User Experience

Will It or Won't It? Microsoft's iOS-Office Dilemma

Microsoft is in a tough spot: Windows Phones aren't selling well outside of a couple of EU markets and data indicate that neither is Windows 8. Windows RT and Surface tablets have so far been a major disappointment as well. While it's way to early to "count Microsoft out," clearly the company is in trouble as mobile internet access and mobile computing accelerate at the expense of the PC. 

There have been persistent rumors that Microsoft was bringing a version of Office to iOS and specifically the iPad. You can use Microsoft's Office 365 cloud-based product on the iPhone or iPad. (I have not.) But the experience will not be as rich as with a native app. 

There are two theories about why Office has not come to iOS as a native app: Microsoft won't pay the 30% "tax" to be in the iTunes App Store and, perhaps more significantly, if Office came to the iPad (or Android tablets) it would undermine the sales outlook for Microsoft's own Surface tablets -- currently the only tablet that offers Office. 

Microsoft's compromise may be to offer Office 365 through the browser to iPad users. However by not offering a native app it risks ceding the centrality of  Office to a range of apps. Offering a native-app Office would potentially cloud the future of its own tablet devices, which may not be so bright anyway.  

Low-Cost Tablets to Accelerate Decline of PC Market

Last week there was a Reuters report asserting the next Google-ASUS Nexus 7 will have an improved screen and may cost as little as $149. The current entry level Nexus 7 is $199. Reuters also said that if it's not the new Nexus 7 than the existing tablet's price may be reduced. The current entry level Kindle Fire from Amazon (with ads) costs $159.

As this all indicates there's a kind of "race to the bottom" going on that may radically depress margins on Android tablets. Furthermore we're likely to see a decent $99 7-inch Android tablet in the next year.

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The growth of smartphones and the emergence of these reasonable-quality low-cost tablets such as the Nexus 7 are accelerating a trend toward mobile device adoption at the expense of PCs and further extending PC replacement cycles. In developing countries PCs will likely never reach penetration levels seen in North America or Europe.

In its latest device forecast Gartner joins the party, affirming what we already know about PC erosion in favor of smartphones and tablets on a global basis. In its projection Gartner sees Android as the big winner, effectively replacing Microsoft as the dominant OS on tablets and smartphones.  

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The particulars and timing of this forecast will undoubtedly turn out to be wrong. However the direction of the forecast is probably accurate. With its resistance to matching price competition (probably wisely) Apple iPads will not reach tablet penetration levels of low-cost Android based tablets (though the company is considering a lower-cost iPhone).

So far, Microsoft's "2.0" efforts in mobile, Windows Phone and Surface tablets, have only made modest gains in selected markets. However Microsoft still makes money from Android OEMs via patent licensing fees. If it has to rely on licensing the company's future will be pretty grim.

If these figures are anywhere near accurate tablets are poised to become the primary computing (and advertising) platform. Yet we're likely to see quasi-converged devices (i.e., tablets with keyboards like the Surface Pro) become laptop replacements in the near term.  

The Outlook for 'Home' Screen Advertising

Yesterday Facebook introduced its homescreen Android makeover-takeover strategy: Facebook Home. It comes both fully integrated into a phone (HTC First) and as an app download. As you know it replaces the standard Android home and lock screen experiences with a proprietary Facebook environment. 

Mark Zuckerberg and others at the press event yesterday confirmed that there would eventually be ads in its "Cover Feed." Cover Feed is the new photo-centric dynamic feed that constitutes much of the experience of Home. It includes Facebook content and select "Open Graph" partner content (e.g., Foursquare, Instagram). 

Facebook stressed that it was working to make sure that any ads that eventually do appear (probably within a year, depending on adoption) would be consistent with the aesthetic experience and of sufficiently high quality. We're starting to see more ads in the mobile news feed that are of, shall we say, uneven quality. 

However Cover Feed ads have the potential to be quite effective. If they're scarce and if Facebook uses strict standards they could become the equivalent of "Super Bowl ads for mobile." That of course will largely depend on how widely Facebook Home is adopted. There's early survey data that suggests limited demand -- but surveys don't always tell the whole story and can be contradicted by actual behavior. 

In the past there have been several startups that sought to offer home or idle screen ads on mobile devices. All failed for various reasons (not enough scale, insufficient ad quality, limited advertiser demand/adoption). Today, to my knowledge, Amazon's Kindle (multiple devices) is the only place where such ads exist at any kind of scale. The picture above, at right is an example of a "Special Offer" on Kindle Fire. 

