Video I shot and edited for @Ford Online covering the Cobra Jet preview event. Video was shot with a Sony HDR-SR12 and was edited using Final Cut Pro.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the 57 million users using their mobile phone to connect to the internet and asked what people were doing about making sure their website was usable in a mobile version to help increase their conversion rates. My question now is, will your mobile marketing plan also include consideration for integration within a vehicle?
Some marketers know that one component to add into a mobile marketing plan is the creation of a mobile app to run on devices like iPhones, Blackberrys, Palm phones, or Android equipped phones. Having an app is just one way to give a consumer increased access to a company’s services as well as increase a company’s brand recognition. According to studies, apps are also in high demand by consumers. Nielson reported that in the second quarter of 2009, there were 40 million app downloads and the industry as a whole has had approximately 3 billion downloads altogether. Looking at this surge of use, where is the app for your company?
After asking that, my next question is what happens to your app and mobile marketing plan when technology shakes things up again? Ford did this earlier this week at the 2010 CES. They announced that the next generation of SYNC and their new MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch technology would allow mobile apps running the new SYNC API to be used by the system. As a quick backgrounder, SYNC allows drivers to use voice control access different services and features such as navigation, traffic, and hands-free calling by the system tapping into driver’s smartphone. With the upgrade of SYNC and the addition of MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, a driver’s favorite apps that are equipped with the SYNC API are now able to enjoy the same hands-free control. The first apps to take advantage of this are Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak. That’s right, Internet radio and Twitter right in your car via voice-control while you’re driving.
So now I ask, how does this change your app strategy? Knowing that a mobile user would be able to use your app safely while driving around, would you create something for this? As a grocery store, would you create a SYNC enabled app that allows a customer to create a shopping list while they drove to your store? As an electronics store, would you create an app that allowed them to compare the different specs on TVs while they headed over to get one? For language training software, would you create an app that allows a customer to access all of their lessons during their morning commute? The possibilities are literally limitless for application of this technology. The question, though, is what are you going to do with it and your mobile marketing campaign?
In case you would like to view more information about the new SYNC API, the video below is a portion of the 2010 CES Keynote presentation where Ford introduces it.
Full disclosure: While Internet marketing and social media are his hobbies and potential future career field, Brad currently works for Ford as the Video Coordinator for Employee Communications, Broadcast Operations, and Public Affairs.
As ‘video killed the radio star’, it has been said that the Internet killed the printed word. 2008 and 2009 have seen a serious reduction in overall newspaper circulation with the latest numbers showing an increase from 7% to 10% decline in just the last 6 months of 2009. A recent report from Amazon.com stated that on Christmas Day 2009, for the first time, they sold more eBooks than physical books and that the Kindle was the most gifted item from the site this holiday season. Looking at these numbers, some analysts have started asking questions as to whether eBooks will completely replace printed texts in the future. Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, during an interview with the Washington Post in 2008 guessed it would be in the next ten years:
“There will be no media consumption left in ten years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.” – Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
Regardless of whether eBooks will completely replace printed text, their use and availability are growing. Similar to when digital cameras became popular (film vs. digital), growing along with their use are the numbers of people taking sides for the use of physical books or the use of eBooks. I, myself have been thrust into this battle as my master’s degree program has switched over to ‘eBook only’. As I have been trying to decide how I feel about them and their use, I have been creating a list of pros and cons. Here are some of the points I have come up with:
eBooks – The Good
One device, Hundreds or Thousands of Books, Magazines, and Articles
I frequently travel for work and trying to figure out what I’m going to take on my carry-on bag always turns into such a big debate. Having one device that weighs less than a pound, is smaller than a laptop, and has several different books, articles, magazines on it would make things like flying or even reading in downtime so much easier.
Much in the same way that hopping onto iTunes, downloading a song, and listening to it less than a minute later has changed many people’s purchasing habits for music; being able to purchase a text and have it minutes later for use will change how people will approach getting information… especially if priced right.
eBooks are less $$$
Face it, the quickest way to get the general populous to adapt to something new is to bring it down to cost savings. With eBooks saving users $5+ per book, depending on how avid the reader, the cost for the eReader is quickly covered and the savings begin. This also has huge implications for schools where budgets are major concerns. Instead of having to order thousands of books each year, being able to distribute an updated electronic file to all students on the first day of class cuts down a lot of costs even above the cost of the books themselves.
