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The Yahoo-ization of Flickr

flickr_logo.jpgYesterday, Flickr (the popular Yahoo! owned photo sharing social network or which I am a Pro member) announced that they would be placing some new restrictions on accounts. The first is a 3000 contact limit per account and the second is the requirement that all users login after 2/15 with a Yahoo! ID. Thomas Hawk (via Scoble) has a really good recap of the conversations going on about this.

Flickr has every right to enforce these decisions, but in what spirit do they make them? The claim is that these changes will increase overall system speed and increase security respectively.

First, the system speed on browsing (which is where they claim is effected) isn't slowed down by contacts. Flickr is also a very graphically light system so it tends to load fast and respond quickly and contacts are deeper inside user profiles.

On the Yahoo! ID, I understand the rationale. Yahoo! wants to expand their user base and push more services to Flickr users, but Flickr is a very independent, irreverent, spirited community of dedicated people. Making a bunch of non-conformists (which most artists are in some regard) conform to something like this is a little off-putting especially through brute force (as of 2/15 you must have a Yahoo! login).

Lastly, I wonder if Yahoo! has other plans in bumping up the graphic load on Flickr (read advertising) and that's the push for data limitations. More importantly, however is the issue this raises on the oversight of social networks. Who controls things like this? Should it be the masses of paying customers making the decisions or at least weighing in? Social networks are fragile and full of dedicated, fickle people who could use that same network to revolt (bad press or loss of members).

So, where does this stop? What are the future limitations that Flickr may impose? Better yet, what entrepreneurial photo sharing network will offer Flickr's pro members (the people who pay) a free, comparable account and the automated import of their Flickr photos? Flickr's API allows pretty good access to make this happen. Zoomr are you listening?

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Mobile marketing 101: Geographic targeting, bluespamming

Monday I wrote about smart-targeting based on geography and technologies like GPS and SMS. Customers, in that case, would have signed up, confirmed their opt-in and set their preferences for receiving messages.

The other form of geographic targeting is also proximity based (where you only get messages when you're in a physical range of the transceiver), but it's not specifically targeted to your device and you probably didn't ask for it. This is happening now where stores are using Bluetooth technology to push their messages to anyone who walks past. The term is 'bluespamming' or 'bluecasting'. (See this great post by Helen Keegan of Beep Marketing for her take.)


For marketers, this is tempting because of its simplicity (set up a bluetooth server that constantly sends out your message to anyone who walks by), but it's as unethical as email spamming in the lack of user permission. The technology isn't the problem, it is the usage in this case. If marketers leveraged the smart-targeting example and asked permission this could be very successful and probably more cost effective to set up and manage.

Bluetooth has limited range, but for shops with a lot of pedestrian traffic nearby this could be a great model. This is sure to start popping up in the US now that Bluetooth is becoming standard issue on most phones, but it doesn't seem like a viable long-term solution to mobile marketing.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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How do you start?

start.jpgThe first move, the first thought, the first keystroke is often the hardest part of doing anything worthwhile. How many potentially extraordinary projects have you seen fail because nobody took the first step? How many children go without clothing and food because people don't make an effort to do anything?

I pose this question to do you start? How do you start your day, a new marketing campaign, cleaning out the garage. What makes you get off your butt and do something?

For me personally, I need to create my own sense of urgency and connect on an emotional level to something.

If more people just took that first baby step, the world would be a better place. Guy Kawasaki has turned starting into an art form.

How about you?

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The bleeding edge: QR codes

img.pngAlthough QR (quick response) codes have been around since the mid-90s in Japan (born from manufacturing), they have only recently come into the mainstream consumer's focus. Japanese mobile consumers are using these codes along with special software and their phone's camera to shortcut having to type information into a mobile browser. (The QR code to the right is the URL for this blog in QR symbology.)

These codes are creeping up online, in magazines and newspapers and even on TV to allow users to quickly jump to their website or share a host of other information. All a person has to do is point their phone at the code and it knows what to do, taking the user to the end destination. See for yourself and create one using this generator.

