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From Mobile Phones to Minority Report: The Future of Advertising Begins Now

Technology is changing the way that consumers shop. It is also changing the way that brands and retailers advertise the products and services that they have for sale.

In a post that I wrote earlier this month, I pointed out how mobile phones are becoming a bigger factor as more consumers reach for their smartphones to research and purchase products.

Retailers have taken note and are providing opportunities for tech savvy customers to find additional information about products and services, find available discounts, and make their shopping experience more enjoyable.

For example, IBM Research is testing augmented reality technology in its IBM mobile app.

According to an article on trendhunter.com, “The app acts like a personal shopper, using augmented reality technology to provide shoppers with more personalized product information as they’re browsing through store shelves.”

However, many shoppers won’t want to take the time to pull their mobile phones out when they shop.

This is where digital signage can help.

The First Step to Minority Report Advertising

If you watched the 2002 movie “Minority Report” that starred Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell, you probably remember the scene in the movie where Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is walking down a hallway in a subway station and the advertising is being targeted specifically to him as a result of retinal scanners identifying which people are in the area.

To some people, the idea of this type of ad targeting is creepy. To others, it’s exciting.

In this post, I’m going to ignore the privacy concerns and other issues related to this type of targeting, because we’re not quite there, yet.

What is currently being experimented with is facial recognition technology that helps identify basic demographics (gender, approximate age, body type, etc.) of the consumers who are looking at a digital sign. With this data, the digital signs are able to deliver ads that are relevant to the consumer. For example, a digital sign in the men’s department of a clothing store might deliver an ad for Levi’s jeans to men, while women might get ads for the dresses on the other side of the store or maybe even ads with a gift-giving theme.

Just think about it, many stores are already using video displays to advertise the products that they sell. Why not leverage them to deliver more relevant content that can increase sales. And, as an added bonus, retailers can also track basic ad performance and make changes to the content displayed. For more information, check out the Immersive Labs website. They are one of the companies that is taking the lead in this type of technology.

Final Thoughts

Mobile phones are going to play a huge factor in connecting retailers and brands to their customers and potential customers.

However, for consumers who don’t feel the need to reach for their mobile phones while shopping, other technologies are out there to help get their attention when they are in a store’s “brick-and-mortar” location or any other place in the terrestrial world.

By using digital signage similar to what was featured in the movie “Minority Report,” retailers and brands can deliver relevant ads to consumers that can help increase sales of the products and services that they are selling.

The future of advertising begins now. And, to me, that’s exciting.

Photo credit: eyeliam on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Smartphones Are Changing the Way We Shop

One of the biggest challenges that retailers face once they get consumers into their stores is finding ways to get customers to see the products that they have for sale.

For this reason, many store owners go to great lengths to make sure that the design and layout of their store is optimized for the way that consumers shop and that the merchandise is properly displayed.

However, even with the use of endcaps and optimized sightlines, the fact that humans need to look ahead when they walk through a store makes it difficult for some products to get noticed.

In his book, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill mentioned a study that he did to see how much of what is on display at supermarkets is actually seen by customers–the so-called capture rate.

According to Underhill, “About one fifth of all shoppers actually see the average product on a supermarket shelf.”

Smartphones Can Help Consumers Find Products

Mobile phones have given consumers the ability to research and purchase products from their mobile phones.

Smart retailers have taken note and are making an effort to make sure that their store is front and center when these consumers use their mobile phones to search for product information.

But, the power of mobile phones doesn’t need to end there.

Many retailers are partnering with apps like shopkick not only to get consumers into their stores, but also to interact with specific products.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future some major retailer partners with a tech startup to use the sound technology similar to what shopkick uses for walk-in rewards to notify consumers about product specials or discounts as they walk down the grocery store aisle. This would help solve some of the issues that I talked about earlier. (However, I would hope that this technology would be opt-in and used very sparingly, as it could get annoying really fast.)

Other technologies that retailers could use to let consumers know about specific products or services include geofencing, near field communications (NFC), RFID, QR codes, augmented reality, and location-based apps similar to Foursquare.

Furthermore, as Ivy Chang pointed out in a blog post last year, retailers can bring their stores to the consumer by using technology to create remote store-fronts at subway stations (or any other location for that matter) that allow people to scan QR codes with their smartphones and have the products delivered right to their homes.

