Survey: 50% Will Share Personal Info with Retailers for Deals

New survey data from PriceGrabber reaffirm that consumers will share private information -- this survey didn't specifically ask about location -- in exchange for rewards from retailers and e-commerce sellers. The survey was conducted in March among nearly 3,500 US consumers. 

The survey asked about consumers' willingness to share "personal information" online or in-stores: "personal information included age, gender, email, clothing/shoe size, and credit card number among others." Generally shoppers were more inclined to share information online (56%) than in-store though nearly half (48%) said they would do so in the latter context. 

The survey also tested various reward scenarios: price discounts vs. "percent off" choices. Most preferred percent-off to dollars-off or gift card reward options. 

Several other consumer surveys, including one conducted last year by Opus Research, indicate that consumers will share personal data and location information if they get a sufficient reward for doing so. There are numerous others that show consumers remain quite concerned about privacy and data collection. This seeming paradox might be described as consumer sharing ambivalence. 

In addition to discounts and coupons consumers have also indicated a willingness to share personal or location data in exchange for a better or more personalized shopping experience.

Smartphone Penetration in US Crosses 70%

In roughly March 2012 US smartphone ownership crossed the symbolic 50% threshold. In March of this year it reached 70%.

Media measurement firm comScore said that in March 166 million Americans (over age 13) owned smartphones. The firm says that amounts to 68.8% penetration. However historically comScore has made its penetration estimates using a base of 234 million mobile subscribers.

The number of mobile subscribers or smartphone owners hasn't declined in the past couple of years. Indeed, Pew survey data report that 90% of US adults now own mobile phones.

A denominator or base of 234 million smartphone owners divided into a numerator of 166 million translates into 70.9% penetration, not 68.8%. Since Q3 2013 Nielsen hasn't publicly released new smartphone penetration figures to my knowledge. However, in the past, Nielsen's smartphone penetration numbers have been more bullish and aggressive than comScore's figures.

All of this together suggests that US smartphone penetration has crossed the 70% line. It took two years to go from 50% to 70%. It's thus reasonable to assume that by 2016 the figure will be approaching 90%

Google Now Update for Android Shows Indoor Maps, Geofenced Product Alerts

Google is updating its search app for Android devices. As part of that update Google Now, its predictive search/intelligent assistant feature, is offering new content and capabilities. These new features do not yet extend to Google Search/Now on iOS devices. 

The feature that got considerable coverage earlier today is a parking-locator card. Google records the location of your vehicle on the street or in a parking lot. It will show you a Google Now card with a map of the vehicle's location and point you in the right direction to get back to your car. 

I haven't used it so I don't know if it works at all. But it's potentially very useful.

Google Now will also now work when your wireless network or internet connection doesn't. In other words, the Now cards will remain on the phone and not disappear.

Google Now new features

Source: Google 

Of particular relevance to our discussion of Place-based marketing, Google Now will also show indoor maps of selected malls. I suspect later it will show indoor maps of stores that it has already captured. Google has maps of roughly 50 malls and a number of retail chains such as Home Dept, Macy's, Sports Authority, Ikea and others. Coverage is uneven however. 

Most intriguing of all, Google Now will remind users about products they've searched for previously when those users are near stores that carry the same items. If you've been looking for a particular type of running shoe, for example, and a nearby store typically carries that product Google Now will indicate you're near a store that offers it. 

This capability doesn't extend to real-time inventory however. That's up to the user to check or confirm.

In addition, it's not clear how large the geofence is. Will it be a mile, 3, miles, 5 miles? I suspect Google will see how users interact with this feature and adjust the geofence radius accordingly.

In a very obvious way this "product-alert" capability could quickly become a feature of Google's PLAs and a potentially powerful marketing vehicle for retailers and brands. Today users must themselves invoke Google Now (swipe up). To be really effective and helpful, however, Google Needs to turn some of these things into push notifications. 

It's very interesting that three out of four of these new features and capabilities pertain to location and two specifically to shopping and indoor location. 

PayPal Tries to Solidify Market Position As Competitors Ready

Yesterday's Facebook developer conference didn't yield a payments announcement.) It's still a logical move for the company to make.) However it did see the introduction of a new logo/identity and the launch of a new branding campaign for payments incumbent PayPal.

