The iPhone, by most accounts has been a huge success, created unparalleled gadget-envy and has signaled a shift in the US mobile handset market. I've seen a lot of companies riding this wave of popularity and, subsequently, have released exclusive iPhone sites (Six Apart and Facebook to name two). These sites are physically formatted for the device, use specific technology and won't work on most other handsets.
From a mobile marketing strategy view I think this begs the question, should you design a site just for the iPhone? My answer is "it depends". Unless you work for Apple, designing for the iPhone should be part of a larger mobile strategy. Focusing on the iPhone alone isn't an effective way to move in the mobile space. Let's put this in perspective.
Here are the global numbers for some of the larger mobile device manufacturers for their last reported fiscal quarter.
Apple | 1 million units reported
Nokia | 100.5 million units Samsung | 37.4 million units Motorola | 35.5 million units Sony Ericsson | 24.9 million units LG | 19.1 million units Blackberry | 2.4 million units
That being said, designing an iPhone-only version of a product or site is a way to reach the young, hip, early adopters that the product attracts. More and more phones will start to shift to model themselves after the iPhone, but that could take a couple of years to come to market in mass. In the meantime, the iPhone can be a great addition to the mobile mix, but don't put all of your eggs in that iBasket.
I came across an interesting study from Juniper Research about their forecast for mobile social networking. As I've said before, I think this is a huge growth are that is almost entirely untapped.
As phone data network speeds rise and device functionality improves here in the US, the possibilities are almost endless. I know personally, I can operate almost entirely from my phone in a pinch (email, IM, MS Office docs, blog posts, camera shots to Flickr, etc.), but it's getting easier for everybody to jump in.
Here are some key data points from the release that I think you'll find interesting:
End-user generated revenues will increase from $572m in 2007 to $5.7b in 2012
Social networking will account for 50% of that
Active users of social networking will increase from 14m to 600m in 2012
Downloads from mobile content delivery services will increase from 200m to 9b in 2012
The study notes that data fees are really the largest obstacle right now, but I think we're seeing the start of these rates coming down as demand surges and competition heats up. Look for ad-funded models to also gain traction to off-set cost. The model needs, however, to deliver on value to the end user.
Could the next Facebook be mobile-only?
Could the next Facebook be mobile-only? Could you share more with people if your device automatically uploaded everything to this network (imagine that each photo you took was automatically sent to your mobile account)? Your phone's GPS could auto-publish where you are and text/voice/video messaging would all be integrated seamlessly. I think it's a possibility.
I've been doing a lot of thinking on mobile marketing lately and it's sparked me to re-publish my mobile marketing 101 series from earlier this year. If you're thinking about mobile, this is a nice entry point.
I'm going to be expanding on this series with a focus on social media and new marketing in the next couple of weeks, so it's a great time to refresh on the basics. In the meantime, if you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered, let me know via email or in the comments.
I've been evangelizing the power of mobile technology for about six years now. From the early days of the original Palm Pilot and brutally slow early cell phone browsers the potential for making an impact is massive and is equally untapped. According to M:Metrics 55%+ of Americans now own a cell phone and that number is growing every day. On top of that, data access speeds are getting faster and phone functionality is becoming more robust.
Take these numbers from M:Metrics on consumption:
You can see that SMS (text messaging) is leading the way followed by photo messaging and content browsing. Given this information and looking at the types of MicroMedia that we're dealing with today, the potential uses of mobile for engagement is huge. MicroMedia is a term (coined?) created by Jermiah Owyang at Web Strategist. He saw the need for a missing term that really encompasses "micro-blogging" and "micro-messaging". You can read his definition at his post, here is my altered version leveraging his original:
Text, audio or video messages published to a trusted social community. Content is created and consumed using synchronized, mixed platforms including mobile, web-based and installed software applications, and often distributed using other social media tools.
The traditional web is comprised of high-bandwidth, large/wide format content. The problem is that it's not suitable for the small screen and the clunky (at best) data entry techniques on today's phone. What these new micromedia formats accomplish is creating value through quick, low-bandwidth, low-complexity content creation.
