active channel. See charts below. (Source Q2 2016 results)
- Citigroup (Global Rank 13). We were unable to find mobile numbers for Citigroup, but the company did state in its 2015 Annual Report that it is implementing a “mobile first” approach via a newly established Citi FinTech unit.
Brian Moynihan Chairman and CEO, Bank of America explains to shareholders why mobile banking is so important:
Why are we tripling our investment in 2016? It is simply because this is how customers want to do business with us. Our customers deposit 250,000 checks a day through their mobile devices, reflecting 15 percent of consumer deposit transactions. We would need an additional 650 financial centers to handle the deposit activity that is currently being done on those mobile devices.
China’s highest ranking retailers on Forbes list are Alibaba (rank 174) and JD.com (rank 800). Despite their lowly ranks, compare to US companies such as Walmart (rank 15), these are no small fry.
- Alibaba is an internet marketplace where third-party retailers sold RMB 837 billion (US$ 126 billion) of goods in Q2, 2016. (That’s six times the value of goods sold on eBay in the same quarter). As noted above, 75% of this GMV and 75% of the revenue it makes from these sales. Total revenue is RMB 32.2 billion (US$ 4.8 billion), which means Alibaba’s revenue from mobile is
Most interesting is the news that Alibaba now makes more money from each of its 427 million mobile user than from non-mobile customers. (Source Q2, 2016 results)
- JD.com is a direct ecommerce retailer and internet marketplace, it makes more in revenue than Alibaba, at RMB 65.2 billion (US$9.8 billion), in Q2, 2016, hence its claim to be “China’s largest ecommerce site by revenue”. But GMV (value of total goods sold) is lower than Alibaba at RMB160.4 billion (US$ 24.1 billion), though still slightly above eBay.
Unlike its rival, JD does not reveal what proportion of revenue or GMV is mobile or the number of mobile users. But it does declare that an impressive 79% of its orders placed on mobile. (Source: Q2, 2016 results)
Like its rival Alibaba, JD’s earnings were well received by investors.
Compared with the mobile details (and outstanding mobile performance) shared by the Chinese retailers, the details shared by US retailers is disappointing.
Searching through the 2015 annual report and quarterly earnings statements (up to August 18 2016), we were unable to find mobile performance numbers of any descriptions for the following US retailers and restaurants.
- Wal-Mart Stores (Forbes rank 15)
- CVS Health (rank 62) – no mobile numbers apparent in 2015 annual report, Q1 or Q2 2016 reports.
- Walgreens Boots Alliance (rank 107)
- Home Depot (rank 112)
- Target (rank 164)
- McDonald’s (rank 189)
- Costco Wholesale (rank 192)
- Lowe’s (rank 205)
- Kroger (rank 223)
- com (rank 237)
- The Priceline Group (rank 445)
- Macy’s (rank 515)
There were two US retailers/restaurants sitting outside the top 10 that revealed some details of mobile performance:
- Starbucks (Forbes rank 389) reveals the adoption of mobile ordering and payment by customers. In Q3 2016 Mobile Order and Pay usage reached 5% of the coffee chain’s U.S. transactions, up from 4% in Q2 FY16. (Source Q3, 2016 results)
- eBay (rank 466) does not include details of mobile performance in its actual earnings releases, but in an accompanying “Fast facts” document it declares that $9.5 billion of sales on the auction site were completed on mobile devices in Q2 2016. This means mobile sales volume is now 45.5% of the GMV for the quarter ($20.9 billion). eBay also states that 57% of sales are touched by mobile at some point. (Source eBay Fast Facts – PDF).
Chinese internet companies
There are two prominent internet companies in China, Tencent Holdings (Forbes rank 201) and the Baidu (rank 349):
- Tencent businesses include the QQ web/mobile portal, instant messaging and gaming platform, the Qzone social media site and the Weixin/WeChat social/chat smartphone application. As of June 2016, Mobile QQ has 667 million monthly active users (MAU) users, Qzone has 596 million MAU and Weixin/WeChat has 806 million MAU. Mobile’s contribution to revenue is not available, except reporting that smartphone games delivered RMB 9.6 billion (US$ 1.4 billion) in revenue (Source Q2, 2016 results)
- Baidu is a mobile/web search engine, with portfolio of associated products. In its Q2 2016 results it reported it had 667 million mobile search MAU and 343 million mobile maps MAU. Total or online MAUs were not reported. Mobile revenue represented 62% of total revenues for the second quarter of 2016, compared to 50% for the corresponding period in 2015. This works out at RMB 11.3 billion (US$ 1.7 billion). (Source Q2, 2016 results)
US internet companies
The two prominent Internet companies in USA are Alphabet, the company formally known as Google, (rank 27) and Facebook (rank 188). The contrast is remarkable.
