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Six Cool Trends I Think 2012 Will Bring Us

December 28, 2011 21 comments

2011 is coming to a close but before it does, I wanted to write down my thoughts on some cool trends I think 2012 will bring us from a marketing, mobile and technology perspective. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Near-Field Communication Becomes Mainstream

The biggest issue with NFC right now is the fact that we’re calling it NFC. This technology (RFID) has been around for years in fact, you likely already use it a few times a day to gain access to your condo, your office and even pay at the pump using your MasterCard Paypass. The introduction of Google Wallet in North America means that Google is helping to educate the mass market about NFC, but I think, as marketers, we need to simplify the message. Paying for everyday items is as easy as tapping your phone. Checking into foursquare will be as easy as tapping your phone. Sending someone your business card will be as easy as tapping your phones together. Accessing brand & product information, downloading music, videos, apps – will be as easy as tapping your phone. Just Tap It. Tap It. Simple.

The phones are here and the API & other applications are coming. Sales of NFC-enabled phones is set to hit 80Million globally in 2012. It’s a huge trend. Your wallet, loyalty cards, ID and gift cards could potentially live on your phone and this is going to really take flight this year. While this could be a scary concept for some, would you rather lose your wallet & have to replace all of your cards, or lose your phone and simply wipe it remotely and be able to restore all of your cards quickly and easily?

2. Diffusion of Engagement.
A marketing buzz word in 2011, companies everywhere were searching for ways to connect and create ‘engagement’ with their influential customers. The idea being that using services like Klout, Kred & others can help you reach the people who can ‘influence’ the purchase decisions of people within their respective networks. In 2012, customers will become increasingly savvy to this. We don’t like telemarketers interrupting us and we know what’s fake. We’ll sniff out that blogger that is only promoting a new brand or smartphone because they got a sample or got one for free. We’ll start to turn off the companies that are using social media like a megaphone to push their message out to people instead of truly connecting with and rewarding their loyal customers. At the end of the day, word of mouth needs to travel through trusted sources. People are more likely to buy something that one of their FRIENDS have recommended; not Justin Bieber.

3. A Mobile Advertising Platform for BlackBerry
If you are currently developing applications for iOS, Android or BlackBerry you know that iOS and Android come with many PAID methods of helping you gain distribution and promote your application to generate downloads an stimulate usage. ADMOB (Owned by Google) is likely the most efficient. It’s a Pay-per-click advertising platform for iOS and Android that allows you to target potential users through its mobile advertising platform (in-application) based on several user demographics. You can target on country, gender, age, even device & carrier network, set a daily budget and get a comprehensive report on how many impressions your ad generated as well as the number of click-thrus and downloads. If you’re familiar with Adwords, it works in much the same way but for mobile.

This is something that is really missing for BlackBerry. With over 75Million BlackBerry users worldwide; a mobile advertising platform whether in AppWorld or through free BlackBerry apps is important, relevant and realistic for two reasons. (1) It could be a potential source of mobile advertising revenue for RIM. (2) It presents a channel for the makers of the over 50,000 applications available in BlackBerry AppWorld to target and communicate to their base of users, gain feedback and offer increased value. Some find ads annoying, but for smaller application development companies – it’s a cost-effective way to reach potential users and is a great channel to gain and share information.

4. RIM’s Market share in the United States will climb aggressively.
This may seem like a #BeBold statement and is not intended to align with their current Bold campaign. I am still a firm believer in Research In Motion despite their 2011 blunders for a number of reasons:
1. They have over 75 Million subscribers world wide.
2. They are growing in other important markets (Asia)
3. They realized over $5B in Revenue last quarter
4. They are in a market that is only 3510% penetrated globally. We’re still in the early stages of mobile adoption.
5. They make a good product. The Playbook is a strong tablet & the Bold 9900 is the best device I’ve ever owned.
6. They have made a number of strategic acquisitions (TAT, Tungle, Gist, JayCut) that I feel will drive home the user experience and pull them back into the smartphone race.

Look, I get it. RIM has had some serious issues with leadership and execution. They have lost a few key people in key positions from downsizing and from attrition and I know the microscope is on them. They’re not going to zero, and in my opinion are not in a death spiral as the mainstream media would have you believe. Their developer channel is solid, they have great patents and IP, they make a great product and are growing in other international markets. As a PlayBook owner, I have a lot of confidence in the move to the QNX operating system. I think it will pave the way for some cool functionality and a reinvention of Blackberry as we know it.

