ESPN Sportscenter App Rebrand Strategy Analysis

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary and analysis about the recently announced efforts by ESPN to rebrand the SportsCenter app and the potential implications and benefits that this type of rebranding may provide.

(Mobile Marketer) Why is ESPN: SportsCenter app to be renamed “ESPN”?

ESPN is looking to unify all of their digital properties into a single brand. They are looking to unify the website, mobile experience and mobile app and allowing for greater personalization by the consumer.

(MM) To what extent is the rebranding across all these properties an effort to reach consumers across the full range of mobile platforms?

ESPN is taking the next step to provide a unified experience that is designed to be frictionless across devices and ultimately allow the consumer the ability to personalize the experience based on interests and affinity to their favorite sports and teams. This approach can be compelling for fans and consumers as the experience is the same across devices and the more contextually relevant the experience, the greater potential to maintain the interest of the consumer.

(MM) What is the implication for mobile marketing?

By providing a more contextually relevant experience that is unified across platforms, ESPN is setting the stage to maximize their reach with consumers and provide an always on solution that is consistent and personalized.

From a mobile marketing perspective, by offering personalization in exchange for a profile of the individual, they can begin to map multi-channel usage behaviors which can provide insights into how to further connect with their consumers and apply greater relevance to their ad products and partnerships.

(MM) Why is it so important to allow users to select the sports content they want?

Self-selected and curated content is the new normal when it comes to consumer behavior and entertainment. Combine that with a fans affinity for content about their favorite teams and it is important for content providers to allow users to control the experience. This freedom and access can lead to increased frequency and retention if the content is compelling and relevant.

ESPN SportsCenter app rebranding boosts mobile consumers’ power to choose content - Mobile Marketer - Media

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Do Snack Brands Need Content?

I was recently asked by Mobile Commerce Daily to provide commentary if Snack brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social. Below are my full responses to the various topics discussed.

(Mobile Commerce Daily) To what extent are food and snacks CPG brands starting to understand and activate social media within the purchase funnel?

Social media has been an integral part of the marketing mix for CPG brands for some time now. CPG social strategy has evolved with the evolution of social platforms and shifting consumer behaviors. Many platforms such as Facebook are shifting away from engagement as a primary metric and focused on reach, resonance and reaction, which aligns social media activation further down the purchase funnel.

(MCD) What are the challenges CPG companies face in leveraging social media to drive purchases?

The snack category is highly dependent on context and timing. With the convergence of social, mobile and digital and the focus shifting to targeted cross screen engagement, there is a renewed interest in aligning digital, physical and data to impact purchase decisions.

(MCD) Besides motivating purchases, what additional benefits/negatives in terms of consumer engagement does a social campaign bring the CPG company?

Social centric campaigns allow brands to deepen their connection with their consumers, empower them to help drive the brand forward (Doritos Legion of the Bold and Do Us A Flavor), impact brand perception and for a number of brands provide impactful reach through social engagement.

(MCD) What are some examples of top food and snacks CPG companies that have effectively leveraged social to drive consumers deeper into the purchase funnel?

Frito-Lay is a company that is continually looking to leverage social as a means to drive consumers further into the purchase funnel. Whether it is a brand campaign that empowers consumers such as Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, or it is creating a community of brand advocates like Doritos Legion of the bold, or connecting in-store elements seamlessly into socially centric campaigns, Frito-Lay is approaching social in a smart and relevant way that connects with consumers and ultimately impacts purchase.

(MCD) What’s your favorite example of a food and snacks CPG social campaign that drove purchases?

My favorite examples are Lay’s Do Us a Flavor and Doritos Crash the Superbowl programs.

Snacks brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social - Mobile Marketer - Advertising 2014-11-09 21-34-09

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Evolution of Social Media Marketing

Here is a preview of my latest take on the evolution of social media marketing.

 

The presentation starts with a trip down memory lane by reviewing the rise of social media platforms across the globe.

Evolution of Social Marketing Timelines - Tom Edwards

Next is a look at the impact social media trends have had on consumer behavior. Everything from viral videos, #selfies and the rise of YouTube celebrities.

Evolution of Social Media Trends - Tom Edwards

Then focus shifts to the evolution of social marketing globally and the role that content plays in today’s social marketing programs.

Evolution of Social Marketing Content - Tom Edwards

The journey wraps with a look at the future state of social marketing.

Evolution of Social Marketing Future - Tom Edwards

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Apple’s Big Day & Samsungs Shrewd Move

Yesterday, all eyes & multiple hashtags were set on Cupertino, California for Apple’s seismic announcements. I will admit that I am an Apple apologist and almost all of my hardware has the iconic fruit emblazoned on it. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the keynote unfold yesterday.

AppleInvite

I was excited about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, shared high-fives over the new Apple Pay & Apple Watch and left the keynote feeling good about the direction of the new products.

Apple

During all of the excitement and monitoring of the social conversation around #appleevent, #appleliveevent and other Apple centric hashtags I spotted something that seemed amiss.

Samsung - Promoted Trend

Note in the Promoted Trend highlighted above, among the various Apple organic trending topics is #GalaxyFamily. For those of you not familiar with executing a promoted trend, this is a calculated, date driven buy with Twitter that requires advanced planning and a decent sized media buy. The fact that the Samsung marketing team was able to secure the date, assuming this was executed after Apple announced the Keynote is impressive.

Here is a full view of Samsung looking to disrupt the action on the #appleevent hashtag yesterday via promoted tweets tied to Twitter search. This was an example of incredibly shrewd marketing on behalf of the Samsung team and an interesting approach to combating the enormous wave of organic conversation being created by the Apple event.

Samsung Promoted Trend

 

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Wearables & The Quantified Self Movement

I was recently asked by ADWEEK about opportunities for brands and fitness wearables. The discussion focused on utility and the future of the quantified self movement and whether hardware or software is the way to go. The final portion of the conversation was focused on fashion vs. function and the importance of aesthetics for mass adoption. Below is my full commentary.

Brands and Utility

For the right brand there is a significant opportunity to capitalize on the quantified self movement and create new streams of revenue. Market analysts project significant upside for wearable tech over the next few years.

biiwearablesmktsz
SOURCE Business Insider

The value for brands comes in the form of ongoing engagement and value to the consumer. By providing active utility the brand is taking something that used to provide a passive function and unlocks behavioral patterns of the consumer, activity and in some cases emotional data and any positive results can be equated with the brand.

que-son-wearables-android-wear-esta-aqui-L-sDN62C

The other point to consider is the quantified self data and utility will ultimately be a part of a larger connected ecosystem. In the near future data from a fitness tracker can coincide with smart grid technology to predict your needs. An example would be you just returned from a long run, your tracker communicates with your smart fridge and it prepares to dispense your favorite after work out beverage while ordering more via a real time delivery service such as Amazon Fresh.

Predictive

Hardware vs. Software

Brands like Nike were at the forefront of the quantified self movement. The Fuel band resonated with innovators and early consumer adopters. With success came competition from device manufacturers that had a longer heritage and provided additional utility. They expanded beyond fitness to include emotional measurement, sleep sensors, etc… which began to move away from the Nike value proposition. The learning from this was the real value was less in the hardware and more in the data collected and the visualization of results.

Nike_Fuel_Band

The industry shift that brands like Nike see on the horizon is the shift from hardware and more around software and data. What this means is that brands like Nike see the day coming soon where it is less about the hardware and more about sharing and visualizing the data that is collected through whatever the device, be it smart clothing, watches, glasses, etc… and making thier API’s available.

Photo Jul 17, 12 05 49 PM

Fashion vs. Function

One of the primary barriers associated with wearables has been tied closely to aesthetics. A rubber bracelet that glows is not always the ideal choice for the fashion conscious. And for the early & late majority of consumer adopters, going beyond simple utility will be important for mass adoption.

wearables

Recent studies have shown that women outnumber men among prospective buyers of wearable technology devices. What I see happening in the short term are a number of partnerships such as the announced Tory Burch and Fitbit partnership or cross-industry hiring, similar to Apple hiring Burberry’s former CEO to bridge the gap between aesthetic form and function.

Tory Burch & Fitbit Partnership
Fitbit & Tory Burch

Here is a link to the ADWEEK commentary

Adweek.jpg

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Digital + Physical = Evernote

One item from SXSW 2014 that has remained relevant for me is a simple package of Post-it notes. These are not just any Post-it’s, they are digitally enabled Post-it’s that integrate seamlessly with Evernote. The simple utility of the integration that allows users to convert physical post-it notes into digital, searchable records inspired me to contact the Evernote team for a briefing to bettter understand how they partner with brands.

Post it

During the course of the briefing we touched on many topics such as their current user base of 100M+ as well as their approach to partnerships and how they are working with various device carriers at the OEM level to ensure Evernote is ever present on the latest devices. We also discussed their focus on physical accessories and partnerships with Moleskin & 3M.

Evernote 100M

Evernote’s approach to creating value is to seamlessly become a part of a users daily routine. An interesting perspective about their user base was tied to the fact that out of 1000 people 999 will use Evernote in a different way. Users leverage Evernote as a way to capture anything important to their life, reuse it or stem off of it. From a brand partnership perspective, the goal is to “engage with customers in the right way”. This means that Evernote does not monetize with an advertising-based model, or data mining.

So if there is not an advertising-based model, or data mining how can a brand partner with Evernote?

The real answer is it depends on the brand. If a brand is looking to buy against the current base with a targeted ad model, that is not feasible. The current partnership focus is tied to the Evernote physical marketplace. This is the core revenue driver for Evernote and fits with their mantra of engaging consumers in the right way and connecting the digital and physical world.

Photo May 22, 2 00 46 PM

I do see opportunities to align Evernote beyond physical goods as their growing stable of native applications such as Evernote Food create opportunities to further connect directly with consumers. One of the most valuable elements to work through as a marketer, especially one focused on shopper marketing and “getting on the list” is the fact that Evernote represents deliberate intent on behalf of a user. The user is taking a specific action to interact and store content.

Photo May 22, 1 58 07 PM

Other core benefits of Evernote, if they ever move towards an advertising-based model, would be to leverage their recent addition of location tagging. Location + Tags open up the possibility to better align relevant targeting of consumers. Similar to Pinterest, a user has to take an action in order to maximize Evernote and there is a deliberate nature to the platform vs. search and retrieval. Having the ability to understand what users are interested in combined with other factors such as time & location could open up opportunities to natively connect with consumers with highly relevant and targeted advertising. But that is an assumption that is built on an advertising model which does not exist to date.

