QR codes are in nearly every conversation with brands these days. But do they replace or complement SMS as a way to engage consumers? I was quoted extensively on this question in one of the most discussed Mobile Marketer stories in memory. “SMS has distinct advantages because of its reach, use by mobile subscribers of just about all ages, and standardization,” I told reporter Giselle Tsirulnik. “When you create an SMS call to action, you don’t need to worry whether your target has an interest in QR codes, not to mention an app to engage with the image.” Other points I made in the piece: “As marketers, we should be agnostic when it comes to mobile tactics as long as we succeed in our goals of engagement that leads to trial, sales and loyalty. “Many of Hipcricket clients, including Macy’s, are wisely choosing to provide consumers with multiple ways to engage. We are seeing this now in the Macy’s aisles in the Backstage Pass program that provides fashion tips, product information and more. Macy’s is inclusive, even providing a URL at the point of sale for those who don’t wish to interact via mobile. “It is about turning what used to be passive activities into interactive ones. That means that regardless of whether it is a QR code, an SMS-to-short code or both, some sort of mobile call to action needs to be included in traditional media and other communications vehicles like point of sale materials to better engage consumers and drive them to purchase. “QR codes have a buzz about them and are included in most conversations Hipcricket has with its clients and new business prospects. But for many quick service restaurants and other brands, SMS calls to action remain an indispensible part of the marketing mix. “And SMS calls to action are becoming more and more commonplace.” You can read the full article here http://bit.ly/hBsSwY.
As you may remember, I took issue with Apple last year for its handling – or mishandling-- of Antennagate. In Technorati columns here and here, I argued that Apple’s slow public response to the iPhone 4 antenna issues damaged the brand and was a failure at one of its Moments of Trust. Nine months later, after Verizon has reported that the iPhone 4is the best selling product in its history and Friday’s jaw-dropping (even by Apple’s high standards) demand and wait times for the iPad 2, the answer is clear – Apple lost no luster last year and remains the most beloved brand in the world. What makes me say so? With my eyes and ears, I saw way more than so-called Apple fanboys in lines I haven’t experienced since trying to get Springsteen tickets in New York and Los Angeles. Families, middle-aged single persons and young children all waited to buy the iPad 2 despite not having an ability to touch it and with every indication that the iPad 2 is a moderate upgrade from the generation one product that has seen its price slashed by $100.With no disrespect to the technology influencers – Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, Ed Baig of USA Today, The Boy Genius and the others – this buying frenzy was hardly about reviews. In my view, it had to do more with an overall record of Apple excellence, price points that brought in the masses, and trust that what Apple was introducing was worthy of purchase sight unseen. More proof that Antennagate wasn’t even a speed bump?
(First published on Technorati as http://technorati.com/technology/gadgets/article/ipad-2-demand-shows-antennagate-wasnt/#ixzz1GUHpC1gO)
Having downloaded what has been billed as the first true Flipboard competitor, I’m left with lukewarm exZitement. Sure, Zite has the potential to change my iPad experience by providing personalized content that saves me time and addresses only my interests. But recommendation engines are hardly infallible – unless my wife is a closet poker player, for the life of me I can’t tell you why we get Poker after Dark on our DVR. Fast Company posted quotes from the university researchers behind Zite. "It's a combination of semantic- and statistically based machine learning," says CEO Ali Davar, of Zite's content algorithm, the technology of which has been in development for years. "It works by looking at the articles you click on and the characteristics of those articles. Is the article longer or shorter? Is it skewed toward one element of a topic or another? Is it a political blog? If so, does it have have a right- or left-wing slant?" According to Fast Company, users can tell Zite whether they enjoyed a particular article, whether they liked a particular source, or whether they want more news on a particular topic area. But Zite can also learn from a user's "soft" yes's and no's. Skip over a news brief? Zite counts that as a soft no. Did a headline catch your eye and get you to read the longer story? Zite counts that as a soft yes. The look and feel is definitely way behind the slick presentation offered by Flipboard (which introduced an updated product this week). Zite’s value is designed to get better over time. It will take a period of use before we can declare Zite a keeper or a pretender. One additional question I have is whether personalization products like this one limit one’s ability to discover. We’ll see.
