Archive for September, 2009

interactive_quickOrder_2Aren’t the constant glimpses of the future in our everyday lives awesome. I just downloaded the new Starbucks applications on my iPhone and caught one of those glimpses.  Note: I’m not sure why they split these apps into two, I was unhappy that this now takes up two spots on my iPhone deck and the two apps should have been one – just one of those dumb things smart marketers do. But I digress and don’t want to take away from the innovation here.

One of the apps is exactly what you would expect from Starbucks – you can find store locations, hours and features and you can build your regular drinks and share them with friends so they have your order for the next coffee run (for the record the Dunkin’ Run app offered that utility first). It’s clean, it’s intuitive, it’s a great app that we’d expect. The second app however is a mobile version of the popular Starbucks card, and this is where you can glimpse into the future with me. Close you eyes and join along (well, metaphorically. please don’t close your eyes or you can’t finish reading this post.)

In 16 test stores (8 in Silicon Valley and 8 in Seattle) mobile Starbucks card users will actually be able to pay for their orders at point of sale (POS) with their iPhones. Starbucks has installed special barcode scanners  that are capable of scanning semacodes, which would be created by the card holder for each order. Quite literally, your iPhone becomes a mobile Starbucks card. 

interactive_quickOrder_3

So – why is scanning a barcode innovative you say? Well, conceptually it’s not. But the challenge we have faced with mobile coupons and barcode scanning stem from the fact that the mobile handset emits light and the barcode displayed is an image that is being emitted as part of the light. Current barcode scanners at POS everywhere cannot scan a code on a handset! It is an issue that many smart technologists are working on solving, and present a market-level opportunity. JC Penny, as an example, is the first national retailer experimenting with the deployment of mobile coupon scanners. It’s big news, albeit only a test in 16 stores for now (not sure what’s up with these 16 store tests). The stores required new scanners – to be specific, the Motorola DS9808 digital imager scanner, which can read 1D, 2D and PDF-417 bar codes. I trust that we’ll all agree that once mobile coupons and barcodes can be scanned at (POS) at retail everywhere, we will see another boost in mobile participation from consumers and marketers alike. Call it coupon clipping 2.0. This aint your grandma’s couponing!

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mobile-socialFollowing last week’s DigiDay Social & DigiDay Mobile conferences,  I had a chance to brainstorm about how social and mobile marketing were becoming such interconnected bedfellows. The trend is only strengthening.

Consumers are looking for experiential and utility value in social and mobile channels. The experiences we provide consumers are converging, and becoming less about the channel, platform or destination, and more about experience itself (I’d argue that it was always that way),  the development, distribution and measurement of these distributed experiences must strive for complete interoperability.

Currently, devices and platforms have various protocols and standards that make this a lot of work for developers, and more importantly, a major expense for companies. The end result – few companies have a consistent digital experience to offer consumers that transcends any platform or device the consumer chooses. Consumers want this, marketers want this.

Enter Adobe…yes, Adobe.

Apparently Adobe plans on creating uniformity across social and mobile applications.  Essentially a developer could build flash-based apps in a to-be-released authoring tool, that will be customized to deliver experiences to consumers in each native environment. Sounds like the holy grail of a uniform experience across various social platforms and channels. Of course the acquisition of Omniture will provide deep analytics into the performance of these distributed experiences. Adobe, I applaud you for taking this stand.

Not The First Time

Flash has been the basis of rich experiences online for over a decade. And why wouldn’t the makers of Flash want to maintain and even bolster this ubiquitous position? Those who have been in the digital media space for sometime remember when Macromedia (original brand that developed Flash) partnered with Doubleclick to develop DART Motif. Well, Macromedia’s involvement was limited, but the strategy was the same – create a level of uniformity between otherwise disparate systems that develop and deliver Flash-based experiences. Times have changed, and Adobe has far more skin in the game now. This is a big play. This can be a major boon for the  entire ecosystem – developers, marketers, content providers, and of course consumers.

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Agencies have become commoditized. To a degree many may have deserved it. But a good strategically minded agency is a good partner and needs to be treated as such. Commoditized agencies have no problem doing spec work, or bowing to clients’ every demand. Clients – I love you, how can I not, but if you see yourself in this video, know that you are often hurting yourself more than your agency or partners. The reality is – good work is not cheap. As the adage goes: Pick two of the following: Fast, Cheap, Good.

Enjoy!