Evernote Atlas

When I think of brand categories that may ultimately benefit from an Evernote partnership CPG brands are an obvious choice. From a shopper marketing perspective “getting on the list” is of paramount importance. With Evernotes efforts to seamlessly convert physical notes into digital lists that push reminders to consumers in addition to their focus on specialized app experiences such as Evernote Food there is a great opportunity to maximize a partnership with Evernote.

Photo Mar 28, 8 03 39 AM

The key to a partnership with Evernote is ensuring that your brand aligns with the vision of the Evernote team and is not a traditional advertising play. They are looking for partners that can add value to their users lives on a daily basis so careful consideration will need to be made when developing a strategic partnership.

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Apple + Beats = Smart Headphones?

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary on the acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple. The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges that Apple may face as well as addressing if the Beats acquisition is the next step to bring Apple’s recent Smart Headphone patent to life through an existing and established brand. One other point of discussion is tied to Apple potentially integrating the Beats curated playlist model to further build out their streaming capabilities.

Apple & Beats

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5 Ways The Facebook Paper App Could Change the Future

With the recent rollout of Facebook’s new mobile news reader app Paper we see the next step in their single purpose app strategy. This post does dive into what Paper is, but more importantly, it focuses how brands can potentially capitalize on Paper now, and into the future.

The launch of Paper is directly targeting Google News, Flipboard, Twitter and other more visually centric news services. The key differentiator for Facebook is by integrating core functionality (engage and post across the Facebook ecosystem, native functionality like messages and notifications) combined with a highly visual curated user experience, it goes beyond the simple utility of consuming news into an engaging experience built on top of Facebook’s social graph.

Here is a brief overview of the app

Having talked to numerous Facebook representatives it appears that there is NOT YET an opportunity for brands to create a unique experience or impact the curated content in categories… the key word is yet. The following section is speculative based on potential directions Facebook may take the Paper application to create value for brands and potentially monetize the platform.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BRAND OPPORTUNITIES WITH PAPER?

Having worked closely with Facebook over the years I am projecting that in the near future there may be opportunities for content rich brands to infiltrate the experience with the goal of driving content discovery. Below are a few thoughts on how content rich brands may be able to leverage Paper in the future.

1) Category Inclusion – As the application gains adoption, there will be an increased desire from content rich brands to be included in specific category feeds. I would project that their may be a tiered approach to content positioning based on relationship factors such as Facebook media spend.

At this point there is not any type of self serve option or a rep based option to influence the content sources for each category. The natural next step is to expand the categories and sources or allow groups to create and curate their own categories. Very similar to how Flipboard (For more information on Flipboard, here is a previously written article on how to incorporate Flipboard into your content strategy) enables brands by allowing them to create custom curated brand magazines.

Here is an example of the Paper category user experience

Paper Categories

Here is a brand example of a Flipboard Custom Curated Magazine

Callaway Apex Irons MagazinePhoto Oct 08, 2 01 25 PM

2) Recommendation Engine – Going beyond simple inclusion would be the coveted ability to gain visibility through a category recommendation engine. This could be in the form of category/content specific feeds. An example would be creating a “Gaming” category and having a content provider such as Game Informer feeding relevant content.

Example of Google+ Recommendation Engine

interesting-on-google-plus-box

Example of OutBrain’s Content recommendation engine

Screenshot 2014-02-05 10.09.38

3) Sponsored Content – This will most likely mimic some of the native advertising approaches we see from other native publishers. Eventually I would expect sponsored content to become the primary monetization option for the application.

Example from Buzzfeed and Sponsored stories inserted into the organic “news” streams

Buzzfeed

4) Social Graph Enabled Personalization – Facebook Paper is more focused on discovery vs. personalization and the initial roll-out reflects this approach. The Paper application is more about self-selection from the user against predefined categories vs. customizing their curated feeds. Over time there may be an opportunity for the application to be more connected with a users social graph and personalize the news experience in a more targeted manner. This could lead to further aligning targeted media based on consumption habits of the apps users to create a truly personal experience.

If this were the case the value to brands is the ability to potentially target specific messaging to drive engagement into conversion.

webofgraphs_320x245

5) Geolocation Based Content – Another area of opportunity would be associating content recommendations based on location. This could either be curated location based content that is relevant through your social graph connections or simply mapped to a specific location with relevant news and tips.

One of the core benefits of Facebook as a platform is the ability to connect with local content that matters. Including geolocation based content could extend the reach of the platform to support event specific content and drive additional value for brands sponsorship dollars. An ideal use case could be to create curated feeds tied to an individuals NCAA College Football preferences and inject native sponsorship messaging into the experience that outlines where the sponsor may be setting up during gameday with a compelling value proposition.

Here is an example of the AT&T Fanzone Tour. A new point of discovery could be a personalized sports category that also aligns content recommendations based on locations with events that can enhance gameday and provide great value for sponsorship dollars

att-fanzone2

All of this is speculative, and Paper may go the route of Home & Poke but it is fun to think about the possibilities of extending the Facebook ecosystem. If the application drives a healthy install base eventually content rich brands will become a more prominent part of the equation.

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Visual Storytelling & Thumbstopping Design

How we consume information is constantly changing. With the shift towards mobile centric visual storytelling and the decrease in organic reach by many social platforms it is even more important that your content tells a story and ultimately gets a users thumb to stop and take notice.

The following deck highlights best in class examples of visual storytelling, atomized content, thematics & real-time examples that are highly creative and drove engagement.

Many examples were featured by Facebook & Twitter teams as best in class.

Even though the deck focuses on best-in-class creative examples, it is important to reiterate that most of the examples are rooted in a formally defined social persona. The tone & voice of the brand is represented while also aligning with the online behaviors of the target audience to create relevant points of connection in addition to being visually appealing.

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Vine Strikes Back

With the recent launch of Instagram Video the natural inclination was what would the response be from Twitter’s Vine service. What features would be added to further compel brands & users to leverage their platform?  On July 5th we received our answer as Vine announced the following on their blog:

New Camera Tools: We’ve redesigned the camera and included new grid, focus, and ghost tools to make shooting great videos even easier.

Channels: We’re introducing 15 channels for you to submit posts to or browse from the Explore screen, including comedy, music and nature — each with their own theme and Popular feed. They’re a great way to highlight the awesome posts that are shared every day.

On The Rise: Discover new people who are starting to capture the attention and interest of the Vine community.

Revining: Share other people’s posts with your all of your followers in one tap.

Protected Posts: Most Vine posts are public, which means they can be viewed, discovered and shared by anyone on Vine. If you want more control over who can see your posts, you can now protect your posts, which means only the people you approve to follow you can see them. And of course, if you choose to share one of your protected posts to Twitter or Facebook, then it will also be viewable on the web.

capture-explore

All features are available on iOS and all features will be added to Android in the next week.

FEATURE IMPACT DISCUSSION

Each of these features were implemented to continue the direct competition with Instagram & to create points of differentiation between the two platforms. The interesting elements in my mind were the focus on discoverability & sharability.

Channels were a surprise and one of the smarter moves by Vine. By creating top level categories in addition to adding “popular now” and “on the rise” allows for users to quickly filter to content that may be of interest to them, thus potentially increasing connectivity between users & content creators that are of interest. This may be a future areas where branded content can be further amplified as well.

The most important update was tied to the creation of “Revining” by allowing quick sharing within the app to a users followers, it instantly increases the virality potential of Vine related content.

From a brand perspective, Protected Posts was a key addition by allowing more control over content, a brand can more easily experiment with Vine content but note that if you choose to share to Twitter or Facebook that content is also viewable on the web.

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Instagram Video Best Practices

On June 20th Instagram announced the addition of videos to its popular photo-sharing app.  Besides being an obvious response to the growing popularity of Twitter’s Vine app, this is another confirmation that short form content creation is on the rise.

instagram_video-630x395

I was recently asked by DM Confidential to share some tips for marketers to create visually compelling content and test another content distribution channel. Article highlights are at the bottom of this post.

What are some best practices or tips for how marketers and brands should use videos on Instagram?

A couple come to mind right away: Brands can share unique branded experiences, highlight brand advocates, co-create content with audiences, preview products, highlight a specific cause, extend the brands persona via video, preview upcoming events by adding visual context, share important news, drive promotional awareness, leverage Instagram video for promotion, and create videos that show fan appreciation.  The key is to create content that is a natural extension of the brand.

How is it different from Vine, from a marketing perspective?

The first key difference is simply tied to reach potential. By embedding Instagram video within the existing application for both iOS and Android simultaneously, Facebook is providing access to a large and very active user base.

From a marketing perspective, the greater length of the video — 15 seconds vs. 6 — the ability to stabilize the shot, 13 filters and the ability to tap to focus allows for greater flexibility and complexity of a shot. This can provide greater depth in terms of the type of content that can be created and better represent the brand.

Examples of Instagram Video Filters

Photo Jun 21, 4 10 44 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 04 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 44 PM

My assumption is also that at some point Instagram Video will support the ability to create custom filters, similar to how brand applications can incorporate custom Instagram filters to further create associations with the brand.

Do you like this addition to Instagram?

I do like the addition of video to Instagram. Facebook is still the ideal storytelling and amplification platform. With so much attention given to Vine, this was the natural next step for Instagram. This combined with Facebook’s ability to support hashtags as well as photos in comments are all signs that the platform’s future is tied to visual content both static and active.

Example of Facebook Hashtag Support

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What does it say about the importance of visual content, and short-form videos specifically?

Compelling and relevant visual content has been a key element of driving engagement. An overwhelming majority of content shared is still tied to images. With that said, Vine and Instagram Video now offer quick and easy solutions for consumers to create short-form content. As brands become even more comfortable with their guidelines tied to user generated content, short-form videos will be another viable alternative to support their existing content strategies.

Here is the full DM Confidential Article

DM Confidential - Tom Edwards-Final

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Sports Social TV Summit

I had a great time speaking on a panel this morning at the Sports Social TV Summit. I was a part of a panel discussion with members from the NFL, Turner Sports, Time Warner Cable, the Pac 12 and the Los Angeles Dodgers discussing various topics associated with Social TV.

Tom Speaking 1

Below are three clips tied to various questions that I was asked as well as an overview of our recently executed Way2Saturday program.

Way2Saturday & Social TV

Brand Question… Are brands asking for Social TV & second screen solutions?

The final response was from the Q&A session tied to Facebook Targeting

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Pinterest Partner Event Recap

I recently attended the first ever Pinterest Partner Marketing Summit in NYC. This invite only event unveiled their emphasis on developing a strong partner program and also served as an opportunity to introduce new staff to the Pinterest partner team, new resources for brands and agencies and best practices to maximize the platform.

