Posts from the ‘Advertising’ Category
December 27, 2011
2012 promises to be a very busy year in all things digital, but, as with any annum, there will be just a handful of big, memorable trends. Here, I’ve collected five such movements that are likely to make a big impact in our technologically-enhanced lives.
It’s now in games, location apps, business cards and coffee shops and could start showing up in cars and even eyeglasses. Augmented Reality, which puts a virtual view on top of your real world, is really just a cool way of saying, “Reality with Style.” Instead of simply viewing your apartment through your phone, you’re playing Star Wars Arcade Falcon Gunner on top of it. Instead looking up a restaurant in your neighborhood, you’re using Yelp to see its location and reviews for it and other restaurants right on top of your on-screen view of the street. 2012 will mark the beginning of exponential growth for Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR).
According to a report from Visiongain, 25% of all app downloads will feature some sort of augmented reality. Though adoption hinges on more powerful, high-speed and camera-ready mobile devices, it’s clear to me that the majority of smartphones and tablets in end-users’ hands next year will be 3G-to-4G-ready, high-def, large-screen devices with not one, but two multi-megapixel cameras. Trust me, by 2013, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t at least tried augmented reality.
The Micro-Payment Economy
App manufacturers are not the only ones who can make money selling tiny wares and incremental upgrades. The barrier to entry for starting your own small business has been effectively knocked down by a variety of online merchants who are willing to hawk your wares for next to nothing. In truth, the merchandise isn’t entirely yours. In fact, these companies are often just selling your idea on top of their wares and you get a tiny slice for each sale, or for when the numbers of sales reaches a certain threshold.
Sites like RedBubble do everything for the artist; all they need to do is upload the content. RedBubble will, for example, make the T-Shirt with your art, sell it for you, manage the distribution and, of course, collect payment. The site lets you set the price above their fixed price. Yes, you could add as much as you want onto a $16 T-shit, but most smart sellers know this means they won’t sell a single garment. Instead, you add 1%-to-5% (maybe 10% if you’re feeling strong) and then promote the dickens out of your product on the site and through various social networks.
RedBubble is just one of many destinations popping up to help the aspiring entrepreneur. They join established platforms like Lulu (self-publish books), and YouTube. YouTube has been inviting videographers into the commerce tent for years, letting them add AdSense accounts to popular videos and then sitting back and watching the pennies roll in.
As the economy sputters along, look for more and more of the sites helping you sell almost anything you can imagine and making you a “fortune”–one micro payment at a time.
The Rise of the UltraBook
Tablets dominate the tech conversation, but that doesn’t mean the PC is dead. No, it’s alive and well, but in a form that will closely mimic some of the best features of tablets. I don’t have numbers yet, but I’m betting Desktop PCs were not big sellers this holiday season. Laptops may have done a little better, but who among you was willing to give junior an end-of-life netbook instead of a sexy, touch-screen tablet? (I’m imagining no one raising their hands).
A term coined by Intel, Ultrabooks describe exquisitely thin and light, yet pleasingly powerful laptops. Think MacBook Air and you get the idea. No, they don’t have touch screens or apps (though that’s changing, too) and Ultrabooks usually have just one HD camera. Still, with just a little more heft and girth than your garden-variety iPad, an Ultrabook adds a full-sized keyboard and far more powerful components. In other words, they’re perfectly designed for getting real work done, but no one will be embarrassed to carry one around. 2012 will witness an explosion of these devices as manufacturers pin on them their last best hopes for regaining consumer computing interest.
Facebook will break the 1 billion user mark in 2012, but its numbers have flattened out in the U.S. Twitter is growing; it may have as many 450 million users, but no one knows how many people are really active users. Google+ is growing steadily, but is still well behind the two most established networks and much of the public is unaware of its existence. There is the now persistent, with good reason, backlash against mobile phone usage in cars and on streets.
In general, more and more people seem to be reevaluating their social and digital existence. Even the SOPA battle is revealing some unforeseen schisms. The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bad idea, not because piracy is good, but because of the plan for enforcement is wrong and dangerous. That said, no one who creates content can deny that the digital revolution hasn’t forced them to rethink how they create, sell and distribute content. There are no easy answers here and 2012 will be a year of introspection; one where we possibly rewrite the rules of content, copyrights and social interactions.
