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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Using Mobile Channels for Good

My company, 3PMobile has been knee deep in digital privacy issues.  While there are some unbiased and thoughtful participants working through the "Do Not Track" (DNT) standard, there are also some very smart, people whose agenda is less than altruistic, or they haven't completely thought through the long term impact of their recommendations. I've been reading proposed privacy legislation, but key things like the definition of tracking or monitoring are left out and mobile is being treated separately from desktop.  I thought their was only one Web?  Hmm...  Needless to say, the process is exhausting. Too many smart people forget that the value in interactive channels is to interact in ways beyond behavioral targeting.

I took a break this evening to run some errands.  As I was standing in line at Target, I noticed what at first, looked like odd behavior from the young woman in front of me.  I realized she was doing something with her smartphone, but the behavior was still puzzling.  As she turned, I realized she was signing into her smartphone.  The video camera on the front of her phone was capturing her signs and she was viewing signs from another individual.  I was inspired!  Someone was using the Web to deliver an extraordinary mobile user experience that really made a difference.  Exhilaration ensued!

So in honor of those companies, organizations and individuals who are using interactive channels to "Do Good" - I salute you!  For every bad apple, I know there are thousands of good ones out there.   While I do not know what app or Web service the young woman was using, I found this nice listing from the Accessible Technology Coalition of the Top 10 Phone Apps for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired.  Please pass it along to anyone you know who may benefit from them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Messaging is Dead. Long Live Messaging

Every so often you read something that just makes you stop and remember the basics.  Today, I was reading a blog from Coleman Management titled, Yes, We can Control the Message.  It brings up a great point about how things change - and stay the same.  And how as marketers, we can't forget the basics, regardless of how far the message distribution tools and methodologies have come.

Interactive channels are by their nature, interactive.  You get feedback much faster - and customers share their experiences much faster - but it does not replace good marketing and basic research before you put things out there. Trial balloons float forever in the blogosphere and social networks.  If your messages are not aligned with the reality of your product or service, then as Emily Coleman points out in her blog, the marketer has done a poor job - and there is nowhere to hide.

Test your product, or service, or website or app before you finalize your communications strategy.  Make sure it resonates with your target audience.  And make sure that it really is as fast, easy, powerful, intuitive, rugged or otherwise as good as you claim.   Whether you market through interactive channels or not, your customers do, and they will call you on your inaccuracies faster than they did before - so get it right (or at least as close to right as you can, given your resources) the first time and then actually read what your customers say, share, tweet and post and "fine tune" as required.

A little bit of good old fashioned marketing know how can go a long way before you commit your messages to digital ink and start the conversation with your customers.  You CAN control the ORIGINAL message, but once the interactions begin, if the messaging cuffs don't match the real user experience collar, then as Ms. Coleman points out, as marketer's we have failed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shifting Channels – Are you Ready for the Big One

Two recent announcements caught my attention this morning:

Yeah, yeah – so what?  The Web has been eating into television and radio channels for years, so why are these two announcements so intriguing?

Well, maybe it’s because of all the other little quakes rocking my TV, computer, radio, tablet and phone. Broadcast is dead.  Long live broadcast AND on demand, on any device, with interactive extras and hyper-targeted advertising– via the Web, err, TV, I mean desktop, or is that smartphone?   Ever watch Fuse TV or G4 channels?  (I love “Movies that Don’t Suck,” but I digress). These new media channels were designed from the get go to integrate TV, Web and games (or music) into one. They are the multi-tasking, multi-device, multimedia and interactive entertainment platforms of the future.  

The digital and broadcast tectonic plates are crashing into each other with impressive force.  Old school players with worthy content won’t be annihilated, but they will be reshaped through M&A or content sales if they don’t respond fast enough. Even old guard CBS launched CBS Interactive years ago and is leading the charge with CBS Mobile, featuring mobile games, live chats with fellow viewers and backstage insights with venerable favorites, like, Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) from NCIS.  Is CBS the “fused, interactive media channel” model for the Boomer generation or are we all looking for the Bob channel, and Mary channel and Seymour channel, a la Pandora.  Is Google+ the key?

Hulu is differentiating itself from other “content channels” with original programming.  Hmmm… “on demand” must not be enough. Can they sustain themselves via the “broadcast programming demographic” advertising dollar?  They’ve simply shifted place, but not product.  Google is bolstering its online advertising juggernaut with Google+ deep profiling and associated business services.  Will it prove too targeted for certain product and service advertisers?

Well – I’m sure you all have your own opinion, but if you are a marketer and you are not paying attention, it’s time to get ready for the big.  Channels are folding on top of each other, leaving both a path of destruction and incredible new landscapes for all generations of media consumers, content creators and advertisers.  Are you ready?