Archive for Convergence


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There is no question that Amazon is the leader in the eBook industry, but recent news about Microsoft’s strategic move with a $300 million investment into the Nook, B&N’s eBook reader has created some interesting buzz. On the surface it seems as if B&N is to gain, but when you look closely you can see a lot of possible implications of the deal.

blog post microsoft nook investment Microsoft, Barnes and Noble Marriage – A New Digital Birth for Tablets & eReaders?

Both the Mobile Marketer and Forbes discuss the new major move. In the Marketer, it sounds as though such a partnership is tenuous at best, with the thought that Microsoft just bought into yet another failing idea like the Zune or SPOT. Senior analyst of eMarketer, Paul Verna states that it helps to have the funding of a big company, but it doesn’t seem like the best move for Barnes and Noble.

The folks over at Forbes have a different discussion going on. Contributing writer, David Coursey has the opinion that Amazon’s Kindle could “be very dead,” as a result of Microsoft’s new partnership. Why? Initially Amazon may have the upper hand for the next couple of years. But as Coursey points out, Microsoft is about to pour $300 million into the Nook’s design and marketing strategy over the next five years.

Microsoft’s move could prove extremely beneficial in boosting their brand. Microsoft also owns Xbox which is another consumer electronics mainstay for gamers and the entertainment industry. Investing money in the Nook, which is already a well-known brand, allows them to take some of Amazon’s market share as well as gain a foothold into two markets: tablets and e-readers.

Here are some possibilities for what could happen:

  • Make Bing the Default Nook Search Engine: If Bing was the default search engine for the new Nook, and already is for other Microsoft products, it could provide Microsoft a better standing in household consumer usage.
  • Extend Content to Windows 8 Platform: Microsoft could take Barnes & Noble content and distribute it and sell it across Windows 8 devices. Maybe Microsoft just bought access to a large content library.
  • Engage the Student Market: Microsoft has the chance to delve into the world of student books and apps. While Amazon does boast of a pretty large network of users and readers in the eBook world, the new partnership has murmured thoughts on pushing the new Nook into the handle of college goers.
  • Tight Xbox Integration: The Nook could be a gateway to the Xbox universe and vice versa.
  • Microsoft Suite on Devices: If the Microsoft Office Suite comes to the Nook it could funnel in new customers into the Office product line. It could also allow students and Office workers to work on their Microsoft documents thereby making their Nook device their tablet of choice.
  • Advertising: Microsoft Advertising could power the Nook. This would allow Microsoft with some interesting advertising opportunities. Think of how contextual ads can be when you have such a wide purchase and browsing history available (which you would if people are purchasing and browsing content through their Nook). I’d still love to see ad-subsidized books and contextual ads based on what you’re reading. More thoughts in this post: Amazon Patent Suggests Mobile Ads for Kindle

It’s great to see more competition in the eBook space. Dominance by any single player tends to lead to stagnation. As with any new partnership, it remains to be seen what good Microsoft can do with the Nook. Microsoft stands to gain a good amount from this partnership: possible advertising in the Nook, a stronger platform, and increased market share for Bing. What does B&N gain? A large cash influx and some muscle to compete with Amazon.




Pad Gadget had a post about the just released NBC Universal iPad app. Bravo Now is designed to be a companion to live television viewing. Bravo Now delivers a tight mobile user experience integrated into Bravo’s chat network “Talk Bubble” that connects viewers with the behind the scenes creators and stars of its shows.

Bravo SocialTV

Interactive and social television is usually delivered ALONG with a broadcast stream. However, a companion app to a show is a great idea that brings Social Television over and above traditional programming and viewing. The use of a mobile device makes deployment easier and quicker than tv devices. It can also deliver great mobile user experiences that are optimized for mobile devices.

The Superbowl might be the only televised event these days that brings people together at the same time, in the same room to experience a televised event simultaneously. With the evolution of DVRs, Hulu, YouTube and other online streaming sites, shared television watching has been deeply fragmented. Social TV brings together programming, communication and social interaction to perfectly promote next-day water cooler talk. This is vital not only for word-of-mouth promotion but important for advertisers and sponsors.

I had a few ideas about how to expand and improve the mobile user experience on a tv network application:

  • Sell season passes to a show
  • Sell monthly subscriptions to the network as a whole
  • Offer discounts for DVD purchases if you’ve purchased earlier shows
  • Offer viewers a limited amount of recent episodes for free but charge for older episodes
  • Offer discounts for additional merchandise (such as associated games)
  • Offer free content (like daily trivia or wallpapers) that a user can distribute virally

Benefits include:

  • Harvesting valuable viewer demographics by offering free programming in exchange for answering profile questions
  • The ability to promote other shows on network at same time
  • Create deeper immersion with characters and network experience with the ability to look up information on your favorite actors or their characters.

Look for other networks to quickly enter the live TV app market.




Mobile Marketer explored the new Rolex advertising campaign appearing in April’s W Magazine that lets consumers get information and deals from the brand, as well as enter for a chance to win $1,000.00. I like how print magazines are trying to integrate into relevant mobile user experiences.

