Too Much Emphasis On Smartphones?

Mobile Marketer asked me for a 2012 prediction. With all the talk about fancy phones, marketers need to remember those with less sophisticated devices:

"I predict that many marketers will neglect feature phone users as smartphone share tops 50 percent. Sure, we need to provide rich experiences to those with highly-capable devices, but we can't afford to forget the approximate 160 million Americans who will continue to carry simple phones for the foreseeable future. Mobile marketing will continue to be about reach in 2012."

The full article is here:

Mobile's Misses In 2011

Any list of the year’s misses in mobile must include the incorrect predictions that Super Bowl advertisers would include calls to action leading to the creation of massive permission-based databases.

Instead, TV advertisers flubbed the year’s best and biggest opportunity to engage.

This was going to be the year that advertisers embraced mobile. Think of the possibilities:

• Chrysler offers fans an exclusive Eminem download at the end of the “Keep Detroit Beautiful” when they join a mobile affinity club for the new Chrysler 200.

• Verizon Wireless asks mobile users to text in their ZIP codes to learn how its network is superior to AT&T’s. 

• GoDaddy requires users to opt in to watch a special mobile version of their “too hot for TV” commercial.

None of these things happened. 

Total number of mobile calls-to-action: 0

Total number of mobile loyalty clubs launched: 0

I will not miss on this in 2012. I’m staying as far away from the Super Bowl as the Indianapolis Colts.

Other misses in the year in mobile:

RIM has had as bad a year as the Colts. It has failed to innovate, underwhelmed in sales, and has shown no direction worth following. With the likely first pick of the draft, Indianapolis has better prospects for 2012 than does RIM.

It remains to be seen whether the forecast of 50 percent smartphone penetration by the end of 2011 is met. Nielsen listed the third quarter number at 44 percent. The last six points to 50 percent is a large hill to climb, but this is the season of giving and stockings will be ringing across the country.

We missed on predictions of the iPhone 5 on four U.S. carriers. All of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the altar. 

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

Marketers chased the so-called shiny object but failed to bring home the business results.  Savvy professionals succeed by following behaviors and interest research rather than gambling on something entirely new. 

These marketers know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. The lesson? Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance to succeed. 

A major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to reach efforts that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

And finally, many marketers missed by dictating how consumers would interact with their brands.

Successful mobile campaigns, like the Backstage Pass program at Mobile Marketer’s Marketer of the Year Macy’s, provided multiple ways to engage. By giving options like SMS, QR codes and mobile web sites, marketers prosecuted a reach strategy that was inclusive – and moved product.

(column first published in Mobile Marketer -

My Super, If Not Super Bowl, Predictions For 2012

My Super Bowl mobile predictions have been anything but super so I’ll steer clear of forecasting the arrival of mobile calls to action in TV spots in February.

Instead, here are my 2012 predictions for other areas of mobile:

Device price points will continue to be brought down with offers of discounted products in exchange for a consumer agreeing to receive ads. Mobile phones with offers, including perhaps a Google phone, are coming soon.

Savvy marketers will follow research highlighting consumer behavior and interest. They know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance of success. One major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to ‘reach efforts’ that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

2012 will be the year of the mobile web. As we move closer to the time when more people access the web on a wireless device than a PC, brands, agencies and others will realize that they need a mobile web offering that overdelivers. This has not yet happened, but will soon because consumers will demand it.

In such a growth industry, more vendors will enter the marketplace making claims that they will produce ROI. Proceed with caution. While the company name may not say Two Guys In a Garage, that may indeed be what you are buying.

Expect more pressure from senior management to produce results from mobile, meaning it’s critical to think beyond a one-time transaction. There are bigger opportunities if you think about what can happen after the click, namely an experience that can lead to an opt-in and remarketing possibilities.

Plan on more device types in the hands of consumers, making it important to provide positive user experiences rather than products that addresses the least-common denominator. Consumers expect top notch brand experiences and the bar is higher than ever with smartphones and faster networks.

