Category Archives: Content

Facebook turns brands into people, too

Mitt Romney was quoted as calling corporations the same as people.  The public largely saw that as an esoteric tax reference.

However, when Facebook transforms brands and corporations into people, well that’s another story.  The new Facebook brand timeline and advertising strategy has created life for brands, and likely even more fortunes for Facebook. 

Your personal timeline will have more sponsored content from the brands that you love and more importantly – “liked”.  Those annoying dental implant ads on the right-hand side of your Facebook page will be replaced with sponsored content stories from different brands. Ads acting like content, brands acting like people, and all in the socially connected universe of Facebook.

The transformation of ads into timeline content is a win-win-win for Facebook.  Firstly, it solves an obvious problem that the right hand side ads on Facebook is a odd mixture of legitimate brands and low-end junk.  The quality of their ad inventory has not been consistent. Secondly, the only real way to monetize their significant mobile audience is through timeline insertion of content (ads).  This has been obvious from the beginning for both Twitter and Facebook.  They have both now started down that path.  To date, Google has been more successful with mobile monetization through their search products.  Facebook will now try to match that with they social news approach.

The Facebook strategy has a good chance of giving Google a run for their money.  Why? What do people do with their mobile devices that brands care about?  They search and they interact with Social Media – mainly Facebook.

Lastly, this strategy focuses Facebook on large brands that support their social mission.

While there is still a place for the smaller “Mom and Pop” establishments in the Facebook Universe, the Facebook Ad engine is clearly aimed at global brands with significant budgets.  Facebook is, without a doubt, aiming for to be the primary digital ad platform of choice for brands in the future.

The Google Vs. Facebook War just got a lot hotter.

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Filed under advertising, android, Content, facebook, Google, mobile, Social Media, social networking, Twitter

Big Game Hunting for Mobile and Social – at the Big Game

The Big Game has become the “Super” event for new mobile and social promotions.

The challenge for advertisers and brands is to create a virtual social environment within the year’s biggest physical social event

The TV ad escalation for the Super bowl grew out of the need to make the Ads their own event.  The higher production value of theses ads is designed to delay that inevitable bathroom break.   The goal of social and mobile media is to make the ad a continuous event during the game.

There are three factors that I believe are important in a social application.

  • Entertainment: Examples are interactive games and passive videos
  • Social Status: Examples are check-ins, followers, and game rank
  • Contextual Information: A key success factor  of Twitter and Facebook.

Get these right and you earn the pay dirt of any social campaign…longevity.

Your app or promotion can be successful with just one of these factors.  If you have two you can be a  wild successes (Zynga). With all three you are Facebook. YouTube or Twitter.

The reason that Superbowl ads are now $7M/minute is that that audience that the broadcast aggregates only lasts 4 hours.  It is a perishable resource that commands a premium price.  What if this audience was addressable with an effective social media channel on a regular basis?  What would that be worth?  For a clue you can read about the IPO of Facebook.

Using these factors as our yardstick lets look at two of the higher profile social game plans and make some pre-game predictions.

Coke is presenting an interactive version of their Polar Bears on a Facebook application.  The bears will react to plays in the game.

Prediction:

While this app will generate a lot of buzz for its “cool” factor, I view this as a very clever branding exercise, rather than a true social campaign.   It will generate a reasonable number of views of the Coke brand and therefore should be very cost effective on an equivalent CPM basis. (As of Friday it had 21K members, but I expect that number to significantly increase on game day)

Will this aggregated application audience have any reason to come back to this app after 10:30 pm on Sunday?

Entertainment Value: High, until novelty wears off

Social Status: None

Contextual Information: Low

I have this Apple app on my iPad.  The enticement is that you get a license plate number to watch for on the Chevy Television ads.  If you see your number you win a Chevy.

Prediction:

This will get some more viewers to watch the Chevy ads closely.  If you are not one of the 20 winners, then what? The rest of the app is populated with Twitter feeds, trivia  and YouTube videos.  Similar to the Coke Facebook application, this application will likely have a half-life that ends at 10:30 pm on Sunday.

