Showing posts with label mobile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mobile. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 2

Why Do Marketers Still Struggle With Decision Making?

By most accounts, CMOs are increasing their organizational spending on social, mobile, and analytics. One recent study places this budgetary increase at 12.2 percent over the next year.

The increase is in addition to social media spending, which already accounts for more than 10 percent of most total marketing budgets. In five years, this same spending will eventually account for about 25 percent of most total marketing budgets. And none of this news should surprise anyone at all, especially with the increased attention that marketers are giving to the growth of online video.

Digital marketing and social media are mainstream even if measurement remains somehow elusive to marketers. 

What should surprise people instead is that marketers readily admit that they don't really know how to measure the outcome of their efforts. In fact, only 15 percent of CMOs say they have successfully proven a quantitative impact associated with their social media efforts. Conversely, 41.5 percent of marketers haven't been able to show any impact from their social media efforts. The mind boggles.

This apparently nagging inability to measure outcomes is a symptom and not the problem. The problem is how many organizations lack a marketing or communication plan and, even more commonly, how many lack good marketing or communication plans. If they did have good plans, measurement wouldn't be a problem as the key has always been to set realistic and measurable goals.

It's almost impossible to measure outcomes that aren't tethered to objectives. 

Likewise, it's almost impossible to not be able to measure outcomes if they are tethered to realistic, measurable, and specific objectives. And ideally, those objectives will be drawn from the organization's mission, vision, and strategic plan.

Why is this important? Because specific business goals — along with considerations like product or service life cycle, market share, consumer base, competition, proximity, resources and self-imposed restraints — lead to very specific marketing and communication goals. Consider just a few of them:

• Introduce new products or services. While awareness is worthwhile, introducing new products and services means more than people knowing something exists. Communication objectives can be grounded in outcomes like market position, brand recognition, and value proposition retention.

• Capture market share. Given market share is a key indicator of competitiveness among competitors and market viability. Subway, for example, focused on market share when it stopped defining its market as sandwich shops and started attacking the quick service market.

• Become an industry leader. Most companies that strive to be industry leaders market the influence of the leaders and knowledge of their industry more than they do their products or services.  Becoming a trusted source increases credibility and results in significant market advantage.

• Improve customer loyalty. Organizations that want to increase customer loyalty invest in marketing that reinforces individual relationships, personalization, and the best possible customer experience. Some include incentives, but only those that reinforce positive customer experience.

• Increase product profitability. Sometimes reining in a marketing plan, pushing loss leaders, or reducing non-productive expenses can mean more to a company than expansion. The same objective can also include add-on items that require no additional marketing and well-timed follow-up sales.

• Increase gross sales or revenue. Increasing sales (units sold) and revenue (money made) can sometimes be likened to a throwaway objective in that sales and revenues are often the natural outcome of every objective listed. So if you include this objective, make it specific — X percent of increase in the marketing budget will generate X percent increase in sales within three or six months.

• Become a good corporate citizen. Responsible corporate citizens that support the communities in which they operate often benefit from increased visibility, credibility, and opportunity. Outreach programs can be especially effective when they lift up communities, creating the most potential customers.

• Foster a strong corporate culture. Whether the objectives is tied to acquiring top talent or is more market oriented in better meeting the needs of the customer, a strong corporate culture pays dividends by positioning the company from its people out. Allocating more to internal communication can help.

• Nurture ideas and innovation. When companies make this their objective, marketing enjoys a pretty clear directive that their content and creative ought to aspire toward the same goals. Apple used to be the best example in marketing innovation but not so much nowadays.

• Increase store or website traffic. If this is the objective, it almost always has to be tied to some residual effect such as lead generation, conversation, or community building. The challenge with the concept is to keep it relevant so the traffic counts don't lose customers for life in the process.

• Shape public opinion. If we remember that the primary objective of any marketing and communication program is to change behavior or public opinion, then it stands to reason our objectives ought to define what change we anticipate. Once launched, measure the change.

Naturally, these objectives (most of which would need to be fine tuned and more specific to work) only scratch the surface. There are dozens and hundreds of organization-specific objectives that could be taken into consideration, including proximity, community culture, competition, etc. (For example, a marketing plan for an Asian restaurant in China Town would look very different from a plan in a suburb without one or a farm town without many dining options.)

In fact, these variables (and marketing's unwillingness to accept they exist) are the primary cause for confusion. Too many marketers are looking for some holy grail of marketing plan and outcome measurement that somehow manages to cast the whole of marketing (and each of its tactics) into a plug and play template. But outside of making a few marketing consultants rich on 10-step books in the short term and shifting marketing budgets to social, they work for relatively few organizations.

So before your organization jumps on social, mobile, and analytics wagon, make sure any budget increases are tied to strategic objectives that can be readily measured. Who knows? You might discover a different communication vehicle for your company, one your competitors would never consider.

Friday, September 21

Imagining Futures: Social Media For Groceries

Every weekend, my wife sets time aside to fill our grocery list. We used to go together, but our schedules have made this almost impossible and our new shopping system a little less spontaneous.

I cook four nights a week. She cooks three. So my list is written up nice and tight, while she still likes to search for coupons and buy a few spontaneous treats or plan a meal depending on what she sees.

Mostly, she alternates between two stores, Albertsons and Smith's. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, sometimes depending on sales and the day of the week. Price, quality, produce diversity, butcher diversity, and name brands in stock all make a difference on who wins for the week.

Recently, I've noticed another factor that might contribute to how we shop. Both stores are starting to promote apps to make things easier. It's sounds great, but let's be honest. Despite being electronic coupon books, the current apps don't really do enough.

Grocers have to stop thinking mobile and start thinking physical. Specifically, apps cannot be modeled after what exists. They have to be modeled to promote customer objectives. I know it will likely make shelf renters cringe over the loss of impulse buying, but groceries are prime social business candidates.

Many grocery stores are going mobile, but not nearly enough. 

For starters, both of them want you to enroll and provide your email address. You know why. Customers come last. These apps aren't about you. They are about the store and adding you to an email list. Good grief. Isn't it sufficient that I wanted to shop at the store enough to download an app? Never mind. Let's move on...