Realistically, the success rate of something like this in the US is going to be equally proportional to the number of US mobile subscribers who use mobile web. Right now that number is low (but growing). Without a support base of subscribers who find entering information into their phones difficult, this could go the way of the Cuecat.

Here is a video of it in action, you may not be able to read what it says, but you'll see how it works.

Competition is out there (see this post on Engadget) and although QR is an ISO standard, it is not a universally agreed upon convention. Interesting to note, there are also 3D versions of these codes which are capable of storing 1.8Mb of data. That could be a document, small music file or short video clip. Imagine the possibilities. Walk into a store, see a CD you like, scan the code and possibly listen to a clip of the track right there.

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Relevant product suggestions add value and drive revenue

CardsThere is an independent coffee shop down the street from me which serves a mighty fine americano. While I was waiting today I noticed this stand right by the register. It's called "Humor Newsstand...fresh and funny every day" and they offer fresh, timely greeting cards at the point of sale.

While on the surface this appears to have nothing to do with technology, it does. Think about the last time you went through an online shopping experience. When you had finished adding products to your cart and were ready to leave did they just show you a total or did they try to offer you helpful, impulse-driven, complementary products? Once a user has helped define what their interests are (in this case through the products selected) it's our job as marketers to make sure we provide relevant information. Too many commerce sites miss out on this simple tactic to give the user a better experience and increase incremental revenue.

The same principle can be applied to blogging and other forms of social marketing. Once you have a user on your blog, reading what you have to say do you give them a chance to learn more about your other posts? Do you suggest content they may also enjoy or do one-time readers slip away?

Related: Guy Kawasaki on social marketing

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iPhone, you could have been mine

iphone.jpgSo close, yet so far away. From Apple Insider:

Verizon Wireless passed on the chance to be the exclusive distributor of the iPhone almost two years ago, balking at Apple's rich financial terms and other demands, according to a published report.

The USA Today on Monday cited Jim Gerace, a Verizon Wireless vice president, as saying the iPod maker and No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier just could not come to terms on a variety of issues.

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Mobile marketing 101: Geographic smart-targeting

This is the first of a two part series on mobile geo-targeting. Geography-based targeting is becoming more realistic as technology improves and consumers become more accepting of marketing messages on their phones. This post explores "smart-targeting" where the marketer knows (based on signup) who their customers are and what content they would like to receive. The marketer then uses the customer's real-time, geographic position to send them messages when they're within range.

To illustrate a smart-targeting campaign I created an example (see below) using my favorite purveyor of coffee. For a campaign like this, users would have signed up online to receive update messages and profile their interests. They also would have gone through the mobile confirmed opt-in process (read more about confirmed opt-ins).

Once activated, whenever a customer comes within a pre-defined distance from a store they would receive a message from that location based on their preferences. The power here is that the offer is relevant to their interest (coffee drinking and the brand) and it is geo-relevant as well. Each Starbucks location would have the ability to send out similar messages as a subscriber's device is detected with matching interest criteria.


(Hat tip to David Armano for the inspiration to blog with my information designs, I've got a ways to go before I reach his level.)

There are three primary types of customers who could receive these smart-targeted messages. Green consumers in the diagram are true devotees. They welcome your messages and even get excited to receive them because it makes them feel more like part of your community. Geo-targeting to these users serves as a branding reinforcement and could spark spur-of-the-moment purchases through coupons or new product information.

Consumers in orange are on the edge. They're occasional users of your product or service, but they are close to moving to the red level. Messages to this person need to be more focused on product trial. The more they try and become devoted, the better chance they have of moving back to green.

Red consumers are the most crucial to deal with. They have either a) lost their affinity for you and your products or b) forgotten they signed up in the first place. Every campaign needs to have a mechanism built in to remove these users immediately and put them on a permanent do not message list. Most of the risk (legal, time and money) of any geo-targeting campaign lies in this group.