Back when my hair was dark, the adage was that you could lose the battle for public opinion in two hours. Today? It’s closer to two minutes given social networks and mobile devices that work as megaphones. So just what took Taco Bell five weeks to fully respond to claims in a lawsuit that Taco Bell is using false advertising when it refers to using "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef" in its products. It has been a failure at the "Moments of Trust". According to the Associated Press http://huff.to/eW2HZ3, Taco Bell is now turning to TV commercials after full-page newspaper ads and Twitter and Facebook efforts reached only about half the population. Imagine that? TV for reach. Television that was in its prime when my hair was, well, you know. Taco Bell initially ran full-page ads last month in national newspapers. They then launched a Twitter campaign, and finally turned to Facebook fans with an offer of a free crunchy beef taco. Missing from Taco Bell’s defense is a mobile strategy. Others in the fast food category have built robust databases and gained customers by providing offers via mobile. Plus, mobile is ideal for immediacy. Maybe Taco Bell will get there with mobile. But that might come at the two-month mark. That’s my beef.
Brian Solis asks whether Twitter is journalism. I’ll throw another query into the mix – is a tweeter a reporter by the mere fact that he or she witnessed something? I blogged on a related subject Jan. 9 on the awful Saturday when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona. In a post titled, “The Danger of Getting Our ‘News’ on Twitter”, I said that while I’m old enough to have gotten my news from Walter Cronkite, I now learn about world events from "@fillintheblank." And, as I said then, @fillintheblank hardly has the gray hair, much less the resume, to warrant the job. Of course, since that day, social media has been heralded as a key ingredient in the ouster of the Egyptian regime. And many of us are beholden to Twitter for the ability to learn what is going on in Bahrain and in other turbulent outposts. As you may recall, National Public Radio and CNN, among others, got the Giffords story wrong, claiming that the congresswoman had not survived her injuries. Tweets further spread the false reports that sadly and shockingly reached Giffords’ husband before he learned that she was alive. Does Twitter pressure journalists to rush to judgment? Who’s a journalist anyway? Obviously there is great value in the tweets emanating from Bahrain sent by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (@NickKristof). But anyone can be an iReporter, iWitness or iKnowItAll and have ample channels to “report” on something as important as life or death. Of course, we’re not all created equally but who’s to tell one from another? Suffice it to say that each of us with a voice that can be heard – and that means everyone with a Twitter account, blog, Facebook page, etc. – has to think before pushing the send button. You never signed up for that task, you say? Tough. It’s our responsibility to be responsible. -- Article first published as I Tweet, Therefore I Report on Technorati.
As sure at there will be eight more iPhone rumors today, we know that more advertising is coming to mobile devices. The topic was heavily discussed in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) with debate around consumer behavior and interests. So where does Google stand? The company staunchly believes that more creativity and higher production values are needed to advance mobile advertising. Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt used his keynote address to drive home a single message about the real future of the medium. “To me, the tools and technology that allow us to do targeted TV quality ads — again with permission and without violating privacy — is the next great frontier in advertising.” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo used his keynote slot to focus more on usability, simplicity and the experience Twitter delivers over thousands of devices. But a leaked video gives us the inside track on where Twitter wants to go with advertising (across all platforms). Will people buy into Twitter’s approach? Near the end of the 40-minute presentation, even Twitter acknowledges that its way of presenting advertising won’t be universally accepted. “People are averse to change, especially when it comes to advertising, and this type of (negative) feedback is to be expected,” the narrator of the company video admits. However, the number of people put off by the ads amount to an “extremely marginal percentage of the total.” What about the money-generating Promoted Tweets? Twitter tells us in the video that marketers should expect an “engagement rate” of 1 percent to 3 percent. Having worked in ad agencies for a large part of my career, I have a deep appreciation of top shelf advertising. But a slick look and catchy copy aren’t the only criteria for effective mobile advertising. Relevance, permission and a compelling offer are much higher on my list of must-haves. Twitter’s assessment of how consumers will likely respond negatively to the ads delivered via its service isn’t surprising. Indeed, most people will be “put off by them” – but I don’t expect people to vote with their feet. They’ll likely live with the ads. But that doesn’t mean they will listen to the brand messages. If we marketers want to get consumers’ attention, then it’s our job to connect with the mobile user in a way that is welcome, non-intrusive and personal. After all, mobile is a personal device and we should use a personal touch (and ask permission first). The rest of my MSearchGroove column is here http://www.msearchgroove.com/google-why-their-schemes-may-backfire/
A so-called iPhone Nano would certainly bring more into the smartphone fold. The implications for marketers aren’t as clear. According to the Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/eobwnk, the device is intended for sale alongside Apple's existing line. The new device would be about half the size of the iPhone 4. The Journal said the new phone would be available to carriers at about half the price of the main iPhone repertoire. That would allow carriers to subsidize most or all of the consumer's cost, putting the iPhone in the same mass-market price range as rival smartphones. As marketers, we’re wondering about device capacity, battery life, data plan and messaging rates, and whether the full App Store will be within reach of those who purchase the smaller phone. Oh, the complexities.
