Archive for the ‘Widgets’ Category

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. 


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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Is it just me, or is it a total “duh” moment that the FBI should be utilizing social tools, and content syndication to deputize the socially minded consumer base. Hence, the FBI’s 10 most wanted, the widget. I’m sure there are tons of cool things that the FBI and government agencies have been doing online, but it’s great to finally see a few.

[clearspring_widget title=”FBI 10 Most Wanted” wid=”4918afbf75b4da7f” pid=”4934a24598bc68cc” width=”304″ height=”454″ domain=””]

elfLast year over 25 million Americans Elved themselves. Heck, even the anchors from Good Morning America Elved themselves on the air – talk about a “viral success”.

Did you Elf yourself? Do you remember what brand provided the cool elfinator?

Chances are the answer is “nope”. Better yet, when I conduct public seminars and ask that question, sometimes I get the exact opposite answer that the brand behind it, OfficeMax, would want – Staples. At least they got the category right – but only because they are marketing folks who have read about the campaign at some point or another. I have yet to meet one average consumer who elved themselves and remembers the brand. In an era when over-emphasizing your brand in an experiential execution like this can be looked at as cheesey and shunned by the average consumer, what is the ramification of under-emphasizing your brand? Impact thus equals zero?  Maybe, maybe not. This story continues…

Enter year three of Elf Yourself. Consumer behavior has been established, value proposition has been confirmed, logo inserted more prominently – let’s see if this year Elf Yourself can create an impact for OfficeMax. Will consumers Elf themselves in droves again this year? How will correlation of engagement be measured by OfficeMax? While normally the million dollar question would be – does it sell more office supplies? This year you can embed your dancing elf (ie: Elf Yourself 2.0), which requires registration – a portion of which are opting in for ongoing email communication from OfficeMax, you can buy customized coffee mugs, greeting cards, ornaments, mousepads, playing cards, or prints, and for $3.99 you can buy a DVD of your customized dancing elf. So there are a multitude of measurable elements here, including brand attribution that can be measured attitudinally. I look forward to inevitably hearing about the campaign performance after the holidays.

Kudos to Jib Jab, the producers of Elf Yourself, who provide a plethora of “insert your face here” and other executions for every holiday and even major current events. I also ask myself – isn’t there equal or maybe even more value being created for them?


Marketers and agencies pay attention – the future of mobile is unfolding before our eyes, and it is important to understand the foundational building blocks of how this is all happening and what it means for us…

The industry’s been eager for the release of the first Android OS mobile device, which together with the cult-like movement of the iPhone, will be catalysts for our mobile future. T-Mobile revealed the device as the G1. We’ve all been previously referring to this device as the HTC Dream.

The focal point of Android is of course an open platform, but apparently  it is launching with a significant dependence on third party developers to add some advanced functionality to what seems like a basic default feature set. According to the Android Developer’s blog, the Android Market (app store equivalent) will allow any applications to be offered.

We chose the term “market” rather than “store” because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available.

While the potential benefits of this openness are evident to guys like me, unfortunately this is not a selling point to the average Joe! That being said, remember that over 100 million apps have been sold in Apple’s app store, 10 million in the first weekend release of the 3G iPhone alone.

Will Android stack up? Well, not at first – mainly because we are only talking about one initial device from a carrier that is not exactly the market leader, T-Mobile., not to mention the lack of enterprise support like syncing with exchange. Seriously, what is with first generation launches lacking support for the people who want these devised the most!

The first generation iPhone took 74 days to sell 1 million devices, while the second generation took just one weekend to do the same. In a device driven consumer market, Android is not about the device but the open nature of the operating system. Although the iPhone has a unique OS as well,  it is the pop culture icon that Apple has become and the slick device design that sells the phones, not the OS. The HTC device I’m sure is well crafted. I have used nothing but HTC phones for the last 4 years – they rock – plain and simple. The marketing message of “Hey get an Android phone and support the next generation of the open mobile web and application ecosystem” is a difficult one for the average consumer – you and I may be sold, but the average Joe is another story and will take time.

A couple of key take aways about the T-Mobile G1…

A Few Downsides

– No ability to sync exchange (sorry, that’s a killer for me!)