Mobile Chip Wars
The tech industry is gearing up for a rather intense battle—on a micro scale. With ARM-based CPUs in virtually all of today’s tablets and handsets, Intel, the dominant system CPU manufacturer, has no presence in the mobile space. It’s a situation the company promises to change in 2012 with Medfield—its rethinking of the Atom CPU (popular in netbooks). Meanwhile a consortium of Pacific Rim manufacturers have just banded together to produce new mobile CPUs for phones and tablets.
These efforts may not mean much, though, as Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Motorola, Marvell, Nvidia and others all license the ARM architecture and show (along with the hardware partners) little interest in switching to a new or once-established platform. Even Microsoft is developing Windows 8 to run on ARM-based CPUs in addition to traditional Wintel machines.
What do you think? Are these the right trends? Will there be other defining movements in 2012? Chose the biggest trend in our poll and then let’s talk about it in the comments.
December 16, 2011
In the past twelve months we’ve seen the first generation of web video business models draw to a close, and the emergence of devices and business models that will fuel powerful continued growth in the year ahead.
Since web video began, user-generated content sites have counted on advertising revenue as their economic salvation. Despite the belief in this model, and a steady stream of venture capital, advertisers haven’t bought in. Instead, money has flowed to quality created content, and quality curated collections. Google looked at the trends and made a massive pivot in the YouTube model, effectively shifting from a neutral content aggregation and delivery platform into a ‘studio’ model that puts them in the position of funding and promoting content. This is a smart strategic shift, and one that has the potential to give conventional cable networks and other emerging distributors a powerful new competitor. At the same time, it further diminishes Google’s interest in what used to be called “the long tail.”
My prediction is that YouTube won’t go out of the UGC business; in fact, it will be the exact opposite. I think you’ll see more creative ways to monetize YouTube, including new partnerships with portal players, third-party ad units, and the emergence of important sponsorship and co-branded pages. It’s unclear if YouTube will build these offerings, buy them, or partner with others to provide them. But AdSense text ads for video aren’t alone going to fund the future of the middle market of video. Instead, you’re going to see some number of business users look to take more control over their content, their ad units, and the community around their media.
At the same time, the delivery system for video is very much under construction. The so-called “Over The Top” competitors have had a busy year–with Google TV falling flat, but version two looking promising, and Netflix’s Qwickster dying a quick death. At the same time, Boxee jumped into the business of providing digital ‘rabbit ears’ and Hulu briefly auctioned itself before returning to running the business. And now Microsoft moves to gain OTT dominance with a brand-new Xbox interface and more content deals. So, no clear winner here yet.
HERE ARE 5 PREDICTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK:
Prediction #1. 2012 is the year all video goes a la carte.
Remember all the promises of a new ‘a la-cart’ cable world, where consumers had choice and freedom? Well, you have to hand it to the cable guys, they’ve been able to keep that commodification of their product just out of arms’ reach for as long as anyone can remember.
But 2012 will be the year that cable breaks free of its terrible tiered chains. Anything that you can get on cable will find it’s way to an ‘on-demand’ or ‘pay per view’ service. The gap between date of broadcast and the window for PPV will narrow or disappear. Cable content will become on demand content.
Prediction #2. 2012 will be the year of the OverTheTop revolution.
While pundits, myself included, have heralded the coming herd of cable cutters. So far, they’ve been the outliers and early adopters. It’s seemed so painfully close–and so many devices had pieces of a solution. Boxee was the leader in the open world of web content. Roku had apps and file playback. Apple TV had a well-scrubbed ecosystem. Tivo had DVR functionality and off-air recording. And Google TV had a broad consumer electronics offering with Logitech. But none of them had the ‘killer app’ quotient that made them runaway winners.
That’s all about to change. Boxee is adding a tuner, Roku is connecting with more services. And offerings like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are making the leap to multiple devices and screens. Services and boxes will merge. Flatscreens will get smarter and more easily connected. The distribution bottleneck will dissolve.
Prediction #3. YouTube and Google TV will merge (really this time).
It’s been five years since Google bought YouTube. Both companies have grown and prospered, but they’ve remained separate companies. There have been attempts by Google to monetize YouTube with various ad formats, but it hasn’t been terribly successful. Why? Because the buyers of text ads don’t want to pay a premium for video, and video is notoriously harder to target. Meanwhile, Google video closed its doors, and Google went down the road of content aggregation trying to find value in the search space around video. That too wasn’t a huge win. But now, with Google TV 1.0 a distant memory, there’s a clear path to profitability for the search giant.
