I Get By with a Little Help from my Apps

At the IAB Expo yesterday, Melanie Varley and Andy Wasef of MEC made the case that the only way to be creative is to put mobile first. The growth and ubiquity of mobile devices require brands to consider mobile experience first. As we do so, we will build better user experiences in all channels.

Designing for mobile means designing for utility and fun; considering the user’s mindset and making the interface as intuitive and transparent as possible. This morning, as I was on way to the airport, I experienced a great example of how brands build their brand by building great mobile experiences.

I was on a hotel shuttle to LaGuardia, and folks were going to all different airlines. @Delta flies out of several terminals there; a couple on the shuttle knew their flight number but not the terminal, and were worried about missing their flight. I used the Delta app (already on my phone) to look up their flight and find the gate number within a few clicks. They were relieved, the driver was glad to be able to take them to the right place, and I enjoyed being able to help someone.

I’m not flying on Delta today, but I had a great brand experience with them anyway. It was one of those “frequent lightweight interactions” that the folks at Facebook often mention. This is how a brand builds a relationship with its consumers: by giving us something that makes our life easier, makes us smile, lets us express ourselves or help someone.

Thanks @Delta!

The Three Essential Elements of Your Brand’s Video Strategy

Video is an increasingly important element of brand communications. We all naturally are drawn to moving images – it is probably part of our DNA to keep us safe from saber-toothed tigers. Brands can develop all sorts of video to provide content that provides value to their customers and consumers. This post is intended to help you think about how to incorporate video into your marketing strategies.

Key Elements of Video Strategy

A brand’s video strategy must incorporate three elements of consumer behavior:

  • Discovery: Identify the mechanisms by which consumers will find and discover video content. Develop plans for the use of paid advertising, search engine optimization, and brand social and email communities to help consumers find the brand’s video content.
  • Content:  Develop a content calendar that provides value to the consumer, in the form of utility (making life easier), entertainment (making life more fun) or education (making life more interesting). In some cases, the content will integrate with the brand’s promotional calendar, but there will also need to be content that is relevant at any time of year. The catalog of content needs to be deep enough to allow for repeated and in-depth consumer engagement, and it needs to be portable, should users wish to consume it across different sites, devices, or platforms.
  • Context: The brand’s video content should be relevant to the channel; not all video belongs in all channels. The content calendar should be designed to entice consumers from larger-reach and/or paid channels into a deeper brand experience on a brand-owned property. Video content should be integrated into brand paid, owned and earned communications with consumers.

Who and Why?

Video consumption is growing at breakneck speed around the world; consumers see all video as content, and are more than willing to embrace and share content they find useful or relevant, regardless of source. This gives brands the opportunity to build affinity with the consumer by meeting their needs, rather than simply delivering a message. Statistics from ComScore and Forrester Research:

  • 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online content videos in April 2012.
  • US video ad views totaled nearly 9.5 billion, representing 1 in 5 videos viewed online in April.
  • More than 200 million people in the EU7 (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Turkey) watch an average of 20 hours each of online video every month .
  • Duration of average video content was 6:20; average video ad was :24.
  • digital video ad spending in the US is projected to balloon by more than 250% from $2 billion in 2011 to $5.4 billion by 2016

“Online video” is becoming a misnomer. People watch video anywhere and everywhere, on whatever device and through whatever platform is most convenient. According to Forrester Research, 37 million US households currently own a connected device that enables them to watch digital video on their TV screen, up from fewer than 25 million in 2010. Media companies are beginning to package TV and online video buys together, and Nielsen and others are developing cross-platform tracking tools. As video ad networks begin to partner with TV manufacturers and cable providers, the lines between “TV” and “online” video will continue to blur, and brands will need to ensure that all brand, creative and media partners are collaborating very closely.

Where and When?

Google’s YouTube channel continues to be the #1 site, far outpacing other channels for number of viewers and the number of videos watched. Globally, YouTube has 3 million views per day with average time on the site of 20 minutes. Over 48 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Top   U.S. Online Video Content Properties Ranked by Unique   Video Viewers, April 2012, Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations; Content   Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Total   Unique Viewers (000) Videos   (000) Minutes   per Viewer
Total   Internet : Total Audience 180,785 36,848,001 1,307.7
Google   Sites 157,663 17,022,226 434.8
Yahoo!   Sites 53,604 741,995 73.7
VEVO 49,479 674,183 57.9
Facebook.com 44,298 264,903 27.0
Microsoft   Sites 42,833 486,567 42.4
Viacom   Digital 41,247 501,100 58.9
AOL,   Inc. 38,925 496,400 54.3
Amazon   Sites 30,168 104,581 17.4
Hulu 28,233 901,060 228.5
News   Distribution Network, Inc. 27,005 186,956 75.2

Video content is now being consumed in “prime time” –  a big change from just 3 years ago, as shown in the solid line below.