I could find no data about the general consumer attitude toward these ads -- though there is plenty of online discussion about opting out. I also was unable to find any discussion or data about the efficacy of these ads and whether they perform for advertisers. 

For many of the reasons already cited it's way too early to project how much Facebook could earn from Home ads. But if there are millions of users who adopt Home in the US and around the world, the ads could generate broad exposure (like TV advertising) and significant potential revenue for Facebook. 

An interesting secondary question arises: if the most active mobile users migrate to Home (and use the app less often), do ads on Home then effectively cannibalize ads on the Facebook app in the conventional news feed? 

Image credit: lovemyfire.com

PlaceIQ Introduces 'Place Visit Rate' Mobile-to-Store Metric

In what might be considered something of a breakthrough, AdAge is reporting that agency Starcom MediaVest will be working with location-data specialist PlaceIQ to document what "percentage of customers served a mobile banner ad for a retailer subsequently visited one of that retailer's stores."

This is part of a new real-world ROI metric PlaceIQ is introducing. The company's new measurement is called "Place Visit Rate." 

I spoke to PlaceIQ founder Duncan McCall about this several weeks ago but it was pre-case study release and so non-public at the time. PlaceIQ uses an unique but anonymous ID to connect users in the aggregate who've seen mobile display campaigngs with in-store visitors. Here's how the company explains its methodology:

PVR is measured by aggregating all of the devices that were messaged during a campaign and analyzing the number of those same devices that were later seen within a specific location or place footprint. Additionally, PlaceIQ can also set up A/B testing to measure PVR lift by identifying control groups or messaging additional PlaceIQ audiences. 

PlaceIQ emphasizes that it doesn't track individuals:

Place Visit Rate does not track individuals, but rather measures if a set of anonymous devices moved to a certain location. All location data, device data and histories are disposed of by PlaceIQ after the campaign completes.

The methodology is imperfect and can only identify a portion of users who seen an ad and then shown up in a store. An article in AdAge claims PlaceIQ is only able to track "15% to 25% of all mobile ad traffic it monitors."  Beyond this, as we all know, "correlation doesn't equal causation." However this is a big step forward in terms of being able to measure the efficacy of mobile display advertising.   

Historically, coupons have been the most reliable way to measure online-to-offline impact. And mobile payments may one-day make "closing the loop" on online or mobile ads fairly routine. However most ad networks and marketers have had to use proxy data (calls, map lookups) to determine the offline impact of mobile ads. 

Telenav/Scout can track users who see an ad and then navigate to a store location. It's not clear however how often someone sees a mobile display ad and then invokes navigation to a store. 

There are others such as ShopKick and Placed, which measure in-store visits. And there are a "2.0" group of startups working on various flavors of in-store vists and activity measurement. Among them are Euclid Elements and WirelessWERX. The latter uses indoor location to provide business intelligence and analytics services for retailers. 

Accordingly there are a range of methodologies now to try and track or capture online-to-offline ad impact. PlaceIQ's approach is a significant new entry into this arena and others may quickly try to match or approximate it. 

Nuance Brings Voice Interactivity to Mobile Display Advertising

Bringing new meaning to the term "conversational marketing," voice services provider Nuance has introduced mobile "Voice Ads." The new units use the Nuance voice platform to enable smartphone (and presumably tablet) owners to interact with these ads. It's not clear right now whether these interactions would occur exclusively on display landing pages or in the initial mobile display ad creative. 

In a Siri-like way users talk to the ads and potentially receive one of several pre-programmed responses. In one sense these new Voice Ads are not unlike more traditional audio/radio ads (think Pandora).

However the interactivity --  if done well -- could create much more engagement and "lift" for the campaign. Coupled with a campaign such as Old Spice something like this might have worked extremely well. Indeed, the campaign creative and concepts are key. Poorly executed ideas could quickly backfire and become fodder for brand parodies. 

Nuance is promoting a range of benefits from using Voice Ads including engagement, brand lift and better recall. 

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The company says that it has already partnered with leading agencies and mobile ad networks to ensure the units are widely available:

Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.

Nuance has partnered with many of the leading companies in the mobile advertising ecosystem to ensure broad reach and distribution for Voice Ads – a completely new format for mobile advertising. Creative advertising agencies include Digitas, OMD and Leo Burnett, while mobile advertising companies such as Millennial Media, Jumptap and Opera Mediaworks (AdMarvel, Mobile Theory, and 4th Screen), will provide distribution to more than 100,000 app publishers and hundreds of millions of consumers globally. In addition, mobile rich media ad servers such as Celtra are providing tools for rich media production and analytics on mobile devices.  

