Posts Tagged ‘Mobile marketing’

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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dgdYesterday I had the honor of being the emcee for two half day conferences, DigiDay Mobile & DigiDay Social. During hard economic times, the turnout for these conferences was actually almost shocking. I was amazed to see a standing room only crowd as early as 7:45am.  This was the first mobile and social media conference for DM2 Events (soon to be renamed DigiDay Events, I believe), run by Nick Friese, formerly of MediaPost & OMMA.

If you couldn’t make it in person, there were many attendees in the audience posting play-by-play sound bytes via Twitter, and others blogging about it. Presentations will be available via slideshare as well.

While it was a long day chock full of interesting presentations, I’ll whittle it down to a few paragraphs…

DigiDay Mobile

The mobile conference kicked off the morning discussing the elephant in the room – the economy. The main take away was that although many marketers still look at mobile as an experimental channel, usage and adoption among consumers is still increasing. The ability to easily integrate mobile into an overall marketing mix presents tremendous opportunities to engage consumers.

The presentation that resonated most with me and many of the conference attendees was by Jeremy Wright from Nokia (co-founder of Enpocket, which was acquired by Nokia several years ago). Jeremy provided a truly global perspective of how ubiquitous and powerful the mobile channel has become, how in emerging markets the mobile web is THE web, how the world is becoming clickable, and how reach matters (imagine that).

DigiDay Social

This was a fun event to emcee. Social media marketing is the hottest topic in the marketing world today. Everything is becoming infused with social media tools and experiences, and the tipping point on diving into the social media world is behind us. It is no longer a “nice to have” capability for an agency, nor an ancillary tactic for marketers – social media marketing has become its own discipline and requires the strategic planning and acumen as any other marketing discipline.

The opening keynote for the social media conference was Scott Monty from Ford.  Scott has become a social media brand himself and has helped Ford become a leader in social media for the automotive category. His keynote focused on how Ford uses various social channels to connect with consumers. Ford’s positioning is “Drive One” and their social media positioning is “Meet One”.

Other notable presentations included a case study by Don Steele, VP Digital Marketing for MTV Networks, who preached engaging consumers where they habituate online. The four pillars of MTVN’s social strategy: Organic, Smart, Engaging, Honest. It was great to hear about how MTV works within and monitors social networks, social bookmarks, picture and video sharing sites, Wikipedia and more. This was one of the few holistic presentations I’ve heard in a while. Way to go Don!

The panel on social media measurement and ROI, as expected, was a highly tweeted panel. Although there are no standards for measuring social media ROI, it’s become a given that as any business investment, it has to have a return, even if the return is hard to measure and part of a bigger picture – which of course social media is on both counts.

The last panel of the day was about “What are you doing/buying right now? Where can you get the best ROI on your social marketing investment?” – this panel reflected the advertising side of social media, a topic not discussed for most of the day that focused on the marketing applications versus advertising. Although audience members probably wanted to walk away with a short list on what to buy beyond Facebook and MySpace, not many specifics were discussed. Although mainly focused on advertising, the panel reminded the audience that social media is still about providing value to the consumer  and engaging them in the right manner. A solid point driven home was that the “click” is inherently an anti-social behavior – why make someone move away from a social activity they are participating in (not that anyone is foolish enough to use clicks to measure anything, right?!?). Panlist Eric Wheeler, CEO of 33Across helped to end the panel with a great line that he quoted from David Olgilvy  “Never stand between a client and their drink.”… and a lively cocktail hour (or two) followed!

See you at the next event!

While I often joke that next year has been the year for mobile marketing for the last three years, one of the real truths behind that statement has been the carriers clinging on to every ounce of control at the expense of the holistic ecosystem growth. Of course the other factors that contributed to this – slow network data speed and devices that didn’t facilitate good consumer experiences, are soon to be a thing of the past with 3G networks and the widespread adoption of devices that are designed for more than just voice services.

When I read about Verizon potentially moving forward with a new SMS rate structure for marketers last month, I had no idea that it would be such an abrupt roll out. Today I learned that the new rate structure, a flat $0.03 per outbound SMS, which in many instances doubles to quadruples the costs of a marketer’s SMS program, (depending on scale) will roll out on Nov 1st!

While SMS marketing has certainly started to take off, in no way is it widely adopted yet, and many of those who have adopted it are still funding it with discretionary budgets. Amid the current economic crisis, this could not have happened at a worse time.

That being said – business is business and Verizon has the right to increase fees, and I do indeed hope that this is a warranted increase, as opposed to Verizon’s means of increase revenue versus offsetting rising costs. Although if that is the case, I would assume that other carriers will follow suit. The billion dollar question is whether the new rates will decrease volume and thereby decrease the market? At the very least it will contribute to a possible decline in growth rates prior to the market hitting its tipping point.