Here are some examples:
Presence apps (Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook): These presence applications allow for quick updates to be published using multiple platforms and distributed using the same platforms to a trusted network of peers.
Social friend networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc.): This is more robust, high-bandwidth content, but mobile hooks are still there including publishing from phones, uploading audio/video/photos.
Photo/video networks (Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc.): Expanding on this point, more and more phones have photo/video cameras and are connected to the mobile network. Shooting a video or a photo and instantly uploading them to the web is a reality. The process is easy (send the file to a unique address) and near real-time.
All of this mobile, MicroMedia content adds value to the creator as well as the community of people that they're connected to. Social networks are great at serving as aggregators for small, frequent content much more so than traditional content management systems. For a couple examples, take a look at my Facebook profile and homepage and my Jaiku feed (which I just use to aggregate other MicroMedia into one centralized feed).
So, when you're looking at your social media endeavors, keep mobile in mind. Grab a phone and start playing with it. Take some photos and send them to friends. Take a video and send them too. Join Twitter and text message in some updates. Above all, keep an open mind, but don't let this pass you by.
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.
Buzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.
[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]
Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:
The value/monetization conversation in social media is staying front and center. CC Chapman has a very thoughtful post on the subject today which I encourage you to check out. Also check Mack's take on this subject. Both use Joseph Jaffe's iPhone for an episode example. More on this from me on Monday. Check my thoughts in the video.
A new Reuter's report shows that young people don't see tech, it's integrated and seamless for them. That's the way it is for me. The more technology disappears the more valuable it becomes.
Are you thinking about mobile? You should. Verizon's reported that in June alone, 10 billion text messages were sent and received.
Joost is still in beta, but claims they will have 1 million users at their year-end launch. Personally, I've forgotten about the service and I'd be interested to see what percentage of those users are active.
Check out Greg Verdino's post about the re-purposing of 30 second spots. Using an existing ad online in a rich media ad is a lazy way to create web content. Don't think this an integrated campaign makes.
Verizon is the first to offer direct to YouTube video uploads. This would have been nice to see on the iPhone, but ironically it doesn't record video. Baffling.
Facebook's looking to monetize as evidenced by their new CFO, the former YouTube CFO.
Mack Collier points to Mario Sundar's post about comment rating platform SezWho. Are we ready for this or is this one more reason to keep new ideas from coming forward? People already don't comment and other people will comment no matter what.
Want to find more ways to collaborate online with groups of people? Check Mashable's list of over 60 apps.
The Simpsons Movie has a great little site for promotion called "SimpsonizeMe". Below is what I would look like as a character on the show. Try it out, you know you've always wanted to.
Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)
Yesterday was iPhone launch day and reports ranged from utter madness in Palo Alto where Steve Jobs made an appearance to calmer, long lines at other stores. Back on January 15 I did a post titled "Nevermind the iPhone, give me a video iPod+" and I still believe what I said then and I hope it comes true in the near future. Here it is for your reading enjoyment.
This is a video from the opening of the Palo Alto store at 6pm. Madness! What company wouldn't kill for this kind of opening?
[Feed readers please click through to the post to view the video.]
Now, I truly thought I wanted the iPhone. I really wanted one. I would have killed (maybe not kill, but surely I would have gently maimed somebody) for one. Now that I've seen it and thought about it for the past week I realize that I don't really want it, I want part of it.
I keep coming back to one major problem. Cingular. Or should I say AT&T. Yikes, that makes it even worse! Let me clarify a couple points before I go on. I love Apple. I use as many Apple products as I can get my hands on. I love the design of iPhone. I love the UI. I love the integration. It's beautiful and I really want to hold it in my hand and never let it go.
So why do I say kill the iPhone? I, like millions of other people around the world right now, am accustomed to carrying around two devices. One does the phone/email/SMS and the other does video and audio. I don't mind carrying my Motorola Q and my 30Gb iPod. I like the functionality of my phone separate from my iPod because they are fundamentally different devices with different purposes.