One could also imagine clever integrations that tie into call centers at the end of the interaction to close a sale. Again, everything is going to depend on strong concepts, execution and user experiences. Nuance offers a relatively tame mock campaign example using Voice Ads in this video.

Device Forecast Sees Longer PC Replacement Cycles

Earlier this week IDC issued its new projections regarding hardware "shipments" through 2017. The bottom line is: continued growth for smartphones and especially tablets ("connected devices") but negative growth for PCs.

IDC said that in 2012 tablet shipments "surpassed 128 million" and sees increasing demand across markets. While "shipments" is often an inaccurate and misleading metric for market-share purposes, it does indicate the "directional" trend in the market. 

Even in emerging, immature markets PCs will only see "moderate single-digit growth" according to the forecast.

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The company said that replacement cycles are getting much longer for PCs as tablets and smartphones make more frequent replacement unnecessary. However IDC does continue to forecast laptop growth. I suspect that projection may turn out to be optimistic at least in non-emerging markets. 

Device penetration drives internet usage patterns. And while online publishers and marketers "intellectually" understand what's happening they have been generally slow to adapt their strategies and tactics to match the radical changes taking place in the market. 

BlackBerry Z10 Is Merely a 'Stop the Bleeding' Phone -- if That

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins recently got a lot of coverage, in anticipation of the BlackBerry Z10 launch, for the remark that the iPhone was now outdated.

The much-hyped Z10 is now available in the US from AT&T (soon from Verizon) and a range of carriers in international markets. I went into an AT&T store this weekend to take a look at and get a "hands on" sense of the device. Unimpressive. 

It was immediately clear that this handset may keep some number of BlackBerry customers from "defecting" to the iPhone or Android. However it's not sufficiently exciting to lure existing iPhone and Android users to the BlackBerry platform. The UI and software are not entirely intuitive for iPhone and Android users. In addition, the collection of apps is limited.

The phone resembles an HTC device and is generally unremarkable otherwise. Indeed it has a "generic smartphone" quality.

Much has been made that AT&T employees haven't been trained to promote the phone. That seemed evident in my visit. In the store I entered there was not only a lack of promotional signage but the phone was placed in a far corner almost as an afterthought. It was simply there among a row of competing smartphones -- not highlighted in any way. I had to ask store salespeople multiple times where it was to locate the phone.

It's almost 100% certain this device will not be the engine of new growth for BlackBerry and that the device maker will continue to fall out of favor in the US market. 

iPhone Tops in Satisfaction Again, Nokia Beats Samsung

As Apple reportedly prepares to release a less expensive, plastic version of the iPhone to boost sales in the developing world, it's trying to strike a balance between cost and quality. It will simultaneously have to make the phone appealing (perhaps with a slightly different design and color) while not cannibalizing its flagship.

The perception of higher quality is one of the few remaining advantages that the device has over Android rivals, who over the past three years have dramatically closed the quality and features gap. Despite these gains, the iPhone has consistently beaten its smartphone competitors in customer service ratings from JD Power. The latest survey is no exception. 

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JD Power surveyed nearly 10,000 US smartphone owners. The satisfaction criteria, in order of importance, were the following:

  1. Performance
  2. Physical design
  3. Features
  4. Ease of operation

This is the ninth consecutive time that the iPhone has ranked #1. JD Power said the Apple device did particularly well in the areas of design and ease of operation.

In a bit of a surprise, Nokia edged Samsung in the survey. However Nokia has many fewer users (by an order of magnitude) than Samsung, whose Galaxy smartphone line is the best-selling Android handset in many markets around the world.

It's interesting that LG performed so poorly given the success of the LG-made Nexus 4, which repeatedly sold out and to date remains overall best Android handset on the market. In contrast, among feature phone OEMs, LG performed best, which is somewhat curious. 

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Samsung Debuts 'Life Companion' S4, Apple Compelled to 'Go Big' by Galaxy's Success

Last night in New York Samsung formally announced its much anticipated Galaxy S4 follow-up to its hugely successful S3. The hardware update was relatively modest: a somewhat larger high-resolution AMOLED screen, more CPU power and thinner body. It will be challenging to tell the S4 from the S3 without a close look. 

Much of the evening was about software though decidedly not about "Android" or "Google." Android got a single mention and Google was never mentioned.

Here are the S4's major "specs":

  • Screen: 5 inch HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
  • Processors: 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor
  • OS: Android 4.2.2
  • Camera: 13MP (rear), 2MP (front) 

With its splashy, Broadway inspired show last night Samsung entered Apple's "big launch" turf. It also perhaps unwittingly emulated Apple's "incremental" handset update cycle. Indeed, we might call the S4 the "S3s" because of its "evolutionary" changes over the S3. 

