The latest Millennial Media SMART report shows growth of location targeting among retailers and brands. Among other data presented in the October report, Millennial said that retailers and telecom advertisers (e.g., AT&T, Verizon) used store locators on landing pages to drive people into local outlets:
Store Locator experienced growth of 5% month-over-month, with 23% of the Post-Click Campaign Action Mix in October (Chart C). Retail and Telecom advertisers increased their usage of Store Locator as a Post-Click Campaign Action to drive customers to stores for fall sales or to buy new mobile devices.
The use of the store locator on a mobile landing page will be the primary way that brand and national advertisers "localize" for the foreseeable future. This is in contrast to the use of dynamic creative that inserts locations into the ad copy itself. Google mobile search results will be (and are already) an exception.
According to Millennial, "local market targeting" was the dominant component (66%) of the company's "Targeted Audience Mix" (40% of its overall campaigns). However, very interestingly, the use of targeting on Millennial's network has actually declined from six months ago.
In April 48% of campaigns were targeted (vs. 40% in October). Of those, 56% of impressions served by Millennial were directed toward local markets.
In absolute terms, then, the amount of locally targeted impressions being served by Millennial in April and October was almost identical. So while there's growth on a percentage basis, which is significant, overall local targeting in real terms remained flat.
The fact that fewer campaigns on Millennial are targeted overall makes me wonder whether that money, especially locally oriented ad dollars, are fleeing to other networks.
Google Maps are on both the iPhone and Android smartphones -- but they're increasingly very different products. Today Google added the beginnings of extensive interior mapping to the new version of Google Maps for Android. It provides floor plans for a number of shopping malls and retail stores in the US such as Home Depot, Macy's and IKEA. It also provides maps for quite a few major airports.
Google has said this is just the beginning of an ambitious project to map interior spaces. It complements Google's effort to bring interior business photography online. For the time being the new floor plan maps are only available for mobile devices, and only for Android.
I recently switched from an Android EVO to an iPhone 4S as my primary phone. The screen is smaller and there's no Google Navigation; however overall the experience is superior. I do however miss the Google Navigation, although there are many navigation apps for the iPhone.
Google knows that Maps (including Navigation and related content) is a key differentiator for Android vs. the iPhone. That's why it has never allowed Navigation on the iPhone and why it's in no rush to bring interior maps to the rival platform. Google might incorporate interior floor plans into an HTML5 version of Google Maps, in which case it would appear via the mobile Web. However it would have far less functionality than the version that's rolling out for Android Maps 6.0.
Apple has been building up mapping assets suggestive of a total replacement for Google. But so far we haven't seen a product. If or when Apple's mapping offering appears it will need to be pretty sophisticated to satisfy users and compete with Google Maps.
Tomorrow at 1 US Eastern, 10 Pacific is our free webinar: The Convergence of Local and Mobile Marketing. I'll be providing a broad market overview on the following issues:
AT&T Interactive’s Executive Director of Product Management Matthew Goldman will offer their view of the mobile market "on the ground." What are consumers really doing in mobile and what are they looking for? How are they responding to mobile ads? And, beyond surveys, is there truly demand among SMBs for mobile marketing? If so, where is that demand concentrated?
We'll also take questions from the audience on these and related issues. If you're operating in the local-mobile segment or selling to small business advertisers you won't want to miss it.
To attend you must first register here.
Millennial Media has released its latest SMART report, which offers data about the campaigns running on its network. This edition has case studies and more data than most.
I zeroed in on a statistic that has also been reported in several other articles: location targeting increased by 50% quarter-over-quarter. Among campaigns on Millennial's network using any form of targeting, local targeting (which is at the city level) represented 66% percent of 45% of campaigns employing any form of targeting.
I took a look back at a previous report covering July 2011 and discovered that 44% of campaigns were then targeted and 67% of those campaigns used what Millennial calls "Local Market Targeting." So the 50% growth figure doesn't entirely make sense to me. But I'm glad to see more advertisers recognizing the value of location targeting.
Millennial highlights, among others, a Benjamin Moore paint campaign that sought to drive consumers into retail stores with a special offer. According to Millennial, "the campaign drove a consumer engagement rate that is more than double the network’s average for home furnishings and produced unique analytics for Benjamin Moore on consumer behavior around couponing."