– No desktop application or syncing

– Many features are going to be 3rd party dependent and not present yet

– The only current video capabilities are YouTube videos (what!?!)

– Soft cap of 1GB data transfer per month with T-Mobile’s option to throttle back to a mere 50kbps!!! (bad, very bad)

A Few Upsides

– 3G Speed (with the exception of the last point above)

– The potential feature set from the openness to third parties

– Touch screen AND QWERTY keyboard (good ‘ol HTC)

– Integrated Google Maps & Street View

If you are wondering why all of this all matters to you, the marketer or agency, it is because that the future of mobile marketing is bright and  we have entered a in a new phase of evolution that will soon become part of your marketing plan if it has not done so already.

MySpace launched their developer area earlier this year, and last month announced new tools for marketersto manage their branded pages. Up until now marketers have had to work with the creative team at MySpace and provide assets that were ultimately put together by MySpace. I’m seeing more and more social network integration deals across all of the nets (MySpace, Facebook & Bebo are really the only ones that I track), so this makes a ton of sense. Oh yeah, did I mention that MySpace’s revenue in 2007 was around $1 billion?

I’ve heard rumors that MySpace is now deleting pages from marketers when they are not paid branded pages (although that rumor is still unconfirmed).

I caught this postabout MySpace charging for App promotion yesterday (it includes slides from MySpace’s powerpoint where they are pitching this product). Ultimately I believe that this is a good thing. Consumers are swimming in widget/application overload, it’s far too cluttered already. Clutter makes discovering relevant experiences more difficult, and it’s good to see some of ther reigns being pulled in on that. On the other hand, diversity also fosters the potential of the creation of relevant content and experiences in the first place. So it’s a balance that needs to be struck. This move of course also unevens the playing field for the little guy once again – but in business the playing field has never been, and will never be even anyway. Let’s just say that new media has made it a little more balanced, but “even” is a pipe-dream.

Ultimately, providing the distribution platform to developers, so they can produce applications for consumers, and making consumers available to marketers (with all the associated vaults of data behind them) is the formula for growth and success here.  I love this space – social media rocks.

I admit it. I love widget advertising. It adds a social media element to rich media, and on a larger scale, it helps social mediaWidget become better entrenched in the consumer’s online journey, versus existing only at destination points. With each jump in ad format quality, richness and interconnectedness to other systems are enhancing the consumer experience by making it more relevant, while in lock-step also improving marketing effectiveness.

I reported last September that Google Gadget Ads added the additional dimension of rich media and interoperability to a well distributed existing ad sense network. Following that, in October I reported that EyeWonder had launched a social media / embeddable rich media unit, and the trend will continue with all other rich media platforms and even large publishers and agency holding companies following suit. AOL’s Platform A just made their foray into the mix by acquiring Goowy Media last week – soon widget ads will be everywhere. Consumers will one day soon become accustomed to accessing and embedding information from their favorite brands through their online marketing.

“Reach out and touch someone? Screw that – reach out and embed someone!” (quote – Jason Heller 2008)

It’s a formidable battle ground in the widigetizing, sharing, bookmarking, tagging or otherwise socially integrating everything into everything else game. Incorporating social media attributes into rich media opens up a new dimension that taps into the social fabric of the changing web itself – the same social fabric responsible for the spurts of exponential and organic growth of some of today’s social media darlings like YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, Digg, or Flickr, as examples. Marketers will learn how to distribute marketing assets of various formats, thus increasing consumer (market) engagement, extending the life of marketing campaigns, and leveraging brand advocates and ambassadors in new ways and more extensively than ever before.

Question for my fellow media geeks out there – did technology drive consumer adoption, or did adoption drive technology? Or – did technology first drive consumer adoption, which drove more technology, which in turn drove more adoption, and so on? Do the iterations of each shift happen at an increasing pace? Are technological progress and consumer adoption becoming one? Then why do my laptop and mobile device keep crashing all the time? (Ok I took that one too far …. does chicken or egg really matter anyway?)

It’s a lot of fun to be a marketer and a consumer these days!

In the spirit of having fun marketing, I have just launched a widget and Facebook application for The Digital Blur . It’s actually a Blidget – part blog part midget, err – widget. You can grab it here for any social media site or blog. Enjoy!