I wrote two pieces this morning on Screenwerk of potential interest to LMS readers:
Placecast will serve opt-in SMS/MMS ads within advertiser-defined "geo-fences" supported by Alcatel technology. This is purely in the mobile context.
Both advance the cause of location-awareness and LBS advertising.
Last month Idearc launched its Superpages app for the iPhone. Now it has done the same for BlackBerry (Storm) devices, where it should see even greater visibility given the lesser competition in BlackBerry App World (Poynt is the top or one of the top LBS apps in BlackBerry right now).
In addition to the standard directory listings data, here are some of the enhanced features:
Here are some screenshots of the new Superpages BlackBerry app:
Yellow pages publishers have a great opportunity in mobile to (re)gain user adoption that to some degree they ceded to search engines on the PC.
Related: Yellowspaces launched an iPhone app (more from MediaPost).
I ran across some interesting LBS case studies from Useful Networks on the MMA site. They both involved mobile banner advertising and location, and featured a fast-food restaurant and an advertiser in the automotive vertical (a car brand) . . .
UN worked with a major U.S. Carrier and a major advertising network, who in turn worked with a major fast food restaurant chain (Trial #1) and a major automotive company (Trial #2), to launch two location-based advertising trials in the United States. The LBA Trials were centered around a Store Finder page, one of Useful Networks’ AdWhere products, and were designed to test and prove the added benefits that location-enablement brings to mobile marketing campaigns . . .The end user experience involved two call-to-action banner ads displayed on the carrier’s mobile portal enticing the customer to find the two brands’ store locations. Although both banner ads were virtually identical (except for the opt-in language featured on the location-enabled banner ad), each banner ad resulted in a different after-the-click experience.
Brand #1 – Quick Service Restaurant Vertical: ~100% of those users who clicked on the location-enabled banner ad saw the fast food restaurant’s Store Finder page. In contrast, only 28% of those users who were directed to the manual zip code entry page actually submitted their zip code and viewed the brand’s Store Finder page. Stated differently, the non-location enabled banner ad resulted in a 72% abandonment rate.
Brand #2 – Automotive Vertical: ~10% of those users who were directed to the manual zip code entry page actually submitted their zip code and viewed the automotive company’s Store Finder page (compared to ~100% of those users who clicked on the location-enabled banner ad).
The bottom line here was that the location-enabled banners drove 3X to 10X higher conversion rates. Read the full case studies here.
Similarly 1020 Placecast reported, based on A/B testing, a 50% to 100% lift in conversions, when location is added, in a recent campaign for a rental car company that featured both online and mobile components.
Last week Google announced barcode scanning for products on Android phones (right now the G1 in the US and Magic in the UK):
After you've installed the application, go back to Product Search in your browser and tap on the 'Scan Barcode' button again. Select "Use by default for this action" and tap on the Barcode Scanner option. After the app opens, center the red line over the barcode and hold the phone steady. When the barcode is read successfully, you'll see a Google Product Search results page back in the browser.
This is not to be confused with ShopSavvy for Android, which also uses barcode scanning and offers local store inventory data. Barcode scanning apparently doesn't work right now on the iPhone because of the quality of the camera (at least that's my understanding).
One of the things that I've been thinking for a long time is that the camera will eventually be used as a "search" tool -- as a way to obtain information more quickly and directly than keying in queries or even using voice. It remains to be seen but movement is in the right direction; there remains a bunch of work to be done on "infrastructure" issues, regarding standardization and pre-installed software.
But here are the forms camera-based search will eventually take:
All of these leverage the camera's ability to take in information and then potentially deliver very exact or complete data on the back end, beyond what a user could independently get with a conventional search approach.
It's potentially quite compelling as a user experience and could trump conventional search in many different scenarios. But it also illustrates the larger point that "search" on mobile phones is going to be a multi-modal experience, rather than a uniform one as on the PC. In as few as five years we're simultaneously likely to have:
The use cases will be both device specific and situational. One way to compete in mobile search is to push into these non-traditional realms more aggressively.
