Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Brands: If You Want My Loyalty…

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

OK, I’ll try to make this rant – I mean, this post – short and sweet.  

Brands, if you want my loyalty, start using technology and stop pushing your cards on me! 

Honestly – in a world full chock full of technologies that have demonstrated capability  to make our consumer experiences better, it’s amazing to me how many times a day you can still ask me, “Do you have your <fill in the blank> card today?”, especially when my reply is often “No, sorry, I don’t.”

Please stop making me feel like I’ve failed you before I’ve even given you my order (and my money)!  You’re immediately making me feel uncomfortable, defensive, guilty, and, well… a lot less loyal.

You already use technology to record and retain plenty of information regarding me.  You already use technology to measure and analyze program results.  Now how about leveraging technology to improve the process at its most important point – interacting with your customers? 

I shouldn’t need to carry piles of plastic and paper punch cards in an already over-stuffed wallet to “prove” my loyalty.  You should be able to use technology to already know who I am, or at least provide a much more convenient, seamless way for me to identify myself.

Ever hear of the Web?  Email?  Social media?  Mobile apps?  Location based services?  Entire businesses dedicated to providing you with turn-key loyalty programs in a completely digital manner?  The list goes on and on.  You need to consider technology as a key component in every step of your program.  

Brands, it’s really not that hard.  From the customer perspective, loyalty programs should be…









Anybody else out there feeling the same way?

– Jim S.


The Rodney Dangerfield of Digital Marketing

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

What would you say to a digital marketing medium that reaches 7 out of 10 U.S. residents per month?  Has more people watching it than the number of people watching video online, having a Facebook profile, or a smart phone?  Can deliver a digital video spot resulting in twice as many impressions as Super Bowl XLIV?  Already has a proven ability to target audiences and “precision market” by demographic, geography, life pattern, and trade area?

Most marketers would drool at these prospects, but when the medium in question is digital place-based advertising, in the words of the immortal Rodney Dangerfield, it’s “No respect – no respect at all”.

Indeed, in the midst of our fascination with other platforms and tools based on social media, mobile, location based services and the like, the use of networked digital signage to broadcast place based advertising seems to hardly create a blip on the marketer’s radar screen.  Yet it’s had to imaging a medium with more proven ability and potential that creates less buzz and gets less respect.  So just what is it about this platform that makes it such an enigma?

A good part of the answer to this question was addressed at a recent Webinar from the Digital Screenmedia Association, The State of Digital Place-Based Advertising.  The panelists included Diane Williams, Senior Media Research Analyst – Arbitron; Jeremy Lockhorn VP of Emerging Media – Razorfish; and Peter Bowen CEO – SeeSaw Networks.  They presented viewpoints based on industry research, agency, and service provider perspectives. 

Williams and Bowen provided compelling research data, capabilities, and case studies for digital place-based advertising, and Lockhorn acknowledged that consumers today in the U.S. spend twice as much time outside the home as they did 30 years ago, confirming the medium as an attractive option. 

However, in the midst of their collective reasons to consider digital place-based advertising, it was Jeremy’s identification of “hurdles” to widespread adoption that caught my attention.  These included:


  • Hundreds of networks, all at different points of evolution (from nascent to mature)
  • Same inventory often available via multiple outlets
  • Inconsistent stories, audience descriptions, value propositions

Lack of ad format standardization:

  • Size, shape, bit rate, length, etc.

Questions regarding production:

  • Repurpose TV spots?
  • What about audio?
  • Localize?
  • Budget?

Of these hurdles identified by Jeremy, I believe that fragmentation represents the key obstacle facing digital place-based advertising today, and that the others (ad format standardization and production questions) are actually bi-products of this fragmentation. 

To me, the industry’s fragmentation starts with a lack of a clear identity.  This starts with several industry naming variations, including “digital place-based advertising”, “digital out of home advertising”, and others.  It continues with differing agendas among industry associations like the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), Digital Place-bases Advertising Association (DPAA), and the DPAA’s European counterpart, the Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB).  Finally, and perhaps most unfortunately, one of the biggest strengths of digital place-based advertising – its sheer versatility in terms of configuration, content, format, and deployment options – is the same thing that often works against it, contributing to the fragmentation that causes confusion and slows adoption among potential users. 

There is still no doubt in my mind digital place-based advertising will continue to evolve over time and become a powerful force in digital marketing.  As this evolution continues, what do you think it will take for it to “turn the corner” and finally start getting the use – and respect – that it deserves?

– Jim S.

What’s Next for the Chief Marketing Technologist?

If you have an interest in understanding how marketing can successfully harness technology in your organization, you’ll care very much about what Scott Brinker has to say.

