I saw this article today on augmented reality. It doesn't use the phone — it uses Google Goggles, but you can imagine it as an application on a mobile phone.
The AR glasses makes the food products you see look bigger through the lenses so users eat less. [See article.] You can imagine more scenarios, though, with a mobile phone along with its processing power and contextual information about the user. If I walk in to a sandwich shop, for example, I can scan the options with my phone to find a sandwich that fits my calorie and nutritional requirements. (I spend a lot of time in airports so would love this). Certainly if I pick up a candy bar, I can read the nutritional information or calorie count.
I go back to trying to answer this question, "how does access to real-time information improve our lives — and not simply addict me to accessing information constantly like checking email or Facebook updates?" Health, wellness, and financial services among others are where I see some bigger opportunities.
Whoever said the summer's supposed to be a slow time for news had better be on vacation this week. While the financial markets keep a keen eye on $FB's fluctuation, my colleagues and I are busy analyzing the flurry of M&A around the social technology vendors. Simply put, it's a busy time in the social media world.
Just over a week ago, Oracle purchased Vitrue to add social media management to its bigger technology offerings. Yesterday, Salesforce.com countered the announcement with the acquisition of Buddy Media. But not to be outdone, today Oracle announced it will acquire Collective Intellect, a social intelligence company. The announcement comes a year after Salesforce.com purchased Radian6 and now gives both CRM giants the components they need to piece together something powerful. With social CRM in sight, this social technology arms race is the start of something very big to come.
Let's answer some quick questions about this rush of activity:
I’m doing it. Waving three vendor categories at the same time. And I can’t wait (seriously, no satire intended.)
For those of you less familiar, Forrester’s Waves are detailed analyses of technology vendor and service providers done in order to help our user clients select the best partners for them. (Please note: the keyword in the preceding sentence is detailed. A Wave typically takes 12 weeks to conduct and includes multiple inputs like product demos, client reference interviews, and written responses to an RFP-like questionnaire).
Well, over the course of the next three months, I will be waving search marketing agencies, bid management platforms, and SEO automation tools. In the past, I have evaluated only search marketing agencies as many of them provided proprietary technologies, and stand-alone technologies were still quite immature. But since Q4 2011, I’ve gotten more and more inquiries about search marketing technology players as well. And search technologies have really made some strides in the last 12 months.
As an analyst, I make a lot of predictions about various technology offerings. Over the last year those predictions have increasingly focused on the Social Media Management Platform (SMMP) space, specifically about how I expected consolidation as demand increased from marketers, and big tech players realized the necessity and potential of these platforms. It seemed pretty obvious to me that this space would continue to heat up, especially as I fielded more and more phone calls every week from marketers vetting the players in this space. So in answer to the most common question I’ve been getting since last week: no, I’m not at all surprised that a company like Salesforce would buy Buddy Media.
It's not so much a case of paid search being less relevant, but that search and the process of "getting found" across channels has become more diverse with the advent of social media, growth in mobile search, and shifting budgets to SEO in response to rising cost-per-click (CPC) rates in mature European markets.
The last frontier for paid search? Interestingly, despite huge marketing cutbacks the troubled euro zone markets — Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain — maintain growth only just below Western European averages as brands in these markets shift budgets to search and focus on acquisition and return on investment.
Overall, interesting times are ahead for the search agency that can develop multi-channel marketing strategies or the more traditional digital agency which shores up it's search and discovery offering.