A Hyper-Local Black Friday Wrap

December 8th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Checking-in to Super Savings

One of the most hectic shopping days of the year has passed, and this year’s Black Friday marked an interesting development in the marketing efforts of major retailers. Although the typical Black Friday shopper battled the crowds with a purpose and a pre-determined route, location based mobile apps enabled retailers to access the discount-driven shoppers who just can’t resist a good deal. An increasing number of companies have turned to these services to offer customers exclusive deals via their mobile devices. Accessing customers through their mobile devices has become an attractive feature for retailers as it allows them to target the sales-crazy, on-the-go shoppers who just might trample down anyone who gets in their way of a sale.

Foursquare , which recently announced they had hit 14 million users has become an important app that many retailers have paired up with to offer discounts, which customers receive once they have ‘checked in’, or shared their location. Various stores are enticing customers into their retail store mayhem by offering special discounts only available through this app. These examples pictured from Foursquare’s blog are only a few examples of the retailers targeting the media-savvy shopper, with stores ranging from AT&T to UPS also offering check-in discounts. Foursquare is not alone in its location based advertising, as companies like SCVNGR, Facebook Places, and Yelp are also offering these types of deals to sales-hungry customers for checking in.

QR Codes – The Modern Catalogue

Aside from encouraging retail madness through discounts for mobile check-ins, retailers are also using QR codes to provide customers with an easier and faster shopping experience. With Black Friday being one of the biggest sales days of the year, QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in retail stores. While QR codes are not a new phenomenon to the advertising world, the upcoming holiday season has retailers embedding them into a variety of marketing displays to attract mobile users. Companies such as JC Penney and Macy’s are among the many retailers that have introduced QR codes into their stores this holiday season. Sears and Kmart have created ‘gift walls’ in their stores, placed in viewing sight of those waiting in the cash line, which are essentially walls filled with QR codes linking the customer to popular items for sale. With the increase in technological innovations, mobile phones are quickly becoming the best aid a shopper can have for finding the best deals.

The numbers are growing, but what’s next?

Recent stats from AdvertisingAge showed Foursquare checkins on Black Friday as a significant increase over last year.  And while Starbucks and Mcdonald’s topped the list, Wal-Mart with over 149,000 was the leading national retailer.  But it checkins and QR codes are just the start.  Expect to see these apps and more to further expand to include real-time product inventory, mobile wallets, and even virtual goods in the form of augmented reality.  eBay Mobile announced that shoppers in the U.S. purchased nearly two and a half times as many items via eBay Mobile this Black Friday when compared to 2010 and PayPal Mobile (another division of eBay) announced a six-fold (516%) increase in global mobile payment volume compared to 2010

Shoppers will increasingly choose the convenience of mobile to find the best deals from wherever they are while avoiding big crowds and long lines. The ability to simply pick up your phone or tablet and purchase what you want, when you want it, has become an attractive alternative to shoppers in record numbers this holiday season. The possibilities are endless.

Fenced In By Your Smartphone

November 17th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Fenced in by your Smart Phone

Have you ever been out to some form of farmland and wondered how all the animals stay within the perimeters of the farms? Or maybe in your rebellious youth you were dared to trespass to scary Old Nicks house to witness his hair-raising ways and felt an unfamiliar sensation. This sensation, known as an electric fence, creates an invisible boundary to keep unwanted visitors out and captive animals in through electric shock. Technology has taken this torturous form of isolating a geographic region and turned it into the next big marketing phenomenon. They are placing consumers into a zone but they are pain free and invisible to the average person except not to their mobile device. Geo Fencing is the name that has been given to these boundaries that marketers are exploring as a means of targeting their customers in a specific location.

How it works?

Geofencing utilizes the GPS software in smart phones and triangulation from the cellular radio towers to determine consumers position. By creating this virtual perimeter, when consumers pass the border the system becomes aware and will push information about restaurants, coffee shops or stores that are within a reasonable geographic distance from where they are physically standing directly to their phone. This software is transparent from the users and allows them to opt in and out when they are interesting. Otherwise they will only receive period messages reminding them that it is still active. Shopkick, Loopt, and Placecast are already providing geofencing but in a fairly straightforward way as such systems are still in their infancy.

