Still Learning From Sesame Street

All these years later and we’re still learning from Sesame Street. The media property that has won more Emmy Awards than any other turned 41 last week. But there’s nothing outmoded about its approach to mobile. To the contrary, the non-profit educational organization that helped many of us learn the basics continues to play a meaningful role in the lives of children – and their parents – worldwide. Moreover, Sesame Street is also teaching the industry an important lesson: the future of our children (and our own future as well) involves mobile. Sesame Street used the Mobile Marketing Forum, which took place earlier this week in Los Angeles, to share its vision for mobile. The discussion sparked debate, stirred discussion and stood out as one of the presentations that gave us the clearest glimpse of just how mobile will affect education everywhere. . Anita Stewart, Sesame Workshop Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, told us that mobile applications have proven to be a valuable learning aid. Sesame Street lessons are delivered via mobile in 140 countries. But it’s not just about reaching kids; Sesame Street also uses mobile to engage with young moms who may not watch TV, but want to participate in the experience with their children. Interestingly, this experience can go beyond education. The Sesame franchise views mobile as the quickest and most effective way to educate youngsters on critical issues such as childhood obesity, healthy habits and financial literacy. HOW I SEE IT: Mobile marketing has a successful and sustainable future provided it can gain and maintain trust with mobile subscribers. Sesame Street “gets” this – which is why studies consistently show that the Sesame properties are the most trusted among parents. In this make-or-break time for mobile, there is no better ambassador than Sesame Street to show that mobile does good. Mobile can reach youngsters (and their parents) with important lessons and skills. Mobile therefore deserves a central place in households across the globe. Please see the rest of the post for

Smartphone Users Dumb To Share Personal Info?

A recent study reveals that the most people feel uneasy about apps and content that access their personal information such as identity data, payment details and messages. Lookout, a company that offers security services for a number of smartphones, reported that more than 91 percent of consumers have some level of concern about the privacy of the personal identity data and information stored on their phone. Only 7 percent of smartphone users feel extremely confident that they understand what private information is being accessed by the apps they download from stores and destinations to their phones. Lookout also found that – on average – users have 31 applications on their phones that can access their identity information. Of these 19 apps can access their location and five apps can access their SMS and MMS messages. Sensing a business opportunity for security software that puts us in control of what personal data our apps are allowed to access, Lookout has introduced a new paid service that allows users to scan every app they download and determine the threat to their personal data. The premium offer is an enhanced version of the free app the company claims has already reached 3 million subscribers. HOW I SEE IT: For the most part, consumers won’t believe that there’s a threat to mobile devices until the first – or several – security issues appear and cause mayhem. Or maybe Hollywood will jumpstart the panic with an updated version of The Net, where the heroine has her identity stolen by the gaming app she downloaded from a brand. In any case, no technology is hacker-proof and mobile is next. In my view, marketers should be prepared for the eventuality. We are selling trust. And whether it’s mobile commerce (linked to the user’s presence in the store) or mobile coupons (connected to a loyalty card), we are the one to blame if our sites or apps don’t do what they promise. Do you have a crisis plan in place just case your mobile business or offer is targeted? Please see the rest of the post here -

Internet Insecurity - Invasion of the Bad Guys

I reserved a car with Hertz. Maybe I didn’t. In day 4 of the Invasion of the Bad Guys on my computers, I have seen system takeovers, link redirects, and emails from unknowns. Good unknowns or disruptive unknowns is, well, unknown. Case in point - yesterday I found what appeared to be a $20 a day deal with Hertz from the AAA website. The price was 50% less than I saw elsewhere so I booked. Confirmation came via email from something called PAY FOR IT NOW AND SAVE. What? After 10 minutes of searching on Google, I believe the entity is related to Travelocity. And I did plug in the confirmation number on and the reservation appears legitimate. If that’s the case, what is AAA thinking in this Moments of Trust failure? It’s understandable if you outsource the reservation system, but to have your customer have to spend time verifying the transaction is irresponsible and damaging to your brand. If you think I’m being overly cautious, last week was my turn in spyware and malware hell. A spyware program first hijacked my Windows 7 computer. After company IT “cleaned” it, another program appeared minutes later. Oh, and later in the day, links in my search engines redirected to sites certainly after my credit card information and my sense of security. Supposedly we’re good now. Then this morning, on a MacBook Pro, attempts to log into two websites redirected me to elongated and unfamiliar URLs. Supposedly this is nothing more than a hosting issue. Maybe. In recent weeks, I’ve written about my refusal to conduct Internet banking. Mobile banking is even more a long shot given its nascency. According to a recent study, 19 percent of consumers are less cautious using the Internet on their mobile device than on a computer. People, get a clue. Take more care or it will be PAY FOR IT LATER AND CRY. (Article first published as Internet Insecurity - Invasion of the Bad Guys on Technorati)