Video viewing on mobile devices has tripled during the same time period. Using TV and online video together greatly increase the brand’s frequency of exposure to brand messaging.


Video content will be seen by the consumer as one of the brand’s products, not as an advertisement.  ComScore research (March 2012) has shown that professionally produced video content and user-generated product videos are highly synergistic, driving higher levels of sales effectiveness when used in tandem.  “In the campaign examined, professionally produced content and product videos drove strikingly higher lifts when used together than when either was used individually.

While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.” “We found that consumers perceived feature benefits as more believable when coming directly from the brand through professionally produced content, while the unbiased user-gen videos were more believable in verifying specific product claims, such as superiority and convenience. When used together, all of the perceived gaps get filled in and consumers become more confident in their purchase decision, resulting in better sales effectiveness from the advertising.”

The Road Map

Forrester recommends a process of content creation that is channel-agnostic until the end of the process. By thinking about all the places where a person might view content, and their frame of mind when they are within that particular environment, the same video shoot can yield several different angles for the same message, and create different “entry points” that can draw people deeper into the story.

We are the World: Mary Meeker’s Insights from Web 2.0

Mary Meeker  is a rock star of the digital world, and her presentation at this week’s  Web 2.0 Summit was as fact filled and interesting as ever. The trends that jumped out at me:

People of the world are truly becoming connected to each other – and mobile platforms will accelerate this trend.

  • 81% of the users of the top 10 internet properties (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) are outside the United States. It’s no surprise that the immense populations of India, China and Russia are rapidly connecting to the internet, and there is still room for them to continue to grow. But who would have expected that Nigeria and Iran would add so many? And where was the largest percentage growth? The Philippines.
  • 85% of the world’s population is covered by commercial wireless signals – more than the reach of the electric grid.
  • World trade is 24% of global GDP, compared to 10% in 1960.

Mobile platforms are taking over desktop-based platforms in the near future and marketers must be ready.

  • Phones that are internet-enabled (smartphones) grew 35% globally and already represent over half of the total mobile market in many markets. Shipments of smart phones now exceed feature phones in Western Europe and the US and the rest of the world will follow this trend.
  • Mobile use of search engines, applications, and e-commerce are ramping up sharply. Consumers say the biggest reason they abandon an in-store shopping experience is because they found a better price elsewhere, using their smartphone to check pricing.
  • Advertisers have a big opportunity in reaching consumers via a mobile device: while consumers spend 8% of their time with mobile media, advertisers are currently allocating only .5% of their advertising budgets to the mobile channel.

Social technologies are no longer a separate channel – social is core to every digital experience.

  • In June of 2011, consumers time spent on social channels exceeded that of large Internet portals (AOL, Yahoo, MSN) for the first time.
  • Facebook now has over 800 million global active user, 50% of whom log on each day. Facebook is third in total internet traffic after the search giants Google and Microsoft.
  • There are more social networkers today than there were total internet users in 2006.
  • USA consumers are only #12 in the time spent using social networks:  Israel, Argentina and Turkey are at the top of the list. (Countries of “the Americas” make up 8 or the top 12.)

Our voices –  and our ears – will become important again.

  • In recent years, texting and apps have become the dominant way that people use their phones – actually making phone calls and talking to people has become a much smaller percentage of total usage.
  • Voice and sound recognition technologies are beginning to be deployed in our devices, and as these technologies continue to improve in quality and affordability, we will increasingly use these enhanced tools to allow us to see and hear the people at the other end of our connection. This could give brands an unprecedented way to connect directly with consumers.
  • The “face” of the brand may need to become a real person – or group of people. The internet makes business transparent – it’s pretty hard to hide behind a corporate entity. Brands will need to become comfortable with allowing consumers see the person(s) “behind the curtain”.

A video of Mary’s presentation is available on YouTube.

Measure What Matters: Sites and Apps

A recent white paper from WebTrends’ Eric Rickson provide a great outline of the important measurements of success for any web site or application. Eric’s articles were directed specifically to mobile-based experiences, but they are equally valid for desktop-based experiences too. If you are designing a new site or application, or evaluating an existing one, be sure you are designing your strategies so that the answer to each of these questions is “yes”:

1. Are people finding and using your mobile properties?
2. How engaged and loyal are your users?
3. Are they engaging in high value activities and becoming customers?
4. Are we retaining customers and encouraging repeat usage?