- Will my newly designed mobile web site render properly on a smaller screen?
- Will these mobile subscribers be reached with standard (as if there is standard this early in the game) smartphone strategies and tactics? Or will these be feature phone users on a small dose of steroid but not the whole regimen?
- Will the smaller phone sell strictly to the young and lower household income crowd or will size and probable cool user interface appeal to others, including road warriors?
- Will Apple’s strategy stall Google’s momentum with Android?
I’ve written about donation programs that turn our older model mobile phones into money to assist battered women and other people in need of help and counseling. Frankly, disposing of outdated phones is tough to do. It’s not because we don’t want to; it’s because we haven’t had a really good reason to dig into those drawers. (I’ll bet many of us could go into a drawer and pull out a couple of mobile phones. At my house we count four unused feature phones (maybe more) in mothballs right now.) Online marketplaces (example, eBay) and brick-and-mortar chains including Best Buy have introduced programs that offer us cash or store credit for our old model mobile phones. What’s the deal? Best Buy’s buy-back plan is all about keeping you as a customer. Meantime, eBay’s promotion comes without strings attached. In fact, eBay Instant Sale (effective through February 22) offers consumers cash guarantees of $200 for select functional smartphone models and up to $450 for AT&T iPhone 4s. According to a press release, eBay users can take a $200 guaranteed price on any functional iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant smartphone models. Customers can also receive a minimum of $200 and up to $450 for the AT&T iPhone 4 during the eBay Instant Sale promotion. Nielsen believes that we’ll see 50 percent smartphone penetration in the U.S. by the end of 2011. But that shift will require consumers to trade up from their feature phones, a mobile makeover that will likely only come about if mobile operators offer free (subsidized) smartphones with contracts, or we see more schemes (such as the one from eBay) allow consumers to trade up or sell the devices they don’t want. As marketers, we should continue to plan mass smartphone adoption into our strategies. But we should also remember that – despite the wave of buy-back offers — there will still be more than 150,000 feature phones in circulation by the end of 2011. More in my column here http://bit.ly/eRARmv.
