Roundtable on Coolest Things In Mobile

One of my favorite books in recent years is The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World

Rick Mathieson is as savvy as they come about how brands need to evolve.

Rick invited me recently to speak on a mobile roundtable with Julie Fajgenbaum, vice president of brand marketing and social media for American Express, and Adam Broitman, CEO of digital ad agency

There are several installments posted on Rick’s site including this one where I discuss the “coolest” thing in mobile these days – Ford’s 15.4 percent lead generation program that adds mobile to the automakers’ ample marketing spend.


Are Group Messaging Apps A Good Choice For Marketers?

Mobile Marketer asked me whether group messaging apps are an effective tool for brands.  Here’s what I told Chantal Tode:

“Savvy marketers like Macy’s, MillerCoors and others use text messaging for both reach and to build a one-to-one relationship that has valuable remarketing opportunities.

“The mere idea of a group app eliminates the means to personalize communication and offers. Marketers are succeeding through relevant exchanges, not group messages that can feel like impersonal blasts of information.

“I see these apps as niche at best.”

For more of my comments and the entire story, please see

Did Mobile Missteps Lead To Yahoo CEO's Exit?

This week Yahoo’s board fired CEO Carol Bartz, news that rocked the industry and has some debating if the company’s inability to choose between being a media company or a technology provider is to blame. I think we need to look elsewhere and ask: Would Yahoo’s shakeup at the top have happened if the company had been innovating in mobile instead of slipping further behind?

We’ll likely never know the answer. But it’s safe to say that Yahoo’s disjointed mobile strategy was largely responsible for the board’s decision to oust Bartz.

What were the missteps in mobile that cost Yahoo, a company once so close to expanding its prowess in search, social and technology to mobile, its competitive edge? News site mocoNews provides some worthwhile insights and analysis.

It argues that Yahoo made a series of bad moves:

  • Yahoo has not committed efforts and investments in the vital area of research and development, and has a lousy track record of starting and stopping initiatives.
  • Livestand, the company’s digital newsstand for tablets, is late to market. It was expected to be delivered in the first half of the year.
  • Yahoo has failed to grab a significant slice of the search advertising pie, and research firm IDC reports that Yahoo is losing share in mobile advertising.
  • There has been frequent and disruptive change at the top of Yahoo’s mobile units.

Ironically, Bartz – who didn’t steer Yahoo back on the mobile course  when the company lost the plot– sent her farewell email to employees via an iPad.

I agree with Om Malik ’s view that an acquisition would help Yahoo get back in the mobile game. Malik names Foursquare and Flipboard as possible candidates. As for Flipboard, the social magazine for the iPad has been the leader of the pack since its launch in summer 2010, when it immediately could not keep up with demand. I still use Yahoo, but it is more about personal habit than a conscious choice to be with an innovator. Like everything else in mobile, the story has yet to be written. But this latest shakeup signals that Yahoo is running out of time to be included in the narrative.

(Item first appeared here -

Checking In On The Check-Ins

The most interesting check-in of the summer was done by the Pew Research Center.

According to the highly-respected organization, 28% of mobile owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location— 23% of all adults.

A much smaller number (5% of cell owners, equaling 4% of all adults) use their phones to check in to locations using geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. Smartphone owners are especially likely to use these services on their phones.

My take?

Despite the hype, the check-in numbers call into question the short and long-term value of Foursquare and the like.

I have the Foursquare iPhone app and twice have told myself to get committed to the activity. But there just hasn’t been enough of a pull for me either time.

As you know, I’m all for deals and believe relevant offers delivered via mobile is only going to get more important for brands.

But I’m like most who can’t – or won’t – do everything. Foursquare hasn’t made my cut.

Nor has it made the cut for most of the more than 300 million mobile users in the U.S.

You Need Both Disruption and Adoption

As mentioned in a previous post, there hasn’t been a bigger or better disrupter in this century than the now former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

iPod. iPhone. iPad.


In my weekly column on, I asked what should marketers make of disruption and how should they react?

As always, the key is to time your participation so that your brand is out of the gates once the disruptive activity settles and it’s clear which technology or tool is winning the race. Jumping the gun doesn’t guarantee a head start in the right direction. There are graveyards full of innovative technologies and devices that failed from the get-go and never gained the traction we expected. Remember Digital Audio Tape and Betamax videotapes?

In mobile marketing and advertising, just because something can be done, doesn’t mean you should blindly spend against it before its time. (An example is Augmented Reality, a technology packed with ‘wow’ effect but lacking in mainstream take up.)

Jobs’ iAd is in that same category.

Apple’s closed mobile advertising network (closed because you can reach only those people on the iOS platform) has been a large disappointment for many advertisers and others (like me) who looked at Apple’s move into mobile advertising as a milestone and a much needed push to move the industry along.

