Alternative marketing thinking


Archive for the category “Research”

When technology fills in for human connection

Sharin visited your path, my phone alerted me the other day. For all the things Path does, this feature is a killer. In a real world context the alert could mean many things. Sharin came home. You bumped into Sharin on the street. You met Sharin for coffee. Except that you didn’t.

If you have not already, you must try Path. It’s an app for the iPhone and Android devices. Share Life says this video that advertises Path. While it does many things that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare do, there is a little bit more. A nuance that makes a new kind of connection.

While Path is the new shiny, and this story is not specifically about Path, but about technology beginning to make a human connection. Not just for the shy and the socially inept. “If I have been to sleep and don’t have at least four messages when I wake up, I feel no one loves me” said this quote from this study of 2005. The world has moved on, and for many of us checking our phone for email or SMS messages is the first thing we do when we wake up in the morning.

We are the first generation of humans touched by technology.

What started in analog with telephone answering machine has been converted into bits and bytes and is coursing the veins of the digital nervous system we call the world-wide web. Soon we will be hearing about the Internet of things, like how we did, Web 2.0 a few years ago. And as it unfolds, more things will be connected to the Internet. Objects like the streets of Tokyo or if you can call cows objects, like in this experiment in Holland where a startup, Sparked, is connecting animals to keep track of their health.

It is easy to understand how we can build bridges between objects and the Internet. Haven’t we have heard of concepts like connected refrigerators that could order for fresh stocks of milk and eggs or cars that could made SOS calls when in an emergency, since the early days of the internet? Many of these ideas are not just concepts anymore and as this video from IBM tells us there are more things connected to the internet than there are people.

However what makes my experience with Path a little different is that unlike objects that have an IP address and make dumb connections, Path can play with human emotion. What did Sharin find out about me when she dropped by my path unannounced.

There are others. Take Availabot, one of the early examples of an Internet connected object that could play with us. A USB device that would wake up when a friend of mine logged on to IM. Made me smile. Or Mingling Mii, a virtual Nintendo Wii avatar that, if connected to the internet could popup in the audience as my friends played virtual games no matter where they were.

We are going further as this breathtaking idea from Interaction Design shows us. With PillowTalk you can sleep next to your loved one even when you are far, far away. Wish I had thought of that.

As we move into a world with omnipresent Wi-Fi and 3G networks, RFID and NFC chips, QR codes and augmented reality overlays. Of connected databases that know us, our friends and our preferences better we will see more richness, more meaning being built around us. Ideas that can change our moods, play with our feelings and mind states.

The reason why this fascinates us is because we are the first generation of humans who have been touched by technology, as this baby born into a home with an iPad thought that a magazine is an iPad that does not work.


Creativity And Thinking Far

Apparently there’s an easy way to increase creativity. By creating an effect called psychological distance Indiana university researchers have been able create a feeling that if the problem is further away then it really is and hence increases chances of creativity. Why does psychological distance increase creativity? According to CLT, psychological distance affects the way we mentally represent things, so that distant things are represented in a relatively abstract way while psychologically near things seem more concrete. More in Scientific American

Saintsbury. User Generated Electricity.

Saintsbury has installed a new Kinetic Road Plate system at the supermarket giant’s new store in Gloucester, U.K., and will harness enough energy from vehicles driving in and out of the store’s car park to power all the store’s check outs. More

Creative Testing At Cannes Lions 2009

Millward Bown Global CEO Eileen Campbell and Millward Brown Optimor CEO, Joanna Seddon teamed up at Cannes this year to talk creative testing and how inputs from research can help improve the creative product. Worth 45 minutes of your time.