PayPal is probably still the growth engine among a range of decent-performing but somewhat lackluster businesses at eBay. Here's the data from the Q1 earnings release:

PayPal net total payment volume grew 27% with Merchant Services volume up 32% and on-eBay volume up 15%. Revenue grew to $1.8 billion. PayPal gained 5.8 million new active registered accounts to end the quarter at 148 million, up 16%. Global on-eBay penetration increased to 78.9%. PayPal continued to invest in its credit offerings, providing flexibility for consumers and merchants while improving its ability to manage transaction expense and reinvest in the business to accelerate growth.

PayPal may soon face a range of mobile payments competitors in Facebook, Amazon and Apple. Google failed to vanquish the online payments incumbent with Google Wallet but it bet on the wrong strategy (NFC). The PayPal brand is not as strong as some think (perhaps even the company itself). It has name recognition but relatively weak brand affinity among consumers. 

There are some surveys that suggest PayPal is a highly trusted consumer brand and in a stronger position vis-a-vis its rivals and potential rivals. I belive that's mostly about name recognition and not actually about trust. I also think that PayPal (on the consumer side) is extremely vulnerable to "disruption" should a well-designed Apple or Amazon (or potentially Facebook) payments product come along. 

Below are the installed user-base numbers for the three companies: 

  • PayPal: 150 million approx
  • Apple: 600 million
  • Amazon: 240 million approx 

Against that backdrop PayPal introduced a new brand identity and is launching a global branding campaign featuring TV and online-video. The theme of the ad below is simplicity and convenience. 

The campaign and global push may well shore up PayPal's position by making it the most familiar non-bank/credit card associated with payments. Indeed, there's an opportunity for PayPal to more firmly establish itself as the online and mobile payments product of choice.

It will still need to improve the user experience (e.g., stop defaulting to user bank accounts as the primary payment method), crack down on PayPal related fraud and phishing (if it can) and be generally more consumer-centric and service oriented rather than simply an alternative way to pay to avoid filling out a form. 

Facebook Announces 'FAN' Mobile Ad Network at Developer Event

This morning at its developer conference in San Francisco Facebook is expected to make two significant mobile announcements. First it will announce what it's calling "Facebook Audience Network," a mobile ad network that will leverage Facebook data for ad targeting in third party developer apps. 

Facebook has been working on and refining this since 2012 and the formal announcement is expected today. This will instantly make Facebook a major mobile ad network and primary rival to Google in the mobile ad space. It may also foreshadow a broader introduction of an AdSense-like display network for the PC too. 

The other expected major announcement is a payments API. This will streamline the user payment experience (form filling) in third party commerce apps. It will also lead to more user/conversion data for Facebook. 

As the mobile payments battle heats up Facebook could quickly become tier-one player, along with PayPal, Apple, Amazon and Google. The open question is whether consumer-users will trust Facebook with their payments and credit card information. Many already do.

Both of these opportunities are natural, logical and very large for Facebook.

In its recent Q1 earnings report Facebook said that it had 609 million mobile daily active users and total mobile users of 1.01 billion. Mobile ad revenue represented approximately 59% of ad revenues for the first quarter of 2014, up from approximately 30% in the first quarter of 2013.

Update: The Facebook Audience Network mobile ad network was announced but not the payments API (so far). 

Report Benchmarks Mobile Video Ad Success

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) today released its first "Mobile Video Benchmark Study." The study looked at different categories of video ads through the lens of multiple variables: engagement, duration, OS and day part. CTRs were used as a proxy for engagement. 

A number networks and video technology platforms were involved: AdColony, BrightRoll, Brightcove, Hulu, Tremor Video and Videology. There were three types of video ads examined: linear, interstitial and "value exchange." 

Linear ads are essentially pre- and post- roll video advertising. Interstitial video ads are those that run during programming or content, and value exchange are ads that are user initiated for some reward or benefit. 

The study also evaluated the impact of engagement when ads were "skippable" vs. not-skippable. In total there were more than 500 million ad impressions tracked across mobile web and apps, on phones (by OS) and tablets. 

At the highest level the study found:

  • More than 75% of all advertising occurred in-app (vs. mobile web), the majority on phones (vs. tablets)
  • iOS activity accounted for more than 80% of ad volume
  • Skippable ads comprised a third of all ad impressions
  • Engagement for skippable video advertising is strong despite the skipping option
  • CTRs dropped for ads greater than 30 seconds
  • Mobile video ad performance, like other forms of advertising, declines with too much ad frequency

Value exchange ads generated the highest CTRs (2.7%), followed by non-skippable linear video (2.3%). Although skip rates are high, completion rates were also very high for those who did not skip ads. Ad completion rates were highest in the morning and late evening but flat throughout the day. 