Technical Features and Integration with a Digital Lifestyle
I currently have my iMac, Macbook Pro, and Palm Pre perfectly syncing with each other. Why not have another device that can sync with all the others? Any time I write papers for my master’s program, its on one of my computers, so why not have my textbooks available for review or citation on my computer as well? Some eReaders and eBook software programs even have the ability to bookmark, highlight, and take notes that can be synced later. Also, when writing papers or articles, it makes it much faster to put in search terms than flipping through pages.
eBooks – The Bad
My Eyes Are Burning
This is the biggest drawback that I see to eBooks. For my job and master’s degree, I already spend something to the tune of 15-16 hours a day already staring at a computer screen. This has actually, over time, caused me some irritating issues that are symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. I actually ended up needed glasses for computer work to help. So having to look at a computer to read text books or leisure books is just too much. Having a physical book in hand is actually a welcome alternative to sitting in front of a computer. Now, that said, as eReaders have become more user friendly, they are starting to incorporate more technology like E Ink® Vizplex™ which is supposed to make the screens resemble printed text more. Whether or not this would help in my case, though, remains to be seen.
You Don’t have to Charge or Upgrade a Book
Of course the nice thing about a book is that as long as you have some sort of light source, you can read it. There is no need to find a wall outlet to charge it. Also, as long as you understand how to read, you can pick up that book now or 50 years from now and still be able to use it the same way. With eBooks, you need some sort of electronic media to video them whether it is a laptop or a eReader like the Nook or Kindle. Since these are electronic devices, they need to be plugged in or charged. There is also currently not a set format for this sort of media. This means that there is zero guarantee that the eBook that you buy today will work 5, 10, or 15+ years down the road on whatever the new electronic device is. It also means that as time goes by there is no guarantee that the eReader or device you purchase to view the eBook on will be able to read eBooks in whatever format they come in 5, 10, or 15+ years down the road.
You Can Drop a Book
Have you ever had that stomach sinking feeling as you watch a laptop fall in slow motion to the ground? No matter which way you look at it, consumer electronics can be fairly delicate items. You drop your laptop, chances are something is broken. Drop your cell phone hard enough, its toast. A book, though, is pretty resilienet. We stand on them, sit on them, throw them, drop them, bend them, put them in the cold, leave them in the sun, and they work just as good as if nothing had happened. Outside of direct physical damage like ripping them apart or exposure to fire or water, books can take a decent beating without issue. Electronics though, unless specifically designed to, can’t usually take the same.
Digital Rights Management
Similar to music purchased through the iTunes store, most eBooks purchased through outlets like Amazon.com, have digital rights management (DRM) restrictions placed on them to prevent users from doing different things. Depending on the restrictions, a user may not be able to print any pages off, and many do not allow things like sharing or borrowing the books to friends. Technically speaking, even though a user may be ‘buying’ the book, really all they are doing is purchasing a license to use the digital file of the book for an indefinite amount of time. They never actually own the book. Another headache that can develop with DRM is moving the eBook from device to device owned by the same user. For example, for DRM restrictions only authorize a book to be used on one device at a time. So for me to go from my desktop down to my laptop or future eReader, I would have to go through the process of signing it off of one device and on to another.
eBooks – The ‘Meh’
eBooks are ‘eco-friendly’
The reason this falls into the indifference category is that I’m not really sure whether it is true or not (I welcome insight on this). Yes, at the end of the day, eBooks are not created by cutting down trees or using resources like water for their creation. So in a sense it is somewhat easy to see that they are eco-friendly. This said, though, I think people often times forget that electronic devices need electricity. Similar to why I think that electric cars are not the end all answer to auto emission pollution, devices like eReaders and laptops need electricity to be used. In 2008 only about 7% of all electricity in the US was created using a renewable resource like wind. This means that we’re still burning coal or other fossil fuel to create the electricity needed to power the computer or eReader. Also, since they are electronic devices that can contain batteries, some of the elements inside can be toxic unless disposed of properly. So, in the end, I’m not sure if eBooks are actually any more eco-friendly than physical books.
Well those are just some of my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the indifferent for eBooks. I welcome your comments on these points or input from your own experiences. Do you like them? Do you hate them? Will they replace print?
Normally I wouldn’t embed someone else’s work as I like to post my own videos and portfolio, but I thought this episode from a documentary created about the Blog World Expo 2009 is really well done. Plus it contains a lot of really good information and sound bites on social media, social networking, and blogging. So hat’s off to Marc Ostrick and Michael Sean Wright. I think you guys did a really great job with this video!
