Alternative marketing thinking


Archive for the category “Mobile”

Advertising. Not Like the Music Industry.

There have been many stories in the media in the last few weeks about the decay of advertising. There was this long one about The Future of Advertising in Fast Company. BusinessWeek countered it with this one on how Big Dumb Agencies may not be going away anywhere soon. The most provocative one, however was by Adaptive Path’s Peter Merholz. It was a brutal piece, one that tore apart our business as one with a “poisonous core”. While there has been a lot of debate and discussion around the post – in fact Peter has posted a rejoinder explaining various points on his original one, I thought the last item on his first rant to be a bit off key.  Advertising Agencies are the New Music Industry, he wrote.

I am not sure if the music industry analogy is the right one for the advertising business. While just like the music business, traditional advertising is being run over by the arrival of the Internet and other digital mediums, unlike the music industry, which went down primarily because of the growth of file sharing, I think advertising will evolve thanks to a combination of many smaller changes.

Search Marketing. While Google and others in the search marketing business are seeing exceptional growth, search marketing alone will not end advertising as we know it.

Social Media. Yes it is hot at the moment and will be extremely important in the years to come. Social media engagement will be one of the many things that marketers will need to help manage a brand.

PR. For years PR was a discipline that marketing had little influence over. Bougsky’s allegedly famous quote “…write me the press release” aptly describes how PR has become an important mover of marketing messages. Recently Pepsi’s Shiv Singh tweeted about wanting a partner who was a combination of a digital agency, a traditional agency and a PR company.

Video. BMW films showed us what can be done when branded messages are played out in digital media. There have been many experiments that have followed. The age of video, though, is just beginning to play out.

Mobile. Mobile devices will have as much or more impact on the marketing business as computers, TV and radio have had in the past. Always connected, always on phones are a tsunami that will change traditional messaging, but will need to do more to completely annihilate brand messages.

Location Based Services. These new and emerging concepts will add another dimension to real-time marketing. There are some simple and straight forward “Minority Report” kind of possibilities that location based messaging can do. These concepts will evolve and amaze us in the years to come.

Reality Enhanced. Ideas like augmented reality are just being experimented with at the moment. There will be more we will do by overlaying smart digital ideas over real things in the future.

Gaming. In an attention starved world, inventive new branded or brand embedded  games will give marketers access into the minds of people.

Crowdsourcing. Not so much a concept as much as an approach to producing ideas. Crowdsourcing will chip away advertising agency strongholds and change advertising in many ways.

Amazement. For decades, advertising had this knack of creating jaw-dropping moments. Not anymore. Anyone with a digital camera can now. Ads now have to fight even harder to be seen and talked about.

Marketers, marketing messages and the ones who create them, advertising agencies, will have to change to stay in touch with people who have lot more to do. The reason for this change will be many. All of them equally relevant.


Put Your Brand Here!

Wonderful little round up of the best branded apps that have come up for the iPhone.

The Iphone Fuelling Growth In Mobile Banking

Tiny little note that we picked up on the explosion of mobile banking, thanks to the iPhone and the App Store. Look it up here. Another little tidbit, 50 apps that can make you richer, from Mashable, here

Designing For The Mobile Web

One of the biggest challenges that web companies will need to brace for is the coming mobile web. Websites will have to be smaller, cleaner, load faster and easy to navigate. While Apple and Adobe have collaborated long and hard on design and word processing platforms, Flash the chosen motion add-on for the web, is still not available on the iPhone. So designers will have to think up new ways to deliver visually enhanced experiences on the device. Smashing Magazine has a wonderful story on how to design for the mobile web. A must read for anyone who is interested in connecting with people in the coming year. Couched as a trends article, this is more a how to, with loads of very important insights on how the phone and its user are different compared to when he/she uses other devices. The story points to 5 key differences that a designer has to keep in mind when designing for the medium, including lack of white spaces and images. On the technical front, look out for the use of sub domains rather than use .mobi as a TLD, it’s a lot easier to manage content delivery on different platforms, we suspect. Another important trend that’s being noticed is the need to prioritise content for visitors. Show only what is important seems to be the mantra of the best sites, which means even ads are out for the moment. Mobile as a platform for delivering web sites is still evolving. Music and movie makers seem to have a leg up at the moment as people using their phones as music players and mini screens for watching things is already firmly in place. How to deliver easily navigable websites and corporate borchureware, now that’s another challenge. The Smashing Magazine story is here. How NY Times redesigned navigation for the iPhone is here.