So what do I want? I want convergence that makes sense to me. I want a widescreen video iPod in the same case as the iPhone. I want a camera in the device. I want Bluetooth for wireless sync and to use wireless headphones. I want Wifi and a built-in browser for surfing. I want to buy songs on the go. I want battery life. I want iChat built in for IM and video conferencing down the road. I want more than 8Gb of storage.
What I don't want is the phone. I want to watch video and talk at the same time. I want Verizon as my phone carrier and another device to handle my media.
Please Apple, release your iPhone to the dwindling AT&T users. I will covet thy iPhones in the meantime (I admit it). But give me the killer iPod I deserve as a loyal Apple evangelist and continue your (very deserved) domination of the mobile player industry.
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.
[Audio should be good this week. You can subscribe via RSS to receive an update when I post a new video here.]
[Feed readers please click through to the post to see the video.]
Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:
The iPhone launches at 6pm tonight at Apple and at&t stores nationwide. It will be interesting to see if they sell out or if the stores are just busy. By my calculations the phone plus one year of service is around $1500. People have beencamped out for days to get the first couple units. To tell you the truth, I would be out there too, but I have Verizon.
Greg Verdino has a great piece about loving your haters. Jason Calacanis proved this strategy successful the other day on his Calacanis Cast show when he invited four SEO critics and Jason stole the show.
Buzz follows Kevin Rose (of Digg) wherever he goes in whatever he does. Marion Sundar covers his new venture Pownce combines IM, file transfer and Twitter-like presence and group push functionality. It's in limited beta so anybody with an invite to spare shoot it over.
Dell has released some pretty new colors on their Inspiron laptops. Drew McLellan has a nice post about what happens when a product shifts categories. I do think, however, putting new colors on the same old hardware running MS Vista isn't a real shift. Apple was a radical shift because it combined the OS with the design.
Jeremiah Owyang at PodTech shares a brilliant idea from his trip to Singapore. A company provides a camera and printer for customers to take a picture. They're encouraged to take one home and leave one for their wall. It's become a tourist attraction and business driver.
I attended a great virtual branding event at crayon's Second Life HQ the other day. I thought it was a great way to liven up what would be a mediocre phone conference. It allowed for the personal interactions that we take for granted about attending in real life.
Love or hate Apple, the creation of the iPhone signals a wave of change in mobile handsets for the US. It's important for us as marketers to identify what the major changes are and determine how we need to respond.
Here is my overview of what is different, why you need to know it and what you can do about it right now to make sure you're ready.
Web on phone will be fully functioning. One of the main challenges to any marketer trying to launch content on a mobile platform is the physical constraint that the technology puts on you. No Flash, No DHTML, No XML/XSLT, etc. Basically, you have to think back to what the web was like in 1999 and program for that. Screen widths had to be planned for the lowest common denominator at around 240 pixels (very small) and interactivity is at a minimum.
The iPhone delivers web content as you see it on your laptop. You can see the whole page, zoom in, click through links, listen to audio, see Flash video and do most anything else you can on the laptop. For average marketers, this is great. You won't have to reformat anything and you can be mobile. Smart marketers know that people on a mobile device will still look at content differently and there are tons of opportunities to reach people who are on the go. Advertising should change to be mobile-focused, content on mobile could be shortened or even provide niche content for mobile users. The possibilities are limitless. Opera has a new mobile browser that works similarly to the iPhone for all the rest of us.
Bandwidth. Even though the iPhone isn't available on at&t's 3G network, mobile bandwidth speeds are starting to catch up with land lines. I commonly use my phone as a modem to connect to the web and it's not completely unbearable. With some time you'll start seeing Wimax (wifi over cellular networks) and better speeds using the existing data networks. This shift is allowing the start of the move to multimedia on the mobile web. Look for more video and audio hooks in mobile web content very soon. iPhone also ships with WiFi support so the bandwidth is only limited by the hotspot connection you have.