Who has used it?

O2 media (based in the UK) teamed up with Placecast to develop a location based messaging campaign by fencing off geographic regions and sending SMS and MMS messages to those within those fences. O2 signed L’Oreal and Starbucks who would be offering 50% off and buy-one-get-one-free deals are nearby locations. Results have yet to be determined as the trial is still in progress. But I am confident we can expect extraordinary results or in the least discounts on our morning doses of Starbucks. One thing that we do know is that of the 22 million subscribers on the O2 network, more than 8 million have already opted-in to participate in the program.

What will geofencing do for location-based marketing?

Consumers are always looking for the new trend to save money and geofencing is it! By utilizing these services consumers are able to opt in and out and maximize the system, using them when they are interested, by controlling frequency and content of the messages. Consumers are always looking for the best deal within a reasonable distance from them which geofencing can do. As marketers, a challenge we face everyday is to emerge from the ad clutter and increase foot traffic within our locations or online clicks. Geofencing allows companies to directly target their customers when they want to be messaged (as they opted in to the service) and when they are nearby. If we can pique their interest enough to get them in the store and offer them a deal that encourages them to spend then we will have been successful.  Now only to work on CRM and develop brand loyalty.

Geofencing has emerged as a frequently used term in the mobile marketing world as the possibilities are endless with what can be done with this software. Although this activity is accelerating privacy concerns, geofencing can move forward to have more uses then just marketing such as public safety, wildlife management and business management. Through this richer and more unique medium consumers will get what they want and marketers will be able to target them and monitor their spending habits and even physical movements. Going forward keep in mind that next time you find yourself behind a fence, you can turn off your Geofencing apps, but the benefits of keeping them on may be such much more.

Geo-local Healthcare

July 28th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Marketing to Save Lives

Going to the doctor is similar to waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup or even just to get into the playoffs. It is a long, long process. But imagine you could show up at the neighbourhood walk-in and they are already up to date with your current medical situation. Or that you are visit the nearest ER knowing they only have a wait time of 10 minutes with GPs that are rated the best. This idea seems unlikely and somewhat far-fetched, but with technology developing everyday and hospitals feeling the pressure to become more up-to-date it is possible. Be it locating the nearest medical devices, testing yourself for disease or fundraising for sick children, location based services are making it happen.

Holland’s AED App

Airports, hospitals, and major attractions have become common locations to find an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) within arms reach. To be effective, the AED needs to reach the patient within minutes. The Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Holland teamed up with Layar to create an augmented reality app that showcases the AEDs within your vicinity and which is closest to you. Their objective was to reduce searching time and provide users with a quick and easy app that could save lives. If you ever find yourself walking through LAX and someone drops beside you, then pull out this app and it’ll guide the way. Hopefully it lets you know to use the AED, too!

MTVs Get Yourself Tested Badge

There is an outstanding statistic that every one in two people will contract an STD by the time they’re 25. To help young people become more aware of STDs, MTV teamed up with Foursquare to develop a badge that users would receive after checking into clinics to get a STD test performed. The campaign was called Get Yourself Tested and was endorsed by an overwhelming number of celebrities through the MTV website. During a month of the campaign, if users checked in to a clinic they would be entered in a contest with the chance to win a free trip to NYC to be on MTV.  Although an extremely mortifying place to check into on Foursquare, MTV was a milestone for cause-related and healthcare-related badges. Next time you go for a colonoscopy, check if there’s a badge. Everyone deserves a badge for that appointment!

UCSF launches Social Media Fundraiser

UCSF Challenge for the Children kicked off an 8-week campaign designed to reach out through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. This encouraged people to contribute as individuals or become team leaders to support the hospital. Some team leaders included celebrities like Aston Kutcher. They successfully reached their fundraising goal and broke into a space that hospitals have yet to frequent.

