Last Week In Digital - 19th June 2017

E3 dominates the headlines, while Amazon makes huge acquisition


Amazon announces Whole Foods acquisition

By far the week’s biggest news came on Friday. Retail giant Amazon announced its intention to acquire American supermarket chain Whole Foods Market for a whopping $13.7 billion. The all-cash acquisition includes the supermarket company’s net debt, and Amazon is clearly willing to take risks to further its push for a greater physical presence. It’s thought that Amazon will retrofit its Amazon Go technology to the existing Whole Foods stores, a move that would send this potentially game-changing tech nationwide in no time at all.

The news is potentially disastrous for other major players in the US supermarket industry, with Target, Walmart, and Kroger shares all dropping after the news broke. Same-day grocery delivery company Instacart released a statement saying that ‘Amazon just declared war on every supermarket and corner store in America.’ The shark that is Amazon is one of the greatest corporate operational successes to date - when it enters your waters, you could be forgiven for being worried.

Mobike raises 600 million in China

In a funding round led by Tencent, Chinese bike-sharing company Mobike has brought in a $600 million war-chest in its long-running competition against Didi Chuxing-backed rival ofo - which raised $450 million in March. The app allows users to scan the QR code on any of its bikes and rent them for short, cross-city travel. According to the Financial Times, high-profile investment has been shovelled into Chinese bike-sharing businesses over the past year, which has led to rapid expansion and dozens of copycat companies.

Mobike has a presence on streets in both China and Singapore and, with the huge funding round, it plans to take its service across the globe, with Manchester and Salford set to be its first foothold in the UK. With more than 5 million bikes, a busy day can see Mobike rides top 25 million, and it will be interesting to see if brands like Mobike and ofo can challenge existing city-bike programs as they continue their aggressive expansion.

Unilever makes bold ploy

The world’s second-biggest advertiser, Unilever, had made the shock decision to slash 30% of its ads and marketing assets, according to Campaign. The global giant is set to cut half of the 3000 agencies it uses, saving €1 billion by 2019. ‘People need to care about what you’re talking about. There’s a real premium on getting people’s attention in a cluttered world,’ Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, said.

The company hopes that by showing fewer ads for longer, the brand will be able to more effectively get across a less fragmented message. Weed’s team reportedly created a ‘wear-out’ tool to show to the board, which assessed whether or not a marketing asset had been seen enough times by its target audience, or if it had reached a point of being ineffective. Finding that just over 1% of its marketing assets had been ‘worn out’, the team decided they could comfortably create fewer ads, while squeezing their existing ads for longer.

E3 happened

One thing that’s always striking about E3 is the sense of occasion and grandeur it’s developed over its 22 year lifespan. Cosplay is everywhere, audiences are huge, and game developers are treated like celebrities as they unveil their painstakingly assembled new products. The significance of the gaming market is such that the announcement of a new Call of Duty game is genuinely big news, and this year’s didn’t disappoint, with even Crash Bandicoot making a comeback.

VR made as big a splash as you might expect at this year’s expo. Bethesda, in particular, has dived headfirst into the nascent medium, announcing VR editions of its wildly successful Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Doom franchises. Details like release dates are hazy, but it’s clear that the world of gaming will be the one to push VR adoption forward.


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