Integration with digital life. The iPhone is the ultimate hook into the digital life because it allows for direct, quality integration with iTunes. People will stop carrying an iPod and phone and their music and video content will be with them all the time. Subscribing to a podcast can be done from the handset and downloads will be simplified with the iPhone. Once you download a music file it will sync with iTunes and you'll be able to listen on your desktop. Photos have the same integration and the iPhone's built in camera will allow for instant capture and upload wherever there is a connection. The phonerazzi are coming!
More powerful OS. Many of the mobile operating systems to date have been lower end processors built to save batter life, make calls and manage contacts. The iPhone brings a fully functioning operating system to a mobile device. Applications will be built for the device that can be used inside OSX for people with Apple computers.
Hooks into social networks. Many hooks into social networks will bring those networks right to the phone. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. will all be available within a couple taps of the finger. Integration with YouTube will be the first major network with built-in access. You won't need to go through the browser for this, it'll be a link on the home screen.
Widgets to go. Widgets can be built on top of the OS just like Apple's Dashboard product. This means that you can deliver your content through a widget while the person is away from their computer. How would you change your content if you knew the person was mobile? [Hint, you should.]
Web2.0 ready. The iPhone and Safari browser will support Web2.0 standards and will allow for a more seamless experience. Look for Google's Web2.0-rich product line to have direct connections in the future to make the experience seamless (calendar, mail, reader, docs, spreadsheets and other productivity tools).
Motion sensors. What could you do with a device that detects when it is a) vertical or horizontal and b) when it is close to something? I've seen some pretty cool things built on laptops with this sensor technology. I'm sure the iSaber will be out of the box VERY quickly.
The iPhone brings us closer to the point where there is a full, powerful computer in the palm of our hands. You can expect MANY more phones to go down this path. Everything from the power/integration with media to the touch sensor to the look and feel will be copied. Other phones are already well down this path (look at the Nokia N95 or most recent Blackberry products).
The possibilities with mobile are endless as more and more of these high power devices are going to come out at more affordable price points. Once the price shift happens, the transition from mobile being the third screen to the second screen may legitimately occur. Marketers everywhere need to be ready for this.
Twitter, the often maligned service that lets people tell their friends what they're doing at the moment, gets a bad wrap. Journalists join the service, send through a couple of updates, scan the timeline for a couple seconds and write a misinformed piece on why Twitter is sophomoric.
The truth is that we have to look to the core of Twitter to get the full scope of why this matters to marketers. There has been a lot written about this so far, so I thought I would show you in video.
Could you shorten the queue in customer service? If your customers aren't always in front of a computer when they need your help it may allow you to be more responsive across other options. What could you do with real time customer feedback? Scary huh? This technology is powerful in the hands of the right marketers.
Want to know what I am doing right now? Click here to see my Twitter page.
I was poking around Twitter this afternoon and clicked into the detail view on one of my tweets to David Armano. I glanced at it quickly and moved on...then I hit the back button. What to my wondering eyes did appear? Google AdSense ads on tweet detail pages. This is the first time I've seen straight out advertising on Twitter in a couple of months. (They used to do this before the crush of traffic hit.) I checked a couple of other pages and it was there too.
The ad on the page I was looking at was for Drucker Centrifuges...not sure what that had to do with me or what I wrote to David. One of the major challenges in social marketing is getting relevant. Throwing AdSense ads on pages is fine if the ads are relevant to the users. I would hope neither Twitter nor Drucker Centrifuges are happy about this and it looks bad for both.
I had a couple of thoughts:
With the short content of Tweets, is there enough to be contextual?
Is this really the model they're going to use to monetize Twitter?
They have an audience using mobile to communicate, why not run mobile related ads or have a dedicated sponsor for mobile posts?
A lot of people have moved to tweeting through applications like Twitterific (away from twitter.com). Will Twitter start ads in tweet updates from friends to reach people?
You've surely heard the age old question "if a tree falls in a forrest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?". The other day as I was Twittering my status update and I dropped Robert Scoble a question through the service. I waited a while...no answer. Oh well I thought and moved on to one of my myriad meetings. Later I thought to myself and posted this tweet on the service:
If you Twitter @Scobleizer and he doesn't reply, did you really Twitter?