WhitePages is available across most of the major smartphone platforms, as well as at m.whitepages.com. Now it has "circled back" to the iPhone with an upgrade that does a few new things. In the business search realm, specifically, here are the new features:
The sponsored results I observed were from Citysearch, although Whitepages works with mutiple partners.
Finally, here's a video showing the new iPhone app in operation.
Mobile social network Brightkite and research firm GFK put out some interesting numbers around mobile advertising today. More people are seeing mobile ads:
Another number from their research regarding LBS: 14% now use one or more location based services (peaking at 38% of iPhone users).
Our recent research showed that only 11% of North American mobile users in March recall seeing advertising. However, consistent with the GFK data, the number is larger for smartphone users.
Yesterday I was attending BMO Capital Markets' advertising and marketing conference in New York. The lunch keynote was an interview with Wenda Harris Millard, former chief sales officer for Yahoo!. She spoke about the range of challenges facing advertising today and the difficulty of reaching audiences and getting attention.
In that context the "ads as apps" phenomenon we've written about in the past is fascinating. Here the ad is a piece of content or deeply integrated into the content (e.g., Kraft's iFood Assistant). Another such iPhone app from fast-food restaurant Hardee's is profiled in a piece appearing yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:
Inc., based in Carpinteria, Calif., recently tried iPhone advertising. To promote the Western Bacon Thickburger at its Hardee's fast-food chain last month, CKE launched an iPhone application called iBurger.
People who download iBurger can tap on the iPhone's screen to open a Hardee's box containing a burger photo. They can also take "bites" out of the burger by making lipsmacking sounds into their device's microphone.
The objective of the campaign is to reach 18- to 34-year-old males who are increasingly difficult to target via other media but are often early adopters of technologies like the iPhone. (However, I sat next to an elderly couple at a play recently and both had iPhones.)
Here are some screens from the app, which allows you to interact with and "eat" the burger. You actually have to verbally "munch" or chew to make the burger disappear.
The point here is to highlight the compelling creative -- if you like burgers that is. The (major) flaw is that it appears to be a pure branding campaign without a restaurant locator.
As we've discussed before, mobile ad campaigns (right now) consistently outperform other digital media (read: Internet). But those data aren't by themselves going to convince people to do mobile ad campaigns. And even beyond reaching hard-to-reach demographic segments, JumpTap's Paran Johar made the point at our Internet2Go conference earlier this year that agencies must recognize compelling mobile ad creative opportunities to get excited about mobile.
Clearly the "ads as apps" phenomenon offers that possibility.
Pandora was the top free app on the iPhone in 2008. And being on the iPhone has dramatically accelerated Pandora's exposure and business. I now see display ads with great frequency on the device while I'm listening to Pandora (Google AdSense for Mobile). I'm also struck by how many of them are geotargeted. Their "relevance" is still lacking in many cases, but I'm watching the ads get more frequent and more relevant.
MG Siegler at TechCrunch has an interesting post about how much music buying Pandora is starting to drive, especially its iPhone app:
Users are buying about a million songs a month now from these affiliate links on Pandora, CTO Tom Conrad tells me. Of those, a solid 20% are coming directly from Pandora’s iPhone app, which includes an easy link to open the iPhone’s iTunes app, and buy a track. That’s really impressive considering that it’s just one phone that a relatively small percentage of their users use.
Urbanspoon, recently acquired by IAC, owes its entire business to the iPhone and the PR it got from being on the device (even though it has a PC site). Were it not for the iPhone Urbanspoon would have been just another restaurant site. Similarly, Pandora has been "transformed" by being on the iPhone, even though it also offers other smartphone clients.
Vodafone in the UK is apparently going to end its exclusive ad sales relationship with Yahoo! and reach out to other providers/channels/networks. The two companies reportedly will continue to work together but the exclusive dimension of the relationship will end.