Abertsons. The app is unattractive and not very intuitive from the start, but that's not the trouble. Other than e-coupons and a store locator, there isn't anything surprising or inspired. Let's point out one flaw.

For example, one of the marketing points is to make your shopping list using the app, but that lacks a tangible physical connection. Since it isn't tapped into the store inventory, you can add items you will never find in the store. It doesn't sync your list against its own e-coupons. And it doesn't organize the list by store layout (or even department), which means a lot of wasted time.

So other than advertising and maybe six e-coupons, why do I need this app? The first generation app is mostly useless, but at least I could try a few things before signing up for an account and spam.

Smith's. It's a better looking app that not only works for Smith's, but all Kroger grocery store brands too. Good enough, but then what? The weekly ads and e-coupons are nice enough, but each one wants you to sign in to add them to the shopping list.

So I did. It's much more intrusive than Albertsons, but I played along and added my Shopper Rewards number. My registration failed, it said, because my number is already in use. Right. By me.

I skipped that step and then had to confirm my email. Do they know how frustrating it is to leave an app to do that? I went to my desktop to save a step only to find that the confirmation hadn't even arrived. I double checked it and resent it from the app. Nothing (not even in my spam folder).

There is nothing like technology to remind you how fragile brands can be. That's as far as I got.

How to reinvent a grocery store app that works for the customer. 

First things first. Scrap the accounts on the front end. You can entice me later with things that make sense — special account-only offers and recipes that I don't have at home — but let people shop in the meantime.

The first thing people want and need is a store locator, which both apps are already equipped with (so that's easy). But after the store is located, the app ought to adjust to a physical layout of the store.

Then, when I start to add items to my list, the app ought to check approximate store inventory, apply any e-discounts and coupons, and arrange the list using a geographical layout of the store. That way you are sure that all your dairy items are picked up in the dairy section.

The app ought to allow for branded and non-branded items. Consumers have different tolerances for different items. Sometimes not having Comet in stock can be a deal breaker. Sometimes it just matters what napkins are on sale. Flexibility is the key and helpfulness raises the bar — e.g., maybe you can segment and merge lists based on regular purchases like milk, eggs, and bread to help people skip retyping everything. All this would not only make sense, but also merge the high tech and high touch.

Want to go a step further? Some grocery stores allow orders and pick- ups anyway. So it only makes sense to have the 'option' to send the list in advance of a shopping trip (along with any special butcher cuts and deli meats). The customer can choose whether they want to do more shopping in the store (while only their special items like meat and deli are prepped) or have everything bagged (assuming you are specific) in advance for a nominal fee of $5.

If $5 sounds too light, you have to think long term. As long as it's done right, people will have a hard time giving back the hour or two they saved. If you want to go a step further, add $20 for delivery.

All of it delivers on the brand promise that both groceries are missing right now. Grocery apps are great but they need to marry the in-store and out-of-store experience. At the same time, it would win over customer loyalty and reduce wait times because the app might already have your debit card info for the express self-checkout or (perhaps) already be factored in by the assembly team before hand.

Wednesday, September 19

Interesting Opinions: Wi-Fi Is Not Enough?

When I read the article with Glenn Lurie, an AT&T executive who sees every new consumer device before they are released, I was surprised. Although it is not his call alone, he has taken the position that Wi-Fi is not enough.

"We try to look for all the opportunities in the world to get the OEMs to understand that they shouldn’t be building two devices," he said in the All Things D interview. "They should be building one device with Wi-Fi and 4G. It’s more efficient for them than having two [product] lines."

He believes it is a simple matter of education. Consumers must learn that they need always-on connectivity, he said. Naturally, eliminating Wi-Fi only would serve AT&T too. More connections means more subscribers and more subscribers means a better revenue model if they choose AT&T.

I appreciate his candor, but the comments immediately following the story tell another story. Even with the best of intentions, Lurie is out of touch with the customer. People see subscriptions as traps.

Understanding the consumer mindset and product usage. 

It really isn't that hard to understand. People opt for Wi-Fi only iPads and tablets so they don't have to pay for another cellular subscription. Many of them believe the phone subscription is enough.

From the consumer perspective, it makes sense. It even has an historic context. The number one reason that newspaper and magazine subscriptions dwindled is because people are genuinely tired of subscriptions that eventually begin to feel like utilities — fees you have to pay for the basic services.

Among monthly fees, publications are frequently the first to go. Especially if your income is unstable (tip workers, etc.), elective subscriptions go twice as fast. So you have to pick and choose from a long list of fundamental and elective expenses.

For most people, mandatories include: electric, gas, water, municipal services, mortgage payments, car leases or payments, car insurance, telecommunications, mobile telecommunications, cable or satellite, and taxes. Now add health insurance (especially with new government requirements) and life insurance. Immediately following those payments are the electives, ranging from gamer accounts and clubs to gym memberships and lawn care. All of them cause a dwindling supply of disposable income.

Where do iPads and tablets fit? For many but not all consumers, it's closer to the bottom because those who opt for Wi-Fi only are satisfied with using their smart phones when they are on the go and Wi-Fi only when they have access at home, work, the hotel, and a growing number of other venues (both public and private hot spots). In fact, given how many places are adding Wi-Fi and AT&T's support of such hot spots to cut down on system overload, it seems more likely Wi-Fi is preferred (doubly so because some functions require Wi-Fi access to work). All things considered, why pay more?

Obviously, some people do have a need. The split between the products is generally 60 percent Wi-Fi only and 40 percent 4G. The slight advantage Wi-Fi has is a lower model price and no subscription fee after you purchase the product. But there is even more to the story.

AT&T and other providers have contributed to Wi-Fi only sales with usage throttling, data usage caps, service issues, roaming charges, high overage changes, etc. Maybe it's not the consumer who needs to be educated. AT&T could learn something about consumers and make 4G more tempting.

Making a better future to marry Wi-Fi and 4G. 