If you haven’t heard of Scott, don’t worry – you will soon.  He is the President & CTO of a digital agency called ion interactive, and he has recently produced a great piece of work entitled “Rise of the Marketing Technologist”.  Originally presented back in April at the Search Insider Summit, and since featured in, his message has struck a chord with many of us in the industry who want to see the powerful combination of marketing and technology reach its full potential for businesses.

Scott’s basic premise is that marketing must control its technological destiny, and that the introduction of a new role within the marketing organization – the Chief Marketing Technologist – provides a key to success.   Here is a link to his full SlideShare presentation

Rather than analyzing or critiquing his work further in this post, my intent is to amplify the message and help “get the word out” to those people and organizations that can benefit from Scott’s comprehensive approach to marketing technology.

I had the good fortune to speak with Scott last week regarding his thought process behind the creation of “Rise of the Marketing Technologist”.  It was obvious that a great deal of his motivation came from his passion for business, marketing, and technology done right. 

Just as importantly, Scott is keenly interested in soliciting feedback and inviting discussion as a way to refine this overall concept.  I had the chance to express my viewpoint that extending the idea of a Chief Marketing Technologist role to agencies can create a greater sense of expertise, trust and respect between those agencies and their clients’ IT organizations that so many times seem to be at odds. 

Scott and I talked about where we this type of approach seems to work (and not work).  While case studies and true success stories are still works in progress, Scott sees many encouraging signs of commitment, including GE CMO Beth Comstock’s recent comments at June’s Business Marketing Association (BMA) conference in Chicago, regarding GE’s efforts to “marry” marketing and IT.  On the flip side, we agree this type of approach falls short in instances where organizations elect to throw lower-level technology “doers” into the mix as opposed to C-level leaders and strategists.

Finally, we discussed the desired target audience for the “Rise of the Marketing Technologist” concept and best ways to get the message out to it.  Scott’s view is that CMOs are the target audience.  I personally think that CEOs, COOs and CIOs would also be good additions to the mix. 

As for best ways to deliver the message, Scott’s initial presentation and subsequent sharing via social media have provided a great starting point.  However, we agree that live marketing events that attract CMOs and other C-level execs can ultimately provide the biggest exposure.  As Scott points out, more opportunities to present at these types of events will likely occur as high profile case studies continue to develop. 

So what’s next for the Chief Marketing Technologist?  If you agree with the concept in principle, what do you think will be the best ways to “advance the movement”?   Who out there is willing to step up with an idea, or even better yet, a great case study?  Please be sure to provide your feedback to Scott via his Chief Marketing Technologist blog, or to me in the form of your comments below.

I’ve got a feeling we’ll be coming back to this topic soon!

– Jim S.

Technologists are Vital to Agency Success

Can agencies be successful without strong technologists?

Many digital agencies are quickly coming to terms with this issue.  Even the best of traditional agencies would have to admit that it is very tough to realize true success in digital efforts without significant technology capabilities.

The sheer number of digital technologies has exploded.  Looking at the expanding landscape of programming languages, tools, application types, and rapidly growing new delivery channels such as mobile & digital signage, combined with increased demand for analytics and measurement on all fronts, and it is easy to understand why agencies must look to take a more holistic approach to technology.

Gone are the days where great creative resources leveraging simpler, visual web development skills were enough to get the job done.  In addition to creativity, it now takes the ability to work across multiple technology platforms and apply skills such as technical feasibility, strategy, architecture, integration, reusability, innovation, and good old-fashioned R&D to thrive in today’s tech-laden world.

Strong technology capabilities are not something agencies should merely outsource and call upon on an as-needed basis.  They must be in-house and involved early in the creative process.  A recent AdWeekMedia special report, The New Tech Heads, underscores how in-house technologists are helping to transform agencies.  With titles such as “Creative Technology Director”, these resources complement agency creativity with IT-based production and problem solving skills.

The bottom line benefits of technologists to agencies and their clients include better ideas, more innovation, less production headaches, and ultimately a much better digital experience for audiences.

Do you agree that technologists are key to agency success?  Disagree?  I’d love to hear your opinions.

– Jim S.

What’s Exciting in Mobile Marketing? – Augmented Reality

December 31, 2009 1 comment

In this final installment of a multi-part post, we wrap-up a look at three technologies in particular that will have a potentially huge impact on mobile marketing, whether used independently, or in various combinations: mobile barcodes & tagging, location based advertising (LBA), and augmented reality (AR).  This third and final post will focus on augmented reality (AR). 

Augmented Reality (AR)

How does it work?

If you’ve ever seen football games on TV where scores, statistics, first down lines, and yards-to-go indicators are superimposed over the live action, you’ve already experienced a form of augmented reality.  However, the much more interactive world of mobile and the Web allow augmented reality to be taken to new levels.    