Because my disappointment couldn’t fit into one column, I wrote two on the lack of mobile marketing during the Super Bowl telecast. A record 111 million tuned in. I’m guessing that 110 million had their mobile devices within four feet. How sad that the only calls to action were texts from the sofa to the kitchen requesting more salsa and beer. Super Bowl advertisers muffed another opportunity to truly engage. My third annual Mobile Marketer Super Bowl column is here http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/9008.html Here are my thoughts that ran on iMedia Connection http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2011/02/08/why-no-mobile-marketing-during-super-bowl-telecast/
As a former journalist, I’m more of a news junkie than most. As a dinosaur, I regularly read the print editions of my hometown newspaper and national daily USA Today. Despite my more traditional content consumption habits, I had to jump in and read The Daily the day it launched. In my view, it looks, feels and reads like a magazine. What is new about this new format? Well, I do like the incredibly vivid photos and rich content that accompany a selection of stories. (For example, preview coverage of this Sunday’s Super Bowl was enhanced by videos of Fox Sports personalities discussing what we can expect from the teams.) Granted, The Daily’s target is much younger demographic, but I frankly saw little content that would grab my niece or younger colleagues. However, that doesn’t stop major brands such as Pepsi and HBO from spending to advertise in The Daily. (I read this as a move tied to boosting cool factor, not communicating directly with a brand’s customers or prospects.) Where does this leave the rest of us marketers? Yes, we have another format to consider. But it’s prudent to watch closely before investing too heavily. For more on more thoughts on The Daily, please see my column here http://bit.ly/hemtVY
From the cover story in the February issue of Seattle Business magazine: "The smartphone may prove to be the greatest instrument for marketing ever invented. “Smartphones provide advertisers and marketers the potential to develop campaigns that are truly tailored so that individual customers can get the information they want when they need it. That day is not yet here. What works and what doesn’t? What’s acceptable and what’s not? The rules are being created as we go. “How this tech-driven advertising and marketing industry develops will depend not on the Mad Men of Madison Avenue, but on entrepreneurs in places like Seattle and San Francisco. Locally, companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Hipcricket are creating this new future.’ Read the rest of “The Mobile Marketing Revolution” here - http://bit.ly/ejGONt
Based on its reputation, we should trust what the new Edelman Trust Barometer http://www.edelman.com/trust/2011/ survey tells us. But, gosh, are there some head-scratchers. Who could’ve predicted that the automotive sector would elevate from near the bottom of an industry list in 2009 to No. 2 in the United States? Edelman executives point to the carmakers’ innovation and environmentally-friendly efforts in the area of electric autos and others. http://www.youtube.com/embed/c5VCyQenzrk. Apparently consumers believe these companies are recreating themselves for the right reasons rather than for pure profit. The fact that the automakers repaid bailout loans helped as well. For the third straight year, technology sits in the top spot despite the iPhone Antennagate saga and ongoing concerns with Facebook and others around privacy. Predictably, banks are toxic, having slid to the bottom of the trust index due to their role in the financial crisis. How might these financial institutions come back? On the backs of CEOs, if you believe the report. Just two years after placing second from last, CEOs are now in the top tier as trustworthy spokespersons. Fifty percent say CEOs are credible spokespeople about a company, a 19-point increase over 2009. Look for bank CEOs to increase their visibility. According to Edelman, in key Western nations like the U.S. and the UK, approximately one-quarter (23 and 27 percent, respectively) say that they need to hear something six or more times to believe it, twice as many as two years ago. In the U.S., 14 percent need to hear information 10 or more times to believe it. Missing from the survey is detail on what consumers do with their mistrust? Do they use their mobile phones or computers to get on social networks when companies fail at so-called “Moments of Trust”? jeffhasen Do individual tweets, blog posts and Facebook postings influence sales and loyalty? Perhaps that level of information will be included in subsequent reports. Article first published as Car Manufacturers and CEOs Rise In Trust Ratings on Technorati
More than two years ago, a friend memorably told me on my birthday that while I didn’t look 50, I acted 50. Steve was speaking of my “early to bed” routine, but he might as well have been talking about the fact that I begin the day with the Seattle Times off my driveway and end it with a print edition of USA Today. Or the idea that Sunday isn’t Sunday without a $6 seemingly three-pound New York Times. Of course, only dinosaurs read newspapers these days and Great Grandpa dinosaurs spread a newspaper across the dining room table. At least you know more about your blogger. With this as background, I offer my thoughts about Rupert Murdoch’s Daily, launching Wednesday on the iPad for a reported 99 cents a day.