I'm not one of the many people who equate AT&T with the evil empire. I genuinely prefer them as my phone provider, think they have better customer service, and they recently did us right by offering advice on how to handle our phone service (for three phones) while traveling in a foreign country.

So how do carriers sell always-on connectivity? For starters, they could break away from device subscription models and replace them with account subscriptions instead. If you already have an iPhone, your iPad subscription is, gasp, inclusive because you're less likely to use both at the same time.

Or, they could implement lifetime plans built into the product price much like they did for Amazon Kindle (with a better fallback for usage overages). Or, they could give people the option of buying 4G-ready devices without a subscription, allowing them to add it (or drop it) at their leisure.

Of course, they could improve their system so it isn't affected by high-usage customers (thereby killing the throttle concept). And, if they are among those who want to regulate Internet traffic and bandwidths, they could give it up and stay focused on their core service to provide a better experience.

Simply put, it's not education that consumers need. They need an incentive, especially those who get along fine without 4G connectivity, using their iPad mostly around their already Wi-Fi friendly home.

Remember. AT&T is pushing "Think Possible." And right now, people think Wi-Fi everywhere, which is a better fit with Steve Jobs's old vision to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind. Something like that makes subscriptions optional.

Monday, June 25

Shopping Smarter: Smartphone Shoppers

There is an interesting ongoing shopper behavior study being conducted by The Integer Group® and M/A/R/C Research. The latest findings suggest that African-Americans and Hispanics are adopting new shopping technologies at a faster rate than Caucasians.

Currently, 18 percent of African-American shoppers and 16 percent of Hispanic shoppers use their mobile devices to make purchases. Only 10 percent of Caucasians do.

This may be especially significant because, combined, African-Americans and Hispanics make up more than 30 percent of the total population (Hispanic, 20 percent; African-American, 12 percent).

Along with making purchases, one in five African-American shoppers (21 percent) use their phones to read product reviews and maintain shopping lists and one in five Hispanic shoppers (20 percent) use their mobile devices to compare prices on products. Only 13 percent of Caucasians do.

Even more interesting, despite adoption, smartphone penetration skews lower among African-Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians. Currently, it is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the total mobile phone population is using smartphones.

Other Highlights From The Integer Group Study. 

• Almost as many shoppers use email coupons (49 percent) as Sunday paper coupons (57 percent).

• Men might be viewed as tech toy lovers, but women are more apt to use technology to shop.

• Having children in the household drives adoption of digital shopping technologies.

"Digital shoppers are just shoppers," said Ben Kennedy, group director of Mobile Marketing at Integer. "Digital shopping tools are illustrative of the continued blurring of the on- and offline spaces. Today's reality is that shoppers use whatever tools they have on hand to make them smarter, savvier shoppers."

According to the conclusions of the study by The Integer Group, companies and businesses would be smart to consider basic mobile communication through SMS, making mobile websites the points of entry. Mobile marketing to multicultural shoppers is a huge opportunity, said Martin Ferro, senior account planner for Velocidad, a Hispanic promotional, retail and shopper marketing capability of The Integer Group.

It could be, but marketers ought to demonstrate some constraint over segmenting their advertising too thin. With each generation, even cultures resistant to assimilation tend to shift toward multicultural messages that are inclusive as opposed to targeted and/or exclusive. For example, many second generation Hispanics are bilingual, but not necessarily literate in their parents' or grandparents' language.

The best part of the study, however, is that it demonstrates that the old perception of tech adoption is outdated. Like many social media and online marketing pros know, the stereotype that the Internet predominantly consists of white tech guys is largely gone.

The study is by The Integer Group (, one of the world's largest promotional, retail, and shopper marketing agencies, and a key member of Omnicom Group Inc. You can download the study from its site, The Checkout, where it was first published. It requires basic contact information (name, title, business, and email are mandatory).

Wednesday, April 4

Changing Health Care: Mobile Technology

If you want to consider just how much mobile technology could change lives, consider how it might save lives. One company, ER Texting, is already experimenting with one possibility — providing information that can help parents make decisions on which emergency room to visit based on wait times.

The simple information-based service that taps mobile technology tracks current wait times at children's health care facilities. People who use the service merely have to send hospital text codes to 4 ER 411  and instantly receive the current wait times, hours of operation and direct contact information for participating hospitals.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center (CCHMC) and Miami Children's Hospital (MCH) are among some of the most recent hospitals to utilize these services. Since MCH implementation last May, more than 2,000 subscribers have used the service,

"When examining how to reach our patients and families, we knew we would have to meet them in the mobile space," said Kurt Myers, coordinator of community relations at CCHMC. "Providing an option to receive wait times via text was a logical first step into the mobile arena."

Not only does the service provide insight into wait times so parents might consider an alternate medical facility, but it also provides parents with expectations before they arrive. The service benefits the hospital with three locations too, helping control patient flow by increasing transparency.

Communication ought to augment the service, but the potential is limitless. 

Naturally, parents using the service shouldn't take to diagnosing life-threatening situations — adding additional minutes to their commute time to a hospital in life-threatening situations or opting to drive children who would be better off being transported by an ambulance — it still represents how technology can start to be used as a lifeline for medical purposes.

A few years ago, I was working with the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and we would frequently discuss the far future of emergency medical services. While the iPhone was still in its fledgling phases by comparison, there was always interest in developing a 9-1-1 service that could incorporate mobile into everyday operations — including the use of video technologies to pre-diagnose when patients called (giving first responders a pre-assessment of the scene and giving hospitals more information before arrival).

The wait time text messaging service certainly expands upon that concept, driving future life-saving concepts toward two-way communication models. Perhaps one day, patients will be able to call 9-1-1 and receive emergency medical assessments and direction (including visual aids) before the ambulance arrives. Or, if medical transport isn't needed, which hospital would be best suited given wait times and specialties. Cool stuff.

Monday, June 6

Teaching Tech: iPads Pop Up In Classrooms

Solar SystemAccording to the Irish Times, one secondary school is getting rid of school books and replacing them with iPads. The iPads will be phased into use starting September, when all 90 first-year students at the college will be given the option of using the Apple machine instead of a bag full of school books.