Entertainment Value: Low

Social Status:  Zero – unless you win the car!

Contextual Information: Low

My view is that these types of campaigns are still outside the “redzone”.  Once an audience is aggregated, it is a crime not to effectively and continually engage that audience, grow it and profit from it.

The most effective use of social media is still the simplest and cost nothing.  Advertisers put their Superbowl ads on YouTube. That strategy has generated an additional 360M views!

One Last Prediction: Giants 31 Pats 24

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Filed under advertising, android, Apple, Content, iphone, mobile, mobile advertising, Mobile Application Stores, Smartphone, Social Media, social networking

Social Networking with a Schmear

In the past 10 years I have managed many social media projects – some even before that catch phrase was coined.  While every company seems to want to be on the various social networks, very few seem to grasp how and why

As they say – to cut to the chase:  Social Media is and should be social.  That may seem like an obvious statement but many campaigns seem to miss that point.  Here are some examples of Social Media Myth busting and one surprising example of social media done right.

  • Signing up people to like your product or service by giving them something

I was at the New York Auto show at the Javits Center this past Spring.  One auto company was giving away tee shirts if you “liked” their Facebook page.  They probably gave away 1000 tee shirts and got 1000 likes.  If their apparel budget permitted 1 million tee shirts, they perhaps could get 1 million likes. So what?

By the way, I got a tee shirt for “liking” them. I can’t even tell you what company it was or where I put my treasured prize.

Getting random people, who are fundamentally unconnected, with no interest in each other or even the product to join a social network, just to show you have “numbers” is a waste of time and money – except for the company that makes the tee-shirts, and supplies the models to hand them out. A quick estimate for that campaign would be $10K for a consultant to “produce” the marketing event, another $10K to produce the tee shirts and likely $5K in costs for contractors (models) to hand-out the tee-shirts.  That’s at least $25K spend on getting 1000 “likes”.  It would be better to have a website that says “like me”, and I will send you ten bucks.

How many times do you think any of these people visited the company’s Facebook page?  How many of their friends decided “Gee, I better like that page also?”  How much original user generated content was created because of this campaign?

As we say in NJ….Ugats!

  • Trying to create a great social network around boring content , is … boring,  unless its not.

Let me explain.  If you put up photos and comments about little Jimmy’s second grade music lesson it may be boring to the masses, but for the little Jimmy’s family it’s interesting and fun.  One picture can generate 20 comments in a family circle.   If you take that same picture and put it on a website that sells music lessons, will anyone comment or care?  Will family members share that link on their Facebook walls or Twitter rolls? Interest in content is contextual.  Members of a social network must be self-motivated to spread the word, comment, contribute and create the viral impact of social media.

An interesting example of social networking done correctly is a delicatessen in Newark New Jersey.  Hobby’s deli has been a family run Jewish restaurant since the invention of corned beef.  The real life Hobby’s experience includes fabulous food and even better “schmoozing” between the customers and especially with the two brothers who are the owners.  From the lunch time crowd of lawyers and politicians to the enthusiastic dinner hockey fans on their way to watch a game, Hobby’s provides social subsistence along with the knishes.

To take the Hobby’s experience and bring it to Facebook was not a guaranteed success.  The owners did not pay an “expert” thousands of dollars to help them with the project.   They applied their natural real-life social networking skills and put it on Facebook.  The formula is simple.  They comment on what is going on at the restaurant.  Who is having a birthday? Feeding the Ringling Brothers Elephants, a visit from a pro athlete, little contests between the two brothers, playing the role of a Leprechaun for the holiday celebrating the Patron Saint of Corned Beef – (St Patrick) and the ever-present Devils fans.    Within this content come mentions of the daily special and photos of the food.   While the latter elements are clearly advertising, they come across more in context of the overall Hobby’s narrative.

By taking what is already happening in real life and placing it in social media they have created a tempting morsel for a loyal clientele.  They have less than 1000 likes as of the writing of this blog, but I am sure that is not bothering Hobby’s.  The likes that they do have, really  like Hobby’s.  When their patrons comment, and they do it often, it spreads virally across Facebook.

