Archive for June, 2012
June 29th, 2012
Apps are now fully ingrained in the psyche of the average marketer, so much so that it’s guaranteed apps will feature in a variety of campaign suggestions made by agencies and brands across the globe today.
Since the introduction of the app as we know it today, alongside the launch of the iPhone in 2007, there have been many good examples of useful and valuable apps, and many more poor examples.
As of June 2012, 30 billion apps have been downloaded from the (Apple) App Store and currently more than 650,000 apps are available. Furthermore, in May of this year, Google Play, which sells Android apps, achieved 15 billion downloads from its selection of 500,000 apps.
Therefore, it’s safe to say the app is still a huge success and a vital tool for relevant communications campaigns, but what is the reality of app retention?
To find out, Localytics a mobile analytics firm based in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, has just completed research on the behaviour of consumers on 60 million mobile devices in the U.S., including phones and tablets, across roughly 10,000 apps, as covered in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.
The research considered all major mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and HTML5 and didn’t distinguish between paid and free apps. It chose the metric of opening an app 11 times or more as the high-end metric because that it is the rate at which app publishers consider a user to be loyal or retained, according to Raj Aggarwal, chief executive of Localytics who headed up the research. Although this number seems a little low to me.
The company analysed users who downloaded an app in July 2011 and then counted how many times they opened up the app over a nine-month period ending in March 2012. They discovered around 31% of mobile users opened up their apps at least 11 times or more over a nine-month period, up from 26% a year ago.
However, 69% of users open an app 10 times or less, and over a quarter use the app just once after downloading it, which shows that high usage is the preserve of only the chosen few.
For example, recently Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe iPad book-app sold 20,000 copies in its first three days at Â£4.99 each, which covered its costs straight away. However retention is yet to be measured.
In terms of platforms, around 35% of Apple device users opened their apps 11 times or more, compared to just 23% of Android users.
Unsurprisingly, news apps like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal enjoy the highest retention rate, with 44% of users. Next in line are Gaming (e.g., Angry Birds), Entertainment (e.g., Netflix) and Sports, all of which had retention rates between 33% and 36%. Lifestyle apps, which include both e-commerce and life event planning tools, had the worst user retention with just 15% opening an app 11 times or more and 30% opening an app just once.
June 28th, 2012
It’s been hard to escape the news this week about Microsoft snapping-up social networking site Yammer for a cool $1.2 billion.Â Widely touted as Facebook for business, San Francisco-based Yammer enables companies to create their own, private social networks, allowing employee collaboration, file sharing, knowledge exchange and so on.
The move comes as part of Microsoft’s continued struggle with Google for internet dominance, and also highlights its inroads into the enterprise social software space, an area in which investors are increasingly turning their attention.
As Richard Waters at the FT puts it, Microsoft’s purchase of YammerÂ “reflects the deep changes that are sweeping through enterprise computing and creating new business opportunities that may be bigger than those in the consumer world.”
According to Microsoft , it will continue to develop Yammer as a standalone service, as well as integrating it into SharePoint and its other business collaboration tools. And with 5 million users already, Yammer should continue to spread organically, enabling employees to experiment with its service for free before the IT department needs to step-in and purchase administrative tools to manage the new networks.
Microsoft isn’t alone in this social software land grab. Â As Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite points out in his article for CNN, enterprise giants including Oracle, Salesforce and now Microsoft have shelled out $2.25 billion for social businesses including Vitrue, Buddy Media and Yammer in the last month.
For Microsoft, the consensus seems to be that this is a smart and necessary move, with the social spotlight slowly moving away from consumer businesses, particularly in the wake of Facebook’s bungled IPO. These are certainly fast-moving times for the enterprise software market and the consumerisation of IT, as well as trends like BYOD, are continuing to have a wide-ranging impact.
June 22nd, 2012
The study of 2000 smartphone users in UK, France, Germany and Sweden found that 42% of smartphone owners use their device to compare prices in-store , while 13% claim to have switched stores after finding a better offer elsewhere.
However, 50% of UK respondents said they become frustrated with the mobile shopping experience, which shows mobile site development and usability has some way to go before fully capturing the opportunity.
Further evidence from On Device Research (ODR) shows that 60% of mobile users have utilised the mobile internet while in store, 78% would use free Wi-Fi in stores if offered it and 74% of respondents would be happy for the retailer to send a text or email with promotions.
Retailers are waking up to the opportunity and we are seeing more introduce free Wi-Fi connections, including Debenhams, Tesco and John Lewis, each trying to capturing more in-store traffic and push relevant offers via a branded Wi-Fi signal, while hoping to discourage shoppers from using unbranded 3G connections.