5. Everything’s a game.
Gamification. Game Mechanics. Call it what you like, everything you touch in 2012 will have some sort of game component to it. Whether it’s checking in and earning points using Foursquare, or rewarding users for watching TV shows and shopping at certain retail stores – People will go crazier than ever before trying to outdo their friends and family by collecting rewards/badges/trophies and points for completing certain tasks and actions. Do we need another digital farm? Definitely not, but we’ve only just scratched the surface with respect to how the user experience can be integrated, ‘fun-ified’, changed and improved using competitive elements. Bigger trend – you’ll see many companies introducing rewards system for real world stuff. Points will become a form of virtual currency that you’ll be able to redeem for coupons, discounts and even purchase retail items. It’s not new (air miles/Petro points, Avion points), but it’s set to explode this year.

6. Experiential Marketing Comes to Retail
I recently purchased a pair of sunglasses from a sunglass retailer with over 2,000 stores around the world. This was a new location and it had been a while since I had been in this chain. I was surprised by the mediocre experience. Though the staff were helpful enough, the experience felt cheap. Glasses secured in closed display cases with the logos of brands scattered about, prices hand-written on tags attached to the glasses in blue pen. I had to write my name on a piece of paper to activate the warranty. Really? How does this get information get entered into their system? After begrudgingly shelling out nearly $300 for my new shades, the associate happily smiled and put my purchase in a little shopping bag. A cheap experience for an expensive purchase.

A good retail experience reduces buyer’s remorse. You feel valued. You feel special and you want to return to that store with your friends and family. It elevates and establishes your perception of that brand in your mind. I think starbucks does a phenomenal job of creating a great user experience. Being inside of a starbucks (The decor, the way the baristas speak to you, the ambiance) all makes me feel comfortable about shelling out $5 for a latte. It feels like a treat. They make you feel special even though at the end of the day, you’re just buying a coffee. I think 2012 will be the year that we see this happen at more stores – a greater focus on retail marketing. Companies will be further integrating their digital and social activities with retail locations. We’ll start to see individual stores reaching out to their customers to connect with them on a more personal level. Experiences will improve. We’ll see more integration with technology, more retail mobile payments and more linkages between the brand across retail, mobile and smartphones (Think Foursquare, NFC, Facebook like, Twitter, QR codes, SMS). The retail experience will be improved in 2012. At least, I hope so.

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QR Codes on Buck n’ Doe T-shirts

They’re sometimes called Buck n’ Does, Jack n’ Jills, Stag n’ Does… but if you’re not familiar with them, they’re basically just a big engagement party put on by the wedding party and close family. Typically, a hall is rented, bartenders are hired, booze is served, games are played – all in an effort to raise funds for the bride and groom for their upcoming wedding. My brother’s was this past weekend.

To separate the wedding party from the rest of the guests, often t-shirts are made that also identifies that person’s role in the wedding (Groomsman, Best Man, Bridesmaids, Bride, Maid of Honour, Groom, etc.). If you’ve read a few of the other posts on my blog, you know that I am a big fan of using QR Codes in interesting ways. What better than to add a layer of interactivity to the standard buck & doe shirts?!

QR Code T-Shirt

What does this QR Code link to you ask? Well, we ended up capturing some embarrassing video of my brother from my wedding last August, so I decided to create a QR code with the video embedded behind it so that whomever scanned it would be able to watch the video on their smartphone.

QR code

There some great analytics built into the code as well. I can track where it was opened, when it was opened, browser that opened it and what device. Not that it has much demographic relevance for this particular activity, but you get the point. Integrating QR codes into an existing campaign activity is a great way to increase interactivity of your platform be it print, billboard, retail, POS, brochures, etc., etc.

My brother and his fiancee? Our friends and family were very generous and we had some great prizes donated that helped them raise a good chunk of change to put towards their wedding. And, well, sure – he was a little red in the face but it’s all in good fun. Fun we can continue to enjoy for the life of the t-shirts and beyond.

Why Mobile Marketing needs to be a part of your mix – Now.

If it’s not currently a part of your company’s marketing mix, start now. Start thinking about how you will stay ahead of your competitors by reaching the increasing number of smartphones & tablets being carried by your target audience. Is your website optimized for mobile? How about your blog? Is there a customized application you could develop that would provide additional value? How can mobile marketing be integrated into your existing marketing mix?

“Consumers are 25% more likely to respond to advertising, (print, billboards, bus shelters, etc) if they are able to do so via a mobile response” ~ BusinessWorld

“Based on 74 campaigns during Q4 2009, and with a huge 69,854 respondents, the research revealed that on average, 22% were aware of a mobile advert — leading to a purchase intent rate of 5.4%” ~ Brandchannel

Together, these two data points indicate that consumers are not only responding favourably to mobile advertising from an awareness standpoint, but that this technology is translating into genuine purchase intent and sales. It comes down to making it easy for your customers to buy your product/service. Each step in between your customer and that customer purchasing your product decreases the likelihood that they will buy from you.