Eric’s blog suggests specific KPIs that you will want your agency to build into the site: http://blogs.webtrends.com/blog/2011/08/05/new-whitepaper-developing-a-strategy-for-mobile-maturity-and-investment/

5 Steps to Your Brand’s Mobile Strategy

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies means that, in Yogi Berra’s immortal phrase, it’s deja vu all over again. Just as marketing strategies in the late 90’s were adapted to incorporate web sites, email, and digital advertising, this year many marketers will be making sure they develop comprehensive mobile strategies leveraging mobile sites, applications, SMS, email, the video and audio capabilities of smart phones, mobile advertising and casual gaming. The good news is: many of the lessons learned with the internet can be applied to mobile technologies. We will want to do many of the same things, but in a new environment: create valuable (entertaining or useful) content that communicates a brand message to our consumer, find ways to bring the consumer to that content, encourage consumers to interact with brand and to deepen the relationship, and measure and optimize our results for efficiency and effectiveness in delivering business results.  

Why now? To put it simply: mobile is where our customers are, and brands who can provide their consumers something of value can be with their consumer wherever they go, and at the point of purchase decision. Brands who have previously needed to rely on distributors and retailers to communicate the brand story now have unprecedented opportunities for a true one-to-one dialog with a consumer. And in many cases, a brand’s presence in mobile environments is a statement of brand identity in itself: it sends a message that the brand is innovative and forward-thinking.

Brands that are ready to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy will need to consider the following five steps:

1. Defining the Brand’s Mobile Presence. Define what your consumers need from your brand when they are “out and about”, then meet that need with a persistent mobile presence. The need might best be served by a mobile application, or by a streamlined version of your brand’s web site. Will your consumer be looking for coupons and offers? Are there ways that geo-location tools could be used to help them find and choose your brand? Will they want a recipe? Will they be looking for store locations? Would they just rather be entertained with videos that communicate the essence of the brand? Will they want to show your content to people who are with them? Think about how the use of the mobile device relates to their purchase journey, and create points of brand intersection on the journey. Matthew Poepsel’s recent post on Mobile Marketer provides a great outline of how to decide whether a site or an app is right for your brand. Don’t forget that there are many devices and operating systems available to your consumer, and you will want to be sure the brand experience is consistent across all of them.

2. Helping your consumers find your Mobile Presence. Just as with a web site, it’s not enough to build the site or the application, you must also bring people to what you have developed. Will your consumer be using a mobile search to identify a solution your product can provide, making an mobile search strategy important for you? Do you have strategies to build your opt-in SMS list so you can send alerts and offers to your consumers? Are your emails designed to be compelling when they are read on a mobile device? Will they be engaging with games or mobile sites and applications on which it would relevant for you to advertise? Do you have an opportunity to use tagging technologies or bar code scanning at point-of-purchase to bring consumers more information or deliver promotional offers for your products?

3. Empowering influencers and advocates. Mobile devices are made for sharing. As you develop content, think about what brand advocates may want to do with it. Will your consumers be reading your Facebook and Twitter updates on their mobile device? What kind of content would they want to share with their friends? Do they like to create content themselves, or do they prefer to just share content created by others? Will they be sharing in real time, in physical proximity to others? Will ratings and reviews be generating traffic to your mobile presence? How can you help your advocates and influencers have accurate information in a format that would encourage sharing?

4. Measuring the results. We all know that you can only manage what you measure. Mobile devices bring new points of data that can be measured, and it is important for you to decide how much you need to know. Think about what success looks like:  how will you know your actions are having the desired effect? In some cases, you may not be able to measure a sales transaction, so what CAN you measure? Site visits, downloads, coupon redemptions, advertising clicks, time spent with an application – one or more of these may be appropriate to your objective.  Jeannette Kocsis’ recent post provides great food for thought on this subject. Identify what data you need to record in your mobile database, and what needs to be synchronized with data from your other digital marketing activities (web, advertising, social, email). Your consumers may prefer SMS for some messages, email or social channels for others. Your database can help you develop a communications profile that will allow you to deliver a personalized message at the right time through the right medium.

5. Optimizing or “the continual feedback loop”. Review your results, and compare them to the objectives you established for your strategies. Where are you seeing the results you want, and where are you disappointed? Should you shift resources to the more effective tactics? Or should you take corrective actions to make underperforming assets more effective? Are there touch points that need to be added to your measurements? Your brand’s typical purchase cycle will influence how often you will want to review results, and regular review will allow you to continually improve the results for your consumers and your bottom line.

The worldwide market for touchscreen mobile devices will surpass 362.7 million units in 2010, a 96.8 percent increase from 2009 sales of 184.3 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2013, touchscreen mobile devices will account for 58 percent of all mobile device sales worldwide and more than 80 percent in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe. If your brand doesn’t already have a comprehensive mobile strategy, the time to develop one is NOW.