- Newspapers have been an important part of my life since I would run to the door as a kid to grab my Dad’s New York Post (pre-Murdoch ownership)
- When I was a reporter, I used to read about six newspapers a day and my appetite for news has not diminished
- I’m as open as anyone to a new publication in an engaging format provided it is priced right
- Murdoch will get my attention – and maybe my business -- if it’s more New York Post than Fox News. Actually any likeness to Fox News will send the app to the trash
- I’ve been ready for years to enhance my experience by clicking links to videos, additional commentary and updates. I just haven’t found a compelling app
- I’m not the Daily target audience and expect much of the content to skew younger and less interesting to me
- If Murdoch has been anything, he has been a trailblazer. I wouldn’t put it past him to be the first print publication to figure out a tablet business model that begins to make sense for the consumer
An open letter to AT&T Wireless: I’ve always had options. Up until now, I’ve just chosen not to exercise them. You spent what you did on iPhone exclusivity in an attempt to “lock” in me and millions of others. In some respects, the strategy worked. But where you slipped was in mistaking my loyalty for a device with a devotion to your company. You’ve had 3 ½ years to build a bond with me – actually, if you count the AT&T earlier years, then the Cingular times, then now – I’ve been your customer for more than a dozen years. I can’t help but tell you that we’ve been in a loveless relationship. As much as I may not love you for your (let me be generous here) spotty network, pricing ($20 a month for unlimited text messages?), and times when your customer service felt more like a disservice, I know that you don’t love me. How else can I view zero effort to reward me for my business? As you know, beyond my iPhone, I continue to pay you monthly on a BlackBerry Bold account that has given me its own set of frustrations. From you, I’ve been waiting for a phone call, a text, or even a letter that acknowledges my value to you. I’ve been waiting for an offer (I have unlimited data grandfathered in on my iPhone 3GS so giving others unlimited data means nothing to me). I’ve seen only some communications about your 4G network. I’m a customer – the mailing brought me no news and no value. This week, I more expect Verizon to reach out to me. It’s going to be about dollars and cents, not loyalty. And it’s going to be about a disconnect. Not between iPhone and iPhone (that happens now and then, you know). It’s about a disconnect between company and customer. Yours (for now) Jeff
Few people would have predicted that Motorola would be in the same sentence as “Best of CES 2011.” But it happened. Motorola — the company that had risen to new heights with the Razr only to lose its lead to BlackBerry and Apple — had a week in Las Vegas only a lucky gambling high-roller could match. In voting by the editors and reporters of CNET, Motorola won the “Best of CES” award for its Motorola XOOM – dubbed as the first device on Google’s new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system designed from the ground up for tablets. In addition to “Best of CES” award, Motorola received two other award honors – “Best Smartphone” for the Motorola ATRIX and “Best Tablet” for the Motorola XOOM. By way of background, Motorola XOOM has a dual core processor, and an HD optimized 10.1-inch widescreen. Motorola ATRIX 4G was presented as the most powerful mobile phone available. Its webtop application runs a full Mozilla Firefox 3.6 and uniquely docks with computers and keyboards. Of course, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Motorola receive accolades for its innovation. Wikipedia tells us that, over the RAZR’s four-year run, Motorola sold more than 110 million units, boosting its position to second place in the handheld market behind Nokia. Was it an iconic device? You bet. PC World put the RAZR at #12 in The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years. Now Motorola is considered an also-ran with just 17 percent share in the U.S. market and no dominance elsewhere. As marketers, we need to be ready to adapt. And we must remember that it isn’t over until it’s over. Success comes with innovation coupled with sought-after consumer benefits and backed by great marketing and the right pricing. If those elements are indeed present in devices like the XOOM, then down go the pundits who have written off Motorola forever. Read more on this here http://bit.ly/hXWZQ4.
What I know and still wonder about 686 days and 1,000 followers into my @jeffhasen Twitter life:
- I’m doing OK if you consider that I’ve been placed on the Top CMOs on Twitter list http://www.smmmagazine.com/exclusives/top-cmos-on-twitter/. Only 67 others worldwide have been so honored.
- I’m doing lousy if you average out days and followers that seem to indicate that I’m as popular as a nor’easter.