Pinterest Event

There were five primary areas of focus for the event.

1) Why Pinterest
2) Pinterest Interest Graph
3) New product enhancements (Rich Pin & Mobile Pin It)
4) Analytics & Partner Tools
5) Partner case studies & Best Practices

WHY PINTEREST

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest Co-Founder & CEO started the day by telling the story of Pinterest. He discussed his love of collections when he was young… stamps, butterflies, baseball cards, etc… he saw an opportunity as there was not an elegant solution to organize collections online.

He had roots with Google and was enamored by how the search giant was able to so seamlessly focus on enabling search & retrieval across the web. If you know what you are looking for Google provides an ideal platform for search & retrieval.

He actually related Pinterest more to Google & search than to other social channels such as Facebook. With Pinterest people vs. bots are indexing the webs content and organizing them by interests, something that is a bit more subjective but aligns with human behavior.

One of his key points was in defining Pinterests role in discovery of content.

Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity” – Ben Silbermann

Ben

With Pinterest, people are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests. This is their key point of differentiation as the platform is about discovery and action.

It was interesting to hear Ben’s story about the roots of Pinterest and it also provided insight into where the platform is going which leads to the Interest Graph.

INTEREST GRAPH

The Pinterest team spent a good bit of time discussing what they coined the Pinterest Interest Graph. An interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business moving forward.

A key point of differentiation between Facebook’s Social Graph & Pinterest & even Twitters interest graphs are the fact that Interest Graphs are used to create people’s interest networks whereas Facebook and other social networks are organized around an individual’s friends and connections that follow them across the web.

The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery.

The key to the interest graph from a brand perspective is that a single product can be repined into other areas. As the single object passes across the interest graph across categories you are able to leverage the network of interests and passions vs. pushing a message and see how your product resonates in real time. This leads to driving discoverability by interest as well as distribution and lengthens the shelf life of content as it continually gets repined.

Interest Graph in action for me… I like Robots

Robots

PRODUCT ENHANCEMENTS

Pin it Button – the theme that was repeated the most over the course of the event was the focus on the Pin It button. Pinterest reiterated that a strong Pinterest strategy starts with enabling your domain. By enabling and focusing on driving & optimizing pins down to the individual product level are the key to driving more engagement and driving higher referral traffic.

Pin-It-Button-30-Designs

Mobile Pinning – Earlier this week Pinterest launched the ability to integrate the Pin It button into a brands mobile application to further drive discoverability via mobile for both iOS & Android via SDKs. The SDK allows a brands users to create Pinterest content inside the branded app. Currently, this only supports pinning from the web, but the ability to pin local images is on the roadmap as well.

Here is an example of Mobile Pinning in action from the Brit + Co (launch partner) mobile app

mobile pinning

Rich Pins – Also tied to this weeks launch was the release of Rich Pins. Pinterest hopes that Rich Pins lead to action and by adding more brand data to a pin tied to products, recipes & movies that more direct attribution and value for brands and users will be apparent. Product pins from a brand can showcase active inventory as well as price & references the source directly from the pin. Recipe Rich Pins allow more data to be added directly to the pin and movie pins offer insight into reviews as well as cast directly from the pin.

Product Pins

Product Pins

Recipe Pins

Recipe Pins

Movie Pins

Movie Pins

Implementation – In order to implement Rich Pins meta tags need to applied to your domain and decide on the type of rich pin you want to apply for. Then once the meta tags have been validated you can apply to get them from Pinterest.

From a brand perspective, this is the first step to further enabling brand content and attribution. Especially the product pins can be of value to further drive action when discovered.

ANALYTICS & PARTNER TOOLS

On March 11th, Pinterest launched their data analytics tool. This was another key discussion point during the course of the event. The analytics tool supports Pinterest’s position to enable a brands .com as the suite focuses on content pinned directly from the .com and focus on how many people are pinning from the website, impressions & reach over time and which pins receive the most repins and who pins them as well as what other content people are pinning alongside them.

webanalytics_3

This data can be extremely useful when incorporating top pins into tailoring content for the website as well as other social channels. Nordstrom was a presenting brand and the key takeaway from their presentation was their focus on curating pins and using analytics as a driver for surfacing content on their website, e-mail as well as in store. By leveraging Pinterest in this way, Nordstrom claimed increased sell through in stores and online.

Nordstrom Top Pins via .com

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.20.55 AM

Nordstrom in store

Nordstrom

Pinterest also rolled out new partner tools starting with a revamped business.pinterest.com as well as a new business blog that will focused on enabling partners and will serve as the location for new product feature announcements. The team also announced that they will soon be providing webinars on best practices to further enable partners.

Unlike Facebook & Twitter, Pinterest is less about working directly with their partner teams and more about enabling the platform to allow brands to maximize their presence.

CASE STUDIES

During the course of the event four brands were represented including Target, Sephora, Nordstroms & Sony Electronics. I have already referenced how Nordstroms is leveraging Pinterest data to drive their content & in-store strategy. Below are a few key points from the Sephora & Sony Electronics presentations.

Sephora

The most compelling elements from the Sephora case study was their laser focus on identifying trends via pins. Their goals were tied to making it easier to pin from Sephora.com, use e-mail to encourage Pinterest engagement and encourage clients to pin their beauty shopping lists.

Sephora

  • Focus on top pins to inform content strategy across channels
  • Content goes beyond simple product to incorporate DIY type content
  • Testing various types of Pin to Win initiatives that are cross promoted

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.41.13 AM

  • Embedded Pinterest across social channels such as Facebook
  • Created pinnable e-mails drove significant results including a 60% increase in referral traffic from Pinterest that has not subsided
  • Focus on creating a shoppable experience on Pinterest
  • Claimed that shoppers are closer to purchase in the path to purchase and stated a statistic of 15x the sales impact vs. Facebook

Sony Electronics

I was most impressed by the work of Sony electronics of the four brands that presented. What I liked about their story is they are not the first brand you think of when you think about the Pinterest platform. They are a manufacturer vs. retailer and their audience is a younger, high tech male group who is not the primary audience of the platform. They had very clearly defined strategy objectives of driving sales, acquisition and brand affinity on the platform and they have leveraged the social power of their internal organization as well as consumers to power their experience.

Sony Electronics

  • Audience (Sony electronics appeal to more than women)
  • They curated content that existed, retro products, artist style, influencers who shoot with their cameras etc…
  • Launched presence with an employee contest to educate and curate relevant content across the organization
  • Drove awareness via the Sony Electronics blog & e-mail
  • E-mail is a critical component to their Pinterest strategy, pin, collect, share –> Pinterest focused messages get double the open rate
  • Inform their content strategy based on Pins
  • Leverage 3rd parties such as Curalate to identify influencers
  • Executed innovative programs such as Pin Deals – unlock via 20 pins – flash sale & Pin it to give it – repins = $1 to charity and received 13,000 pins

pin2givePindeals

  • Partnered with relevant brands to enter new categories such as Pinterest partnership with American Airlines to enter travel

Travel and Tech

BEST PRACTICES

The following is a list of best practices that were discussed during the course of the event. This is not a comprehensive best practices list, but does highlight the key points that the Pinterest team & brands represented did speak to repeatedly.

Strategy

  • The Pinterest team reiterated that the best Pinterest strategy starts with your domain.
  • Remember boards are not destinations, most of the interaction will happen at the Pin level
  • Pinnable E-mail is a critical component to a successful Pinterest strategy, enable content to be pinned on the individual content level

Platform

  • Add Pin-It Button to domain
  • Verify the business with Pinterest
  • Enable Domain Analytics
  • Activate & Incorporate Rich Pins to create a cleaner connection to inventory and enabling action
  • Leverage the Mobile SDK’s to further enable sharing directly from a brands app

Content

  • Learn from top pins, timely relevant pins that map to domain are key
  • Optimize pins, Sony’s audience preferred product shots while Target’s audience resonates with Lifestyle images
  • Short Captions are key, the goal is to tease to promote click through
  • Focus on content that will drive repins
  • Pin your product along with other inspirational content to boards
  • Focus on creating ripples with content vs. “feed stuffing”

Contests

  • When it comes to Pin It to Win it type of initiatives, it is important to ensure that there is a variety of content to pin
  • A pin from a Pin it to Win it is good, but the focus should be on repins. Repins are the key to successful promotion on the platform

SUMMARY

The first Pinterest partner event was definitely insightful and the event closed with the following points:

1) Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity
2) People are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests
3) You can make your business more discoverable by inspiring people to pin

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Hero 4 Final

Google Glass The Future Is Now

Wearable technology, specifically head mounted displays have been a part of science fiction canon for a very long time. Fans of the 80’s anime series Dragon Ball were accustomed to seeing characters with their own version of “Google Glass” interfaces. This preexisting association can be both a positive and a negative when it comes to the potential mass adoption of Google Glass.

DragonballZ-Episode001ws_89-640x360

The explosion of fitness related wearable technology with the Fit Bit, Nike Fuel Band & the recently launched Jawbone fitness band have led to a rise in mass appeal for wearable technology. The trend has been if the wearable technology provides relevance & utility as a natural extension of our daily lives we are willing to put our time & dollars towards supporting this type of product. For Google Glass, the goal is to further integrate the real world into the Google ecosystem thus creating a natural extension into your daily life, even if you look a bit like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

GeordiLaForge

Google Glass has been the subject of a lot of hype over the past few months. From influencers wearing them at SXSW to recent sightings throughout NYC. What started as a project from Google X Labs is now on the verge of becoming a mainstream device. Whether this will go from Uber nerd category to mainstream essential is yet to be seen, but this will fundamentally impact the intersection of physical & digital moving forward.

Here I am testing Google Glass

Tom Edwards Google Glass

Google Glass, What are the specs and what should I expect from the UX?

The recent release of the Google Glass tech specs outline Google’s commitment to bring the product to market and attempt to redefine how we interact with the physical world. The specs include:

  • a high resolution display which is equivalent to a 25 inch HD TV from 8 feet away
  • 5 MP camera and 720P video
  • Bone condution audio transducer
  • Wi-fi & Bluetooth enabled
  • 12 GB of useable memory synced with Google cloud storage (16 GB total)
  • 1 full day of typical use

original

Outside of the tech specs, I was really interested in diving into the Google Mirror developer API’s. This is where you can really begin to see how Google plans on allowing the developer ecosystem to support the product & experiences moving forward.

