One of my favorite TV spots from Google (UK)
The mobile ecosystem has evolved over the past three years, so why hasn’t your mobile strategy?
Three years ago less than 31% of wireless subscribers in the US owned a smartphone, the iPad was just introduced (and most people dismissed the product, suggesting it was nothing more than a large iPod Touch) and most brands were just experimenting with mobile, making their (desktop-oriented) digital properties accessible via mobile devices.
Over the past two years mobile has turned into a powerhouse. More people access social networks via mobile devices than they do the desktop, tablet sales surpassed desktop sales, and the big boys of technology (Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon) have shifted their focus, taking a mobile-first approach for all new products.
With that said, people use smartphones and tablets in very different ways. According to a 2012 Nielsen study, 73% of smartphone owners used their devices to locate a store while only 42% of tablet owners performed that same task. Likewise, 36% of smartphone owners used their devices to redeem a mobile coupon, versus only 11% with their tablets.
Alternatively, (in that same year) a whopping 42% of tablet owners used their devices to purchase items compared to only 29% of smartphone owners.
One of the trends I’m proud to see is brands are developing some sort-of mobile strategy that’s different from the overall digital strategy. While this is an excellent start, the mobile advertising ecosystem is much more complicated than it seems, and creating a simple all-encompassing mobile strategy just won’t cut it.
Think about how many areas of focus there are in “traditional” digital channels — you have SEO/SEM, email marketing, e-commerce, general website management, web-video and social media marketing (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few here, but you get the idea).
Mobile is similar in many ways. Under the category of mobile you have SMS/text marketing, apps, mobile optimized webpages, location based advertising, search, display, mobile commerce, NFC, Bluetooth proximity marketing, augmented reality, etc. Each of these areas of focus need to be custom-tailored to the device type you’re trying to reach, and creating a mobile strategy that utilizes all means that only a small proportion of mobile users are getting the full experience.
So why is it that a mobile strategy today focuses on mobile as a whole, instead of targeting users by device type? To be blunt, there’s a tremendous lack of true mobile professionals in the advertising industry. Everyone who worked in digital advertising over the past decade recently became a (self-proclaimed) mobile professional, and these folks are diluting the mobile experiences brands create today.
As is the case with all types of marketing, begin with the end in-mind. Think about your target audience, then find out which devices they use (and how they use them) and finally, determine how to create valuable brand experiences for your target audience. And, if you need help making that happen, talk to a true mobile professional. If the “mobile professional” you speak with offers a mobile strategy that doesn’t consider your target audience and their preferred device type coupled with the associated usage habits, find another one quickly!
We wanted to “log-onto” the internet using AOL or Prodigy, and we’d sit there in front of our computers just hoping and praying for the “lightning bolt” and space-age noises to connect us with the world wide web and all of the wonders it had to offer (kinda like the gif below, except this one came years later).
If you owned a Motorola StarTac, you had the latest in cellular technology and the Y2K bug was a distant worry just beginning to scare only a handful of us with its potential to roll-back the clock on government and financial institutions and bring with it total chaos.
In fact, reading this post indicates you were probably one of the few people in this country who actually used the internet at the time, as crazy as that sounds!
We’ve come a long way and unfortunately lost the pure roots from-which digital advertising once emerged. I read a wonderful post today by Brian Morrissey about the history of the banner ad, and I couldn’t help but see the comparison to the evolution of the mobile advertising industry over the past decade.
When I first began working with mobile advertising technology, brands and advertisers would consult with me and ask what could and couldn’t be done. Much to the surprise of the inquirer, my answer (in almost all cases) was, we’re only bound by creativity! There was virtually no industry regulation, and benchmarks were nonexistent.
Aside from the uncommon individual asking about accomplishing something a bit shady, most brands and advertisers that embraced mobile did so to provide some real value to the end user — the objective was generally to engage the user with the brand and provide some value the user could not find elsewhere.