Expect more social interaction at the point of sale, making customer service vital or a bad experience will end up on Facebook or Twitter in seconds. According to my Moments of Trust consumer touchpoint survey, 40 percent of consumers with smartphones or Internet-enabled mobile devices have used them to spread word to their social networks about an in-store experience, 46 percent of them reported a positive one and 40 percent cited a negative one.

We will see patent infringements being identified and enforced, making it imperative to work with a company that has protected IP and can keep you out of trouble. Rather than experiencing a problem later, it’s critical to determine if a vendor has proprietary technology or is working off something that could be challenged in court.

Others will chase voice as the killer app but may not deliver due to issues of ambient noise and poor search results.

Successful mobile campaigns will have prominent calls to action and provide multiple ways to engage. Much like Macy’s does with its Backstage Pass program, brands should consider using an SMS call to action and QR code on print advertising campaign pointing to a mobile website that can capture customer’s information.  This engages the consumer and introduces a concept of immediacy. Consumers are looking for interactivity in what used to be passive situations.

(article first appeared on

Assessing My Mobile Predictions

Anyone who claims that everything that happened in mobile in the second half of 2011 was predicted is selling you a lie. We’re smarter than falling for untruths, you say?

Yup, call me on the iPhone 5 through the T-Mobile network and give me the details.

We missed – all of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the alter. At least Kim and Kris got that far.

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

In July, we suggested that with the iPhone in more hands, we would have a repeat of the time when the CEO said, “We need an iPhone app”. That may have come to pass to some degree, but we certainly aren’t fielding request after request at Hipcricket where clients and prospects are more interested in driving leads and building databases which produce remarketing opportunities.

How did I do on my other predictions?

I forecast that the convergence of mobile and social would be even more pronounced. That has come to pass with Facebook and Twitter introducing products that have yielded unprecedented activity through wireless devices. Facebook’s acquisition of location-sharing property Gowalla is the latest example of the coming together of mobile and social.

I predicted that at retail, even more mobile subscribers would be chronicling their “Moments of Trust” by posting comments, photos and even videos to social networks. Mobile devices have become megaphones for a large portion of users with more than 40 percent telling those in their social networks about negative or positive experiences with brands. Is this trend growing? Try finding someone in a mall without a mobile device in hand.

I said that Groupon would prove to be more valuable to mobile users than to PC members, providing that the mobile customer opts in for Groupon Now offers.  According to daily deal aggregator Yipit, Groupon Now—geared toward consumers using mobile devices—generated $1.2 million in revenue in October, a 24.5 percent increase from September. By way of comparison, Groupon’s October revenue was up 22.2 percent.

I said to expect outrage over bills that charge for data overages. We’ve heard this one before – text messaging became mainstream once consumers were offered unlimited plans that prevented shocking bills. With the carriers doing away with all you can eat data, we’re back to surprise time in our bills. As it turned out, the Federal Trade Commission noticed. In October, it unveiled its "bill shock" plan, which would require wireless providers to alert users when they have exceeded or are about to go over voice, text, or data usage.

I predicted that the hype around the mobile wallet would intensify and asked if that was even possible. I also said that everyone is chasing the opportunity, but consumers wouldn’t be leaving their wallets at home when they hit the malls in November and December. This is true. The Google Wallet payment system was announced in May, but it only works with Sprint’s Nexus S 4G.The buzz continues, though, with the news that the Google Wallet will soon be linked to vending machines in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.

I suggested that with smartphone adoption making a march toward 50 percent share, expect more to make the claim that apps are on the way out because so many more subscribers will be able to access the mobile web. I also said that we’re years away from deciding the apps vs. web question. I still believe that. We now have over one million apps offered through various stores. The great majority are ignored or get downloaded and forgotten. But some, mostly utilitarian ones, appear to be here to stay.

(Article first appeared at

Mobile's Breakout Star in 2012?

Mobile Marketer asked me which moble channel will shine brightest next year.

