Tag Archives: App

Uber As Verb? Or, Guide To Smart Diversification?

Yesterday, Uber launched a completely separate app utilizing their infrastructure in a super smart way – delivering food. They had been testing a version where drivers had a pre-selected set of food items for quick delivery in limited markets. They launched a menu every day, and if you wanted any items, they were meant to arrive in 10 minutes. With this new app that’s launching only in LA for right now, they’re making any item off of multiple menus available quick and conveniently – though they’re not promising it in 15 minutes. Beyond food, what they are delivering is a great example of how a company can diversify services without taking away from the core.


Far too often, tech companies (and start-ups in general) are far too quick to change direction due to a perceived shift in the market, a side comment made by an advisor, or an investor who is looking only for a certain type of product to invest in. When they do that, the original sight and what the entire team was moving toward often lost in the jumble – without nearly spending the same time spent on SWOT testing the initial idea.

Don’t get me wrong, if the market is shifting or the original idea needs to be refined, you’ve got to address it – you just need to do so with the care and clarity of the original direction. Alternatively, you can smartly make the shift keeping your product at its core and effectively diversifying your offerings.

Sometimes those offshoots/mutated products are happy discoveries or accidents. You might have taken a cost-effective left-turn to see where you might end up and then found a pot of gold. Uber’s find might be exactly that. They’ve always been in the business of having drivers all over the place picking up products (people) from one place and bringing them to another place. Transfer the product to food instead of people and you’ve got Uber Eats – and an entirely new vertical (food delivery) shaking in their boots like the taxi industry before them.

If you want to have that agility in the future, perhaps the correct time should be taken to create a core product that can allow flexibility and the right attitude to try things and move your business smartly.


There’s Proof You Don’t Need To Be Major To Blow It Up

Taking what we normally see on Fridays in support of the larger action films opening in cinemas, the basic cabler – A&E – brought the explosiveness to premiere day of the newest season of STORAGE WARS.  Being one of the more popular basic cable reality shows on the air and the gist of the actual show, I guess we could have expected something so over the top for the new season. It remains to be seen what kind of effect the big campaign comprising portal page takeovers and second-screen experiences will do for the show, but the mere fact that they went so big for this one shows that you don’t have to be one of the majors to blow out a big campaign.

I’ve watched the show numerous times – its almost like a 21st century rendition of Let’s Make A Deal without the silly costumes (per se.) Half the fun is seeing what the bounty in the storage containers are really worht.  The other part is seeing the relationship between competing bidders and the no-names around them.  As such, it was interesting to see the creative put them in overblown situations.  You get the feeling that they over-react sometimes for the camera (as this is reality TV) so it could backfire to have them effectively laugh at themselves in the promotion of the show. We won’t know until we see the new episodes, but I’m concerned the people are going to make it any more uncomfortable to watch. But back to the explosiveness…

The media execution I saw on MSN started with an image of a monkey with a detonator button and the call to action to  Explode the page:

And upon clicking, there’s a jumpy transition to a page overlay and the explosion and season promo that plays on the Blockbuster theme – only changing Blockbuster to Lockbuster (Get it?  If you don’t.  Watch the show.)

Again, there is a concern about having the “characters” be self-aware in promo materials.  I realize that its a reality TV show, but is this the tipping of the hat that they now know what fans expect of them, so they better deliver at all costs? With that being said, I’m glad that they are doing a big campaign like this.  Just using me as a focus group – I had no idea that a new season was beginning.  I don’t watch A&E other than my occassional viewings of this show.  Therfore, the network couldn’t have expected they could just run on-air promos to drive viewers to tonight’s premiere.

A&E is also going beyond that with their Fan Challenge App.  The App will allow viewers to play along with the action on-screen.  It’s powered by TVPLUS, though its unclear if it is immediately available on both the computer and mobile phones or if the iOS and Android versions will not work until the future.  It also is not clear whether the experience will come up if the user accesses it directly through the TVPLUS app.

It’s great that they are really pushing this program and the inherent opportunities for viewers to play along. The big questions are whether fans will become more involved, whether the personalities will get too big for their breeches and become more annoying than they might already be, or if there will be a mixture of both.

The show moved its way up to the second-highest rated show on A&E last season and they are seizing the opportunity to push it up even higher.  The marketing team seems to be doing their job.  Can the programming team and the content delivered match up to really blow out the series or just blow it up? Or, will we just be wondering what is up with Barry’s monkey?

Just Because the Inventory’s There, Should It Be Taken?

