Tag Archives: technology

Mastering the MIM: Marketer´s Guide to Mobile Instant Messaging

SMS is dead.
Long live MIM.

WhatsApp has been a major contributor of 25% decline of SMS in Spain
. Chinese WeChat has over 300 million users. Over 90% of Korean smartphone users use Kakaotalk. These are just a few examples of the rising trend of the mobile instant messaging (MIM).

Instant messaging as such is not a new thing (remember ICQ?), but there are certain reasons why it has had its resurrection now:

1. Phones are increasingly more about data than talking
In developed countries nearly every new phone sold is smartphone. Smartphones are increasingly more about being smart than phone. There is app for that, now also for the basic phone features (talking and texting).

2. That data is getting faster

New 4G LTE (Long term evolution) phones will enable high-speed data for mobile phones. This opens new opportunities for what kind of content we can exchange in MIM platforms.

3. Facebook is so huge that it is already mass broadcasting

If you are average Facebook user sending your status update, the odds are that the message will be seen by your family, friends and colleagues plus countless of people you do not even know about. This is great, but serves more of people´s need for vanity and instant recognition. The most meaningful conversations happen with the people you know. Same phenomenon has been also reason for the success of Path.

4. There is always need for 1-to-1 communication

Some might argue that Facebook message does the trick. However the challenge is that Facebook is already flooded with so many messages, it is not that reliable way to catch people (at least not all of them). Phone has been relevant for so long because you can be quite certain that your message is received. Although Facebook has increased the number of “friends”, it has not really increase the number of “real friends”. The amount of those real friends is limited and many of interactions with those people we want to keep private.

5. World is getting smaller

Majority of MIM applications work internationally. The bread and butter of Telcos profit margins has been charging for international calls and roaming. MIM applications do not have those international boundaries. You want to communicate with your friends no matter where they geographically are.

6. World is getting more visual

Although SMS-messages have been relatively cheap, telcos are still taking quite big premium with multimedia messages. With MIM applications you can send whatever data possible and the because of the point 2 the alternatives are actually increasing all the time. Basic SMS- type of messaging is just the beginning for MIM applications and there will be probably lots of innovations in what kind of communication there will be.

What are opportunities for marketers?

Many MIM applications are still quite in infancy regarding their business model. Opportunities for marketers also vary greatly between different platforms. For example paid application WhatsApp is totally ad-free and there has not really been marketers using it (expect for personal use). On the other end of the spectrum is the WeChat, which is currently almost like Wild West with Chinese brands flooding there.

MIM applications are interesting part of mobile strategy for marketers. They provide straight access to consumer´s main screen: smartphone. As the smartphone is always within you, that is the straight pathway to consumer connecting digital to retail. That is the connection which every marketer wants to master. It might be that clever way to utilize MIM is the key for cracking that task.

But why anyone would want to have 1-to-1 connection with brand?

Compared to Facebook where your brand page reaches only fraction of your fans, MIM application has almost the hit-rate of 100%. This is creates a big responsibility for brands. You cannot flood your fans with messages such as “Like if you are ready for the spring!” or “Tell us in one word: (Our Brand) make me ______”. You are truly invading personal space with your message so it needs to add some real value for the consumer. In Facebook you are more likely to get away with stupid brand messages, although they are definitely not recommended in there either.

Here potential routes for marketers to utilize MIM:

1. Daily Deals & Promotions
Deals and promotions are always appreciated by the consumers. With MIM you can connect it phones and also create the sense of urgency to redeem those deals. Of course, provided that these deals are good.
2. Daily tips
MIM provides opportunities also for content marketing. It could be daily practice tips for sport brand. It could be song of the day for music service. Of recent campaigns Oreo Daily Twist could work in Whatsapp. The most important thing whether deals or content, is the expectation management. You have to be really candid about what kind of messages you send and how often. You have one change to lose trust and none chances to get it back.
3. Extension of loyalty card
Having own MIM circle for the valued customers could be great idea for rewarding your best customers with VIP treatment.
4. Rapid Market research
Combined with promotions or deals, MIM also provides vehicle for doing rapid market research and gather intelligence for your loyal customers.

It is too early to tell whether MIM will be the secret weapon that connects digital and retail. One thing is certain though: MIM cannot be left out of consideration for your mobile strategy.

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iPad Mini and The Future of Mobile

Despite the surprise launch of the next generation iPad and the brouhaha that followed it, the most important launch of the yesterday´s Apple event was still the iPad Mini. According to late Steve Jobs that tablet should never been launched:

“This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion”

The point is not that Apple is ruining the grand vision of iPad or dancing on the grave of Steve Jobs. The launch of iPad Mini is just a reflection of the current market situation. People do not necessarily want to have great tablet apps, they just want to read e-books with the tablet. Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 have shown that there is a great demand for smaller tablets which are designed mainly for content consumption (such as text, videos, audio and basic casual games). Judging by the strength of Apple´s content ecosystem (iTunes, iBooks), it is likely that iPad Mini will be successful. The biggest concern is the higher price, but that does not really have stopped Apple buyers before either.