According to the Tradedoubler survey, offering location-based services and relevant vouchers helps to secure the interest of a fifth of potential buyers.
The retailers will not have it all their own way though, as they find it harder to control the shopping experience of their customers who have access to many mobile apps and websites that enable the comparison of product prices, including Amazon’s successful app.
However, vouchers and offers can be a strong motivator, and with the full force of the retailer’s marketing machines behind the push, the opportunity to regain the upper hand in online and mobile experiences still exists. Even if retailers are a little late to the game, and are yet to fully roll out mobile sites to enable communication and real engagement on the move.
NFC (Near Field Communication) could be the ace that the retailers have yet to play, and by linking cashless payments to branded mobile shopping sites, those that want to take advantage of this type of payment are likely to be inserted into the retailer’s online assets.
Another blocker remains security, as around half of respondents of the Tradedoubler survey were concerned about the security of mobile as a payment platform, but 42% said they were interested in using their device as a mobile wallet.
Unfortunately, as with all web-based developments, the real barrier remains access to strong, secure and consistent broadband connectivity, and without this the opportunity for retailers falls flat.
This is why we can expect to see more investment in retailer Wi-Fi networks, alongside relevant mobile sites and offers, and it is the quality of these networks that could be the difference between success and failure.
June 19th, 2012
Crowd funding is to my mind the best single social innovation enabled by the internet. But while I am a fervent supporter of the communal aspects of this next step on the web, I have some concerns, largely based around the rules of finance, which we know are elastic and variable.
Crowd funding, as I understand it, is a practical concept that connects people who have money with people who need it. Like so many brilliant ideas, fluid and so is without boundaries.
It simply provides the space where people can find the investment or loan they need and where people with money to invest can find the best return.
The banks used to do this but they stopped doing it a long while ago, preferring to take a punt on the stock casinos around the world. And weâ€™ve always known that banks are basically high-falutinâ€™ money shops that have gone way beyond their station in life. Crowd funding takes things back to basics, which benefit all parties.
First lesson of the market is that if you leave a space, someone will come in and fill it, usually at your expense. Thatâ€™s what has happened to the banks.
So, while the majestic financial professionals continue to embrace Bigtime Betting, and continue to ignore the real world (millions of people who need them), crowd funding fills the very big gap that these masters of the universe (MOTU) have left.
We have Zopa, Funding Circle and Ratesetter, for example, providing the connection between people who want a better than zero return on their money offered by the MOTU and those that need a loan minimum of fuss. Sweet.
And we have Kickstarter blazing a trail in crowd funding for business ideas, connecting investors, reducing risk, and helping to build new companies.
My concerns are first that the crowd funding loan market is largely unregulated and so can be fatally damaged by one or more bad news stories, where someone loses life savings, or an investment opportunity is simply a scam.
My second concern is that the incredibly obese MOTUs will close in and so crowd funding will be swallowed whole. These fears were raised by news that SoMoLend had raised $1.17 million in a seed investment round. Thatâ€™s traditional, old-school and weird. The companyâ€™s LinkedIn profile is also scary but so is the idea that the traditional funders have bought into the new game.
I can see a better future with crowd funding but also, in my bones, understand that the global banking brands drag their enormous bulks into meetings where they will buy up the crowd funding universe.
But they will leave another small space for creative people to engineer new ways to exchange money.
June 15th, 2012
A nice piece of relatively simple Twitter research was published last week from Milan’s IULM University. It shows that high levels of brands are talking to Twitter bots, and not customers, via brand Twitter profiles.
Professor of corporate communications and digital languages at IULM University, Marco Camisani Calzolari, found that in some cases nearly half a company’s Twitter followers were bots.
As you can see in the table above, @DellOutlet score highest for Twitter bots, or lowest for engagement, with 46% of its 1.5 million followers being identified as non-human users, with a further 13.2% unquantifiable.
EA, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Blackberry, Playstation, Samsung mobile and Starbucks also feature in the research, which focused on brand accounts with 10,000 followers or more.
Although some of the figures are particularly high, it did not come as a complete surprise that a large percentage of brand followers are bots. After all, the general obsession with follower numbers, rather than useful engagement, has long hindered any real measurement of a brand’s relevance on Twitter.
The ultimate result of this numbers approach is that there’s no need to actually listen or engage as long as you have many thousands of followers, which must mean you’re doing something right? Wrong!
Richard Binhammer, Dell’s Social Media Relations manager commented on the findings in MediaBistro:
“We don’t control who follows any of our Twitter accounts and we don’t artificially increase the number of followers. In fact, paying third parties to undertake such action is contrary to our policy. While there are some tools that claim to identify bots, they are not 100 percent accurate. The only action we could take is to â€˜block’ a follower. We certainly would not want to risk â€˜blocking’ a potential customer. Our focus is on relationships and engagements with customers.”