To which he quickly replied:
@mattanium: yes, but that probably means I just missed your Twitter. 2500 people go by very quickly!
Question answered. Scoble has 2710 friends on the service and 2579 followers, I can't imagine how he keeps up and I was delighted he replied back. Scoble's approach allows him to see the whole conversation that is happening around him, even if he misses a few now and then. Other users have a lot of followers, but less friends and since you only see tweets from your friends, people are losing out on the big picture. I've tweeted other people (David Armano, Loren Feldman) in the system, but since I am a follower of theirs and not a "friend" they probably never saw the message.
Twitter is still in its infancy and people are inventing new ways to use it over time expanding it from "what am I doing" to a multi-modal, micro publishing tool. The conversations happening on Twitter are fascinating. Are you in the conversation?
I was walking through the upper west side in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago when I felt my phone buzz on my hip. I had my hands full with my camera and a venti coffee from Starbucks so I let it go to voicemail. A few blocks later I finished my coffee and grabbed my phone to see who called. To my wonderment I saw a bluetooth connection request from a merchant I had walked past. I even took the picture you see in this post because it caught me so off-guard.
I've posted about bluespamming before, but this is the first time it happened to me. It is a very risky, short-term tactic for companies to engage in and could potentially cause some damage to the brand (unless you're a marketer who doesn't care about your branding). Mobile phones are still very personal for a lot of people. They don't want tele-marketers calling them, rogue text messages or unsolicited bluetooth offers.
I also just came across this post at Helen Keegan's blog which is a great read for marketers thinking about this risky and untested space. In her example, HSBC bank is trying it out in the UK to both of our amazement.
The low cost of this tactic is enticing to many companies and it's only going to get worse I fear. But, this is spam no matter how you dice it. So unless you have the license to send messages to every single phone (like you own the company and the employee phones) you are going to tick people off and damage your reputation.
If you're smart, stay away from this invasive, unrequested form of marketing. If you're innovative, consider (for example) creating an SMS campaign which you promote on a sidewalk ad in front of your store. Tell people that for an immediate X% discount, send a message to your shortcode and show the cashier the reply message. This way you're using technology, but the user is pulling you in.
UPDATE: I read this article on Businessweek.com, via Silicon.com, and the tone of the article paints this as a "mobile ad push". NO! This is spamming. No ifs, ands or buts. Please people. Just say no to unsolicited messaging.
Mobile devices are often referred to as the "third screen" (the television and computer are screens one and two respectively). I came across this article today which looks at the increased usage of mobile phones to access the web. According to the TNS Media and Entertainment study, 76% of mobile users in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy access the web via their devices.
Bob Greenberg of R/GA was quoted in the article:
"I always hear about the cellphone as being the 'third screen,' but I think about it as the first one. It's with me all the time."
I completely agree with Greenberg's point on a personal level, I've thought the same for some time now. My screen order is:
Mobile (with me 90% of the time)
Laptop (using 60% of the time)
Television (Use via Tivo 10-15% of the time)
I have to temper my perspective, however, with the fact that I am a marketing geek. I need 24x7 email and net access, I Twitter a couple of times a day and I have an insatiable desire to have the latest gadgets even if I really have no use for them.
So, here is a quick poll. What's your first screen?
Every now and then, a marketing company decides to abandon a brand which has taken years of effort and millions of dollars to build. AT&T is the most recent example of this with their Cingular absorption. Cingular had a brand presence which resonated as young, hip and fun. These are descriptors that are not (and arguably will not be) embodied in AT&T.
What I am noticing is how Alltel is stepping right into Cingular's vacated shoes. Their recent ad campaigns have the same feel, are young and attempt to be humorous to connect with the consumer. I wonder if they're seeing a shift in people coming in from Cingular. I think people want to connect with their mobile provider on a personal level and is why I think this is an interesting tactic by Alltel.
I see smaller scale examples of this from time-to-time. New companies try to ride the coattails of a competitor by mimicking their marketing voice and then differentiating on features and benefits.