Other, non-mobile methods of contact should be sent periodically to allow users to adjust their interests or opt-out. Other questions should aim to provide more insight into the level of the customer for campaign message adjustment.

Despite the risks, the power of mobile technology combined with the hyper-relevant message is nearly unmatched in modern marketing. No other combination of resources is as relevant and personal as geo-targeted marketing...if done right. If not conducted correctly geo-targeted campaigns become pure spam, hurt the overall brand and limit acceptance for future mobile efforts. The technology to enable this type of geo-targeting is becoming a reality more and more as new geo-ready phones are released.

Part 2 will focus on always-on, proximity targeting. This is very different from geo-targeting and has its own set of risks and rewards. Check back shortly for that post.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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The spirit of blogging and the power of linking

Robert Scoble.jpgJust saw this post on Scoble's blog about bloggers helping other bloggers. His own post was sparked by Sue Pollinksy's post "Getting linked to".

All bloggers (big or small) have the duty to link to other blogs to spread and broaden the conversation. These two posts show the medium's true power. An idea sparked a conversation and it spread, is involving other bloggers, gaining insight from people of different walks of life and refining itself into a bigger, better, more complete idea.

Scoble has, in the spirit of the blogosphere, made an offer to bloggers to leave their URLs in the comments in his post so he can check them out and possibly add them to his link blog. His move here will drive millions of visits to new blogs and could even help launch the next Scoble.

Related: Scoble's photowalking empowers photographers

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Finding the ROI of blogging

For most companies, the financial unknown of creating a corporate blog stops them from seeing the potential benefit of the medium as a method to personally connect with their customers. Charlene Li at Forrester offers a new model to calculate the ROI of corporate blogging.

Check it out. If you're a marketer trying to champion a blog at your company this is a great starting point. I would suggest adapting this model to your industry, seeing if there are more metrics you could apply (e-commerce conversions, increases in dealer site traffic, etc.) to be more relevant.


(Source: Forrester Research)

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Where do you blog from?

whereiblog.jpgIain Tait at his blog has a great post today. He's calling on bloggers to take a photo of the computer(s) they blog from. My work setup is pictured here. It's a very interesting look into the psyche of bloggers.

Per Iain:

I was thinking about how much you can tell about someone through their blog or website. Then for some reason I started thinking about where people blog and the machines that they use to blog. Do people with neat and tidy blogs (and thought processes) blog from neat and tidy desks? Do funny people have funny computers? Do techy people have super high tech rooms with loads of neon stuff?

I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. And there’s something sweetly voyeristic about it

So where do you blog from? Take a shot, upload it to Flickr and add it to the group 'computersbehindblogs'. It's interesting to see how many people blog from Macs (myself included). This is a great way to use a social network to bring people from other areas together to share common interests. Nice job Iain.

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What's worse than a flog? Why not to piss off the wikimmunity

150px-Wikipedia-logo-en-big.pngIf you're not familiar with the term 'flog' it means to fake a blog. There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere as more and more companies are trying to get a piece of the social marketing pie. The problem is that some of those companies are so unremarkable, with no real devoted following, that PR and advertising agencies are creating fictitious people to blog in the company's behalf. (See my posts '20 common mistakes of eager bloggers' point #9 and this post of mine on the DigiKnow blog for more information.)

I push all clients who we engage with to provide full transparency when dealing in social marketing. This includes who you are specifically and making sure the contribution you're making is in the spirit of the online community. The risks of not doing such far outweigh any benefits. Each community has its own neighborhood watch program. Citizen police forces band together to investigate, gather evidence and convict anyone found in violation.

The latest corporate miscalculation is Microsoft. They've been reported to have offered a blogger money to change their entry on Wikipedia, the free,online, open-source encyclopedia. This is a cardinal sin of the Wikimmunity. The posting, editing, change and approval processes make up the law and only legitimate alterations are accepted. Corrections from corporations are frowned upon due to their biased nature.