- Facebook now has over 1 billion (1.03 billion) mobile daily users (DAU), which is 91% of total DAU. Mobile advertising revenue accounts for 84% of total ad revenue (US$ 24 billion) which means Facebook earns US$ 5.24 billion in mobile ad revenues.
- Alphabet does not report mobile numbers in its 2015 annual report or 1Q or 2Q 2016 reports. It appears from the investor earnings calls that mobile is very important to Google, which makes it inexplicable that the company does keep investors informed of mobile performance. (Source Q2, 2016 results and earnings call)
Sundar Pichai, CEO Google, investor briefing Q2 2016:
“Q2 2016 earnings call: Our investment in mobile now underlines everything that we do today from search and YouTube to Android and advertising. Mobile is the engine that drives our present.”
Room for improvement
We look forward to the time when US companies feel confident enough about their mobile numbers to share them in their financial reports; or the time when investors start to insist on it.
N.B. This study was not an in-depth research project, it was based on observations from the companies’ financial reports. If any of these retailers share numbers elsewhere / or would like to share their mobile numbers, please contact the author Andy Favell who will be very happy to update the ClickZ readers.
Read the reports:
- DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning
- DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design
This is Part 28 of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series. Here are the most recent chapters:
- Mobile menu UI: bold buttons and intuitive types of navigation
- Should the hamburger icon be on your mobile menu?
- M-commerce: has the mobile web finally won?
View full post on Search Engine Watch
As I’ve been writing about tools and tactics quite a bit lately, I thought for this month’s column I’d take a step back and share some ideas on how you can become a better analyst.
And improving our analysis skills as marketers goes beyond broadening our career options and helping us be better at our craft.
It should actually improve all areas of your life as a byproduct of nurturing our critical thinking skills. Some ideas follow that I apply in my own life and hope you’ll consider too.
Find a passion outside work which involves developing hypotheses
The scientific method, as you know, is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.
You’re already applying this to your marketing and analytics practice by putting it to work for testing and optimization efforts (for example, having a hypothesis that a new landing page with less clutter will convert better, which you then test).
But beyond work, you should also, in free time, be involved in something which flexes your prediction muscle.
Whether this manifests as fantasy sports, investing in startups or some other activity which involves future predictions (and cool datasets!), this can be a fun and rewarding way to sharpen your mind and will help you see analysis problems in a new light.
Learn to fill in the missing pieces, be comfortable working with imperfect data/information
100% perfect data is really only possible in a controlled lab setting with expensive and fine-tuned equipment. While, of course, we should ensure our analytics implementation is setup correctly to keep our own data as clean as possible, we must also get comfortable working with a “good enough” information.
This is necessary in order to be agile in how we work and keep projects moving forward. A great analyst will work out the way to fill in the missing pieces and make effective projections (while of course providing a rationale/caveats where needed).
You want to get confident enough to make recommendations and create analysis’ based off “minimum viable data.”
Have a sandbox project to test new tools
If you are truly serious about improving your skills, doing analyst work in your live business environment isn’t enough.
The reason being you can’t test and tinker with any new tool without permission or change settings at whim, you likely have compliance and managers to work through.
But a sandbox project such as your own site, app or side business provides a place you can test, tinker and experiment in a no-stress setting.
Bonus: our team at Google recently launched an Analytics Demo Account for this very purpose.
Live and breathe your company and sector metrics (beyond what you’re accountable for)
Being a great analyst isn’t about just running reports and delivering insights that are your remit.
Rather, the best analysts have their finger on the pulse of the bigger pictures and are deftly able to put their own work into context with the larger organization and sector as a whole.
The analysts I talk to that leave a lasting impression are the ones who can speak articulately about various areas of the business and how they make impact across teams and functions.
Be a part of the industry, network and collaborate with peers
I’m personally a big believer in educating others about digital marketing and since starting my career well over a decade ago I’ve spent time both at and outside of work helping others learn our craft.
Our industry is tight knit and so being an active participant who helps others is of great benefit (not to mention fulfilling).
For you, whether this takes the form of speaking/attending events (such as ClickZ Live), starting your own local analytics meetup, or even making friends with other analysts near you to talk shop this is a valuable use of time.