While I agree many tools do not pick up bots, some of those 46% must have been visible…just a little bit.
The final word goes to the author of the research, Professor Calzolari, who confirmed: “The research shows that the number of followers is no longer a valid indicator of the popularity of a Twitter user. Many of the companies included in the research have delegated their public relations activities on social networks to web agencies that in some cases have taken short cuts in order to demonstrate to companies, who are oblivious, that their activities have been successful by generating lots of new users.”
You can download the full report here.
The results were developed by awarding points for behaviour associated typically with humans, and points for behaviour typically associated with bots. These numbers were then crunched in an algorithm. Human behaviour included a profile containing a name, an image and a physical address, while bot behaviour included users only using APIs to tweet.
The report also states that “the algorithm allowing “human” and “bot” points to be assigned was defined with very conservative parameters.“
June 8th, 2012
After catching up on my reading following the Jubilee break in the UK, I was alerted to this excellent piece on Paid Content, titled: Forget about â€˜content management’-and focus on â€˜audience development’ by Ben Elowitz co-founder and CEO of Wetpaint.
The title pretty much says all you need to know about the subject matter. Elowitz has nailed the failing content management approach of too many media organisations with an insightful look at the over reliance on content itself, with little regard for the audience.
This is real â€˜Stock and flow‘ stuff (the economic model that works equally well for media).
I used a direct quote from the piece as the title to my post: “Content is just a means to an end. The end – and media’s greatest asset – is audience”, and to expand, Elowitz went on to reflect on the common mistake that too many media companies have repeated: “Advertisers don’t pay to reach content – they pay to reach audience. And building an audience that will earn you advertising is only partly about content. In truth, just as much hinges on distribution. If your delightful content can’t find and catch the attention of your audience, the value of your content drops to zero. If a tree falls in a forest…
“Media companies over the last 10 years have invested in an enormously expensive card catalogue, while spending only pennies to bring people into the library. The big opportunity with digital media is not to organise your content closet or have efficient workflow – it’s about driving demand and building an audience using digital channels and all of the rich data that comes with them. That’s the way to use systems to multiply the top line, not just streamline the expense line.”
The idea that if we simply focus on developing great content then the rest will just happen, is simply wrong. The build it and they will come approach is long since dead, and if you’re not focused on your audience (or flow) your content may well be the best, but no one will know about it.
In my opinion this situation has only been worsened by the legacy thinking from media organisations that has seen so many struggle to prosper in the digital age. The problems that large publishers have experienced in making a digital model relevant are well documented, or as Elowitz says: “it’s because these intricately designed systems have been based on one big misunderstanding: that a media company’s most valuable asset is content.” but this way of thinking has developed into a deeper problem in the psyche of content managers/developers.
In the past content lived or died on the strength of its quality. The channel was always there, you picked up a magazine, or a newspaper and there was the content, but now the channel isn’t clear. Many don’t understand the channel, or which channel to use or where to even start looking.
The content is lost in the channel. The channel is often lost in the channel. The channel has become value and conversation and sharing, but you need to be able to find the content to share it and grab attention as well as hold it.
These are very different focuses to content development alone, this is digital distribution. This means a change in thinking is necessary. Traditionally we may have resorted to building our own channel, but the focus should centre on being useful to existing communities to become part of the flow of conversation. We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re getting on-board with the existing revolution.
So what can be done to rectify the situation? Well, Elowitz offers five steps that every content manager should follow, which you can read in full in the article, and I strongly recommend you do:
1. Manage across the many channels of distribution.
2. Adjust the focus from audience to individual.
3. Use abundant user data to know what works.
4. Make your systems look forward, not back.
5. Fully socialise your distribution.
June 7th, 2012
Weâ€™ve been through this many time before and apologies for bringing it up again but why do I look like this when I search Google Images?
Am I being careless about the way I look online? I donâ€™t think so.Â Is there a way to embed more detail in a digital image that can be queried by Google, Bing and other search engines so that they can deliver the precise visual data requested?
I do understand that, when someone (a very close friend for example), types in a search term â€œTim Greenhalgh, forgotten genius, inventor of the Smargâ€, they would expect a first-line, first-page match.
But to simply search for â€œTim Greenhalghâ€ is to invite a world of pain and confusion.
Of course, we can look after our image on the web and label our images in the best possible way. That still leaves a big gap between precision and a punt on Google, Bing et al.
Images and their discordant cousin, video have reached a primary position on the web, piggy-back style, using text and association to raise profile.
Can we free the image and let it range by itself by opening a line of data to search engines that enables precise match and strengthens the curation of visual objects online?