“Marc Ostrick and Michael Sean Wright set out to document a day at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. Ostrick, Co-Founder of eGuiders teamed up with fellow documentarian Wright, founder of nicefishfilms, to take the pulse of what some are calling the new media ‘revolution’. The gathering of bloggers, lifestreamers and seasoned journalists provided an opportunity to dialog with media producers from around the world. Ostrick and Wright attempted to push the limits of the current technology, shooting with Kodak Zi8 and Flip Ultra HD cameras. The short doc is part of the conversation focused on the shifting landscape of media. The new dial tone is a dialog among media producers, technologists and bloggers who are looking to express their ideas into the stream of the real-time web. The filmmakers shadowed Robert Scoble, early technology blogger-evangelist as he interacted with the influencers in social media. “Social media… is the new dial tone,” according to author Chris Brogan.”
One of the best things about this video, I think, is towards the end where Michael Sean Wright talks about how CNN doesn’t send a huge crew anymore to events but someone with a small format camera. I see this every day at Ford as, with my position, we shoot a lot of interviews and events using a small handheld HD camera and edit using Final Cut Pro on a laptop. Sure, for major events things were a nicer camera/lens would be required, we hire out professional camera crews and edit on high end gear. But for the everyday communication from Ford to its employees and customers, the format has changed a lot. An example of this is the interview I taped with Mark Fields talking about establishing trust with employees and customers through communication.
In the end, great job to these guys on putting this together!
As social media and social networking have grown dramatically over the past few years, it seems that many businesses are falling behind the trend and finding it terribly difficult to figure out how to use these new tools to reach customers. One of the main reasons for this, I believe, is because social media requires a very dramatic shift in how they communicate to their customers and even their employees.
In the past, previous versions of marketing tools and plans required only that the company come up with a catchy jingle or entertaining commercial. This information was directed to consumers, and even employees, in a one way direction. The company makes the message. The company then sends the message to a distribution tool such as TV or radio. Then consumers receive the messages. There was not much they could do to communicate back to the company or even look for advice outside of their close circle of friends. Sure there were the sales people, but could you really trust them since they were trying to sell you a product? Employee communications were not that different in that a company would have a message or idea it wanted its employees to think/feel, and so it gave it to them.
With the increased use of the Internet and invention of social networking, a review of a company or product is just a few clicks away. A consumer can read reviews, commentary, blogs, or even Tweets from people they may never have met from all over the world and make a decision based on what everyone is saying. Employees can communicate the love or disgust of their company with friends and countless others. Seeing this, businesses have begun to see that this is an area that they need to be involved with. However, if the interaction is done poorly, within hours the attempt can sometimes end up needing brand damage control.
Say, for example, that you have a company that has decided to embrace this new format for communication because you deem it important to be apart of it. So you setup a Twitter account and begin broadcasting all the great things about your company to the world. People message you or make comments, but you ignore them because they are not directly related to the ad you’re about to post. After a few weeks, you’re wondering why it isn’t working, why you have so few followers, and sales haven’t increased. Why did this happen? Because even though you were using the new tools, your communication habits never changed and you were still using one-way communication.
In their book Trust Agents, authors Chris Brogen and Jukien Smith talk about Robert Scoble. In case you are not familiar with Robert, he was an employee at Microsoft back in 2004. What made him so different is that on his blog he not only talked about the good things that were going on, he offered open commentary that would often put competitive companies and products in a better light than Microsoft. He also freely requested people’s comments and even posted his personal cell for people to call if the had questions. This kind of openness and transparency led people to openly trust him and just about everything that he said. Why? Because he wasn’t just promoting the company he worked for. He was giving honest opinions, both good and bad. This is what developed the trust of all the people following his blog. How transparent is your company?
As you may or may not know, I currently work for Ford Motor Company in the Employee Communications area coordinating all of the video production and video scheduling. One thing that has really impressed me during my time at Ford has been their openness to honestly communicate what is going on with the company and how we are all doing to both employees and customers. This type of transparency, I believe, goes a really long way in not only keeping employee morale high, but also develops that all important trust with employees and customers. In a recent interview I recorded with Mark Fields, President of The Americas for Ford, he talked about the importance of being transparent and authentic with your employees and customers to build trust.
Mark Fields Talks About Trust and Authenticity in Corporate Communication from Brad Lowrey on Vimeo.
So how is your business doing? Has it openly embraced social networking and pursuing that active, two-way communication/relationship with its employees and customers? Or is it still trying to dictate a message that may be falling on deaf ears?
According to a new report released by Nielson, the use of the web on mobile devices grew to 56.9 million people in July 2009 which is a 34% increase over July of 2008. So the biggest question becomes, is your site set up to attract any of these users? Or will frustration drive them away?
