Mobile devices are becoming the primary computing devices now that they pack the power to perform many of the things that people previously did on their PCs. Nowhere is this more evident than in e-commerce where mobile devices now account for more than 30 percent of all e-commerce shopping sessions. That percentage is more than doubling year over year, meaning that by the 2013 holiday shopping season, mobile devices will likely account for more than half of all e-commerce shopping.
Codecademy reveals a rad video that uses story to inspire people to code.
I just stumbled on this research that Google published in August about the state of media consumption. While the general insights are well understood by most marketers, I think, the data are no less fascinating.
The splintering of media will only accelerate competition in the digital space. Companies must reinvent their product and distribution strategies to match their target’s shifting usage of TV, phone, tablet, PC, and whatever the hell comes after all that.
During a visit to sunny, technicolor San Francisco last weekend, my friend Dan and I argued about why analog ad dollars have been so slow to shift to digital, when theoretically digital allocates spend more efficiently as it offers clearer metrics and better targeting opportunities.
Both being media junkies, we landed on a ton of reasons, from the fragmentation of audiences to the lack of compelling ad formats to the dispersion of consumer data and behavior across so many platforms.
All these factors are at work, but I think the main reason is simpler: People hate to spend money on what they don’t understand. When you consider how variegated and protean the digital landscape is - just the display market, mind you, let alone search or social - it’s no wonder agencies and brands got off to a sluggish start. They need to hire new specialists every 6 months just to keep up with the changes.
Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue are skilled at building wildly fanciful digital products. In our arms race to design features, have we forgotten the customer?
In his PandoMonthly Fireside Chat, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky begins with an interesting manifesto of sorts about the importance of design. (by PandoDaily)
John De Goes’s latest TechCrunch post on big data has me thinking about the potentials and limitations of data mining.
On the one hand, companies have been able to optimize their existing offerings and services by examining the past behaviors of their customers and site visitors. On the other hand, I wonder whether past behavior accurately captures the wealth of opportunity we could uncover if we just took the time to understand customers’ attitudes, feelings, hopes and concerns.
A restaurant might collect exhaustive point-of-sale data on customers and match this information with credit card databases or the like, and perhaps this can help the business predict who might buy the ham, turkey or egg salad sandwich. Perhaps this helps the restaurant focus on which one of these products to push, let’s say.
But what do the data really say about the customer? What if the deeper customer need isn’t ham, turkey, or egg salad, but a more intrinsic demand for something fresh, filling and nutritious? What if the real opportunity is in a product the restaurant doesn’t currently serve?
Companies need to interrogate the data on multiple levels. They need to look at the actions being illustrated, and what those actions say about the customer’s relationship to existing brands or services. But companies also must take a more people-centered approach to determine what it is that customers truly need, and then decide if it’s something currently on offer or something that would require investment in an entirely new product or service.
The restaurant needs to talk with its customers about their present state of mind and ideas about the future as much as it needs to ponder past behavior. The business must blend the analytical with the human in order to build a story around the customer or user.
The goal is not the data. It is the story of the customer. And a story is incomplete without a person at the center.
I also have a funny feeling that, like much of our world that is disappearing onto servers and clouds, eBooks will become ephemeral. I have a sneaking feeling that like lost languages and manuscripts, most digital information will be lost to random glitches and changing formats. Much of our world will become unretrievable—like the wooden houses, music, and knowledge of our ancient predecessors. I have a few physical books that are 100 years old. Will we be able to read our eBooks in 100 years? Really?
We’re sort of making our whole culture and civilization ephemeral—or more ephemeral than ever—with our rush to digitize."
Every year it seems companies are becoming more creative and skilled with their content marketing. They are targeting certain types of consumers through powerful storytelling that conveys the spirit of the brand, sometimes without even alluding to the category that the company plays in.
Whole Foods’s Dark Rye online magazine is just such a content effort. The site, which thus far has released 5 “issues”, covers interesting stories about people who are taking bold - but somehow relatable - creative risks. They are quitting their day jobs to launch print magazines on a shoestring budget, building and hiding modernist tree houses in the wilderness despite having no experience in architecture, and amassing enviable follower communities on Instagram (again, without any professional photography credentials) simply by posting thoughtful snapshots once a day.
What is it a brand accomplishes through stories - even ones that lack even any subtle mention of the company’s products? I think it’s simply that stories humanize a brand. Over the past decade or so, an increasingly fragmented media landscape, ultra-competitive marketplace, and consumers’ rising skepticism of institutions have combined to test our brand loyalties. A brand like Whole Foods cannot win on product or service alone; nor can it persevere simply on the basis of clever advertising. It must become, in a sense, another person to whom someone can relate. A friendly face. A progressive persona. A source of insight.
This is especially relevant for a company like Whole Foods that has created more of a lifestyle brand relative to competitors in the supermarket or restaurant category. McDonald’s, for its part, has launched a U.S. YouTube channel with plenty of stories (as well as 30-second spots) that promote product quality and aim to deliver a feeling authenticity - that its food is fresh and responsibly sourced, for example. Compared to Whole Foods, MCD’s campaign is more overtly promotional. Perhaps this is because the company’s marketers know that perceptions about product quality and guest experience are still the main drivers of value. But regardless, McDonald’s is also striving to win mindshare through stories that resonate with a particular kind of consumer, in a way that is consistent with the unique personality and voice of the brand.
It is nowadays standardthat brands must succeed by winning space in hearts and minds; not merely on shelves, street corners, or airwaves.