- I spend more and more time on Twitter. To help determine how much versus the rest, I went to Google and put in “time spent on t…” It came back with two choices -- time spent on Twitter and time spent on toilet. At least one of those deserves to be kept to oneself. As for the other one, I am getting older, you know.
- I realize that I can grow my followers’ list rapidly through all sorts of trickery. But I continue to believe that a smaller list earned is better than one with 3,000 “followers” who have no value to me – nor me to them.
- I refuse to use Twitter like most use Facebook (and many sadly use LinkedIn). Katie Couric famously said that “no one gives a rat’s ass that I had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch”. The minutiae of my life isn’t especially interesting to even those closest to me.
- I see no value in using a Twitter account as an RSS feed. If you provide a link with no context or analysis, I’ve likely seen the news elsewhere. Please tell me what it means to you and to me.
- There is no doubt that Twitter has led to business relationships that I could not develop elsewhere. Want to make a sale? Know your target and go where he or she lives. Twitter is full of potential contacts that are only reachable there.
- Don’t be overly concerned by your Klout score or any other tool that claims to measure your influence. If you can grow your business, career or just your mind via what you see and say on Twitter, it’s an experience worth taking.
The number of Tweeps I’ve followed over the same period
My tweeting activity since late October
The availability of multiple device connectivity is the biggest news coming out of the Verizon/Apple marriage. Specifically, the new CDMA iPhone 4 will act as a mobile WiFi connection for up to five devices. Other phones on the market have that capability already, but some believe that the inclusion of this feature on a Verizon iPhone will bring the concept of a personal hotspot to the masses. So how big is this opportunity really? According to Ericsson, mobile broadband will reach one billion users in 2011. Ericsson expects Asia to drive the spike in users, followed closely by North America and Europe. By 2015, Ericsson estimates that there will be 3.8 billion broadband subscriptions. You can argue that nearly everyone will want to be connected everywhere they go. However, there is another argument to consider. People want that connectivity, but they want it in the form of one connected device – part-mobile, part-computer. If this is the case, then there will be relatively little appeal in offering the option to connect multiple devices. What should you do? Some answers here http://bit.ly/hXWZQ4.
Forty percent of all tweets are created on mobile devices. Surely, that’s a data point that shows the convergence of social media and mobile. The attraction of social networking comes in the connectedness it provides us and in the ability to stay connected to friends wherever and whenever. Users are way ahead of marketers in understanding that there is no meaningful difference in how they connect. So why are there marketing silos? First, this approach splits marketers into two camps (social and mobile) with fierce defenders who are convinced that their focus is the right one. (Why can’t there be only one?). Second, it ignores that fact that there are limited marketing dollars. So splitting budgets between social and mobile (viewing it as a case of “either/or”) is not beneficial to agencies or brands. Put another way, it’s a huge mistake to not follow consumers on their journey and understand that for them there is no line separating social and mobile. Read more on this here http://bit.ly/hXWZQ4.
Related to the last post, Mobile Marketer asked me several questions about the opportunities for local businesses around Valentine’s Day. In the piece, I said: “The wise retailer will differentiate long before the frenzy of Valentine’s Day buying begins. Advertising and offers now lead to preference when consumers rush to fill their Valentine’s Day needs.” And: “We love salmon in my house. We love it more when it’s on sale. The great opportunity is to have me opt-in to a top retailer who will send me offers late in the day when I’m on my way home and more likely to purchase. “Retailers can prove this capability before Valentine’s Day and have a regular customer moving forward.” The full article is here: http://bit.ly/hdgMKs.
Second beyond the question of whether this is the year of mobile are the queries we hear about consumer interest (or disinterest) in walking by a Starbucks and receiving an offer on their mobile device. Brands talk about it. Consumers wonder about it. Media loves the topic. Hence, the attention to my new Adweek opinion piece called The Hyperlocal Opportunity. “The temptation to jump into the hyperlocal waters is high. However, before taking action, marketers are advised to first run through a quick hyperlocal marketing checklist. You can read the checklist and rest of the piece here http://bit.ly/hWjhxO. If your preference is Brandweek, the publication ran the story here. http://bit.ly/hYWG83.