Millennial also touted "triple-digit growth" across a range of verticals. Clearly we're in a hyper-growth period for mobile. In addition, Millennial announced earlier this week that they were expanding their operations to the Asian market.
Search marketing firm Efficient Frontier released a mobile search report yesterday in conjunction with investment firm Macquarie Capital. The report presents a number of findings gleaned from actual campaigns and not simply survey data. However it does extrapolate and project what the US mobile search market is likely to be worth next year -- based on its clients' spending patterns and the rapidly increasing demand for mobile campaigns.
Accordingly Efficient Frontier says it expects mobile paid search to be worth between 16% and 22% of the overall US search market by the end of next year (2012). I've done some quick math (in my related post on Search Engine Land) and determined, roughly speaking, this represents a range of $2.7 to $3.7 billion -- in the US alone.
Efficient Frontier points out that Google captures slightly more than 96% of its clients' mobile search budgets. Google itself has said that it has a $2.5 billion run rate (including display) on a global basis.
Efficient Frontier reported that mobile phone and tablet click-through rates for its advertisers are higher than for its desktop search campaigns, "at 166% and 137%, respectively, of CTRs in desktop search."
One of the surprises in the document was the percentage of clicks and and spending that were tied to tablets: 43% of the mobile search spend and 50% of the clicks.
In written testimony submitted to the US Senate Judiciary committee on antitrust, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt identified Apple's voice assistant Siri as a competitor in mobile search:
Moreover, history shows that popular technology is often supplanted by entirely new models. Even in the few weeks since the hearing, Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S. As one respected technology site reported: “[E]veryone keeps insisting that Apple will eventually get into the search engine business. Well they have. But not in the way that everyone was thinking. Siri is their entry point.” Another commentator has described Siri more simply as intended to be a “Google killer."
The hyperbolic "Google killer" designation is invoked by Schmidt to show that Google is beset by competition on all sides. I've written previously that Siri may actually increase the number of Google searches coming from the iPhone, as people discover they can "search the Web for . . ." Siri can also be used to search Bing or Yahoo, though most people continue to have Google as their "default" search provider on the iPhone.
In the short term Siri doesn't to anything to degrade Google search query volumes. As I said it may increase them. Over time, as apps become integrated into Siri, people may use it as a tool to access their favorite vertical search or content providers for local, travel, health, weather and so on. In such a scenario (which is how the original Siri app was set up and intended to be used), Google could see less traffic. However that's speculative at this point.
The way that Siri "harms" Google today is by making itself and not Google the starting point for mobile search and discovery on the iPhone. It hasn't become that for most users but it could in short order. Siri sits "on top" of Google (or Bing) just as Google sits on top of third party sites and content on the PC.
In that way Siri supplants the Google brand and becomes the "go to" source for information for iPhone 4S owners. This is the way that Siri really damages Google, at least in the near term. It potentially does to Google what Google has done to so many third party content providers online.
I don't actually think that Siri is Steve Jobs' revenge -- he famously threatened to spend all Apple's cash reserves to destroy Android -- I just wrote that to get attention.
QR codes are proliferating yet it's not clear that consumers are "getting it." ScanLife, it is Q3 trends report, says that 2D or QR barcode scanning is growing dramatically:
However US and UK consumer surveys indicate that most consumers don't know what a QR code is and only between 6% and 11% have ever scanned one (in the UK it appears to be 19%). According to comScore data, QR code scanners are mainly men and younger people (18-34) vs. other market segments.
Somewhat strangely, QR codes seem to polarize marketers. There are some very vocal and aggressive QR code detractors that consider the technology a failure. And many see QR codes as some sort of interim step before NFC technology become mass market.
In a parallel vein there's augmented reality ("AR"), which is a "cool technology" chasing a mass market use case. AR continues to be more of a novelty than something really useful to consumers -- or marketers. But it has potential in many non-commercial and commercial situations.
Then there's NFC, which has been written about extensively in connection with the launch of Google Wallet and mobile payments. Beyond payments, NFC is also a marketing tool and can deliver content and marketing messages to a handset with a simple touch of the device on an NFC-enabled surface or receiver. Given that very close proximity is required to invoke NFC it's not a substitute in all situations for AR or QR codes, which can both work from a distance.
