On the Go

So! Pokemon Go. If you’re not one of this runaway hit game’s increasing number of players, you’ve more than likely seen others playing it out in the wild. The augmented reality (AR) game has literally taken the world over since its release just a few weeks ago. While it may be just the next in a long and constantly evolving line of “hot” apps that take the world by storm, there are some unique characteristics of Pokemon Go that can offer some important lessons.

What helps make Pokemon Go so popular? And are they things companies can take advantage of?

  1. Simplification. The best games, the old saying goes, should be simple to learn, but difficult to master. The concept of Go is pretty simple – “Gotta catch ‘em all!” – but actually catching them all is very rare. This keeps players engaged in the game more frequently and at greater length.
  2. Gamification. Using AR technology, Go uses your phone to turn the real world into a video game, making the experience immersive – and competitive. By putting players in direct competition with those around them and in their community, it also drives stronger ongoing engagement.
  3. Physical integration. This isn’t an app or game you play sitting at your computer, or in your living room, or in the car. It forces you out into the real world, exploring – and interacting with – various locations throughout your community. And this is where the real opportunity is for retailers in particular: what can you do to draw Go users to your locations? What incentives can you provide?
  4. Social integration. This refers to your actual social network, for once. It’s not uncommon to see groups of friends, co-workers and even families out exploring and playing Go together. This makes the game much more of a shared experience than your traditional app or video game – and it creates a unique opportunity for certain companies/retailers. Again, how can you capture groups of people and lure them to your retail locations?

Pokemon Go is that rare mobile phenomenon that actually makes people more, you know, mobile. It’s also not your traditional app or social network, meaning it can be easy for companies to overlook. It’s important to remember, however, that opportunities to engage with customers and community are everywhere – gotta catch ‘em all!

Mad science

Marketing, the saying goes, is part art and part science. Good marketing, the saying also goes, is determining how much of each part a client or campaign requires. Social media, it turns out, is becoming increasingly valuable when it comes to figuring out how much science is needed for success.

Of course, amassing and mining all that data used to be a Herculean – if not impossible – task for most in the marketing world. Social media has made the process of data analysis much more accessible, efficient and effective. You just have to know how – and where to look.

After all, each like, share, comment, retweet and regram on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., adds to the growing, valuable pile of social data attached to your cumulative social presence. Facebook Insights, for example, makes it easy to see and understand everything about your activity and presence. That includes making it easier to answer the questions most commonly asked by marketers:

  • Are we connecting with the right people? Social sites make demographic data of your followers available, which helps to ensure the people you’re talking with on social media are the people you want to be talking with – your customers and other key audiences. Further, they are getting increasingly sophisticated at providing psychographic data as well.
  • What’s generating the most interest and engagement? You can view data attached to the content you’re sharing on a post-by-post level to determine which types of content generates the most engagement among your audience. Better understanding which content is most effective – and which content isn’t – helps you answer the next question.
  • What do we need to change? The additional beauty of social data is that it enables you to make changes or refinements to your strategy in real-time. If we find content that is performing markedly better than everything else, how can we adjust our content strategy to increase its role? Conversely, how can we minimize or eliminate the content that isn’t working? This can apply to every detail and aspect – even to the days and times you post.
  • Is what we’re doing working? Answering this question is the ultimate goal when leveraging social data, and answering each of the questions above, ideally, makes it easier to answer this one. It’s important to remember that this question – and how you answer it – is fluid and ongoing. Set touchpoints on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) to sit down, dive into the data on a deeper level and reach this conclusion.

Data plays a crucial role in understanding the science part of the marketing game. Social media has democratized the process of compiling and understanding data – and using it to positively impact your overall marketing strategy and business success. That’s where the art comes in.


The state of things

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is one of Silicon Valley’s most legendary and prestigious venture capital firms, having helped give rise to some of the largest and most famous digital_icons_lgcompanies in the world, including Google, Twitter, Amazon, Spotify and Uber.

So when leaders at KPCB talk about the future of the Internet, people tend to listen.