A Gesture’s Worth

Dr. Pentland and his colleagues began applying technological tools to a question of human behavior — how people use nonverbal communication cues — the results were startling. Dr. Pentland’s findings — based on data from a device he calls a “sociometer” a wearable, badgelike contraption that can continuously measure various nonverbal aspects of people’s interactions — have implications for both how people communicate and how they understand what is being communicated to them. Dr Penland built a device to read our autonomic nervous system; it’s the oldest part of the nervous system, the fight-or-flight part. He believes that when you become more active and you have more nervous energy. Also on attention, when people pay attention to each other, and he thinks he can read that from the timing between people who are in conversation. If two people are talking together and each one is anticipating when the other will pause and jumping in exactly at that point leaving no gaps, then they’re paying a great deal of attention to each other. There’s more in Dr Penland’s new book Honest Signals. Read an interview with the Prof here. The power of nonverbal communication, from Wall Street Journal.

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.

Paradox Of Thrift. Less Spending = More Recession

Adding another layer of complexity to the continuing economic downturn in the US is the news of lowering of debts in American households. Usually, frugality is good for individuals and for the economy. Savings serve as a reservoir of capital that can be used to finance investment, which helps raise a nation’s standard of living. But in a recession, increased saving — or its flip side, decreased spending — can exacerbate the economy’s woes. It’s what economists call the “paradox of thrift.” U.S. household debt, which has been growing steadily since the Federal Reserve began tracking it in 1952, declined for the first time in the third quarter of 2008. In the same quarter, U.S. consumer spending growth declined for the first time in 17 years. Economists now expect the rate to rebound to 3% to 5%, or even higher, in 2009, among the sharpest reversals since World War II. Goldman Sachs last week predicted the 2009 saving rate could be as high as 6% to 10%. Discover the complexities of the world’s economic system in The Wall Street Journal.


The new book from Malcolm Gladwell is here (Read highlights on the authors site.) It makes a case for genius. And how some people have a better chance at being a genius than others. Seth Godin, while agreeing with Gladwell’s basic theory of 10,000 hours has an interesting counterview.

Do you have a customer experience management checklist?

1 to 1 Marketing Editor Ginger Conlon was at Strativity Group’s two-day customer experience management (CEM) certification course and came away with a list of things to do for companies looking to make CEM a part of their DNA. She suggest that companies value customer not from a market share perspective, but from a relationship perspective. “How many unprofitable customers”, she asks, “are you doing business with in the name of market share?” A one-size-fits-all is the enemy of any customer-centricity program. And unfortunately for many companies, it’s the prospect not the customer who’s king. When companies are asking customers to be loyal to them, they have to be ready to reciprocate. One of the interesting examples she cites is that of Apple and iPod, when they launched the device, they also made iTunes available–in other words, a complete customer experience: a device, software, legal downloads, and more. Apple was never in the music business, but they had to re-imagine the music business so that they could become the dominant player in the device market. So, when considering what more your organization can do, ask yourself, “Are there mature and tired markets, or just tired executives? She also suggests that for companies to roll out successful CEM programs, they need to listen to customers, and to ensure that every employee in these companies learn that customers are their most valuable asset. Read more on the 1 to 1 blog.

Online. Clicks May Not Be The Only Way.

Focusing only on clickthrough rates in your online media plan? Maybe you want to look at the possibilities of display ads. ComScore recently released an interesting White Paper titled How Online Advertising Works: Whither The Click. By examining 139 online display ad campaigns conducted across a variety of industries, including Retail & Apparel, Travel, CPG & Restaurant, Finance, Automotive, Consumer Electronics & Software and Media & Entertainment, ComScore has confirmed substantial effects. It’s clear that display advertising, despite a lack of clicks, can have a significant positive impact on: Visitation to the advertiser’s Web site (lift of at least 46% over a four week period). The likelihood of consumers conducting a search query using the advertiser’s branded terms (a lift of at least 38% over a four week period). Consumers’ likelihood of buying the advertised brand online (an average 27% lift in online sales). Consumers’ likelihood of buying at the advertiser’s retail store (an average lift of 17%). Andrew Frank, Gartner analyst, who does a review of the ComScore paper here asks agencies and marketers to move beyond the click fixation.

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