There were tons of software updates and new additions to the handset; many of them related to the camera and many of them were impressive seeming. However today several outlets are reporting that the Samsung software didn't always work as promised. In fact the S4, which will undoubtedly be popular, has received some quite mixed reviews -- especially from Gizmodo last night, which called it a "missed opportunity." 

Samsung has taken a bit of an "A/B testing" or shotgun approach, if you prefer, to developing mobile devices. Over the past three years it has released a wide range of tablets and handsets vs. Apple's much more deliberate and controlled pipeline. Yet through its experimentation with larger screens and a range of devices (as a differentiation strategy) it has helped cultivate in consumers an appetite for larger smartphone screens. 

But for that shift in the public's appetite, Apple wouldn't have made the "taller" iPhone 5. Yet there's considerable pressure to make still larger iPhones. 

A larger screen has become one of the key hardware features and differences between the first-tier Android handsets (especially from Samsung and HTC) and the iPhone. Thus Apple will be rolling out an even bigger iPhone (probably at 6). Apple would do well to bring that larger phone this summer and not wait another full year to do so.

Apple is not used to compensating and being on the defensive. It normally leads the market with design. But it has been playing catch-up recently.

The unexpected success of smaller tablets forced it to create the iPad Mini. And the unanticipated development of giant-screened smartphones (Note II, S4) forces Apple to offer a larger iPhone, thereby betraying Steve Jobs' "single hand" operation philosophy. In addition the need to sell more iPhones in developing markets (vs. less expensive Androids) has given rise to rumors of a cheaper, "more plastic" iPhone. 

Samsung clearly emulated, imitated or copied (take your pick) the iPhone's look and feel at the outset. But the Korean company has now gone beyond it in several ways -- including in the hyperbolic claim that the S4 is a "life companion." And, ironically, Apple is now being compelled by the Galaxy line's success and by public demand to make the iPhone much more like Samsung handsets. 

Users Prefer Apps to Mobile Sites But High Expectations Burn Developers

Many developers and digital marketers still cling to the assumption that HTML5 and the "mobile web" will eventually win out over native apps. There's a kind of logic to that position. However they may be waiting a very long time for that to happen.

As has previously been written, the overwhelming majority of consumer time spent with mobile devices is spent in apps ("4 out of every 5 mobile minutes," per comScore). And according to a new survey from Compuware the majority of international respondents (85%) preferred apps over mobile sites.

The survey had a total of just over 3,500 respondents from the US, UK, France, Germany, India and Japan.

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Despite the positive news for app developers the survey also had some harsh findings. For example 59% of respondents said that an app should load in two seconds or less. In addition, poor user experiences result in app abandonment, switching to competitors' apps, negative word of mouth and erosion of brand perception -- among other negative consequences.

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The most common problems encountered were freezing/crashing (62%) and slow load times (47%), as well as the more generic "didn't function as expected" (37%). A majority of users had encountered one or more of these problems in using apps. Users expect apps to load faster and perform better than mobile sites: "78% expect mobile apps to load as fast as — or faster than — a mobile website."

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Nearly 80% of the survey respondents said that they would give an app one (maybe two) more chances if it didn't work correctly the first time. And app-store ratings are being taken very seriously by users: "84% users say app store ratings are important in their decisions to download and install a mobile app."

The survey report cited third-party data for the proposition that the average number of apps on users' smartphones is 41.  

A Report for Those Who Doubt Mobile ROI

This morning Google released the results of an extensive study conducted among US mobile users with Nielsen in Q4 2012. The survey explores mobile search behavior in particular and uses a combination of interviews, online survey data, diaries and search query logs to get a holistic picture of search activity on smartphones. Tablets weren't part of this research. 

Among the many interesting findings there are two big ones that stand out: 77% of mobile searches happen at home or work, even when there's a PC nearby. And 55% of mobile-search related conversions (call, store visit, purchase) happen within "one hour or less" of query completion.

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These two stats illustrate two larger "truths" about mobile. The first is that mobile devices are increasingly "primary" for people as a method of internet access. Speed and convenience were cited by respondents as reasons for substituting a smartphone for a PC in a search context. 

Marketers need to be cognizant of the fact that large numbers of people will be using their smartphones (and tablets) at home to search for things, whereas before they might have used a PC. At work people may be motivated by other considerations, such as privacy, to use mobile devices vs. corporate-provided PCs. 

