Beacon Marketing: Be Wary Of The Hype

Beacons have a great deal of disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds. I quite like this quote from Steve Cheney, SVP at Estimote: “Beacons as a platform are really a wedge into ‘appifying’ the physical world. They give context to a physical space. They are a way of actually extending the network intelligence to the edge again, something that has been missing since the desktop era. Beacons are truly a way of giving your smartphone eyes—place dumb signs around you and let your phone discover and read them.”

Beacon technology offers new opportunities for marketers across a wide range of industries and verticals. In particular, they enable marketers to:

  • Engage consumers in their mobile moments via in-app interactions.
  • Improve the customer experience.
  • Understand customer behaviors by leveraging analytics.
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The Social Users Marketers Want To Reach Are On Mobile

With Facebook announcing its earnings today, it will be interesting to know more about the performance of video ads and Facebook's teen usage, following my colleagues’ research that showing young people are using the site more rather than less.

I’ll be curious to hear if there is a business strategy update, but I don’t think we’ll have more insights on what “unbundling the big blue app” really means. I think one possible option is that social data and contextual identity will be the layer on top of Facebook’s new social conglomerate.

I personally will be looking more specifically for an update on mobile app installs. There's no doubt that Facebook has disrupted the app marketing space by becoming a key player in app discovery — which is the key driver behind its mobile ad revenues.

A growing and significant part of this business comes from direct marketers looking to drive app installs, primarily from gaming and other businesses that are increasingly dependent on mobile, such as travel and retail companies. These players know the lifetime value of their apps and have calculated how much they can spend to drive each app download and still have a positive return on investment (ROI). But marketers in more-traditional businesses or who are pursuing other marketing goals should pay close attention to the unique attributes of their mobile social users and optimize their social strategies to engage them.

Why?

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Line's IPO Highlights The Potential Of Messaging Apps As New Media

According to Reuters, Japanese messaging app Line has filed for an IPO valued at over $10 billion.

No doubt the space is heating up. Competition is increasing. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Japanese Internet giant Rakuten purchased Viber for $900 million. More recently, Kakao Corp (the maker of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s top messaging service and a direct competitor to Line) and Daum (one of South Korea’s largest Internet portals) announced they would merge through an equity swap, creating a company with about $2.9 billion market capitalization!

To put all this activity in perspective, I recently published a new piece of research explaining how messaging apps are morphing into new media portals and are becoming the new face of social.

WeChat is jockeying to become a global digital platform, thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, the Chinese Internet giant Tencent. The other Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba, which recently invested $280 million in Tango, could also connect the dots between its commerce, payment, media, and social capabilities.

Soon to have 500 million registered online users, Line is definitely a key player in the space. The money to be raised will help in developing the already significant international expansion and further develop the positioning of Line as a “smartphone life platform.” The majority of the $335 million in revenue generated in 2013 came from games and about 20% from stickers — “emoticons on steroids,” as my colleague Julie Ask called them.

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When Mobile Becomes The New Face Of Social

Messaging apps have the potential either to become digital platforms or to significantly enhance the power of current platforms because they so clearly deliver the three things that determine digital platform power: frequent interactions, emotional connection, and convenience. WeChat is for example already morphing into a digital platform offering, thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, the Chinese Internet giant Tencent.

While today’s opportunities are limited by consumers’ reluctance to engage with brands on such intimate channels and by immature marketing tools, it is definitely time for marketers to experiment and to anticipate the next steps.

Indeed, you’ve surely heard of the second-largest acquisition in tech history, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion. However, you may not have heard of KakaoTalk, Kik, Line, Secret, Snapchat, Tango, Viber, or Whisper.

These messaging apps are the new face of social in a mobile context.

Contrary to social media that are generally public broadcast mechanisms that facilitate one-to-many communications, a messaging app is a typically private, one-to-one or one-to-few communication and media tool optimized for mobile. Such smartphone apps can access your address book, bypassing the need to rebuild your social graph on a new service. As Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, puts it, “We no longer capture the real world and recreate it online – we simply live and communicate at the same time.”

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HERE Plans To Acquire Predictive Analytics Vendor Medio To Better Serve Customers In Their Mobile Moments

Today, Nokia’s HERE just announced it plans to acquire Medio Systems, a Seattle-based company that is a pioneer in the emerging field of real-time predictive analytics. I met Medio founder and CTO, Brian Lent, a couple of times in the past few years and have always been impressed by his vision of what analytics would become.

Such an acquisition will help HERE and then Nokia Networks and Technologies deliver more contextualized and personalized experiences by adding smart data to its location intelligence capabilities.

At Forrester, we believe that to embrace the mobile mind shift, companies will have to serve customers in their mobile moments. To do so, they must anticipate their customers’ next likely actions. Already, almost 1 in 4 smartphone users expect their mobile experiences to change based on their location.

According to Nokia, it could, for example, mean delivering individual restaurant recommendations to someone ready for lunch, giving drivers routes that match their driving style based on real-time conditions, or helping businesses personalize their customer offerings.

To be able to deliver these experiences and engage with customers in real time, marketers will have to think about mobile not as yet another digital channel but as a catalyst for business transformation. To do this, Forrester believes they need a business discipline to win in the mobile moment by implementing what we refer to as the IDEA cycle, by:

•       Identifying the mobile moments and context.

•       Designing the mobile engagement.

•       Engineering platforms, process, and people for mobile.

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With iOS 8, Apple Increases The Value Of Its Ecosystem But Only Marginally Improves App Marketing

My colleague Ted Schadler explained here how Apple's iOS 8 focuses on developers building new mobile moments.