But don’t close the chapter on iAd just yet. Despite his resignation, there are indications that Jobs may not be done tinkering with iAd.

You can read more of my thinking as well as my take on BlackBerry’s newest devices here

Steve Jobs' Influence Over Mobile Marketing and Advertising

I was among those asked by Mobile Marketer to assess Steve Jobs’ influence on mobile marketing and advertising.  Here is what I told the Rimma Kats:

Steve Jobs’ biggest influence on mobile marketing and advertising is in the way the iPhone and iPad changed behavior.

Never before had we had such pleasing user experiences and access to content on our terms via the real Web and the revolutionary App Store.

For years, I’ve been waiting for a Web page to load properly on my BlackBerry.

[Mr.] Jobs’ contributions in those areas will be remembered more fondly than in Apple’s iAd efforts.

IAd will go down as a milestone because of the reported $300 million that Apple paid for Quattro Wireless to build out the iAd network.

While iAd has been short on return for brands, Apple’s dollars and efforts have validated the mobile advertising business models pursued by many others.

You can read the whole article here

How Should We View The Latest Mobile Stats?

Atop my list of mobile best practices is the need to stay current on consumer behavior and interests. This summer has brought fresh data that has ramifications for all of us conceiving and executing mobile programs.

Here are a few numbers and their importance to us:

Stats: The average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on his or her phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web (Nielsen).

Meaning What? You’ve likely heard notable analyst Mary Meeker’s prediction that more will access the web via mobile than via PC by 2015 But this is 2011 and it would be foolish to spend exclusively on the web on Android devices. Instead, consider a mix of app and Internet. You have time to worry about 2015.

I look at many others in my latest post

Has Holiday Season Already Passed You By?

The retail experience has changed forever now that people rely on their mobile devices for product information while they shop.

The impact of mobile on shopping and commerce was also the focus of proprietary research I introduced last June. My findings highlighted precisely how consumers use their social networks to get input and advice at a brand’s “Moments of Trust”.  The result is profound impact on sales and loyalty.

Interestingly, Yahoo has released insights that confirm my findings and help us better understand the impact of mobile Internet on mobile shopping and purchases. Yahoo teamed up with Nielsen to interview 8,384 U.S. residents ages 13-64 via an online quantitative survey. Of this sample: 5,313 were mobile Internet users who access information related to at least one of 12 product categories. 3,071 were PC/laptop Internet users who access information related to at least one of the 12 product categories and could not access any category Internet information on a mobile device.

So, what is the place of mobile in our shopping experience? Yahoo findings indicate mobile is at the center of the in-store action, making mobile devices a great advertising vehicle for retailers. In fact, a whopping nine out of 10 mobile users have accessed the mobile Internet while they were actually in the store. What’s more, approximately 50 percent of in-store mobile web activity is related to shopping. And people also share while they shop. Almost half (48 percent) of in-store mobile users take and/or send a picture of a product they are considering buying to a friend or family member.

Among the key findings:

  • 51 percent of consumers indicated that they do make a purchase after doing research on their mobile device.
  • On average 16 percent use their mobile phones for shopping research, but interest for this in the next 12 months is extremely high at 57 percent among mobile Internet users and 41 percent among non-mobile Internet users, on average.
  • One in 5 mobile shoppers who have seen advertising during the shopping process say they always look at it. The key to being successful in mobile shopping advertising is to make sure the ads are informative.

It’s 100 degrees in many places, but towel off and lock in your mobile strategy for the holiday season. Marketers and retailers alike have to ask (and answer) some tough questions: How will you influence your customers at the point of sale? Are your salespersons ready for shoppers who have instant access to information, product reviews, and competitors’ prices? Is there a plan for consumers who are using mobile to speak about your products and services (or just let off steam) via their social networks? You can forget the holidays (and celebrating anything any time soon), if you haven’t figured even the basics of where mobile fits in your business.

More from my MobileGroove column

10 Best SMS Tips For Luxury Marketers

Mobile Marketer asked me about best practices when marketing to the affluent. Here's the story that appears today.

Rather than developing a costly mobile application or optimized site, some luxury brands are opting for SMS or MMS messaging that delivers relevant and real-time information to opted-in consumers.

Luxury brands such as Kiehl’s, Jaguar Land Rover, Cartier, BMW and Hennessy have begun to realize the affect that SMS messaging has on their customers. It is likely that this sort of messaging is one of the most personal ways to communicate with consumers via mobile.

“SMS is the means to an opted-in database where individual preferences can be learned and mobile messages can be personal and relevant,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

“Those benefits are especially important when your customer is affluent and accustomed to high-touch service,” he said.

