Facebook, Gowalla, And Marketing On Location-Based Social Networks

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, yesterday Facebook announced its acquisition of Gowalla. The move opens up interesting possibilities for location-based and location-aware social apps, some of which I explored in my most recent, serendipitously timed report on location-based social networks (LBSNs).

On one hand, the acquisition means that the herd of strictly LBSNs is continuing to thin, which means the remaining apps have less competition, so marketers who are looking to play on those platforms should have fewer options with larger audiences to choose from. On the other hand, the move appears to be further integrating location into a user’s total Facebook experience — at once broadening the appeal of location-based social activity by baking location into everything a user does on Facebook and thereby potentially subverting the need for strictly LBSNs by integrating the user value into a larger social experience.   

And so the big question: should marketers get involved with LBSNs and other geolocation applications?

The bottom line is that geosocial apps are still niche, but they’re growing in usage. Since we published our previous report in July 2010, foursquare has grown from 2 million users to 15 million. Twitter — and now even more aggressively, Facebook — has continued to fuse their social offerings with location information; even technology companies like Apple are chiming in with the launch of the “Find My Friends” app. However, even though the user-base numbers have grown quickly, we still find that few consumers are checking in: 6% have ever, with only 2% doing so at least weekly.

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Participate In The 2011 Online Testing User Survey

Does your firm have an online testing program? If so, we want to hear from you!

Today we are launching the 2011 edition of Forrester's Online Testing User Survey. Our goal with this survey is to collect data that will help further our understanding of online testing trends and identify best practices. Last year we ran the survey alongside the Online Testing Wave report and published the findings in The State of Online Testing 2010.  This year we're fielding an expanded survey to address a wide array of factors involved in managing an online testing program, from benefits, goals, and challenges to budgeting, staffing, experiments, and suppliers. This is valuable information that will help firms benchmark themselves against the rest of the market and discover opportunities to enhance their online testing efforts. 

Click here to take the 2011 Online Testing User Survey now. As a "thank you" for your time and effort, we will send you a complimentary copy of the completed research, scheduled for publication in Q1 2012.

And please feel free to share this link - http://forr.com/ub7Mwx - with friends and colleagues who are involved in online testing.

Thanks in advance for your support, we are looking forward to sharing the results with you shortly!

Jay-Z Decodes The Future Of Digital Out-Of-Home

For the 2010 launch of his autobiography Decoded, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z ran a teaser campaign with Bing that released one page of the book per day on out-of-home signage; people across the US tried to decode the pages from buildings, pools, and clothing racks. Jay-Z is one of many marketers giving the once-stagnant out-of-home channel an infusion of digital and creative innovation. Place-based networks, digital signage, digital billboards, and hybrid installations offer an array of options for marketing leaders to consider as they try to reach on-the-go consumers. This reinvigorated medium offers marketers greater relevance, engagement, and interaction. It grabs consumers with content at the right time in the right place — when they are about to make a purchase decision — and offers the immediacy of instant gratification or information through smartphone-enabled technology.  

To get a picture of this new media landscape and to find out more about how leading marketers have begun to use digital out-of-home, check out my new report, “Digital Remakes Out-Of-Home Advertising."

What do you see in the future for digital out-of-home? Are you ready to get outside?    

Thanks!

The Unemployment Rate Fell On Friday . . . But Don’t Brace For A Surge In Holiday Spending

The US unemployment rate fell on Friday to its lowest level since March 2009 (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm). And on paper...that’s a very good thing. 

But before we get too excited about what that could mean for 2011 holiday spending, consider this: The reason the unemployment rate dropped from 9.0% to 8.6% in the household survey was as much due to the fact that 315,000 people gave up looking for work as that 120,000 people actually found work. It’s a big flaw in the way the US unemployment rate is calculated that the rate can actually go down (so appear to improve) when people just stop looking for work. 

(http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/12/02/why-did-the-unemployment-rate-drop-5/).

The reality is we won’t know the true unemployment rate until those who’ve given up looking for work re-engage in the job hunt and fill out that total workforce denominator (at which time the unemployment rate will actually go up temporarily before then finally coming down as we start seeing that recovery).  But we’re not there yet.

The co-reported payroll employment number is a better indicator of job growth because it comes from a much broader and deeper survey called the payroll survey. But for November that number (120K new jobs created) only matched expectations and is actually below the minimum number (approximately 150K) needed to keep pace with population growth in America. So, unfortunately, not much real gain there. And sadly, there’s probably not much to say about a jolt to the 2011 holiday shopping season either.  

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Introducing Engaged TV: Xbox 360 Leads The Way To A New Video Product Experience

What to do when a failed product concept still lingers, haunting every attempt at injecting it with new life? That's the problem with interactive TV, a term that grates like the name of an old girlfriend, conjuring up hopes long since unfulfilled yet still surprisingly fresh. Gratefully, it’s time to put old product notions of interactive TV behind us because this week Microsoft will release a user experience update to the Xbox 360 that will do for the TV what decades of promises and industry joint ventures have never managed to pull off.