Once again, Apple increases the value of its ecosystem and will create more stickiness and loyalty by enabling developers and marketers to build new app experiences. The first building block to tap into the new opportunities that wearables and connected objects are opening up is to create a service ecosystem. That’s the reason we haven't heard any product announcements yesterday.    

From a marketing standpoint, Apple introduced some new App Store features for developers, like app previews and app bundles. Marketers will be able to let users buy multiple games or apps at once and for a discounted price. App listings can now include feature video demonstrations to showcase the value of your app. The new “Explore” tab - including the trending topics and the vertical scrolling - will also facilitate app discovery.

However, in comparison with the great iOS differentiated innovations announced to create new app experiences (e.g., HealthKit, HomeKit, Swift, TouchID, and open APIs), Apple mostly implemented incremental changes to its App Store marketing. Most marketers sill complain about Apple’s black box and the lack of transparency about Apple App Store’s ranking algorithm and ratings and review systems.

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What To Learn From The Japanese Mobile-Centric Market

Japanese consumers are among the most mobile-savvy in the world: They were shopping, banking, and gaming on mobile phones long before consumers in other nations. The Japanese mobile ecosystem used to be unique; telecom operators specified to Japanese handset manufacturers the design of services to implement on multimedia phones. This is changing in an app world.

Indeed, the mobile market is opening up quickly to the smartphone app ecosystem. While Japan is a mobile-centric society, smartphone adoption has lagged behind other major markets. Many international brands launched their first mCommerce initiatives in Japan several years ago, but the market subsequently disappeared from the innovation radar due to the US-centric smartphone app ecosystem. But this is changing. It is time to take another look at Japan to uncover how the nation is combining innovation and scale as its market embraces smartphone apps.

More than a decade ago, I had the opportunity to work with NTT DoCoMo to introduce i-mode — the mobile multimedia service in France. At that time, Japan was clearly two to three years ahead of the rest of the mobile world. The Japanese market — and more specifically, the i-mode business model — is rumored to have inspired Steve Jobs to launch the Apple App Store. After that, Silicon Valley became the new source of innovation and inspiration for mobile marketers. Now that the app ecosystem has come full circle, marketers should again consider mobile marketing in Japan, benefiting from a more open ecosystem to distribute their apps and engage with Japanese customers. I recently spent a full week in Japan, and it is fascinating to see the relationship people have with mobile phones over there.

There are lots of lessons to learn from the likes of Rakuten, Line, Felica, Softbank, or NTT DoCoMo and from a mature ecosystem of mobile contactless and connective-tissue technologies.

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Messaging Apps Are Thriving In The Age of The Customer

By now, you've surely heard of the second-largest acquisition in tech history, with Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion.

However, you may be less familiar with other messaging apps like LINE, KakaoTalk, KIK, Nimbuzz, SnapChat, Vibes, Whisper, and many others.

If you think messaging apps are just a free way to communicate, you’re missing their potential: They are Mobile’s Trojan horse, as explained by my colleague Julie Ask here.

Messaging apps are mushrooming.They illustrate perfectly the age of the customer, which Forrester defines as a new business era where your customers are now empowered through social, mobile, and other technologies giving them the power to disrupt your business. Why? Because they are mastering the four key market imperatives Forrester has identified as critical to differentiate in the age of the customer:

■  Transforming the customer experience over SMS and other messaging tools. Messaging apps offer differentiated and seamless experiences over SMS and other mobile communication tools. For example, they offer advanced group messaging functionalities, multimedia features, constant innovation, and ability to opt-in or follow brands at consumers’ convenience. They are now morphing into marketing platforms redefining social media.

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Mobile & Social Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin

The vast majority of Facebook and Twitter usage is coming from mobile devices, and both companies generate a significant proportion of their revenues via mobile ads (53% for Facebook and more than 70% for Twitter end Q4 2013).

  • Facebook is splitting into a collection of apps (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Paper, etc…) and likely to announce a mobile ad network at its F8 developer conference in San Francisco in a couple of days. While failing brand marketers, according to my colleague Nate Elliott, Facebook is increasingly powerful at driving app installs for gaming companies and performance-based marketers who have a clear mobile app business model.
  • That’s why Twitter introduced mobile app install ads a couple of days ago and leveraged its MoPub acquisition by integrating ad-buying capabilities. Twitter is less and less about micro-blogging and more and more about traditional media – the place to be for real-time information consumption.
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Beyond Marketing: How Mobile Is Transforming McDonald's France

At the beginning of the year in our yearly mobile predictions report, my colleague Julie Ask and I made the following call: "mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business. 2014 will be the year that companies increase investments to transform their businesses with mobile as a focal point." McDonald’s France is a great example of such a trend.

In France, you can now order a Big Mac anytime, anywhere on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop and pick it up later at any of 1,200 McDonald’s restaurants. But mobile ordering and in-store pick up are just the first steps of a broader and more ambitious strategy: differentiating McDonald’s brand experience and powering a future relationship marketing platform by enabling direct behavioral customer insights. Although it started with a mobile ordering and payment app nationwide, McDonald’s France aims to transform all points of customer engagement by building a platform to extend new services to loyal customers and evolving the entire organization.

Despite a less mature mobile ecosystem and lower mobile usage than in the US, McDonald’s France was the first subsidiary of McDonald’s to launch a mobile ordering offering at scale. Such an ordering service is only at pilot stage in the US. France is McDonald’s second-biggest market after the United States, with €4.35 billion in turnover in 2012. Most other countries had piloted mobile payments so far. With more than 16 million members, McDonald’s Japan mobile couponing and in-store contactless payment services is the only other mobile service for McDonald’s (and the vast majority of brands) that has scaled massively, but it does not yet offer the same value.

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