Olympics a Tipping Point in Mobile Media Usage?

The popularity and lower prices of Apple’s iPhone and other smartphones appeared to set the stage for a dramatic increase in consumption of mobile media. As more people had wireless devices with technology capable of accessing the Internet, expectations were that they would be using their smartphones for many of the same purposes they use desktops and laptops. Widespread use of mobile devices as a medium for receiving information and entertainment has yet to occur, but the 2008 Olympics may provide a tipping point for people to shift more of their media consumption to their mobile devices.

Early returns from NBC on the use of cell phones to access content shows how the Olympics is shaping the behavior of many consumers. NBC reports that just under 500,000 people per day attempted to access Olympics content via their cell phones on August 17 and August 18. While that number is very unimpressive compared to the massive television audience the Games draw, the number of people who are using cell phones to access content is noteworthy. NBC says that 50% of the the people requesting content over a mobile device are first-timers (including yours truly).

The ability to retreive results and news from the Olympics on-the-go and on demand will demonstrate to new mobile media consumers the benefits of always being connected. As we become more adept at using our wireless devices in the same way we use other media, a natural extension will be to utilize as a tool in consumption decisions. Whether it be to locate directions to a restaurant, read reviews about it, obtain coupons, or chat with others, wireless devices are becoming a more important communication channel for consumers. Now, marketers must figure out how to meet customers where they are yet again and avoid missteps that many companies made in the early days of the Web, email marketing, and social networking.

Link: The Washington Post – “NBC Sees New Media Habits Form with Olympic Games”

Put the "M" in CRM

In the past 10 years, many marketers have embraced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as if it is the answer to all of their marketing challenges. Why not- the promise of a powerful collection of customer data that could be analyzed to identify selling opportunities and key customers that should be the focus of retention efforts, just to name two applications, is too great to resist. Reality has not always matched the promise, as many companies spent millions on CRM infrastructure but have been unable to harness the resources and make them work effectively.

How bad has the CRM experience been? A recent study done by the CMO Council found that only 16% of the firms surveyed rated themselves as effective or extremely good at executing CRM. Only 6% claimed to have excellent knowledge of their customers based on the demographic, behavioral, and transactional data they had captured. Not exactly a glowing report for a concept that many experts believed would fundamentally change the practice of marketing.

Clearly, there is work to be done to put the “Management” in Customer Relationship Management. It can be a daunting task to pull together customer data from sources scattered throughout a business. However, the high stakes associated with knowing as much about customers as possible means CRM efforts are too critical to abandon. Link

Mobile Search Advertising: Hope or Hype?

A recently released report by ABI Research indicates that search advertising expenditures for mobile devices will reach $5 billion by 2013. The promise of mobile search advertising offers marketers a great opportunity to reach consumers where they are… literally! The value added benefit of mobile search to provide information wherever one is makes the possibilities for using search advertising seemingly endless.

There is only one catch to this prediction being realized: consumers have to embrace this new approach for engaging in information search. Technologies are evolving to make mobile search advertising possible. Now, it is up to us as consumers to adapt our behavior and utilize our phones and wireless devices for search purposes. The need to change behavior, coupled with users having adequate hardware to have a positive experience using mobile search, will be major influences on whether the prediction of the takeoff of mobile search advertising is realized. Link

Dialing for Dollars Using Mobile Marketing

How many ways can your customers buy from you? The late 1990s saw the spread of the Internet as a commercial platform, and the late 2000s could be ushering in the next significant platform: mobile marketing. Papa John’s has launched a mobile marketing program that enables registered users to create order preferences and set payment options. Orders can be placed by texting Papa John’s.

Will text message ordering become the new standard for customers doing business with Papa John’s or any other retailer that adopts the platform? Probably not anytime soon. But, mobile marketing opens up possibilities beyond accepting customer orders such as being able to send coupons and other offers to customers without buying media time or space. Coming up with new ways for customers to make purchases represents potential incremental revenues that cannot be ignored. Link

Are You Ready for some iPhone?

I think I now understand how football “experts” feel the week of the Super Bowl. All of them weigh in with their opinions about which team will win the big game, keys to success, and other observations that could impact the outcome of the game. For marketing experts, the launch of Apple’s iPhone this week has a similar atmosphere surrounding it.

Depending on which experts you wish to believe, the iPhone will revolutionize the wireless industry and add $10 billion in reveunes for Apple, or it will serve as a humbling experience for the same company that gave us the Newton. I believe conditions are favorable for the iPhone to succeed, but there are three keys to success that must be met:

1.The user experience must be positive. One of the reasons iPod has been a smash is it is easy to use. If users can learn to perform the multiple tasks of the iPhone with ease, they are much likely to sing the iPhone’s praises to others and serve as unofficial buzz agents by giving demos to people in their network. The multiple uses of the iPhone are irrelevant if owners perceive it’s too hard to use.

2.Behavior modification is necessary. Consumers must go from thinking in terms of specialized devices to generalized devices. We have been conditioned to shop for separate devices to serve our needs for wireless phone, camera, music player, and mobile email. Now, we’re being told that a single device can do all of these things. Accepting a generalized device involves making trade-offs in performance as you can buy specialized devices that do each of the tasks better than an iPhone. The iPhone’s promise is one of simplifying our electronic gadget needs!

3.Customer support will be crucial. Service at point-of-sale and post-purchase will be influential in determining whether the iPhone succeeds. This key has a twist in that this is not up to Apple alone. AT&T will be a key partner in educating consumers about the iPhone and keeping them satisfied when product or service failure occurs. Conumers want a seemless experience; they don’t care which partner’s part of the offering is at fault. If they purchase an iPhone at an AT&T store, they will expect support there. If they contact Apple with a problem that is technically a phone service issue, they’re going to expect Apple to provide assistance.

So, for all of the hype surrounding the Apple iPhone the bottom line is that if consumers see value in the iPhone, that it adds to their quality of life in some way (e.g., adds enjoyment, creates convenience, or enhances image),the iPhone will likely succeed.