Rolex

When I think of Rolex, I think luxury, quality and style. But I also think of an older demographic, that sticks to print. So I’m glad to see Rolex taking a step in a fresh and innovative direction. If print becomes more interactive in various ways, it could become even more interesting than a purely digital magazine. (see my previous post about a video player embedded in an issue of Entertainment Weekly) Hopefully, other luxury brands will follow and increase mobilized print ads in consumer publications.

The ad itself relies on pure image recognition. The way it works is that readers can snap a photo of the ad, send the pic to an email address and get more information as well as an entry into the cash sweepstakes.

Moving forward, print publications could offer readers a companion mobile app to make the interactive experience even easier. A magazine app could just require the user view the ads and use image recognition via the users device as opposed to emailing it. This would also allow the magazine to harvest valuable demographic info. Finding out exactly who is reading the ads would be a great pitch to attract new advertisers not previously considered.

Making print ads interactive (regardless of the method) is a good way to inject print magazines with more life and prop up the whole publishing industry.




InteractiveTV today had a post about an outdoor advertising campaign that uses shoppers own faces for a gigantic DVD promotion. It’s a high exposure campaign showcasing unique user experience design. And it’s a perfect fit for mobile.

Morphing

Inwindow Outdoor, a company that does digital storefront and mall advertising, launched the interactive augmented reality display at Los Angeles’ The Grove, to promote the Blu-ray release of “Avatar.” The display is a free-standing structure of multiple digital screens. Using technology developed exclusively for this project, shoppers faces are morphed into the wide-eyed blue creatures from the film. Once the morph is complete, users can enter their email address via touch screen, in order to be sent a video of their transformation, along with information on where to purchase the Blu-ray disc of the movie.

Down the road, this will be able to happen via a mobile. Imagine getting a message from a friend with their facial expression (or their kids or boss or pets) mapped to a branded character. This is a great way to build a buzz for any animated or costumed character-driven film – think Iron Man or Shrek. Send it to yourself, friends and family and some transformations are sure to go viral when they hit the social networks.

The display was introduced last Friday and set to run for a month – if you’re in L.A., check it out.




Fierce Mobile Content reported that Amazon will be inviting software developers to build “active content” for the Kindle Store later this year. Although the “a” word wasn’t mentioned, it’s clear that Amazon is getting into the app game for their eReader.Kindle Mobile Media Consumption

It’s a great idea to leverage a developer community. An Advertising Age article has a good analysis on Kindle moving into apps. Some opinions seem short sighted though. For example, while people complain about the greyscale experience, it’s likely that Kindle will get a color display.

A separate Fierce Mobile article reports that Kindle services will represent 10 percent of Amazon.com’s total North American sales in five years. In addition to books, Amazon sells VHS, DVD, CDs, MP3s, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and so on and so on. What if a future version of Kindle supported all of these products? Talk about a ridiculous about of synergy.

With a Kindle and Amazon.com’s product lines, the possibilities are endless. What if you were reading on a Kindle and the main character is enjoying a tasty pizza? Suddenly, you’re presented an ad to order pizza. And if that had had a coupon? Even better. See my post about advertising on the Kindle.

Another possibility for eReader enhancement brings to mind Mad Libs – fill in the blank and create a story. The Ad Age post quotes Richard Schatzberger, director of creative technology at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York. He talks of “living books” where an author could program a story to tailor itself to the reader — a book that reflects the current weather, or is set in a reader’s city.

It will be interesting to see if apps catch fire for the Kindle or future versions of eReaders. But one thing is sure – combine classic “book” consumption with technology and get ready for spirited debates.




Stop the presses! Sort of…Entertainment Weekly is running a CBS video ad in…their print magazine. InteractiveTV Today had all the details and I was pretty blown away. Not just about the technology – which is amazing – but the idea that online is now going print instead of the other way around. This concept is a great juxtaposition of print and digital. 

The way it works is that the video player insert is a flexible, thin, plastic screen on two pages, activated when opened (like musical greeting cards). The ad has 5 channels with 40 minutes of content. Readers can change the channel by pressing buttons embedded in the print ad. It’s launching “Monday to the Max,” a campaign for CBS’s comedy and drama line up along with a promotional tie in with the new Pepsi Max. (Pepsi Max is billed as “the first diet cola for men” with ginseng and lots more caffeine than regular Pepsi.) 

The Entertainment Weekly issue won’t be out till Sept 18th but is already generating a lot of buzz. The CBS/Entertainment Weekly ad will only appear in LA and NY subscription copies - no newsstand sales - so copies are sure to be scarce. I’m looking forward to more uses of this technology which might have the added benefit of giving the struggling print industry a shot in the arm. Magazines could have unique tie-ins or exclusives with a show or movie. From gardening to news to sports publications, the possibilities are endless.

Looking forward, it would be interesting to use this technology to go further into print, broadcast and mobile convergence. Perhaps readers could have access to a ‘trial’ episode teaser clip of the show. (with appropriate cliff hanger ending, of course) In order to continue the program, you’d need to buy a subscription or pay a fee. 