Similar to the evolution of the banner ad, brands and advertisers believed that if we provided something of true value, users would really appreciate it and develop a long-lasting relationship with the brand.
What happened next was both inevitable and unfortunate — large, well funded organizations that learned to thrive in the connected digital world began to apply the same scalable ad-server technologies to mobile as they applied to the desktop experience, and that’s when advertising on the most personal device we had, our mobile phones, became impersonal.
So here’s to the Jack Dorseys, the Mark Zuckerbergs, the moonlighting, bootstrapping technologists and the kids-working-in-their-college-dormrooms of the world, who all work (or worked at some point) on creating mobile technologies that completely change the game for pure, true-to-our-digital-roots reasons. Vivat virtuosus innovations!
Great post on my other blog about #FacebookHome
AR (augmented reality) has been touted as one of the next big things in mobile/tech for the past two years, yet in-spite of marketers’ valiant efforts with inspiring one-off “successful” campaigns, AR has failed to realize its potential.
For those unfamiliar with AR, it is a live direct (or indirect) view of the physical world with elements of digital information augmented atop that view. These digital augmented elements can include GPS data or other information, and how to create enhanced user experiences through the use of that data is the topic of conversation here.
The thing about AR is it evolved a bit ahead of its time and wearable technology will need to become more ubiquitous before marketers can really capitalize on its potential. With that said, there is still some huge potential for AR today, and that potential lies in education.
Imagine a child in a typical school setting wielding an iPad instead of a text book.
Now imagine that child in a math class pointing their iPad at a mathematical formula, and being able to see the formula and the way to calculate it augmented atop the space around the formula. The child can then select the augmented calculation portion to view a lecture on how to perform the calculation on their own. Next, imagine that child in a chemistry class pointing the iPad at a Banana to find the molecular composition, history of the fruit and more just by launching an app and viewing the banana through the iPad’s screen.
Next, imagine that same child in a Spanish class where they can point their iPad at any Spanish word and see the root word, definition, male and female versions, etc. Finally, imagine that child studying astronomy using the infamous Starwalk app, allowing the child to point their iPad at the nighttime sky to view celestial objects and find more information about them like their name, age, temperature, and much more!
This potential for AR exists today and just needs to be employed for today’s students to reap the benefits!
Once wearable technology like Google Glass gains prominence, the same AR technology will be incorporated into our every day lives, allowing us to instantly identify the names and social network feeds of the people we see (using facial recognition software most of us have already opted-in to), find the nearest store to buy the shirt you see on the person in front of you, determine the nutrition facts of the food you’re looking at, find pricing and local dealers that have the car you’re looking at in stock and so much more!
RIM’s Blackberry’s mobile computing paradigm shift is enough to keep it in contention for the #3 mobile OS (operating system) spot, but will be hard-pressed to convince many former loyalists that defected to the competition to switch back.
Make no mistake about it — Blackberry’s launch announcement of the new BB10 OS on Wednesday was monumental! After almost a whole year of delay including a change to the name of the new OS, the innovative new mobile OS has finally arrived to much fanfare, although Blackberry’s two new devices, the Z10 & Q10 which both sport the new BB10 OS won’t be available in the US until next month and April respectively, demonstrating the smartphone maker has not learned much from past marketing missteps.
Although the timing of the release of their devices will not prevent the new smartphones from succeeding, it is yet another hurdle they’ve placed in front of their products making it even more difficult to succeed.
All things considered, however, the new BB10 OS truly brings about a dynamic shift in the mobile computing paradigm. Consider this: the iPhone’s iOS was the first major breakthrough in consumer smartphone computing, and Google copied iOS’s mobile computing paradigm with its Android OS to deliver a cheaper alternative. While Android-powered smartphones have become excellent smartphones, switching between an Android-powered smartphone and an iPhone will show you just how similar the two mobile computing platforms really are. Then Microsoft came around and tried to reinvent its mobile computing platform with the Windows phone 8, which to Microsoft’s credit, is a great “Windows-powered” device that reinvented (more than copied) the Android & iOS OS paradigm.