Prediction #4. Yahoo will emerge as a big creator and distributor of video.
While it’s easy to let Yahoo’s corporate drama draw your eye, the company continues to make a conserted effort to build a solid video business. While AOL has dipped its toe in the content waters, Yahoo has jumped in feet first. In particular, Ross Levinsohn’s well-executed partnership with ABC News is a clue about just how seriously they take video. “In this time of enormous economic and global challenge, the Yahoo! audience will determine the next president of the United States. We’re building Yahoo! News to be the source for political coverage, harnessing the voices, opinions and proposed solutions of Americans from across the country to deliver content and reporting focused on the issues and decisions that voters and their families must deal with daily,” Levinsohn said. Bravo.
Prediction #5. Business video will arrive as a real targetable business opportunity.
There are some basic truisms in business (and in life), and one of them is: “Nothing in this life is free.” For the past 10 years, consumers, business, and even media have gorged themselves on the wonderful access to free video. The cost of bandwidth has continued to fall, giving the large players an edge, even as ad revenues and CPMs have continued to fall.
Business has been late to the party, but in the past year more companies have begun to explore the idea of making and sharing video with their customers. Many of them are using a free UGC uploader, building in some cases large collections of video on third-party servers. But the free video party is about to come to an end, as more and more low-CPM ads and obtrusive ad formats appear. This is going to give businesses the need to find new homes, and new solutions, providing a boon to the SMB video market.
Expect big changes in how video is made, shared, and consumed in 2012. On the content side of the world, it appears there is now a consensus that everyone needs to be a publisher. This means brands, networks, and print media all are vying for a spot in your overflowing content inbox.
What is a publisher in this new world of digital overload? It used to be publishers were content creators, but increasingly publishers are taking on the role of content filters. Finding, organizing, and presenting coherent content is wrapped in to the role of curator that brands and media now embrace. Magnify.net sits squarely in the center of this revolution. As the web’s largest video-curation platform, we watch as Parenting.com, TEDx, and Patagonia all power their video experiences with our flexible toolkit.
The big surprise in the future of video delivery is that it may not be the flat screen at all. The Amazon Kindle Fire, the newest kid on the tablet block, is off to a stunningly fast start as a video and VOD platform. IHS Research projects Amazon will ship 3.9 million units in Q4, recording a 13.8 percent share of global tablets shipped, compared to Apple’s 65.6 share. While the data is still new, all indications are that Kindle Fire is going to burn up the video consumption charts, making Amazon Prime Video a powerful contender for table, OTT, and mobile video consumption.
The next twelve months are going to be transformative. Web video will become simply “video”–made everywhere and consumed everywhere. And brands and companies, who’ve contemplated using video to tell their stories or connect with consumers, will find that the train is leaving the station. It’s time to get on board the video express, or be left with an unpunched ticket in your hand.
November 28, 2011
It has been said many times that 2011 was the year of mobile. But was it really? By now, most of us have realized there is no such thing. To say that would mean the best is behind us, when that is far from the case. Don’t think in terms of the year of mobile or even the decade of mobile. It’s much bigger than that. Communication has been redefined. Mobile has fundamentally changed how we communicate every minute of the day in countless aspects of our personal and professional lives. The result is a sweeping cultural shift — on a global scale.
Reflecting on the most successful mobile marketing campaigns this year, the ones to admire aren’t the ones you might think. Too many mobile campaigns are still about the fascination with a new shiny object. Sure, those were fun and intriguing for a brief moment in time. But, while interesting new technologies are inspiring, mobile is not just a flash in the pan.
The most notable campaigns serve as evidence that mobile is big — that integrating mobile strategy across the entire marketing strategy will drive customer value. 2011 did mark a significant milestone in mobile marketing and not by chance. From one marketer to another, we need to recognize that successful mobile marketing programs take considerable effort, time, and even a reassessment of the value that a brand provides to the consumer.
Of the mobile programs we evaluated in all major consumer-facing industries, three stand out. These companies have established a meaningful brand-to-consumer engagement by delivering sustained, personalized value to the consumer. They are properly executing across the four pillars of mobile marketing by:
- Planning out mobile strategies
- Clearly identifying the target audience and how to engage the consumer by integrating mobile with the media mix
- Delivering not one but several mobile tactics that work in concert to provide a mobile presence
- Employing connected customer relationship marketing (CRM), which enables the marketer to segment, target, and develop valuable marketing insights.