Yahoo! has more direct operator relationships on a global basis than its major rivals. For the time being the carriers still see the greatest reach to mobile audiences, although over time that will change as more people shift to smartphones and greater direct mobile Internet adoption accordingly.
According to a story appearing in MediaPost this morning, Interpublic's Magna Global research and forecasting unit has revised downward a mobile advertising projection. Despite this the company remains very bullish on the segment. However Magna's numbers are smaller than many other firms issuing mobile ad forecasts. Here are the numbers as presented in the article:
U.S. advertisers are projected to spend $229 million on mobile media this year, up 26% from $169 million in 2008. Those numbers have been revised downward from Magna's last forecast in July 2008, when it projected that mobile ad spending would rise 43% to $298 million in 2009. Even so, Magna now expects mobile ad spending to nearly double by 2011, when it will reach $409 million.
This forecast is US only and it's not clear what is included or excluded from the piece. It's likely that this doesn't include search ad revenue attributed to mobile. I'm trying to get a look directly at the numbers from Magna. Here's the Magna chart showing the projected revenue growth:
Update: I got a copy of the report. It does include search apparently. Here are some excerpts that speak to assumptions:
As carriers seek to drive revenues from data services, consumers will increasingly be incentivized to select smart-phones as their primary mobile devices.
Mobile ad networks represent by far the largest sub-sector within mobile advertising, and the greatest growth in absolute terms over the next several years. By aggregating billions of advertising impressions on a monthly basis, ad networks represent the most efficient way to sell the largest possible collection of audiences, and thus have become the primary beneficiaries of increasing mobile web consumption.
Other impression-based inventory (such as that offered by online portals, publishers or mobile carriers) should post solid growth, but fragmentation will hinder large-scale buying except where campaigns are intended to be highly targeted or integrated with efforts on other more traditional media. SMS advertising should perform more strongly, with long-term growth rates similar to ad networks. Text messaging platforms represents the best near-term potential for advertisers who want to use mobile devices to support broad-reaching marketing campaigns. This contrasts with slower growth rates for other more narrow-reaching types of mobile media (such as mobile search, in-call media, mobile video, mobile coupons and mobile gaming).
We absolutely agree that SMS is the entry point for most traditional marketers looking to get into mobile. I would probably be somewhat less skeptical of mobile search since there's a large, installed base already there and reasonable pent up demand from search marketers not currently doing anything in mobile:
Q: How interested are you in being able to serve geographically relevant advertising to mobile search users? (Scale of 1-5, 1=lowest, 5=highest)
Source: SEMPO/Radar Research (2009)
By now you're read it, Verizon and Apple are allegedly talking at a "high level" about bringing the iPhone to the largest US operator. According to USAToday:
The New York-based telecom entered into "high-level" discussions with Apple management a few months ago, when CEO Steve Jobs was overseeing day-to-day business, these sources say. They declined to be named because they aren't authorized to speak publicly.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg hinted at this in remarks to the Wall Street Journal roughly a week ago:
Mr. Seidenberg also addressed the notion of Apple Inc.'s iPhone ever coming to the Verizon Wireless network, saying it is more likely that Apple would be willing to work with the carrier under the fourth-generation, or 4G, network, which follows the same technology standard as AT&T Inc.'s 4G plans. He said Apple never seriously considered making a CDMA version of the iPhone because it didn't have as wide a distribution opportunity.
However on the recent Apple earnings call, COO Tim Cook seemed to reaffirm Apple's relationship with AT&T. I didn't listen to the earnings call but according to ZDNet, Cook described AT&T as “the best wireless provider in the U.S.” and further said the company does not plan to change partners.
Some people are speculating that this rumor has been floated to make AT&T nervous, given how well the iPhone has performed for the carrier. However, I doubt that's the case.
If the USAToday report were true, there would be a number of technical issues and challenges to overcome. Verizon's network is CDMA while the iPhone uses GSM. It may be that the alleged talks contemplate a couple of years down the road with LTE/4G is rolled out and the AT&T contract extension has expired.