A while back Google's Eric Schmidt shared his vision on the future of mobile phones. In short, phones will be free because advertisers will, in effect, pay for your device and service plan in exchange for you viewing their ads. Sounds good right?
Right now mobile advertising is in its infancy. Carriers are going to try to get away with tactics like this until enough people get pissed off. In the meantime, marketers are going to increasingly have a tougher time using this platform if the carriers continue to cannibalize its effectiveness.
Would you be mad if you started getting served ads on your phone without requesting them? Do you think you should be compensated for seeing them or is this part of the game? What if they were hyper-relevant/hyper-local?
My post from yesterday reiterates the challenge that publishers are facing. The good ones are going to learn to use advertising as a desirable feature and not force it down the consumer's throat.
The user generated advertising trend is hot. Attempts to make consumer created ads pay off is hit and miss, backfiring for some companies and mildly succeeding for others. Still, the best form of user generated advertising comes from people who really love you and your brand, not from a contest or other gimmick. So with all of the hype, does this tactic really create new customers and in the end sell more of what you have to offer? Usually not.
While the focus has been placed on the ads themselves, we're missing an opportunity to really engage users and create more loyal customers through User Controlled Advertising (UCA). I pitched this back in 2005 and the world wasn't ready for it, but now seems like the right time to put it out there again. UCA would allow publishers or advertising networks to serve up ads (created by ad professionals) to users and allow those users to decide what they want to see.
UCA choices could be based on any of the following:
Type or category of ad ("See more ads like this")
Brand-specific ads ("See more ads from this sponsor")
Ability to easily scroll through ads to see what's available
Choose not to see an ad or sponsor
Here is an example of how this would physically manifest itself in the ad enclosure:
This creates new opportunities and solves some key online advertising problems. First, if users are choosing to see your ads, they're going to be more likely to click through or buy offline. They're opting in to your message. Second, using this system there is less waste on people who don't care about you (sorry, they are out there)...why should you pay to show them an ad they'll never click? Third, if you combine this system with user preferences, personalization and reporting and you have created the most powerful, accurate, waste-free, relevant ad system on earth. These technologies are all out there, but nobody has put them together. Fourth, the system serves as a vehicle to extend the ad beyond the typical banner. It offers real estate for promotions and other personalized engagement techniques to connect with the right message and the right time.
Imagine a user comes on to your local newspaper web site (where you advertise). Based on their registration criteria the system knows they may be interested in you, so when they hit the home page there is your ad. If they like you they select to see more ads from you. The site then serves your ads at a higher weighting through the system giving you more impressions. The user wants to see your message and the chance they'll click through is increased. Conversely, if another person logs on and sees your ad and doesn't have an interest in you, they can click to an ad they do like. They get what they want to see and you don't waste impressions serving irrelevant ads.
Taking this a step further, RSS driven ads could be used as part of this new ad system. The messages in ads can be updated by the advertiser in real-time and not necessitate new creative. For example, say you have a campaign to welcome users to your site. You could create an ad format that would take their head shot and name and create a custom ad to thank them for signing up. It would be integrated into the system and allow them to share the ad with friends to get them to sign up. How much more relevant can you get?
The idea here is to give users control over the context and content, not the creative. It forms a mutually beneficial partnership and could have a major impact in the world of online advertising.
Monday I wrote about smart-targeting based on geography and technologies like GPS and SMS. Customers, in that case, would have signed up, confirmed their opt-in and set their preferences for receiving messages.
The other form of geographic targeting is also proximity based (where you only get messages when you're in a physical range of the transceiver), but it's not specifically targeted to your device and you probably didn't ask for it. This is happening now where stores are using Bluetooth technology to push their messages to anyone who walks past. The term is 'bluespamming' or 'bluecasting'. (See this great post by Helen Keegan of Beep Marketing for her take.)
For marketers, this is tempting because of its simplicity (set up a bluetooth server that constantly sends out your message to anyone who walks by), but it's as unethical as email spamming in the lack of user permission. The technology isn't the problem, it is the usage in this case. If marketers leveraged the smart-targeting example and asked permission this could be very successful and probably more cost effective to set up and manage.