Final Thoughts

Technology is constantly changing the way that we live our lives.

Smartphones are one example of this, as they are giving retailers additional ways to connect their customers to the products and services that they have for sale.

While store design and merchandising are always going to be important factors in increasing sales, smartphones are going to play an increasing role in helping make consumers aware of discounts or specials and connecting them with additional product information that will help them make purchase decisions.

With this in mind, retailers and the brands that make the products and services that they sell need to be forward thinking and find ways to use smartphones to connect with customers before the competition does.

Photo credit: jeremydeades on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Beyond the Check-In: The Sweet Sound of Location-Based Marketing

The number of people who own smartphones in the United States continues to rise. According to comScore, for the three-month period ending in December of 2012, 97.9 million people in the United States owned smartphones, up 12% from the preceding three month period.

Therefore, as I mentioned last week in a guest blog post on the Strategy E-ssentials blog, it is becoming necessary that businesses develop strategies to help consumers find information about their products and services when consumers reach for their mobile devices. Although it is not the only tool in a business’s mobile marketing toolbox, location-based marketing is going to become more important for businesses of all sizes in the very near future.

The Future of Location-Based Marketing

In my post on the Strategy E-ssentials blog, I talked about a few of the cool things that are going on in Location-Based Marketing. This not only includes using location-based social networking sites in a brand’s marketing efforts, but it also includes giving consumers additional information with location-informed ad content and using geofencing to send targeted messages to consumers when they enter or exit a certain predetermined geographic area.

Sound-Triggered Smartphone Ads

If you have read my blog for the last few weeks, you know a little bit about what brands have been doing with Shazam and IntoNow to help facilitate interaction with consumers while they are watching television.

The concept of using sound to trigger advertising messages or deliver additional content to a consumer’s smartphone is not limited to the time when they are near a television, a computer or even a radio.

As I mentioned in a blog post last summer, stores that have partnered with the shopping app, Shopkick, use a device that sends data via sound waves that are above the range of human hearing to a smartphone with the Shopkick app running—thus enabling Shopkick users to activate the reward of the day.

New York digital agency Densebrain is also doing some cool things with their new program called Sonic Notify.

As an AdWeek article posted last December points out, “Repurposing the bus-tracking technology, Densebrain devised small beacons—designed to be hidden from view—that can be attached to shelves, and which emit inaudible, high-frequency sounds that trigger smartphone messages. The audio code can also be overlaid onto an existing audio track. As long as consumers have downloaded an app integrated with the technology, the smartphone will respond to the sound without user activation.”

This technology can be used to alert consumers to special offers when they are in brick and mortar retail stores or restaurants, or it can be used to provide interactive content during television programs. And, it could also be used during live concerts and sporting events.

In fact, it is being used in the Made Fashion Week app that debuted this month during New York Fashion Week. Using the Sonic Notify technology, the app displays information about each look as models walk down the runway.

Final Thoughts

Location-based marketing is becoming more important for businesses of all sizes.

It’s important to note that location-based marketing doesn’t only include check-in apps, but other technologies like location-informed ad content, geofencing and sound-triggered smartphone apps, as well. And, these are just some of the current technologies out there.

I can’t wait to see what they think of next.

Photo credit: CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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From Touchdowns to GRAMMYs

Last week, I wrote a blog post that pointed out that brands are now taking advantage of the fact that many people have access to a smartphone, tablet computer or a laptop when they watch television.

As I pointed out in that post, brands that aired commercials during the Super Bowl allowed viewers to get access to additional content or discounts on their products when viewers went to their website or their page on certain social networking sites. Some brands also partnered with companies that own smartphone apps to help facilitate the interaction with their brand.

The Game Has Just Begun

Integrating social media into a brand’s marketing mix is a relatively new thing for everyone. In fact, it is a whole new ball game—one that is just getting started.

Social networking sites also make it easier to be a Monday morning quarterback.

Monday morning quarterbacks are good for brands if people discuss what they think went right and what they think went wrong with each marketing campaign, particularly if the criticism is constructive.

Brands are going to make mistakes. The key is to learn from them… and the only way to do that is to analyze the situation, exchange ideas and then make adjustments in the future.