“We received huge support from the teachers and parents for the idea – we had 96 percent support – but in no way is this obligatory," school principal Jimmy Finn told the publication. “Parents have the choice to go with the iPad or school books like it was always done.”

The story could mark a dramatic step in education, not only in Ireland but in the United States. One of the cost-containment ideas being employed by the school is to spread the cost over three years and including it in the tuition. They estimate the full package will cost 700 pounds (inclusive). In the States, costs might be as little as $200 more per year and save money.

In the United States, the average cost of school books per semester is $400 to $900 and up or $2,400 to $3,200 or more (depending on degree). Textbook savings wouldn't be the only benefit. Publishers that ordinarily charge $100 or more per book to make up the high cost of color printing, durable covers, and modest distribution could save significantly and possibly even generate more money for textbook authors by making the material more public than school book stores.

Textbook replacement is only the beginning of tablets in education.

Tablets could, in effect, allow professors to automatically share handouts, documents, reading lists, and even presentations immediately following class. In some cases, certain programs actually deliver better context, allowing teachers to supplement it.

This isn't the only place education could change. In China, students are replacing notepads with tablets. They are the perfect tool for musical instruments, design tools, and artistic inspiration. Personally, I see the potential as much more significant, giving teachers and students immersive education.

For example, students could record a lecture and/or take notes. A teacher could then allow students to download Romeo & Juliet, take home the movie (normally played in class), and some supplements depending on the subject being covered. The student could even complete an assignment using the same tool, and then email it to the teacher.

Having all the assignments in hand could help the teacher frame additional discussion points, and possibly, even open up connected subjects such as the historical relevance of the play. Or whatever they like. And so on and so forth.

There are iPad and tablet pilot programs in the U.S. as well as some push back.

Even Vineet Madan, vice president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education eLabs, says U.S. schools are tablet ready. And, believe it or not, teachers' unions might be the biggest road block to integrating tablets. Why? Tablets may provide greater scrutiny over class material. Some are concerned about the cost (even if it will save dollars), the training some teachers will need, and what age to introduce the technology.

However, despite setbacks in some areas, some schools in the United States are moving ahead. The Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts in South Providence, for example, has been adding iPads. There is also a pilot program in Missouri. And another in Andover. And other in Boston. And another on the California side of Tahoe. And Burlington. And Maine.

Why I'm a proponent of iPads and tablets in the classrooms.

I already have firsthand experience. After giving my 4-year-old daughter an old iPhone (calling is not active) and seeing her play games like Super Why! and, even though she is a year or two off, Stack The States, she is even more enthralled with starting kindergarten this fall. I've also walked her through programs on my iPad, like Solar System For iPad or thumbing through a collection of art at the Louvre. Those, of course, are only a few.

The point is that children are never too young to supplement their education. Sure, there was a time that my daughter reminded me she was 4 and bit the phone for no apparent reason (maybe she was mad at the pigs on Angry Birds). But other than one incident, she has been responsible with it, enough so that I'm considering iPads (with the stipulation of non-gaming) for both children regardless of next year's classrooms. The learning curve is very low; the interest is very high. What's not to like? We might not be all that far off from A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

Wednesday, January 5

Rethinking Mobile: The Future Of Advertising Is Portable

There isn't any doubt that mobile will play a big role in the future. And if there was any doubt years ago, there is none now.

Last October, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices; 60.7 million people in the U.S. owned smart phones. After the holidays, you can expect most of these numbers soared even higher, and that doesn't consider the tablet market like the Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. Communication is everywhere — on the desktop, on the laptop, in the living room, and within the palm of your hand.

Mobile Doesn't Mean Mobile As Much As It Means Portable.

Three years ago, I quoted Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo Group, a Publicis Groupe, to underscore the point. He said "the reality of it is that the future does not fit into the containers of the past.”

But when you look at the way the Web has developed since then, it's becoming much more clear that mobile isn't the answer to the future as much as portability. You see, while there might be an emphasis on mobile phones and tablets, plenty of people still sit in front a desktop or plug content into their television sets to consume everything from entertainment to education and from current events to vintage history.

Sometimes they even use two or three devices simultaneously — Tweeting a comment about the show they are watching on television in real time or throwing out ideas related to an article or post they are working on without ever pulling up a new browser. No, not all of it is obvious. Most of it works in layers.

So what is the reality of communication? The reality isn't that the future does not fit into the containers of the past, it's that the future needs to fit in every container of the future. So if you don't consider portability, your marketing is missing out.

Applying Portability To A :30 Television Commercial.

For simplicity of the conceptual model, consider a :30 television commercial.

vintage avTen years ago, most commercials were relatively niche. Thirty seconds aired in between bits of news and entertainment being viewed by people with relatively specific demographics. On a good day, people might even talk about it around the water cooler at work or perhaps a child might recite some jingle to justify the toy making their Christmas list.

Today, as mediums converge, that same 30 seconds can have a much longer shelf life and reach dozens of different audiences and communities. The most obvious placement might be YouTube. But with some adjustments and a willingness to adapt the content to fit any number of segments, the possibilities are as endless as the strategy allows.

People might see the commercial and comment about it on Facebook (using their phones). Or they might see it embedded in a blog post. Or they might see it on a website, while browsing with a tablet. And then they might see it reinforced in front of the television.

If the creative is sustainable enough, they might even share it with their friends, people who may not fit the demographics of the most likely buyer (but might pass it on to people who do). This only scratches the surface when you include email marketing or hundreds of other social networks or (thinking from the public relations perspective) the thousands of people who write about and review products or production.

“Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.” — Jef I. Richards

The connector (with) is where advertisers and other communicators need to set their sights. Creative directors and marketing strategists will do more for their clients by considering multiple platforms and devices, not just one. After all, a television commercial isn't only a television commercial anymore much like a 'blog' doesn't always have to be a blog.

Ahead of the pack, it seems to me that Amazon is getting it partly right. Apple is too. It's only some content publishers (especially newspapers) that are still struggling with the concept.

brainWhat makes them different? Apple and Amazon aren't thinking in terms of delivery devices anymore. They are thinking in terms of sensory reception or deeper. And if they are not, they ought to be. Sensory reception is about the person, not the medium.