Related: iPhone appears to drive data-plan adoption at O2 in the UK vs. other carriers.
When I was the Ad:Tech conference earlier this week I spoke at some length with Todd Leiser of ValPak. We were talking about coupons in the recession and his deal with RetailMeNot. I was also talking to him about how, in our research, we've found high degrees of receptiveness to mobile couponing and its equivalents -- despite ambivalence or hostility toward other forms of mobile advertising from many respondents.
In our most recent survey (3/09, not yet published) we found that 57% of respondents agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" with the statement: "I'm interested in any ad that offers me a discount or way to save money." Here's a related question and answer from and online survey we conducted in August, 2008 (n=789):
What ValPak told me in a follow up conversation on the phone is that they quietly optimized ValPak.com for mobile in March. Leiser said they were happily surprised by the adoption and response with no promotion or formal announcement.
Now for the significant information: I was told that for every four site visitors to ValPak.com on the PC the company sees one coupon print (25% response/conversion) on average. But in April, with a smaller base, the company saw four coupons selected/downloaded for every mobile site visitor (400% response/conversion). This grew from 200% in March.
Though mobile users of the site are at this stage a much smaller group, their engagement is striking. It's evidence of the demand for coupons in a mobile context and the potential performance of those offers.
Quattro, Skyhook, uLocate, Nuance and others in the mobile space are all in Boston, which is starting to become something of a hub or HQ for mobile and local-mobile companies. Witness the growth in investment capital flowing into Boston-based companies with mobile ties:
When Yahoo announced Q1 earnings on Tuesday, CEO Carol Bartz spent a good deal of time discussing what she believed were Yahoo's strategic assets, in which the company would continue to invest. Prominently discussed among those assets was mobile.
Here are Bartz's mobile-related comments from the earnings call transcript:
On my first point, the best candidates for focused investment and renewed innovation are those products that generate the majority of our traffic and corresponding economic value. These include the homepage, sports, news, finance, entertainment, mail, search and mobile . . .
Yahoo! also continues to improve the way people connect to the experiences that matter to them most, regardless of time, place or device. For example, for the NCAA basketball tournament we created an integrated experience that provided fans with access to their brackets and breaking news anywhere at any time via their PC’s and mobile devices.
Speaking of mobile, I really have to tip my hat to that team. Our mobile team has clearly demonstrated that innovation is alive and thriving at Yahoo! They wowed the mobile world at the recent CTIA Wireless Conference. We received overwhelmingly positive response from users and press to our Yahoo! Mobile for Web and Yahoo! Mobile and Messenger iPhone apps. They are applauding Yahoo! Mobile’s simple and clean design and its easy customization. One reporter praised it as the “most comprehensive and attractive personalized mobile home page yet.”
Yahoo! Mobile on the browser is now available on more than 300 devices around the world and the iPhone app is among the most popular in the Apple iPhone app store. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to check it out on our Mobile site or on the app store. All of these examples speak to the power of Yahoo!’s network to attract and engage users through great products delivered in any format on any device.
Mobile video continues to grow in popularity and adoption -- but not the subscription model for "mobile TV." In terms of consumer-pays models, one could imagine that movie rental services might have a future on mobile devices. In addition, companies can potentially extend their offerings to mobile (where consumers might be willing to pay a small additional monthly fee for access to the service), although the SlingMedia mobile apps enable consumers to watch their home TV on mobile devices.
What I'm wondering is whether the rumored Hulu iPhone app may effectively be the penultimate nail in the coffiin of paid mobile TV services such as MediaFLO TV, VCast and others.
There are now a range of free, mobile video sites and offerings such as CBS's TV.com, YouTube, Joost, Truveo and a couple of others. The subscription services had an uphill battle to begin with, given that we're in a recession and users don't want to pay additional fees for a generally medicore experience on their mobile handsets.