The other "truth" is illustrated by the 55% figure: conversions often happen very quickly after a mobile search. This reinforces the notion of the focused, "need it now" mindset of many mobile search users. Mobile searchers take a variety of actions after completing their queries. They go to websites and do additional research, they make phone calls and they go into stores. They buy things. 

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But marketers can't see most of that activity, hence the complaints about mobile ROI. Most marketers get confused and "lose the trail" when users go offline. You can track calls and site visits, you can capture email addresses and you can monitor e-commerce transactions via mobile. However it's challenging to get complete visibility on all the ways that mobile is influencing purchase behavior.

The slide above illustrates the range of activities mobile search triggers. But more importantly, Google and Nielsen found that 45% of mobile search queries were undertaken to help make a purchase decision -- so-called "goal oriented" searches. And most of these will result in a conversion, often offline. 

The totality of the data released in this study (download the pdf) show that mobile users are more focused and are typically farther down "in the funnel" than PC users. Mobile (search at least) is clearly driving lots of conversions. Marketers just need to open their minds about what constitutes a "conversion" and get creative about ROI and attribution. 

Otherwise, they're not seeing what's really happening with their customers and how critical a role mobile is playing in the overall marketing and sales process.

Report: Tablets Mostly Beat Smartphones for Ad (CTR) Performance

Many of the Q4 reports released by the ad networks and major agencies showed the growth of tablet-related ad spending. That's a trend that will further accelerate under Google's new "Enhanced Campaigns" regime in which tablets are grouped with PCs for paid-search advertising purposes. In other words, marketers cannot separate PC and tablet paid-search campaigns. 

Last week Adobe reported that tablets had passed smartphones for share of global traffic.  

13926_di_global_traffic_deviceIn many ways tablets are the new PCs, taking their place for many at home use cases. Tablet owners tend to behave more like PC shoppers, including displaying a greater willingness to covert online. By contrast, smartphone owners typically don't convert on the small screen making ROI harder to track for marketers targeting those devices. 

Because online conversions are more likely and prevalent for tablet users, the "danger" is that marketers will neglect smartphones or that smartphones will be "ghettoized" and considered good for only a limited number of purposes. In fact mobile/smartphone advertising is great for both DR and branding purposes. 

Mobile DSP Adfonic now offers data that show, across most categories, tablet advertising appears to outperform smartphone ads in terms of CTRs (though ultimate influence on conversions isn't measured).

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As the chart above reflects, "tablets achieve especially strong CTRs for advertisers in the Style & Fashion, Lifestyle & Health, Entertainment & Media, and Travel verticals." Smartphones are stronger in other categories such as retail and automotive. People tend to use tablets in the evenings and on the weekends. 

Over time marketers will determine which devices are better suited to which types of advertising. However companies need to have a comprehensive strategy that recognizes the "multi-screen" consumer, who will move from device to device before converting. 

Although Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are gaining, Apple tablets continue to dominate web traffic. The following chart shows North American traffic over the past three months, comparing the top-three devices on Chitika's ad network.
Changes in tablet traffic Chitika

Tablets Pass Smartphones In Global Website Traffic, Will Marketers Respond?

According to Adobe's marketing group tablet growth is outpacing that of smartphones. This trend also showed up in several Q4 reports from other online marketing firms such as Marin Software. 

Adobe says that on a global basis, mobile devices (smartphones + tablets) generated 15% of all internet traffic. Of that 15%, tablets edged smartphones with 8% of traffic. The company also says that tablet users spend much more time and are much more engaged than smartphone users: "on aver­age inter­net users view 70% more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone." 

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Among the countries measured, the UK is seeing the highest share of internet traffic from tablets followed by the US and Canada. 

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ComScore previously reported that about 36% of total US internet time is being spent on mobile devices, even though they're generating less than that in terms of overall traffic. Part of the reason for such a discrepancy may be apps, which are often not measured but where "9 out of 10" mobile minutes are spent. 

While 6 and 7-inch tablets exist somewhere between a smartphone and a full-sized tablet (i.e., iPad Classic), tablets are increasingly replacement devices for PCs. PCs still have the largest installed base and a home in the enterprise, among business users and for more selected purposes in the home. But the centrality of the PC as the gateway to the internet is over.

Using Gartner data, USAToday chronicled the decline of PC sales (which aren't coming back): 

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The "problem" with tablets is that many marketers treat them like PCs (including Google AdWords) and don't give them special attention. A study released in Q4 last year found, for example, that only 7% of retailers' websites were tablet friendly.

Yet tablet-app mobile ad creative can be very effective. In general tablet ads (in apps) are much more engaging than smartphone ads right now.