In the mobile world, the cameras in our smart phones allow us to view and take photos of our surrounding indoor or outdoor environments (people, objects, signs, buildings, street corners, etc). Augmented reality technology allows for additional imagery, graphics, symbols, and data to be superimposed over this view to “augment” what you see.  Examples of this augmentation includes maps & directions, descriptions, statistics, and more.

The mobile augmented reality content is currently delivered through a variety of different methods, including individual smart phone applications, tools, and mobile browser plug-ins. 

What capabilities does it provide to marketers?

The scope of capabilities and possible applications for mobile augmented reality is truly immense.  In his PersonalizeMedia blog, author Gary Hayes does the best job I’ve seen so far of identifying the types of, and potential business models for, augmented reality:

Nearly all of the models outlined above hold a strong potential for marketers, particularly in a mobile environment.    

Great, but does it have legs?

Yes, definitely!  I believe mobile in particular is an ideally suited platform for the use of augmented reality,  as it comes the closest to approximating how we naturally encounter people, places, and things in the real world.     

The potential applications for mobile augmented reality are further enhanced by how it can be used in varying combinations with other versatile mobile technologies such as GPS, mobile barcoding & tagging, and location based advertising (LBA).

In terms of revenue potential, a recent study by marketing intelligence company ABI Research states that “new handheld platforms will transform the Augmented Reality ecosystem”, forecasting revenue associated with Augmented Reality will grow from around $6 million in 2008 to more than $350 million in 2014, with the bulk of the increase occuring during the latter portion of that time frame.

This prediction of a growth “curve” makes sense to me.  As smart phones continue to evolve into ever more powerful mobile computing devices with a true convergence of capabilities, the prediction here is that the number of tools, apps, plug-ins, browsers, and content providers that support mobile augmented reality will dramatically increase over the coming 1 – 2 years.  Beyond this period of maturation, I believe that revenue generation will really begin to take off. 

Want to learn more?

There are a ton of great online resources and articles on augmented reality and its use in mobile marketing.  In fact, the real challenge in identifying additional suggested reading was knowing when to stop!  Though the focus of this particular blog post was the use of augmented reality for mobile marketing purposes, I’ve included links that cover its use in the web world as well.  Each delves further into the types, models, and potential uses of augmented reality:

Mobile augmented reality builds deep consumer engagement 

16 Top augmented reality business models

10 Awesome uses of augmented reality marketing

Location-based ads come to augmented reality in the US

IKEA uses augmented reality to engage shoppers’ imagination

GPS based augmented reality

There are also some very cool demonstrations of augmented reality apps of all types on YouTube

Got feedback?

This wraps up my first series on what’s exciting in mobile marketing, but based on the explosion of growth in mobile technologies, you can bet it won’t be the last.  It is certain that we’ll be visiting this topic again in the near future.  In the meantime, I’m always interested in hearing your questions, comments, and points of view. Please let me know what you think!

– Jim S.

What’s Exciting in Mobile Marketing? – Location Based Advertising (LBA)

November 29, 2009 2 comments

In this multi-part post, we continue to take a look at three technologies in particular that will have a potentially huge impact on mobile marketing, whether used independently, or in various combinations: mobile barcodes & tagging, Location Based Advertising (LBA), and augmented reality.  This second post will focus on Location Based Advertising (LBA). 

Location Based Advertising

How does it work?

Part of a broader category of Location Based Services (LBS), mobile Location Based Advertising (LBA) takes advantage of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.  While we have traditionally thought of GPS as a navigation based aid, things have definitely evolved.  A growing number of smart phones now have GPS technology integrated into them, allowing their locations to be precisely tracked by signals sent by the GPS satellites high above the Earth. 

What capabilities does it provide to marketers?

While the science of GPS and Location Based Advertising may not be all that important to us, the capabilities they bring are definitely important.  Marketers and service providers can now make use of the geographical position of smart phones to send very specific, targeted information to their owners.  This information can come in the form of nearby stores & services,  customized ads, offers, coupons, and loyalty-based offerings.  And, as we have seen and heard so many times, the more specific, targeted, and relevant a marketing message can be, the better the results we can expect. 

Great, but does it have legs?

A quick look at the numbers says yes, LBA absolutely has legs.  First, consider the sheer number of mobile devices.  There are roughly 4.6 billion mobile phones out there globally, with an ever-increasing number of them coming with GPS capabilities.  Second is the size of the overarching Location Based Services (LBS) market.  At around 41 million users in 2008, this is expected to grow to nearly 96 million in 2009.  Finally (and perhaps most importantly), there is the revenue picture.  Gartner forecasted in June of 2009 that the global LBS revenue will more than double from just under $1 billion in 2008 to over $2.2 billion in 2009.  You can bet that Location Based Advertising will play a large role in this growth.