It is important to remember that success is found using mobile not as a stand-alone media but as an integrated, multi-channel engagement vehicle. Let’s look at the campaigns that best embody this premise.
It has only been a few years since Starbucks founder Howard Shultz had to step back into the business to turn the company around after several consecutive quarters of negative growth. The brand that put a coffee shop on nearly every corner seemed to have saturated the market. In fact, it turned out that Starbucks’ best years were just around the corner.
The answer is simple. Starbucks sharpened its focus by moving away from mass marketing to a one-to-one focus, putting the customer at the center of its marketing efforts. This thinking led to a mobile marketing strategy that is now an integral part of the overall marketing mix.
After working through years of testing and trials to get it right, Starbucks has developed a mobile marketing program that successfully blends loyalty, incentives, and commerce. What immediately comes to mind for many is the Starbucks store finder app that’s been in the market for a few years now. In fact, the company’s mobile marketing program is much more than an app or two, and it continues to delight consumers.
Starbucks has developed mobile programs that allow consumers to shop, search, and purchase through contactless payments. The significance of this mobile program is based on a fundamental understanding of consumer mobile habits and behaviors. But it goes further with the ability to personalize content. What’s also very interesting is the media integration of web, app, text messaging, out-of-home, display, location-based services, in-store, and direct mail — all leveraged as touchpoints to engage the consumer and drive people to the stores.
The mobile loyalty program is an extension of the CRM strategy — it works with the loyalty card and is tied into commerce. Below is a high-level description of notable capabilities:
- The integrated 2D barcode capability turns an iPhone into a Starbucks card, allowing consumers to check balances and reload cards from the app.
- The app allows registration and includes a store locator and My Favs. It even puts nutritional information at the consumer’s fingertips.
- The program launched in September in 16 test markets. In certain stores, consumers can tap and pay with their mobile device.
In a development that might be surprising to many, JCPenney is one of the most well-rounded and consistent mobile marketers within the retail space, continually integrating mobile into key media channels. From QR codes and text messaging (SMS), to social, mobile internet, and apps, JCPenney is paving the way for mobile in retail.
JCPenney has developed a clear mobile marketing strategy that appears to closely align with business goals and marketing objectives. The mobile program takes a 360-degree approach by integrating mobile with traditional and digital media. Social, in-store, direct mail, display, search, television, and mobile preference centers are incorporated within the internet and Facebook. Mobile programs are refined based on consumer adoption, while JCPenney continually tests and tries new mobile marketing tactics to enhance the consumer experience and establish a deeper relationship. This is accomplished through the use of:
- SMS coupons with some testing of multi-media messaging service (MMS) coupons
- Core tactics that include SMS, MMS, mobile web, apps, social, and scannable codes
One of the best holiday mobile campaigns was from Target, which used a multi-channel mobile approach to meet consumers’ needs. Target was the first big-box retailer to implement mobile barcode scanning in all its locations nationwide, setting the bar high for other retailers.
Going further, Target has recently delivered e-circulars to a target audience by providing a rich media ad format leveraging key functionality based on the device and location. What impresses us the most is that Target is taking a long-term approach by implementing mobile solutions well ahead of the market at scale, putting other retailers in catch-up mode. The mobile strategy includes text message marketing, 1-D and 2-D codes, consumer shopping apps for all devices, a mobile preference center, and a mobile site with the aim of making shopping at Target an easy and enjoyable experience.
Target continues to find success integrating mobile into its marketing strategy for several reasons:
- Mobile is part of its core value proposition.
- Target has a clear understanding of consumer needs and wants.
- The core program was developed as the consumers adapted.
- The foundational approach uses SMS and MMS to position coupons effectively.
- The program began with basic tactics and evolved to advanced tactics, such as mobile web, apps for all operating systems, location-based service offers, and the retailer’s own proprietary QR and barcode program.
- Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) “tap and pay” services are being tested and coming soon.
- The mobile preference center on the site allows consumers to pick how they want to engage with Target.
