Brand monitoring update

I'm not going to be updating Forrester's Brand Monitoring Wave in 2007 - although many companies have emerged from the woodwork, most of the buyer's side appears to remain in education mode.  However, in certain industries like pharmaceuticals, brand monitoring solutions are in wide use and treated like marketing mix models - that is, no one wants to talk about their "secret weapon."

So until the Wave gets updated, we've created a Brand Monitoring Vendor Product Catalog (client access required).  I say we because Sarah Glass, a research associate on our team, did most of the work to put it together.  Information on 27 vendors has been included; we identified over 40 potential participants.

If you are reading this post and would like to be included, please let us know.  (Every participating vendor gets a copy.)

Moreover, if you are a client-side marketer and would like to share your story - on or off the record - I'm all ears.  I have heard a lot of talk about client attrition from "the market leaders" but few clients to go public about it.

Being Customer-Centric Is Hard. But, C'mon, It's Not THAT Hard!

My wallet was stolen yesterday. What a nightmare -- I feel violated. This morning I've been making the rounds through all of my financial services institutions. That's what I want to talk about.

Our research shows that most firms agree that improving customer experience is a top priority. My personal experiences this morning tell a sad story. The following reflects my experience with Bank of America, Capital One, and American Express.

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FTC review of Google/DoubleClick: No big whoop

You have probably heard the scuttlebutt around the FTC investigation into Google's acquisition of DoubleClick.  Last week, the FTC confirmed that it would conduct an antitrust review of the deal, paying particular attention to the amount of consumer data DoubleClick gives Google access to.   

My take is that this is all much ado about nothing.  Why?

*Google is an easy target.  Google is so large, and has seen such rapid growth over the last 3 years, that we all (competitors, consumers, government officials, press, industry analysts) can't help but be a little suspicious of them.  And maybe a little jealous of their wealth and presence. 

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Mobile Classifieds - Automotive

Crisp Wireless announced that they are powering a mobile version of Cars.com. As a mobile analyst, I think this is interesting for a lot of reasons. Not many commerce sites have mobile versions.

Cars.com plans to monetize their audience with geo-targeted ads. Yes, lot of companies say they will do this, but Cars.com really can as they ask for zip code information upfront and know which dealers consumers are researching online. There have been a handful of mobile classifieds announcements, but not from major online players in industry verticals.

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Using Ring Tones to Save Lives

I've been spending a lot of time talking to clients recently about how to drive increased usage of wireless data services. One of the themes has been to offer services and applicaction that appeal to a broader audience.

"Mooing" ring tones are being used to lure leopards out of the wild.

See story.

Why they aren't using a computer or CD is its own interesting question. Could go back to the issue of a cell phone being their only electronic device.

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MVNO ' s - Not Much New to Say

I've been fielding quite a few inquiries around the prospects for MVNO's in the US. There isn't a lot "new" to say that we haven't been writing about for the past couple of years. (OK, except that 80,000 customers not paying is new. See story.) Bottom line is that the majority of mobile subscribers in the US seek quality of coverage and good value. A handful want handset selection and will choose T-Mobile for the Sidekick or Cingular for the iPhone. It's hard to beat the infrastructure owners (e.g., Verizon, AT&T) on any of these dimensions. This will evolve over time and more consumers will seek differentiators (e.g., entertainment offerings), but for now it's more important that they are on their friends' networks.

I don't believe MVNO's are "dead" as a lot of journalists have been trying to get me to say. Virgin Mobile just filed to go public on 5/1/07 with close to 4.6 million subs. and over $1B in annual revenue. Yes, their ARPU is less than half the national average, but they've leveraged an existing brand and targeted a then underserved market in the US and have done well.

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Amp ' d Mobile Files Chapter 11

Looks as though Amp'd Mobile has filed for bankruptcy. (See story)

This certainly doesn't mean that things are "over" for the MVNO, but it does speak to the high costs associated with operating as a wireless service provider. They've raised over $200M and are publicly reporting 200,000 subscribers. The math isn't so simple though. They are a media company as well as a wireless service provider. Their portal strategy is just getting underway in Japan (KDDI) and Canada (Telus). They've really pushed the envelope with multimedia on the cell phone as well as their UI. Their per subscriber numbers are impressive.

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