Throughout the recent iMedia Video Summit, there were many mentions about penetration, reach, targeting, disruption and scale, but the discussions about actual audience experiences or emotional connections were limited. The question  pertaining to what the user would get out of the impressions was usually answered with a reading of stats, samplings and other tidbits, but nothing conveying the emotional connection – no matter how hard that is to quantify.  Even in the section with the creatives shown, there were some cool looking things and some stats. But many didn’t marry the the impressions/penetration numbers with the user experience to enable us to delve deeper into what the benefit of the perfect storm of good placement and good creative. Just yesterday, there were a couple of announcements that related to the same ideal for mobile – additional inventory available for reaching consumers with the question of the user’s experience.  Because of the user experience related to these platforms, should these mobile bits of ad inventory be leveraged?

Ipsos recently posed the questions to consumers whether they would prefer to receive SMS messages to their mobile or emails to the in-box.  75% said they would prefer the latter.  It used to be more of a legal issue as people had to pay for each SMS message they received or sent.  Therefore, companies could find themselves in trouble as users were effectively paying to receive their spam.  Now that many mobile providers offer unlimited packages for text and then cap their access to data before charging more, some might think its better to send SMS messages.  The thing is, that while there might be a cost difference for the consumer in the free text/limited data model above, the real question comes down to user experience and preferences.  SMS is more intrusive and is the norm for getting communications from friends – not from businesses.

Courtesy of Conduit

Along the same lines, Conduit has announced their new product that allows for graphic – and even app – placements on mobile lock-screens.  Currently, they are just touting the availability for Android phones through a downloadable App.  The future could see opportunities to provide free phones in exchange for this type of inventory being locked to the phone.  Other than that, I would be hard-pressed to see there being a demand to download these just so one could have ads pushed to them whenever they go to unlock their screen.  The exception might be if the user can select something like a sports app that shows their team’s scores at the onset. Currently, the only thing similar for most people is when they see SMS messages easily.  That functionality is generally seen as a benefit to the user – will ads be felt in the same way?

In both, the consideration clearly needs to be focused on the end-user.  There may be situations that are perfect for serving out advertising using this type of inventory. It could just depend on what you’re pushing out. There might also be a high risk factor to turning people off.  Interestingly, in the Ipsos study, they found that there are some markets that would absolutely prefer to receive SMS messages rather than emails.

Ultimately, it’s not about how you put it out there.  It’s about your audience and how they would most want to accept the message. You might have the coolest or most beautiful execution ever, but if the audience perceives it as being too invasive, you’ve lost. Just because you’ve got some open space to tout some wares doesn’t mean that you should jump on it.



Conan Brings TechnoMagic To The Second Screen

In what has become this millennium’s version of the arms race, everyone is racing to build their own second screen app.  While most are now using the same audio recognition technology to sync to the program you’re watching, there have been some that are better than others with strong social connectivity but limited content and some are just plain lame.  Even the one that is my favorite (TVplus) is limited by how much supporting content has been created specific to that show.  That’s why I’m impressed with TBS’ Conan O’Brien Show and their spiffy new Team Coco Tablet App. With its promise of content, regular use, time-shifted capabilities and emphasis on marketing the product well, Conan’s people are doing their best to bring Conan’s coined “TechnoMagic” to the Second Screen experience.

The App itself provides exclusive, synced content in real-time as they watch the show – no matter when that is. They are promising up to 25 different pieces of bonus content per show.  Those all-important bits of content will include video clips, photos, slide shows, guest info, polls, quizzes, facts, trivia, memorable quotes and more.  It’s also integrated with Facebook and Twitter so that you can stay connected while watching the show.  As of now, I can’t tell if those Facebook and Twitter comments from your friends are anchored to specific times in the show or if they just flow in real-time – which would not be as cool if you are watching your DVR’d show the next morning.

The key to any second screen app’s success is the array of content available and the regularity in which it is used.  To this point, Conan takes the cake in regard to regularity with his Monday through Thursday airings and, if they do come through with the 25 bits o’ content per show, they will be a phenomenal leader in providing a solid example of what second screen apps should be.

Add to its functionality TBS’ smarts in marketing of the App and its AT&T sponsorship off the bat and the entire second screen community should be salivating as someone is finally promoting and supporting the second screen universe in the right way.

Team Coco is not just relying on the video above that they hope people will come across, they are doing a media campaign specifically for the app with AT&T getting valuable impressions as well.  When anyone goes to the Conan site, they see a push down unit touting the App.

We still don’t know yet how things will play out in practice for this app.  Will they be able to keep up with the content in ways that people will actually care about?  Will the video content be annoying if both audio pieces go at the same time?  Will they come up with phenomenal ways to have exclusive content that makes those with the app feel like real insiders? (A comparison would be when The Late Show first went to HD and wide-screen and Letterman kept moving out of the 4:3 frame so people on standard def could only see part of him…) What the second screen universe really needs is smart and compelling content in an app that will stand as a bellweather of what is possible.  Otherwise, second-screen will continue to be nifty, but nothing more.

Kudos to the entire Team Coco for really stepping out there to throw down the gauntlet and spin their TechnoMagic.