As tablets continue to gain momentum as PC replacements we may see a very odd situation develop. That is: smartphones might be given perfunctory treatment as an ad platform or otherwise neglected in favor of tablets with their larger "canvas." However, as suggested, the bulk of marketers may treat tablets like PCs and not address them with specialized ad units.

Accordingly, as mobile devices take more and more consumer time and engagement "online advertising" could become considerably weaker than it is today. 

Report: National Advertisers Getting More Sophisticated about Local-Mobile Targeting

This morning mobile ad network xAd released its year in review report. The document contains a range of information and data about the company's offerings, including the performance of ad campaigns on its network. The focus of the report is on national advertisers (rather than SMBs). And it presents a picture of marketers getting a great deal more sophisticated about local ad targeting on mobile devices.

As laid out in the report, xAd is now offering a range of local targeting flavors on mobile: behavioral, place-based, POI and event targeting.

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In the graphic above you can see that from Q1 to Q4 the number of national advertisers using more sophisticated forms of geotargeting increased dramatically from 27% to 81%. In other words only 13% of xAd's national advertiser campaigns in Q4 were using "standard geo," (zip, city, DMA). The remaining 81% were using one of the other more complex targeting methods (all involving location) such as behavioral.

Of the 81% using a more precise form of location targeting, here's the breakdown:

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In the report xAd offers performance metrics for these approaches compared to industry averages. The company says that its targeting methods provide a substantial performance improvement over traditional (non-location targeted) mobile search and display advertising.

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In particular on the display side xAd breaks down how each of its more elaborate forms of location targeting perform. Behaviorial does the best, followed by place-based targeting.

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Finally the following are the top consumer search categories for all of 2012 and the top advertiser categories on the xAd network. The latter are national advertisers and don't include small businesses. There's a general alignment across both columns but it's obviously not 1:1. 

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The company's advertisers tend to be more sophisticated about location and more inclined to experiment with it. It would be great if these advertisers were representative of the entire industry. However they're not. A recent CMO Council survey showed how many agencies and national advertisers still don't "get" location.

The CMO Council survey explored national advertiser "localization" tactics. The overwhelming majority of survey respondents (over 80%) didn’t make the connection between mobile and local:

nationals:  mobile local

Source: CMO Council/Balihoo (n=296 national marketers/agencies)

Perhaps once more national advertisers become aware of the performance lift and case studies associated with location targeting they'll wake up to its potential. In the interim those national advertisers using more sophisticated local-mobile targeting are "conquesting" their competition.

Survey Shocker: Mobile Media Beats TV Around the Globe

Move over TV, your time at the top of the media hierarchy is coming to and end -- at least outside the US. Last week ad network InMobi released its Q4 "insights" report. The document is based on survey data drawn from more than 14,000 respondents in multiple countries around the world. However many questions don't include answers from US and UK mobile users.

The "big finding" is that around the world (US, UK excluded) time with mobile has surpassed TV. In fact time with mobile beats all other media channels. The chart below reflects aggregate findings from 12 countries, though not the US and UK. 

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The survey also discovered that 62% of respondents "engage in mobile activity" during TV watching. Accordingly TV ads in general see diminished attention because of mobile (beyond ad skipping). However this also represents an opportunity for marketers to use mobile devices to measure their TV ads' effectiveness or to generate concrete actions in response to TV ads. 

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Another "big" finding is that internet users are now going online through mobile devices in numbers equal to the PC internet or primarily use mobile to go online. This phenomenon is most pronounced in developing markets, as one might imagine. But it's also true in the US according to the InMobi data. 

According to the survey 38% of US respondents "mostly" use mobile to go online. This finding (and others) may well be biased because the survey respondents were found through the InMobi ad network: "Recruited via InMobi global mobile ad network between August and November 2012." This is therefore going to tend to be a more mobile-centric audience than the US internet population as a whole. 

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Another interesting result, this respondent pool says that it rarely clicks ads unintentionally. In contrast to some of the estimates and data floating around in the market (e.g., 40% of mobile ad clicks are "inadvertent") only a small minority said that mobile ad clicks were mistaken more than 10% of the time.

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Though these findings may not be entirely representative of internet users or perhaps even US mobile users as a whole they're still striking in multiple ways.

Back to the TV vs. mobile time spent: most marketers' ad spending and behavior fails to recognize the profound shifts in the market captured by and reflected in these data. The idea that mobile now dominates TV in terms of time spent or that mobile captures attention from TV even during TV time will be unsettling -- if not shocking -- to most brand marketers.

And most right now will have no idea what to do about it. 

