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One Small Step For iPhone, One Giant Leap For Mario

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Every September Apple announces big product news. This September continued that tradition with the much-anticipated iPhone7 announcement. The new iPhone7, AirPods and the updated Apple Watch, were all very cool and great steps forward for Apple. What was huge news was that Nintendo’s Mario is finally coming to iOS.

While the news of Nintendo’s beloved Mario coming to the iOS world is medium-sized news for Apple, it is huge news for Nintendo. The fact that Nintendo’s legendary Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage at the event to announce was a very clear sign at how big and important this news is for the company.

As prologue: While many in the marketplace have been focused on the overwhelming success of Pokémon Go as a Nintendo windfall — it isn’t. Nintendo owns the IP but doesn’t make the Pokémon Go game, and it has produced very little revenue for Nintendo. Pokémon Go is collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, the developer of the game. In fact, when the investors realized this, the sharp rise in Nintendo stock price saw an equal correction. In fact, Nintendo is in search for a big hit for the upcoming holiday season.

super-mario

Nintendo has been slow to develop games for third-party platforms since they have historically made their own consoles and handheld devices. But that business has struggled for several seasons. Putting their most famous and beloved character on iOS is a huge step for Nintendo and I’m betting they have very big revenue forecasts tied to Super Mario Run for Holiday 2016.

If you watched the closing ceremony at the Sumer Olympics, it’s clear how popular Mario is around the world. And by putting Mario into the hands of millions of fans and, hopefully, new users around the world, the Mario franchise will see downloads and revenue stream the likes of which Pokémon Go experienced earlier this year. Even a fraction of Pokémon Go’s revenue numbers will be a success.

A key theme to recognize in both games is to understand the classic “fish where the fish are” strategy. By limiting their investment in a lagging console business and instead writing game software for a third-party platform, Nintendo has the chance to rescue their gaming business and un-chain themselves from their expensive proprietary device bondage. Also, it will be much easier for Nintendo to create commerce opportunities in an app environment as well as easily deliver updates and new adventures for Mario in a bit-based world.

Lastly, this is big news for Nintendo because Japanese companies are historically better at building “things” vs. software. Doubt that? How many Sony Walkmans do you see today? Software eats the world and has gobbled up the days of simply building a better mousetrap. If Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is a hit, this will signify a big transformation for Nintendo’s legacy as a game and hardware maker and transition to being software driven.

As marketers grapple with how to better engage with their customers, Nintendo may be a company to emulate and take some pages from their updated play book. Here’s looking to a great holiday season for that little dude in red overalls!

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The Story On Stories: Snapchat Vs. Instagram

August 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Blog Post-FB vs Twitter v2

I have written previous articles about how marketers should be testing, learning and quickly iterating on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to tell their brand stories. And recently, Mary Meeker helped drive home the point about the relevance of such social platform in her 2016 annual Internet Trends report. As a refresher:

The report showed how smartphones are increasingly used to combine several powerful storytelling tools via camera+storytelling+creativity+messaging, combined with social sharing network effect. Meeker mentioned that she and her team believe Snapchathas a “perfect trifecta” for this, especially given their daily video growth rate.

Marketers such as Wal-Mart, Sony Pictures, Ford and Dick’s Sporting Goods are just a few that have jumped into Snapchat to leverage massively engaged audiences with cool filters, storytelling and ads. An insight not to miss is that all these Snapchatters (and Instagrammers) are sending geo-specific signals each time they share. For brick-and-mortar retailers, this geo-location is a massively untapped opportunity to reach customers during a store visit and when purchase consideration is happening.

Given the combination of geo-location and marketers’ quest to reach customers in store, attribute traffic and conversion, it’s no wonder marketers are finally embracing Snapchat and Instagram in new ways. And also why Instagram’s launching of “Stories” should not surprise anyone.

Silicon Valley has a long history of companies copying each other. Steve Jobs famously saw GUI at Xerox Parc and that inspired the Mac. Many say he stole it. As Apple’s Bud Tribble is noted for saying: “If you take something and make it your own…it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing.” That concept is part of Apple’s DNA and certainly many other tech companies in the valley. Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO/founder, hasn’t run from the obvious copying of Snapchat. In fact, he said “they [Snapchat] deserve all the credit”. In my opinion Instagram has innovated by making the “Stories” feature much more seamless and intuitive vs. Snapchat. Snapchat will almost certainly refine their UX. But the Instagram feature and better UX is just the tip of the spear.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and has a uniquely strong capability to tap into mobile “storytelling” to augment data (especially geo-data) to fortify cross-device insights with Facebook Insights (think purchase data). This combination can be an incredibly powerful for tool for marketers. As marketers, we have become better at understanding our data streams and applying smart strategies and tactics to drive engagement and purchase. Search and social have been a proving ground for following intentions all the way to purchase. As search evolves outside of “traditional” search into platforms such as Instagram (note no search available on Snapchat), marketers will have more ammunition to target audiences and truly track path to purchase while giving attribution to the right events.

I love both Snapchat and Instagram, but the amazing cross-device, geo-targeting and massive network effect of Instagram+Facebook is why I’m betting on Instagram in the long game.

As marketers, you should already be well underway in testing and learning with these platforms and have deft understanding of your first-party data and how it can be combined with the ever increasing rich data set derived from helping consumers tell their stories. Holiday 2016 should be your best season ever with all the tools you have at your disposal. Are you ready?