Shazam

One of the things that really piqued my interest this year was how brands used the Shazam app to help people who watched the Super Bowl gain access to additional content, enter sweepstakes, make donations to charities and receive discounts that were being offered by brands just by tagging the commercials that were aired during the game. Additionally, viewers who tagged the game itself could see real-time statistics about the plays and the players, participate in polls, vote for their favorite ads and buy Super Bowl merchandise.

In a press release that Shazam issued on Monday, Andrew Fisher, Shazam’s CEO, pointed out that, “The Super Bowl was our first major live network television event where we enabled people to interact with all aspects of the game, including the ads and the spectacular halftime show. Knowing the size of the Super Bowl audience, we had high expectations for how many people would be engaged during the event and with the numbers in the millions we were blown away.”

With that said, I noticed a few things that brands should consider in the future.

First, I was planning to tag all of the Super Bowl commercials that were Shazamable. However, a few commercials into the game I tried to test the app to see what would happen. In the process, I found out that they weren’t including the Shazam logo on many of the ads that were Shazamable, at least in the market where I watch the game in.

If a logo was included, it would have definitely encouraged more people to tag each ad with the Shazam app.

Second, because it takes some time to open the app and tag a commercial, I found that I missed the message that many brands were trying to convey when they aired their commercials. (It’s a good thing the commercials are also posted on YouTube.)

In an article on fastcocreate.com, Shazam’s CEO addressed these issues. He also mentioned that brands need to offer a valuable incentive or reward when viewers use the app to tag a commercial. This is a lesson that should be heeded when brands ask consumers to interact with them anywhere (e.g., when consumers are asked to scan QR codes, use smartphone apps, use social networking sites, etc.)

Shazam—It’s GRAMMY Time

If you didn’t get a chance to use the Shazam app during the Super Bowl, don’t worry, you will get your chance to use the app again soon… really soon.

In fact, Shazam has partnered with The Recording Academy to offer additional content to viewers during the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

When viewers use the Shazam app to tag the live broadcast of the awards ceremony, they will be able to access a live stream of behind-the-scenes footage, keep track of the artists performing live so they don’t miss a minute of the action and have the ability to look up the nominees in all the major categories with links to purchase music from iTunes and Amazon.

Shazam is also giving one lucky person and their guest the chance to win a VIP trip for two to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2013. (See the Shazam website for additional information.)

Final Thoughts

As I have said before, it is important for brands to take advantage of the fact that consumers have access to smartphones, tablet computers and laptops when they watch television.

This could include inviting consumers to engage with them on their website, any social networking site or via a smartphone or tablet computer app.

This is exactly what many brands did during last week’s Super Bowl.

As I also mentioned, I found it particularly interesting how brands used the Shazam app to engage with consumers.

I definitely think that this is a great use of this technology, and I think it is only going to become more prevalent in the future.

However, because the notion of engaging with consumers online or via smartphone apps is a relatively new idea, brands are going to have some failures mixed in with their success stories.

The key is to learn from the mistakes and make adjustments.

It should be noted that the next chance that brands will have to engage many consumers at the same time is only a few hours away.

If you get a chance, you might want to check out what brands do to interact with consumers during the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards. It is going to be particularly important that they send the right message given the tragic news that we received just a few hours ago.

Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.

Photo credit: CousinJacob on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Are You Ready for Some Football? (The Second Screen Edition)

Historically, the Super Bowl has been one of the most viewed telecasts of the year.

According to The Nielsen Company, five of the six most watched prime-time telecasts of all time in the U.S. were Super Bowls.

In fact, the last four Super Bowls played (2008 to 2011) are on this list. And, there is no reason to believe that this year will be any different.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that advertisers are willing to spend huge amounts of money to air their 30-second spots during the game. (According to CNNMoney, the average cost to air a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl is whopping $3.5 million a pop.)

Extending the Story Online

As I mentioned in a blog post in October of last year, brands need to understand the importance of utilizing the tools that are available to consumers on their smartphones, tablet computers and laptops to extend the story online and keep the conversation and connection going, long after the television commercial is over. (Gary Vaynerchuk likens this to the game of Ping-Pong.)

This year, it looks like many brands are going to take advantage of this opportunity during the Super Bowl.

For some brands, this could be as simple as requesting that viewers visit their website, Facebook page or their page on any other social networking site out there.

Other brands have taken it one step further by partnering with companies that own certain smartphone apps to help facilitate the interaction.

Hopefully, this will enhance the experience that viewers have during the Super Bowl.