Participate in My SMS Poll
Text the word OPTIONS to 75309 to participate in a poll on the subject. You will be prompted to answer the question: Do you plan on implementing mobile marketing in 2009? Reply with “A1” for Yes, “A2” for No, and “A3” for Undecided.

Live results can be found here
(courtesy of

Go ahead, scan it!

The short answer – I sure hope so! We need a universal standard and although it does not exist yet, ScanBuy  seems to have the leg up on creating a global standard. They currently read both their proprietary code format as well as other QR codes. This doesn’t mean that they will monopolize the market, but certainly does give them a head start to remaining the major player for some time.

Earlier this year it was announced that Sprint would promote the installation of the ScanBuy reader. When I saw the ad  (at the bottom of this post) in Wired magazine in Dec 2007 promoting the Scanbuy reader I was really excited. Here we are one year later and nothing.

For some reason the US is lagging behind in the QR code market, and I just don’t get it. QR codes can be a great way to activate and marketing and even non-marketing communications in all channels, and in a fairly engaging manner. Is it because our phone models and high speed data connections have lagged behind? That’s my main guess. Of course, using QR codes requires a level of education among consumers on how to use the technology, but the benefits are certainly there and we all have a vested interest in becoming part of the solution in our own ways.

Scanbuy announced that it has secured a global agreement with Samsung, the second largest phone manufacturer in the world (samsung is expected to sell over 200 million handsets in 2008). As part of the deal Samsung will preload the ScanLife mobile 2D barcode application on Samsung’s camera phones.   Samsung will begin selling these phones in Spain, Italy, and Denmark starting as early as next month.  Availability will quickly expand to other major markets including Mexico and the United States. Samsung’s extensive line of popular phones includes the Blackjack, Glyde, and the recently released Instinct.

Once this rolls out in the US, we will have a consumer base with a pre-installed QR code reader among the 18% of the market that Samsung represents. The ScanBuyreader is also currently available in the iPhone App Store, but I don’t know how embraced it is. Since next year has been the year for mobile for several years now – next year really does seem to be a good year for mobile marketing.

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.

G-Phone“Disruptive”. The beloved term that labels some of the great technology, processes or businesses that displace or largely disrupt an existing market or industry. Google has earned this title on many levels, for many products and consumer behaviors that they have spawned.  So when CEO Eric Schmidt states that the cellphone market is the largest growth opportunity for Google, it presents the mobile marketing world with an indication that some of the [much needed] innovation is on the way. Not just from the likes of Google, but from the carriers and device manufacturers as well.

I’ll never forget the day that I received the demo of how Sprint planned to open their deck to advertising in 2006. The initial response to my inquiry about mobile search and Google was that they were developing their own and may end up blocking access to Google for bandwidth reasons. I know that carriers are the last of a protective-pipe-breed, but what an  odd approach.  Obviously the potential of muscling out the search providers already failed, as just one year later each carrier has partnerships with major search providers.

The prospect of billions of mobile ad impressions was exciting … for the carriers. Although I am a proponent and active practitioner of mobile marketing, I still feel that both the existing on-deck and WAP experiences are poor, and the main barrier to widespread consumer adoption of the mobile web.

Think about it – the mobile web today is the equivalent of the wired-web back when it had low adoption and penetration, but everyone had a computer. We still tried to pump rich media through small pipes back in the late ’90s. The device was in place, but adoption and penetration only improved with the quality of the experience – mainly the speed of the connection and the evolution of the types of content and utility offered. Marketing opportunities followed the curve closely.

The same way consumer behavior varies from a medium like TV versus the web for example, so does it vary from the web to the mobile web. Hence the reason why SMS is effective and embraced, as it is appropriate for the on-the-go mode of a mobile device.

Enter the iPhone…Enter the perception of what the iPhone stands for – a mobile web experience wrapped in a slick device that becomes the embodiment of your digital lifestyle. Plagued by their weakest link, the speed of the network, and Apple’s decision to keep the device free of most 3rd party applications, the iPhone increased perception of the mobile web, but didn’t do all that much in improving the experience (ok YouTube is  easier to access than it was before) – albeit a valiant attempt.

However, the G-Phone isn’t competing with the iPhone, but rather with Microsoft. The effort is a smart attempt at a land grab for the mobile operating system, currently dominated by Microsoft, but very much fertile ground for innovation and competition. The open source Linux based operating system will become a conduit to generate ad revenues and continue to strengthen the Google brand.

If Eric Schmidt’s statements about the cellphone market presenting the largest growth opportunity for Google are true, we’ll have an interesting round of progress which will vastly improve the experience for consumers and over the next 12 – 24 months provide marketers with a brave new mobile marketing world to play in.