Mobile Payments Enter A Disruptive Phase

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal mentioned that Google could team up with MasterCard and Citigroup to pursue a role in mobile payments; this is yet another indication that disruption is looming in the payment space.

In his keynote at 2011’s Mobile World Congress, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated that “NFC should revolutionize electronic commerce as well as payments.”

What does Google have to do with payments? Well, it has already rolled out (quite unsuccessfully so far) Google Checkout. What’s different about this new proposal is that this is not just about payments: Google would embed Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in Android mobile devices, allowing consumers to make purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at checkout counters. So what? Well, NFC is more than just a payment technology; it brings mobile payments together with mobile marketing and loyalty programs. As with mobile devices in general, it helps bridge the digital and physical worlds.

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Q&A With Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja (Read: CEO) Of SCVNGR

If you haven't yet heard Seth Priebatsch, chief ninja of SCVNGR — a mobile company looking to gamify the world — address a conference audience, you're in for a treat. It's something that I and about 20,000 of my closest friends and colleagues were fortunate to experience at SXSW this year, and for those of you attending Forrester's Marketing Forum next week, you'll see why the pleasure was all ours. 

For a taste of Seth's personality, you need look no further than his bio ("An avid supporter of blood drives, Seth consistently donates plasma for use in large-screen televisions.") For a glimpse at what he'll be talking about at the forum, check out the description for his session "The Perils Of "Wait-And-See" Marketing Strategy: Five "Future" Trends For The Present." 

Lest you fear that he'll be all jokes and pie-in-the-sky outlooks, I've asked Seth a few questions about what "gamification" means and what potential there is for growth in the location-based marketing arena. You'll see from his answers that while he's obviously a future-thinker, he's also a practical-talker. 

Here's a taste of what you can expect in San Francisco next week:

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Friday Afternoon Brainstorm: What's The Best Digital Branding Effort You've Ever Seen?

I've been talking a lot lately about how to build great digital branding programs, and it's gotten me thinking about the best ones I've ever seen. Remember the Ford Explorer home page takeover on Yahoo from years ago, that actually shook the browser window as the truck drove across the screen? (It's so old I can't even find a screen shot of it online.) Apple reprised the idea for an iPod program about 18 months ago — as have many others — but the Ford one was both more amazing (I mean, the browser shook) and one of the first that really got people talking. It was incredibly bold in its creative execution but also in its media buy (while there's nothing special about buying home page advertising on the then-biggest website, just think about the monetary bet they put on that buy! It must've cost a fortune).

The Audi program that won a Forrester Groundswell Award last year was fantastic too — using a combination of online content and social media to raise awareness of the automaker's new A1 model. Why? It gave users a customized impression of the new brand (by letting them customize the car) and it was intelligently distributed through a huge number of social channels.

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Use CORE To Adapt Your Marketing Organization For The Next Digital Decade

We’re just weeks away from Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2011 in San Francisco, and the whole Forrester organization is gearing up for a productive, insight-filled, (dare I say, “fun”?!?) event.

For my part, I’m excited to be leading the charge on the Interactive Marketers’ track, where we’ll dig deeper into the key concepts of CORE (Adapting Your Marketing Organization for the Next Digital Decade), a brand new piece of research that my colleagues Emily Riley and Chris Stutzman will unveil in their keynote presentation on April 5th.

To bring CORE to life for Interactive Marketing professionals, we’re devoting each of our four track sessions to the four pillars of CORE:

  • Customize marketing experiences: Nate Elliot will dig into ways in which marketers can strategically leverage interactive tools to tailor a brand for multiple audiences. Nate will address questions such as:
    • How tailored can — and should — online brand advertising be, and how can marketers identify the best audiences to target in this way?
    • Which marketers and vendors are leading the way in customized online branding — and what can the industry learn from them?
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Q&A With Dana Anderson, SVP Of Marketing, Strategy, And Communications At Kraft Foods

I am so pumped that Dana Anderson is speaking at the Forrester 2011 Marketing Forum in early April. Dana is Kraft Foods’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, Strategy, and Communications, and she’s one smart lady. She works across the Kraft portfolio to bring fresh marketing ideas and innovation to icons like Oreo and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Dana also has a wicked sense of humor. Her keynote “The Bad Boys’ Guide To Digital Bliss” will illustrate what marketers can learn from Robert Downey Jr. and Jay-Z – not your usual marketing role models!

I asked Dana a few questions on how to drive digital change in a traditional organization. Her answers point to both the fundamental shifts that will characterize the next decade and the perennial truths of marketing (great ideas start with great teams). We hope you can make it to San Francisco to hear more . . .

CO: What are the biggest changes that marketers should expect in the next digital decade?

DA: Whew, 10 years is a long time in the digital world. Facebook is only seven years old and Hulu is only four years old. While I wish I could predict how things would be in 2021, I can tell you the hints I’m seeing right now that foretell a very exciting future for marketing. 

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Your Social Media Programs Are Global - Whether You Want Them To Be Or Not

The Groundswell is now global. Social media has entered the mainstream in every single market Forrester regularly surveys — and in most of those markets, social media use is at 75% or higher. Australian, Japanese and Italian online users all show stronger adoption of social media than Americans do – and Chinese, Dutch and Swedish users have nearly pulled level with the Americans. And in 2010 Facebook reported that more than 70% of its active users were outside the US, while Twitter said more than 60% of its accounts come from outside the US.