For location based marketing, hospitals and other health care related fields have yet to be explored in serious depth. Recently the FCC and FDA signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of technology for wireless enabled medical devices and services, which opens the doors to possibilities. What will come next? Will hospitals use augmented reality to help patients navigate through their maze-like walls? Will Facebook Places allow patients to locate and critique their local OBGYN or GP? Will hospitals use RFID to pin point all of their MDs on a map? Really the opportunities for this space are endless and can really make the healthcare industry more appealing, approachable and up-to-date. In the future when you are feeling under the weather, tweet about it and maybe a nearby doc will make a house call or in the least Dr. Oz re-tweets you.

Putting The Customer Back In The Deal

July 6th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

TeamBuy, WagJag, BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, and Groupon are among the most common names within the newest marketing phenomenon known as team buying. No, this doesn’t mean that your recreational softball team is going to pitch in to buy team sweaters. Although somewhat similar, team buying refers to a group of people coming together to buy items at a discounted price. Hoarders around the world will preach that buying in bulk is always cheaper which is the fundamental concept of these companies. Except, the items (or services and experiences) being purchased are in singles quantities by complete strangers- ONLINE! Considering that everyone and their grandmothers are looking for the cheapest price on anything they buy and these consumers are also become overly confident with purchasing online, team buying sites seem like a win-win solution. Retailers are increasing their foot traffic and consumers are saving a buck. From a marketing view, this is a complete nightmare.

Bringing Back the Basics

All good marketing textbooks explain the idea of customer relationship management (CRM), where marketers try to build relationships with their customers to ensure loyalty, repeat visits and protection of future business. Team buying websites have completely neglected the idea of CRM and put their entire focus on creating transactional customers. Furthermore, team buying sites have enabled mom-and-pop stores to get their name out there, while increasing foot traffic. But happens when giants like McDonalds enter the fray? Are consumers going to buy the deal for the local burger joint or hold off for the Golden Arches?

Gap and GroupOn

As an example let’s look at Gap. They participated in a Groupon promotion during summer 2010 and generated over $11 M in sales in one day by giving $25 off of $50 of clothing. Those are amazing results for a single day (and losses considering they would need to fork over $11 M to cover that promotion). In the long run, consumers will come in and spend more than $50 giving Gap even greater profits and increase their foot traffic. Except, Gap alienated their regulars and gave random customers a deal and their best got nothing. And the customers that purchased the deal will most likely use their coupon and never return as they are just following the deal. Was this a good business move or bad? Only their sales will tell. Least we know it wasn’t as bad as their new logo launch.

Future of the Fad

Although, the current model of buying sites may not be as attractive as they seem there are platforms emerging that may be a better solution. LevelUp and SocialSelect are combining the check-in, the game and the reward all in one. The difference between them and the daily deal is that they encourage individuals to engage with their brands and provides them with an incentive to return. LevelUp is built on both mobile and web interface and can be used in real-time, which incorporates location! The concept is based on levels, once the player passes level 1 they automatically move on to level 2 and so on. For a restaurant, level 1 can be a breakfast deal, level 2 could be lunch and level 3 could be dinner. Furthermore, you can purchase the deal and use it immediately by showing the barcode.

SocialSelect provides their best customers during a visit with a deal card that they can use to log on to the site and be rewarded with a deal that they apply to their next visit. They can also share the incentive with selected friends. This way companies are able to use the deal as a private, select marketing tool rather than an arbitrary discount.

Another consideration is the announcement last week from location mainstay, Loopt.  The company launched U-Deals – the reverse Groupon.  Currently available only in San Francisco, the system empowers the consumer to make their own deal, at the places they pick.  You come up with the deal, you get your friends on board, and then submit it to Loopt.  They then try to get the merchant to accept the deal.

If it works both the consumer and merchant should benefit through better margins.

Team buying seems to be the latest fad in the marketing space. By adding location, this fad can become the future. SocialSelect and LevelUp have been pioneers in this area by adding the foundations for daily deals and CRM. Will this prevent Grouponers from frequenting their daily sites? Probably not. But it does give some hope to businesses that are not reeking in the benefits of team buying. This way they can build clientele and reward their best customers at the same time. Although, there are arguments for and against team buying, we can say for certain that a good solution is always location. But for now, we can only wonder if TLC will make a spinoff to Extreme Couponing.