Adam Singer will be speaking at ClickZ Live San Francisco in August.
View full post on Search Engine Watch
Jaguar Land Rover has revealed plans to build an off-road self-driving system, capable of maneuvering through any terrain autonomously.
Researchers will begin field tests of the autonomous Land Rover to make it capable of functioning on all surfaces, regardless of the weather or environment. This could be a major step for autonomous vehicles, which currently only function on tarmac.
“We don’t want to limit future highly automated and fully autonomous technologies to tarmac. When the driver turns off the road, we want this support and assistance to continue,” Tony Harper, head of research at Jaguar Land Rover said. “In the future, if you enjoy the benefits of autonomous lane keeping on a motorway at the start of your journey, we want to ensure you can use this all the way to your destination, even if this is via a rough track or gravel road.”
Your Jaguar can see better than you?
The autonomous off-roader will be fitted with surface identification and 3D path sensing — two technologies used in most autonomous cars. Jaguar Land Rover claims that the technology is so advanced it has better vision than humans and can predict upcoming terrain changes.
The firm is also developing an overhead clearing assist, able to recognize branches and barriers above the car. For military conveys, the automaker is looking into a off-road connected convey system, which uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication to alert a fleet when one car goes offline or crashes.
Jaguar has not mentioned when the tech will be added to cars, though it could be as soon as the next generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Both are apparently a few years away from launch.
AutoExpress speculates that the autonomous tech may be a premium feature for the first generation, costing extra. That’s a stark contrast to Tesla’s focus on integrating AutoPilot into as many cars as possible, through a free over-the-air update.
The post Jaguar Land Rover plans to take you off-roading autonomously appeared first on ReadWrite.
View full post on ReadWrite
Robots could scoop up the remainder of jobs in agriculture over the next two decades, as machines become smarter, cheaper, and more efficient.
That’s according to a new report by Lux Research that reveals how robots and autonomous systems could take over and change the agriculture industry.
Robots have not been economically viable for a lot of farmers, and tests have shown most robots are less efficient than their human counterparts. On top of that, robots typically have one or two functions, compared to the large variety of tasks that humans are able to complete.
Lux argues that in the near future, we are going to see farming robots that are not only much cheaper than human labor, but capable of executing tasks with much more efficiency and accuracy. That could lead to higher crop yields for farmers and a workforce that doesn’t need to rest every few hours.
In the graphic (above), Lux shows the cost per acre of a lettuce thinner and lettuce weeder, compared to the human labor cost. As we enter into the next decade, the lettuce weeder is already $50 lower per acre, and the lettuce thinner reaches the human labor cost at 2027.
Other crops, like corn, are already seeing autonomous systems enter the workforce. An Autosteer system for tractors and harvesters has already reached 10 percent market penetration, and Lux predicts the cost factor will be negligible by 2020.
Lux also mentions that in Japan the average age of a strawberry picker is 70, and once the current generation of farm workers leave the workforce, farmers may be forced to move to an autonomous system.
Don’t worry — people are still needed
What the report doesn’t suggest is that all human labor will be removed from agriculture. Instead, Lux suggests that humans will be used for other tasks, like maintenance and sorting, tasks that are not fit for robots currently.
Agriculture has become a much less important sector in most developed countries, contributing to less than five percent of the U.S. GDP. Employment in agriculture over the past fifty years has dropped from 30 to 4.2 percent, according to Momagri.
That said, it is still a major source of revenue and employment in Africa and Oceania, at 52 and 59 percent, respectively. Across all developing countries, agriculture accounts for 48 percent of all employment.
The invasion of robots in the agriculture market may force countries in Africa to quickly urbanize, similar to China’s urbanization period in the 1980s. While some may respond well to this, others countries may struggle to find new jobs for the millions entering the workforce due to a lack of rural employment.
View full post on ReadWrite
I know. It’s the 21st century equivalent of ‘8 minute abs’. But bear with me on this…
Search engine optimisation should be an ongoing process, mixing technical on-page techniques with quality content, good old fashioned marketing, plenty of research, tonnes of planning, masses of testing and all the while taking into account searcher intent, context, algorithm changes… I get breathless just thinking about all the work that needs doing…
Basically, SEO is a job that is never done.
But, if you are struggling with time and resources, there are SEO techniques that don’t have to consume your entire day.
The following can be done while sat down in the morning, enjoying a pastry, listening to some cool light-jazz and blissfully remembering that this is a much better use of your time than that other ‘resolution’ you toyed with doing four paragraphs ago.
