I enjoyed the many conversations I had with clients this week at Forrester's 2009 Consumer Forum in Chicago. It was interesting to listen to some of the best in the interactive marketing business. They shared with me the challenges they face regarding mobile strategy, budget issues and campaign measurement. Key takeaways from my discussions:
Something interesting's afoot in the digital reading space. Quietly, companies are testing digital reading applications for portable gaming devices in select markets. Two developments of note:
EA "Flips" for Nintendo DS: A reader app for Nintendo's portable gaming system, offered for now only in the UK. Aimed at 8- to 11-year-olds (a good fit for the install base of the DS). Content partnerships announced with UK book publishers Penguin and Egmont. Revenue model will be bundled downloads of multiple (6-8) titles for an a la carte price of £24.99. Interactive elements include quizzes, operated with the DS's touch screen and stylus.
Marvel Comics and others on the Sony PSP: In August, Sony announced a digital reader app for the PSP that will launch in December in select countries (UK, US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). It announced a content partnership with Marvel Comics and said there would be more content partners with comics, graphic novels, and manga publishers to come. Marvel digital comics are already available online via subscription ($10/month or $60/year). Details on the app don't say how much comics will be on the PSP.
I am thrilled to welcome Augie Ray to Forrester! Augie is coming aboard as a Senior Analyst supporting interactive marketers and focusing on Social Computing. He's starting on November 15 and will be based in Forrester's Foster City offices (Augie is relocating from Milwaukee and eagerly anticipating the warmer weather!).
I've been the hiring manager for nearly a dozen positions at Forrester, and I've come to recognize a particular feeling when I'm talking to a special applicant. Sure, there are lots of people with strong CVs and interviewing skills. But a great candidate brings ideas to life, and the interview becomes a fun gallop through the world of marketing themes, customer behavior, and the craft of writing. My first conversation with Augie was exactly that.
I'm here and live blogging from the Forrester 2009 Consumer Forum in Chicago. Bob Kraut, VP of Communications for Pizza Hut, is presenting how the brand used an innovative approach to digital marketing to adapt to a new and challenging consumer landscape.
Pizza Hut has been hit fairly hard in this economy as people cut back on much of their sit down dining in the recession. They also are fighting the same uphill battle as other marketers - the reality that consumers' media habits have been fragmented and reaching them in an engaging and effective way with scale is very difficult and very costly. In response to these realities, Pizza Hut had to be innovative in how they leveraged digital tools to reach and enable their consumers. They developed a four step strategy that included a lower priced menu items, more variety in the menu, more convenient and fulfilling customer access and finally to become part of the conversation online.
Last week, the Customer Strategy Group is
held its inaugural summit on customer engagement – an intimate,
executive conference designed for B2B marketers who manage customer
reference programs, advisory boards, and the emerging area of online
communities. I spoke to about 75 marketers and sponsors about “Understanding the Value of Customer Engagement”.
Let's be a bit provocative after this week's announcement from Apple letting us know that they had sold 7,4M iPhones during the last quarter (+7% yoy). Apple's stock valuation was even higher than that of Google (as of October 20, 2009): $179 bn vs $173 bn. I am not a financial analyst so I won't comment the results from a profitability perspective, but would just like to throw out a couple of ideas to discuss whether this trend will last in 2010. Let's add a pinch of salt without taking into account the fact that Apple could (and certainly will) surprise us with new products.
Beyond the terrific iPhone user-experience, the power of Apple's marketing and the AppStore's ecosystem, part of the success is due to Apple's new business model introduced in July 08. When launching the 3GS, they also announced lots of international (and non-exclusive) deals with operators worldwide and finally accepted to let operators subsidize the device. No doubt there is a huge consumer demand for the iPhone but operators will have to solve a complex equation. It is a little dirty industry secret that many carriers are analyzing the profitability of the iPhone model:
After talking about the topic of attribution for several years now, I'm very excited to be publishing a Wave that highlights the key companies in the interactive attribution space. The companies are: Atlas, ClearS, Coremetrics, Theorem, Trueffect, Visual IQ and x+1. You may not have heard of some of these companies, and many of these companies don't even consider themselves competitors. Two signs that we are really at the leading edge of this topic, and have a lot of room to grow. That said, we found some robust solutions out there that are doing a lot to advance marketers' abilities to more accurately measure and buy online media.
Tomorrow, Barnes & Noble (B&N) is expected to announce its own B&N-branded eReader device--the Nook, as the Wall Street Journal reported this evening. The device is expected to be wireless and touch-operated, with dual screens--a 6" E Ink display for reading, and a smaller color LCD screen for navigation, video, and...ads?
In other words, the B&N eReader could be a Kindle and an iPhone put together.
I knew from conversations with my own sources that this would be a cool device, but I didn't expect that it would be priced, as the WSJ reports, at $259. This puts the Nook competing squarely with Amazon's Kindle 2--most likely with a razor thin margin, if any, for B&N. To steal market share from Amazon and make up for lost time, B&N is pricing the Nook as aggressively as possible.
Getting the price right is crucial to success in this emerging device market. As we published earlier this year, most consumers expect eReaders to be $99 or less. But we expected something in the range of $399, which would make the device competitive with the other touch + wireless eReaders on the market, the Sony Daily Edition and the iRex DR800SG, both of which will be sold at Best Buy among other retailers. Pricing the Nook a full $140 below these other devices sends a strong signal that B&N is focused on Amazon, not Sony, as competition.