One of the core elements of the user experience is tied to the concept of Timeline Cards.  These cards display the top level content that users will see. There are essentially two levels of navigation, with a top level primary and a sub-timeline for easy organization. Timeline cards support text, rich HTML, images or video content. From a brand perspective, understanding the relationship between relevant content & how information is presented & consumed via Timeline cards will be a key area to focus on as launch approaches.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.44.56 PM

Similar to how Facebook allows the usage of “action objects” to further drive content acceleration and discoverability through the social graph, the Google Mirror API allows the addition of action based interactivity into the app experience. For now commands such as “read aloud”, “reply by voice” and “navigate to” are inherent to the navigation, but this can extend “discover” or other action verbs. More importantly, it will be interesting to track how user actions are then reported back, or ultimately mapped to contextual or location based search. It is easy to see how actions could then be turned into opportunities to share both within the construct of Google & possibly overlays to the physical world via augmented reality tagging or proximity based recommendations.

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Subscriptions seem to be a key element to the Google Glass experience. Both from an engagement & tracking standpoint. Subscriptions tell you when users choose specific menu items or when they share to a contact. Once an action is taken, it will be possible to take a specific action, such as share a photo. This will allow branded experiences to see what is truly engaging to the end user.

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Location is going to be a key element of Google Glass. If the user opt’s-in and grants access it is possible to use the Google Mirror API to observe the user’s location in timeline items, request their last known location directly, and subscribe to periodic location updates. You can also deliver pre-rendered map images in timeline cards by giving the Mirror API the coordinates to draw. Basically, location is the key attribute to connect the user to their environment that can then be overlaid map data or even with augmented reality interfaces.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 1.27.55 PM

The biggest brand opportunities will be tied to mapping users locations with digital overlays to take real-world actions. This is already coming to life through Google’s augmented reality massively multiplayer online game for Android Ingress. Ingress seems to be designed with Google Glass in mind. I will be going into deeper detail around the impact of Ingress and the potential for brands in a future post but brands such as Zipcar & Jamba Juice are already testing the impact that this type of engagement can provide.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 5.03.24 PM

What is the potential for Google Glass over the next 3-5 years?

Interconnectivity – The intersection of technology and utility is going to be a key area of focus over the next 5 years. Interconnection between smart grid technology in our homes that intersect with mobile devices such as Google Glass will continue to gain traction. When it comes to wearable technology, the overlay of digital into our everyday lives via products such as Google Glass are just the tip of the iceberg on a new landscape of interaction both physically and socially. Changing the view of real world with digital overlays will continue to develop into a new form of communication and interaction.

Contextual Data – The trend digitally is a movement from mass social interaction towards contextual networks. This same concept will push through wearable technology. You look at the rise of the Nike Fuel band and the gamification and sharability of personal information. This trend will continue to expand beyond fitness into other facets of our lives. Data tied to fitness, work habits, leisure etc… will all begin to create different sets of data that can then be visualized, gamified and used to help us lead more efficient, effective lives.

This also maps to Google’s larger strategy tied to contextual & personalized search. If you watch what is happening from a search standpoint, one of the bigger trends is the move towards personalized & socially enabled search where results will differ by individual, and social weighting of content will be a key driver to determine what search results you see. This coincides with Google Glass, as the intersection of location, search & social are evident based on how the UX is being defined.

Google Search Plus Your World

Content anywhere – How we consume content has changed significantly over the last decade. Content ubiquity will become accelerated with Google Glass and similar products that provide HD display’s and voice activated controls allowing for access to streaming content on demand. This is just the beginning as paper thin displays and wearable technology continues to evolve. What was once thought to be science fiction is quickly becoming reality.

lost_in_space_robot_body_1_2_2004

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Creating Effective Mobile Landing Pages

Recently, I was asked by DM Confidential to provide insights on best practices for creating mobile landing pages that work well on smartphones. Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted. Below is a recap of my thoughts on the topic beyond what was published.

Having a streamlined user experience across both desktop and mobile are absolutely critical with today’s users. Just as visual storytelling has taken over how brands leverage social platforms, having a clean, clear and concise mobile entry point into a branded experience is key to driving engagement & action by the user.

Cross

Whether it’s driving brand awareness, showcasing products or benefits, or simply trying to drive leads, having a mobile landing experience that focuses on a very clear call to action, with clear and concise copy along with imagery or video that is core to driving the user through a pre-determined path is the key to maximizing the initial mobile experience.

Another core element to consider is the impact that responsive design can have for a brand vs. having a separate desktop and mobile experience, by leveraging responsive design during the build out of both desktop and mobile, you can maximize the user experience across platforms.

Here is a breakdown of simple Do’s & Dont’s to consider.

Do’s:

  • Incorporate visual elements while maximizing opportunities for engagement
  • Keep copy clear and concise
  • Be very specific as to the call to action and make sure that the it is incorporated into the design and kept above the fold
  • Do consider optimizing the content for load time
  • Do consider responsive design for both web & mobile to keep the experience consistent yet relevant across both desktop and mobile

Dont’s:

  • Do not just have your website as the default without mobile consideration (bad ux, too much content, difficult to navigate)
  • Avoid too much content
  • Avoid too many fields
  • Don’t just have a list of categories as the primary experience
  • Don’t overload the mobile experience to weigh down load times

Examples:

Good: Crowdsworth | Responsive Design

Here is the Responsive Design Desktop Version of the Crowdsworth site

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.15.11 AM

Here is the mobile version highlighting the sites responsive design

Photo Apr 03, 10 47 13 AM

Good: Nike | Clean UX & Clear Call to Action

Nike Mobile

Good: Red Bull | Strong use of visual and call to action that leads to deeper engagement as you scroll

RedBull Mobile

Bad: Chivas Whiskey | There is no mobile optimization present, essentially the site is the mobile landing page. At a minimum create a unique entry experience for the mobile user

Chivas Mobile

Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted.

How to Create Effective Mobile Landing Pages

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Hero 4 Final

12 Examples of Vine in Action

By now you have most likely heard through the grapevine (last “vine” pun I promise) about Twitter’s new Vine app and it’s many pros & cons. Many call Vine the Instagram of video as it goes beyond static images by allowing for 6 seconds of context tied to pictures, motion & sound in the form of looping videos optimized to be shared.

vine-twitter

Twitter launched Vine on January 24th, 2013 and it has not left the top 20 in the app store since launch. Vine’s six second video loops are quick, lightweight pieces of content that are ideal for social sharing. Initially launched via a mobile app for iOS  (Android app in development) this high-level version of an animated gif is quick & easy to capture. Just point your device, touch the screen and the app records up to 6 seconds allowing for starts & stops.

According to Tech Crunch, Vine (2.8% penetration) has taken an early lead over the likes of Viddy (0.5) & Socialcam (0.2).  There is significant opportunity tied to short form video assets & social sharing as the same article referenced that 98% of overly active users shared photos whereas only 4% shared video.

With the recent changes announced by Facebook and the importance of visual content that drives engagement, having the opportunity to create short-form content may be a powerful tool for brands to consider.

Cross

Vines can be a powerful addition to a solid content strategy. Whether it’s showcasing supplementary branded content or simply finding a relevant extension of your brand to highlight, Vine can provide yet another option to keep users attention.

Here are 12 examples of Vine in Action:

1) Drive awareness to an experiential event
BeatsByDre teased the opening of it’s SXSW Pill Clinic with this Vine.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.52.18 PM

2) Share Unique Branded Experiences
Urban Outfitter’s SXSW alien teased via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.41.37 PM

3) Highlight Brand Advocates
Kid Robot highlighted a user’s Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.50.06 PM

4) Pop-Culture Co-Creation in Action
Houston Texans merge their fans & brand with pop culture relevance

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.45.48 PM

5) Preview Products
Intel is leveraging Vine to preview technology

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.42.34 PM

6) Highlight a Cause
OKC Thunder highlighting a social cause via Vine

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7) Extend the Brand Persona
Trident is using Vine to extend the core attributes of their brand

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.02.41 PM

8) Preview with visual context
Warner Bros. promoting a movie with relevant context

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.11.45 PM

9) Share Important News
Kickstarter announces a record

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10) Drive promotional awareness
Sacramento Kings showcasing promotional items

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.25.17 PM

11) Leverage Vine for promotion
Regal Cinemas leveraged Vine as part of a promotional announcement

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12) Fan Appreciation
Chick-Fil-A show fans appreciation via Vine

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Be aware when leveraging Vine that there are issues with quality control, as the current version does not allow moderation. The focus should be less on community building & aggregation and more focused on creating content that is then distributed through owned channels.

Also note that it is important to determine the message that is to be conveyed and ensure that it ladders back to the core attributes and persona of the brand prior to just filming.

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iPhone 5 Launch Coverage

For those of us who follow all things Apple, today’s event in San Francisco is the focus of the day. With the upcoming release of the iPhone5, millions of iPhone users will be upgrading to the new device.

Apple just announced that the iPhone5 will be available for pre-order on 9-14 and will ship/be available on 9-21.

Here is a quick rundown of what’s available with the upcoming release:

  • The form factor is thinner (18%) and lighter (20%) with a panoramic screen with higher resolution
  • Aluminum body with a glass screen, supposedly the thinnest smartphone on the market and once again will be available in Black & White
  • Speed increases immensely based on the new A6 processor, which Apple claims is 2x faster than the 4S
  • iPhone5 will support LTE connectivity, which will add speed increases to the 4S
  • iPhone5 will have a dual channel 5GHz Wi-Fi
  • The screen is 16:9 with a 4 inch panoramic screen with it’s touchscreen sensor built into the display
  • Increased battery life – 8 hours 3G, 8 hours LTE browsing
  • Camera updates – 5 element lens, 8 megapixel with panorama mode
  • Video face detection – improved image stabilization with the ability to tag people automatically in videos
  • 3 Microphones – Front, Back & Bottom which should improve voice calls
  • One of the more controversial elements is the new Lightning connector, which replaces the current 30 pin connector that we all have across generations and are moving towards an 8 pin connector
  • iOS 6 launches on the 19th of September

Will you be upgrading to the iPhone5?

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Mobile Gamings Potential For Brand Engagement via P4RC

Reaching mobile consumers is on the thoughts and minds of brand managers heading into 2012 and beyond. The challenge is to drive meaningful engagement across a highly fragmented landscape while providing a positive & relevant experience to the consumer.