Retailers like Starbucks, JCPenney, and Target are proving that the integration of mobile into the overall marketing strategy is a powerful and large-scale way to engage consumers and increase customer value. The commitment shared by these trailblazers is proof that mobile will continue to be a key business driver well into the future.
November 14, 2011
While the debate rages on whether QR codes are a passing fad or a marketing phenomenon, those little suckers continue to pop up all over the place. From product packaging to retail signs and even to food, almost any surface in the universe seems fair game for a QR code.
However, if brands deploy QR codes merely to claim they are using the latest social media marketing tool, then QR codes are doomed to fall in the “fad” bin, never to realize their full potential. The task for marketers is to use this interactive tool to deliver useful and meaningful experiences to their users.
So, how can you assess whether you are using QR codes to their full potential? Although very few QR marketing statistics exist, here are a few tips for businesses looking to deliver a meaningful QR code experience.
1. Define Your Purpose
The first thing to realize is that QR codes can be as much about utility as they are about marketing. The more your QR code enhances or streamlines the lives of customers, the more engagement you can expect. As such, the most important step in making your QR campaign a success is to think clearly about the purpose of your code.
- Is the purpose to provide an instructional video, a photo catalog of products, contact information or product suggestions?
- Or are you looking to incentivize mobile purchasing behavior through coupons and loyalty rewards?
- What is the advertiser hoping to garner – an email address, social media engagement, a phone call?
- Are you seeking to provide information about a single product or about the entire brand line?
The clearer you are about the purpose of your campaign, the easier it will be to discern whether your goals have been achieved.
2. Call On Your Customers
Now that you have defined your purpose, craft a customer call to action. Think of your QR code as a doorway, only you need to explain what’s hidden behind the door. The brief text sitting next to your code should be the world’s shortest elevator pitch.
For instance, you’ll see high scan rates if your code says, “Scan this code for an exclusive gift” or “Scan this code for our lowest price.” Be sure to explain any incentive associated with the code truthfully — it will increase trust, consumer interaction and the overall return on your campaign.
3. Design and Usability Is Key
Understand that looks matter. Ideally, opt for a designer code rather than a black-and-white checker box. Designer codes earn higher scan-through rates, look better on your materials, and even provide an element of security to assure users that this is indeed the brand’s QR code (and hasn’t been somehow covered over).
In addition, the design of the mobile landing page is critical. The cardinal sin in QR code campaigns is directing users to your desktop website. Not only does a desktop site provide little added value over what a user could have obtained without the code, but the site usually looks and functions terribly on a mobile phone. If you do not have a mobile-friendly version of your website, consider using one of the many available tools to create one. Using one of these platforms makes it easier to update content in real time and track campaign analytics.
4. Measuring Scans
The most important metric of a QR campaign should not be the number of daily scans. Rather, the length of engagement time that your code is generating should be a marketer’s primary indicator of campaign success.
If people are spending two to three (or more) minutes on a link, the campaign is a success. The power of a QR code is to transform the user experience from a “quick glance” to a “deep dive.” When users spend a lot of time on your QR site, it shows that you have developed something captivating — a brand worth the interaction.
On the flip side, having a low number of scans should not discourage the advertiser, although generating zero scans is a definite red flag. If no one is scanning the code, it’s likely that something is wrong its scanability, or that its placement is not conducive to scanning (think high-up ads on the subway).
Another thing to keep an eye on is the number of scans over time. If your QR code has been constant displayed (e.g., in your retail window or on your cashier counter), you should see a long tail of interactivity as people continue to engage with your code. Achieve this by providing fresh content and incentives. Unlike other marketing vehicles (TV commercials and newspaper ads) that typically only generate one big spike in impressions, QR codes allow businesses a consistent promotional tier. If the number of scans drops to zero after the first week, this is a sign that there wasn’t enough allure to the experience.
5. Social Metrics
Finally, businesses should look at the points of interaction beyond the QR code experience to judge the success of a campaign. Did a business receive more hits to its website, more followers on Twitter, more fans on Facebook? While trying out the latest high-tech marketing tools is fun, we must ultimately be driven by results.
The QR code experience is limited only by your imagination. The more creatively you can provide a meaningful customer experience, the more interaction your QR code campaign will enjoy.
QR codes provide metrics by tying real-world marketing (outdoor signs, magazine ads, etc.) to the mobile web. By being imaginative, purposeful and experimental with campaigns, advertisers and consumers alike can reap rich QR rewards.