In Q1 I met with an SEO automation vendor called Altruik. Under development since 2006, Altruik launched in January and provides a technology solution to help dynamic (and static) sites get top search engine rankings.
Before Altruik, I'd had a spate of updates from search marketing automation tools (Marin Software, Kenshoo, Omniture Search Center, Coremetrics), but all focused on the paid search side. Altruik was the first enterprise-level technology I had met dedicated to SEO.
I was watching TV last night when one of Apple's iPhone commercials targeting a "persona" or segment came on TV. Love these commercials. Growing their user base requires them to move beyond early adopters.
This one was targeting small business owners. They showed credit card processing (cool!), label printing (ok, that seems hard) and FedEx shipment tracking (ok, very, very useful again and not just for small business owners). I imagine these applications get a lot more interesting with 3.0.
Who will they target next? Doctors? Sales people? Dog owners? Zookeepers? Distributors? Restaurant managers? Ok, sounds far-fetched, but why not? The vast majority of cell phones in the workplace are brought to work by the individual. Let's see more of these commercials - we all need more reasons why our employers should volunteer to pay our monthly data plans. Help us rationalize the purchase and monthly service plans with productivity applications.
During my presentation at Forrester's Marketing Forum on April 23, I previewed Forrester's latest forecast of interactive marketing spend. We expect marketer spend on display media, search, email, mobile and social media to reach nearly $55 billion by 2014.
I had breakfast last Friday with Robert Tas, CEO of Sportgenic an ad network and advertising management platform focused on targeting advertising to sports enthusiasts. He was in Boston meeting some agency partners (although he did manage to catch game 7 of the Celtics/Bulls series while in town!)
He shared a few observations based on ad sales at his business so far this year:
If you're looking for a best practice on developing mobile strategies, take a look at what E*TRADE is doing. They had a successful launch of an application for Blackberry devices last summer. They are following that today with the release of an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. See their press release. They have some good numbers on how well their mobile service has done to date. Forrester Research will be publishing a more in-depth analysis later this month. Stay tuned.
I saw this article in the New York Times this morning about a program being run by Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina and based in Durham. A similar program exists in California.
Great strategy for communicating with teenagers. Here's why:
- Cell phones are personal devices, and the majority of teens have them. They are also "private" devices in that teens can send and receive messages without anyone knowing what they are doing.
- The majority of teens are on their parents' cell phone plan. They don't necessarily have a data plan for browsing the Internet - only a minority do, and any purchase of a downloadable application would likely show up as a line item on their parents' bill. They send HUNDREDS of text messages each month. Who would notice one or two to an agency asking questions about sex.
- More than 99% of cell phone are capable of SMS and the majority of teens use SMS so the agency achieves maximum reach.
- Many teens are on "all you cat eat" SMS plans - or should be. In any case, a single SMS does not tend to be expensive. So there is little if any incremental cost to the end user.
- SMS is carrier-independent. The service (information provided) doesn't need to be tested on various carrier networks for phones - it simlpy works on all phones.
- Someone covers the cost of the short code as well as driving awareness of the service, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not that expensive.
Last week, the number of downloads to Apple's iPhones and iPod Touches finally topped one billion. That is an impressive number coming from approximately 30 million devices in the market.
The word "iPhone" in the title of any newspaper article or otherwise turns heads and sells. I would offer, however, that the impact of the iPhone and its potential have been under-hyped. I believe that the impact on the industry is comparable to that of SMS. May not seem that way today, but it will in the course of time.
Here is a partial list of what it has accomplished so far. Apple has:
- Taught carriers that they don't need to own the end customer experience to profit from those customers.
- Demonstrated that consumers will pay for an experience that is unique and extraordinary.
- Shown carriers that they do well serving the average customer, but aren't equipped to serve each segment best.
- Taught consumers how to download applications to their cell phones.
- Taught consumers that their cell phones could do more than voice calls or text messaging
- Created a platform and a business model that is truly compelling to developers.
- Taught US consumers what "3G" is and accelerated demand for it.
- Weren't afraid to leverage their existing 60+ million billing relationships
- Shown us we don't need "open" for a great consumer experience
- Have ever consumer brand in the country thinking they need an iPhone application
I look forward to 3.0 and its possibilities. I don't think enough is being said about what Apple has achieved.
Ok, I admit that I used the word "iPhone" in the title to seek attention, but it is true. My first experiences with Stanza were on my iPhone. A friend suggested that I download the application. Free download. I often asked, "what is the business model?" Selling the technology is one possibility. The creators of Stanza have made a lot of money on an iPhone application. See release.
More seriously, it is an interesting play for Amazon. Heavy users of a service/function on a portable device - whether a PND, MP3 player, etc. - lean towards buying dedicated devices. I have a Kindle, and I love it. I have the Kindle application on my iPhone, but I don't use it. Casual users of these services will buy and use devices that are multi-purpose. Moreover, users don't want to worry about file formats. Lexcycle fills in some of these gaps.
Content players need distribution, content strategies and business models that span the range of portable devices. Adoption outside of laptops and cell phones is limited today, but devices such as portable media players, netbooks, etc. are filling in the space in-between.
Mobile strategies extend beyond a cell phone presence - more so for media companies today than those in other industries.
Think back to mid-nineties. How many of you had cell phones? They were more of a luxury item for most of us. Towards the end of the nineties they became a nice-to-have. Now, if you walk out the door and you don't have your phone, you go back inside and get it.
In the mean time, cell phones have become pervasive in regions around the world where no one thought the economics would make sense. When I visited western Kenya in 1996, I met some Masai warriors - a group of nomads living much as they did 200 years ago. They have herds of cows and goats. They live in huts with no running water or electricity.
When I returned 10 years later in 2006, they were still living in huts without running water or electricity. However, they all had cell phones and were using them to make phone calls, send text messages, etc.
Cell phones are no longer used simply for talking or texting in Africa let alone in the US, Asia and Europe where we have access to high speed wireless networks and affordable data plans. Cell phones are changing the lives of your customers. You need a strategy to engage with them on their cell phones.
Many recent innovations in the mobile space are led by new entrants such as Apple or Google. However, let's be fair with telcos. They invest significant amounts of money in R&D and have very creative staff. There has been some skepticism in the industry on selected Orange services such as Pikeo, Djinngo (ex Bubbletop) or Soundtribes where Orange was trying to "reinvent the wheel" without partnering with the right Internet players. However, these services have never been really marketed and does not prevent strategic partnerships to be signed. Orange in particular has many Orange Labs worldwide and is driving innovation.
I saw recently some interesting demos of products and services to be launched by Orange: