Archive for June, 2009


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Blockbuster films and fast food and consumer rewards – it’s a great (and profitable) combination. This summer brings both an in-store and on-line promotion, the Burger King ‘Transform Your Way‘ scratch-off game.  Prizes offered range from a million dollars to a 99 cent cheeseburger. 

The heart of the game is scratchers available with a selected menu item purchased at Burger King – scratch the right combination and claim your prize. You can also enter online with a code found on the game piece.

How about taking that old fashioned scratcher to the next level? Mobile device touch screens are becoming more common. Imagine if you could build purely digital scratchers via touch screen interfaces. The experience would be more interactive, tactile, and engaging. Here’s what we think the scratcher could be like:

 
Companies would save a bundle on printing and shipping and additional content could be promoted simultaneously. The additional content features could be further subsidized by banner ads for theaters, merchandise, fan features or special discounts.  

Saving money and making money. What company would turn down that opportunity? 

There’s even an environmentally green component – no wasteful materials used and potential litter eliminated.  

Every marketer is hungry for information about who is buying their product. When consumers play the digital scratcher, companies could harvest additional valuable marketing information. Perfect for targeting future contests. Or even promoting the blockbuster film yet again when it becomes available for rental, purchase, or on-demand download.

Source: Brandweek article




Trends are, well, trendy. So who blame companies for jumping on one? 

At this year’s Mobile World Congress “app stores” were the talk of the town. As Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher told a panel at Mobile Entertainment Market ‘09 in London: “Every man and his dog is launching an app store.”  This reminds me of everyone wanting Web portals circa 1999. As if portals would solve all problems. Mimicry didn’t work then and it won’t work for the app store fad of today.

 

Dog App Store

Companies need to ask the right questions before launching into a trendy product such as “Do I need an app store?” or “How can I differentiate my app experience and be profitable”? 

App stores need to provide something unique to their end-users. A company who can nail this will surely see a profit spike. Here are a  few ideas : 

  • Gifting – Users can purchase content to give away to a friend, relative, colleague, etc.  
  • Storefronts and content could be personalized with different holidays (New Year, Fourth of July), events (Superbowl, Academy Awards) and celebrations (Birthdays, Anniversaries). 
  • Users would get immediate recommendations for similarly purchased content (Amazon has this feature as “people who bought this product also bought that”)
  • Rewards for users who recommend content to others via digital points or similar virtual economy systems. Points could be used to purchase additional content or special upgrades. 

App stores themselves could also use an upgrade. Some ideas include: 

  • Discovery could be streamlined to locate content faster and easier. 
  • Voice searching technology could be integrated as it advances.  
  • More intelligent searching could be enabled by adapting to common searches. For example:  When a summer blockbuster is released, add dictionaries with actor names and film language. Those searches could be linked to merchandise available, additional content, etc.  
  • There’s really no reason for every person to see the same mobile UI. Device user interfaces could be adapted based on user preferences. The user interface itself could be ordered by demographic profiles or past behavior that adapt intelligently when patterns shift. Users who like productivity would get those apps featured more prominently while entertainment fans would have entertainment apps showcased. If their buying patterns changed, the user interface would again adapt intelligently.

So here’s a challenge, look at your app store and instead of thinking “me too” think “innovation.”

Source: mocoNews article




HTC announced the HTC Hero with the Sense UI. The device features a very slick user interface and also pioneers as being the first Android device to ship with a Flash player. 

Check out the user interface:

 

Specifically, it’s interesting to see widgets used so prominently for easy customization and personalization, not just offering standard device manufacturer widgets like stocks and weather. Widgets help mobile devices users get a lot of benefit out of their device 

The HTC Hero features the first Flash player on an Android  The Flash player allows content to be played full screen from the web browser.  See how it works with this video from Adobe.  

The HTC Hero also encourages exploration. This emphasis is wonderful for the industry as it trains consumers to do more and more with their mobile.  Good for consumers and good for the mobile industry. Thanks HTC.




RealNetworks has introduced RealPlayer SP, it’s latest media player. S stands for “social” and P for “portable”. It allows users to record, download, and share DRM-free video via a browser plugin. (A free version of the player is available for download at Realplayer.com)Friends Sharing Media

Now, in addition to recording videos, users can easily move them to other platforms. Say you’re browsing and find something relevant to a project you and a colleague are working on – you need to get the information to him immediately. If it’s shareable content, you can go easily pass it on via email. Additionally you can pass it on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Say your coworker is in the gym listening to his iPod or at home relaxing with his Xbox? RealPlayer SP lets you send it there. 

I mentioned “shareable content” because RealPlayer SP is intelligent in recognizing material that can legally be shared while protecting content sites that prohibit sharing (such as Hulu.com). In short - Protected content can’t be shared – copyright holders will love this feature too.