Checking In To HTML5

June 22nd, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Hey, you there on your iPad 2 with the nifty magnetic Smart Cover! Check out the Apollo 11 Lunar take off . Oh wait, you can’t because you don’t have Adobe Flash. Before you give up hope, double check in Apple App Store to be sure you can’t access it. This matter has led marketers to an ongoing parley of whether to create an app or a mobile web browser.

Mobile App vs. Mobile Web

As soon as your company is ready to go mobile you are faced with the question: To App or not to App? This is a question that has stumped marketers for some time now considering that mobile browsers are just as useful. What makes one better than the other? Mobile Apps are great for using offline, can be developed for each platform, and extremely effective for a large, dedicated user base. Whereas, web browsers are cross-platform, can be discovered through any search engine and are always up to date but cannot be used offline. This debate is ongoing and circular but if you add HTML5 into the mix it becomes apparent that web browsing is quickly becoming the way to go.

HTML5, what are you?

HTML5 is a coding language developed to structure pages on the World Wide Web. In simpler terms, it is the backbone of the Internet. While still in the developmental phase, so far, it combines visual, audio, canvas and interactive elements into one without the addition of processor intensive proprietary plugins, such as Adobe Flash, and APIs. In the mobile world, providers, such as Apple with iPad and iPhone, aim to create the best user experience with maximum battery life. In doing so, they dropped the plugins and are in search of the solution (i.e. HTML5).

Although an extremely complex and intricate code that you may not understand, chances are you have already been exposed to it. Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox 3.6 are supporting elements of HTML5. Or even in the smallest form like drag-and-drop in Gmail are created through the interactive element of HTML5. Want to dig a little deeper? Give it a try and join the HTML5 trial on YouTube.

Geolocation & Marketing Possibilities

In the past, Internet marketing has always been executed in the most primal fashion with basic banners and images with little video. As bandwidth and Internet usage is growing, the options are being more diverse with more extravagant videos, changing images and even utilizing IP address from desktops to market based on location or interests. But now, HTML5 is challenging marketers to ask, “What can’t we do?” with our Internet advertisements. For example, images can be moved around the screen in real time, videos can be sent in emails, interactive sketchpads and so much more. Thinking mobile? Considering that people aren’t carrying around their desktops with them, mobile compatibility is essential when developing new software and HTML5 is all over that. Determine location is possible as HTML5 (and JavaScript) will be able to access the positioning hardware in a mobile device from a browser. Thus, users will not have to go through the hassle of downloading the apps and companies will not have to pay to develop cross-platform apps to determine geolocation.

With so much of the location-based attention on GPS-enabled mobile applications, we should all pause for a moment to reflect upon the promise of HTML5 in this area.  Companies like Yellow Pages are already testing location-based ad delivery.  An example of this can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJLn6XX8oCI

As most devices with web capabilities are already compatible with HTML5, this transition is relatively simple. Which can already be seen with New York Times, CNN and CBC who have made their sites “iPad Ready” and have pledged to be using HTML5 for videos in place of Flash. Furthermore, the cost for development is minimal compared to creating an App for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android. The web browsers are easily discoverable and can be kept up to date so users are always using the latest version. HTML5 is even showing signs of allowing some offline usage! Now if you need to decide between the mobile App and mobile web, just think HTML5.

If you are a Flash game junkie, do not fret because Flash isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Most games are unable to be developed in HTML5, although Mozilla is sure trying through their multiple demos. So, next time you hear HTML5 being tossed around in a conversation they are not referring to someone’s BBM pin, they are discussing the future of the Internet. Don’t miss the bandwagon. Is your company “iPad Ready”?

Digication: The synergy between Digital Signage and Location

June 17th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Digital signs are polluting cities globally and the only thing consumers’ want is to see their faces and words hitting the big screen. Be it a childhood dream or an item off the bucket list, having yourself plastered in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus would have topped the list every time. But how can you make this happen? It is of common belief that those signs are saved for America’s Next Top Model, not ordinary folk like us.  Truth be told, America’s Next Top Model is you! Within the digital sign industry, it is becoming possible to broadcast yourself or items that are targeted toward you on the jazzy displays.