But the new BB10 OS is truly different (I won’t go into the details here, but if you want to read more about why it’s so different, click here), and that’s why the OS has a fighting chance. The big problems for Blackberry are, many of the gestures Blackberry added into its BB10 OS will likely find their way into Android-powered phones and iPhones in the near future and there are essentially three groups of people who are target customers:
- Current Blackberry loyalists who will invariably purchase the new devices.
- Android users who may switch once there are more apps available on the platform (which will happen because Blackberry has made it easier than ever to port Android apps over to the BB10 platform)
- iPhone users who are unlikely to switch because they have so many apps and accessories they’ve purchased that making the switch will cost a lot of money and will make their life less connected (because of the way apple products work together — think Airplay and iCloud sync services). Plus, iPhone users have the added benefit of being really satisfied with their mobile experiences, so they really don’t have any incentive to make the leap to a different (and marginally better) platform.
So what do you think — will enough people buy new Blackberry products to support the company’s growth at levels that prevent the smartphone maker from licensing its software and bring about the end of Blackberry as we know it?
On the heels of Facebook’s acquisition of the increasingly popular photo-sharing service Instagram, Insta-CEO Kevin Systrom is being called-upon for the inevitable challenge; deciding how to monetize the growing fledgeling platform.
While Systrom hasn’t announced any official plans yet, this decision could make-or-break the product. As is the case with every new technology that is initially built to accomplish a purpose other than simply being profitable (think Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, etc.), the monetization strategy will either harm the platform by cluttering it with ads, or will create a symbiotic relationship between advertisers and users where advertisers find unparalleled opportunities and users find improved user experiences, be that from more funding (and hence, more attention to detail), or a platform’s ability to present relevant advertiser information at the right time.
The importance of this decision cannot be overstated and I have the rare benefit of being able to look at technology from both a developer’s perspective and a consumer’s, a skill generally lacking in my field. As a developer, my first instinct is to place advertisements throughout users’ news-feeds as well as add them along the borders of each page (similar to Facebook’s current setup), promote specific advertisers and place “targeted” banner ads inside the application…you know, the traditional stuff. As an Instagram user, I have no desire to see my beloved photo-sharing platform become commoditized.
As a hybrid user, I like the idea of being able to add premium filters (in-app advertising), find fellow ‘Instagramers’ that share similar shots (think, Facebook’s facial recognition software meets Pandora’s music genome algorithm) which may or may not be from advertisers, having integrated printing methods so that my Insta-artwork can be displayed on a number of different products in the real world (think CapThat but integrated into the Instagram user interface), and receiving additional recognition from brands I like (that find me because Instagram provides advertisers with a social listening tool that utilizes images shared by users).
In the interim, let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope the business model Instagram’s leaders suggest considers how great it is now and how great it can be with a win-win (unique) monetization strategy that capitalizes on its core strengths.
Do you love Instagram? What monetization techniques would you welcome from Systrom’s team?
Today I read a fantastic post by Jakob Nielsen called Intranet Users Stuck at Low Productivity, depicting the latest productivity data on intranet users from a three part study, essentially concluding that productivity for intranet users has decreased in the last ten years.
The post goes on to outline the compound inefficiencies created by the problem in the enterprise environment, where the result is many full-time employee years of lost time. I’ll add that many of these employees are among the highest earners in organizations, which makes the inefficiency problem’s cost even higher than it appears at first glance.
Nielsen suggests the problem is not being caused by a degradation of features or usability; in fact, he suggests there are now more features and users experience better usability than ever before. Rather, Nielsen suggests (the studies indicate) the problem is being caused by dramatically more complex problems attacked by today’s intranets.
So how can designers make more complex intranets accomplish more without wasting as much of its users’ time? There are two answers, and the first is offered by Nielsen. Nielsen suggests customizing the generic software employed on intranets more regularly. While I agree with that solution, I’d like to offer a second — integrating mobile from the start.
