Mobile Marketing

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Google’s brand strategy used to be “organizing the world’s information” or putting the “world’s information one click away.”  Larry Page, seeing that his market share slipped 1.2% last year has decided to change that. He’s renamed the search division the knowledge division.  This, ironically, is the Microsoft Bing strategy – so eloquently presented in the “information overload” campaign developed by JWT a couple of years ago.  The difference between “information” and “knowledge” being that the latter takes you closer to a decision — closer to a sale.  This is a mistake.  The strategy did not move the market significantly for Bing and won’t for Google.  Google needs to stick to owning search and leave our brains to us.

cave art

What has disrupted search on the web is the smart phone. (See cover story in the NYT today for excellent piece on this.) Mobile phones are not built for full screen search, so app developers and VCs have set their sights on specialized, robust search and retrieve mobile experiences that remove the chaff and get us to information right away.  These apps, by specializing and using geo-location, trump Google and search on mobiles. They are hot — but proper monetization still isn’t happening. Ads on mobiles are still cave art.

Let’s solve the mobile ad thing by 2015.  Any ideas?   Peace.

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Google’s “culture of technological obesity” reared its really big head yesterday and the company in early 2012 will be getting into the hardware business — following its intention announced yesterday to buy Motorola Mobility.  We’re not talking a nail salon breaking out pumice stones and getting into the foot care business, were talking about a software company buying manufacturing plants, accountants to manage depreciation, thousands of other-continent employees, and then playing the materials engineering,  just-in-time game.  No Beta release here.  No limited invites here.  (I don’t know how Apple does it, frankly.)

This is one bold, bold move. And there’s no reason it shouldn’t work.  There are hundreds of reasons it shouldn’t work, but no one reason.  The justice department had better staff up me droogies.

Unless someone comes along and proves that mobile computing causes brain or pituitary cancer, mobile computing is here to stay and with one company owning the OS, device, search and funding (advertising), it feels like quite the monopoly.  And don’t think Larry Page doesn’t have his eye on Sprint or Metro PCS. Google can eat. And eat. And think. And plan. And spend. This is going to be one wild planet-changing ride! If there was a global, publically traded law firm, I’d say buy stock today. Peace!

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Tired of hearing my self-deprecating “I’m a simple man” spiel?  Hey, it’s a living.  The latest simplified observation in the land of black and white has to do with mobile applications and Web apps. I’ve been selling selling for enough years to know some of the web’s first apps were online calculators.  “How much will your company save if you use our product?  Click the calculator?” Well, fifteen or so years later the premise still holds. Calcu-lay-sh is one of the two primary apps in mobile.  The other is plain, stupid fun.

The big question is “Which app-set is bigger?”  Calculation apps or fun apps? (Search and geolocation are both caculations.) So what do you think marketers?  50/50?  70/30?  With the answer hanging in the air, I’ll suggest there just might be a gray area to consider – and that’s the fun calculation.  Shazam is one such — an app that listens to music and tells you the name of the song.

Smart digital markets know that combining calc and fun is a way to reduce the barrier between a consumer and a product. But be careful here, there is a difference between fun and consumption. Knowing where the taco truck is not necessarily fun, not after the first time.  Fun up your calculation, make it add value to the brand and you’ll have yourself a winner. Simple. Peace.

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Quick, you want to buy some mobile ads for your soccer team’s fundraiser and you want them to run locally.  Oh, and you need to run before next weekend. To whom do you turn? Nice question, huh?

I once tried to get a quote to run mobile ads in NY State, contacting Google’s AdMob group. There was no phone number so I had to send them an email.  They got back to me with a very underwhelming form letter months later. New school service.

If you want to run mobile ads these days you need experts, like a digital agency. And then you had better have a half millions dollars or they won’t take your call. Let’s not even talk about ad serving technologies, reports, and optimization of the ads.


The one company equipped to do mobile advertising for the masses is Google, via AdWords. Search is an especially important consumer need while mobile, and search is what Google does best, so why are they not launching a mobile-only version of AdWords? A version with an easy-to-use interface, from a site with DIY instructions, and offers quick turnaround?

As the mobile algorithms get smarter and more ads are served to phones unrequested, people are going to start to get mad.  And that’s a bad future for mobile advertising.  A good revenue future is for Google to own mobile search ads the way they do on laptops and desktops. Google needs to stop diddling around all the other stuff and open up this market. If they make it so that small businesses can buy mobile ads without needing a doctorate degree it will grow the overall market and give them an unfair share. Peace!

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Research In Motion needs a name change.  Don’t fight the people.  Change the name to Blackberry.  

Next issue, the company needs to go on offense; it’s been playing Dee too long. Readers will know how I felt about “Love” as the branding idea for its bazillion dollar ad campaign.  Not good.

RIM will announce quarterly results today and they are not expected to be pretty.  The worldwide smart phone market share leader, RIM is in the sights of Google’s fast growing Android operating system. And design-wise Apple iPhones have captured the imagination of the masses. So where does that leave RIM?  In a storm? Getting torched? Kind of where AOL was 8 years ago.  Or Yahoo was 3 years ago.  A leader treading water in a pool that is leaking. Leaking into a much bigger surrounding pool. RIM needs to see the future and go there. Right now it leads in business email. It leads in qwerty interface. It leads in web access, but these three things have diluted (another water metaphor) its brand idea. Hence love. 

Come on Blackberry. Fight back. Peace!