Bluetooth has limited range, but for shops with a lot of pedestrian traffic nearby this could be a great model. This is sure to start popping up in the US now that Bluetooth is becoming standard issue on most phones, but it doesn't seem like a viable long-term solution to mobile marketing.
Although QR (quick response) codes have been around since the mid-90s in Japan (born from manufacturing), they have only recently come into the mainstream consumer's focus. Japanese mobile consumers are using these codes along with special software and their phone's camera to shortcut having to type information into a mobile browser. (The QR code to the right is the URL for this blog in QR symbology.)
These codes are creeping up online, in magazines and newspapers and even on TV to allow users to quickly jump to their website or share a host of other information. All a person has to do is point their phone at the code and it knows what to do, taking the user to the end destination. See for yourself and create one using this generator.
Realistically, the success rate of something like this in the US is going to be equally proportional to the number of US mobile subscribers who use mobile web. Right now that number is low (but growing). Without a support base of subscribers who find entering information into their phones difficult, this could go the way of the Cuecat.
Here is a video of it in action, you may not be able to read what it says, but you'll see how it works.
Competition is out there (see this post on Engadget) and although QR is an ISO standard, it is not a universally agreed upon convention. Interesting to note, there are also 3D versions of these codes which are capable of storing 1.8Mb of data. That could be a document, small music file or short video clip. Imagine the possibilities. Walk into a store, see a CD you like, scan the code and possibly listen to a clip of the track right there.
This is the first of a two part series on mobile geo-targeting. Geography-based targeting is becoming more realistic as technology improves and consumers become more accepting of marketing messages on their phones. This post explores "smart-targeting" where the marketer knows (based on signup) who their customers are and what content they would like to receive. The marketer then uses the customer's real-time, geographic position to send them messages when they're within range.
To illustrate a smart-targeting campaign I created an example (see below) using my favorite purveyor of coffee. For a campaign like this, users would have signed up online to receive update messages and profile their interests. They also would have gone through the mobile confirmed opt-in process (read more about confirmed opt-ins).
Once activated, whenever a customer comes within a pre-defined distance from a store they would receive a message from that location based on their preferences. The power here is that the offer is relevant to their interest (coffee drinking and the brand) and it is geo-relevant as well. Each Starbucks location would have the ability to send out similar messages as a subscriber's device is detected with matching interest criteria.
(Hat tip to David Armano for the inspiration to blog with my information designs, I've got a ways to go before I reach his level.)
There are three primary types of customers who could receive these smart-targeted messages. Green consumers in the diagram are true devotees. They welcome your messages and even get excited to receive them because it makes them feel more like part of your community. Geo-targeting to these users serves as a branding reinforcement and could spark spur-of-the-moment purchases through coupons or new product information.
Consumers in orange are on the edge. They're occasional users of your product or service, but they are close to moving to the red level. Messages to this person need to be more focused on product trial. The more they try and become devoted, the better chance they have of moving back to green.
Red consumers are the most crucial to deal with. They have either a) lost their affinity for you and your products or b) forgotten they signed up in the first place. Every campaign needs to have a mechanism built in to remove these users immediately and put them on a permanent do not message list. Most of the risk (legal, time and money) of any geo-targeting campaign lies in this group.
Other, non-mobile methods of contact should be sent periodically to allow users to adjust their interests or opt-out. Other questions should aim to provide more insight into the level of the customer for campaign message adjustment.
Despite the risks, the power of mobile technology combined with the hyper-relevant message is nearly unmatched in modern marketing. No other combination of resources is as relevant and personal as geo-targeted marketing...if done right. If not conducted correctly geo-targeted campaigns become pure spam, hurt the overall brand and limit acceptance for future mobile efforts. The technology to enable this type of geo-targeting is becoming a reality more and more as new geo-ready phones are released.
Part 2 will focus on always-on, proximity targeting. This is very different from geo-targeting and has its own set of risks and rewards. Check back shortly for that post.