The two sensory receptors that can be touched online are primarily audio and visual, even if audio is confined to the alliteration of the written word. Everything else — especially the point of delivery — is simply a matter of strategically aligning the content to fit the space, which is why the future is a little less mobile and a lot more portable. Any device, anywhere, anytime.

Monday, December 6

Finding Mobile: Smart Phones Make The Web Mobile

The Web Is Mobile
On Friday, comScore, Inc. released its quarterly key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three-month average period ending October 2010. The report ranked the leading mobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and smartphone operating system (OS) platforms in the U.S. Some of the findings are surprising. Some are not.

In October, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices; 60.7 million people in the U.S. owned smart phones. What is not surprising is that Samsung still commands an edge over LG on OEM devices. Apple (iPhone) and Google (Android) are continuing to carve up what used to be an RIM only market.

What is surprising is how people use their phones when they are not using them as phones. Second only to text messages, people use them to surf the Web and access social networks.

The Way Consumers Use Phones Is Changing.

• Sending text messages increased from 66 percent in July to 68.1 percent
• Using a browser increased from 33.6 percent in July to 36.2 percent
• Using downloaded apps increased from 31.4 percent in July to 33.7 percent
• Accessing social networks (or blogs) increased from 21.4 percent in July to 24.2 percent
• Playing games increased from 22.3 percent in July to 23.7 percent
• Listening to music increased from 14.5 percent to 15.4 percent

Given the short six-month timeframe, it demonstrates the rapid adaption of mobile technology. But more importantly, it demonstrates the seriousness of businesses thinking differently about their social media programs and Internet presence.

While apps have gained significant attention, Web browsing is still the fastest-growing segment of adaption. Specifically, with exception to networks, people are searching the Web from their phones. And, I don't know about you, but most Web pages aren't very phone friendly. It's something to think about. Keep it simple and give them a chance to engage your company.

Monday, June 28

Targeting Business Travelers: How Social Is Mobile?

A new survey from Omni Hotels & Resorts found that business travelers ranked adjusting travel plans, making dinner reservations, and hotel check-ins among the applications they use most often during trips. Other activities, such as checking the latest sports scores and looking for the nearest coffee spot, also rated very high.

But what about social? While younger business travelers, ages 25 to 34, update Facebook to keep up with and connect with friends and family (65 percent), the greater demographic tends to be more private, tapping mobile applications for conveniences rather than connections while traveling.

Traveling With Conveniences

• 61 percent say that they surf the Web during travel.
• 49 percent of business travelers would like to pay hotel bills online.
• 48 percent said they they would like to order hotel and outside services.
• 34 percent said they use Skype or other chat services to connect with family.

Traveling With Connections

• 40 percent of business travelers check social networks using hotel WiFi.
• 45 percent of business travelers said they use Twitter during business trips.
• 34 percent of business travelers said they "boast" about trips on Facebook.
• Only 11 percent update frequently during their the entire trip.

Interestingly enough, 70 percent of those who do connect via Twitter and Facebook said that they share positive hotel experiences and incentives such as room upgrades. Sixty-two percent said they are more likely share positive experiences over negative ones.

One specific service mobile users are hoping hotels add is the ability to request hotel car service from the airport. But business travelers are trending toward wanting to make travel easier by accessing every service — ranging from room service to booking lunch — via their mobile phones. In general, mobile tends to be used more for such personal conveniences than personal connections. The survey skewed toward business travelers who stayed in hotels with rates at least $150 per night.

Omni Hotels & Resorts does employ social media incentives designed to encourage consumer promotions. Currently, the hotel chain is offering a 30 percent discount on cocktails to those who tweet about their stay at the hotel. Other incentives include a variety of early adoptive ideas, including 25 percent off a Snapfish photobook.

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Thursday, April 29

Advertising Challenge: Apple Suggests No Crappy Stuff

"As a creative director, I can completely understand that they [Apple] created this new baby and they want to make sure it gets born looking gorgeous. But as a creative director, I don't feel completely comfortable letting Apple do the creative." — Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.

That was what Bastholm told The Wall Street Journal on the news that Apple's upcoming iAd program will require advertisements to go through an approval process and require Apple to build the ads for aesthetic and functionality reasons. It is one of several hurdles, along with price (1 cent per banner impression and $2 per view),  to reach more than 85 million iPhone and iPod Touches sold.

For the launch, marketers will pay as much as $10 million, which is much higher than the $100,000 or $200,000 most agencies are used to paying. One early example is Nike (it has endorsed the Apple creative), which Apple has been using to introduce the iAd concept. How to build an app advertisement isn't the only advice Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently shared with Nike.

Mark Parker, president and CEO of Nike, shared Jobs' advice at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored conference. "Get rid of the crappy stuff," he said.

The Apple Approach.

There are two ways to take anything Steve Jobs says. You can think of him as an egomaniac, as some people reportedly do. Or, you can think of him of someone who is always trying to raise the bar higher, which is why you won't see Adobe's Flash technology on an iPhone. He said more than that.

"Flash was created during the PC era--for PCs and mice," Jobs said in the letter. "New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too)," Jobs recently explained in an open letter. "Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."

Adobe won't argue the point. It is reported to be working to improve Flash, specifically to appease Mac, despite what Philip Elmer-DeWitt had to say about it.

The Advertising Challenge.

When you add it all up, some people might think Apple only wins because its competition is lousy. But maybe Jobs and crew would welcome the opportunity to be pushed a little harder, with someone not only developing better products but better advertising to boot.

While there are some great examples out there, communication has become more complacent as of late. While social media has shown some companies how integrated communication can work, turf battles still exist with everyone — public relations, advertising, marketing, corporate communication, etc. — fighting for dominion over the same space.

The results are sometimes convoluted. According to one recent survey by Vocus, 43 percent of public relations professionals feel they should own social media and 34 percent of marketers feel they should own social media. Seriously?