Required Game Day Gear

In order to participate in the experience that the advertisers intend to provide, viewers are going to have to be aware of what they need to do and have the right tools at their fingertips.

For brands that ask viewers to visit their website, Facebook page or their page on any other social networking site out there, a laptop or desktop computer is the only thing that will be required. In fact, a pencil and a piece of paper or a strong memory could suffice if viewers want to wait until after the game is over to go online. (Here is where SEO and paid search could play a big role in helping the brand continue the conversation online.)

However, several brands will be taking advantage of the fact that many people will have access to a smartphone or tablet computer during the game and have partnered with companies that own certain apps to help drive viewers directly to a specific landing page or possibly provide them with an in-app experience.

Shazam and IntoNow are two of the apps that viewers might want to download to their smartphones or tablet computers before the Super Bowl begins. Other apps that could possibly come in handy during the Super Bowl include Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and GetGlue.

There are also apps available that will allow people to watch the game on their smartphone and others that are dedicated to letting people watch and rate the commercials before, during and after the game.

Final Thoughts

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched telecasts in the U.S. each year.

For many people, especially those who are fans of teams that aren’t participating in the game, the commercials might be more important than the game itself.

This year, several brands will take advantage of the fact that many people will have their smartphone, tablet computer or laptop in front of them during the game. These brands will be asking viewers to continue the conversation online or within smartphone or tablet computer apps.

In this post, I’ve linked to a few articles and blog posts that provide people with additional information that might be helpful to them before, during and after the game.

I also plan to tweet links to some additional articles and blog posts this weekend. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter at: @sunbeltbadger.

Also, if you hear of something that is worth mentioning, please send me a tweet or let me know in the comments section below.

Photo credit: rmlack22 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Is There a Daily Deal Site for the Rest of Us?

With the rapid advances in technology, savvy marketers are finding additional ways to advertise their products and services.

To help fill the need for additional marketing vehicles, smart tech startups are stepping up and creating interesting sites that are redefining the way consumers interact with businesses.

Some of these tech startups are helping connect businesses to their potential customers by creating daily deals sites.

The Geography of the Daily Deal

Many daily deals sites start off by offering their services in select major metropolitan areas and then expand to other major markets after they have created some buzz about the site.

The way that many daily deal sites are set up involves having a sales force on the ground in the markets that they serve who make sure that there is a new deal each day. The behind the scenes efforts to find local business that are willing to offer a deal to consumers would appear to make it cost prohibitive to expand beyond major metropolitan areas.

This makes it difficult for people in small and medium sized cities to participate in a major part of the tech revolution. And, people living in rural communities… forget about it.

The Daily Deal and the Small Business

The concept of connecting consumers to small businesses in major cities is a great idea.

However, the short-term exposure that small businesses get may not be worth the costs involved in offering this type of deal to consumers.

In fact, some people have questioned whether or not consumers who use daily deal sites will become repeat customers who are willing to pay full price in the future.

It has also been documented that some daily deal offers have been very detrimental to the small businesses that offered them.

National Daily Deals

With the increasing number of people who are purchasing smartphones all over the country, the time might be right for a startup to offer a national daily deal site to consumers.

What I am envisioning is a site that partners with major brands that have a presence all over the country. This could include restaurants, department stores and even individual products and services that are available at multiple retailers.

By eliminating the need for a local sales staff in each city it would allow the site to offer daily deals to smaller cities and even rural markets.

And, because the site would be working with major brands that are already offering similar deals via other advertising mediums, it would decrease the chance that the offers would have major negative impacts on their clients’ bottom lines.

The Current Sites

I am aware that Foursquare and Shopkick are offering deals on a national level. And, I am a huge fan of both sites.

However, there are people out there who are reluctant to use location-based social networking sites similar to Foursquare. And, others might not be interested in a site with the gaming component that Shopkick introduces to the shopping experience, so they wouldn’t even think to use the app to find out if there are any deals currently being offered by a participating merchant.

In doing some research for this blog post, I was able to find additional deals sites with some potential, including The Dealmap and Eversave.com. However, while it does appear that both of these sites partner with some national brands, again it looks like they are limiting their offerings to select major cities.

The Valpak app comes the closest to what I am envisioning. However, their selection of deals is still rather limited, at least in the market where I am currently located. (Note: You can get additional deals at their website.)