A category that will likely subsume and incorporate all these technologies and tools is "visual search." Exemplified by Google Goggles or Amazon's new "Flow" app, it simply asks consumers to position the handset/camera over or in front of an object and then delivers information: reviews, prices, nearby stores, additional content and so on.
The notion of "visual search" is conceptually simpler and much more consumer friendly than "Augmented Reality," "QR codes" or "NFC." For that reason I believe that visual search will become the metaphor or category name for a range of approaches and technologies that are collectively about getting information or content (whether commercial or non-commercial) into the handset through the smartphone lens.
NFC, AR and QR Codes all wear their complexity on their proverbial sleeves, while the term "visual search" buries the technological complexity behind a very descriptive and easy to understand concept.
Mobile marketing platform HipCricket recently released findings from its annual online survey of mobile users. The US-based survey was conducted earlier this month and had 607 responses. There are a number of issues and areas explored. I've pulled out a couple of slides tied to mobile loyalty and location-based offers.
One third of respondents expressed interest in participating in a mobile loyalty program operated by a "trusted brand" (key phrase).
Yet a relatively small number of people had ever participated in such a mobile loyalty program, indicating an opportunity for brands and retailers.
Another piece of interesting data, confirmed by other surveys (especially JiWire) reflects growing openness or demand for time and location-based offers:
My "takeaway" is: use contextually relevant offers to enroll mobile consumers in loyalty programs and then engage/retain them with push notifications either via SMS and/or branded apps.
There are now a range of companies working on connecting online activity and ads with action at the POS using mobile devices. NFC-enabled mobile payments is just one of many initiatives going on. For example, Shopkick just announced a deal with Giant Eagle supermarkets that connects the mobile app with Giant Eagle loyalty accounts:
Shopkick's first partnership with a supermarket, and more importantly, co-founder and chief marketing officer Jeff Sellinger said that it allows the startup to "close the loop." Now, by tying user accounts to Giant Eagle loyalty cards, Shopkick will have data on what users actually purchase. That means brands can offer rewards not just for scanning products, but for buying them too.
Google Wallet just expanded its features, as well as the roster of participating stores and merchants. Now with a "single tap" Google Wallet users can pay, redeem coupons and get loyalty points. Currently Google doesn't see the transaction value or other details in the way that Shopkick and Giant Eagle will through their arrangement. But eventually Google will probably get access to more data and make that available to marketers.
Deal vendor Bloomspot has a system that uses registered credit cards to close the loop with daily deal buyers and determine whether they spent more than the face value of the deal in restaurants and stores. Placecast is working on something that matches offers and in-store transactions through credit card accounts. LSN Mobile has a relationship with First Data.
There are several other such examples I could use to illustrate what is a growing and very important trend.
Mobile devices will allow marketers to see who showed up in stores and, in the very near future, what they bought and how much they spent. There are some significant privacy issues and implications of all this and I don't want to dismiss or minimize them. However the effort to track the influence of ads and offers from online (or traditional media) to the point of sale is a trend that is starting to gain momentum.
We're not that far away from a time when agencies and marketers will have considerably more visibility into what online ads drove what in-store purchases, as well as user profiles based on purchase behavior and response to ads. This data has been collected for years in the offline world but now, through mobile devices, online marketers are going to get some new visibility on the dominant online-offline shopping paradigm.
Remember that e-commerce is only about 5% to total US retail but the Internet influences billions of dollars in offline transactions. Accordingly the growing visibility that marketers will have in just a few years about who responded to ads and what they spent will have a profound impact on the future sophistication and tactics of "online marketing."
The race is on to build critical mass around a "recommendation engine" for local search on mobile devices. A range of mobile apps such as Bizzy (owned by ReachLocal), Where (owned by eBay), Alfred (a new app from Clever Sense) and Foursquare, among others, are trying to create viable and fun alternatives to plain-vanilla mobile search. These apps leverage location, social data, favorites and past behavior to offer a broader and potentially more compelling experience than pure "local search."
Along those lines, Foursquare introduced a new notifications feature called "radar" yesterday. It builds upon Foursquare's previously introduced lists capability and it lets users know when they're nearby a business, place or activity on one of their lists.