Mobile gaming appears to be an ideal target for brand engagement as 70-80% of all mobile downloads are games with the average iPhone user spending 14.7 hours a month playing those games. Currently, 64.5 million people in the US played mobile casual games at least once a month. This will rise to 94.9 million in the US by 2014. Translation people are gaming via mobile.

Has anyone not played Angry Birds?

The issue at this point in time is that the current landscape is highly scattered with over 72,000 games in the Apple App store from thousands of developers and in-app advertising leaving many brands frustrated with their mobile engagement rates.

One newly launched service is looking to change the game by promising higher user engagement rates combined with positive brand associations. P4RC, Inc. is a new service that connects consumer brands to mobile users with a platform that converts user engagement in their favorite gaming apps into P4RC points, which can be redeemed for real-world rewards.

The basic premise is that players play games they are already playing and earn gift cards from top retailers just for playing.

The key for P4RC brand programs is the ability for brands to reach across multiple games and reward behaviors that users are already engaged in.

P4RC’s brand programs include sponsoring their “Race to Win” segments, which call for users to play and earn P4RC points within a period of time to redeem brand rewards as well as offers directly from brands.

Example of Race to Win

Example of Brand Offer

By sponsoring our Race 2 Win competitions, brands can be inserted into the mobile gaming experience in a manner that is actually relevant to that experience.  This makes the brand part of the fun rather than an unwanted intrusion, which is often the case with other forms of mobile advertising” said Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC.

By integrating the achievement network completely within the game, the barrier of leaving the app for a mobile web experience is removed. The user is free to review current Race’s 2 win, redeem rewards and view their account all within the current app they are playing.

In the first week of launch, players have already redeemed their P4RC points for over $1,000 in rewards from brands such as Starbucks & Best Buy.

At launch, P4RC’s achievement network is currently tied to “Stop Those Fish“, which is currently featured by Apple as a New & Noteworthy app in the Apple App Store and announced a partnership with Eye Interactive to include the new P4RC rewards network in all Eye Interactive games.

P4RC is also forming key partnerships with mobile developers. “By adding the P4RC rewards network to their games, game developers benefit from a powerful marketing & customer retention engine that drives user engagement, resulting in an increase in game downloads and longer duration of game play.”

Services such as P4RC provide compelling incentives for brands and users alike by rewarding existing behaviors, socially enabling the experience and lowering the barrier of entry to participate across apps.

An Android friendly version of P4RC will be launching this Summer.

Thanks to Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC for data included in this post.

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Training Apple’s Siri for Facebook & Twitter

One of the outstanding features of the iPhone 4S is definitely Siri. Siri is Apple’s version of a virtual assistant. But setting up Siri out of the box can be interesting when you try to associate your commands with Facebook & Twitter.

Siri allows you to use your voice to send messages, make calls, schedule meetings etc…

Here are examples of what Siri can do for you

When you first activate your 4S you may need to activate Siri. You can do so via Settings –> General –> Siri

You can then activate Siri by holding down the Home Button for a few seconds and the fun begins.

You can ask about where the closest Starbucks is located…

You can check the weather in Hawaii

And Siri will remember your last request, if you ask “Where to find a drink” it will assume you are in Hawaii

But you may run into an issue trying to get Siri to play nicely with Facebook & Twitter. As she may tell you, I am sorry I cannot update Facebook or Twitter at first go.

Configuring FACEBOOK

Configuring Facebook with Siri will require your mobile device to be connected to Facebook. Below is an outline of what is required to confirm your mobile device with Facebook.

Open the Facebook mobile app then to settings at the top left. Or you can go to the mobile tab of your Account Settings page to activate Mobile Texts. Click “Register for Facebook Text Messages” and complete the steps that follow.

Step 1 Select Country & Mobile Carrier

Step 2 is confirmation

Next, you will need to create a Contact called Facebook with the contact number 32665

Then, you ask Siri to send a message to Facebook saying “message Facebook” then “Your status Update”

Configuring TWITTER

For Twitter, text START to 40404 in the US.

Next, create a contact as you did for Facebook, the only difference is to add “Twitter” as a nickname to the contact.

This will allow you to say Send Message to Twitter, without having to say everything at once. This is an important step.

Then you will see your tweet.

There is much more to explore with Siri as well as Apple’s iOS 5. Would love to hear about some of the interesting things you have asked Siri and what the response was.

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Top 10 Features of Apple iOS 5

With the upcoming release of the iPhone 4S, I decided to upgrade both my iPad 2 and iPhone 4 to the new iOS 5 operating system prior to picking up the 4S.

Apple boasts over 200 new features tied to the OS, with some specific to the iPhone & iPad. After a few tries, I was able to upgrade both and have spent the last 24 hours identifying what I find useful in the new OS and have narrowed the list from 200 down to my top 10.

Here is my top 10 list of what I found the most useful:

1) NOTIFICATIONS – I really like the new approach to notifications. With an integrated approach that feels much better from a UI perspective, notifications feel like an extension vs. intrusive. This extends to apps such as Facebook as well.

Lock screen notifications


In App notifications


Swipe Down notifications – Swipe down from the top of the screen and you will drop down your notification center. This area can be configured to show weather as well as the latest notifications, updates and even track your stock portfolio.

(2) iCLOUD – I am a fan of the new iCloud service. In order to use the free service* you must be on the iOS 5 operating system. Once you upgrade you have the ability to use:

  • iTunes in the cloud
  • Photo Stream
  • Documents in the cloud
  • Apps and Books automatically downloaded
  • Backup multiple iDevices
  • Activate the Find my iPhone/iPad feature


*You start with 5GB of free storage and can purchase more

3) PHOTO ENHANCEMENTS – Simply Double Tap the home button on the lock screen to pull up a shortcut to activate your camera. This is extremely helpful, especially at events.

  • Double click the home button when the device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut
  • Volume up to take a picture
  • Optional grid lines to line up shots
  • Pinch to zoom in the preview screen
  • Swipe to camera roll from preview screen
  • Tap and hold to lock focus & exposure (iPad 2 & 4th gen iPod touch)


4) PHOTO EDITING – In addition to the upcoming 8 megapixel camera in the 4S, the iOS 5 update added much needed Editing support for photos.

  • Crop & Rotate
  • Red Eye Removal
  • One Tap Enhance
  • Organize photos into albums

5) TWITTER INTEGRATION – With Apple’s decision to align with Twitter, iOS 5 highlights their commitment to further integrate the micro-blogging service into the experience.

  • Sign-in once in Settings & tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari & YouTube
  • Add location to any tweet
  • Here is how to configure Siri to work with Twitter if you now have the 4S.

6) SAFARI – With most changes on the back-end, the features that impact usage are the Reader List and Reader Button.

  • Reader Button – allows users to strip away the stylized elements of an article to focus on the content
  • Reader Lists – allow users to add articles to running lists that can be shared across devices.

Example of a Reader Button Activated Article

Example of the Reading List Display

Example of Reader List activation for Safari on my Mac.

(7) MAPS – Not major changes here, but I do like the fact that you can now share map locations via multiple options.

If you have Siri via the 4S, then you also have the ability to ask for directions via voice commands and Siri will remember your previous request. Here is my analysis of Siri.

8) iMESSAGE – allows you to interact with other iOS 5 users with unlimited text, photo & video messages.

  • iMessage uses a Blue send button whereas SMS uses Green
  • Delivery & Read Receipts
  • Group messaging
  • Works over cellular network & wi-fi

(9) NEW APPS – With each new update to the iOS new apps normally follow and this launch was no exception.

  • Reminders (Auto installed) – Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook including location based reminders which is a great feature
  • Newstand (Auto installed) – Automatically organizes magazine & newspaper subscriptions on home screen
  • Cards – Create greeting cards directly from your iPhone
  • Trailers – Watch the latest movie trailers, also integrated with iTunes, of course what isn’t from Apple?
  • Find my Friends – Share your location with people. Good for parents to track their kids. Note must be using iCloud & iOS5
  • Airport Utility – Manage Wifi & airport base stations

(10) Wireless sync to iTunes – Enough Said!!!

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The Power of Instagram for Brands

Photos can tell many stories and they are powerful representations of the world around us. It is no wonder that users have taken the simple task of taking photos with their iPhones to new levels with apps such as Instagram, Hipstamatic, PicPiz and Pose.

Instagram, a photo-sharing app for iPhone users, is quickly becoming a force for individuals & brands alike. With over 10 million users and an average of 1.3 million photos uploaded per day, it ties the ability to adjust your photo via multiple built in filters with socially enabled features such as sharing, liking, and commenting.

Why is Instagram attracting users and brands vs. say simply using Twitpic or another utility to take and share a photo? One reason may be the ability to easily customize photos where users feel in control and further expressing their personality & style with a simple user interface. The other thought is how Instagram enables social sharing across multiple channels with ease.

From the app, you have the ability to tag your photos with relevant hashtags, (#Starbucks) subscribe to feeds of individuals & brands as well as view the most popular submissions. In terms of social sharing, Instagram allows you to share your works of art across Twitter, Facebook, Email, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare and Posterous.

Brands have found innovative ways to incorporate Instagram into their social strategies to drive awareness & engagement. Those that use the medium well understand the opportunity to humanize the brand, incent users to create content on their behalf via unique hashtags & photo contests and it offers a quick and easy way to share visual content and of course engage users.

Below is a list of the Top 10 most followed brands & organizations on Instagram (As of September 15, 2011)

1. MTV = 103,036 Tweens, Teens, Young 20’s + Music + Visual Self Expression = MTV #1.

2. Starbucks = 91,157 – Starbucks understands the power of crowdsourcing. From their groundbreaking work with the My Starbucks Idea program to activating amateur photographers across the globe to tag #Starbucks with their Instagram enabled iDevices. You can go to starbucks.com/coffeehouse to see the latest images.

3. Burberry = 86,544 – Fashion & photography go hand in hand. It is no surprise that Burberry uses the service to showcase their professionally created visual imagery associated with their brand.

4. ABC News = 67,874 – ringing in at #4, ABC News uses it stream to visualize the news and users engage via comments

5. NPR = 65,972 – One of many news sources using Instagram to visualize the news.

6. Red Bull = 59,298 – Red Bull rings in at #6 with a healthy following. The brand executes hashtag photo contests and rewards users with likes as they show their affinity for the brand visually around the world.

7. CNN = 58,256 – Yet another news service visualizing the news

8. NBC = 55,012 – See #4, #5 and #7

9. Kate Spade = 45,597 – Another Fashion entry in the top 10. Kate Spade focuses on uniquely photographing merchandise & sharing the images via multiple social channels such as Tumblr & Twitter.