Or maybe the reader would be directed to a website to sign up for a free promotion to continue watching, yielding valuable consumer information. It would be great for consumers to be able to choose where and how they continue watching the show with availability across numerous platforms. 

Also, short-form episodic content - like mobisodes or webisodes – could be available exclusively through a video player in a print publication. Theoretically, this could drive up subscriptions and test the waters for the show to eventually become a “traditional” television show or feature film. 

CBS says the video player insert, made by a Los Angeles company called Americhip Inc, will be able to withstand the binding processes and mail delivery to arrive ready to go.




InteractiveTV Today discussed the creation of the RVU Alliance made up of founding members Broadcom, Cisco, DIRECTV and Samsung founded to standardize home entertainment user interface and accelerate development.Digital Home User Interface Standards

In short, RVU is helping to get identical user experiences across the connected home. This includes digital TV sets, media adapters, and set-top boxes from multiple companies. I think that’s important and valuable not just for consumers but for content service providers. Confining consumer electronics manufactures to a unified experience might have the potential to stifle innovation. It also diminishes differentiation possibilities through the user interface and user experience.

I do like that features can be updated over the server leading to an adaptable and intelligent user interface. Users who don’t like certain functions can update and change their preferences. Along those lines, additional, targeted customization and personalization of different user interface experiences would be interesting. And intelligent ads per demographics would also be an interesting and profitable feature.




An InteractiveTV Today post revealed that Verizon may have bigger plans for it’s recently launched Widget Bazaar applications marketplace than originally announced. Verizon’s software development kit is set to launch soon opening up a host of possibilities for creative mobile design outside of the television experience. A quote from Verizon’s Widget Bazaar press release states that the company is looking for tools to engage TV viewers and enhance the living room experience in new ways.  

Verizon Mobile Design Digital Home Widgets

Verizon opening up its television widgets is a good thing as consumers will get more options and will be more of a hot content ecosystem. More  choices = more revenue. It’s a win-win for developers and consumers. 

I’d really like to see Verizon promote more convergence between mobile and television. For example, a TV widget could come bundled with a discount on an equivalent or similar app for mobile. Perhaps there could be a variety of features exclusive to the device. In other words, the mobile device can do certain things while the TV has a different host of features. 

The widgets could eventually be tied into a particular network or a specific TV show.  When viewers are watching a favorite show, they could connect with other fans to chat, interact and purchase merchandise from the show. (An additional income stream for the networks outside of advertising)  

I’d like to see more companies embracing mobile design and convergence across numerous platforms to shape the future of entertainment and communication.




I often don’t think of print advertising and interactivity together. After reading an InteractiveTV Today article about Procter & Gamble’s new campaign, I couldn’t wait to see the ad for Always Infinity. Print design has been combined with augmented reality to make traditional print advertising interactive in a really creative way. (There is both a paper-to-screen and a web component available) 

Augmented Reality Mobile Ads

With a magic theme (think top hat, wand, rabbit, sparkles), the ad directs consumers to a site where they can use the print ad and their Web cam to unlock 3D augmented reality animation. See it here

Pretty cool. This is a great example of paper being the trigger point for augmented reality. Despite too many steps (printing ad, going to website, installing plug-in, etc.) this is still a trial. 

I’m looking forward to more seamless experiences in the future. For example, a magazine ad for a new digital camera would open a browser page using your mobile device. The site would allow you to interface with the product and get an augmented reality demo on top of the magazine ad. Moving your mobile device around the page would highlight different features in the user interface. You could then request more information, forward the ad to friends or, every advertisers dream result, immediately make a purchase. 

Advances will lead to multiscreen integrated advertising campaigns that run across print, TV, mobile and computer. There could be different augmented reality variants depending on the medium. And the campaign could use harvested user demographics to tailor the ad to the person.




This week, several sites, including Fast Company, reported the new partnership of Google and Visible World, a software company that provides customized TV ads based on an individual subscribers demographic data. 

Smart Mobile TV Ads

For example, three families might be watching the same network program. The family with children gets an ad for Sea World, the newly weds see a Las Vegas vacation package while the retired couple watches a golf resort promotion. 

Mobile design possibilities would be a great fit for this type of targeted advertisement. Advertisers reach their desired niche audience and users benefit from information they actually want and can use. Adding in a mobile specific component could be even more valuable for everyone – especially since a recent study suggests that mobile video users are the most valuable marketing audience.

The ability to collect valuable viewer data will be greatly expanded as convergence becomes more prevalent, particularly in interactive television. Instead of relying solely on information provided by a subscribers cable box, a variety of information could be collected from a “composite user” across multiple screens such as mobile and computer. And perhaps using other platforms to expand targeted advertising could avoid the TiVo commercial zapping feature? 

Google Voice could be another rich source of mobile TV ad demographics. I think additional bonuses should be available for users who divulge more demographic data. Perhaps premium content is discounted or special offers are exclusively available. 

So in the near future, an advertisement that entices you to pick up the phone or go to the store will probably be fine tuned to your specific needs. It’s a win-win situation for advertisers and users and will only be more successful as useful designed-for mobile components are added.