Here's what Foursquare said yesterday about Radar on its blog:
Now, if you follow a list, like the 101 Best Dishes of 2011, foursquare will let you know when you’re next to one. Or you save that yoga studio to your To-Do List (because you really want to try it); we can remind you when you’re close. Or, better yet, if you’re driving home and three of your friends are getting together nearby, we’ll tell you so you can meet up. The app doesn’t even have to be open, it just works. We call it foursquare Radar, because it finds things nearby that you normally wouldn’t know about.
Radar is an opt-in feature that will send a nearby notification regardless of whether the app is open. ReachLocal's Bizzy has a similar capability with its "try lists," letting users know when they're near a place they previously selected as a "try." By contrast, Where and Alfred take a less "human" and more algorithmic approach to local discovery.
Where.com created what it called a "place graph" to match physical places according to selected criteria, which then form the basis of later recommendations to users. Clever Sense's app Alfred essentially does the same thing. Its technology assigns or "maps" physical places to one another based on styles, characteristics and attributes in the same way that Pandora does for music.
All of these apps are broadly trying to accomplish the same type of thing: enabling users to discover places without having to search for them -- or remember them. These discovery apps won't entirely replace search however. And multiple categories of local apps will probably co-exist over time: search, review apps (e.g., Yelp) and apps falling into this other category (discovery).
Foursquare has evolved from a relatively narrow app built around game mechanics to a much more helpful tool that has many more use cases for consumers and increasingly for marketers. Indeed, with its 10 million-plus users, Foursquare increasingly is in the strongest position of the apps mentioned to fulfill the emerging role of local-mobile discovery platform.
Prosper Mobile Insights released data from a recent US consumer survey (n=348 smartphone and iPad owners), conducted last month. The survey questions ask a range of things about mobile usage and mobile subscriber attitudes. Below I highlight a few coupon-related findings from the survey.
Q: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about location-based coupons on your mobile device?:
They are very convenient and useful
Those that fall into the "Somewhat/Strongly Agree" category equal 67% or 2/3 of respondents. These data simply confirm many other survey findings that have found consumers are interested in mobile coupons.
Interestingly marketing newsletter MarketingVox focused on the 18% (below) who said they didn't want coupons on their mobile devices, using the contrarian headline: "1 in 5 Mobile Users Don’t Want Coupons."
Q: How would you prefer to receive coupons on your smartphone or tablet? (Check all that apply)
One could group responses in the slide above generally into two categories: push and pull. Any category that requires "affirmative action" on the part of the consumer (e.g., search, QR code scanning) would fall into the "pull" category. Push categories would include email, SMS, geofencing ("automatically when I am near a store").
Social media check-in is more ambiguous but probably falls into the push category more than pull. Here the user is being presented with an offer as incentive to come to a location/store or is being shown an offer after checking in (e.g., "nearby offers").
Respondents were allowed to "check all that apply," so the numbers exceed 100%. Basically these responsdents appear to be saying they want to access coupons in multiple ways, actively and passively.
Using the percentages as points here's how the push vs. pull preferences broke down:
Even as many people are interested in searching for deals -- which is about inventory, relevance and control -- they're more interested in getting deals presented to them. Email was the preferred method of receiving deals information. This may be more about familiarity than anything else.
I am concerned about security issues and my location being tracked
Those who expressed moderate or strong concern about location tracking constituted 44.8% of respondents. This is generally consistent with other survey findings. For example, in Q2 WiFi ad network JiWire found that "53% of all respondents are willing to share location information in exchange for relevant content." That means 47% had concerns about location awareness or tracking.
Accordingly nearly half of the mobile users popular has some ambivalence or concern about giving up location information.
The iPhone launch is over: it was a 4S and not 5. An iPhone 5 is lurking but won't be released for an uncertain period of time. You can read coverage of the Apple event until you're blue in the face here. Post-game analysis starts now.
Basically the device is a much upgraded version of iPhone 4: it's faster, has a better camera and works on CDMA or GSM networks. In other words you can take it anywhere and it will work. It doesn't have a larger screen and won't work on 4G networks. Those things are probably being reserved for the iPhone 5.
Most intriguing today was the announcement of the Siri voice assistant. It's Siri, which was bought by Apple in April of last year, but more polished and integrated into the operating system. My colleague Dan Miller will have more to say about it, but it will perform a broad array of functions, including search and local search.