Here is just some of the coverage: CNN, WSJ, Redmond Magazine (an online Microsoft mag), Guardian and many more.

This only emphasizes the need for full disclosure and transparency when promoting corporate interests through social marketing whether that is through blogging, commenting on blogs, posting images, editing wikis or interacting in SecondLife. Interactions in these communities combined with Google's caching servers make getting away with anything almost impossible and certainly traceable.

Certainly social marketing can be done and can be effective if targeting the right audience, but it should be a piece of a broader marketing strategy.

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If you name it they will come

hello.jpgSometimes something as simple as a name can enable millions of people to share their ideas in ways which had never been done before. One of my personal favorite new names is 'photowalking'. Robert Scoble (blogger extraordinaire and leading Internet video guru) popularized the term and it basically means finding a group of people who like photography and then meeting to walk around and shoot photos. Simple right?

It is simple. That's the beauty. Personally, seeing Robert's first video with the talented Thomas Hawk changed the way I looked at photography. It validated something I already knew. Photography can be a social experience, and shooting in groups offers a collective sounding board to the people involved. Seeing how people physically position themselves to get shots, seeing the angles you never saw and looking at how they process those images in Photoshop has taught me a lot about photography. I've formed a photowalking group at DigiKnow, where I work, and people love it. Having an excuse to get out is all we need (even on days like yesterday when we trudged through the snow).

You can draw similar parallels to blogging. If you're reading this post, you're engaging in my blog. Had someone not given this a name I most likely wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it. Yes it's a type of online diary. Yes it is a trend. But it is an enabler over all else. People are sharing their ideas at record pace and yes, most of the bloggers are talking about personal, local stuff. That's what a blog is all about. Some bloggers, however, have taken the medium to a new level. Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Robert Scoble, Om Malik, David Armano, Guy Kawasaki, Valeria Maltoni. These are thought leaders, artists, conversation starters and voices of industry. More bloggers are sharing ideas every day.

So, what is the next name that will enable millions to express themselves? What will publish the words of the next Robert Scoble? What platform will showcase the art of the next Thomas Hawk? A name is a powerful thing. A name can start new markets, empower millions and create thousands of new jobs. Long live the name.

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What am I doing? Twitter me.

I don't know if you've noticed, but in the right column of this blog I've added a small little note area called 'What I'm doing". It's driven through an online service called Twitter who's only function, at this point, is to tell other people what you're doing. Groups can be formed on Twitter's web site so you can check out what all of your friends are doing.

Twitter is currently being used by bloggers exactly like I am. The service is very easy to use, updates can come through an SMS message to a fixed number, updating your status through a form online or by instant messaging Twitter through any of four services. All you do is type in what you're doing in the message and send. Setup is a snap and updates are near instantaneous.

For developers, the Twitter API is completely open and flexible enough to leverage their messaging framework to feed in updates to any number of applications. While the primary use is personal, as I said before, more interest has surrounded Twitter's possible corporate uses. Liz Gannes at GigaOM has a nice post about this very topic.

Corporate examples could be allowing a customer service team to update system status in real time, pushing offers and specials on an e-commerce site quickly or recording billable time entries for later invoicing (the proprietary nature of this last point is a concern with the current hosted model of Twitter). As with any service like this the business case needs to be in place to make this a strategic benefit to the end user as well as the people who use it. It is time consuming, even if it just takes a couple of minutes, and you have to remember to do it. If, however, you're looking for an existing messaging framework which handle multi-mode input through existing device platforms, and you foster a community that cares what its members are doing right now, something like Twitter could be for you.

If you're wanting some type of big brother, what-is-Ted-from-accounting-doing-right-now, application either enable GPS tracking on their phones or implant RFID tags. Both options are more than a little creepy.