Between 6 and 10 showings generated the highest CTRs (1.5%). After 10 showings of the ad CTRs declined. Finally ads between 15 and 30 seconds generated the highest CTRs. 

Video is going to be a major mobile ad format. The reason is that brand marketers don't need to generate separate creatives; and mobile users are already consuming huge amounts of video content on their devices. There's a natural fit. 

While rich media/video ads are just a small percentage of mobile advertising today I anticipate that will grow dramatically in the next two years. 

W Union Sqaure - New York to Host Place Conference 2014

Place 2014 -- the only conference bringing together indoor location, offline analytics and advanced mobile ad targeting in a single event -- will be held at the W Union Square - New York City on July 22, 2014.

Executives from Google, retailer Alex & Ani, MEC North America, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Factual, SK Telecom, IndoorAtlas, Thinknear, Sonic Notify, and Aisle411 will join a growing list of speakers to present case studies and explore how mobile marketing, offline tracking and indoor location will change the future of digital marketing and brand advertising,

Place 2014 will bring together the entire spectrum of companies building the indoor marketing ecosystem -- retailers, technology vendors, mobile developers, data providers, advertisers, agencies, and investors -- for the only event of its kind anywhere.

Please note New York City is hosting multiple citywide events in July 2014 and hotel rooms are expected to be scarce. Rooms held at the special Place 2014 rate are expected to sell out. Be sure to book your room now. And don't miss your chance at early-bird pricing ($499) -- Offer ends May 15th

Opus Research Report: "A Marketer’s Guide to iBeacons"

picture

Precis

IndoorReport_cover

Beacons (including Apple’s iBeacon) utilize short-range communication technology intended to improve the in-store consumer experience and market to smartphone owners on premises. While beacons are just one among several indoor location technologies, they’re cheap and easy to deploy so many retailers, museums, malls and venue owners are running tests or are in the early stages of larger rollouts. This report takes a look at beacon technology, current deployments and the opportunities for in-store marketing.

To see a preview of “A Marketer’s Guide to iBeacons,” an Opus Research report authored by Senior Analyst Greg Sterling, click here

Featured Research is available to registered users only.

For more information on becoming an I2G client, please contact Pete Headrick (pheadrick@opusresearch.net).


Survey: Nearly 90% Use Smartphones in Retail Stores to Make Buying Decisions

New smartphone user survey data from Thrive Analytics and the Local Search Association (LSA) reinforce the now well-established idea that consumers will share location information in exchange for tangible rewards. We've seen this in our own survey work as well as that of other third parties (e.g., Swirl, OpinionLab). 

The LSA study involved just over 1,000 US smartphone users. It was conducted in January.   

Strinkingly the survey found that 97% of Gen Y, 91% of Gen X and 81% of "young Boomers" (under 53) used their smartphones at least sometimes while shopping in stores. Comparing prices and accessing coupons were the top two reasons.  

Large majorities of each demographic segement (85%+) said that using smartphones in stores makes them smarter shoppers and helps them make buying decisions accordingly. The top four apps used in stores were "mobile search," Amazon, Facebook (among younger users) and a barcode scanner such as RedLaser (eBay).  

The top three motivations (in order) given for being willing to share location with retailers were the following:

  1. To gain loyalty points or rewards
  2. To receive an offer or deal
  3. To receive exclusive or personalized content

 

Cortana Reportedly Closes 'Assistant Gap' with Siri, Google

Windows Phone OS 8.1 has received some early favorable reviews. One of the standout features is Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana

Two early side-by-side comparisons of Cortana with Siri and Google's Voice Search/Now contend (and demonstrate) that the Microsoft assistant achieved comparable performance: 

It thus appears that Microsoft has taken away Siri or Google's assistant capabilities as competitive differentiators vs. Windows Phone. Indeed in the Gizmodo test Siri lagged in a few cases.

Neither review says that Cortana has exceeded the other assistants at this point. But the fact that Microsoft is out of the gate with a comparable capability is impressive. The only major thing that now stands in Windows Phone's way is its more limited app selection. 

Let's hope that Cortana now puts pressure on Apple to further upgrade Siri. Since its dramatic introduction nearly four years ago Siri has not lived up to its potential, though it has continued to improve incrementally. 

Google Voice Search performs adequately. It's speech recognition for dictation is consistently not as good as Apple's (Nuance's). Google Now's "anticipatory search" and related features are much more interesting. However Google Now also hasn't evolved significantly in the past 12 to 18 months.