Speaking of Moments of Trust and Mobile

Three more talks added to the speaking schedule on the homepage at Conversations upcoming with diverse audiences, all eager to engage on Moments of Trust and Mobile. Hope to see you at one of these events. USC Marshall School of Business In this presentation to MBA students, we introduce the Moments of Trust concept and discuss the new interaction between brands and consumers November 11 Los Angeles Workshop At MMA Mobile Marketing Forum In this discussion for agencies and brands, I present The Unstoppable Rise of Mobile Marketing: An Introduction to What’s Possible November 16 Los Angeles “Moments of Trust” at Boomer Summit 2011 Lessons on how marketers can effectively interact with some of the 300 million consumers who are armed with a mobile device and a voice that can instantly change or reinforce public opinion April 29, 2011 San Francisco

Reach 'Em Via Mobile or Wagon Train

I was asked in a wide-ranging interview whether mobile should always be part of the marketing mix? This is what I told Mobile Marketer: Always is, of course, an absolute. Given the popularity and reach of mobile devices, you would be hard-pressed to have only non-mobile subscribers in your target group. But if that is the case – perhaps in a rural area that has not seen a cell tower – mobile should be left out. Leave delivery of the message then to the Wagon Train. The rest of the interview, including in-depth comments on the award-winning Arby’s campaign, is here

iPhone Stunt Would Make Lucy, Ethel Proud

Separated by 56 years, Lucy, Ethel and Atomic Tom have lots in common. Each knew how a well-crafted stunt can create buzz and publicity that money can’t buy. In a minute, we’ll get to the I Love Lucy episode where the ladies posed as Martians atop the Empire State Building.;recap In the same city this week, an unheralded band named Atomic Tom created a stir as well, breaking out in song on the B train backed only by music generated by iPhone applications. Because I had never heard of them until Friday, I can’t say how many of the band’s 27,000 Facebook fans existed before the boys took to the subway in one of the most inspired viral efforts in years. The band says they turned to lyrics and iPhone apps after their instruments were stolen. Not likely – and not important. The “performance” was “captured” on video – further debunking the thievery setup. As of Saturday morning, there were more than 132,000 YouTube views of the most eventful ride on the B Train in years (actually, having lived in New York, many B train rides are eventful). There have been several calls for Apple to use the footage in a commercial. The Making of story will be fascinating, no doubt imitated, and would certainly gain a salute from Lucy and Ethel, those wacky women from yesteryear. You may be old enough to recall that in the episode Lucy's lies to her rich and snotty ex-schoolmate put her on the hook for a $500 charity pledge. In order to come up with the money, she and Ethel agree to a publicity stunt ahead of the opening of a movie about Martians. Fifty-six years later, we’re still talking about it. As for Atomic Tom, call them masters of new media. They got on our radar using viral marketing, personal technology and creativity – all for little more than the cost of four subway tokens. (Article first published as A Notable iPhone Stunt On Subway on Technorati)

Innovation, Marketing Spends Accelerate Adoption

The implications from the Windows Phone 7 launch? Innovation and the huge marketing spend will not only speed up the adoption of smartphones, they will create opportunities for marketers to reach consumers in richer ways. That will translate into more sales and brand loyalty. More at my weekly blog post for MSearchGroove.

Somewhere Between Huge and Tiny

Across tens of thousands of miles this week, at conferences in London, Chicago and San Francisco, everyone from Oprah to the new CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association weighed in on mobile current and future. You would be hardpressed to find anyone who doesn't think mobile will be huge - at some point. As for today, there is no consensus. I look at the opinions and share my own in my weekly post for MSearchGroove. 

Is the Consumer More In Control on Mobile Than Online?

With news that advertisers are choosing to give consumers more control over the online behavioral advertising they receive, it’s timely to review whether mobile approaches subscribers differently. First off, in case you missed it, building on the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising released in July 2009, the nation's largest media and marketing associations announced this week that they are trying to put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to online marketing Mobile actually never gave the genie the chance to see the light of day. You can read my iMedia Connection blog post on the subject here

Will They Interact With Mobile Ads and Will They Buy?

