Comcast isn’t Nordstrom. But can it be? First off, my bad when I didn’t pay attention to the timing of the early bird pricing on the Major League Baseball season package. After seeing the $199 price online yesterday morning, I phoned Comcast, my cable television provider for 10 years and a bundle customer (including Web and phone) for about the past two. Comcast’s customer service rep listened to my ask – to receive the $20 price break – then told me the deal had expired the previous day. “I’m a long-time customer, spend a lot of money with you, and have service on six televisions.” Nothing gave so I hung up. An hour later, I called back and asked for a supervisor. The rep went off the line for about 10 minutes only to come back to chastise me for calling back when I was told no. I again asked for a price break – my fault on the late call but I spend about $250 a month with Comcast – and was told it wasn’t going to happen. “How about a $20 credit for being such a good customer?” No and no. I took my story to Twitter and @comcastcares who quickly responded by asking me to send my story to an email address. On my answering machine last night, Comcast called to ask me to take a survey about my customer service experience. They don’t read their files or Twitter? This morning, Executive Customer Care emailed me and said in part, “We do value you greatly as a customer and completely understand that in today’s economy that there are many ways to obtain entertainment service and it is a choice of our customers to choose Comcast for their phone, internet and TV service. We cannot thank you enough for your dedication to us as a company and for helping us keep our commitment to quality customer care. “I would like to offer you the MLB season pass, free of charge to you should you still wish to order this package.” Nordstrom-esque, wouldn’t you say? Of course, I screwed up initially by failing to call during the introductory pricing period. But I expected to be treated like a valued customer at what I call a brand’s Moments of Trust. How do you rate Comcast’s performance? Beyond that, was I right to ask Comcast to correct my wrong?
Is a consumer’s mobile search more valuable to an advertiser than an online query? The stats say yes, particularly in view of the growth in local mobile search. According to the BIA/Kelsey Group, one in three mobile searches is local in nature and also interactive. After searchers on their smartphones find a local business, 61 percent call the establishment and 59 percent visit the location. Little wonder that the market is more bullish about search advertising on mobile. Mediapost recounts a recent webinar with The Search Agency by sharing some stats and forecasts http://bit.ly/egqJhO. For a start, Google estimates that between 15 and 30 percent of site traffic will come from mobile devices within the next 18 months. Google says mobile-only campaigns generate significantly higher click-through rates (CTR). Specifically, advertisers who break out mobile campaigns see CTR rise — on the average — 11.5 percent, according to Google. The biggest surprise here is the number of interactions that occur after the search is completed on a mobile device. After all, to influence some 60 percent of consumers to do anything (in this case call or visit a business) is a marketer’s dream. As more smartphones hit the market (a development I discuss in the item below), mobile search will also rise in importance — and cracking the code on how to rank highly in search results (this time on mobile) will (once again) be top of marketers’ minds. More in my MSearchGroove column - http://www.msearchgroove.com/added-value-for-marketers-in-mobile-search-apple-itunes-purchase-data/
A question often posed by marketers is whether mobile replaces email in integrated campaigns. In many cases, the two are complementary. I discuss the particulars April 19 in a free webinar with WhatCounts. Registration is here http://bit.ly/ePZCGQ
If Apple is anything, it is unpredictable. I’ve been quite amused this week by the pundits and industry analysts who claim Apple will delay the introduction of the iPhone 5. I have to wonder where they have been (or how well they really know Apple). Steve Jobs likes a little drama (and fun). Just think how many times Steve closed his speeches with “Just one more thing”– right before springing some of the industry’s biggest surprises on us. Cases in point: the introduction of the iMac and iPod. Earlier this week, and as per usual this time of year, Apple invited software developers to its Worldwide Development Conference (WWDC) taking place June 6-10 in San Francisco. The invitation said the focus of the show will be iOS and Mac OS. Then the speculation began. A headline at Business Insider (which seems to have gotten