Making Money With Mobile

Interesting little story in AdAge digital that links into a Yankee Group research. Banks, the study says, should look at generating from people taking their accounts onto their mobile. Generally, banks have largely viewed the channel as a way to generate savings by diverting customer service away from call centers or interactive voice response. But at some point, says Yankee Group, they have to look beyond saving overheads and use mobile as a revenue generator. Using an embedded payment chip on the phone, a mobile phone should be able to do everything a credit card does, faster and without a hassle, hence adding to convenience and more transactions. Read here in AdAge.

From Ads To APPS

Early last year, we predicted 2008 to be the year of the widget. But with Vista struggling to take off, it looked like the prediction would turn out to be a turkey. Then came in the iPhone appstore that changed everything. Some 300 million downloads in just 21 weeks, poof!. Brands have been playing with apps for a while, the Carling iPint app was one of the early pieces that caught the eye. Now, according to AdAge, apps are replacing ads for many marketers. In lieu of banner ads, advertisers increasingly are building mobile applications that provide contained brand experiences along with a usefulness that keeps users interacting with the brand, writes Rita Chang. In the past month, brands such as Kraft, Nike, Gap, REI and Friskies have built applications for everything from planning a dinner menu to downloading snow reports. Unlike microsites that fade away after a few days and weeks, apps have the ability to stay useful to people who have downloaded them for months and years. Done right, apps have the ability to provide utilitarian value that goes beyond the brand message. Apps also fit in from the point of view of the changed consumer, who is happy to co-create and personalise things that attract their attention. So if there is an app that you can build, that could fit into people’s lives in some tangible way, go on, make it available to people, and they will come. More in AdAge. Also read this story from

Cash, Card Or Cell Phone, Maybe…

An article that should have featured here sometime ago, but it’s here now, looks at the emergence of cell phone as a payment mechanism, albeit differently. This is not the like many of the MPay systems we are reading about, but in Japan, NTT DoCoMo have found a way to embed a small chip in the phone that works as a contactless card. Millions of people are using the system to buy everything from vending-machine sodas to train tickets. To pay, a user passes a chip-enabled handset over a compatible reader. Credit is then deducted from a stored-value account provided by NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s dominant cell-phone carrier. Getting the idea working in the US however is facing a hurdle, not so much from consumers, as much as from not having the infrastructure in place to use such a facility. But that is changing slowly, it seems. While contactless cards have faltered in the United States, mobile-phone banking has taken off. At the end of 2007, 1 million people were using mobile banking. That number is now more than 5 million, and it’s expected to reach 42 million by 2012, according to TowerGroup. Bank of America’s (BofA) program. Watch a flash demo here alone totaled more than 1 million customers in June, about a year after it launched. The browser-based application allows them to check balances, pay bills, view transactions, find branches and ATMs, and transfer funds from their mobile phones. One of the other reasons why the uptake of such and idea in US and many other countries will take a lot more time is the lack of a dominant mobile phone company like NTT DoCoMo in Japan. One other option that is emerging is the association of credit card companies like Visa and mobile service providers. Maybe 2009 is not the best year for an idea like this to really take off, but an interesting look at the many dynamics that come into play when new ideas need mass adoption. More from CFO magazine. A counterpoint to this story is this one in MobileCrunch that states that users in the US don’t trust mobile banking security.

Publishers Helping Create Ads.

This is not something totally new, but we could see a lot more of it in 09, where marketers and publishers get together to create ads. As New York Times reports, LG is tying up with Condé Nast to create a series of celebrity endorsed print ads. See the first one here. Now agencies may scoff at the idea and the creative, but the important thing to note here is that magazines have easy access to just about any celebrity in the world, and they maybe able to access them at rates that many agencies and marketers will never be able to. And as Ed Cotton, writing on Influx Insights notes: In 2009 and beyond, it’s not about borders and boundaries, but good ideas that can appear anywhere and be created by anyone. The trouble is much of our business still lives in the past, a past that’s defined by old rules and old paradigms of creativity. It’s clear that in the coming 18-24 months, those with an inability to grasp the new model and seize the myriad opportunities that now exist will simply be left behind. Read the story in The Times.