Which one is a former NJ Devil?

Which one is a former NJ Devil?

To achieve their success they did not stand on the corner of Halsey Street and hand out sandwiches to random people just to get them to like their page.  The Facebook page is becoming a contextual meeting place for their patrons and obviously drives business.  It has the right ingredients: a consumer base that has something in common, content that they find interesting, a natural willingness to generate user comments and a real ROI for the business.  Win-Win-Win

I’m hungry now – time for a trip to Newark.

Link to Video of Chico Resch at Hobby’s (Click Here)

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Filed under advertising, Circus, Content, Corned Beef, facebook, Food, hockey, humor, mobile, mobile commerce, Newark, Rangers, social networking

Why I like the iPad 2….confessions of an Android user

My experience with the first generation iPad ended with my returning the loaned device without a purchase While my first experience with the IPad1 left me wanting, I was completely seduced by the iPad 2. With all my positive experiences with my Droid Incredible, I had been holding out for a new Android tablet.   I succumbed to the iPad 2 when I realized that what I wanted  in a tablet could be provided by Apple.

This was my wish list

1.  Business applications and the ability to leave my laptop home for some business  trips

2.  Infotainment, interesting multimedia formats for my news

3.  Entertainment, generally video from my favorite Television and Sports programs

4. Great looking device, want to be one of the “cool kids”

5. New applications coming everyday that matter

6. Decent customer support

I concluded that for this generation of devices, the iPad2 is king.  Here’s why…

To begin with I have a Wifi-only 32Gig model.

For business apps I need email access to multiple accounts, including Exchange. The iPad was easily configured for 4 accounts and I had all my email singing within a minute.

Next, I need to edit Microsoft office docs.  I installed “QuickOffice” and it works great for most light-editing tasks.  I am writing this blog article using the word version of quick office on my iPad. Of course, I also need to print documents. These are several printing apps for the iPad.  I use “PrintCentral” for printing. I just installed the app and it found all the printers in my house. I was able to print from my iPad with less problems than we typically have from a Microsoft machine!

I also require access to the “Dropbox” application. This is a shared, synchronized cloud storage service. I use it to share files among my computers, Droid Smart phone and now iPad, with clients and family.  This app effectively adds 50gig of virtual storage to my IPad.  I have Microsoft office files, music, video and pictures in various Dropbox folders.  Not only is the Dropbox app for iPad great, but Dropbox  and Google Docs seamlessly integrate with QuickOffice.  The permission and privacy features on Dropbox allow me to share access for specific folders with specific people.

A mission critical business app for me is Skype.  While it works great on my Droid phone, having the iPad (really an iPhone App) with video is a good addition.  I wish Skype would upgrade their app to take more advantage of the real-estate available on an iPad screen.

Another business oriented app I tried was “logMein”.  Initially, I  thought this was a new dish at my local Chinese restaurant, but it is program that connects with a Mac or PC and displays the screen of that machine on your iPad.  LogMein (Log-me-in) gives you full control of your remote machine to access files and programs.  I have to admit that while it works, I am not sure how often I will actually use it.

So, for business environment the iPad gets high marks.

Infotainment

Generally this category consists of websites turned into interesting multimedia applications for the iPad.  I have the NY Times, CNN, the Daily, CBS News, Fox News, ABC news, Huffington Post, The Onion, BBC, USA Today and even my old college newspaper, now an IPad app, “The Concordiensis” from Union College. The mix of text, photos, audio and video creates a multimedia publication unlike anything else.

Entertainment

This is the area that I originally had the most concern for the iPad due to the lack of native  (or any) Flash support. The savior for entertainment is the app “iSwifter”.  Using this proxy browser app I am able to watch web video from NBC, Fox and even HBOGo. The video I want to see on the web is completely accessible on my iPad, even Flash video.  Other great entertainment apps include MLB At Bat 11. If you like MLB on an iPhone or Android, you will love it on an IPad.  I just wish you did not have to pay for it separately on each device.