Is there reason to believe that mobile subscribers are open to advertising? Is an ad on one's most personal device a "Moments of Trust" no-no? Would anyone not only respond to an ad but buy something after viewing it? Two new studies may surprise you. See what consumers told Nielsen and the Mobile Marketing Association here in my new iMedia Connection blog post. 

Mobile Industry: Think Easy Peasy

(Article first published as Today's Mobile Industry: Think Easy Peasy on Technorati) Some unsolicited advice to the mobile industry in the hours before another direction-setting CTIA conference begins. Ladies and gentlemen, every day when you come to your desks, whiteboards and assembly lines, think of just two words: Easy peasy. For those who need four, how about easy peasy lemon squeezie? Huh, you say? How about we rally around the children’s rhyme to stop the insanity of metered data plans, crazy distribution points and even crazier product line introductions? Specifically, in recent days, Verizon indicated that it is moving to tiered data pricing, following AT&T’s lead in the U.S. Has anyone stopped to think that text messaging became a mass activity (72% of all American subscribers) and super easy (if not easy peasy) when unlimited plans were produced? Now we’re going to ask mobile subscribers to count “MBs” and “GBs.” Yeah, can go to a web site or send a text and get an update, but who has the time or interest to do that? As for head-scratching distribution points, $99 netbooks flew off the shelves of retailer CVS. Wonderful, you say? Awful, I say. How can we possibly provide satisfying customer experiences when we offer low-end, less intuitive products at a drugstore? Pass the antacid. And about those wacky product lines? The other day, Dell said that it will release a “whole slew” of devices – 3, 4, 7, 10 inchers. Hopefully, they will be available in drugstores so consumers won’t have to make a separate trip for an aspirin. Just how will a consumer know which model is best? As a colleague said to me, how about we ask them to buy the whole set?

Global Need For Simple Buying & User Experiences

While there are vast differences in mobile adoption and behavior throughout the world, common is the need to simplify the buying and user experience. I focus on Dell’s head-scratching decision to sell 3, 4, 7 and 10-inch wireless devices in the first of a new weekly column for MSearchGroove, a popular and well-read technology site developed by highly-regarded Peggy Anne Salz. From the column: “Just how will a consumer know which (Dell) model is best? As a colleague said to me: ‘How about we ask them to buy the whole set?’” You can read the rest of the piece here

4G or Not, Not So Fast For Mobile Banking

On the heels of the Chase iPhone app that is cool but nothing I’ve ever seriously considered using comes news that PayPal will have a similar “solution” any day now. According to PayPal, iPhone users will be able to take a picture of the front and back of a check, then deposit the funds through MMS. Just the way we’ve seen it work in the Chase TV spots. In a KPMG study unrelated to today’s announcement, U.S. respondents who said they were comfortable using their mobile devices for financial transactions grew to 16 percent, a six percent increase from the last survey. Respondents not comfortable with such usage declined to 55 percent, an 11 percent drop from the last survey. While U.S. consumers have become more comfortable using their mobile devices for financial transactions, KPMG said, they still trail much of the world in this regard. In fact, about one-third of consumers globally in the new survey said they were comfortable making financial transactions on a mobile device. Among all U.S. respondents who have not conducted banking through a mobile device, 52 percent cited security and privacy as the primary reason. Consistent with many technology advances, younger consumers are more likely to participate at least in the early days. And as is the case in Europe and elsewhere, Americans will likely gain more confidence at the Moment of Trust by being able to cap total purchases to prevent large-scale fraud. As bullish as I am on personal technology, capping would get me closer to trial. What about you?

Should a Brand Reach The Same Consumer Via Mobile and Email?

How much is too much? On first pass, one might think that sending an email and a mobile message to an opted-in consumer is pushing it. In some cases that is true, but there are many times when someone will welcome the one-two. Mobile is ideal for sending short messages, often via text, with an offer or small piece of information. Email provides an ability to add graphics and many more details that a consumer might want to read when he or she has more time. Think about an airline that might send an opted-in subcriber news of a fare sale via mobile, then follow it up with an email with more on the destination. If you missed my webinar the other day on this topic, you can review it here

Technology Gap or Gap In View of Big Picture?