I don't know if you've noticed, but in the right column of this blog I've added a small little note area called 'What I'm doing". It's driven through an online service called Twitter who's only function, at this point, is to tell other people what you're doing. Groups can be formed on Twitter's web site so you can check out what all of your friends are doing.
Twitter is currently being used by bloggers exactly like I am. The service is very easy to use, updates can come through an SMS message to a fixed number, updating your status through a form online or by instant messaging Twitter through any of four services. All you do is type in what you're doing in the message and send. Setup is a snap and updates are near instantaneous.
For developers, the Twitter API is completely open and flexible enough to leverage their messaging framework to feed in updates to any number of applications. While the primary use is personal, as I said before, more interest has surrounded Twitter's possible corporate uses. Liz Gannes at GigaOM has a nice post about this very topic.
Corporate examples could be allowing a customer service team to update system status in real time, pushing offers and specials on an e-commerce site quickly or recording billable time entries for later invoicing (the proprietary nature of this last point is a concern with the current hosted model of Twitter). As with any service like this the business case needs to be in place to make this a strategic benefit to the end user as well as the people who use it. It is time consuming, even if it just takes a couple of minutes, and you have to remember to do it. If, however, you're looking for an existing messaging framework which handle multi-mode input through existing device platforms, and you foster a community that cares what its members are doing right now, something like Twitter could be for you.
One of the primary decisions anyone creating a mobile campaign must decide is whether or not their audience actually uses mobile devices. If they are a user, depending on their age, you must decide how they use them so your message and delivery is relevant. I just came across a press release from comScore which underscores this point.
comScore breaks mobile phone users into three groups:
Adult Adopters (age 35+) - More functional view of phones. Didn't own a phone until they were an adult and just want the basics.
Transitioners (25-34) - Started using in teens, early adulthood.
Cellular Generation (18-24) - This is the most likely audience to engage with your brand through a mobile device. They've had access to phones throughout their lives.
This may seem logical, you may say to yourself, "self...I shouldn't push cutting edge mobile P-2-P technology to my 40-year-old target market", but many marketers are ignoring the obvious and campaigns fail to achieve results. Rushing a mobile campaign to market without being goal-driven and targeted is like giving a toddler a Motorola Q and expecting them to use it. They may be initially happy with all of the buttons, but that happiness will soon fade when all they really wanted was something shiny.
Note: This video was changed when the old clip was removed.
Now wasn't that easy and straight forward? Not! I am sure Cingular subscribers are just as confused. We'll see how this pans out for them. The iPhone launch may be the only thing keeping people as a customer here.
Just a quick post to touch on ad format standardization in the WAP mobile space. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has published a nice, concise PDF file that outlines current formats. If you have a chance check it out.
There are a couple of extra points to consider with mobile that don't really come into play with traditional interactive campaigns. Some of these points are:
Device type: is there a certain device that you're targeting (sales support/prior marketing deal) or are you targeting the broad mobile web community? Blackberry's behave different than Motorola Razr's behave different than the Sidekick and those differences are important (screen size, plug-in support, etc.).
Carrier: Are you partnering with one carrier to run a promotion or going after everybody? If you are working with one carrier, you may be able to tap into their proprietary hardware or software solutions.
Call to action: The call to action on mobile devices is also different. Users can use click-to-call to dial a number instantly, click a link to send an SMS message or vote, send an email to a specified address or proximity use proximity to find local information and drive foot traffic (maps, directions, phone listings).
Measurement is as important for mobile ads as for any other campaign type. Impressions, clicks, click-throughs, CPM, Impressions and unique users can all be used to measure and sell the ad spots.
All of this being said, there is room for improvement and certainly for innovation. Mobile campaigns have a lot of potential and as devices become more connected that potential will be realized.
Paul @ HeeHawMarketing points us to another example of a customer using photos to show the disarray inside a retailer (in this case Wal-Mart). As more and more camera/video enabled phones are sold, companies need to find ways to leverage this technology and respond to users in a personal, conversational manner. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Great work in opening up this conversation Paul.