one step ahead of itself here) claimed “Apple’s iPhone 5 Delay Just Opened The Door For Google And Microsoft.” Another headline went out a similar limb asserting “Here’s Why Apple’s iPhone ‘Delays’ Might Actually Be A Good Thing.” What’s so “good” about it? Business Insider sees it this way: “While some may see this as an ‘un-Apple like’ “delay, this habit-breaking might actually be a good thing — for would-be iPhone buyers, Apple fans, and investors. Why? Because Apple needs another smartphone breakthrough, like the first iPhone was in 2007.” Whether you are in California, Cancun or Copenhagen, you probably can hear the laughter coming from Apple’s Cupertino office. Of course, I have no inside information but I do suspect a ruse here. Think it through – carefully. Why would Apple deny the rumors now when the company has a chance to surprise us (again) and deliver a game-changer during the keynote? Admittedly, I could be wrong about this. Until we know for sure marketers would be ill-advised to plan strategy and campaigns based on the iPhone 4 (suddenly regarded by some as a stale device in the marketplace) and give up on iPhone 5 just yet. (The above first appeared at www.msearchgroove.com. Please see the rest of the column here - http://www.msearchgroove.com/apple-likely-has-last-laugh-again-googles-in-app-payments-could-change-the-game/)
My brother is the teacher in the family and one of the best in the business (check out the quality at http://electionlawblog.org/). I once tried to compliment him by saying that he’s twice as smart as me. “That doesn’t say very much,” was his retort. Today I could relate to his satisfaction in mentoring. For some reason, my comments in Mobile Marketer on common mistakes made in SMS marketing struck a chord with several who reached out to me to say thanks for sharing valuable lessons. The piece is here http://bit.ly/dM94RZ including my comment that “choosing (a mobile vendor) purely on price will likely lead you to the guys in a garage who started a firm last Thursday. “ If you have time, please let me know what you think.
Always wary of those who hype the benefits of mobile, I was struck by the keynotes I heard at the CTIA Wireless Show and the assertions that mobile is dramatically improving healthcare and key to keeping the U.S. competitive in global business. “It is clear that America’s global competitors are not standing still,” said Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. “American leadership in a global economy is not a birthright. Mobile is critical to America’s future.” And, according to a visionary, mobile is key to positive strides in worldwide health management. “Information technologies now exist that enable real time information to be used by healthcare providers and consumers, thereby giving us better health and a more cost effective system of care.” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D. What should we make of these keynotes and from everything else seen and heard in Orlando? My take is here - http://www.msearchgroove.com/ctia-highlights-mobiles-role-in-healthcare-why-bandwidth-equals-well-being/
To newbies, this week’s CTIA Wireless Show in Orlando will likely be more fun than a trip down the road to Disney World. For me, I have a long wish list but more realistic expectations. Here’s what I would like to see:
- A universal adapter to charge all devices – this would allow travelers to leave home the bag with all the plugs, keeping them out of the overstuffed overhead compartment
- Something as out of the blue as Apple’s Smart Covers that immediately brings a $1 billion revenue projection for 2011
- A simple guide to network speed, giving consumers the ability to cut through the carriers’ liberal definition of 3G and 4G
- Apple introducing the iPhone 5 – a wireless show without mobile’s biggest innovator leaves much of the story untold
- A consistently strong wireless signal for the tens of thousands of attendees in Orlando – have you ever tried to play at a piano recital without a piano? That’s exactly how we feel when we can’t demo our products
- A strong brand marketer presence – this show is known more for its business development opportunities but there are strong case studies to be shared that will be of interest to brands
- A 25 percent reduction in expenditures on parties with that money instead going to Japan relief efforts
- Agreement that consumers are ready for the convergence of mobile and social – the stats tell us they already thing that way (Facebook members are twice as active on mobile as they are on PCs, for instance)
- Sensible tablet pricing models so I’ll stop being asked to spend three times the price for an iPad subscription than I would pay for the print edition
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