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The London Games are are in full swing and the television ratings alone stagger the mind, but that’s just a small part of the overall picture. Broadcasters are limited to just one country or region, but digital viewership – and mobile advertising - has no such restrictions. This year, YouTube will live stream the year’s biggest sporting competition throughout the world. And, since so many viewers will watch the London Games on mobile, HTML5 mobile rich media ads are a great way to engage that huge audience.

London Games Timeline 2

The Games provide a fantastic opportunity for integrated, branded mobile advertising, and not just for sports advertisers or official sponsors of the Games. HTML5 mobile rich media ads can focus on specific parts of the Games’ audience – like fans of a particular sport – and appeal to them directly. For example, check out the Sports Timeline, a concept we created specifically for the Games:

The mobile ad presents users with a fully interactive timeline that they can easily navigate by touch. It can appear within an app or a mobile site, or it could be a stand-alone microsite. Either way, the mobile ad shows key moments in the history of a sport – like inventions, innovations, major new records, and the year the sport entered the Games. One or more of the points on the timeline ties in directly with the advertiser’s message.

A mobile ad like this presents information that viewers won’t get from the Games themselves. The broadcast of the cycling competition doesn’t talk about the history of cycling; it talks about who’s winning the race. The mobile advertising timeline concept fills in that gap and complements the experience of watching the Games, for experts and new fans alike. It can even reach fans who are actually at the Games in person – something television ads can never do. And, since users specifically choose to look at the timeline for each sport, we know they’re particularly engaged: no need to worry about wasting impressions on fencing fans when you only want to reach cyclists.

The Sports Timeline concept is not limited to sports drink or equipment manufacturers. The mobile ad is an exercise in branding. It aligns a company with a particular concept and with the Games as a whole. i For example, a digital camera maker could mention the role of the “photo finish” in equestrian events to show off its history of innovation. Or an automobile manufacturer could demonstrate its commitment to sustainability by showing how energy-efficient cars with advanced GPS track cyclists along their route. Or the U.S. Marines might align themselves with fencing events, because Marines in uniform still wear swords! And who doesn’t love swords? You get the idea – the Games are a treasure trove of demographic data, regardless of industry.

Don’t be shy of large events with worldwide audiences. Hundreds of millions are excited for the London Games. Mobile advertising provides opportunities to get in front of small slices of a very, very large pie, and it offers a more interactive and engaging experience than traditional television advertising. The timeline ad concept is just one example; it taps into the audience’s excitement and need for new information, and it offers genuine value.

Every few years the world gets together on one stage to compete against each other in sports, but mobile advertisers are competing with each other in the business world every day. While athletes compete in London, smart marketers will take advantage of every opportunity they can get to tie their advertising in with this unique opportunity.

London Games Olympic Poll Concept

TechBargains survey showed a high amount of mobile video viewing and social interaction is expected during the games. It revealed that, “Nearly half (44%) of respondents said they would interact with social media often or very often during the Olympics.” As a brand or advertiser, how can you capitalize on what is at the top of everyone’s mind? One way is to conduct mobile polls that build on the concepts of competition and winning.

In an earlier post, 2012 Olympics Mobile Advertising & HTML5 Concepts, I shared some concepts we developed around the games for and with our partners in mobile advertising. One idea featured a polling concept that could run throughout the day around various sporting events. This post will cover the mobile advertising polling concept in more detail. In our original concept the viewer initially sees a mobile advertiser’s ad with a specific event listed under it with the question, “Who do you think will take home the gold?”

While the ad stays up, the viewer sees a flag and country name for each of the participants. Then it goes to full screen with the question again and shows each of the countries so the user can vote. The next screen presents voting results and invites viewers to post their pick to Facebook or Twitter. The mobile advertiser gets a good amount of on-screen time while the user thinks about the event and the advertising sponsor. It’s engaging and effective.

Voting on who will win an event ties into the most common discussions people have on a daily basis. Plus you get bragging rights if you guess correctly. Polls can target specific audiences so not everyone views the same sport. Content and results are animated via HTML5. As an advertiser, you can choose any type of sport to focus the polling or voting around. Just think what fun and consumer engagement various industries could have with other polls tied into a sporting events theme:

  • QSR (Quick Service Restaurants): Use HTML5 mobile rich media ads to get consumers thinking about the food choices you offer. They could vote on what they think is the healthiest menu item from your restaurant to eat after a competition. Then offer a discount on the winning food to whoever voted.
  • Travel: Show footage of all the London sites and then sponsor a poll about where the ideal games should be held. As visitors vote on specific locations, tie that in with footage of the suggested site and offer great travel deals so they don’t have to wait any longer to see it for themselves.
  • Retail/Fashion: A retail store could have fans vote on the best outfit to wear to a sports competition. Participants could receive coupons for their winning ensemble. A sporting goods store might sponsor a poll about which athletic apparel helps you perform at your best when swimming, playing volleyball, or shooting hoops.

Mobile advertising related to large-scale events is all about taking advantage of timely opportunities and thinking about how your brand’s product or service ties into the event. You can have fun, engage users, and increase sales with this type of marketing strategy. Just remember, it’s great to tie in with a major event for branding and awareness, but the point is to get somebody to take an action regarding your product or service.

A recent article in Mobile Marketing Watch discussed survey by Knowledge Networks, a research firm, revealing that 86% of iPad users would watch ads for free TV programming or quality magazine content. When I discuss mobile magazines with mobile or advertising industry professionals, they generally aren’t impressed with digital magazine experiences. That made me think about how mobile design could improve the advertising experience innovating iPad magazine ads and content.

Mobile Design for Magazines & Mobile Ads

How many times have you seen a magazine on an iPad and felt the publisher did little more than produce a slideshow with simple navigation? In many cases the mobile ads, as well as the publication’s content, looks like PDF copies of the print version. I think publishers are on the right track in modeling layout of a digital magazine based on its print counterpart. But improvement is needed.

Blend Magazine Layout Design with Website Functionality

The mobile user interface design of an iPad could take a lot of inspiration from layout but the familiarity should stop there. Once you get to the actual features or experience, I recommend looking at what’s working best in your website instead of your print publications. How about taking the best interactive features of your site and making it easier to use? Improve the mobile user experience. Create a friendlier user interface ensuring the magazine is easy to consume.

Including social media features would also improve user experience. Let viewers share articles, excerpts and photos on social networks. Create engagement and conversation with user comments.

Mobile Advertising in Digital Magazines

One of the reasons for low click-through rates online is due to dull advertising. What about taking best of breed online ads like integrating homescreen takeovers and trying them in digital magazines? What if publishers and advertisers produced better interactive ad units using IAB standards? How about serving intelligent ads based on former ads the user has engaged with in your publication?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal’s iPad app introduced an inline video on the front page and sprinkled elsewhere throughout the publication. CNN now has a gorgeous, very attractive layout with scrolling horizontal article teasers (photos and text) and vertical rich mobile ad design columns on the home page. It’s like a kaleidoscope of international, national, entertainment, technical and other news that keeps readers’ eyes glued to each page. Mobile ads are designed carefully blended with news content.

Experiment with Virtual Currency and Mobile Advertising

Creative advertisers and brands could even experiment with virtual currencies to reward readers for watching ads and sharing information. They could give points for “unlocking” and viewing ads, for example, while varying the number of earned points. By employing game mechanics you create deeper engagement that encourages readers to earn more points for additional magazine content.

As a result, advertiser and publisher creativity would improve, exposing readers to superior innovative media.

A new post from MediaPost reports that nearly four in ten mobile users find mobile branded apps from their favorite brands disappointing. How can a mobile marketing and advertising app create user experiences and functionality to engage their customers? Web strategy doesn’t transfer to mobile. Brands need to expand beyond awareness and education and focus on the mobile user experience design when creating mobile branded apps.

blog post branded app users frustrated 38% of Users are Unhappy with Mobile Branded Apps. What can you do?

The study also showed that 70% using mobile branded apps agreed that an app that isn’t useful or easy to use contributes to a negative perception about a brand. Brands today can’t ignore critical elements of the mobile user interface design and mobile user experience design when creating an app.

Close to three-quarters (73%) of users believe a mobile advertising app or a mobile marketing app should be easier to use than the company Web site. How many times have you felt confused when using a branded app?

Remember in the late 90s when the early web was evolving commercially? A visually unappealing website, frustrating to navigate with clunky functionality clearly conveyed “Wow. That company doesn’t get it.”

This is EXACTLY what brands portray - even to fans - when they execute a branded mobile app poorly.