Sorry PC: Tablet Buyers Want Yet More Tablets

Beyond the pure sales numbers -- tablets up, PCs flat or down -- there's a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that people are substituting tablet purchases for PCs. Adding to that, mobile ad network JiWire put out a Q4 report in which it surveyed more than 5,000 mobile consumers in the US and UK on a range of topics.

Among the findings in the report was the intention of existing tablet owners to by a second or additional tablets. The survey found that almost three-fourths of the respondents (existing tablet owners) intended to purchase another tablet.

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It should be pointed out that the JiWire audience is not necessarily representative of the general mobile user population. It tends to be a slightly more "early adopter" profile. However I would imagine this finding is a kind of leading indicator of broader consumer sentiment.

HP's announcement of a $169 7-inch Android tablet earlier this week (putting more price pressure on the entire segment) argues that tablets will become an affordable and mainstream PC alternative for a broad consumer population, not just "affluents." Indeed, this result above suggest that many households will have two, three and even more tablets: one for each family member. 

As I've argued before these devices (and smartphones) will be "primary," while the PC will be used for selected tasks and perhaps become a "secondary" Internet device in the home for large numbers of people. Developing markets may see even more dramatic patterns along these lines, with low-cost tablets simply taking the place of PCs in many instances. 

An interesting, related finding in the JiWire report is the hierarchy of tablet preferences. The findings below reflect the international nature of JiWire's results. The Galaxy tablets have not done as well in the US but have done relatively well in Europe. In the US or North America, Kindle Fire has been the most successful Android device, followed by the Nexus 7.

What's particularly interesting is the position of Windows Surface machines in the third slot, above Kindle Fire. This indicates there's healthy awareness and interest in the device. However, we'll have to see in several months whether this translates into actual sales.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 9.09.03 AM

Waze Picks xAd to Deliver Location-Based Ads to Navigation App

Social navigation app Waze and xAd announced a partnership at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today. Waze intends to deliver ads to users "along [the] designated navigation path." The company is not the first to try and do this; Mapquest initiated something similar with national advertisers a couple of years ago but in an incomplete way. 

Waze has a very engaged audience and has benefitted from the initial stumbles and challenges of Apple Maps. It was one of the alternative mapping and navigation apps recommended by Apple. Telenav also mixes location-based ads and navigation in an app. 

According to the press release this morning:  

Through the use of xAd’s proprietary technology, ads can be further targeted based on context factors such as past anonymous search behaviors while leveraging the unique functionality of Waze to serve ads at the most relevant time along their route – when the consumer is likely to see and engage with the offer…. at zero speed. 

In addition to its own social data, Waze integrates social and location-specific content from Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and YP into its app. Users can choose results from any of these sources when they conduct a local search via Waze.

According to the press statement xAd will be the exclusive provider of both search and display ads in Waze. I was unable to find any example ads this morning in the app. I'm sure the integration will be thoughtful however. Waze recognizes the need to preserve the integrity of the user experience. Too many or irrelevant ads would risk alienating its audience.   

Report: Mobile Now More than One Third of Digital Media Time

Metrics firm comScore is out with a couple of "Digital Future in Focus" reports. They collect the company's data from 2012 into a narrative about marketplace trends. In terms of mobile much of what's in there is familiar: smartphone penetration crossing 50%, tablet ownership growth, Android growth, the rise of apps and so on.

One stat, however, that caught my eye is in the graphic to the right: 37% of digital media time is now spent on smartphones and tablets. By contrast 63% is on the PC. This one data point shows how dramatic the shift to mobile/personal devices has been, in a relatively brief time frame. Most marketers have not fully caught up however.

Top 25 sites

Another interesting chart (above), previously released, is comScore's Top 25 digital properties. It shows PC vs. mobile usage (uniques) for the top sites, as well as the incremental lift provided by the mobile audience. The table also reflects substantial overlapping usage. However in selected cases (i.e., Pandora, Weather.com) there's a major boost in audience via mobile. 

In the report comScore also documents the erosion of PC usage in select "mobile centric" categories. In other words, there's a shift to mobile usage for some part of the audience: 

We have begun to see a marked shift in usage patterns on the traditional desktop-based web. While most mobile content usage remains incremental to existing web behavior, certain content categories particularly well-oriented to mobile usage have witnessed material softness in top-line usage from desktop computers. Over the past two years, categories such as Newspapers (down 5 percent), Maps (down 2 percent), Weather (down 12 percent), Directories (down 23 percent), Comparison Shopping (down 4 percent) and Instant Messengers (down 52 percent) have seen declines despite a 5-percent increase in the total U.S. internet population over that time.