Meet engaged TV. From now on, I will no longer need to plead with the audiences I address, the clients I meet, or my friends who still listen to me to imagine the future of TV. Because Microsoft has just built and delivered it: A single box that ties together all the content you want, made easily accessible through a universal, natural, voice-directed search. This is now the benchmark against which all other living-room initiatives should be compared, from cable or satellite set top boxes to Apple’s widely rumored TV to the 3.0 version of Google TV that Google will have to start programming as soon as they see this. With more than 57 million people worldwide already sitting on a box that’s about to be upgraded for free – and with what I estimate to be 15 million Kinect cameras in some of those homes – Microsoft has not only built the right experience, it has ensured that it will spread quickly and with devastating effect.

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Coca-Cola Leverages Context To Create Engaging Mobile "Chok" Campaign In Hong Kong

I've written a lot about the notion that the "Future Of Mobile Is Context" this year at Forrester. Since publishing this research this spring, I've been searching for examples and case studies of innovative uses of context. (See how marketers and eBusiness pros can leverage context.)

Coca-Cola is allowing consumers in Hong Kong to enter a sweepstakes by virtually collecting bottle caps from a 3rd screen (TV, movie theather). The audio signal from the commercial triggers the application/ syncs the user's motion with the video. The acclerometer is used to assess the quality of the motion of the user's mobile phone — the device that is used to catch the bottle tops virtually. See video.

Why is their use of context sophisticated?

In the research, I describe the four phases of evolution.

Phase 1: the basics — leveraging location, time of day, etc.

Phase 2: layering intelligence — so, not just time of day, but time of day relative to an event

Phase 3:  using new technology in phones (e.g., sensors, two cameras, etc.)

Phase 4: more sophisticated use of the sensors and technology to control the device

Coke's campaign is what I would call a v 2.0 use of mobile (they are enhancing another touchpoint - see research) with some Phase 3/4 context. They enhance the video/commercial experience by getting the consumer to be active. The act of collecting the bottle tops gets the consumer off the couch and to interact with the ad directly. I think it's very cool.

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Will A New Service Provider Type Emerge For Digital Marketing?

 

Peter O'Neill here. I took advantage of an invitation to dine with around 15 CIOs this week in Frankfurt and our topic of conversation was “Managing The Online Customer Journey.”  This is the regular event organized by CIO Magazine, and I go along, calendar permitting, when I am invited to present or if the topic interests me. In this case, my fascination was to hear what these CIOs think about the prevailing trends of IT consumerization and social media.

But I was most interested in their ideas on how marketing aligns with the IT organization; a concept that I’ve encountered a lot recently in my engagements with tech marketers as well as working with tech automation vendors in their go-to-market activities. Forrester has published a lot on this recently, led by my illustrious colleagues Nigel Fenwick and Luca Paderni who serve the CIO and CMO, respectively.

 My fascination with the topic is that I see a new business opportunity for savvy systems integrators. I am calling it the “emerging digital marketing service provider,” and I will focus my next Forrester Teleconference on this observation next week. That provider will need to be tooled with marketing creative skills plus IT skills and services and it will sell to the CMO and CIO equally: a new market coming together out of the marketing budget and the IT budget, as the figure shows.

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Yahoo Sprays “Network B Gone” On Class II Inventory And Classically Stumbles: Good Idea, Bad Delivery

It started with the retargeters. A couple weeks back, Yahoo decided to shut off stand-alone retargeters, like Criteo and Dotomi, who were sourcing cheap Yahoo inventory just to resell it at much higher prices. This was a clear effort by Yahoo to take back control of its display ad business, a move increasingly common among large premium media companies. Tuesday’s announcement, however, goes much further: Yahoo has told DSPs, networks, and other buyers of “class II” remnant inventory that they’re no longer welcome to buy. Rather, their end clients – the marketers and agency trading desks using their tools – will need to get their own direct “seats” (i.e., contracts) if they want to continue accessing this inventory through the Right Media Exchange (RMX).
 
Is this a good thing for Yahoo? In the long run, absolutely. It means it's getting serious about cutting out undifferentiated middle men and focusing instead on more direct, transparent, and mutually beneficial relationships with big buyers. So for that, bravo, Yahoo!
 

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The Challenges Of Running Global Research Projects In Today’s Digital World

As some of you know, I really have a thing for doing research in multiple countries. I’ve been working in market research for two decades now and have always conducted international research projects — and experienced all the challenges that come with them. But I believe that conducting international research is even more challenging now than it was 20 years ago when I started my research career.

I see three key challenges that market researchers must deal with when doing multicountry projects:

1) How to collect globally comparable data. As soon as the surveyed cultures are so different that you need to adapt research methodologies and localize questionnaires, you’ve lost the chance for global comparisons. How do you walk that fine line between globalization and localization?

2) How to put this data into a local context. It’s really hard to understand the real drivers of behavior in different regions. Just looking at the results and comparing them with those of other countries might result in the wrong conclusions.

3) How to distribute and communicate these results back. Collecting information is one thing, but communicating it back to the local organizations and having them act on it is quite another. Will your local market insights teams use, share, and implement the data that you’ve collected globally?

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