A branded app is not just a checkbox on a list. Mobile branded apps for marketing and advertising have a valuable function and can sway consumer perception with the press of a button. Here are some factors to consider when executing a branded app:

  • Is your branded app integrated well with your marketing campaigns across multiple platforms?
  • Does your mobile user interface not only conform to device specific UI guidelines but exceed them? Good enough doesn’t cut it.
  • Are you effectively communicating your message through utility or entertainment? The medium is NOT the message. The message is the message.
  • Are you providing ongoing fresh content to drive repeat visits and encourage social media sharing?

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.

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.


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.

Fast Company reported on a new promotion that might be a glimpse into the mobile design of smartphone commerce in the future – advertising that combines virtual goods and LBS to tap into on-the-spot purchases and promotions.

Virtual Goods

Location-based game start-up Booyah is introducing in-game, virtual goods placements, based on your real-time location. The Mobile User Experience Design will lead consumers right to the cash register of a “real” store selling real goods for very real cash.

The campaign stems from Booyah’s partnership with international clothing retailer H&M but this could apply to ANY consumer campaign – from liquor to cars to network television. This particular promotion pings mobile users near an H&M location on a piece of clothing or accessory that appears in Booyah’s MyTown location-based social game. Discounts and promotions reward the Booyah user that visits the actual store location.

Here are some ideas I have for additional location based campaigns. Again, any consumer campaign could benefit.

Users could be rewarded with free virtual goods if they spend a certain amount of time inside a retail location. The goods should have a high value perception and be unique to that store. If the user wore or showed off or used a virtual item in a social network, they could get real world discounts on that product line.

The biggest fans of a company – the ever valuable influencers – could receive limited edition virtual that are exclusive or awarded before general public release.

Feedback about the unique product could be analyzed and the most popular ones could turn into physical products.

Another way to engage users (and potentially spark a viral campaign) would be to give the consumers tools to design the next generation of virtual product ala crowdsourcing. Implement a voting aspect and social network exposure to build buzz. Winners could get a high value prize and their creations could turn into physical goods. Imagine a fashion oriented tween designing virtual fashion items and being rewarded for it.

Unique mobile user experiences and advertising seem to be made for each other – mobile is also a great bridge between the physical and the virtual. I’ll be watching the H&M campaign with interest.

A FastCompany post announced that HarperCollins has launched –an “interactive writing platform for teens.” Inkpop allows members to post books, short stories, essays, and poetry for review and critique by the community.

Interactive Teen Writing

The website copy claims that will connect “rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals.” And that “members play a critical role in deciding who will land a publishing contract with HarperCollins.”

Pretty brilliant on the part of HarperCollins – they enlist the help of a narrowly targeted community to vet aspiring writers. My guess is that a teen who totally into literature these days might feel slightly isolated. So I’m happy to see a social networking site bringing kids together that promotes reading and writing.

This is perfect for mobile. Teens today can’t imagine a world without their mobile device and if this catches on, mobile apps to enhance the site will probably happen quickly.

HarperCollins is also benefiting from the ability to grab key demographics and has a perfect forum for targetted advertising. If the inkpop model catches on, I image it will move beyond a teen-only site. After all, it’s just teens that are reading a certain off-the-charts popular vampire series, right? And those books weren’t written by a teen but by a stay-at-home mother of three.

It will be interesting to see how other companies create interactive forums and social networks that enable their future suppliers as well as consumers.

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. noted an unusual campaign for the Google Android-powered Vodafone HTC mobile phone.  Users upload what they “wish” their handset could do to a website where the wishes are ranked. The brand says it will work to make one of those wishes come true. The Wish Factory campaign went live in June and early results have shown an average of 1,500 campaign site visitors per day. This is a clever way to get lots of input for mobile design.

Mobile Design Crowdsourcing

Of course, getting valuable marketing information is one of the immediate benefits of this campaign. I think a reward system would make a visit to the website even more attractive – perhaps the end users who submit the most popular ideas could be rewarded with additional services, free devices or some type of monetary payment. 

It would be interesting to apply this concept to improvements for major handset apps or services. Users could submit ideas for the apps on their device about improving usability, features, or mobile user interfaces. Again, the reward system would be an incentive to participate. Power users or top contributors could be rewarded with special access to beta programs to get the features first. 

As devices advance, marketers could take this a step further by allowing users to access collaborative technologies to custom design their own features. For example, someone with a good idea could do collaborative whiteboarding – multiple users tapping into a virtual space together – to share skills to improve a device. This could be anything from sketching wireframes or creating a full mockup. 

I’m looking forward to more user input campaigns and the creative rewards companies will offer to get creative feedback.