This will be the most prominent use of speech on a mobile device. The speech front end is powered by Nuance. The Siri part is the intelligence inside that knows how to answer or route a query or what app to invoke. It has a "beta" label attached, however. Apple apparently doesn't feel totally confident about how it will work, although it has got to be very polished at this point.
Intel announced that it was buying mapping, navigation and LBS content provider Telmap. Telmap provides mapping and local search content to Orange, Vodafone, Vodacom, Telefonica-O2 among others. The company is very much like TeleNav in the US or deCarta.
Here's Intel's statement about the acquisition:
This move is a step towards expanding our mobile software services capabilities as Intel continues to grow in the area of software and services. We are all very excited to have such knowledgeable and respected experts join the company.
From a consumer perspective, Telmap helps bring to life our vision for integrated, uniform experiences across consumer devices. Telmap has a tremendous amount of expertise around end-to-end mobile local search, mapping and navigation services . . . with Telmap we can directly provide developers with location-based services spanning devices, operating systems and CPU architectures . . .
Through APIs Intel wants to provide tools and content to developers to build location-based apps:
Telmap will allow us to provide AppUp developers with great, differentiated location capabilities in the form of a standard set of location-based APIs and software that developers can easily integrate into their AppUp apps.
These apps will ultimately be sold through the Intel AppUp store -- which currently has almost no consumer visibility and will struggle to compete with larger and more prominent apps distributors such as iTunes, Android Market and Amazon.
Placecast announced today the availability of ShopAlerts push notifications for retailer mobile apps. Previously Placecast ShopAlerts enabled geographically relevant SMS or MMS messages after a consumer opt-in. This new announcement means that geofenced alerts can be integrated into existing retailer apps to boost the effectiveness of those apps.
In the conventional scenario, users need to launch a retailer app and affirmatively search or browse for content. The new program enables consumers to receive LBS alerts that use promotional messages to direct consumers to the nearest local store or outlet, once inside the geofenced area. It's not clear whether the app-based ShopAlerts would require explicit consent to LBS notifications. (On the iPhone notifications require acceptance in general.) Best practices suggest at least a disclosure if not an opt-in.
Push notifications aren't new but this combination of app + alerts could prove effective for retailers and help boost app usage. Examples of companies already working with Placecast ShopAlerts include North Face, Subway, Kohl’s, Kmart, Starbucks and JetBlue, among several others.
The efficacy of geofenced ShopAlerts has been demonstrated in the UK with O2 and in various tests and trials in the US.
Related Placecast posts:
As I wrote in a post at Search Engine Land, we don't know yet whether QR codes are here to stay or whether they’re an interesting experiment on the way to something else, such as NFC-based marketing. But in the near term at least they appear to be gaining and increasingly used by publishers and marketers.
Comscore has come out with some interesting new data on usage patterns. Demographically the heaviest users of QR code scanning are 18-34 year old males who make more than 100,000 per year. Most scanning is done in the home (newspapers, magazines) or in retail or grocery stores.
Several years ago I wrote a white paper about the virtues of SMS based marketing that argued SMS was a highly versatile tool that could be utilized in many ways: on traditional ads, in digital ads, on product packaging and so on. I also argued at the time that consumer response to SMS calls to action also provided compelling analytics for traditional media.
That's exactly the way that QR codes are now positioned. Accordingly they'll probably replace SMS in some contexts as a mobile marketing tool -- if QR codes survive. But QR codes don't really do CRM loyalty marketing as well as SMS.
A press release based on research from Upstream (conducted by Luth Research) carries the following headline: "Personalized Messages Four Times More Effective than Time-, Lifestyle- or Location-Based Offers . . ." This came to me in an email last night.
The headline and the presentation of the data in the release are somewhat misleading, however. And with so many companies releasing data for PR reasons (and the market awash in numbers) no one should rely on a single piece of data or single study. There are some interesting findings however.
The Upstream study involved a consumer survey of just over 2,000 US adults (both smartphone and feature phone users); there's no behavioral data here. Below is the hierarchy of ad preferences based on the categories in the survey:
Users ranked personalized offers at 59 percent over those focused on timing (18 percent), lifestyle (16 percent) or location (8 percent). Smartphone users responded in similar fashion, with 60 percent preferring personalized offers over promotions based on timing (17 percent), lifestyle (10 percent) or location (14 percent).