So, what can you do now to improve your mobile marketing efforts and increase your conversion rates in print and traditional advertising? Try playing to a person’s curiosity by adding a QR code to your ad. Link it to a customized mobile landing page. Provide them with a means of discovering what makes your product or services, awesome. QR Codes are very robust and can be used to store links to websites, videos, audio files, images and even SMS messages, so think about how you could integrate these into your existing advertisements.

Recently, we ran a small, local promotion designed to raise awareness for QR codes, local businesses and most importantly, to have some fun with mobile marketing & communications! Over the course of 5 days, we hid prize baskets at 5 different businesses across the city. Using social media (Twitter, facebook and a customized blog), we shared a QR Code clue as to where the prize basket was hiding that day. The first person to arrive at the secret location, claimed the prize. We also installed ‘digital ballot boxes’ at each location in order to reward subsequent visitors for playing along. This ballot entered them into a draw to win some amazing grand prizes including, VISA gift cards and a Blu-Ray player.

After the promotion, we analyzed the data and developed a report that outlined the success of the mobile campaign and how similar campaigns could work in the future. Here are the results of the case study:

QR code

QR Code Project

We learned that not only is awareness for QR codes high, integrating them into existing marketing and advertising activities is an excellent way to add a layer of interactivity on top of your ads.

Adoption of smartphones will increase exponentially in the next few years so you need to begin allocating resources to mobile marketing. Email me: matt@oryxadvertising.com to chat about how we can work together to develop a successful mobile marketing strategy for your business. For starters:

  • K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, SIMPLE. It’s not just about making a QR code link to your Web page or your Facebook page. Even if those pages are optimized for mobile, chances are the content isn’t. Mobile content needs to be easy to access, to appreciate and to easy to share. If it fails the user on any one of those counts, it won’t create the reaction you’re hoping for.
  • See. Scan. See you later. I’m a big fan of integrating QR Codes into existing activities because taking a picture is faster and easier than looking up a twitter handle or keying in a URL into your mobile browser. Other technologies will arrive making things even easier (See NFC), but right now, QR Codes are king as they’re readily available & easy to use.
  • Let context dictate content. Make sure your mobile content is useful to consumers in the same location you expect them to experience it in. Don’t offer them videos in a location where they won’t be able to watch them right away.
  • We’re still early in the cycle. People won’t buy anything or fill out long-winded forms via your mobile site. It’s just another touch point in a series of consumer touch points designed to keep your message consistent. Great mobile sites serve up awesome content and create a means for your customers to connect with your brand through their desired platform – later if they wish. Your mobile site is a powerful medium for you to wow your audience, raise awareness and keep your brand top of mind for when your customers are ready to buy.

Content from list derived from “How to blend mobile marketing with Social Media” article. Credit: Jesse Stanchak, June 15, 2011

Interesting Data on Tablet Usage, Demographics and Mobile Marketing

June 7, 2011 11 comments

If I told you 14 months ago that there’s a market out there that doesn’t exist yet, but will be worth approximately $35 Billion by 2012, what would you say?

Last year, you may have said it’s impossible but that is exactly what the tablet market is estimated to be valued at by next year.

It’s no secret that Apple created this space with the launch of the iPad in 2010. Since then, there have been dozens of competitors enter the market hoping to capitalize on this newly developed category while trying to erode Apple’s marketshare strangle hold of nearly 90% of all tablets. Recently, these and other interesting usage statistics from 1st generation tablet users were revealed at the OMMA Tablet Revolution Conference in New York on June 6, 2011. I have collected this information below, please provide your feedback and thoughts.

Tablet Market

Tablet Devices in Market

I have had my BlackBerry Playbook for just over two weeks now and I’m finding i’m using it as a quick resource to the internet, browsing, games, youtube, music and movies. In addition to the Playbook, there is the iPad2, Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy tab, Motorola Xoom, HP Slate, among others. So, how are people currently using their tablet today? What opportunities do tablets bring to advertisers and marketers with respect to mobile marketing? A panel that included David Gill , VP, Mobile Media and Marketing , The Nielsen Company, provided this insight:

  • UM research says 3 iPad owner mindsets – simplicity craver, on demand lifestyle, the family enabler
  • Tablet owners skews male, median age 38, Median HHI $142K, married w/ kids
  • Tablet owners download an average of 18 apps.
  • 65% want magazines on their tablet
  • Tablets are being used for fun, learning and to pass the time, but NOT so much to connect with friends as of yet
  • Interestingly, men aged 25-34 and women aged 45-54 use tablets the most
  • Holding up iPad – “This our new yard sign” – says Michael Fischer, CMo Coldwell Banker
  • Free apps are still the norm; must drive ways to get people to pay for apps
  • Consumers did not like ads that played music automatically when they engage (just like online)
  • Interactive ad features are a must, with videos being liked the most (75%)
  • Most tab users are NOT using their tabs to connect — more about content now
  • 56% of tablet users say they use it several times a day. 63% share their tablet with 2 or more people
  • The mobility of the tablet can help increase the validity of other channels, such as TV
  • Tablets are the “slouch” device. Lean back consumption & entertainment. Quickly becoming preferred web device while watching tv
  • Jeremy Lockhorn, Razorfish “tablets are not a replacement device, they are a media complementary device
  • What makes tablet different isn’t touch, but its form factor and inherent sharing
  • While there are challenges in this space, it’s a magical device with opportunities for everyone

Do you own a tablet? If so, which tablet do you own?

Virtual Insanity – Augmented Reality

May 6, 2011 6 comments

Updated June 8, 2011:

Remember when AR was all about little black-and-white codes that made pretty little animations play on your webcam? It seemed like a fun trick back then, and a few brands (Lego, best of all, and maybe Ray-Ban for an honorable mention) used it to create new ways to digest their products or play simple games.

Actually, there was very little ‘reality’ being augmented with those. But now that the concept has matured, we’re starting to see a very different AR come to life. With your phone’s camera becoming the input device, apps are popping up that let you view a building in your city and find out if there is available office space for rent in it, make newspapers, magazines and outdoor imagery come to life, get translation on the fly or see a person’s social profile as they pass you on the street.

~Why Augmented Reality is Poised to Change Marketing, Sam Ewen, mashable, June 8, 2011

If the term ‘Augmented Reality’ causes you to raise your left eyebrow, fear not. I’ll provide you with quick definition of this technology, discuss where it all began, how it’s being used now, and discuss some futuristic thoughts on how it might evolve over the next 12-36 months.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented bycomputer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

AR is not new, but it is in it’s infancy. In its’ simplest form, AR can be representative of the last time you google’d a product while standing in an isle of a store. It’s also seen in sports – AR is displayed as the yellow first down line that you see on your TV when watching your favourite NFL team play football.

First Down Line

Augmented reality has appeared in Advertising as well. Holding this Mini ad up to your computer or smartphone’s webcam/camera which activates a 3D augmented reality image of the actual vehicle adding an cool and innovative dynamic to traditional print advertising.

Mini Augmented Reality

There are also some very cool Augmented Reality overlays that you can experience using your smartphone’s browser & camera application. This example from layer shows information from hotels, restaurants and coffee shops that have ‘simply’ overlayed information on top of a map application:

Finally, the future. Some argue (with good reason) that we are in the ‘1994 of the internet’ in terms of the potential of Augmented Reality as a source of augmented commerce and information. I would like to agree. The greatest barriers to mass adoption of Augmented Reality are the killer applications that don’t yet exist. It could represent an entire media channel, advertising platform and information resource for anyone willing to invest. Think about standing on the balcony of your friend’s condo in downtown Toronto armed with your AR equipped smartphone. You pan over the skyline and information about those buildings is being displayed on your smartphone’s screen in real time. Hotel logos, rates, links to websites become visible across the landscape. An airplane enters your view – and AR relays the flight data, carrier information, destination, TOA directly to your screen. You pan across the landscape to a hole in the ground for a new condo development and a 3D image of what that building will look like when complete is transposed directly on your screen. Finally, you pan your view to over the Rogers Center and immediately, you find out that the Jays are playing right now, leading the Yankees 7-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning with Jose Bautista at the plate.

Sound far fetched? It’s not. It’s on the horizon. RIM for example, just announced two new BlackBerry devices this week that will ship with Augmented Reality capabilities built in. They also announced ‘Wikitudes’ – an Augmented reality browser that comes preloaded on these devices.

This will be the trend in the next 12-months for hardware manufacturers. Keep an eye on companies like Layar, a Dutch-based Augmented Reality software leader. They have prototyped some very cool concepts for Augmented Reality, showcasing how you and I could interact, play games, shop and learn using Augmented Reality.

This technology will become more widely adopted. New concepts will be created that will help you access your digital world in ways you have never imagined and never thought possible.

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