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The next big thing will be a video webisodes channel for mobile devices. More and more today, you see people on trains and benches staring down at their mobile phones.  If they are not typing or moving the cursor they’re watching movies.

 Not everyone has time for movies.  You might have 20 minutes of alone time on the way to a museum, club or ballgame. You’re LOLed out and don’t want to bother someone with another inane cell phone conversation starting out with “Hey. What are you doing?”  The answer?  Log on and find some video programming. It will start out as a single curated channel called Mo-Tube or something, containing short length “mobi-sodes” of 16-22 minutes in duration. After a while there will be more channels and programming segments, but it will start with a single new branded channel. Not necessarily serial in nature, these mobi-sodes will be designed to load and stream efficiently and, I’m guessing will be available via subscription.   Aol, you feel me?

New Type of Programming.

This will be a new type of programming – not radio, not TV, not movies.  Just little chunks of original and mashed-up programming that stimulate the viewer, fill some time and get the brain moving. Mobi-sodes. Coming to a device near you…in three years or less.

 PS. I know someone will say the channel exists already, but if a tree falls in a the woods and no one is around….

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The NFL is improving the in-stadium game experience by creating WIFI enabled smartphone applications that provide game watchers with information, audio and video heretofore only available to the TV watching audience. Got smartphone?  The second wave of these apps will provide an even greater level of entertainment and analysis than is available through the TV — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  The business problem some teams are facing is that seat sales are down 3% since 2007 and TV viewership is up. With replays, color analysis and hi-def, the on-coach experience is excellent and free. The in-stadium experience needs to get better…and it is, thanks to smartphones. 

Consumer Goods Marketers

As consumer marketers put on their thinking caps and realize they need to improve the in-store shopping experience to better compete with online shopping, new worlds of smartphone applications will  turn up. Think aisle check-ins at the local Stop & Shop a la FourSquare, or pre-loaded Consumer Reports write-ups at your local car dealership. How about GPS-enabled restaurant reviews by cuisine or an olive oil rating app at the local specialty food store?  Help, I can’t stop! 

Thanks NFL for being so forward in your thinking. Peace!

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Slide 4 in Mary Meekers’s Morgan Stanley presentation entitled “Internet Trends 2010” shows the pace of mobile internet adoption.  It compares iPhone/iTouch to that of  AOL’s desktop, Netscape desktop and NTT docomo iMode; laying out growth by users, by quarter from launch.

iPhone’s Internet access tipped 86 million users in its 11th quarter – less than 3 years.  Let’s just say the others never came close to coming close. (Check out the chart on slide 4.) Smartphone growth is hockey sticking. Motorola is starting to get it. HP bought Palm and should buy some corporate share.  Blackberry is too big and too rich to fail, even though they’re getting a little paunchy around the middle. And we haven’t even started to talk about the software guys Google (after its trivestiture), Microsoft (drawing a blank) and carrier switch provider Alcatel-Lucent.

Ladies and germs, smartphones are the future of computing, commerce and community. They will dock next to monitors and keyboards, but they are the device.  Think about the iPhone4’s new videoconference app. Wait for fingerprint apps, and galvanic skin response apps, sobriety apps….   Cool times, these.  Marketers, put on your thinking apps (I mean caps), innovation awaits! Peace!

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Milk Monitor is an application available from the AppStore. It allows iPhone (and possibly iPad) toting moms to tap and record their babies milk consumption. The data can be stored, reviewed and trended at a later date.  Apparently moms like to do this kind of stuff – typically using bits of paper and napkins when recording on the road.  If you have a baby on your shoulder tapping is better than typing.  If you are carrying a smartphone around anyway and recording this data helps – especially for fussy babies — this is a great application. Go iPhone!  Go app developer!

Application development at the smartphone level is like life on another planet.  There are currently 80 trillion apps (JK) for the iPhone today and about 6,000 for the PC (please don’t retweet, I didn’t count).  Now most iPhone apps don’t get used, but that’s not the point.  Some may. Some may help. Some will even save lives. And that’s cool.

Just as Twitter will open new doors for smart marketers, smartphones and their apps will open new rooms for marketers.  The application developers who think like people first and coders second are the ones who will win.  

The developer of Milk Monitor deserves congratulations two times: one for the app, one for the new bouncing baby she’s feeding. Peace!

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There was an interesting piece in the Huffington Post yesterday on the future of video. It’s author, Hunter Walk, director of product management at YouTube, believes in the near future video won’t be offline or online, it will just be.  That is, the video (TV shows, movies, consumer generated, music) we watch will be accessed on multiple devices, on demand, in hi-def.  This, says Mr. Walk, will be the result of improved wi-fi bandwidth (Aluminum foil hats will be big.), mad switching infrastructure and next gen streaming algorithms.

Those “anywhere, anything, anytime” ads of the 90s are coming true, it seems.  Anyway, with all of this video available, the competition will be crazy.  Forget searching for all this video for a minute, let’s think about monetizing the video. There should be two options: subscription and advertising.  The advertising approach will not be based on the television model, with pods of ads running throughout the stream. We are too evolved for that. My guess is there will be a single :30 spot at the beginning of a half-hour program and 60 seconds for an hour long program. Movies will support 90 seconds and user generated content and music video will be free.

This is the word of What’s The Idea. Peace!

Huffington Post, wi-fi, video, video advertising, whatstheidea, whats the idea, Hunter Walk, YouTube,

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