LocaModa  + Foursquare do Vegas

LocaModa wanted to bring visualizations to place based media. Their first effort was to team up with Foursquare at a specific location and whoever checks in will be displayed on the digital signage outside. The sign would also display photos of the mayor, check ins and comments about the location. Users could even upload photos of their experience within that location and potentially have it display on the big screen. In doing so, consumers can display what they’re doing, when they’re doing and how they’re doing it to their friends though Foursquare but to upwards of 100K strangers walking past the sign. Who would complain with those 15 seconds of fame?

AdCentricity does Consumer Sync

AdCentricity teamed up with Environics to develop a solution for DOOH media to target consumers based on their behaviours, psychographics and purchase intent. The Nielson Company develops the consumer profiles so that companies can target their consumers based on their preferences, media habits and lifestyles within their marketplaces. Consumer Sync will engage with customers through DOOH media in a more impactful and personal way than has been seen before. How does this impact location? Well, Consumer Sync allows companies to develop media based on the demographics within a given geographic region, which ultimately enables creative distribution and flighting.  AdCentricity is the first of its kind to utilize targeting analytics as a way of developing advertising campaigns. They have opened the doors to an avenue with great potential.

One of the best examples I’ve seen to date is the recent project by McDonald’s Sweden that put an interactive billboard in Stureplan, the main public square of Stockholm. Called “Pick n Play”, the concept was dead simple: For one week (May 7-14) consumers competed by completing a pong-like game in 30 seconds on the billboard. Winners received coupons sent immediately to their mobile device for free food in the nearest McDonald’s restaurant.  WATCH VIDEO HERE:  McDonald’s Pick n Play

The big news here is as the user you play right from their mobile web browser, with no app to download!

Digital signs aren’t just the flashy lights anymore. They are based on strategy, creativeness and location. Companies are able to make the messages on these screens personal with script written by passing by patrons or photos uploaded to social media sites. The LocaModa and Foursquare have taken checking in at locations from being something that you share with your friends to being broadcasted on the big screens for everyone to see. Now when a 4sq user becomes mayor they will feel a greater sense of elation as their picture will be in the posted beside Gap’s latest campaign. Furthermore, AdCentricity has removed the meaningless nature of visual displays and made them more personal. Any message on their screens is personalized and targeted to that demographic and most of the time it will apply to you. This only leaves one question: what’s next? Will digital displays pair with the geolocation software in phones and tablets to directly target those consumers as they walk by? Will campaigns use augmented reality so that you are the ad? Really at this point, anything is possible. Just make sure you hit the gym because rumor has it screens make you look 10 lbs heavier.

Mo Money In Mobile?

June 7th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Have you ever thought about how awkward first dates really are? You barely know the person, probably are going to be short for questions and comments, and chances are you are extremely nervous because you want to make a good impression. But we’ve all been there and gone to dinner with that guy from the accounting department or the girl from the coffee shop. I’m also sure we’ve all had to deal with the utter shock and dismay when you reach to offer to pay for the bill and the only thing in your back pocket is a note from your mother asking you to turn the lights off when you get home. You’ve just successfully eliminated all chances of a second date. Imagine how much perspiration would be saved if you could just pay for the meal with your cell phone. You would never “forget your wallet” again as your mobile device is likely glued to your left hand. Lucky for all you first daters, this is actually going to be a possibility. Lucky for the marketers, mobile payment systems are a whole new space to explore and new technology to utilize.

Google Mobile Wallet

Google has announced their NFC- based Google Wallet, which is a mobile payment system designed to allow users to pay for retail items with their phone just by tapping. Google has teamed up with giants such as Subway, Macy’s and MasterCard. The partnership with MasterCard in particular will allow Google Wallet users to pay at any PayPass contactless system already installed. Payment isn’t the only draw to this wallet; by tapping at locations consumers would receive offers and promotions directly to their mobile device otherwise known as Google Offers. While trials are underway in NYC and San Francisco, Google is hoping for a full release this summer. We can only imagine what’s next: boarding passes, SIN cards, gametes. Regardless what it is, I’m sure Google will make it happen.