Kudos to the guys at MLB for having the best Sports App…period.

Another cool app is “Tune-In”.  This is a live radio app that gives streaming access to many radio stations within the US and the world.  I recently listened to a Tampa/Carolina NHL hockey game on my IPad.  All of these entertainment apps are in addition to the usual YouTube, iTunes, and video apps that are built into the IPad.

Great looking, cool device.

All I can say here is that like most Apple products, the iPad sets the standard for physical design that all the other tablets will chase. The incorporation of the smart cover is another great feature. Among its other capabilities, the ability of the cover to support iPad at an angle for typing is key.

Applications

This is a major reason for my decision to go with an iPad in lieu of an Android. Unlike the smart phone app market in which there is a rough equivalence between the must have iPhone and apps, Apple seems to have a clear lead in tablet specific apps. Apple also has a huge sales lead in tablets. For these reasons my logic is that an iPad will have a distinct app advantage for the duration of this generation of tablets. (Next year or so)

Customer support

Generally I have been very happy with customer support from Apple. An exception to this was a call I made for an iPad issue. The first I tried to sync my Mac iTunes to my iPad, none of the music or videos would sync.  I called Apple support and the first answer I got was that since all of my music was not bought on iTunes, it would not sync.   What??! Despite the logical problems with that statement, the Apple rep stood firm with his answer.  I then called back and got someone different who directed me to “clear my sync queue” with a program called “iSync”. After I followed her directions, all of my media was able to sync.

Overall, I have been pleased with the new iPad.  As a confirmed Android user for Smart phones, I was hopeful that the Droid tablets would be more competitive with the iPad.  This round goes to Apple.  We will have to wait another year or so to see if Google will catch-up in this segment as they have with smart phones.

As for Blackberry or Windows Tablets?  As we say in New Jersey…

Fuggeddaboudit!

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Filed under android, Apple, blackberry, cloud computing, Content, FLASH, Google, HTC, iPad, iphone, Ipod, microsoft, mobile, Mobile Application Stores, movies, reviews, skype, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, Twitter, Verizon, widgets, wifi, Windows, Windows Mobile

Saying Goodbye to my iPad – Is there an App for that?

Since my iPad loaner period is about complete, its time to record what I like and don’t like about the sexiest device to hit the market since…..  well probably ever.

If your main activity is light web browsing and email, the iPad is in your sweet spot.  The apps that are made specifically for the iPad are  really few in number, so Safari and Mail will likely dominate your use.   As the regular readers now, I am a fan of Google docs, which couples with the iPad nicely.  Google docs gives me great compatibility with word, excel and powerpoint.

One of the companies I consult with makes extensive use of the “Dropbox” application, which works great on the iPad.  Dropbox is a virtual “cloud” drive that easily mounts on a Mac , PC, Android Phone and iPad.  It is clearly the most promiscuous and functional file sharing application I have come across.

I would be remiss if I also did not rave about the incredible battery life of the iPad.  When I use it as an occasional browsing and email device, I only have to charge it about once a week.

There are, however, a few things that the iPad is not. It is not a device that is meant to be shared amongst friends, family or colleagues.  If you use the email app and let someone else borrow your iPad, they have all of your email.   If you install an app and then let someone use the iPad and they also install apps, you will need each others iTunes credentials to enter into the iPad when those apps have updates.  The iPad I have been using has been passed between three users.  I can only update the apps that I installed.  So scratch multiuser friendliness for now.

Most sadly the iPad is not a great video entertainment device.   It could be the ultimate travel entertainment device,  but it fails.  I say this because of the annoying lack of Adobe Flash support.

If you want to watch a show from a network site…. fail

If you want to use your HBOGO subscription….. fail

If you want  to play your favorite game on Facebook….fail.

Anything with Flash…..epic fail.

The war of words on this issue  between Steve Jobs and Adobe are well chronicled in the Press and the  Blogosphere.

Speaking as a user and developer on the iPad, I view this as a major Faux Pas.  I know you can download video from the Net, convert it to an iPad supported format and load it via iTunes, but that’s really beyond most users capabilities and completely misses the point of a Net connected device.