This stands for the idea that personalization trumps dayparting, lifestyle and location. Lifestyle is a vague concept that seems less relevant than "my tastes and interests." Indeed, this phrase implies greater relevance than these other aided-response categories. The verbatim question is: "In your mind what constitutes the best basis for an offer to be relevant to you?"
Location by itself doesn't mean an offer or ad is relevant, neither does timing. Timing and location are "hollow" in the above list. An ad directed ad people in San Francisco may or may not have any application to my situation. However an ad or offer that has to do with "my tastes and interests" may require location to be relevant and actionable. I can't attend a movie premiere or retail sale happening in another city.
Timing is also an important variable. A discount offer for a restaurant or bar may be more or less relevant depending on time of day and/or day of week.
The larger point is: multiple variables help make ads more actionable and relevant. And most transactions are conducted or fulfilled offline, so location becomes a way to lead people to a transaction unless it's a pure ecommerce event.
An ad for a new product -- a sound system for example -- needs to show me where I can hear, see and possibly buy the product (location) to make it more than simply a less-than-optimal awareness ad. An ad for a holiday retail sale on my phone is going to be a lot more effective if it comes with a store locator vs. taking me to a crappy mobile shopping experience on my handset.
Some of the other data among the findings reveal that consumers often assume offline action or local fulfillment. For example, smartphone owners valued the following categories as those they were most interested in (re ads/offers):
So when we "peel back the onion" on the data, what we see is that people want relevant ads and offers but that location is very much in the background or an assumed feature of the offer.
Perhaps the most interesting and significant data form the survey concerns the most desired marketing "channel" or ad delivery mechanism. The survey question asks, "Which of the following channels for delivering ads to your mobile phone about a product/service would make you more likely to learn more about or purchase the product/service?"
Among smartphone owners the top responses were the following:
Amazingly smartphone users were more interested in SMS marketing messages than feature phone users.
The big conclusion I draw from the data above is that mobile users are interested in saving money (coupons) and essentially want control over the marketing messages they receive (opt-in SMS, or email). Thus these types of ads are likely to be most effective. However, again, the survey is measuring attitudes and not behavior.
Ad network Jumptap released its latest "MobileSTAT" data dive for July. This month's newsletter focuses on Android but also contains general metrics from the Jumptap network. There's a link to a write up of the June data at the bottom of this post.
In the latest issue of its newsletter Jumptap has created a map that shows where Android, iOS and RIM handsets "overindex" by state. This aspect of the report is getting lots of coverage. However the data are little more than a curiosity with few practical or actionable implications. These data may also not actually reflect the sales distribution of the various OS handsets because the Jumptap network is not necessarily representative of the mobile Internet as a whole or used equally by a representative group of mobile subscribers.
More interesting are the other metrics in the report. For example, Jumptap showcases Android handset CTRs by device type and by carrier. CTRs for Android devices are generally consistent across carriers (averaging about 20%). But there appears to be wide variability in display ad CTRs according to handset type. There's no satisfactory explanation offered for the variation in CTR performance by handset.
Jumptap says the following about why Android SonyEricsson handset owners generate the highest CTRs:
We speculate Sony’s relatively high CTR is due to their positioning as a premium brand, but don’t rule out the role that usability, hardware and interface may have.
By contrast I would speculate that LG and SonyEricsson handset owners are late Android adopters, while HTC and Motorola handset owners are earlier adopters and so less inclined to click on ads than Android neophytes.
The following is Jumptap's CTR chart by age, showing that those between 55 and 75 click the most.
Compare the data from June:
These data are likely impacted by a higher number of "unintended clicks" and/or lower mobile sophistication levels in these older age groups.
Jumptap also said that 61% of the campaigns on its network are targeted in some way (vs. 49% in June). The chart below shows the breakdown of targeting methods. Note that "location" is only used by about 18% of advertisers using any form of targeting.
Finally most advertisers on Jumptap's network appear to be sending people to mobile websites or landing pages. Jumptap speculates that this reflects growth in the number of mobile websites. It's a safe bet however that the entire "click to Web" group is not sending users to optimized mobile sites or landing pages.