Visa PayWave

Visa developed this contactless card to compete with MasterCard’s PayPass but has not teamed up with DeviceFidelity to apply a mobile twist. They applied the smart chip technology from the card into mobile devices so that users just need to select the icon and wave their device over the payment system. Their pilot project is taking place in LA and New York transit systems including taxis. Their objective is making Visa usage more efficient and secure while eliminating cash handling for transit operators. Furthermore, it saves transit riders from scavenging the streets for those additional pennies to make the accurate change to ride the rail.

 

Apple + Square

As Google Mobile Wallet and Visa Pay Wave are in the process of creating more efficient processing systems, Apple and others are keeping it creative with a temporary solution, Square.  This nifty device was developed to ease online payments for consumers purchasing with their iPad or iPhone or other mobile device. Merchants develop an account for a small few and users just buy the device for $10 allowing quick and easy credit card payments on-the-go. By pairing this with location based services, consumers will be able to walk by a retail store, receive an offer that blows them away and pay for it all through their handheld mobile device. Talk about handy.

Mobile payment systems not only make shopping easier for customers but more efficient and productive for merchants as transactions will be faster, safer and less fraudulent. Furthermore, it is developing a whole new customer experience as its cool, unique and fun to be spending money.  Google Mobile Wallet has broken ground with this technology and has created a space, which allows for almost anything to go mobile. As marketers, there are opportunities to target these customers into retail locations that are housing the contactless payment systems and offering them deals. Now that we know where payment systems are headed, you better go trade in your best goat for the newest iPhone.

Making The Unsocial Social

May 31st, 2011 by Asif No comments »

When A Place Is Not A Place

The New Directions are heading to nationals in NYC on Glee and a group of girls are comically preparing for the wedding of the decade in Bridesmaids. Popping bubble wrap and hitting green lights in row are amongst 1000 pleasures in life described in Neil Pasricha’s The Book of Awesome. Love songs and ballads are penetrating the ears of listeners as British gem, Adele, hits the top on global music charts. Seems like a lot is going on in the entertainment industry, but do we have all the stickers to prove it?

Traditionally, paperbacks in comfy chairs or classic films on the couch while wrapped in blankets accompany rainy days. TV has been a mindless pass time for as long as Bob Barker hosted the Price as Right. Now all the activities that your introverted side associated with have gone online and become social. No need to panic and hide in the closet clutching your weathered collection of Harry Potter, platforms are now available for you to discuss your potion concoctions and Quidditch tactics with other muggles online.

Platforms like GetGlue, Miso and Philo provide viewers with enhanced interaction with their favourite forms of entertainment. This allows networks, publishers and film studios to build relationships with their consumers by rewarding them with stickers or other tangible prizes and encourage further usage. TV studios utilize these platforms to encourage live viewing and consistency as certain episodes unlock other rewards.  GetGlue has evolved into the leader of this booming space with users surpassing 1M and check-ins exceeding 12M. Users can check-in through their website or mobile Apps (available on iPhone and Android, sorry BB users!) to identify that they are watching, reading or listening to items. In doing so, users will receive stickers or badges and sometimes be entered to win tangible prices. Furthermore, there is the option for users to comment and like pieces as they would over crumpets at their book club.

As marketers within the entertainment industry, how can we use this to reach our target audience or even just to have one of those nifty stickers? Networks have already launched successful (and somewhat adhesive) campaigns.

CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Gets Glue’d

For Canadians (like myself), hockey is part of the culture and suits worn by Don Cherry had become socially accepted and respected. CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada teamed up with GetGlue to make exclusive stickers that are available to users when they check in at games. This campaign was launched during game 7 of Montreal vs. Boston with exclusive sports-related stickers. Now onto the semifinals, let’s just hope that Canada comes out strong to make these stickers worth it. Go Canucks!

Miso let’s Viewers Pick ‘Em

Although Donald Trump is a leading business magnate, his luscious blond locks don’t always allow him to make the right decisions on Apprentice. Seeing as reality shows are something that cannot be missed because of the fear of overhearing the outcome during your commute to work the following day. Miso is allowing viewers to participate during the living viewing, to step in and make the decision for Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, this poll will have no bearing on the results of the show but it does encourage user engagement and allows viewers to interact with each other in real time. So, next time you’re watching Dancing with the Stars, log on to Miso and share who you think should move on: Kirstie Alley or the Situation. “None of the above” isn’t an option.