Coupons.com is also worth looking into, but they don’t have an app.

Finally, many individual brands also have smartphone apps. However, I would speculate that the people who know about and currently use their apps tend to be current customers. To put it another way, having to use a different app for each store takes the recommendation component out of the equation.

Final Thoughts

As more people purchase smartphones, there is going to be an increased opportunity to reach more diverse subsets of the population.

However, people in some of the smaller markets currently aren’t able to participate in part of the technology revolution that is taking place in large metropolitan areas.

Daily deal sites are just one example of this.

While there might be some local websites that serve some of the smaller markets, to my knowledge, a large daily deal site hasn’t been created that has a goal of offering a daily deal to the everyone in the United States.

So, why hasn’t one of the current daily deal sites out there started offering a national daily deal, in addition to their more localized deals? With the name recognition that Groupon and LivingSocial already have coupled with the infrastructure that they already have in place, it shouldn’t be that hard for them to do.

And, for those of you with an entrepreneurial spirit, mixed with the right tech knowledge and business acumen, this might be a good idea for a new startup. Feel free to take the idea and make it your own… I would just like to see a daily deal site that could be used by the whole country.

If there is a site out there already doing this, please let me know about it in the comments section below.

Photo credit: TechCocktail on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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What Apps Are Currently on Your Smartphone?

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, comScore reported that for the three-month average period ending in October 2011, 90 million people in the United States owned smartphones. As would be expected, this number continues to increase.

In fact, according to Flurry Analytics, 6.8 million Android and iOS devices were activated on Christmas Day. This is a 353% increase over the average number of activations per day that were observed in the first 20 days of December, 2011.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the number of smartphone app downloads was 125% higher on Christmas Day, when compared to the baseline measurement.

Suggested Smartphone Apps

With all the new smartphone owners out there, it makes sense to suggest some smartphone apps that people might be interested in.

It should be noted that I currently own an Android phone, so most of my suggestion will be based on apps that are available for that operating system. However, most of these apps are also available on other mobile operating systems, as well.

If you are currently using any of the social networking sites out there that have apps available (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Myspace, YouTube, etc.) then it makes sense to download those apps to your phone. There are some other apps that can be used to access these social networks, as well. In fact, there are many apps currently available that allow you to access your Twitter account.

Google Maps is also a very useful app. The Android version of the app eliminates the need for a separate GPS navigation system. It also now includes indoor maps. I haven’t tried this feature… but it sounds really cool.

The CNN app is great for keeping up with the latest news. When the app is installed on your phone, you can choose to have it notify you about breaking news. I also recently installed the CNNMoney app. It is similar, but it focuses on business news.

CNET TV and G4 both have great apps that provide users with the kind of information that satisfies the tech nerd in all of us.

Evernote is included on a lot of favorite app lists, including mine. Among other things, you can use the app to take notes in meetings or write down ideas that you want to remember when you are on the go. As an added bonus, you can also access Evernote from your PC. I use this app a lot for taking notes about topics that I want to blog about in the future.

Foursquare is one of my favorite location-based social networking sites. The app is very easy to use, and businesses sometimes reward you for checking in to their venue. I have written several blog posts about Foursquare in the past. It should also be noted that there are other apps out there that serve a similar purpose, like SCVNGR and Google Latitude. However, I currently tend to use Foursquare the most.

If you are looking for a cool photo sharing app, I’d suggest giving picplz a try. However, I have also heard a lot of good things about Instagram. It was recently announced that Instagram is working on an Android version of the app. Until the Android version of Instagram is available, picplz is a very good alternative. In fact, there are people out there who say that they prefer picplz to Instagram.

GetGlue is a great app that allows you to let others know what you are currently doing (i.e., reading a book, listening to music, watching a television show or movie, playing a video game or just thinking about a topic.) The current version of the app is a little clunky, but I still enjoy using it. And, hopefully, future versions of the app will fix some of the problems that I am currently having with it.

I am also a fan of the Yelp app. It gives you access to user-generated reviews of the local bars, restaurants and stores in your area. Yelp is a great resource for people who have recently relocated to a new city or are visiting a city that they have never been to before. It also has a check-in component similar to Foursquare. And, if you get a chance, check out Yelp’s Monocle. Yelp’s Monocle is an augmented reality feature that among other things allows you to see reviews of the businesses that are nearby.

