Tag Archives: Smartphones

Scarlet Strategic At CES 2013 – Showcasing Cloud Based Connectivity Innovation

The buzz surrounding next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is about many things – from the replacement of Microsoft as the Keynote to connected home solutions to the introduction of even larger TVs that may still take a while to make it to market. Scarlet Strategic and Scarlet Terrier Productions are proud to be part of CES through their participation as a contributing member in the ng Connect program.  Of the 12 demos being shown, Scarlet Strategic is involved in two of them that bring connectivity, information and entertainment to public spaces – and best of all, they can be deployed right away.


The ng Connect Program – founded by Alcatel-Lucent – is a multi-industry ‘ecosystem’ dedicated to the creation of the next-generation user experience for connected consumers. The program is comprised of more than 190 member companies, of either Contributing or Associate membership levels, and including leading network, application and content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers.

In Alcatel-Lucent’s booth, South Hall Booth 31412, the demonstration of 12 new cloud-based service concepts created by the ng Connect Program aimed at stimulating application innovation as consumers seek ever more exciting experiences from connected devices like smartphones and tablets.

The two Demos featuring Scarlet Strategic involvement are:

  • MALL WALL – Showcased on the Video Wall
    A large format digital sign that is placed in a mall or public setting. It takes digital signage to the next level of interactivity, allowing shoppers to interact with the sign from their mobile phones. Shoppers can use their NFC enabled phones to scan NFC tags and initiate a session with the Mall Wall. No custom application is needed on the phone, as all phone screens are implemented as HTML5 mobile web pages. The screens can vary in size from what people may be accustomed to for mall maps to huge 120 foot long bilboards (or more) with multiple points of interactivity.  The scope and dynamic scale provided by this offering is what makes it truly stand out.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions, wCities

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  CloudBand, Velocix, Optism, LTE

    These fully interactive surfaces serve advertising, entertainment, and media in transitional waiting spaces.  They provide a delivery and consumption platform for digital media.  They also provide interactivity via a multitouch screen and smartphones. The tables offer flexible 4G/LTE or wired connectivity.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, iGoLogic, wCities, IntuiLab, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  DMS, CloudBand, Velocix, Wi-Fi Offload Products

The partnership opportunities generated by the ng Connect program have been phenomenal in that we are able to bring reality-based connective media platforms to market quickly and effectively.  In the case of both items being demoed, the infrastructure is already in place to enable deployment to high-trafficked venues and the integration of media opportunities that Scarlet Strategic’s clients are actively looking for.

Scarlet Strategic’s involvement in the program and CES 2013 makes perfect sense as we move into an age of connectivity that could have only been dreamed of in the past.


How Do You Force Viewers To See?

While watching an NFL game on DVR, my 3 year-old daughter yelled for me to stop speeding through the commercials.  I can only dream that she actually cared enough about football to be ensconced in what was on the television.  And, any marketer or media planner would be dreaming to think that this was a sign of the future – where people will be demanding that commercials not be forwarded through.  To be fair, Scrat (of ICE AGE fame) would have to be included in all TV spots to garner this much attention from a child on a regular basis.  The furry prehistoric rodent chasing an acorn was what forced my daughter to make me stop and go back to view the spot in real-time.  This phenomenon and other research within the last 6 months – and even released this week – point toward a dynamic, nuanced future of A/V media challenges and opportunities.


Back when DVRs came out, there was such a concern about viewers not watching commercials.  People were lamenting the end of commercials and the required changes to in-content product placement.  That execution of product placement has seen varying degrees of success, but the commercials still remain key.  Back in May, IPG Media Lab and YuMe released a report that showed these results regarding TV viewing:

When participants did use the DVR to fast forward TV ads, nearly half of them paid full attention to the screen during that process. Fast-forwarded ads had 12% more attention levels than non-fast-forwarded ads. Despite the advantage of eyes on screen, fast-forwarded ads had much lower recall than non-fast-forwarded ads.

Ultimately, we don’t know what the ads used were, but from my own experience, I usually DVR the same shows each week and the ads are pretty consistent from week-to-week.  Does the repetition factor of the same commercials being fast-forwarded through create a collective impression and conveyance of its message?  For years, research has proven that people need to see something numerous times for it to sink in – it shouldn’t be any different here. Again, from my own experience (and, I guess, my daughter’s) those ads with something engaging – whether through content or imagery – attract attention and cause me to check it out.

The key with DVRs is that you still have to look at the screen – even if just to see when the commercials end and the program begins. The IPG MediaLab/YuMe report also focused on online viewing of shows that force you to watch 30 second spots – causing a higher recall rate.  But the kicker (or relative ad destroyer) was the distraction of smartphones – causing a 60% distraction rate for TV and 46% distraction rate for online video.

The addition of smartphones to the mix is the focus of a recent Razorfish Outlook Report by Jeremy Lockhorn.  The report’s focus is on the multi-screen future – with its own set of challenges. Realizing that 80% of the respondents multitask on their mobile phone while watching television, further details are striking:

70 percent of respondents who multitask do so at least once a week, with nearly half (49 percent) reporting everyday multitasking. Furthermore, during the course of a TV program, more than 60 percent check their phones at least “once or twice,” and 15 percent stay on the mobile Web for the full duration of the show.

Now, the question becomes “How many people are actually paying full attention to the screen while my commercials are running?”  One response to this is, perhaps, that DVRs aren’t quite so bad.  At least we know there’s eyeballs on the images if people are fast-forwarding.  They aren’t having the time to disengage like they would with mobile or laptop communication. And, with the way we are learning to absorb information at faster rates than ever before, we can’t write off that fast viewing.  If my daughter can catch something of interest at 3X speed, then current and future adults should be able to do the same – if not better.

