Much speculation surrounds Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference next week. Will Steve show up? Will a new, cheaper iPhone be announced? Or will Apple further pump up its iPhone 3.0 software upgrade? Only Apple insiders know for sure.
For marketers looking for signs of an even larger iPhone audience at which to target branded apps, it won't matter much. The number of users is already quite large (17 million worldwide) and growing steadily. And the broader audience for mobile applications continues to build on other platforms: the just-launched Palm Pre (and store), the recently launched BlackBerry App World, Nokia's Ovi Store, and Microsoft prepping its own app store. There will be plenty of places to offer apps to a hungry mobile audience.
Affiliate marketing has taken its share of abuse as a less-than-ideal way to advertise online. However, in today's tough economy, major brands are taking a second look at affiliate programs as a way to boost sales at a very reasonable cost. Indeed, data from our survey of online marketing executives shows that a majority would spend more in online advertising if they had proof it would increase sales. An affiliate program is one such method that is all about lifting sales, and the proof is easily measured since the advertiser only pays for a completed sale of qualified lead.
If done properly, an affiliate program can be a valuable asset to an overall marketing effort, with manageable risk. Commission Junction - a leader in this space - reports that between 5% and 30% of incremental online sales can come through the affiliate channel. My latest report, "Performance Marketing: How To Build An Effective Affiliate Program," outlines a framework for launching a successful effort.
For marketers looking to drive new acquisitions and live within constrained budgets, an affiliate program could be a welcome tool.
Location-based mobile advertising – a perpetual star in the wings – took some small steps toward a bigger stage this week.
Alcatel-Lucent and partner 1020 Placecast announced a wireless carrier-based solution that promises to marry user location with relevant ads. Sounds good, but call me skeptical. The technology might be ready, but consumers are still mostly on the sidelines, and just as important so are advertisers.
The iPhone app frenzy continues apace among recognized brands, with Dow Jones’ All Things Digital – which features venerable Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg – getting into the act in recent days.
Likewise, Gillette has launched an iPhone app to promote its Fusion razor. This simple yet whimsical app, called uArt, allows you to take a photo and then play around with different facial hair styles.
At Forrester's Marketing Forum today in Orlando, my colleague Christine Overby led off the day with an insightful example of how Walt Disney took risks in the Great Depression despite the odds, and succeeded. That same kind of action can be applied today by interactive marketers, even in this down economy. Christine notes how it takes vision, marketing skills and a willingness to do things differently - to embrace innovation.
Later, AT&T Mobility CMO David Christopher described in his keynote how the big carrier is staying the course in this turbulent economy and betting big on wireless and asking the key question: What problem am I solving for customers? Christopher noted how AT&T continues to drive ahead with smartphones (its helps having the red-hot iPhone), and that data revenues continue to climb. Seems AT&T is solving the mobile needs of its customers rather well.
Now that both Kraft and Betty Crocker offer iPhone applications through Apple's App Store, many traditional consumer brands have to be wondering if they should do likewise. It's not a trivial question.
I'm working on a new report that tackles this issue. There is plenty of upside, especially if your app connects with the iPhone crowd and you don't encounter hiccups. If your brand is considering such a move, I'd like to hear from you and find out some of the challenges you've encountered so far. Or if your brand has already deployed a mobile iPhone app (or an Android one) and can offer a case study, let me know. Send an email to email@example.com and help me chew on the topic.