Urbanspoon is another app that can help you find nearby bars and restaurants. The unique thing about this app is that if you can’t decide where you want eat, you can use the Urbanspoon slot machine to get additional suggestions. It’s a very cool app.

Many of the daily-deal sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, also have apps. As I mentioned in a post that I wrote this past summer, I think that Scoutmob is the daily-deal site that offers the best value to businesses and consumers. As is the case with most of the daily-deal sites, Scoutmob can only be used in certain markets.

Shopkick is another fun app that allows you to earn kicks by visiting participating brick-and-mortar stores and scanning certain items with your smartphone. The kicks can then be redeemed for merchandise at participating retail stores or donated to certain charities.

I also need to mention the Google Reader and Listen apps. I use these apps a lot for reading blog posts and listening to podcasts, respectively.

And, if you sell things on eBay, you definitely will want to download the eBay app. It has many useful features that help facilitate the buying and selling process.

Finally, there are a few apps that I haven’t used that much, but I want to mention because I think that they could potentially be very useful to some people. These apps include Google Googles, RedLaser, Zaarly and WHERE.

Final Thoughts

Many people received smartphones over the holidays.

That means that many people are now learning about the different ways that smartphones can make life a little easier by simplifying some of our everyday tasks.

However, in order to take full advantage of their smartphones, people need to know what apps to download.

The list that I just provided is a good place to start.

However, with over 500,000 apps in the both the Apple App Store and Google’s Android Market, it’s just the beginning.

For additional suggestions, you might want to check out the lists that are provided by other bloggers. In fact, Nate Riggs just published a list today. Jeff Hilimire also frequently blogs about apps that you might never have heard about before.

Other popular websites also frequently list some of the best apps that are currently available.

However, the only way you can truly know whether or not an app is valuable to you is to actually try it yourself. So, I’d suggest heading over to the Apple App Store or Google’s Android Market and give some of the many apps out there a try.

And, if you have any other apps that you would like to suggest, I’d love to hear about them.

Photo credit: mcclanahoochie on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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An Increasing Number of People Use Smartphones to Research and Buy Products

Photo credit: renatomitra on Flickr.The number of people who own smartphones in the United States is on the rise.

According to comScore, for the three-month average period ending in October 2011, 90 million people in the United States owned smartphones, up 10 percent from the preceding three month period.

With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, followed by post-Christmas sales, this number should continue to increase in the next few months.

People Are Very Attached to Their Smartphones

Smartphone owners rely on their smartphones for a lot of things.

So much so that when people were asked to choose between their smartphone and the television, more smartphone owners said that they would prefer to eliminate the television and keep the smartphone.

This is according to a study conducted earlier this year by Arbitron and Edison Research, where respondents to their survey were asked, “Suppose you could never watch television again OR you could never use your Apple iPhone/Smartphone again. Which would you be more willing to eliminate from your life?”

Overall, 58% of respondents who owned an iPhone said that they would eliminate the television, 36% said that they would eliminate the iPhone and 6% said that they were unsure. Likewise, 58% of non-iPhone smartphone users said that they would eliminate the television, 41% said that they would eliminate their non-iPhone smartphone and another 2% were unsure.

Smartphones Are Changing the Way That We Shop

A recent comScore study revealed that at the time it was conducted, 38% of smartphone owners had used their smartphone to make a purchase at least once in the course of their device ownership.

Another recent study conducted by IBM Coremetrics found that more people used mobile devices to research and purchase products on Black Friday 2011 than they did the previous year.

This is due in part to the increase in smartphone ownership among consumers, in general.

However, it is also a result of the increase in awareness and use of the ever-increasing number of apps, social media platforms and ways that that consumers can use the Internet to research, get advice about and purchase products and services via their mobile devices.

Final Thoughts

Mobile phones are becoming a more important part of consumers’ lives.

This will become more evident as more people abandon their feature phones and make the switch to smartphones.

Therefore, it is also becoming more important that retail stores develop a strategy to help consumers find information about the products that they offer when consumers reach for their mobile devices.

Because, like it or not, more consumers are using their mobile devices to research and buy products and services. What consumers find when they search for information about the products and services that you offer might persuade them to take their business elsewhere.

Photo credit: renatomitra on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Is a Lack of Creativity Discouraging People From Scanning QR Codes?