And, as she has for the past several years, KPCB partner Mary Meeker did just that, giving her hotly anticipated and widely read annual “Internet Trends” at the end of May. Even though her presentation – all 196 slides of it – is almost overwhelmingly comprehensive and wide-ranging in its topics, there are several trends it touched on that should be of particular interest to marketers, even if they’re not all that surprising:

  • Ecommerce keeps moving to mobile. Our on-demand culture is meeting head-on with our increasingly mobile culture, meaning brands have to get increasingly sophisticated in order to make their mobile shopping experience as simple as possible.
  • The death of email (again). Proclaiming email overwhelming, too cumbersome and, as a result, on its deathbed is nothing new, of course. It’s just that there’s more and more evidence this is the case – take the explosion of internal communications and collaboration apps like Slack.
  • Users generating content in droves. The explosion in smartphones makes it easier for people to create content on the go and share with their networks. The challenge – a perpetual one – for brands is to monitor, capture and share high-quality content, which gets more and more difficult as the number of content-sharing platforms continues to grow.
  • Speaking of content, a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to writing, millennials are all like, “whatever.” It’s no coincidence that the explosion of visually driven social networks – Vine, Snapchat, Instagram – has come as millennials came online en masse over the past several years. So it’s important for brands – especially ones with younger audiences – to understand that content isn’t just the written word anymore. Indeed, it’s often anything but.

You can view the full report here – as always, it’s a deep dive and very educated guess into what the future holds, especially for marketers.

Are you prepared for armageddon?

Most people are calling it “mobile-geddon,” to be more precise, but it’s the closest thing to a doomsday scenario for folks in marketing land to have to encounter in a long time. mobilegeddon

What is mobile-geddon, and how can you tell how big its impact on you may be?

It’s a major change Google began implementing this week to the algorithm it uses to display search ranking, specifically on smartphones and mobile devices. Through this update, sites Google determines to be more “mobile-friendly” will get better rankings in searches done on smartphones and other mobile devices.

“Big deal,” you may say. “That’s not really a ‘-geddon’ of any kind! It’s only for searches done on mobile devices, after all. That’s still only a tiny portion of searches overall, right?”

Not so much. The share of total search done via mobile is growing exponentially; in the final three months of 2014, for example, 29 percent of all U.S. search requests were made on mobile devices. And, for certain businesses – restaurants, coffee shops, clothing/apparel, and just about any other kind of retail/brick-and-mortar – mobile search is of vital importance, as an increasing amount of people use their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants nearby. Beyond that, with the continuing growth of smartphone usage and our increasingly mobile lifestyles, this will become more and more important to more and more companies regardless of their industry in the coming years.

So what is Google looking for in mobile-friendly sites?

  • Designs that load quickly on mobile devices
  • Content that’s easily accessible by scrolling up and down – without also having to scroll to the left or right
  • If a site features buttons for making purchases or taking other key actions, said buttons should be easily identifiable and touchable on smaller screens

Click here to see if your site’s mobile-friendly.

The question, then: Will my site be reduced to the nether regions of the second page of Google search results by mobile-geddon? Google actually makes it easy for you to get an idea of any impact the changes may have. And if the changes look like they’ll be big, Google also has a handy step-by-step guide to get your site on the right side of the law.

For a lot of brands, it’s big changes like these that may be the “inspiration” they need to understand what people mean by the mobile revolution – and to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Of mobile milestones – and momentum

Whether the smartphone/tablet revolution has made it easier for us to live more mobile lives – or whether our increasingly mobile lives have created the need for the social_tablesmartphone/tablet revolution, one thing is clear: our society is at once both a mobile and a connected one.

This is, by and large, a very good thing. Staying connected is important for us, both personally and professionally, and we greatly value being able to carry our digital experiences with us in the palms of our hands. At the same time, the momentum behind mobile means many, many things we have traditionally used via our desktop or laptop computers are moving to our mobile devices – and that includes something very near and dear to our hearts.

We speak, of course, about advertising – and mobile advertising is prepared to hit two significant milestones by the end of 2016:

Taken on their own, each milestone says a lot about the incredible growth of mobile advertising. Put together, it’s a serious statement about how the digital advertising landscape is shifting right before our very eyes.

Mobile advertising brings with it any number of challenges for brands, to be sure, but also offers up a number of promising opportunities. More than anything else, it forces us to think differently about advertising – people are interacting with brands on the move, on a small screen, held in their hands. More often than not, what we think of as traditional advertising – even in the digital realm – won’t work. It may not always be the easiest thing to start from scratch when thinking about how to advertise in a paradigmatically different platform – but it may just be the thing we most need.

Mobile advertising is coming – and it’s already here. Is your brand ready for it?