The launch of iPad Mini is a good indicator of where we are moving in the mobile sphere. Here are four predictions what will happen in the near future:

1. Apple will release bigger iPhone.
If (when) iPad mini will be a hit, we are quite likely to see bigger iPhone. The success of Samsung Galaxy S III has proven that the traditional heuristic of “it has to fit the pocket” do not really apply. We have the need to communicate and consume content. For those whose urge for the latter is bigger, would want to use bigger smartphones. And they just put it in bag instead of trouser pockets. Or get bigger trousers.

2. The Tablet+Dock hybrid will be the laptop of the future
There has been flood of new device announcements with Windows 8 OS that are not traditional laptops. Instead they are hybrids, merging tablets and laptops. These devices might not be the future yet, but the thinking behind them will be. It is odd and inconvenient to carry around smartphone, laptop and tablet with you. I would presume that the separate bigger tablet would be the one to go. Smartphone would be the urgent communication vehicle; the separated tablet for mobile content consumption and that powered with the dock would be for work.

3. Mobile is the driving force in technology usage of the consumers
Also with the launch of Windows 8 OS, there has been quite a big surge of touchscreen laptops. The way we use mobile is shaping how we use other devices. Mobile is all the times with us, so we expect the same user experience with other devices. That is also reason why companies are struggling with mobile. They view it as an add-on, when it should be the core of what they are doing.

4. Forget the different devices, it is about integration of screens.
In the near future, we will not talk about mobile, tablets or laptops. We will just have different screens, which are integrated together and serve different purpose. The company who will master this integration most fluently will be the winner of the technology race. We will have screens for home, work and mobile (enabling both work&entertainment) and certain devices that enable us to use these screens. What devices those will be, remains to be seen. One certain consequence will be that there will be renewed interest to TV screens, which have and still are the default home screens for the majority of households.

iPad Mini will not be the last interesting technology launch in the near future. There is still plenty of white space to discover while consumer technology usage is changing. The one who understands the consumer experience and “the integration of screens” most thoroughly will be able to find and conquer that white space.

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Three Cool Technologies That Have Not (Yet) Been (Totally) Exploited by Marketers

Whenever new technology emerges, marketers have a small gap of opportunity to do campaigns concentrating purely on the novelty of new technology. And get away with it.

Consider augmented reality. When it was first introduced, we marketers ate the whole thing up and ranted about nearly every simple campaign utilizing that new technology even without any real idea behind it. Nowadays clients start to yawn if you mention AR even if it just starting to reach its full potential.

Such is the cycle from boom to bore. And it is getting faster every day.

There is always the novelty value of new, but also a value in rediscovery. So take a look on these not necessarily new but definitely emerging technologies, you might have a chance to ride on the big wave of opportunity:

1. 3D Printing

Apparently you can print out wearable bikinis, working riffles, custom chocolates and even kidneys with these machines. The technology has actually been around for three decades. Now with the emerging of more affordable 3D-printers (starting from 500$), they might soon be household items.

2. Holograms

Besides raising again the hot topic of Tupac being alive (which is naturally true), the above performance in Coachella sparked a sudden interest in holograms. Actually technology utilized is technically not hologram but an over century-old reflection technique called
Pepper´s ghost
. Nevertheless it was really impressive and initial cost of CGI & projection supposedly ranged around 100k-400k, which is not that impossible for forward-minded marketer aiming for big PR wins.

3. The Leap

Time to go Tony Starks.

So now just waiting the time that you cannot mention these ones in meetings any more.

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Fifty Shades of Controversy

Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey”?

As this question is asked, presumably most of the answers are lies. Who would voluntarily admit their knack for sadomasochism-flavoured erotica literature, which has started as Twilight fan-fiction?

I haven´t read the books either, although I probably should.

As a planner, you have to always understand what makes people tick. That is why quite often you have to watch movies, listen to music or read books that you really do not understand. Or wouldn´t encounter in normal circumstances. Sometimes you might actually hate them, as is the case with majority of new music around. Apparently 50 Shades of Grey is huge in 30+ married women audience. That is important to know. There must be definitely something in those books, if the trilogy has sold already around ten million copies around. And keeps on selling.

As I have not yet read those books, I can say just four reasons why they have been so succesful:

1. Sex
Sex always sells, in some way or other. And it has been a bloody good salestool for literature among all ages.
2. Internet-Born Phenomenon
The story started originally in fan-fiction communities. If you have ever checked those, they are really active and engaged communities. Fifty Shades started with Twilight characters having steamy affairs. After that it evolved to its own web property. When the book was published, the audience was already there. Quite different case compared to an unknown new novelist without the name or the following. Brilliant example about how the book publishing will change it nature. It also stresses the importance of the personal branding.
3. Technology
With e-reading devices you can actually read suspect material more freely. No one sees the cover of the book you are reading in the subway, so why not read “mommy porn” then?
4. Controversy
Of course I would have wanted to borrow these books from nearby library (only from my anthropological interest, of course), but actually in Singapore they are banned in libraries. This is due to explicit nature of the books and to prevent the teenagers to see them (as there is so much teenagers hanging in libraries in the first place). Not surprisingly the top 3 for the best-selling books in here, has been only Fifty shades of grey, darker and freed for weeks before and especially after the ban.

The best thing that has happened for these books has been those library bans all over the world. It has brought lots of free publicity in the media, because controversy is always something which interests press and the people. It has also brought new sales because you actually have to buy them if you want them. Compared to many other books, you are forced to do it.

Controversy is not always good, but it is better than no one talking about your product.

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