A substantial number of these "click to Web" mobile marketers may be unsophisticated, however, and simply sending users to their PC sites -- incorrectly assuming that the smartphone browser does a good job rendering them.
The general assumption was that apps were transitional and would eventually give way to HTML5 and the mobile Web. So far that doesn't appear to be happening. And in some ways, the opposite is happening.
More time is now spent with apps than on the mobile Web and there's a movement toward apps, at the expense of the mobile browser to some degree. The latest evidence of this can be found in the mobile mapping category. Last week comScore released data on mobile map usage.
Interestingly -- and not surprisingly -- mobile map-app usage seems to be eating into PC-based map usage. ComScore found a 2% decrease in PC map usage vs. a year ago, though the PC maps audience is slightly less than double the size of the mobile maps audience.
Also not surprisingly, most mobile mapping usage happens in the car. This has also been true of 411/directory assistance.
Mapping apps that provide turn-by-turn navigation are most popular in the category.
ComScore estimated the number of smartphone map users ("4 out of every 5 mobile map users") at 38.2 million in May. This almost certainly under-counts the number of mobile mapping users by roughly 10 million people (using a figure of 38% smartphone penetration on a base of 250 million mobile users). Mapping is consistently one of the most used categories of applications.
Placecast has introduced a self-service version of its SMS and MMS ShopAlerts marketing platform. The platform enables template-driven campaign creation, with extensive control over the radius of geofenced areas as well as the time and dates of message delivery.
This means that any merchant, franchisee or small businesses could potentially utilize the Placecast platform to deliver geographic-based push messages and promotions to opt-in consumers. It's going to be challenging for small businesses as a practical matter. But it's particularly well-suited to franchise businesses and can handle multiple locations with ease. Distribution is up to the business or entity, which would need to capture the opt-ins (similar to follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook).
Messages or promotions can be built around deals and offers but don't have to be; there are many other types of content that can populate these messages.
Placecast works with O2 in the UK and AT&T in the US, as well as individual retailers. The O2 program has seen great success in the UK; the AT&T program is still in very early stages. Unless carriers are going to buy ad networks, the ShopAlerts/O2program is the model for carrier-based advertising -- although it's not apparent that the carriers see that clearly.
The original beta version of the ShopAlerts program, tested with selected retailers in the US in late 2009 and early 2010, yielded impressive results:
Agencies and companies often neglect SMS as a marketing medium and CRM tool. Even with smartphone penetration nearing 40% in the US that still means that 60% of users don't have them. SMS penetration and usage are nearly 100%.
Related posts on Placecast:
UK carrier O2 (owned by Spain's Telefonica) is seeing great success with its opt-in SMS marketing program O2 More. The location-based service is powered by Placecast, which also supports a similar but more nascent program in the US for AT&T. (It's not clear how much promotional effort AT&T is putting behind it.)
O2 not long ago announced it had more than two million subscribers for More. Consumers sign up for the O2 program, specifiy interest categories and recieve no more than a single text per day. The program sees very low churn.
Earlier this month the UK carrier touted the success of a More campaign for gym Fitness First:
Fitness First targeted O2 customers with location-based messages offering a free two-day pass and details of the nearest club. This resulted over 1,100 recipients signing up as new members of Fitness First on four month and 12 month contracts.
With average membership costing just under £300 per year, this uptake generated increased revenue around £400,000.
The best responding target audience was 18 to 35-year-old smart phone using single Londoners, who enjoy engaging through social media.
US carrier T-Mobile recently got into the daily deals market with the launch of an app called "more for me." But with much larger competitors -- and so many competitors -- it's unlikely that T-Mobile will see great success with the program.
However daily deals could be converted into SMS messages for broader distribution and differentiation. Indeed, the O2-Placecast model is a stronger bet than an app strategy for carrier advertising, and can reach 100% of the carrier's customers potentially.
Many marketers and companies tend to look "beyond" SMS to in-app ads and mobile Web advertising because SMS isn't sexy. (Just like text ads in search aren't sexy.) However the reach of SMS is 100% and the response rates to opt-in text messaging programs can be huge.
For example, in early 2010 Placecast found the following in its US beta test of ShopAlerts (the same kind of program run by O2):