You Again, Philo!

Prior to the premiere of the movie, You Again, Philo launched a campaign offering the chance to win a $500 spa package grand prize among smaller prices like memorabilia and free tickets. To be entered in the draw, users had to check in a minimum of 3 different times to shows that aired a You Again commercial. If the user went on to comment “you again” on any of the qualifying shows they would be entered to win the grand prize. Not bad for a lazy Sunday on the couch.

GetGlue and others have broken ground in a whole new space. They have developed a platform that works like Foursquare but the users don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home. ‘Checking In’ is no longer limited to actual places, but virtual ones too. In doing so, GetGlue has reached an entirely new market, formally known as the couch potatoes and bookworms. Going forward, you should remove the tarnished pins from your old canvas rucksack because it’s all about stickers now!

To Be Realistic About Marketing Is To Augment Reality

May 17th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

As a marketer, have you ever thought that your kismet is lying on the super imposed lines of any Sunday afternoon NFL football game? Probably not (especially if you’re not a sports fan). Well, these first-down lines, not only, provide a more accurate spatial orientation of games for home viewers but they are also the foundation of Augmented Reality (AR). To elaborate, AR directly takes physical real world images, modifies them using computer generated software and creates a whole new world. AR adds elements to the participant’s ordinary life to enhance their experience through means of enjoyment, intrigue and, recently, convenience.

For years, marketing and advertising agencies have strained themselves trying to isolate the most effective, meaningful and lasting image to sell their product. Now, brands are able to visually and audibly foster experiences to which their consumers can be a part of. As AR is within its infancy stage, there are no limitations to form of communication it embodies. Whether it’s an experience like walking around the top of Toronto’s CN tower or a product like a Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma! giftcard. Through its dynamism, AR has already showcased services, goods and entertainment, which have shifted reality from relatively normal to bigger, cooler and more fake.

Services

By employing GPS software in mobile devices, companies are able to target exact locations to specify their message to that geographic region.

eBay Classified

eBay partnered with AR platform Junaio to launch an app that displays all nearby classified ads. The app allows you to filter the listings with keywords to avoid clutter in busy areas. The ads appear on your screen as you change your phones direction and take it one step further to dial the number posted to set up an appointment. Something as daunting as apartment hunting is made simple by this app, all you do is hold your phone to the building of your dreams and then sign a lease!

Wikitude World Browser

This app scans your surroundings using the camera and GPS sensors in your mobile device to provide all points of interest nearby and tags them on your screen for easy navigation. The app goes one step further to provide you with the Wikipedia information you need to know about those locations. Therefore with World Browser, you have the capacity to know anything about everything anywhere in the world.

Goods

Product advertisements are becoming invisible to consumers as they are blocked by clutter. By experimenting with AR, brands are able to bring their product to the consumer and allow them to sample the product in their own space.

Ray-Ban Virtual Mirror

Ray-Ban collaborated with FittingBox to develop the technology behind the virtual mirror. They use landmarks like nose, ears and eyes to place the products in real time. This takes online shopping to a new level allowing customers to virtually try the product on before deciding to purchase it. Another great opportunity to determine if the black Wayfarers are too Risky Business with your hair cut.

Hallmark Gift Cards

Nothing says ‘cheesy’ like a Hallmark gift card. But Hallmark is making the recipients of their gift cards say ‘cheese’ by bringing their cards to life through AR.  After the purchase of a gift card, the recipient can log on to the website display the card on webcam and become part of the animated party. This adds an interactive element to gift cards that has never been seen before. Hallmark identified that most people enjoy a party, especially those receiving condolences cards, so they are hosting one and invited everyone to it through AR.

Entertainment

Companies have been using forms of AR for years now to make games and simulations feel more realistic. Previously, they have brought the users into their games, but now they are incorporating games into real life.