Seriously. Someone should sit those folks down and tell them no one owns it. Or, perhaps, more accurately, nudge and remind them that the company not only owns social media but their departments or contracts as well. The first rule of order ought not to be who's in charge, but how can we accurately and provocatively communicate the company's message.

And with that in mind, can anyone blame Apple for wanting the opportunity to set a higher bar for advertisements? Say what you will about the company, but its messages match the product across all communication channels. The company already knows that the the communication of tomorrow will be both striking (advertising), responsive (public relations), and interactive (technical). See for yourself.

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Tuesday, November 3

Racing Ahead: Volkswagen Finds Firemint

Want to entice people to like advertising? There's an app for that.

Volkswagen seems to be hitting a home run in one of the least likely places. While it has six iPhone apps in circulation (three of them related to racing), its partnership with Firemint represents a real win-win for both companies and consumers.

Firemint is the company behind the number one racing game for iTunes apps. While the game was previously riding high with stellar reviews from MobileCrunch, UGO, and the iPhone Games Network, the $6.99 price point and news of some public relations firm inflating expectations made some people hesitate.

Enter Volkswagen.

Volkswagen sponsored the game's free trial, with three tracks and six all-new 2010 GTI sport hatches. Doing so makes a trial version possible, which entices more people to download the game after their test play.

At the same time, it positions the GTI as a sports car (2.0 liter FSI turbo engine), with an MDI with iPod feature that plugs into the touchscreen radio or navigation system. In sum, it helps reintroduce a hipness that the German car company almost lost under Crispin Porter + Bogusky's watch.

Entertaining Ads.

Never mind the debacle that once was When advertisers match the right marketing with the right media and distribution, entertainment advertising works. The Real Racing app has since soared to the number one download and has created an all-positive buzz up about the brand. As a bonus for Firemint, its paid Real Racing app is currently ranked 29 and climbing.

"With the personalization of media and the challenges inherent with reaching constantly connected consumers, we tasked ourselves to rethink the way we launch vehicles in order to engage our consumers in a meaningful way," said Tim Ellis, vice president of marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "The GTI customer is a tech-savvy consumer who enjoys social networking, playing games and spending time on mobile devices — most often an iPhone."

Even more telling is that while consumers claim they hate advertising, the Real Racing app demonstrates that what the public says and does are two different things. In this case, the launch of the GTI brand added realism to the game without being overly intrusive (despite seeing the Volkswagen brand on every screen).

What's even more interesting is that while most mobile success stories convinced us mobile marketing was all about adding convenience, this app offers up a different perspective. While pizza might be a product of convenience, other products and services might mean something else.

Imagine that. Social media and mobile marketing are situational. Original strategies, not best practice tactics, point the way.

Monday, November 2

Going Local: NAVTEQ Study & Mobile Trends

When it comes to reaching consumers via GPS-enabled location-based advertising, 19 percent of them recalled seeing a specific ad and clicked through to find nearby retail locations. Up to 6 percent also visited a business location after seeing an ad on their GPS device.

This is just one of many compelling findings conducted by Marketing Research Services Inc. and recently released by NAVTEQ, a leading global provider of digital map, traffic, and location data for in-vehicle, portable, wireless and enterprise. It marks a greater trend for marketers to find advertising while they are within a specific proximity of the business and/or while they are making purchasing decisions.

Additional NAVTEQ GPS-enabled location-based advertising study findings that demonstrate impact.

• Seventy-two percent of consumers find the ads to be acceptable on their navigation devices.
• At least 50 percent of respondents recall seeing an ad for each of the advertised brands (aided and unaided).
• At least 19 percent of people who recall seeing a specific ad reported clicking through for information on nearby locations.
• Up to 6 percent of navigation device users visited a business location because of seeing an ad on their navigation device.

"Marketers care about reaching consumers at the moment when they are closest to making a purchase decision," says Nicole Haygood, vice president interactive media director for Draftfcb. "If NAVTEQ's LocationPoint Advertising proves capable of tactfully engaging them near point of purchase through GPS, it will emerge as a desirable option for ad dollars."

GPS-enabled advertising isn't the only consideration for advertisers in an increasingly mobile world.

Consumers are relying heavily on search engines to find what they are looking for. While most might assume that means Google, recent Nielsen research discovered that 27 percent of Google searchers also used Bing at least once in July. Thirty-nine percent also used Yahoo.

"The reality is few consumers limit themselves to a single search engine, and the engine that builds a better mousetrap has the opportunity to make its case to searchers," said Ken Cassar, VP of industry insights for Nielsen Co.'s Online division. "Certainly [Google's] lead is formidable, and I don't see it changing significantly in the near future."

All of this creates a near future that suggests mobile consumers will be able to search for specific products and services, find the closest location with the best prices, and even map a route that avoids traffic. And stores and service providers with top-of-mind awareness and/or engagement via social networks stand to be the biggest beneficiaries.

After all, consumers who already know about your product, service, or business are much more likely to search for it. As long as they are not diverted by competitors or turned away because of poor customer service, they are most likely to search for and shop at places where they feel comfortable. The future of mobile could strengthen that relationship.

Friday, October 23

Clowning For Attention: Western Washington University

Selective attention, our ability to unconsciously filter visual and audio information, has always been a challenge for advertising. In the last five decades, advertisers have ponied up an increasing amount of ridiculous commercials and guerilla gimmicks in an attempt to win us over, even when they knew the results weren't sustainable.

The concept was simple enough. Whereas 1920s advertising was informational and appealed to rational thought, 1950s advertising shifted the paradigm to make emotional and visceral appeals. By the 1980s, there were so many emotional and visceral appeals, we began to filter them out, prompting advertisers to look for new ways to stand out. You know, like clowns.

Clowns Don't Work So Much Anymore.

Clowns, or "That Guy" as they are sometimes dubbed in social media, are struggling to get our attention. (Or, as I once commented to Seth Godin, purple cows tend to lose their impact in a pasture full of them.) If everyone is a clown, funny noses become commonplace.