The reality is that our smart phones are really becoming powerful handheld computing devices that we’re depending on for a wider variety of daily uses, and are perfectly suited for LBA.  If potential privacy and security concerns can adequately be addressed, the only real question in my mind is how responsive U.S. based consumers will be to LBA and mobile advertising.  However, given that in Spain over three quarters mobile phone owners already receive ads, in France nearly two thirds do and in Japan over half do with relatively high response rates, I believe that the success of LBA in the U.S. is a near certainty.   

Want to learn more?

Admittedly, it was hard to settle on the title of Location Based Advertising (LBA) for this particular post.  While conventional wisdom places LBA within the broader category of Location Based Services (LBS), I’ve consistently been finding that terms like LBA, LBS, mobile marketing, and mobile advertising are often being used interchangably – most likely because this vast set of mobile capabilities is still in its infancy, and there is not a great deal of standardization yet.  Therefore, don’t be thrown by some of the link titles below.  Each of them can help you understand what this technology entails and how it is being used:

2009: The Year of LBS (Location-Based Services)

GPS + Mobile Marketing = Goodness

Mobile GPS Opens Doors to Content, Commerce

New Platform Offers GPS Location-Based Ads

Burger King, Subaru Trial Location-Based Mobile Advertising

Placecast Raises $5 Million for Location-Based Advertising Platform

Got feedback?

I’m always interested in hearing your questions, comments, and points of view. Please let me know what you think!

– Jim S.

What’s Exciting in Mobile Marketing? – Mobile Barcodes & Tagging

November 3, 2009 3 comments
Coachella2In one of my first blog posts, I questioned whether digital marketers were ready to keep up with the rapid adoption of mobile technologies.  After digging deeper into ‘the state of mobile’ over the last couple of months, I’ve become more convinced that we’re up to the challenge.  There is definitely a lot of exciting innovation going on in the world of mobile – particularly by companies that are creatively applying new technologies to provide dynamic marketing solutions.

In this multi-part post, we’ll begin taking a look at three technologies in particular that will have a potentially huge impact on mobile marketing, whether used independently, or in various combinations: mobile barcodes & tagging, Location Based  Advertising (LBA), and augmented reality.  This first post will focus on mobile barcodes and tagging. 


Mobile Barcodes and Tagging

How does it work?

See a code, take a picture, and let the magic happen.  The basic concept of mobile barcodes and tagging is that technology advancements now allow the cameras in our mobile phones to act as barcode readers: 

Mobile Tagging Process

This opens up the potential for applications of all types.  The GoMo News article, “Mobile Barcodes 101”, helps shed some light on this:

“The most common use of mobile barcodes is to request information or a service or content from a Web site. It might be details of a promotion, or a discount voucher via SMS or MMS, or to activate a download such as a ringtone, music track or game, or click to call an IVR or human agent, or buy a travel or concert ticket. The advertiser pays the set-up costs as well as its operator partner on a per-click, download, view, redeemed coupon, ticket sale or call, depending on the campaign.” 

Great, but does it have legs?

I think that mobile barcodes and tagging represent a great new addition to the marketer’s toolbox.  Their use is limited only by one’s imagination and creativity.  They can physically be placed in a number of different environments, including online on websites, emails, and social media platforms; and in print in magazines, newspapers, posters, and signs.  They can allow people to connect to all types of information, including websites, videos, games, tickets, and more.  And they are still in their infancy, so there’s still the novelty effect in their favor.  My take is that we will be seeing the use of mobile barcodes and tagging explode in marketing and ad campaigns over the coming months.

Want to learn more?

What exactly are mobile barcodes?  What do they look like?  How are they different from the codes we see on merchandise tags at stores? Who have been the early adopters of this technology?  How are they successfully being used here in the U.S. for marketing campaigns, and why has our adoption been slower?  And, what in the world are QR codes, BeeTaggs, and JagTags? I’ve collected a series of links below to help answer these questions and others that you may have.

Follow these links for extra info on mobile barcodes and tagging, ranging from basic definitions to powerful examples of this technology at work:

Mobile Tagging

Mobile Barcodes 101

Marketers Give Mobile Barcodes Another Go

Nike Breaks Mobile Barcode Campaign at Mountain Dew Event

Personalized 2D Barcodes Suit Marketing Campaigns

Fox Uses JagTag Mobile Barcodes to Promote X-Men DVD Release

Got feedback?

I’m trying a bit different format on this series of posts regarding “What’s exciting in mobile marketing”. Please let me know what you think!

– Jim S.