The proliferation of free video sites will make it that much harder to get subscribers to pay anything for access to mobile video content. Sports and adult content are the possible exceptions.
More TV networks and local stations will also be airing free video. Last week NBC reported:
NBC.com's mobile website served 2.4 million video streams in Q1 2009. That is more than the total number of streams served in all of 2008. And Q1 2009 was the mobile site's highest quarter yet, seeing 24 million page views, a 64 per cent increase over Q4 2008.
While a subscriber-pays model can co-exist with ad-supported mobile video in the context of full-length movies and several other kinds of programming, as it does on cable TV, the market will be dominated by ad-supported offerings -- especially as TV producers and networks try and sell their advertisers reach into mobile as part of their overall proposition.
The premium mobile TV offerings that require a distinct subscription will likely turn into marginal or highly verticalized or niche offerings -- unless they become part of an upsell to "all you can eat" bundle that includes other incentives.
Google released Q1 earnings yesterday, beating expectations but posting its first quarterly decline in revenues. There was a fair amount of discussion on the call about mobile, which was identified as one of three growth areas for the company. The other two were apps (enterprise) and display advertising.
Mobile continues to be a major area of strategic focus for the company and it appears there will be many more devices running Android (or announced) by this time next year. The following are comments from the earnings call transcript relevant to mobile.
CEO Eric Schmidt
Look at the success of Android and the mobile space in general. By improving the mobile web experience people search many, many times more than they did in previous mobile devices. We benefit both in terms of end-user happiness as well as ultimately in strong revenue growth from that area.
SVP Jonathan Rosenberg
Patrick highlighted in his remarks that Google has rigorous management of expenses, but we also have a history of making big investments based on technical insights and we are going to continue to do that today, especially in areas like display, mobile, and Android . . .
On the mobile side, more people are accessing the web from their phones. The number of mobile searches has gone up five times in just the last couple of years and this new generation of phones has eyes, a camera; ears, a microphone; skin; a touch screen; and they know their location. This makes them a great platform for very compelling applications.
We launched Google Latitude which you can use to share your location with friends with a fun Google news cluster just this morning on Latitude helping catch a thief in San Francisco. If you go to Google news and type in Latitude thief.
We are also investing in Android to make a great mobile web experience available to everyone and over 8% of mobile browsing is now conducted through Android, which is second only to the iPhone.
Spencer Wang - Credit Suisse
On mobile, can you give us a sense of what the click view rates look like on mobile relative to traditional search?
I don’t have specific data on click through rate. We are certainly seeing more advertisers are choosing to run their ads on mobile devices. You can see examples if you query auto insurance on the iPhone or an Android device. And the RPMs on the iPhone and Android are high, even though we’re in very early days of the mobile ecosystem, but I don’t have any specific data on how click through rates differ.
Sandeep Aggarwal - Collins Stewart
[W]hat kind of traction you are seeing for Android on mobile and what do you think about the potential of Android on the netbook?
Overall it looks like Android is going to have a very, very strong year. We are already aware of many, many uses of Android, which as you know is open source, where literally the devices we hear about near the announcements, so the open source part of the strategy is working. We have also recently just announced an upgrade in new software for Android which is out now among the technical community and again, the stability, the proof points are really there now.
There are announcements happening between now and the end of the year that are quite significant from operators and new hardware partners in the Android space, which I won’t preannounce except to say that they really do fulfill much of the vision that we laid out more than a year ago.
On the netbook side, there are a number of people who have actually taken Android and ported it over to netbook or netbook-similar devices. So we think that’s another one of the great benefits of the open source model that we’ve used. We’re excited that that investment is occurring. And again, largely outside of Google, which we think is great.
Mobile ad network Millennial Media is launching a monthly advertising "scorecard" that provides data and metrics from campaigns running on its network -- similar to what AdMob is doing very successfully -- to the broader market:
This monthly program details relevant insights about the U.S. mobile advertising market by focusing on reach, targeting, impressions and handset information. Millennial Media’s SMART also changes the dialogue from publisher-focused industry sizing metrics like number of impressions, to advertiser and media-relevant metrics including reach and engagement. Additionally, the SMART provides analysis and recommendations for advertisers looking to better understand and excel in the mobile advertising market.