This is what I said:

"The 2012 breakout mobile channel won't be a shiny object. The newest innovation will get the buzz but won't be widely adopted immediately if ever.

"My bet for breakout star is the mobile Web. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have produced a tripling of activity and shows that we're out of the early adopter phase.

"With more capable deivces in more hands, the mobile Web becomes indispensible for commerce, entertainment, information and more. Brands that missed the boat this year have no time to lick their wounds - get busy planning now.

More here 

More Bird Talk

Steve Smith from Mediapost wrote about the Kikkoman mobile program and quotes me here

I told Steve that the campaign combines in-store calls to action with email, SMS, mobile web and video.

"By giving consumers a choice in how they'd like to interact with Kikkoman, the company is increasing the likelihood of participation and ongoing engagement."

A Latte and a Squirrel. Cute But Why?

Somehow it became news that we can interact with characters in Starbucks.  Haven’t we been doing that all along?

If you haven’t had your dose of reality – augmented reality, that is – let me fill you in. Beginning next Tuesday, customers who download an app for iPhone and Android devices can experience what Starbucks is calling “Cup Magic”.


Specifically by firing up the app and pointing it at a holiday cup, one can interact with five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen.

And, if you are so inclined, you can share the feature on Facebook and via email.

The object, Alexandra Wheeler, Vice President of Global Digital Marketing for Starbucks told Mashable is to “surprise and delight” customers during the holiday season.

My take?

It’s one more case of augmented reality showing off whiz bang technology but not delivering much value. At the risk of being a Scrooge – it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been so described – what’s in this for us? I am in Starbucks six days a week, looking for a jolt of Joe, not cuteness.

Sure, Starbucks created buzz with the campaign but don’t we already get that with our Venti latte?

For years that sometimes feel forever, we’ve counseled brands to create mobile experiences that drive business. Our MillerCoors client uses mobile for one reason – to sell more beer.

Will Starbucks move any more product by giving us skaters in our holiday cup scenes? Isn’t augmented reality more useful if it serves a utilitarian purpose like showing me the nearest discount on coffee when I’m in a new city?

When it comes to augmented reality, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

(first appeared on


Talking Moments of Trust, Mobile & Social at MMA's Los Angeles Forum

We're about to enter a holiday season like none other with more shoppers bringing their megaphones to retail locations where they will comment on Moments of Trust via Twitter, Facebook, text and more.

I'll discuss the implications Nov. 16 at the Mobile Marketing Association's Forum.  Details are here>

Ping me if you would like a discount code.

Battle For Public Opinion To Be Lost Via Mobile

Mobile Marketer asked me to name one unexpected thing that may happen during the holiday season.

Here's what I told them:

“Retailers who provide poor customer service will suffer as mobile subscribers armed with what I call megaphones take to their social networks and use messaging to voice their displeasure.

“The adage forever was that you could lose the battle for public opinion in two hours. It is now more like two minutes when experiences at these Moments of Trust touch points get communicated on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.

“How bad can this get for a retailer? Smartphones now have eight megapixels, HD capabilities and near-instant posting options. It can get very bad very quickly.”

The full article is here


Siri At My Service

My first hours with my new personal assistant had me wondering if I should do more interviews to fill the job.

Siri, through my new iPhone 4S, was spotty -- and I'm being generous. Frequently, she said she couldn't find the network. Requests in a loud envionment were a waste of time.

But synching helped the network problem and things have gotten somewhat better.

She's no All-Star. I'm still shaking my head over how she delivered Washington DC results when I specifically asked for a gym near Seattle.

But adding an appointment to my calendar couldn't be easier and sending a text to someone in my contact list is a breeze.

I'll get to know her better and report back. 

Will Siri Really Serve Us?

We all need an assistant. The more intelligent, the better.