As an expert in the SMS field, Mr. Hasen has compiled a list of 10 tips for luxury brands considering SMS messaging. Here they are:

1. Use SMS as a customer relationship marketing tool, not just a means to provide one-time offers.

2. Use past experiences with the customer to offer luxury customers what they actually want.

3. Do not assume all luxury customers have smartphones – SMS needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

4. Use SMS for time-sensitive offers and information. Ninety-seven percent of text messages are read within four minutes of delivery.

5. Consider location to boost relevance.

6. Make sure SMS campaigns fit into the brand’s overall marketing strategy.

7. Use SMS as a means to connect to richer brand experiences. For example, link back to the brand’s mobile Web site or app.

8. For this audience, over-deliver on customer service – it is more of an expectation.

9. Use SMS to drive customers to the store.

10. Exclusivity is important as it makes customers feel like VIPs, so reward the brand’s best customers with something special.

Depending on what the brand wants to accomplish, SMS can be used for many different purposes.

Some brands use SMS to call attention to new products.

For instance, LVMH’s Hennessy is promoting its collaboration with the artist Kaws for a limited-edition bottle that can be previewed by scanning 2D bar codes and SMS calls-to-action.

Meanwhile, other brands such as Kiehl’s skincare are implementing location-based SMS messaging to offer news and sales at local store locations to drive in-store purchase.

Automakers are also making use of the real-time messaging service.

German automaker BMW personalized MMS messages to alert customers to buy snow tires during winter months, while Jaguar integrated SMS calls-to-action with its television ads.

Since SMS messaging is opt-in, it is a fool-proof system to deliver information to a brand’s most loyal customers.

“A permission-based SMS program creates a dialogue with consumers, giving mobile subscribers the ability to ask for and receive exactly what they want,” Mr. Hasen said.

Has Amazon Proven That Consumers Will Accept Ads?

We got an interesting read this week on Amazon’s Kindle ereader sales. This is particularly significant to marketers since Amazon has brought to millions an ereader bundled with “special offers” and screensaver advertisements.

Amazon followed its usual tact and did not reveal the precise number of Kindles it sold in the quarter. Instead, it only noted that Kindle sales in Q2 showed an increase over Q1 sales. The figures are vague –as we have come to expect from Amazon. Meanwhile, AP reports that Q2 was also a good quarter for sales of eBooks for the Kindle device.

Specifically, Amazon said it has sold more eBooks (that it offers for the Kindle) than hardcover and paperback books.

Even more noteworthy: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reported that the $139 Kindle 3G with Special Offers — a version of the Kindle Amazon released in Q2 that is subsidized with ads — is now its top-selling Kindle device. By way of background, Kindle with Special Offers carries a slightly lower price tag ($25 less or $114) because it is effectively ad-funded. Special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen. However, they don’t interrupt reading.

What are these so-called offers? Over the last months the promotions and deals displayed have included:

-- $10 for $20 Gift Card

-- Save up to $500 off Amazon’s prices on select HDTVs

-- $1 for a Kindle book, choose from thousands of books

-- Spend $10 on Kindle books and get a free $10 Gift Card

As for screensavers, Amazon says its goal is to show sponsored screensavers that Kindle owners want to see. To this end, they have created a free Kindle app (available now) and website (coming soon) called Amazon AdMash. Anyone with a Kindle (Latest Generation device) can download AdMash, a clever app that harnesses the best of crowdsourcing to let people have a say in their future screensavers. How does this work? Basically, AdMash will show you two different screensavers, and then ask you to vote for the one you like best. The community will decide. Smart.

Amazon’s Q2 numbers leave key questions unanswered about the ad-funded device. Is the price of this package bringing in new customers? If so, what are the demographics? Are they new too? (I know my mother-in-law – who is 82 – is a huge fan of Kindle, in part because it is a breeze to read.) And then there is the term ‘Special Offers.’ So far, we know the “offers” aren’t a consumer turnoff. This could be because Amazon shrewdly and purposely made the decision not to use the word “advertising” to describe them. So, who can refuse such an offer?

As I’ve written in columns on MobileGroove and elsewhere, people will accept advertising in exchange for offers they appreciate. In fact this view is confirmed by a several industry reports, including a recent one from the Yankee Group. It shows that more than 70 percent of mobile subscribers surveyed in the U.S. want offers on their devices. As marketers, we can’t ignore the Kindle. We need to add this device into our marketing plan discussions. Amazon is most certainly providing advertisers more detailed user information to make sure they can make their media buy as targeted — and effective — as it can be.

Meantime, let’s not forget that Amazon has another card to play later this year when it is expected to launch a tablet device. That’s when things will get even more interesting.