Disney MotionBeam

The MotionBeam project is developing new character interaction through projection controlled by gesturing of hand held devices. The projections can be applied by linking them to physical attributes in the environment that become part of the game. Although this project is still in the works, Disney has identified that they would like to incorporate this projector into cell phones to turn the real world into a playground. As if life isn’t already crazy enough without Captain Hook.

Augmented Reality is field that should be considered by marketers globally as consumers are actively seeking brands and, in some cases, trying them on. As for being location based, AR will add a digital overlay to real world experiences and give a different perspective on life as the consumer relocates. It may add background information about places like Times Square or Union Station, or give customer reviews on products during shopping trips through WalMart or even act as a distraction from a boring keynote speaker. Whatever its uses will be, AR has the ability to change the world as we see it. Or, in the least, will add computer-generated pieces to it.

Fashion & Foursquare

May 10th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

Moving from Sears catalogues being delivered in the mail to email blasts being sent directly to your handheld, the fashion industry has evolved into one of the fastest moving industries in the market. As soon as a trend becomes popular it is already obsolete in the eyes of any style maven. To ordinary folk keeping up to date on  “what’s hot” in the fashion world is a daunting task and can be extremely costly. To marketers, this is a budding segment that needs immediate attention and wit to overcome the already overbearing noise.

While fashion is moving fast, technology is moving faster. Major retailers, such as BestBuy and Macy’s, have teamed up with companies like Shopkick Inc. to deploy location-based Smartphone Apps. The Apps utilize cell phones location capabilities to target customers within a designated area around their retail store. The App will send them promotions; coupons or other marketing offers which will appeal to the customer when they are in the position to buy.  As BestBuy and Macy’s are tracking their customers, Gap Stylemixer is building wardrobes, Ralph Lauren is designing customized rugby shirts and Chanel is showcasing their fashion show all on the mobile platform. Shop ‘til you drop is the past. Shop ‘til your cell phone dies is the present.

Location-based apps are successfully communicating with consumers and are a “hot” trend within the marketing world. Ultimately, the surplus of Apps depreciates any given brand’s cool factor. Like every trend, they become overdone and fall into the “everyone is doing it” category similar to what was seen with bell-bottom jeans in the 70’s. Unsurprisingly enough as fashionistas are always one step ahead, icons such as Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and Diesel have taken location-based marketing to the next level, or as some could say, the next runway.

Marc Jacobs in NYC Fashion Week

Marc Jacobs has embraced social media and digital technology to develop marketing ideas that go against the traditional marketing employed by other fashion brands.

Prior to fashion week in NYC, Marc teamed up with FourSquare to develop a “Fashion Victim” badge that enthusiasts acquired after “checking-in” to Marc Jacob locations throughout the Big Apple and other states.  Randomly four individuals who unlocked the badge in New York were invited to the Marc Jacobs fashion show. In doing so, both Marc Jacobs and FourSquare became the subject of chatter for days leading up to the show.

Jimmy Choo’s CatchAChoo

Jimmy Choo launched the CatchAChoo event in London via Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare to connect the digital world to the real world by inviting shoe fanatics to participate in the game. All they had to do was follow the clues posted online by a representative and approach them and say “I’ve been following you.” The winner gets a free pair of trainers and bragging rights to the remaining cyber losers.

Be Stupid with Diesel

Originally, Diesel worked with Iced Media (digital marketing agency) to develop a successful online campaign called “Be Stupid” which encouraged individuals to upload photos via Twitter, Facebook and Flckr. Decidedly, Diesel teamed up with FourSquare to drive their online traffic into their retail locations by allowing customers to “check-in” and receive a prize. Additionally, customers will receive a sticker with the Be Stupid slogan on it that they are encouraged to bring home, photograph and email for a chance to win bigger, better and more stupid prizes.

These campaigns were initial forays into the capabilities of location-based marketing. Although FourSquare is America’s Next Top Model, similar platforms, such as SCVNGR, Gowalla, and Goldrun, are climbing the ranks and developing unique opportunities for brands to reach (and wardrobe) their consumers. But with every marketing fad, Louis Vitton comes up with a new bag. Keep your fingers busy on those sites and eventually you will “check- in” at the right time!