If there were a competitive Android Tablet device on the market that compared head to head with the iPad, I would get the Android version just for the Flash Support.   When I now want to watch a web videoon the go , I use my Droid smartphone because of the Flash Support.

This would be like developing a PC that only supports one browser.  Even Microsoft in its most Machiavellian days permitted other browsers to be installed within its operating system.   I wish I could say this was anything other than Apple trying to drive all video for the iPad to be within apps and iTunes. The Apple Flash policy is pure, raw monopolistic power being wielded, clear and simple.  To call it anything else is just poor technical rationalization.  Apple used to be the underdog, the company of the people.  Oh well.

(Click Here for Jon Stewart’s take on Apple’s Corporate Aggressiveness – funny)
This is a real shame because the iPad could be a super personal video device.  And yes, I know that there are videos available on iTunes and special built video apps, but the world is bigger than iTunes, and a Net connected browsing device should be compatible, with the Net! (End of Rant)

Prophetic commercial?

The next question is will I miss not having an iPad in my electronic arsenal?  In this case I am probably very unique among iPad users.  How many give up there iPad after a month?

My iPad has been useful in business travel and meetings .  Somehow I managed to survive travel and meetings without this wonder device in the past and I bet I will be just fine without it.   I just won’t look as cool!

If I suffer severe withdrawal symptoms I will let you know!

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Filed under Adobe, Apple, Content, Droid, Droid Incredible, E-Commerce, facebook, FLASH, HTC, HTC Incredible, HTML%, iPad, iTunes, microsoft, mobile, mobile advertising, Mobile Application Stores, netbooks, sex, smart phone, Smartphone, wireless

“Where” is that Secret Facility on Foursquare?

One of the really interesting aspects of smartphone apps is the innovation and product mutation process.  Over the past couple of weeks I have downloaded over 100 apps on my Droid.  Some apps were good, many were not.  With the exception of Skydroid (99 cents), all were free.  For the record the Skydroid golf GPS program worked really well on my recent golf outing.  It did not help my game at all, but it was useful ad fun to use.

"Where" Local Information Portal

One of the more interesting and useful apps I have been using is “Where”.   “Where” aggregates all the most important mobile search and information functions in one app that utilizes your location for giving you the most relevant results.    Weather, News (including micro local news!), Places (a combination of restaurants, hotels, shopping, bars, etc), Movies, Gas prices, Yellow Pages, Traffic, and even a dedicated icon for the nearest Starbucks.  For the city-folk, it includes an app to locate a Zip Car.  All of these come with easy lists, or are searchable via text or voice input.

Instead of going into several dedicated apps to do the same “on the fly” searches, you can just stay within the “Where” dashboard.   They also have a widget for the Droid that will give you the latest alert on any of the categories you have displayed.  The widget still needs some work, but is useful.

There is a similar function to “FourSquare” that encourages venue checkin and reviews. Foursquare is  the much bigger app for the “hey look where I’ve been crowd”, but “Where” should be watched.

What is interesting about both “Where” and “Foursquare” is how they took a

Foursquare places near me - Interesting...

working model on mobile and morphed it into something more useful.   “Where” actually went backwards to go forward.  They observed that the single function search and LBS apps were good but cumbersome to use in a real life use case.  For example, let’s find a movie to see, a place to eat and maybe a club later on.  “Where” handles that use case.  “Where” re-invented the information portal.

For the record I have no idea what the top secret Delta Facility or the Mothership are in my list.  But I will now have to check them out!  If this is my last blog article you will know why!

My Mother's Day Trip - on Foursquare

Foursquare capitalized on the fascination with Twitter and tweeting your status and focused it on venues.  This creates a social scene network.  Where are your friends?  Do you want to see them?  What do they think of that bar, restaurant, deli, etc?  It is a real time social networking app that is part Twitter, part Zagat’s, and part dating and hook-up.  Foursquare also uses location based services to locate you and give you a list of close by venues for you to check-in.