One interesting aspect is the wide range of non-phone devices that can receive content from RealPlayer such as PSPs, Apple TV or the Xbox. These type of ideas enable convergence: Imagine when you could do this easily from any device. Again, it’s great for the industry to encourage innovation and personal media sharing.

Source: mocoNews article




Amazon is tapping into their user community even further with a contest to create a television ad. Your Amazon Ad Contest  asks customers to make a short video advertising the mega-shopping site. Two winners will receive $10,000 Amazon gift cards and a screening at a New York City film festival. This is another smart way the e-marketing giant is utilizing their fans and users.

User Generated Film Crew

What I like about this is that the company is not only leveraging user generated content for its purposes while also compensating the users for their contributions. Rewarding creators monetarily is one of the components that is lacking in today’s social media universe.  Advertising “by the people” goes back to the 1950’s when television advertisers relied heavily on jingles. Contests would give the general public a shot at writing a national commercial jingle. An interesting film about this part of advertising history is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio starring Julianne Moore as a mother who enters jingle contests to support her ten children.  

I was skeptical that Amazon’s community could produce an advertisement that would match the high production value seen on the screen these days. However, they will only buy airtime and actually run the TV spots if solid, high quality creative is generated.

If this contest is widely successful for Amazon, it will be interesting to witness the disruption if companies start to bypass their agencies and tap into their user pool directly for advertisement. 

Similar contests are happening at Current TV, Al Gore’s Emmy Award winning cable network, with two huge companies - T-Mobile and Unilever. Unilever’s is asking Current TV viewers to create ads for Axe Hair Crisis products. The winner will get $2,500, but could collect $60,000 if the ad is broadcast beyond the network.  Similarly, T-Mobile is asking viewers to produce ads for their Sidekick LX phone.

As tapping into user generated content and creativity becomes more common, it will be exciting to see users rewarded and their work married with professional production.

Source: Brandweek Article Amazon Preps TV Return



Nader | 1:58 pm |

Why do we buy what we buy? It’s a complex question about the psychology of economy and it’s not an easy one to answer. emarketer recently had an interesting post that explores how consumers utilize word-of-mouth recommendations vs. bloggers or chat room recommendations when deciding what to buy. Contrary to the post’s conclusion, I was surprised to find that I’m more likely to take recommendations and buy a product based on information from an on-line community. Strangers trump friends? Shopping Mall Crowd

While I personally do seek out and listen to referrals from friends or colleagues rather than a random blog post, I typically tap into The Wisdom of Crowds mentality.  The Wisdom of Crowds is a book exploring the theory that information in groups leads to decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group.  The book has a great anecdote from the 1800’s describing how a crowd accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged.  Statisticians at the time were amazed to find that the average was closer than every individual estimate and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts. 

I tend to use this method frequently for making purchases online. For example, when searching for software, I noticed that the first pieces I’d research to potentially purchase were ones that had lots of reviews.  My assumption was that if the software was good, people would be compelled to post a review or comments. But under that assumption, I ended up reading pages and pages of reviews and comments. Now, I look for products that have the most reviews posted. Then I only read the top three or four positive and negative reviews. It’s a quantity vs. quality issue and now I can typically buy a product in five or ten minutes just by leveraging the popularity of the product as well as user generated reviews. 

Mobile devices are invaluable for making (or dissuading) on-the-spot purchases when you go shopping at a brick-and-mortar store.  Not only can you access information anywhere, you can tap into a variety of review communities as well as use the info easily due to advances in the mobile user interface presentation layer.

 So talking to friends and relatives about a purchase is fine…but tapping into a rich on-line community might help you reach your ultimate purchasing goal whether it’s to find the best product, perfect features or a great value. Don’t forget the “time is money” factor. Try out the “crowd” method the next time you’re comparison shopping and I guarantee you’ll save valuable minutes, or even hours.




Swedish home furnishings super store IKEA is capitalizing on social media arena to sell their stuff in an interesting way.  

IKEA Social Media Bedroom

The ‘Design Your Own Life’ Bedroom Secrets campaign is a good example in that it harnesses user generated content to sell physical consumer goods. The gist of the program is allowing shoppers to literally have a look inside Dutch bedrooms.  Users upload pictures of their bedrooms they’ve designed with IKEA products to show creative uses of products currently for sale.

A mobile component would be a great fit for this type of campaign. Imagine finding a product you love in a retail showroom, being ready to buy but could having reservations about how it will fit in with your home or your lifestyle.  You can check out a user generated mobile gallery that will not only show you how the furniture might look in your space inspire new ideas and additional purchases.  This is a very interesting expansion on how retailers showcase and promote products. 

Word of mouth matters - involved and excited consumers are sure to spark sales and build more brand loyalty. If you’re trying to promote physical goods, what ways could you enable creativity in your community?