10. Celtics = 35,433 – Events are a natural extension for Instagram. Sporting events in particular can generate a significant amount of visual content. By understanding and capitalizing on this the Boston Celtics round out the top 10 with over 35,000 followers.

Other brands of Note include:

1. Volkswagen
2. Gucci
3. Levi’s
4. National Geographic
5. Coca Cola
6. Pepsi
7. McDonalds

The brands that are closer to the innovation end of the social marketing spectrum understand that it is not enough to simply rely on Twitter & Facebook but to ultimately be present, monitor & potentially engage in the channels where their brands are being discussed.

Many organizations view additional channels as spreading the brand too thin and fall into the trap of only leveraging Facebook & Twitter. I view each social channel as serving a specific purpose based on how consumers use the channel and the ultimate goals of the brand.

If you have the ability to define a strategy that incorporates various mediums while maximizing how they were intended to be used you can truly drive value for both the brand and the consumer. And yes there are branded conversations that happen outside of Facebook & Twitter.

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SnapTags vs. QR Codes Round 2

One of the more controversial posts over the past year was tied to my POV on 2D barcodes, specifically SnapTags vs. QR codes. This sparked an interesting conversation.

To follow up on that conversation, instead of getting into a philosophical discussion I will let this infographic sent to me by the SpyderLynk team kick-off the discussion. Would love to hear your thoughts after reviewing the infographic.

Snaptags vs. QR Codes per Spyderlynk

Let the commenting begin!!!

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Starbucks Offers Branded Entertainment as Pick of the Week

As an incredibly frequent customer of Starbucks, I do pay close attention to the itunes Pick of the Week cards that are available close to the register. Apple & Starbucks have partnered together since 2007 and the Pick of the Week program has kept my interest since its inception. The core focus has been on music but I had held out hope for branded entertainment either in the form of video or ultimately apps.

For those of us that work with entertainment brands, driving awareness is incredibly valuable and leveraging strategic partnerships is just as important to amplify your brand. With such a significant global footprint on the local level and the market penetration of Apple’s iTunes services the likelihood for success is high, especially if you are one of the first brands to leverage the new direction of the partnership.

I was excited to see a TV show as the Pick of the Week over the holiday’s with the Charlie Brown pick of the week and that appeared to be a test leading up to the expansion beyond music.

Starting on August 23rd, Starbucks and Apple are now partnering together to deliver free Pick of the Week apps. This is significant as a song can cost $1.29 whereas the first app out of the gate, Shazam Encore was a $5.99 value.

This week features the latest Firemint release titled Spy Mouse (.99). It will be very interesting to watch the correlation of the release of the app, featured status via Starbucks and how that impacts the downloads and sales of the app. By providing a conveniently located download option at a physical location it offers the app developer a distinct awareness advantage over the competition.

According to the Starbucks blog it looks like this will expand to samples of books, TV shows & apps. Now the lobbying begins in terms of positioning various branded entertainment for the coveted spots. As an entertainment marketer or even app developer it is important not to discount the potential of this program.

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Facebook Text to Like

Although it has been available for a while now, one of the under utilized options to drive a Like for a Facebook Brand page is as simple as texting like_____ to 32265 (FBOOK if you are in the US). In the case of our facebook page, you would text “Like BlackFin360” to 32265 without the quotes. All that is required is that your mobile device is confirmed to your Facebook account.*

This method is a great alternative to 2D barcodes to Like or printing Like Us on packaging as it is directly actionable and once the user has confirmed their mobile device it is as simple as texting Like and the brand page name. The user will then not only receive updates via their newsfeed but any brand that they like via text will also receive the latest updates from your brand page directly as text messages.

Recently, Facebook was driving activation around local markets and provided Text to Like stickers for window fronts of local retailers.

Here is an example of a Text to Like sticker

As I mentioned above, in order to capitalize on this feature a users phone needs to be confirmed with Facebook. Below is an outline of what is required to confirm your mobile device with Facebook.

Open the Facebook mobile app then to settings at the top left. Or you can go to the mobile tab of your Account Settings page to activate Mobile Texts. Click “Register for Facebook Text Messages” and complete the steps that follow.

Step 1 Select Country & Mobile Carrier

Step 2 is confirmation

Step 3 Like the Page

As I stated previously, instead of simply stating find us or Like us on Facebook, capitalize on an opportunity to drive a Like on a direct mail piece, speaking at a conference or possibly on packaging. Most people have the ability to text and this is an untapped acquisition play that is more directive & enabled by quick response vs. passively asking for a like and putting the onus on the user to find the brand page, then Like it.

*If you are in a different country, here is the list of activation codes.

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15 Examples of Gamification & Brands

Outside of the recent flurry associated with Google+, the one term that has been top of mind throughout the digital space recently is gamification. Gamification is a term used to describe organizations using game mechanics to drive engagement in traditionally non-gaming products. There are examples of gamification everywhere in our daily lives and many brands are integrating game mechanics in unique and compelling ways all with the purpose of driving user engagement.

Below are 15 examples of Gamification and how brands are capitalizing on the trend.

Xbox Live | Achievements, Leaderboards | Microsoft struck a chord with traditional gamers when they first rolled out achievement points. Users can earn a certain amount of gamerscore by completing specific tasks or actions in game.  This simple addition had a profound impact on the space as nothing to date had motivated behavior to play titles beyond ones taste for specific genres while also creating an aggregate & visible record of your gaming prowess. Brands took note of the trend and the loyalty that users developed in their pursuit of gamerscore & bragging rights. I attribute the current craze of achievement based gamification to the success of Xbox Live & achievement points.

E.g. Gamertag

Foursquare | Rewards, Badges | Location based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla & Facebook Places have redefined game mechanics in non-gaming products. Users and brands alike have taken notice and Foursquare stands out with 10 million users on a platform that was built around solid game mechanics. Users can claim mayorships, unlock badges, receive special offers & rewards such as discounts to specific retailers while also tracking against friends via a leaderboard.

Examples of Foursquare Badges

Example of Foursquare/NFL Super Bowl Rewards

Example of Foursquare/Pepsi Reward from SXSW 2011

Foursquare leaderboard sponsored by Pepsi

Gowalla | Virtual Goods, Badges, Rewards | Like Foursquare, Gowalla has had an impact on brands by incenting location based check-ins while incorporating virtual item reward programs that then translate into physical goods.

Example of Gowalla badges/pins

Example of Virtual Goods/Physical Goods

GetGlue | Badging, Rewards | The gamification of entertainment has been growing significantly over the past year. Similar to how individuals check into physical locations with services such as Foursquare & Gowalla, now it is possible to check into entertainment destinations such as your favorite TV Show, Movie, Music, Video Games, etc… With players such as GetGlue, Miso, Philo and Tunerfish all vying for your entertainment check-in, each platform offers different mechanics but each is built on the foundation of game mechanics such as badging & rewards through various brand partners.

Example of GetGlue Sticker tied to TRON

Example of a GetGlue Reward that offered 40% off of Mad Men on Blu-Ray or DVD

Linkedin |Progress Bar | Linkedin offers a small example of gamification by incenting users towards 100% profile completeness with a progress bar that is visible while on the edit profile page. By providing a visual representation of your profile completeness Linkedin hopes to trigger behavior that drives us towards completeness.

Example of Profile completeness

SalesForce | Leaderboard, Achievements, Leveling | Salesforce has taken gamification to another level with this addition to the popular CRM platform. With Engage, Salesforce users activities within the system are tied to various game mechanics and offers direct competition with other users within their organization. By incorporating this level of competitive visibility organizations can capitalize on surfacing different behaviors and hopefully drive additional engagement with their systems.

Example of SalesForce’s New Gamification Dashboard

Mint | Achievements, Progress Bar | As discussed on Mashable, Mint is offering a Financial Fitness Score that is based on core game mechanics associated with task completion, progression & achievements. By taking an ordinary exercise and creating a casual gaming experience, mint is creating an opportunity to drive new user acquisition in a creative way.

Example of Mint Gamification

Example of Mint Point Acquisition

CheckPoints | Virtual Currency, Rewards | CheckPoints incents users to engage in retail settings via compelling game mechanics. Users are incented to scan specific products in exchange for CheckPoints which can then be exchanged as a virtual currency for rewards such as gift cards. Brands can create compelling programs with CheckPoints to drive retail activation and product engagement all based on gamification of the shopping experience.

Example of CheckPoints Scan for Tyson Chicken

Example of CheckPoints Rewards

Shopkick | Virtual Currency, Rewards, Contests | Similar to CheckPoints, ShopKick also offers incentives and game mechanics for users to engage with specific products. By incenting users with specific offers prior to entering a retail location, ShopKick users can then interact with those products in store and earn points which translate to virtual currency. ShopKick also incorporates a hyper geo-targeted approach to driving engagement as shown below. By rewarding behavior by simply entering a participating retailer, ShopKick can influence behavior via a game mechanic.

Example Geo-Targeted Gamification associated with Target

Example of ShopKick Rewards

Hallmark | Facebook Credits, Virtual Goods, Gifting, Sharing | Facebook credits have become the default currency tied to Facebook’s ever popular social games. Beyond the social game mechanics brands are leveraging Facebook credits to incent users to interact with specific content. Hallmark incorporates many game mechanics into it’s Facebook application the Hallmark Social Calendar.

Example Hallmark Social Calendar and Facebook Credits

Example of Hallmark Social Calendar Gifting

Example of Incenting engagement via Points

Starbucks | Leveling, Rewards | Starbucks has incorporated game mechanics into it’s popular loyalty program. By incorporating multiple levels and associated rewards & perks per level with a progression tracker, users are incented to continually engage with the brand.

Example of MyStarbucks Rewards

Nike | Achievements, Badges, Challenges, Rewards | Nike has redefined running with Nike Plus. The ability to track, share, challenge and interact with like minded friends & runners across the world has been wildly successful. By incorporating game mechanics throughout the program Nike is able to create an engaging experience that transcends the real world activity.

Example of Nike Plus Goals & Challenges

Example of Nike Plus Progress bar & Leveling

Buffalo Wild Wings | Trivia, Challenges | Buffalo Wild Wings has been adept at carving out their place in the social ecosystem. By leveraging powerful platforms like Vitrue and partnering with Scvngr, they have created an engaging social persona that has served them well with over 5 million fans on Facebook. In terms of gamification they incorporate trivia regularly into their wall posts as well as incorporating online challenges tied to rewards.