Again the categories that have seen some or substantial migration to mobile: 

  • Instant messengers (PC traffic is down 52% YoY)
  • Directories (23%) -- this category isn't fully defined in the document
  • Weather (12%)
  • Newspapers (5%)
  • Maps (2%)
  • Comparison Shopping (4%)

Opera Buys Skyfire for $155 Million But Is It Already 'Game Over'?

Browser-maker Opera announced that it's buying much smaller rival Skyfire for approximately $155 million in cash and stock. Skyfire's chief claim to fame is video optimization. Opera also said this week that it was approaching 300 million monthly users across all its platforms (computers, mobile phones, TVs and other connected devices).

The 300 million monthly uniques figure is very impressive; however it masks a downward trend in Opera's usage in mobile. As Android and iPhones push out feature phones (except in developing markets) and BlackBerry devices, Opera is seeing its global browsing share decline.

According to current StatCounter data the company's position is deteriorating.

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In the course of a single year Opera has gone from being the leading mobile browser around the world, with a 23% share, to number three and a 15% share. This rapid deterioration probably explains the company's recent decision to switch the core of its browser to WebKit as well as the Skyfire acquisition. 

WebKit is behind both Safari and Chrome, though not IE. Opera's adoption of WebKit will enable its browser to remain relevant in a smartphone world dominated by iOS and Android.

Opera's business, since its 2010 acquisition of AdMarvel, also includes mobile advertising. And in its recent Q4 State of the Mobile Web report, intended to showcase the company's global scale and advertising chops, we discover that 64% of global ad impressions are still coming mostly from the US, though international is growing.

Revenue Graphic

In the US Opera holds a less than 1% mobile browser market share according to StatCounter. In Europe it's roughly 7%. In Asia it's 24% but Opera was just passed by the Android browser. Africa is the only region where Opera continues to lead.

However Android's global growth is a direct threat to the company given that most users will rely on the device's own browser or Chrome. By the same token most users on the iPhone rely on Safari. Currently Opera has little to offer that will clearly differentiate it from either the Android or iPhone browsers. That's partly what the Skyfire bet is about -- mobile video optimization.

However by itself that's not going to be enough to keep Opera from continuing to lose usage.

Survey: Users Look to Mobile Websites for in-Store Customer Service

Earlier this week ForeSee Results, which measures online consumer satisfaction, released a new "Mobile Satisfaction Index." Based on a survey of 6,000 US adults in Q4 2012 the company sought to rank retail mobile sites and apps. Amazon was the winner, followed by Apple.  

Below is ForeSee's list of top 25 ranked retailers and e-tailers according to consumer mobile satisfaction: 

ForeSee Results mobile satisfaction

There's nothing surprising on the list above. Amazon has a great brand and has made huge investments in mobile. What's perhaps surprising is the absence of eBay from the top 25. 

ForeSee also found that 70% of survey respondents were using their mobile phones in stores during shopping. Other surveys have shown higher numbers. In addition, if smartphone users are isolated the numbers are certainly higher (above 80% or 90%). 

Regardless perhaps the most interesting survey finding is that a majority of mobile users said they accessed the retailer's website (though mostly not their apps) while in the store. 

How did you use your mobile phone while in retail stores this holiday season?

  • 62% accessed the store's website on their phone (satisfaction for this group is 79)
  • 37% accessed a competitor's website on their phone (77)
  • 21% accessed a shopping comparison website on their phone (77)
  • 20% accessed the store's mobile shopping app on their phone (79)
  • 11% accessed a competitor's mobile shopping app on their phone (77)

Again: 62% accessed the store's website on their phone. People have always assumed that in-store mobile usage is about buying on Amazon or getting competitive price information. It turns out, not exactly. 

Many of these users are looking to a retailer's mobile website to perform traditional in-store sales or customer service functions. People want more information about products (e.g., reviews) and they're looking for it via the mobile web rather than trying to find a sales person or service rep in the store.

It means that retailers need to develop their mobile sites and apps with the idea that users are often in their own stores and these sites/apps are more likely to be in-store shopping aids than e-commerce sites. They need to think of the in-store experience now as multi-channel. Retailers should also aggressively be using their mobile sites to drive downloads of their apps which should offer an even better experience.

The app then becomes a mobile marketing and loyalty tool for the retailer. 

This may not sound like anything other than self-evident information or advice. But the heavy in-store context of mobile app/site usage requires a shift in retailer thinking. Rather than a parallel or independent channel retailers must consider mobile as a kind of sales assistant that can and should augment the in-store experience as much as anything else.