Source: Adverblog Post




Phoolah is taking mobile customization and personalization and mobile payments to the next level. (The name comes from a combination of payment card, personalized skin and mobile phone).  It’s a personalized skin for your mobile phone that has an RFID reader allowing you to pay your bill and reload your account over the air.  Phoolah innovates combining two things consumers crave – personal flair and easy payment options.Mobile Payments Customization

Paying with personalization has been done in a big way with University Alumni credit cards. Personalized skins are an outside-the-box next step to turn your phone into a payment system.  Prepay could be a jackpot for a company that promotes a skin loaded with a set amount of funds like a debit card. It could be used as emergency funds in case of a lost or forgotten wallet or given to your child to keep purchases in check. 

As mobile payments become more prevalent, combination uses like a personalized skin will become more accepted and more innovative with an unlimited number of payment combinations. What if a mobile payment device is combined with a promotion for a highly anticipated summer blockbuster? Consumers could pay for a personalized skin and get value added benefits like special discounts or access to movie features.  As an added bonus, the film is advertised over and over – not just to the owner but to anyone who notices the personalized feature every time the phone is used

Phoolah’s website touts the product as “a cool way to pay.” I agree.

Source: Textually.org Post




Fox Networks groundbreaking animated sitcom “Family Guy” is truly a revolution - The show is one of only a handful of network television series cancelled then resurrected.  Viewers were devastated when the show ended but their continued loyalty through DVD sales and highly rated reruns paid off.   “Family Guy” fans love the show and are willing to shell out money to prove it. Fox takes great advantage of this loyalty with an in App purchasing program. 

The show is more accessible than ever to its loyal fan base with a $1.99 iPhone app.  The app allows users to view up to 20 show clips, create custom video mixes and instantly buy full episodes through an embedded link to Apple’s iTunes. The app is making use of one of iPhone 3.0’s top new features: in-app purchasing. (Special features that only a “Family Guy” watcher will get include the “Stewie Pin-up” and “Peter Toss”)Family Guy iPhone App Screenshots

From a development standpoint, I love fact that they are charging users $1.99 reimbursing the development cost. And it will be interesting to see apps like this evolve particularly as they get viral beyond the iPhone – AT&T will launch mms support in late summer. This means that “Family Guy” users could MMS from the app and be able to reach non-iPhone users.  Users can promote media virally and not be limited to one platform. 

This a great use of in-app purchasing that captures the shows targeted (and coveted) key male demographic. Family Guy watchers are consummate sharers and will be immediately ready to share content of the app with friends. The app is supported by limited, interactive, pre-roll video advertising and can be used on the iPhone and iPod Touch.  This means ads are presented organically for content available to purchase. Fox leveraging users to perform unpaid viral marketing for their show is a great move. I’m sure experimentation covering broad range of shows is already in the works. I’m thinking Simpsons, 24, Lost, Heroes, CSI and highly rated reality shows would be perfect for this kind of app…What shows would you suggest? 

Source: FierceMobileContent Article.



Nader | 3:27 pm |

Chances are you’ve purchased or received something bought on Amazon.  Not only can you buy everything from DVD’s to diapers, first person product reviews accompany almost every product.  Even reviews are reviewed by being rated by others on the site according to how helpful they are. It’s an enormous advantage to shoppers helps to build Amazon’s giant community.

Now Amazon is moving into the photo image searching space that perfectly taps into that community. I first noticed the photo feature on Amazon’s iPhone app at the end of April:

Amazon Image Searching

You can take a photo of a product, upload it and have it identified by “unpaid” Amazon users. It leverages real people willing to do the work to ultimately tell you where you can buy the product. (Most likely on Amazon – brilliant). And a large portion of the community are probably influencers who gently nudge buying without even knowing it. 

On a related topic, Amazon has scooped up SnapTell, a company that allows mobile users to take photos of products or advertisements to get special deals or more product info. The development will be valuable to SnapTell users who download the application to their iPhone.  When end-users snap a photo of a cover and send it to SnapTell, they get information back about prices for the product at stores.  With both photo image capabilities and the SnapTell acquisition, Amazon will be able to use their community for two very profitable functions. It’s a winning combination for both Amazon and consumers hungry for product information. 

The Amazon review community recently earned insanely heavy media coverage with the “Three Wolf” t-shirt phenomenon. (A quick Google search of “Three Wolf shirt” yields over a million hits) A viral thread of the t-shirt reviews took off in May and sales went through the roof. At the end of last month, it was selling more than 100 an hour. Read more about the cultural hit in the New York Times article.

With these two recent developments, Amazon is trying to cement its place as the one-stop destination for every shopping experience  - from first contact to product purchase.

Source: Mobile Marketing Watch article.