Among the mobile medium’s key strengths are it’s sensory system (more specifically location awareness), personalized nature and primary search tool functionalities.
To briefly elaborate, mobile devices are location aware (be that from GPS, cell site triangulation or WiFi base station location), and utilizing a mobile device’s location awareness allows for a system to prioritize the information a user is looking for by the user’s location. For example, a user working out of an accounting department’s physical location should see information that is relevant to the tasks performed by people in accounting first (both in menus and in search).
Mobile devices are also personalized in nature, so if a member of an organization logs-into a private network (by simply firing-up a personalized app that is “always on”) and/or runs a search query, offering menus and/or results that are customized by employee/organizational-position assures more relevant information presents itself when needed.
Lastly, mobile devices are our primary search tools. We know how to find almost anything on our devices, and many of us use the spotlight search functionality (or some other one-to-two-click search function) on our devices to do so. Why can’t private networks offer similar functionality and integrate that into users’ devices, whether that appears in the form of a network specific search or it is integrated into each devices spotlight search function?
And to make the intranets of tomorrow even more efficient, combining all of the data provided by mobile devices and running it through an algorithm will allow for the absolute most relevant information to be presented to a user at any given time. For example, combining a user’s location with their job description, and making that information accessible through simple search functionality will make at least an incremental difference in efficiency, and when dealing with huge compound numbers, even incremental differences can be monumental.
Many of today’s big data problems have already been solved by the best minds in the world (albeit the focus until now has been on monetizing that information and hence, the industries that have received the most attention are the marketing and digital media industries). If we can take what has already been done for the advertising industry and apply those paradigms to big data and the enterprise, user experience inefficiencies will decrease significantly, saving potentially billions of dollars in lost time every year.
In the last two years the concept of an app discoverability problem has surfaced. The notion is, there are so many mobile applications in each app store it has become nearly impossible for most developers to make their app’s stand out and be downloaded.
The next and even bigger problem most successful developers face is, once their app is downloaded, how can they get users to engage with the app more than a handful of times. (For the time-being let’s shelve this second topic because it’s a big one, and focus on the issue at hand — app discovery. If you want to read more about how to ensure your app is used regularly as well as what the future of app’s holds, check out this post from earlier this year).
Of course, there are specific app’s that have gained notoriety, however, if you think about the sheer number of mobile applications available out there (Apple’s App Store has more than 600,000 of them), if you are a developer and you launch a new stand-alone app, how are you going to get your application noticed and downloaded?
Essentially, you have a few options at your disposal: get a journalist’s attention and hope they publicly post a review of your app, hope that your app is featured in an app store (which will in-turn, drive popularity), build an app that supports software that has a user-base in the millions, get an influencer (essentially, a celebrity of sorts) to promote your app to their circle of influence, or finally, use good old ad networks to advertise your app via banner ads displayed on mobile devices.
These options are inefficient for most developers, and I look at this “problem” as a self-correcting solution. Essentially, there have been so many useless (or only marginally useful) stand-alone app’s created the marketplace has become flooded. The useless app’s fell by the wayside and the useful app’s have gained popularity and recognition (for being useful).
There are still places with less competition allowing for useless app’s to be noticed (specifically, new marketplaces such as Microsoft’s for devices running Windows 8), but eventually all app stores with large user-bases will experience some variation of the same fate. (Please note that I’m not nocking game developers here, and there will always be a place for stand-alone games, especially those that utilize new technologies).
All of that said, branded app’s are an entirely different story. Consumers have come to expect seamless mobile experiences from their favorite brands, and if you are a brand manager and have not yet created a fantastic branded mobile experience for your patrons, now is the time to get it done (chances are your competitors have already released a second or third version of their branded experience). No matter how many app’s are in any given app store, your customers are searching for your brand by name and failing to provide a wonderful branded mobile experience imposes a huge opportunity cost including many of your customers finding your competition first.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.