In addition to the announcement and news around the soon-to-be-introduced in iPhone 4S, this week’s conference gave us a deeper view into how Siri – the technology Apple quietly (and cleverly) acquired last year — plays in a bigger ambition to deliver us suggestions, recommendations and assistance on our mobile devices. Apple’s Siri is marketed as the smart helper that gets things done. All we have to do is ask.

Think of Siri as an electronic concierge and virtual assistant at our call 24/7. No job interviews, hourly wages or background checks before we take Siri into our employ. Siri is trusted and smart — equipped to manage our lives as if she came right out of Harvard or Oxford. Or so we’re told.

According to Apple, Siri understands context and natural language. No need to tailor how you talk to match a machine. Imagine you ask Siri: “Will I need an umbrella this weekend?” Siri understands you are really looking for a weather forecast.

Apple also tells us that Siri — like any capable and qualified assistant — is knowledgeable about using the personal information we allow it to access. For example, if you tell Siri: “Remind me to call Mom when I get home,” it can find “Mom” in your address book and carry out the task. Ask Siri “What’s the traffic like around here?” and it can figure out where “here” is based on your current location, data communicated by the GPS capability in the device.

And the list goes on. Siri supposedly helps you make calls, send text messages or email, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, search the Internet, find local businesses, and get directions. You can also get answers, find facts and even perform complex calculations — all this just by asking Siri.

There are obvious benefits to having an electronic concierge to help us manage our lives and work – if the technology works, of course. However, voice recognition is not entirely suited to how we live our lives. There are times when you can’t speak out loud (in class or during a play to name two).  And let’s not forget that voice recognition has been inexact for years, especially in loud places where the technology often can’t distinguish one voice or noise from another.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that Siri does exactly what Apple says it can. There are huge implications for brands when our personal devices are equipped with personal digital assistants. Are companies going to continue to pay for an ad in a Google query if a mobile subscriber can bypass traditional keyword search altogether by just asking their new and knowledgeable pal, Siri? Will advertisers still sponsor the traffic alerts if Siri can tell their customers all they need to know?

On the positive side, the concierge concept could deliver marketers deeper demographics and more insights into what people want, prefer and demand based on what they ask Siri to do in the first place. Siri may be the next big thing, but we won’t know for sure until the devices are on sale and the service stands up to consumer road tests in the wild. The big question is: how much will people trust and rely on Siri for assistance. It’s one marketers will have to wait out. One thing is certain: marketers won’t get the answer just by asking Siri. This is where first-hand experience, knowledge and interacting with customers will give us the ability to gauge their real interest and actual participation.

(first appeared here

Remembering Steve Jobs

Much like I remember where I was when I learned the tragic news that John Lennon had been shot (I was watching Monday Night Football and heard it from broadcaster Howard Cosell), I’ll now never forget where I was and what I was doing when I learned of Steve Jobs’ passing.

It’s rather fitting that I was 36,000 feet in the air connected to an in-flight Wi-Fi system working on a MacBook Air at the time. Thus, I was able to benefit from the technology advancements made possible by visionaries (like Jobs) who have brought us all advantages that generations before us would never know.

And that brings me to another connection between Lennon and Jobs. Each asked us to imagine and look beyond the ‘here and now’ to what will be – if we are open to it.

In this respect, the contributions by Lennon and Jobs are tied to imagination and what can happen when we free our minds. They reshaped our thinking about peace, technology and the world around us. And through their vision and passion they made our world a better place.

To me, this is their legacy and the biggest lesson they have taught us. Dare to dream. Strive to have impact. Rather than accept limitations that would normally convince us that “we can’t”, these two men – in their own fiercely individual ways — showed us that “we can.”

The Coolest Thing In Mobile

My friend and one of the smartest marketers I know, Mario Schulzke, asked me to be a regular contributor to his outstanding IdeaMensch site For those out of the know, IdeaMench is a community of people who, in Mario’s words, do ideas rather than talk about them.

I'm honored.

My first piece ran today on what I believe is the coolest thing in mobile today – a 15.4 percent lead generation rate garnered by Ford and its dealers.

You can read it here