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Mobile Marketing 101: Know thy audience

toddlerphone.jpgOne of the primary decisions anyone creating a mobile campaign must decide is whether or not their audience actually uses mobile devices. If they are a user, depending on their age, you must decide how they use them so your message and delivery is relevant. I just came across a press release from comScore which underscores this point.

comScore breaks mobile phone users into three groups:

  1. Adult Adopters (age 35+) - More functional view of phones. Didn't own a phone until they were an adult and just want the basics.
  2. Transitioners (25-34) - Started using in teens, early adulthood.
  3. Cellular Generation (18-24) - This is the most likely audience to engage with your brand through a mobile device. They've had access to phones throughout their lives.

This may seem logical, you may say to yourself, "self...I shouldn't push cutting edge mobile P-2-P technology to my 40-year-old target market", but many marketers are ignoring the obvious and campaigns fail to achieve results. Rushing a mobile campaign to market without being goal-driven and targeted is like giving a toddler a Motorola Q and expecting them to use it. They may be initially happy with all of the buttons, but that happiness will soon fade when all they really wanted was something shiny.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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Free speech on the Internet

shush1.jpgI came across a post on Threadwatch titled 'Google and Other Internet Giants to Create a Code of Conduct'. My first instinct when I read this was one of a tempered mix of interest and dismay. Basically Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Vodafone are working with a couple of national rights groups to make sure that companies are held accountable when helping to suppress free speech or commit human rights violations.

A couple of points here are important. Yahoo! has already widely been accused (multiple times) for giving up information on a Chinese bloggers which led to their arrest and imprisonment. Google and Microsoft have been accused of enforcing censorship within China as well. Vodafone is the only company of the four which has escaped accusations on the internet. I wonder if these previous rights violators and perpetuators of censorship will adhere to their own rules.

Now, I hold some personal admiration for these companies. They're creators of incredible solutions which have led to personal empowerment and brought terabytes of information  to millions of people. The bigger question here I think is why these companies should be allowed to create any such code (other than them wanting to). Is this like allowing felons to write new laws on the crimes they've already committed. What's the penalty if they're found in violation of the policies? Who monitors it? Who makes sure that small companies are protected? Who makes sure the people of the world are protected?

I am not saying this policy is not needed. It is. This could, and I hope it would, work for these big companies. This is a serious matter which is central to what the Internet is all about, freeing information and voices.

But why not have the internet community participate in this discussion and democratize this process? The people own the Internet. We're talking about a set of global operating principles here that reach far beyond US borders. Could a wiki be created to allow Internet users to weigh in and help to craft the guiding laws which will effect them and their children? It surely seems possible.

What are your thoughts on this? Are these companies trying to do the right thing or is this a PR move plain and simple? The outcome is vital to freedom of speech around the world.


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Steven Colbert shows the confusion surrounding Cingular's name change

Note: This video was changed when the old clip was removed.

Now wasn't that easy and straight forward? Not! I am sure Cingular subscribers are just as confused. We'll see how this pans out for them. The iPhone launch may be the only thing keeping people as a customer here.

*Update* Here is a great post from Valeria Maltoni at Conversation Agent on the topic.

Related: Cingular will become AT&T Monday

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20 common mistakes of eager bloggers

keyboard.jpgJohn Moore @ Brand Autopsy points to a great sidebar from a recent BusinessWeek article by Marshall Goldsmith. Goldsmith is on the preeminent leadership coaches and all around management gurus.

While Marshall's position has us look at these items through our business goggles, they apply to all people in general. An alternate title for me is "20 common mistakes of eager bloggers". I really think that this list of 20 is a great guide for people who are blogging today and here's how I would apply each point to blogosphere best practices:

  1. Winning too much: The idea of blogging is to open conversations, not dominate it. Allow for participation and don't roll over people with hasty comments.
  2. Adding too much value: The same applies on the blog. Allow your visitors to add the value, be open and guide people along.
  3. Passing judgement: Be open to everyone who visits. They may have a different background, come from another country or be a lot smarter than you are. Excluding people by judging them isn't what this is all about.
  4. Making destructive comments: Flaming somebody for any reason is not necessary. Bloggers need to be an independent shepherd of ideas, not a dictator.
  5. Starting with "no", "but" or "however": This is one of my biggest pet peeves with people in general and it seems to run rampant in business. Keep an open mind, don't shoot somebody each other converse to a mutual conclusion. That's not always 100% possible, but it's a good goal.
  6. Telling the world how smart we are: As people try to get their 15Mb of fame, they're certainly not shy about proclaiming their superior knowledge. The truth is that it's only opinion. Yes there are smart people out there, but the smartest are usually the most unassuming.
  7. Blogging while angry: If something makes you angry, a negative comment, a contradictory opinion step away from the keyboard. Come back to it after 15 minutes and see how you still feel. If you still feel the same, call it a day and think about saying nothing. If you do respond, keep it as genial as possible.
  8. Negativity: Being negative isn't a very admirable characteristic. While some people take on what I call a "Yes...but" (ref point five above) personality, they only crush valuable ideas. Don't be one of those people. Offer solutions, suggestions and stay positive.
  9. Withholding Information: Don't flog! Ever! Blogging needs to be transparent, honest and have full disclosure. If you're a PR firm creating a blog for a customer which you are planning to post on (that's a red flag already) make sure you tell people. Nothing loses credibility and pisses people off quicker than being deceived.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: Like on this post, if you find something through another user, credit them. Tip the hat. Link back and engage them on their site to get their feedback. (Not doing) this is unacceptable and people can see right through it. Better they hear it from you. Also, disclose what you know and don't hold back for your own benefit.
  11. Claiming credit we don't deserve: if your user community creates ideas which you roll with, give them recognition.
  12. Making excuses: Just don't do it. This is self-explanatory. Own up if you say something wrong, apologize and move on.
  13. Clinging to the past: Don't push off ideas or comments with one foot in the past. Learn from what happened and move on.
  14. Playing favorites: This happens a lot on some blog communities. It's okay to be loyal to your supporters, but allow everyone to participate. If someone new has something new to say, let them say it and help them build on it.
  15. Refusing to express regret: If you did post something that was incorrect or hurt somebody else, share that regret with the community. Empathy is a dying characteristic that engenders loyalty when expressed honestly.
  16. Not listening: This may be the cardinal sin of blogging. It's all about listening, adapting, participating and growing with the people who bestow their time to you. It happens, but those bloggers will soon be swept under the table.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: Blogging is a funny thing. It's so personal. You are permitted to interact with amazing, smart people all the time. Failing to tell them how much they mean to you and help you is unacceptable.
  18. Punishing the messenger: This comes usually in the form of comments. People injecting reality or helping you to see that you are in fact, *gasp*, wrong. Don't take out your disappointment on them, really listen to what they are saying. Most likely they're on your side and want you to see the light.
  19. Passing the buck: Step up to the plate, lay it all out there and take responsibility. We write the posts. We spread our message and ask for opinion back. If we're wrong we need to eat our words. Don't pass the blame to anyone else.
  20. An excessive need to be "me": You know where you have faults. You may procrastinate every day and rush to get things done. You may translate that to mean that you are a 'pressure guy/gal'. Striving to be that go-to pressure guy/gal only perpetuates your procrastination. That's one example, but there are know who you are.

I would love to get everyone's feedback on this. Thanks again to John Moore and Marshall Goldsmith (by proxy).

Those are the mistakes...what are the things bloggers are doing right? Let me know what you think.

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Blogging on bloggers

I attended a nice event at Corporate College East this morning run by NEOSA. I've posted about it here on the DigiKnow blog. There are some great people in Cleveland that really care about enabling more people to participate in an open dialog.

Note the photo which I took on my cell, which I uploaded to Flickr in real time and cross-posted to the blog. See more about cell phones and marketers.

Update: Check out George Nemeth's post on Brewed Fresh Daily. While you're there, poke around, George has done great work to showcase Cleveland and help keep us all moving ahead.