Both of these apps are using geo-located search technology to make their apps very easy to use.  They are both ad supported.  “Where” has a coupon tray for local coupons on products and services.  They both provide functionality that is superior to a vanilla Google search.

So what do they need to move to the big time?

Foursquare is clearly in the Zagat space.  Foursquare is what the mobile version of Zagat should be.  Foursquare and Zagat announced a partnership in February.  The combined application should be interesting!  To the leading edge augmented reality crowd –  yes I have tried Zagat on NRU – its very cool and the whole subject of augmented reality will be the topic of a future article.

“Where” needs the venue reviews and overall utilization that Foursquare and Zagat enjoy.  Additionally “Where” can benefit from the social networking features of Foursquare.   What I am not to subtly suggesting is that while Foursquare and “Where” have definitely moved the bar (no pun intended 🙂 ) , they are much more compelling together, and eventually even more compelling in a real partnership with Zagat.

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Filed under advertising, android, blog storming, cloud computing, Content, CTIA, Droid, Droid Incredible, facebook, HTC, HTC Incredible, Love, mobile, mobile advertising, Mobile Application Stores, mobile commerce, reviews

The iPad– “Thou shall have apps…

The much heralded announcement of the iPad brings with it profits (or prophets?) as well as naysayers.  Perhaps Steve Jobs should have dressed in long ropes, grew a long white beard and walked down to the stage with a view of the mountains in the background?  The scene might be further played out with the masses dancing around and worshipping the netbook, the new deity of computing.

Steve Jobs raises his two iPads and declares that he has heard the word of the almighty and has declared that these tablets are the new iReligion.  Then he declares that he alone will now lead them from their transgressions to the land of endless apps.

(Note to Mr. Jobs:  If I recall my bible studies it took Moses another 40 years to find the Promised Land)

The announcement of the iPad will cause debates, forecasts, and predictions of successes and/or doom.  One thing is clear; the iPad is Apple’s near-term answer to the netbook phenomenon .  According to eWeek, netbook sales topped 33M in 2009 and Acer predicts sales in excess of 50M in 2010.   Apple sells about 3M Macs a quarter.

The sub $300 price point of the netbook did create a new category of device.  A device that is intimately linked to the trend of cloud computing.  Netbooks are good at email and web browsing.  They are not great entertainment devices.

The iPad promises to be as good as netbooks in what they do well – email and browsing – and also be a fun personal entertainment device.  The iPad wisely brings along over 100K apps at launch from the iPhone/iTouch world.

The question that the iPad raises for me is – how many personal connected devices can one person have?

The emergence of the smart phone category (iPhone, Android, Symbian, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile) has created the instant connectivity to email, web and apps.  These devices fit in your pocket , are reasonably robust, and cheap to buy.

The laptop category, as Steve Jobs pointed out in his keynote, is another version of mobile computing.  With the weight of laptops hitting 5lbs and below, and with desktop computing capability, they have become the standard for students and professionals

Netbooks have created a bridge between the two major device areas as a lightweight computing device.  Now, enter the iPad at a $499 pricepoint.  Will the iPad grow the mobile Internet market or cannibalize other sales?

My prediction is market cannibalization.

The smart phone market is secure and growing.  The basic functions of instant and multimodal communications are clear and a continued focal point of human need.

The laptop and netbook markets are likely to be the feeding ground of iPad sales.

But how and why?

The answer is personal cloud computing.  The more the consumer environment transforms from local storage and processing to cloud storage/computing with local display and data entry – the better the market environment will be for the iPad.   The Apple entry into personal cloud computing – MobileMe – has been less than compelling.  This is especially true as Google, and others,  offer many of the same capabilities for free.

The iPad equation still requires one more piece of the puzzle to reach the Promised Land.  Steve Jobs will have to climb the mountain again and come back with another divine revelation.

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Filed under android, Apple, cloud computing, Content, holy grail, iPad, Isarel, microsoft, mobile, Moses, netbooks, smart phone, Smartphone, Steve Jobs, wireless