The simple fact is that if your company has a social media program, that program is global — whether you want it to be or not. And this isn’t just a nuisance or a language issue. Failing to recognize the global nature of your social programs means you might be telling foreign users about products that aren’t available in their countries (for instance, Toyota UK reached more than 100 million people with a fantastic blogger outreach program for its iQ model; but it turns out that more than 95% of those people live in countries where the iQ isn’t for sale). Or you may be advertising discounts and promotions to which many users don’t have access (for instance, while Amazon’s Facebook page promoted a special price of $89 for the Kindle last November, a Kindle cost almost twice as much in the UK — and wasn’t available at all in most other markets). If you work in a regulated industry like financial services or pharmaceuticals, you risk running afoul of government regulators.

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How Twitter Helped Japan

It has been horrible to hear the news of Japan's crippling 8.9 earthquake and the threats and aftershocks that have followed. As a Bay Area resident, earthquakes are top of mind and you just hope another "big one" will never come. Imagine the look on my face when my husband showed me the video he took from our porch of the tsunami wave that traveled from Japan and swept our city's bay a mere 14 hours later. I was in complete disbelief. A wave created from an earthquake in Japan sent all the way to California? Mother Nature has shown us again that she is not to be tested.

There have been many stories in the news about social media and the role it's played since the earthquake. Victims of the quake and families of victims have turned to social media to find loved ones, search for the missing and bring attention to further threats from nuclear power plant explosions to local fires. Without a doubt, Twitter's been a front runner in this story. The average number of tweets on a given day is around 37 million. On the day of the quake, more than 117 millions tweets hit the Web. Moreover, more than 572,000 new Twitter accounts have been created since the quake. Those numbers are staggering. 

Instances like these remind me of why I love social media. In addition to the opportunity if creates for marketers to engage in a dialogue with consumers and build relationships, it also bring us — the world — closer together. Social media has turned an incident from the other side of the world into feeling like it was in my own backyard. Now, that's pretty powerful. Show your support to victims and see what others are saying, use #HelpJapan and/or #PrayForJapan in your next tweet. 

Facebook And The Future Of TV

While all my social media friends and fellow analysts have been running around Austin for South by Southwest's annual conference, I have been holding down the fort and keeping an eye on what's going on in television. In addition to working on my upcoming research report on the convergence of social media and television (a.k.a. social TV), I've been asked quite a bit about Facebook's recent announcement. Warner Brothers and Facebook are teaming up to distribute films on Facebook's platform at $3 a pop. The deal aims to put Warner Brothers in front of a 500 million+ online audience of existing and potential customers. But do people want to watch movies on Facebook?

In my opinion, the answer to that question is not important at the moment. What marketers need to realize (if they haven't done so already) is that consumers are watching TV much differently. Very differently. Whether it's buying a Dwight bobble head while watching The Office with a click of a remote, voting who Jake should give the next rose to on The Bachelor or renting the Dark Knight on Facebook, consumers aren't just staring at the screen anymore. Marketers testing on emerging channels are taking advantage of new opportunities to reach their audience and being creative while doing it. 

If you're one of these marketers, I want to hear from you. Tweet me at @shaw_smith or email me at elshaw@forrester.com.

Note: For more on the details of the Warner Brothers/Facebook deal and to read some more of my thoughts, check out Bloomberg's coverage and my quote in Warner Starts Movie Service on Facebook, Pressuring Netflix.

Why iPad 2 Won’t Have Much Competition In 2011—Unless It’s From Amazon

Forrester published a new report today making the call that the iPad challengers that have been announced so far—Android Honeycomb tablets from Motorola, Toshiba, and others, as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad—are solid products with fatally flawed product strategies.

In short, competing tablets are too expensive, and can’t match the Apple Store as a channel. These two claims are related: Forrester’s research has shown that consumers attribute more value to Apple products because of the in-store service. Consumers are not only comparing feeds and speeds; there’s also a human factor. The humans working in the Apple Store will have a huge impact teaching consumers about the iPad and how to use it. Compare the experience of walking into an Apple Store, where the iPad is front and center, to walking into a Verizon store where the Samsung Galaxy Tab is collecting dust at the back of the store and the sales reps don’t quite know what to make of it. Or walking into a Best Buy store, whose shelves will soon be lined with similar-looking tablets with similar functionality.

Competing tablets to the iPad are poised to fail, which is why we’re forecasting that Apple will have at least 80% share of the US consumer tablet market in 2011.

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HubSpot Investment Validates Online Marketing Suite Model For SMBs

I first got to know HubSpot last summer when I was researching for the report: "Interactive Marketing Priorities For SMBs."  Born out of MIT’s Sloan School in 2006, HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing suite for small businesses. It provides blog building, content management, SEO, email marketing, lead management and social media tools, templates, and reporting for marketers at small and medium-sized companies. The model? To provide automated solutions for multiple marketing functions together in an easy-to-use system, tailored for the SMB market. Forrester loves the idea of the online marketing suite, so we think HubSpot’s approach is right-on.

Well, HubSpot just announced today that it has two new investors: Google and salesforce.com.

To me this investment signifies two things:

1)  Google wants to expand its reach into marketing budgets of small companies, many of whom currently use mostly local search. I've said before that I think Google is moving away from its core search business and into expanded media opportunities like television media. I think this investment is further evidence of Google's expanding priorities, now into the SMB market.

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