Mall of America uses QR code event to drive awareness, sales on Black Friday on arikhanson.comIt’s a fact that more brands are using QR codes for marketing purposes.

However, as I pointed out in the last post, the number of people who are actually scanning QR codes is relatively low.

Let’s put aside some of the other reasons why consumers would choose not to scan QR codes (e.g., lack of a smartphone, lack of awareness about how or why to scan QR codes, etc.)

Instead, let’s think about what consumers actually get when they take the time to scan a QR code.

Often, the people who make arguments against QR codes mention the fact that it is a waste of time for the consumer if all they get when scan a QR code is another advertisement.

And, I can’t argue with them on this point.

In fact, if consumers scan QR codes a few times and only get a ho-hum experience, I would guess that they would be more likely to ignore QR codes in the future.

However, this is not a fault of the technology, itself. What it boils down to is a lack of creativity on the part of the advertiser who is using this technology.

Personally, I am a fan of using QR codes for marketing purposes in certain cases.

Do you want an example of what I think is a great use of this technology? If you scan the QR code in this post it will take you to Arik Hanson’s recent blog post about how the Mall of America used QR codes on Black Friday. (Note: Click here if you don’t have access to a QR-code reader. Also, his blog post is not mobile optimized. The only reason that I point this out is because I am now linking it to a QR code and mobile optimization is a must for any website that is linked to a QR code. But, that’s another post.)

Final Thoughts

What I fear is that many consumers will see a QR code in the future and say, “Oh, I tried those before. All I got was another darn advertisement.”

In other words, I think the lack of creativity by some advertisers could be making it more difficult for others to get consumers to interact with their brand by scanning QR codes.

What are your thoughts?

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Allure of the QR Code

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.About a year ago, MasterCard and SunTrust Bank implemented an interesting marketing campaign that included larger-than-life versions of products that could potentially be on your holiday shopping list.

As part of the marketing campaign, a huge tricycle was placed in the Five Points neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia, and a gigantic digital camera was put in the nearby Peachtree Center Mall.

Judging from the number of people taking photographs, these items definitely grabbed people’s attention.

However, it was the matrix barcode that was included on the tag attached to these items that really piqued my interest.

The tag included a statement saying, “Scan this code with your phone to see today’s Overwhelming Offer.*”

However, at the time, I didn’t read the statement.

Instead, my mind raced, thinking of all the cool ways that the advertising agency or public relations firm responsible for creating the campaign could have potentially used this opportunity.

The QR Code

As you may know, the Quick Response code (QR code) was originally created by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, in 1994 for use in tracking vehicles during the manufacturing process.

However, more recently, QR codes and similar two-dimensional barcodes have been coopted by marketers looking for ways to catch the attention of potential customers.

If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance that you have at least thought about the potential uses of QR codes, and more than likely, whether good or bad, have an opinion about them.

But, does the general public know what QR codes are? And, more importantly, do they use them?

If you believe the results of an informal nonscientific survey conducted by Sean X Cummings on the streets of San Francisco a few months ago, then QR code awareness is rather low. In fact, only 11% of respondents could properly identify a QR code when shown one. An additional 29% said that the QR code was “some barcode thingy.”

These results are not surprising considering the fact that according to a comScore study, only 14 million mobile users in the U.S., representing 6% of the population of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR code on their mobile device in June, 2011. (Note: The results are based on data from the comScore MobiLens service.)

While very few people in the general public scanned a QR code in June of 2011, it appears that the likelihood of scanning QR codes is somewhat higher among smartphone users. (This makes sense, since a smartphone is generally required to scan a QR code in the first place.)

According to an online survey conducted by the agency MGH in February 2011, 65% of smartphone users had seen a QR code, and 32% had scanned at least one QR code in the past.

Final Thoughts

Using QR codes for marketing purposes is a relatively new concept.

Furthermore, while the overall number of people who scan QR codes is rather low, this number might increase as more people purchase smartphones.

In the next few weeks, I plan to write a few blog posts that discuss some of the pros and cons of QR codes and their potential uses.

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.But, back to the example that I started off with.

At the time that I encountered the larger-than-life holiday shopping list items, I hadn’t yet purchased a smartphone, so I was unable find out what surprise was waiting for me or any other person who took the time to scan the QR code.

Judging from the statement on the tag, it might have been better left to my imagination.

But, then again, I will never know.

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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