Please note: we published a similarly titled guide to quick SEO tips, written by Josh McCoy, way back in 2012. This is an updated, rewritten version that reflects the subsequent changes and updates to the search landscape.
1. Check your site’s organic CTR, revise 10 of the lowest performing page’s title tags and meta descriptions
Head into your site’s Google Search Console, then click on Search Traffic>Search Analytics.
Then click on the Impressions and CTR filters for Pages.
For a more detailed overview, check out How to improve CTR using Search Console.
2. Add Schema markup to 10 most popular pages
You can add rich media to your search results by adding Schema markup to the HTML of your pages.
If you have a particularly massive site with years and years worth of posts, the idea of adding rich snippets to your pages can seem terrifying. Instead, make a spreadsheet of your most popular posts, then every day go through 10 of them and implement schema markup. This should help gradually improve the CTR of your results.
3. Improve your site speed by optimising images
Site speed is a hugely important ranking signal, and you can check your site’s loading time on both mobile and desktop with this new site speed tool.
Obviously improving the performance of your site is a complicated job best saved for the tech team, but you can help…
Images are are by far the ‘heaviest’ element when it comes to page load. So why not spend a few minutes working back through your most popular posts and making your image file sizes smaller.
For example, if there’s an image on your page that’s 1024 x 683 pixels, but the user only sees it at a maximum of 420 x 289, you could ease the strain on your page by compressing the file size with very little noticeable difference.
Read this article for full details: How to optimise your page images to increase site speed.
4. Check the proper canonicalization of your domain
Are you aware that your site may exist in two different places? Without even knowing it, Google could be indexing your content from both www.example.com and example.com and therefore you may be cannibalising your own pages in search.
Luckily it doesn’t take very long to fix this problem.
You just have to tell Google which is the preferred version of your domain for all future crawls of your site and indexing refreshes.
As it states on their webmaster help page:
If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com, we follow that link as http://www.example.com instead. In addition, we’ll take your preference into account when displaying the URLs.
To change this, visit Search Console, click on your site, click the gear icon then click Site Settings. And in the Preferred domain section, select the option you want.
5. Verify your Google My Business page, make sure your details are up to date
Kevin Gibbons wrote some good suggestions for us when it comes to optimising your page for local search:
- Claim your listing, as often many people don’t.
- Ensure your details are up-to-date (previously you might not have accepted credit cards).
- Double check your opening hours and phone number as these often change over time or the business has new owners or management
- Check the business images you are using and consider refreshing them or uploading higher res versions.
- Check no-one has made an edit to your listing and changed the businesses’s website to their affiliate link, have seen this too!
There are loads more tips here: How to optimise your Google My Business listing.
6. Check that you don’t have any duplicate meta description and title tags
This is a very easy one. Just head back into Search Console, click on Search Appearance>HTML Improvements, then you can see exactly which of your pages contain duplicate metadata.
7. Keep on top of your image alt tags
Google Image Search can drive a significant amount of traffic to your site, however you must remember that Google can’t ‘see’ your images, but it can ‘read them’.
Therefor describing your images accurately and concisely in the ‘alt description or tag’ section is something you really need to stay on top of.
Check back through your last handful of pages and make sure your images conform.
You could even look at the alt tags at the same time as checking your images’ file sizes (see point 3).
For lots more information, check out How to optimise images for SEO.
8. Check your 404 error codes
404 pages occur when a Googlebot attempts to visit a page that doesn’t exist. Generally 404 pages are fine and won’t harm your rankings, but it is important to pay attention to them, especially if there’s a sudden increase.
You can check these in Search Console, under Crawl>Crawl Errors.
Then if anything looks to have been deleted accidentally, or a 301 redirect hasn’t been put in place properly, you can fix these straight away.
9. Keep on top of your internal linking
Regular and consistent internal linking to the most popular articles on your site is a key way to show search engines that your site has authority and that your content is ‘trusted’.
There are many different methods and tools to check which of your pages is the most popular for any search phrase, and therefore the you can use to internally link for added SEO benefit.
Spend some time going back through your posts and ensuring that each post has a few internal links, paying particular attention to the anchor text used, and making sure they’re all relevant AND pointing towards pages you wish to see rank.
There’s an excellent, detailed best practice guide here: Internal linking for SEO.
So there you go. Nine quick things you can do to improve your SEO every day without taking up too much of your energy. Obviously this is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s definitely a start to getting the basics right.
View full post on Search Engine Watch