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Mobile Marketing 101: Ad formats

Just a quick post to touch on ad format standardization in the WAP mobile space. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has published a nice, concise PDF file that outlines current formats. If you have a chance check it out.

There are a couple of extra points to consider with mobile that don't really come into play with traditional interactive campaigns. Some of these points are:

  • Device type: is there a certain device that you're targeting (sales support/prior marketing deal) or are you targeting the broad mobile web community? Blackberry's behave different than Motorola Razr's behave different than the Sidekick and those differences are important (screen size, plug-in support, etc.).
  • Carrier: Are you partnering with one carrier to run a promotion or going after everybody? If you are working with one carrier, you may be able to tap into their proprietary hardware or software solutions.
  • Call to action: The call to action on mobile devices is also different. Users can use click-to-call to dial a number instantly, click a link to send an SMS message or vote, send an email to a specified address or proximity use proximity to find local information and drive foot traffic (maps, directions, phone listings).

Measurement is as important for mobile ads as for any other campaign type. Impressions, clicks, click-throughs, CPM, Impressions and unique users can all be used to measure and sell the ad spots.

All of this being said, there is room for improvement and certainly for innovation. Mobile campaigns have a lot of potential and as devices become more connected that potential will be realized.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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Another example of camera phones and the power of consumers

cameraphone.jpgPaul @ HeeHawMarketing points us to another example of a customer using photos to show the disarray inside a retailer (in this case Wal-Mart). As more and more camera/video enabled phones are sold, companies need to find ways to leverage this technology and respond to users in a personal, conversational manner. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Great work in opening up this conversation Paul.

Also, see my previous posts Camera phones and marketers and Video at your fingertips.

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Mountain Dew 'viral'

Props to Iain @ CrackUnit for pointing out this 'viral' video from Mountain Dew. I almost fell off the couch laughing. Its low production look, hilarious and contemporary content and the fact that it is spreading from person to person make this a good example of how viral should work.

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Google gives incentive for using Checkout


I just saw the message in the image above on the Google home page offering users $10 to use Google Checkout. This is an interesting tactic to increase awareness of Checkout as well as showcase some of Google's key commerce partners.

I am personally torn on using Checkout. I understand the concept and the reason Google is trying to succeed where other giants have failed (read MS Wallet). I do hesitate to use it though as I am comfortable with the vendors I buy through online and this would mean that Google has access to my credit card and address info. That's one of the reasons that MS Wallet failed in the first place. Why would someone use this service over going to Amazon?

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Message irrelevance and why I don't read's newsletter

sv.gif is a great online news source that comes from the epicenter of where 90%+ of US technology news happens. So why don't I read their daily newsletter 'Good Morning Silicon Valley? I receive it at around 3:15pm EST each day. It's not the morning here, my day is half over. It's not even technically morning in Silicon Valley for that matter.

I profiled myself on their site and they know where I live. Wouldn't it be better to give me a newsletter that's either a) sent in the morning so I feel more connected or b) doesn't start with 'Good Morning'?

Marketers need to use information like profile data to tailor messages to be as relevant as possible. I expect it as a consumer and I'm slightly miffed when my valuable data isn't used to benefit me (and customization is a benefit). I hope they see this post and take it into consideration.

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Mobile marketing 101: The push


This is the first in a series of posts I am going to do regarding mobile marketing strategy and tactics. You can't surf through the web today without seeing some iteration of mobile marketing. Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to AdAge is covering the ways in which marketers are creating new, mobile customer engagement opportunities.

While I'm sure some of these campaigns are founded in keen strategic insight, and not by "me too" marketer-envy, there are some significant challenges to overcome. The mobile web is, compared to the web we access from our computers, in its infancy. We're talking about straight up 1996, buttonized, non-engaging user interfaces and one-size-fits-all content. The problems I see with the mobile web are about 5% in technology and 95% in a lack of understanding on the part of marketers. Go to most major sites on the web today and take a look on your phone. It's ugly, it's impersonal and 99% of the time it's the same site you see on your desktop but scrunched and battered into an almost incomprehensible form.