Highlights from Millennial Media’s March SMART include:
Top devices on Millennial's network:
Top DMAs by ad requests:
These kinds of data from the traditional sources (e.g., comScore, Nielsen), as well as the ad networks, form an important part of marketing conditioning and education for brands and agencies, which we can describe as "mobile curious."
Finally, Millenial brings it up in the company's release but it's worth showing again: mobile outperforms online across all traditional metrics (per Insight Express).
JumpTap debuts a new PPC mobile ad marketplace today called tapMatch. CMO and agency veteran Paran Johar says that tapMatch is distinguished from other mobile marketplaces (e.g., Google mobile AdWords) because it offers the most sophisticated targeting available: content, keywords, demographics, handset type, carrier, location and publishers.
The demo video shows the creation of a mobile banner campaign but the system equally accommodates text ads. What was impressive to me was its simplicity:
When JumpTap briefed me a couple of weeks ago, we digressed into a number of other discussions related to mobile advertising. One of the issues Johar and I discussed what whether it was desirable to make the click the coin of the mobile marketing realm in the same way it is online. That metric may be appropriate for mobile search advertising but not necessarily beyond that. However in a bad economy people are more inclined to pay on a PPC basis rather than CPM, as a general matter.
Clearly Johar personally believes that a broader range of considerations should determine mobile ad performance -- he discussed those at our Internet2Go event earlier this year. But online marketers live and die by CTRs so it makes sense that the metric would transfer over -- marketers already "get" it.
However mobile offers more options to advertisers and agencies than simply direct response. I believe it's wise to reflect and be a bit cautious about turning the click-through into the uber-metric of mobile marketing.
Global accounting and consulting firm KPMG surveyed mobile consumers in 19 countries and collected a range of data regarding attitudes toward mobile advertising, content and services. Some of the findings are contrary to the "consumers are hostile to mobile advertising" narrative and related figures that have come out in the recent past. In particular Nielsen found the following (as paraphrased in a Citibank research note):
In the U.S. 68% of mobile data users are opposed to mobile Internet ads, even if those ads subsidize a portion of their mobile bills. Only 8% feel mobile ads are trustworthy, and 87% are not open to mobile ads even if those ads are relevant to their interests. However, in Europe, users are more open to mobile ads – In France, Italy and Spain, 41%, 52% and 54% would be receptive to mobile ads if they lowered their bills.
The KPMG "global Consumers and Convergence survey" produced the following highlights:
The Nielsen data quoted above argue that EU residents are more open to mobile ads. But results can also be dramatically impacted by the way questions about mobile advertising are framed. If consumers see an obvious benefit or a way to avoid costs, many of them will embrance advertising. If the questions are framed in a way that emphases the ad rather than the benefit, they're less inclined to accept it -- or even overtly hostile toward it.
SEMPO's 2008 survey covered the waterfront in terms of the state of search engine marketing. The professional organization surveyed 800 search marketers and agencies from all over the globle. (68% of respondents were from the US, with 20% coming from a range of countries; 7% were from Canada and 5% from the UK.)
On the issue of interest among search marketers in mobile and mobile search in particular, here's what the survey reported:
Q: How interested are you in being able to serve geographically relevant advertising to mobile search users? (Scale of 1-5, 1=lowest, 5=highest)
Source: SEMPO/Radar Research (2009)
The graphic above shows at least 57% of respondents (a subset of the entire survey sample) said they were somewhat or very interested in geotargeted search marketing in a mobile context.
In addition, 20% of survey respondents said they would pay a premium of between 10% to 50% over conventional search marketing. The majority (39%) said they wanted to pay the same amount as online for keywords/ads in mobile search results.