While the research was intended to demonstrate how distracting cell phones are, researcher and psychology professor Ira Hyman at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has helped pinpoint why advertising seems to be losing its luster. He employed a clown to ride a unicycle through campus and tracked the reactions.

Of the 317 pedestrians crossing the main square of the campus, only 25 percent of those using their mobile phones noticed the clown. Fifty-one percent of those people walking alone noticed the clown. Sixty-one percent of the people using music players saw the clown. Seventy-one percent of those who were walking or chatting in groups noticed him.

"When people engage in demanding cognitive tasks, they may not become aware of a variety of stimuli in the environment," he told The Press Association. The phenomenon is called "inattentional blindness". Where it applies to advertising is in consideration of which environment people are more attuned to. It seems mobile content and conversations win.

Clowns, Grapefruit, And Social Media

C. Robert Cargill, writing about the success of the film Paranormal Activity, retold a great Dana Carvey allegory about fame, involving a grapefruit.

If you take an ordinary grapefruit, put it on a pedestal, and then broadcast that pedestal on television 24 hours a day, you would have a star. It doesn't matter if anyone watches the grapefruit; they'd simply see it flipping channels. Take the grapefruit to the mall, put it under glass, and people gather around and whisper “Hey, I think that’s THE grapefruit” before taking their photo moment.

Elaborating on the story, if you televised 100 grapefruit on pedestals 24 hours a day on different channels and then took them to the mall, then people might only say "Oh, there are those grapefruits again," assuming they even noticed them at all.

Recently, Adam Kmiec seemed to struggle with the concept, despite enough experience to know better, as it relates to Chris Brogan. Meaning no disrespect, Brogan is one of THE original grapefruits.

So as more and more grapefruit add themselves to the mix, they just don't seem as interesting, even if they are sweeter, riper, older, or more experienced. Right. The new ones have to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Or, in other words, you can't be a grapefruit and expect to be noticed anymore. Be something else, while accepting that being a juicer is less sustainable.

Monday, October 19

Marketing Content: Mobile Impacts Brand

The next great leap in communication might be mobile, but consumers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with mobile Web connections and content. Seventy-five percent have experienced slow load times, and more than half reported that the Web site content was either too large or small for the size of their mobile phone's screen.

The survey was published by Gomez, Inc., which specializes in Web application experience management. The study was conducted by Equation Research on behalf of Gomez. It included more than 1,000 mobile Web users and can be found here.

Additional Key Findings About Mobile Content.

• 85 percent of consumers said they are only willing to retry a mobile Web site one, sometimes two, times if it does not work.
• 61 percent of consumers said they are unlikely to return to a Web site if they had trouble accessing it from their phone.
• 40 percent of consumers said they would very likely visit a competitor's Web site in order to find the information they want.

"While mobile users may accept sites that are 'light' on richness and small in form factor, they are evidently not willing to sacrifice performance," said Matt Poepsel, Gomez's VP of performance strategies. "The mobile Web is all about convenience — the Web in your pocket — and slow mobile pages contradict that benefit."

There Is More To The Story About Mobile.

Despite experiences, mobile Web users have exceedingly high expectations with 50 percent willing to wait only 6-10 seconds or less for a Web page to load on their phone before giving up. Only one in five is willing to wait more than 20 seconds.

The high level of expectation has been perpetuated by mobile phone companies, almost all of which market themselves with the pretense that their network is faster and more reliable. Despite the cause of the evaluated expectations, mobile Web users are most likely to blame the site over their providers.

While solutions are largely absent from the study, there are opportunities and alternatives. For the mobile and tech industry, there is an increasing need to deliver faster devices on networks capable of carrying an increased load. For advertising agencies, the solution is to design simpler, faster loading sites rather than robust sites that increase load times. Or, as an alternative, build in mobile counterparts.

There are, of course, other solutions. Companies can augment their Web communication and marketing programs directing consumers to either custom applications on the iPhone or by using any number of social networks to communicate with customers. RSS readers and networks like Facebook and Twitter are well suited for engaging consumers on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Without question, content portability will become a decisive factor in communication over the next two years. As of July 2009, there were more than 56.9 million mobile devices, up from 42.5 million in July 2008. According to the study, eBay is an early success story in providing mobile content. Its iPhone application generated $400 million in sales since its launch in 2008.

Monday, August 10

Seeing The Future: Cellular South

If you want to see a glimpse of things to come, Cellular South might provide a stellar example. Its new integrated sports programming initiative is hyper-local and mobile.

"Y'all vs. Us" features original programming around five of the South's biggest high school football rivalries. In addition to television broadcasts of the five biggest rivalry games, the initiative includes a 10-episode television reality series following two rival high school football coaching staffs throughout the 2009 season and a five-episode documentary series telling the story behind each featured rivalry game.

Why "Y'all vs. Us" Might Work

• It features original, professional content provided by a sponsor without being about the sponsor.
• It targets specific hyper-local events with very specific audiences who are serious stakeholders.
• It is augmented by user-generated content, contests, and education-related mobile Web engagement.
• It is exceptionally mobile, but also includes multi-channel reach, including broadcast and online programs.
• It expands content to include a mobile version of each school's Web site, and complete calendar of events.

"Some of the biggest grudge matches aren't always played on Saturday or Sunday in college and professional football games," said Dr. Ennis Proctor, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA), which helped identify 10 teams that would be highlighted during the season. "They're played in high school football games and pit the collective community pride of entire towns and cities against one another for regional bragging rights."

While Cellular South sees the initiative as a way to give parents, student-athletes, teachers, and fans new and creative ways to interact with the company, the initiative also celebrates historic high school football rivalries (content people want to see).

Cellular South is tying in its educational outreach program, Cellular South's Gameplan, which is a statewide education initiative designed and funded by the company to inspire, prepare and inform the state's 90,000 high school student-athletes about the possibilities of reaching their dreams through academic excellence.

Young & Rubicam (Y&R) New York is credited as being instrumental in the creation of the concept (making us wonder how Forrester Research missed it before handing out agency awards). It will serve as the executive producer of the program and is responsible for an integrated campaign that will reach beyond the initiative. If the concept is successful, broadcasters, newspapers, and other carriers ought to shake their heads in wonderment and ask "why didn't we think of that?"