Does it take a lot of work to get your mobile initiatives up and running? The answer is yes. I won't lie. You have to change your thinking and apply different rules. You may even need to make up new rules. The format and architecture is new and can't be borrowed from someplace else.

Is it worth it to do this? Absolutely! If you go to a site that is made for mobile, you will see what I mean. The formatting is clean, the response is quick and the information you need is right there in front of you. You find yourself appreciative of the effort that company has taken to make sure your experience is a good one. Try going to on your device and let me know what you think.

We need to put things into perspective. Mobile marketing is new. Devices are improving all the time and standardization is slowly beginning to creep in. Acceptance of mobile marketing is also just starting to pick up. I posted late last week on a study that the Mobile Marketing Association published, which found that only 2% of all US phone users have engaged in any form of marketing on mobile devices.

Mobile marketing is a growth area for sure, but should not be treated the same as a website. It needs new thinking, new strategy and new tactics to make sure you're reaching the right people with the right message.

So, let's look at mobile push marketing. To re-iterate my previous post, only after a user confirms their opt-in to receive your message should you engage in any marketing campaign with them. Unrequested push marketing is spam and could lead to a major backlash and loss of subscribers. Mobile users should be treated like a delicate flower, show lots of love, and only give them content when they ask for it.

One practical example of push marketing that works is content alerting. You see this all the time with sports sites where users can sign up to receive score updates. The information is generated as it happens and each instance is not specifically requested by the user. These short messages are great ways to add value to an advertiser or promote an upcoming contest. This method works well with content that is followed closely and updated frequently. Best practices here would include batching information (sending scores at the end of the game or inning and not every time a point is scored).

Other examples of push marketing are using advertising on other related content sites, sending one-time surveys or picture messages (if opted in for), weather and other site content updates and sending instant coupons to users. The coupon idea will be discussed later this week and has some major hurdles to jump before it becomes a reality for users. The more customized and relevant the message the more value your customers will see.

So, do your customers use mobile technology? One way to determine some level of interest is to look at your current web site's stat reporting software (HitBox, WebTrends, etc.) and look in the browser info section to see if mobile devices are hitting your site. You may also want to run a short poll or survey to get more information on what customers would find useful. Some businesses may be tailoring something like this to an internal audience who all use one device. In this case more specific campaigns can be created and opting in could be automatic (i.e.; all sales people receive real-time quota info or pricing updates).

No matter what your industry this is something you could be participating in now with some planning and dedication to the medium. Next up I'll talk about creating mobile versions of existing websites. That's one example that every single marketer should be looking at to meet the status quo, but to do it right takes some new thinking.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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Mobile marketing 101: Yes means no (until you say it twice)

yield.gifI am starting my series on mobile marketing today and one of the key points to lay out first is the idea of the confirmed opt-in. This has become the de-facto standard for gaining acceptance from a consumer before reaching them on their mobile device.

What does this mean you ask? Normally, say for an email newsletter, you complete a form, click a checkbox that says you want to be contacted and viola. You receive an email with a link to confirm your intentions to join the list.

The same is true for mobile campaigns. It's actually more important in mobile due to the fact that it may cost the user money (text message fees, airtime, etc.) and the juvenescence of this form of marketing in the eyes of the consumer. (Some mobile campaign creators will actually triple confirm their users. This is a little excessive, but possible.) This confirmation can happen through a website, text message, email, phone call or through snail mail (*gasp*), but it needs to happen.

So this is the first standard that any marketer should follow for any mobile campaign. This is a new touch point for your brand. Consumers are very protective of their mobile space and will defend it against unsolicited marketing more than any other medium. If done right this can be a nice asset in your toolbox. If done wrong it can be a PR nightmare.

The MMA has a code of conduct document you should check out before doing anything else.

Past Mobile Marketing 101 posts:

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