Example of a Buffalo Wild Wings program that incorporates Scvngr

Microsoft | Achievements, Contests | Ribbon Hero is a creative game mechanic driven tutorial now in Microsoft Office. By completing specfic tasks and challenges you can then integrate Ribbon Hero with your Facebook account to compare how adept you are vs. your friends.

Example Ribbon Hero

Image via Geek.com

American Airlines | Progression Bar | A simple game mechanic is used by American Airlines to visually represent your current elite status qualification.

Example of American Airlines mobile app

As you can see many brands are capitalizing on the trend of integrating game mechanics into their non-gaming product offerings to drive engagement. What are some other examples of gamification by other brands?

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10 Potential Brand Benefits of Google+

For those of us that work closely with brands, the initial beta for Google+ was exciting but not quite fulfilling for brands. Granted it is a Beta and is not intended for brand or non-human entities at this time. The recent announcement of Pages or Entities for brands on the 2011 platform roadmap means it is never too early to begin thinking about Google+ brand strategy with what is known today.

Below are 10 potential points to consider for your 2012 digital strategy planning as it relates to Google+.

Potential Brand Benefits of Google+ Brand Pages/Entities

1 ) Integration with Google Search – Google currently owns 68% of search market share. The fact that the Google +1 icon is now a part of every Google search result shows a glimpse of the level of integration Google has in store for users & brands alike. A user can directly recommend a link from their search results and that recommendation is simultaneously shared on the users  Google+ +1 profile section. By combining paid search, and incenting +1 behaviors you can begin to see the potential of this level of integration as the user may not be actively engaged on Google+ but the abilty to drive a user to engage by recommending content with the click of a single button is appealing.

Here is an example of a search for Hasbro’s NERF product. I like NERF so I +1 the Page

The +1 is then aggregated into my Google+ profile under +1’s

2 ) Google +1 – Similar to the Facebook Like button the Google +1  button has the opportunity to truly transcend the platform by driving significant 3rd party integration. In fact the Google +1 button overtook the Twitter tweet button on most major websites with a 33% spike in integration recently. Granted it is still far behind the Like button in terms of saturation but the fact that both Facebook & Google+ drive engagement to a central destination vs. simply being a conduit to various destinations such as Twitter shows the potential of 3rd party integrations to drive engagement.

3 ) Circles – By allowing brands to potentially segment fans is a big win. One of the issues with brand management on Facebook is tied to messaging across audience segments. By allowing brands to potentially seamlessly categorize fans it allows the style of engagement to change dramatically. Imagine if you are driving engagement with 13-17 year old segments as well as 18-24 year olds. The brand & social persona’s associated with content could shift to further driving engagement based on audience segment vs. a one size fits all approach.

Here is a mock-up of how a brand could further segment consumers via demographic circles

4 ) Google+ & Social GamingGoogle invested 100 million dollars into Zynga in 2010 and look for Google+ to create it’s own Google Games flavor of social gaming in 2011/2012. With over 50% of Facebooks 700 million engaged daily with Facebook social games, it is a key motivator for brands to monitor the Google Games offering and how Zynga and others align with Google+. The success of recent brand integrations with Farmville, including Frito-Lays recent world record for driving “Likes”, has given notice to brand managers of the power of Social Games & strategic partnerships with the game providers.

5 ) Google Tools/Apps/Gadgets Integration – If your organization uses Google Apps for business it looks as though Google will be holding trials with a handful of users to test integration between Google Apps for Business & Google+. Additional integration could come in the form of Google Gadgets where it may be possible to re-purpose rich media elements as a Google Gadget that could then be shared with a user via Google+. This would further drive efficiency with marketing dollars while providing additional tools to drive acquisition & engagement.

6 ) YouTube & Google TV Integration – With YouTube in it’s stable, Google+ integration with YouTube is not far behind. The inherent social nature of YouTube translates well in terms of integration of +1, embedding video and further integrating the YouTube & Google+ experience to make sharing and recommending content even easier. From a brand perspective being able to distribute unique & consumer generated content that is relevant to the brand while driving +1’s back to a brand page is very appealing from an earned media perspective.

One area that really intrigues me is how Google TV may integrate with Google+ to create a truly social entertainment experience. I envision further integration between Google TV, YouTube, Hulu & Andriod to drive truly integrated entertainment experiences across screens. From a media perspective you could truly bridge the gap between traditional & digital placement by incorporating a relevant ad placement via information collected from Sparks & Google Search. This to me is the future of enhanced television.


7 ) Google Map Integration – Many brands have physical locations and creating a distributed module that integrates Google Maps or even more importantly Google Latitude integration. It will be interesting to see if there is additional focus on integrating Google Latitude with Google+ to rival Facebook places and the other key players such as Foursquare & Gowalla. Brands could claim locations and proactively be pinged with relevant offers based on check-in history and Google+ spark interests.

8 ) Android Integration – With the Android’s market share currently at 49.5%, integration with Google+ is a key for both Google+ & Android. With both an App & Web version of Google+ and an Android exclusive with the Google+ Huddle functionality, the level of integration between Android & Google+ is apparent. Even though the Hangout feature was left out, there are still signs towards further integration for Google+ beyond the app. The latest version of Google+ enabled phones are rumored to provide  additional functionality such as a potential one touch +1 feature in the next generation phone. This may have brands rethinking their approach to Android applications.


9 ) Google Offers – With the launch of Google Offers, it is a natural extension for brands to incorporate group buying where applicable. By integrating this with Google+ as well as search results there could be a very compelling acquisition program tied to Google+ extensions that is amplified via Google+ users.

10 ) Sparks & Recommendation Engine – One of the most impactful elements of Google+ for brands is potentially Sparks. Brands could focus advertising dollars on Sparks programs that are relevant to their brand & product offerings. Taking it a step further, creation of a recommended or +1 relevance based on a users & circles sparks/interests that is then socially shared could be very compelling. This would be very similar to Facebook’s sponsored stories.

Other areas of focus & interest will be how international/localized regions are supported in terms of aggregating brand +1’s  and how the Google+ commerce & currency platform strategies will unfold.

One additional point will be to evaluate the true reach and amplification of the +1 from an earned media perspective. While Circles & segmentation are key how this information is shared and disseminated via the stream is incredibly important. Be sure to note the differences in what shows up individually in your streams vs. what is tied to content. With Facebook, one of the secrets outside of edgerank is the level of detail that is shown by interaction. You “Like” NERF and it is represented in your newsfeed. This is key for true adoption & ultimately big advertising dollars to be spent on Google+.

As far as what the potential brand pages would look like Sean Percival created an interesting mock up of what a potential Starbucks brand page could look like.

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Google+ & Facebook

This week saw the launch of Google+ which is Googles answer to Facebook. Google has definitely had setbacks when it comes to Social solutions. Google Wave anyone? So what do they decide to do this time around? Basically mirror Facebook.

googleplus

Comic via xkcd

There is even a CSS overlay that now converts your Google+ experience to look like Facebook.

When you break down Google+ the initial functionality looks very familiar with a few subtle differences tied to the Profile & stream of news. The Stream is similar to the newsfeed and users can “+1” specific updates. The functionality is so similar to Facebook’s newsfeed that it makes me think if you can’t beat them copy them.

Beyond the profile & stream there are 5 core areas of Google+ upon launch.

Circles – The basis of circles is to allow users to segment their friends and drive updates to specific groups vs. your entire friends list. Users can follow updates from specific circles with the ability to further filter streams of information.

Circles

Hangouts – Brings live group video chat to the table. An individual can allow multiple users in various circles to initiate group video live chats. It’s sort of a mashup of Meetup & Skype’s group video chat.

Instant Upload – Instant Upload is a service that ]removes the barrier between uploading images from your mobile device to a social service. Instead of selecting which image to upload, all images are uploaded and you select which to share with your circles.

Instant Upload

Sparks – Sparks is the Google+ version of a relevancy engine. My assumption is that this serves a dual purpose of identifying and sharing interests as well as the engine to tie users interests to Google’s ad platform. It will be interesting to watch the progression and to see if Google+ takes from Facebook’s sponsored stories and other socially integrated advertising options to attract potential ad revenue.

Sparks

Huddle – Huddle brings group texting to the social network. Similar to GroupMe & Beluga recently Acquired by Facebook users circles can now carry on the conversation outside of the standard web interface. It looks like Google+ beat Facebook in getting this feature to market.

Huddle

+1 – Google’s version of the Like button, +1 is designed with the same intention as a Like and will be appearing on 3rd party sites near you. I assume Google will integrate the +1 into search results similar to Buzz. I am also assume that brands will now want to drive both Likes & +1’s in the never ending quest for earned media.

How-to-Get-Google-Like-+1-Button-for-Blogs

I am sure that the future of Google+ will be tied to deep hooks with the Android operating system, an extensive ad network based on information provided via Sparks as well as a push to drive 3rd party adoption of the +1. Also with Chrome gaining market-share and closing the gap on Firefox there will most likely be considerable integration there as well.

 

One of the core advantages of Facebook for advertisers beyond reach is that Facebook is a platform first and foremost and with a laser focus on driving social for users & brands alike. It will be interesting to see how Google+ will attract & support brands. As they have just announced “Pages” for brands is on the roadmap.

This is clearly the biggest threat to Facebook to date as it takes the best elements of Facebook and adds new functionality. But it has a long way to go to match Facebook as an advertising platform.

The things to keep in mind moving forward is that Google currently owns Search, YouTube, about to purchase Hulu, Chrome with 20% market share as well as the Android operating system and driving usage of their online office productivity suites and apps. If anyone is positioned to challenge Facebook it’s Google. But time will tell.

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SnapTags vs. QR Codes the ideal 2D Experience

By now most of you have seen or interacted with QR codes in one form or another. Whether it was online, direct mail, etc… QR Codes are becoming a common tool in marketing toolkits.

qr_tattoo

While it is possible to leverage a small portion of a QR code to incorporate brand elements it is not the most aesthetically appealing execution for a brand. Also, QR codes currently require an application or software to read. While Near Field Communication or NFC is evolving it is still not widespread.

Red Urban QR Code

One additional issue is that QR codes are hardcoded upon generation. In order to manage the response destination changes would need to be made on the response side of the campaign such as changing content at the point of delivery or redirects to the desired response destination or use a premium QR management service.

QRCodePolo

As I look to execute campaigns that require enhancing product packaging, point of purchase, etc… I want a solution that is going to drive the maximum engagement potential with a low barrier of activation.