Good question. We've been tracking the trend in this direction since AT&T launched U-verse in 2006. Back then, we asked, "how hard do you think it would be for [blank] to add a channel with convenient and/or exclusive content (complete with user engagement) to create another unique selling point?"

Three years later, another company, Cellular South, comes up with the answer. This is one to watch.

Thursday, May 7

Making Coal Cool: With Ringtones!

If there was any doubt that the coal industry was overreaching when it reportedly produced Frosty The Coalman for the holidays, then the follow up will clinch it. The West Virginia Coal Association has come up with ringtones for our phones.

Take your pick among six mixes — male choir, male voice choir, New Orleans, mountain, gospel, and bluegrass. My personal favorite is the bluegrass mix, even though it's a little longer than the rest. Some people have been posting the lyrics, but you really need to hear some for yourself.

Coal is West Virginia - Bluegrass Mix

Coal is West Virginia - Mountain Mix

"Coal is West Virgina
Coal is me and you
Coal is West Virgina
We got a job to do.

However, after Think Progress (via Spinthicket) lamented that the coal industry is taking "incredible pains to make coal seem 'clean,' 'affordable,' and even 'adorable,'" we're not sure which is worse: the ringtone idea or push back that suggests these ringtones might be taken as serious and worrisome propaganda.

Polarized issues seldom make sense. The facts are facts. According to Joe Schuster, who wrote a roadmap to energy independence by 2040, the United States gets 86 percent of its energy from fossil fuels: coal (23.2 percent), natural gas (23.9 percent) and oil (39.4 percent). The rest comes from nuclear (8.2 percent), hydropower (2.6 percent) and biomass and various other sources (3.3 percent). I've seen other numbers, of course, including that coal-fired power plants generate nearly 50 percent of our electricity.

Almost everybody agrees we need to adjust our energy usage. Not everybody agrees on how to do it or how fast to do it. Not everybody agrees that there is such a thing as clean coal technology. Of course there is, because clean coal is a generic term that means reducing the environmental impact of coal energy generation.

Compared to what we are doing now, it's all good. Existing energy consumption needs to be cleaned up the best it can be. Alternative fuel choices need to be integrated into the mix, smartly so, in order to avoid additional problems like windmills killing wildlife. But more important than any of that, the communication needs to be cleaned up because right now — between the sillyfication and vilification — it seems to be the most dangerous of all.

Tuesday, February 17

Marketing Mobile: CW Multimedia

Almost two years, Harris Interactive, a full-service market research firm, presented a complimentary webinar that suggested mobile advertising was particularly adept at strengthening the bond between the brand and the consumer, communicating messages, and changing behavior.

It had good reason to. Although not part of the webinar, two days prior, Idol Gives Back had nearly broken records, raising more than $60 million for poor children in Africa and the United States. At $60 million, Idol Gives Back was just $1 million shy of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

In Louisville, Ky., that same program became a defining moment for the owners and employees of CW Multimedia. Several members of the team were watching American Idol when they recognized a new direction for their multimedia company. Mobile marketing was their future.

"We had already been kicking around the mobile marketing for several months," says Mike Willis, national sales director. "But the volume of text messages that came in that night really put a light under things."

The Kentucky Derby Provides The Test For Text

One year later, the Kentucky Derby Festival allowed festival fans to send text messages from their cell phones at selected events. The initial promotion, a simple Text-2-Win contest, asked fans to text “THUNDER” to a designated number to win VIP seats. More than 2,000 text messages were received in a couple hours.

CW Multimedia quickly modified the next event to include Text-2-Screen, allowing fans during concerts to text messages to a JumboTron screen at the venue. By October, Churchill Downs had teamed with Pepsi, allowing participants to purchase Pepsi products with instructions on how they could win six clubhouse tickets for the 2009 Kentucky Derby using their phones.

Toby Keith Presents Some Of The Possibilities

"One of our newest partners is country singer Toby Keith, whose fans can opt-in to his mobile fan club and receive updates, special offers, pre ticket sales, and all sorts of things," says Willis. "His fans also use Text-2-Screen at his concerts. You know, when we were growing up, we'd hold up lighters at concerts. Kids today are texting messages to the screen, adding themselves into the show."

Since adding the Mobile Fan Club, Keith has had more than 50,000 fans opt in to receive special offers, alerts, wallpapers, ring tones, and exclusive invitations. In addition, CW Multimedia tracks all activity, including text response via its own database software system. It tracks, in real time, information sent from the fan's phone, allowing some offers — such as a private meet and greet — to be sent to a specific area code or designated group within the database.

The benefit to fans? Imagine your favorite singer inviting you back stage after the show. Exactly.

The Future Of the Internet Is Predicted To Be Mobile

Last year, there were more than 250 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S., which represents about 82 percent of the population. By 2020, the Pew Internet & American Life Project projects that mobile devices will be “the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world.”

"Mobile devices already represent more eyeballs than television sets or desktops," says Willis. "What a better way to connect to your audience or community no matter where they are, at any time … the first two things people look for before they head out the door are their wallets and phones."

CW Multimedia isn't the only one who thinks so. As the only company contracted with every carrier in the U.S., it has hosted mobile marketing promotions for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Unilever, The Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios, TNA Entertainment LLC, and the NCAA. Even more remarkable, most of these promotions have been held in the last six months.

"We used to include several multimedia services, but the demand for mobile in the last six months has convinced us to specialize," says Willis. "Even our Web site services is focused on integrating other promotions or adding sites specifically for mobile phones. We're able to build in almost anything ... streaming video, live events, and database collection."

Highlights Of What Is Possible And On The Horizon

• Employee text message databases to help fill shifts and coordinate
• Pairing club cards with consumer databases to message customers on site
• Mobile coupons with text or bar codes that can be scanned from the phone
• GPS technology to identify and message select consumers based on proximity
• Send friends or customers for customized voice messages from celebrities
• Send friends or customers prepaid ringtones as gifts or for any other reason

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