Reposted from my published artciles on Mediapost and Medium

What Was Old Is New Again: Pokémon Is Back!

I never played Pokémon when I was young and never really understood what the craze was about. And while I’m not among the millions in the United States who have downloaded the Pokémon Go app, I love what Pokémon Go represents for the brand and enthusiasts. What started as a simple game from Nintendo over 20 years ago and gained a lot of followers among kids and tweens worldwide has now revived the brand with a location-based, augmented reality app. And unless you live under a rock, you will have no doubt seen the news across nearly every media outlet. Pokémon Go has made national headlines across the world in the last week.

For those who aren’t familiar with Pokemon Go is, here’s a short overview:

Once a user downloads Pokémon Go to their smartphone, they are prompted to turn on location services. Once location services are on, users will see a location-aware map with other players in the real world where they can go out and look for Pokémon characters. Once they get to a specified place, players point their phone camera to “find” Pokémon in the real world in an augmented reality-playing environment. Players then shoot a ball to capture the Pokémon and collect awards.

Why all the fuss over a “kids” game that now has a smartphone app? For starters, the app, which just launched a week ago has over 11 million daily active users. In the app world, that is rocket ship growth that any app or media property would love to have in a year, let alone a week! To provide some context, according to data from SensorTower, Pokémon Go is already bigger than the dating app Tinder, as big as Snapchat and Google Maps and about to overtake Twitter. And Pokémon Go players are spending an average of 43 minutes per day using the app. That daily usage rate outpaces WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and FB Messenger! The cherry on the top is that it’s not just kids and tweens playing this game, it’s a lot of adults and new users to the Pokémon franchise.

As any marketer that has launched an app will tell you, two of the biggest success metrics for apps are downloads and daily active users (DAUs) or monthly active users (MAUs). Achieving download goals are hard enough. Many marketers spend millions of dollars just to drive downloads; it’s not uncommon for costs to hit $20 per download. The bigger challenge is getting users to actually keep using an app after download and that is where the vast majority of apps fail unless they have a high utility value (e.g., Tinder, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.). Pokémon Go daily users are spending 40+ minutes each day!

Again, to provide some perspective, below is a chart from SensorTower showing Daily Usage Time of Pokémon Go vs. Social Media Apps.

Pokémon Go news stories have been making the nightly news across all the network and cable news channels about the craze and how app users are having fun in droves as well as some questionable issues arising from playing an augmented reality game in public spaces. I was nearly shamed for not playing the game by a fellow UberPool rider earlier this week, while she was looking to snag another Pokémon in the Uber. And while I’m not playing (yet), I can think of myriad ways marketers can engage and follow the lead of the Pokémon Go augmented reality app.

On a basic level, brands with location-based presence can engage with promotions. Outdoor apparel brands could leverage the location-based aspect to engage with players in parks and resorts around the globe. QSR brands could offer a limited-time experience to help drive short-term traffic and sales goals. Marketers looking for more ideas need only to listen to what Pokémon Go players are saying on across social channels about how they are engaging with the game and what types of experiences they are creating. Smart marketers will listen and respond from the plethora of ideas being shared in the community.

While I have never been a Pokémon fan, this augmented reality app has been a great way to re-introduce adults and kids to a great brand franchise in a smart and meaningful way with a technology (augmented reality) that the average consumer has had little experience with until last week. Perhaps we’re at a tipping point for the “general release” of augmented reality for the masses.

The Whale vs. The Snail (and an ice cream cone)

March 12, 2014 9 comments

Earlier this week, Twitter went down for for some folks, including me. I couldn’t help notice that their design team updated the familiar “fail whale” with a new cartoon featuring a snail and ice cream cone. (there’s a making for a bad joke). Personally, I like the fail whale better, because, well, I’m used to it and like many I don’t always like change.

IMHO from a messaging perspective, the snail and ice cream cone do much better job conveying that Twitter is down or has a glitch vs. a while being suspended by struggling birds (read: we’re struggling over here).

Here’s to hoping we don’t see much of the snail and ice cream cone in 2014

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iOS 7.1 Tips and tricks

March 11, 2014 1 comment

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I upgraded to iOS 7.1 this week I have to say I really like the new features and UX upgrades. Many of the updates that you will notice are UX related and the iOS team has done a good job. There are many other feature updates that you may notice for a while since they are future focused and nuanced and hard to find. For example unless you already are using services such as accessibility, you won’t notice or find the feature updates.

Here are some links to the best update reviews I’ve seen

Brad Reed’s iOS blog – he always does solid reviews and has great videos that get to the heart of the matter. Here’s his review of the iOS 7.1 updates, including a video overview

Cult of Mac – these guys usually have pretty succinct reviews and they hit all the main points for the iOS 7.1 update. Here is their review.

Pocket-Lint – always like reading review from these guys – solid and usually have several good screen shots. This iOS 7.1 review is another great one from Pocket-Lint

Enjoy!

Great shot from Mobile Media Summit in San Francisco

February 2, 2014 1 comment

Somebody in the audience captured a good shot of the panel I was on at the Mobile Media Summit in San Francisco

Doug Chavez at Mobile Media Summit, San Francisco

Doug Chavez at Mobile Media Summit, San Francisco

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