Forrester says that there is a widening gap between generations when it comes to use of personal technology. Call me a disbeliever. On the contrary, I see a breakdown in the barriers to technology use due to better user experiences, price decreases, and the interest from all age groups in staying connected to family members. A sound bite from a recent presentation is here. jeffhasen From the Forrester report: "The digital attitudes and behaviors that Gen Y and Gen X are cultivating now will follow them as they age and will only be multiplied in the generations that follow them," said Forrester Research Consumer Insights Analyst Jacqueline Anderson. "Gen Y in particular is living and breathing a digital social life. In almost every online or mobile behavior, Gen Y leads the adoption curve. About two-thirds update or maintain a profile on a social networking site, which for them is a way to facilitate all social aspects of their lives." "On the other hand, Gen X is the master of maximizing the functional benefits of technology. In many activities, Gen Xers closely rival Gen Yers in adoption. For example, both spend about 17 hours online a week. But Gen Xers have mastered the art of using digital tools in a more functional manner, especially if it supports their family's needs," said Anderson. Is that so? I’m betting that my 81-year-old mother-in-law read the report on her Kindle – or at the very least via Wi-Fi on her notebook.

Buyer Beware or Buyer Was Warned?

Before most of us were born, the auto manufacturers decided that they would change out the showroom once a year with enhanced models. Of course, consumers knew this and decided often by date whether they would pay full price, wait until the dealers would look to move cars off the lot with closeout sales, or hold out for the next model year. The same can't be said for personal technology. You buy an iPad or a Droid today and there is no way of knowing if your product will be outdated in days, weeks, months or more. Is this fair?   When is the right time to purchase a mobile device? Do you envision pushback by consumers that will bite the mobile operators and manufacturers like Apple? Is this a breakdown at the Moments of Trust?

Moment To Get Started In Mobile

Mobile marketing has proven to be one of the best ways to not only reach customers and prospects, but to also engage them, thereby increasing sales and customer loyalty. However, many brands don't know where to begin. The first step is selecting the best agency partner for you, and, afterwards, getting the most out of the relationship. When selecting a firm, some areas of probing are obvious and involve traditional agency-client queries such as chemistry and bandwidth. But given mobile's relative nascency, others are more subtle yet just as important. Some questions to get you started are in my new iMedia Connection feature -

Confusing Route To New Wireless Router

(Article first published as Confusing Route To New Wireless Router on Technorati) Akin to wearing an Italian suit with Buster Brown shoes, I’ve paired my new MacBook Pro with a wireless router I bought in 2005. It isn’t that I’ve run out of money, though have you ever priced a 15-inch Pro with “aluminum uni-body enclosure, advanced longer-lasting battery, and brilliant LED-backlit display”? Wireless routers are as confusing to consumers as chemistry class is to seventh graders. I.P. addresses, port forwarding, D.N.S. servers, 802.11b/g/n. Alphabet soup that all adds up to a disconnect. According to David Pogue of the New York Times, 65 percent of homes in the U.S. have high-speed Internet service, but only half of those have gone wireless. Further, according to Pogue, 25 percent of routers are returned because they prove to be too complicated to set up. I’m frozen in fear, content to run my new laptop and the other computers in the house with a NETGEAR model that I know is outdated. Well, not content, but willing to keep the status quo to ensure connectivity and to maintain the health of my marriage. My options have included the hiring of an “expert” (that has proven in the past to be a disaster), asking those in my network for recommendations (my informal poll has already produced mixed results), and buying a router and hoping for the best (what a way to ruin a Sunday). I’ve long considered wireless routers one of personal technology’s great deals. Routers aren’t overly expensive and you pay once (how come the Internet providers never stuck us with monthly charges for the privilege of having wireless throughout the house?). Further complicating matters are questions of whether I need a repeater (presumably for stronger coverage in far-reaching areas) or a particular router to create a home network. Recent improvements by router makers have brought 24-hour customer service and promises of a positive user experience. But no one has solved the problem. My old router may not be broken but I can hardly say the same for the process of replacing it.

Mobile and the Holidays

Mobile's prospects in the upcoming holiday shopping season can be summed up in two words - Great Expectations. So how are we going to get it right? Once you get a mobile subscriber to a site or application, remember that it’s all about the experience. Consumers expect simplicity, speed, product information, competitive prices and the ability to purchase.
  • Entertainment is important but on such a day as Black Friday, shoppers more want to get in and get out
  • Simple is especially important given the wide disparity in mobile device capabilities
  • You want to ensure you are delivering a brand-worthy experience regardless of whether your customer is on a feature phone or smartphone. It should just work