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were on a “date night” at one of our favorite local hangouts, Buffalo Wild Wings. It was a Thursday night, so all the TVs were tuned in to ESPN’s Thursday night college football game. I can’t recall what teams were playing, but I do remember it being a fairly close game and most of the other customers in the restaurant were fairly into it. With about 4-5 minutes left in the game, I witnessed something that really got me thinking about advertising on and optimizing for mobile devices. For some reason, the satellite feed coming into the restaurant for that channel suddenly went black and all the people watching gasped as the game was almost over. It was then, as if I were watching some sort of synchronized sporting event, at least one person at every table immediately pulled out their cell phone and navigated to a site that would keep them updated on the plays and the score. About 30 seconds later, the satellite feed came back and most of the same people instantly put down their phones while some remained on them. I sat there amazed at what I had just seen. In a small timeframe, approximately 50-60 people, without a second thought, pulled out their phone searching for information. What a great time that would have been to be a scoreboard advertiser on ESPN’s mobile site.
This event really got me thinking about mobile advertising and looking at how many companies had websites that we’re setup to be fully, or at least partial, functional on mobile devices. According to a recent Nielsen Norman Group report, mobile internet users trying to navigate a ‘full site’ on their mobile device only had a 53% chance of completing a task. That’s right, 53%! This task could be looking for information, purchasing a product, signing up for a service, etc. For sites that did have a mobile version, the success rate went up to 64%. This tells us that even though consumers may be able to use a mobile version of the site, it isn’t functional enough for them to do the tasks you are looking to have them do.
With almost 57 million people, and drastically growing, using their mobile devices to access the web, what are you doing to ensure that your current and potential customers are able to complete tasks on your site and increase your conversion rate? Will your success rate be more than 64%?
This is a video that I created as part of my Internet Marketing masters program. For the class Business Storytelling and Brand Development, the assignment was to take a common fable, apply a brand’s story to it, and create some form of media presentation for the story. For this project my group chose Apple, Inc. and the story “The Little Engine That Could”. The edit was done using Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro.
The 2D graphics were purchased from iStockPhoto and then edited for use in the video using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The end goal was to create a moving camera animation on top of the edit, but due to time constraints, this was taken out. In the end, though, we ended up with a great video project for the class that earned us a 100%.
Credits: Susan Glass (www.myplanetstuff.com) – Script, supporting paper, project coordination Brad Lowrey (www.bradlowrey.net) – Editor, Graphic/MGFX creation, VO, Audio Still graphics provided by: iStockPhoto Music and stock book animation provided by: Revostock
As the world progresses more and more towards consumer driven media when it comes to digital marketing (Twitter, review sites, etc.) one of the tough areas to break into is the use of mobile devices. This happens because of a few reasons with one of the largest being that most consumers do not want to be hit with advertising on their cell phones… and I can’t blame them. With the second reason being that businesses just cannot really figure out a way to do it that doesn’t bug customers or makes sense.
When you look at the fact that, according to CTIA 2009 statistics, there are 270 million mobile subscribers in the US, it becomes a very important thing for a digital marketer to figure out how to utilize this to get a company’s message and brand out to targeted consumers. I haven’t seen too many companies using mobile marketing, outside of apps for things like the iPhone, or at least doing it very well. This past weekend, however, I was pleasantly surprised by Best Buy.
My wife and I finally decided to make the leap (its about time) to upgrade my trusty old tube-based television to a flat-screen TV. Being in media, I’ve reasearched these ever since I saw the first one back in college about 7 years ago (which happened to be at a Best Buy and it was on sale for $10,999). So I went into the store knowing exactly what technology I needed to look for and what was good and what was bad. Once there, though, I wished I still had my computer and internet infront of me. The selection came down between two TVs and I was really torn. That’s when I noticed some small print on the price tag.
It is hard to read in this image (my phone is another thing that needs to be replaced), but below the price information it said to send a text message to a specific number to receive detailed specs and reviews. I’m not typically the type to send text messages to random numbers, but a review sounded just like what I needed to make my decision. After sending the text, I received a response back a minute later with the make and model of the television followed by a link. This link took me to a mobile-optimized page on Best Buy’s website with the product information and a listing of all the reviews from the website. I was amazed! The text message also gave instructions to text back HELP if I wanted more information or to talk to a customer service person or STOP to opt out of any other information. It was so easy to use that I pulled down the specs and reviews for a few other televisions. In the end, the decision I made was based not only on the information I came in with but also strongly on the different reviews and detailed specs that were sent to me. It was a complete win-win as I gained the information I needed to make a purchase and Best Buy gained metrics on a customer looking for a television in one of their stores.
This is just one really good example of a company using mobile devices in their marketing/customer service. Has anyone else come across any other good examples? I’d love to hear about them!