Perhaps the winner here for “traditional” media is online video – where people are forced to watch spots at commercial breaks – even if it is just one commercial at 30 seconds instead of four of them equalling two minutes on air. When watching video on your mobile, tablet or even laptop, it is more challenging to whip out that second screen to interact.

The future does provide more opportunities.  We are seeing the unleashing of many second-screen applications for synchronized content – from HBO GO, to the ABC products, to numerous others – including the FoxPop App that I developed for 10 home entertainment properties only to be killed too soon because it assisted platforms other than Blu-ray.  If those second-screen iterations are done correctly, they can provide the opportunity to remain connected to their social networks, the web and the content on the screen (with all its advertisers represented fully.)

But, again,the future holds more opportunities that we do not yet see. What we see as the pariah solution now could end up being the best solution for the future. As shown above, the DVR is not necessarily the ad killer we once were worried it would become.  If the right frequency of rotation is booked and the spots are clear enough, even the fast-forwarded commercials can make an impression. Through proper evaluation and strategy, the concerns or challenges of today will bring the solutions for tomorrow without having to force consumer’s eyes against their will.

Free (or Reduced) at A Price Consumers Are Willing To Pay?

Last week saw an announcement and a study that show very interesting option for monetization of mobile content – and how it affects consumers both positively and negatively.

First off is the piece in Mashable about the rise of Mobile In-App Ads.  This was not anything new as we had seen ad support or incentives shown in free mobile apps and social gaming for some time.  The article’s pointed mention about Angry Birds fans being outraged was also old news since they started placing ads in the environment back in March.  It really comes down to perceived value that is generated from the ads or opportunities for currency that can come from those placements in all forms of media – mobile gaming, apps, social gaming, etc.  And, we’ve already covered in the entry – The Growing Currency – Feeding the Social Gamers’ Hunger – how users were gaining play by interacting with advertising content. The trade-off has always been there, and the general belief is that there is a stronger acceptance (and recall) of these consumer benefits of advertising.

The piece from last week that really struck me was Amazon’s introduction of a new Kindle with Special Offers model – with 3G connectivity provided by AT&T.  At $139, this version is $50 cheaper than what the ad-free version goes for.  (The $114 WiFi-only ad-supported version was released in May but it was not serviced through AT&T.)  What makes this so striking is that while the benefits mentioned in the paragraph and related story above – Facebook Credits for watching videos and the other benefits of brand interaction – are all in the software, this is one of the first hardware propositions.  Could it be the start of offering cheaper – or free – hardware as a platform for ad-serving where there was none before?  As economics get tighter, it could be a good solution as a trade-off for consumers and added promotional inventory for hardware manufacturers.

It seems like a strong move for AT&T as it tackles a concern that all Telcos have regarding getting their piece of the pie as competitive coverage plans are capping (or even diminishing) revenue for just the communication services.  They were effectivley cut out of the equation for app monetization when Apple launched the App Store and iAds, and Android did the same with the Android Market.  By offering this Special Offers model, it allows AT&T to make the money off of advertising on the screensavers where they had no option for it before. 

Only time will tell whether that makes any difference for consumers who are purchasing the hardware.  With the current environment and concerns about privacy and invasiveness of digital advertising, it will be interesting to see if consumers spend more to not deal with the hassle.  Personally, I would spend more as shown by the fact I pay Yahoo! an annual fee to have ad-free email for my personal email.  At this point, it seems like they are providing the ads in a non-invasive way by only showing the offers on screensavers.  It remains to be seen how much targetting will be found in the Kindle.

The acceptance of the ads as a way to get free or cheaper content has proven to be popular and special-priced ad-revenue hardware could be a wave of the future, but the beauty is in the fact that the people will be able to make that choice themselves.  If it is successful, an obvious development might be for the carriers to start programming their smartphones so that there were som hard-coded ad inventory so that they could offer the same options as opposed to tiered data pricing.  For those entering that higher data tier, much of it is from video usage.  Would it be that different for them to trade some ads or commercials to go back to that unlimited environment?

Either way you slice it, it will be interesting to see whether enough people bite and set a new paradigm for added revenue streams. 

Connected TVs Still Not Ready For Primetime

A new study shows that 62% of consumers do not yet have internet connected TVs with most of them not interested in doing so.  Wayne Friedman wrote about the study, but neither he nor the study really go into all of the forms of available content.  They focus on TV shows and films that might be streamed.  Of those who are connected, 10% of 13-64 year-olds watch TV programs; 11% watch movies (at least monthly) using a streaming service through a TV set. This increases to 17% to 18% among young viewers 13-31.  Internet features like Facebook and Search are most frequently used, but the numbers are not mentioned.

The surfing and true internet activity is most-likely happening on computers, tablets and smartphones where some research shows that 75% of US viewers regularly surf the net while watching television.

What is really missing here is the type of interactive content that can only really be consumed effectively on the big screen.  Those content items would be things like BD-Live and the apps that are now coming standard on TVs like Panasonic’s Vieracast.  Sadly, the offerings are just not strong enough to drive interest in converting consumers.

Even those who are interested run into challenges.  My own example is probably closer to the norm. 18 months ago, I had Cat 6 cabling throughout the house and connected all my devices – TVs, Blu-ray, Consoles, etc.  Everything was set until I wanted to show BD-Live to someone.  I popped in the disc, went to the menu and triumphantly pressed BD-Live only to find that I was not connected – even though the Blu-ray player was plugged in.

Its hard enough to market the BD-Live features to people – I’ve done more than enough of my fair share – but to have all the hardware challenges with no real excitement about the offered content, it’s a losing proposition.  It is a chicken or the egg story as having more people interact with BD-Live would probably add to its interactivity and marketability, but many are waiting for that special sauce to make them convert.

So, we are still talking about the buzz-words with nothing really to back it up.