Initially I was an advocate of QR codes. I Provided POV’s on how to leverage the codes to drive engagement with mobile apps, sizzle videos, social destinations, etc…

Now I am looking to SnapTags more and more to drive that level of engagement for brands that I work with. A SnapTag is an aesthetically pleasing execution that provides multiple engagement options with the brand at the center of the experience.

inception

What I like about SnapTags is that the user has multiple options to activate and engage. They can simply text an image or e-mail an image of the SnapTag to drive the text or multimedia response.

inception-snaptag-640

The beauty of the SnapTag is that you are not locked into a single response destination. SnapTags support the ability to change the response as they are served via a database vs. hardcoded into the tag. This means that you can change the destination of the response without messy redirects off of the original response.

This is an ideal benefit if you want to drive different levels of engagement throughout the lifecycle of the tag.

Also, by driving activation via text or e-mail the SnapTag adds a CRM element to the campaign that can then drive a mobile opt-in vs. simply sending a user to a pre-determined location via a QR code.

branded-snaptags

From an analytics perspective instead of just simply tracking # of scans SnapTags offer media performance and consumer behavior tracking as an added benefit. Which is key when mapping back to the original brand objectives.

So when it comes to driving 2D digital activation I am leaning towards the SnapTag execution more and more as it provides a more robust model that is scalable with the campaign.

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Augmented Reality a Reality for Brands

What do you think of when you hear the term Augmented Reality? Do you flash back to Tom Cruise in Minority Report? Or more recently Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 manipulating 3D objects? The prevailing thought until recently has been more style over substance. Some brand teams consider it is a nice gimmick to garner press but not a core element of an integrated strategy. But as you will see, A/R is becoming a key driver for brands that are looking to drive acquisition & engagement.

Minority Report

Iron Man 2

Augmented Reality can be a great addition to an integrated strategy as either an acquisition tool or engagement vehicle that enhances a consumers experience with the brand. With the rapid acceleration of smartphone capabilities the ability to provide relevance to a consumer and enhance their interaction with your brand across multiple channels is now reality. A/R will also be how we will interact digital information in the future.

Now the how…. Augmented Reality is simply when the real world is “augmented” by computer data.

A simple example happens on Sundays in the NFL. The Yellow line that we have now come to depend on when looking at yards to go for a first down is a great execution of AR. Simply applying a digital overaly with the real action.

Digital Line

What do I need? How and where does it work? Who is using it?

Depending on the type of execution there are a variety of ways to execute a program. The executions that most are familiar with were tied to A/R markers called glyphs.

marker

But A/R does not depend as much on the cryptic markers as it once did. The trend is moving towards markerless executions where everyday objects such as a dollar bill can initiate an immersive experience that further enhances a users experience with the brand.

AR BK

The other trend as I referenced above is tied to digital overlays that essentially enhance the environment around you. More and more executions are leveraging mobile devices as the viewer of digitized content.

Layar AR

There are multiple executions on the how. From mobile, online, point of purchase, print, TV and out of home.  Here are a few examples by medium.

Mobile: The biggest leap in recent years has been around mobile executions of A/R. With 50 million smart phone users in the US and the number quickly rising, the hardware can now support robust A/R executions. Your phone essentially becomes the lens by which you digitally enhance the world around you. With the recent executions by Yelp with Monocle & Wimbeltons use of Layar brands are looking to digitally tag the world around them and offer a new perspective on the world around them.

Yelp

Online: The initial executions were highly driven by markers. Now with markerless executions everyday objects such as a can of pringles can create a compelling reason to engage with a brand beyond the clutter.

A compelling acquisition execution was created by Pringles via an A/R advergame that was tied to the recent World Cup. Users used the Pringles can as a controller to interact with the game.

pringles

The next example by the United States Postal Service shows an execution that provides actual utility for users. The Virtual Box execution allows the USPS to create an engaging experience that provides value by digitally representing “will it fit?”

virtual-box-simulator-1

Olympus provides a great example of incorporating A/R via multiple channels that tie to an online experience. Markers in the shape of a new product were placed in targeted print locations. The user then had the option to get a virtual hands on tour of the new product. Again another example of an engaging experience that ties back to tangible value for the brand.

Olympus

Point of Purchase: One of the most innovative usages of A/R in store is the LEGO digital box. If you happen to live near a LEGO store you can use the kiosk to digitally see what your LEGO will look like when fully assembled. This is driven by markers on the package and combined with heavily branded kiosk to create a satisfying retail experience.

Lego

Television: XBOX – One example of A/R providing relevance in the home is with Microsofts upcoming release of the KINECT. The ability to interact directly with gestures to control digital data such as navigation, initiation of content as well as digitizing yourself will prove to be a gateway to mainstream application of digital interaction on a recurring basis.

Kinect

As we continue the trend of advancing hardware and further incorporating digital elements into our lives for everyday activities it will be interesting to see how campaigns are redefined to take advantage of the next great frontier in advertising.

Digital World

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The Pass Back Effect

For marketers working with child centric brands or simply have children of your own, it is important to understand certain trends that are quickly developing in how both parents and children’s behaviors are changing based on the rapid evolution of mobile devices. One of the side benefits is that technology is being passed down at an accelerated rate.

If you are one of the 50+ million Americans with a smartphone and you happen to have small children then you have most likely passed it to them to appease their little hands and minds in certain situations.

This phenomenon is now known as the pass-back effect. By passing your mobile device to your child you are actually participating in a new trend of further enhancing the learning and development of your child… or in real parenting terms you are providing an electronic play grenade that will entertain them for 15 minutes while you are waiting to be seated at a very busy restaurant.

childiphone

Whether it is giving your two year old your iPhone during big brother’s basketball practice (try the Cars inspired matching game). Or your daughter is playing the latest dress-up or Cookie/Cake decorating game between appointments, the pass-back effect is very real. As many of you are keenly aware as nearly half (47%) of the top 100 apps sold are targeting Pre-school & elementary aged children.

app-targets

There are many apps that are ideal for passing time when you need it. In 2010 alone app sales are estimated to clear 1.2 billion (insert Dr. Evil pinky reference here) dollars. There are matching, dress up, puzzle games, and A, B, Cs. Big $$ are being spent and made to ensure that our kids have a multitude of options to keep them entertained .

From a brand marketers perspective it is important to consider defining an application strategy that maps to a larger integrated digital strategy while also recognizing the opportunity to drive awareness and brand relevance through targeted mobile applications that provide benefit to parents while engaging and entertaining children.

Quick question, how many iPods do you currently have in your home? For that matter how many iPhones do you currently own? What are you going to do with your iPhone 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4 or Android by next fall when you inevitably upgrade to the next version?

iphonegens

Instead of trying your luck on eBay consider keeping the device for your kids. You may or may not know this but a non-activated iPhone functions as an iPod touch when not directly configured as a phone. Meaning your apps, web browsing via wi-fi, etc… are all possible.

As digital marketers we cannot ignore opportunities due to the accelerated adoption of technology.

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Social Foundation

A good portion of my day job is defining social/digital strategies and programs to assist major retail brands maximize their WOM opportunities to drive multiple business objectives. Be it acquisition, engagement, advocacy, etc… Before I begin a new client engagement I like to establish a framework of which there are critical building blocks that I refer to as the Social Foundation. Like a foundation to a house there are key elements that are essential to understand prior to launching straight into strategic discussions.

1) Define Social Strategy: It is absolutely critical to define the GTM social strategy to ensure that all elements are aligning with goals & objectives and are measurable with the appropriate KPIís.

2) Content Creation: The key to driving WOM is to ensure that enough content is created (UGC/Brand) to form a foundation that helps to funnel users through our ideal brand centric social experience. While also maximizing our SEO positioning. Social & SEO are very closely aligned.

3) Discoverability of Content: It is highly important for content to be created in a way that maximizes portability of the content. RSS, tagging and leveraging the latest in terms of highly optimized publishing systems as well as sharing widgets are critical to ensuring that your branded content is being maximized to its fullest reach potential.

4) Highly Engaged Community Management: Social more-so than any other channel requires that the brand fully engages in discussions across multiple channels. This includes going beyond simple content publishing to actually following and commenting on trending topics and reaching out beyond the brand conversation. This is where I see a significant gap in terms of brands that are truly benefiting from social programs to those that are simply executing against a publishing calender.

5) Incent creation of UGC content: 30-60% of product centric search results are actually from UGC, primarily blogs and reviews. It is absolutely critical to get new products that integrate with mobile reviewed as this is a key driver for awareness. Do not focus on a single vehicle for content creation, it is critical to leverage multiple types of media to maximize opportunity. Text, Video, Photos, etc…

6) Unique content sources as a KPI: One form of social measurement that I commonly incorporate is to compare unique content sources to competitors. This is a key metric as the more content that is created from unique sources the higher the likelihood of being shared and viewed by more individuals.


7) Integration of Social Channels: It is critical to ensure that each social channel that is represented is integrated to the fullest with the goal of driving traffic/awareness through to the ideal social destination, be it an engaging application or promotion there has to be a specific intent for the user and the brand. Raise awareness through multiple channels but ultimately drive through to your ideal destination

8) Extend Digital into Retail: Maximizing the reach of both online Rich Media, Social, Augmented Reality and offline communication vehicles such as location based services, QR codes that direct to app downloads or videos, SMS campaigns & mobile loyalty all tie into a brands ability to fully maximize digital vehicles towards retail/offline engagement.

9) Leverage Partners: Corporate partnerships are key to reaching targeted users and to maximize cross-promotion. When selecting the ideal brand partners it is key to review their social strategy and how they are maximizing their channels to ensure there is a cultural fit. You do not want to execute a highly socially driven strategy with a partner who is at the beginning of the social continuum.


10) Incent in-store purchase: Finally incent users via proximity solutions that tie back to providing immediate value while also potentially driving engagement back to online or mobile properties.

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Mobilizing Your Social Strategy

Today I was the host of the weekly Hashtagsocialmedia tweet chat. Our topic was integrating mobile with your social strategy with a focus on strategy, best practices and tactics.

Mobile is a hot topic and according to comscore with 234 million americans aged 13 & older using mobile devices in the US that trend is not changing anytime soon. Of that 234 million 49.1 million in the US now own smart phones. With the continued adoption of smart phones we are on the cusp of changing how mobile can impact a brand.

In today’s chat we discussed the following topics:

1) How would you integrate mobile with your social strategy

2) How do you maximize the mobile web?

3) What tactics & why? (Proximity, Geo-location, Augmented Reality, QR Codes, SMS)

All with the mindset of integrating and extending digital & social via mobile.

Here is the archive/transcript of today’s tweet chat

hashtag1

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