Going Mad With Multiscreens

It’s a known fact that a large part of our lives now revolve around interacting with some screen or the other. From the original idiot box to the third screen of our mobile phone, we are armed and ready to receive communication of any kind, any time of the day and night. New York Times recently held a panel discussion with some of the brightest creators of new media, Benjamin Palmer of Barbarian Group, Lard Bastholm of AKQA, Robert Rassmussen RG/A, all moderated by Jack Hilt. Here are some quotes we picked up from the chat…

On the proliferation of screens
• What the proliferation of screens has done is give a zillion creators the power to publish.
• When the TV networks held the reins for content, all advertising had to do was buy into the public consciousness of entertainment, which was television
• (You can’t just advertise just anything anymore) with the internet, consumers have become smarter.
• Most media, like television, used to be a kind of flow. You’d sit down, you’d turn it on and you’d watch. The reason advertising is completely broken is, that flow doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no prime time.
• (On the Internet) brands have become transparent, and that’s changed the tone of advertising. Now you have to try to be more authentic — even if it’s just authentically acknowledging that what you’re doing is advertising.
• So advertising is by necessity a fractured narrative. We have a story we want to tell, and we use different media channels and different touch points to tell it.

On customer being in control
• It used to be that companies would commission a study at great expense to find out what people thought about their product. Now you just go online and find out. It’s really scary at first. You realize there’s a whole dialogue going on outside your brand, and you can’t control it.
• (When customers talk online) The feedback you get, is so much richer and more immediate than what we used to get.
• That’s scary because of the instantaneousness of it. I mean, people will call you on things in a heartbeat.
(Editor’s note, politicians and the government in Mumbai were at the receiving end of this new phenomena after the terror strikes in Mumbai; email, social networking sites and mobile phones became the centre of a movement that brought some 20,000 people together to a peace march at the Gateway of India. Read the tiny post that started it all)

On marketers trying to adapt
• We used to joke that advertising was “lying for a living.” We got away with that back then. We can’t anymore. And now, if we get caught in a lie, we’re in trouble.

On staying informed
• Most people no longer “watch the news.” Every morning I (Lars Bastholm) check the latest headlines on the BBC’s Web site. There’s a Danish newspaper that I check out every day, because that’s where I’m from, and then I look at The New York Times. I get a Twitter feed from CNN as well.

On how media can go with the flow
• The problem with established news shows is that they’re trying to be everything for everybody.
• Maybe the newscaster could begin with a Twitter feed where she’s talking about what she’s actually doing during the day – eg, newscaster talking openheartedly about what she experienced the second after she’s done with the interview.
• There is an interesting contrast between this fixed 6:30 p.m. news show and this idea of the fragmented narrative throughout the day.

On advertising money machines like the Superbowl
• The Super Bowl has become an advertising event. Everybody watches and talks about the ads.
• No one is saying that a Super Bowl spot won’t work. As a way to launch the conversation, why not? But you have to have lots of digital follow-up planned ahead of time.
• You can make revenue off multiple streams of content. If you’re giving somebody two minutes or three minutes of content, they’re probably willing to accept a brief ad.

On the future
• Clients are not saying, “Make us ads” or “Make us Web sites,” they’re saying, “Create interaction between our brand and our customers.” That’s our job now.
Read the whole round table here…

Visa Takes On Android

Starbucks can now send you vouchers for cut-price cappuccinos straight to your mobile handset, thanks to a new partnership between Visa and Google’s newly released Android mobile operating system. Users can sign up to receive offers from marketers that will be delivered directly to a simple interface on their mobile phones. Those who opt in click an ‘offers’ button for the latest promotions, and can then use their handset to find out the location of their nearest Starbucks. Visa is also teaming up with Nokia to roll out a mobile payment system before the year-end. More.

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