Friday 28 September 2012

Instagram overtakes Twitter on mobile! Is Twitter starting to stutter?

Instagram, remember? The Facebook 1 billion usd acquisition earlier this year, that had us scratching our heads? well, they've just exceeded Twitter for daily active users on mobile. Zuckerberg must be smiling.

Instagram is the photo sharing/retouching App which by using a selection of filters, allows you to improve your pics and give them a 1950's Kodak look. That angelic looking pic of Zuckerberg above, gives you an idea. And it's hard to make Zuck look angelic.....

Ideal for Facebook as a photo sharing Social site in part.

Instagram had 7.3m daily users in August according to Comscore whilst Twitter had 6.9m. Astonishing stuff.

In March Instagram had only 880,000 users so it's growing like crazy. That's under a million to over 7 million in 5/6 months

The other side is that Instagram users spend more time on their site ("dwell time") than Twitter, so it makes the site more attractive to marketeers. Instagram mobile users spent over 4 hours (!) whilst Twitter users spent under 3. 

Of course too, Twitter will do much better when you look at traffic from a website rather than mobile, but clearly, mobile is key. I had thought long term, Twitter was the ideal choice for mobile but frankly, after its nonsense in switching off API's, they deserve this. It's beginning to make Twitter look a bit old.

One reason Zuckerberg gave for what seemed like a ridiculous purchase of Instagram, was to engage users more on mobile. He's proved right. This level of engagement will result in Facebook revenue on mobile - exactly what they need.

So hats off top Facebook and to Instagram.
Staggering growth when we all made no sense.

Except me!
(No, actually me included).

Instagram shows that you can show growth when you do it well.
Twitter shows, that when you mess with Social Media, you suffer.
Indeed, Twitter is now suffering massively from continual virus attack. Be careful if you get a strange message asking you to click a link. Don't.

Twitter is starting to stutter.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Foursquare. Now launches an "always on" notification. Online privacy is becoming a big issue.

Foursquare, like all geo-location Apps, has come in for its share of criticism.
It's as much about privacy (people knowing where you are) and frankly, intrusive sharing. Foursquare is basically a way of tracking your location on a map.

There are absolutely some great geo-location Apps and in particular those that deliver coupons/deals based on your location but generally, people location proves somewhat unacceptable.

Today Foursquare went a stage further with an "always on" notification.
What it means is, that any of your friends or family, no matter where they are, "check in" to Foursquare, you receive a notification.

Even if they're not near you or indeed, if you have your notifications switched off! So a friend in Perth, goes into a bar, I get to hear about it. No problem about that, except if every time a friend goes into a bar, I'll get a lot of notifications also means, they'll get notifications about me.

So when I walk into a bar, they hear about it and probably like you, I'm not too sure I'm happy about that at all. Indeed, for women, it raises huge safety concerns. 

Already people are becoming more and more concerned about privacy, notably with Facebook but geo-locators take it to another stage. A stage perhaps, too far. The other problem is that few of us every understand the t&c's when we sign in nor do we ever really read them. 

So if you're considering using these types of Apps, be careful.
They won't stop at this and for some of us, it's quite scary.
Especially now, if it's "always on".

Online privacy issues is going to become a big discussion point when people begin to realise just what they're signing up to. And anything that's deliberately hidden in the small print, is not a good thing.

Companies argue that if you're concerned about disclosing your location, you shouldn't be using the App in the first place. True. If the company clearly told you in the first place what they were doing, indeed you might not have.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

The TV advertising revolution has just been born. Interactive TV Commercials have started in a serious way. The most dramatic change since Black + White.

Here it comes, the revolution in TV advertising - interactive TV Commercials. Trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet.

In the past, traditional TV broadcasters used networks (satellite, cable) that didn't allow for engagement as such. So they simply pushed out content rather than allowing consumers to push back. The technology was one-way.

The internet changed that to a point but was adopted by those same broadcasters as simply a "new way" to broadcast their programming. It was just "another medium". Netflix showed a new way to use the medium.

Now however, the advent of TV internet connected devices such as Apple TV, Playstation and lots of others coming on stream, are discovering interactive TV commercials. 

As people view TV and video content from what they call "connected devices" (internet connected) it opens up a whole new way to engage during the playing of typical TV Ads. This, my friends, will open up a whole new world of creativity and is just waiting for Agencies with the talent to do this, to open their doors. A lot of the digital agencies will already have the skills and be able now to upsell into TV commercials.

It is THE opportunity that traditional Ad Agencies should have been waiting for. An Ad Agency that opens a division for interactive TV Commercials will be first in a space where eventually ALL Commercials will be interactive.

So when you watch a TV Ad on Xbox for example, you can now engage with it. Change the ending, look at more images, sharing it on Facebook immediately, delving into the content and so on. This is the breakthrough.

Ads can now become physically engaging and directly responsive.

Brainient, ( a start-up, is one of the first groups that's starting to get to grips with it over Xbox and connected devices. An Ad for the movie, 'The Hobbit' allows users to use hand gestures to interact with it and getting extra photo galleries and full cast biogs. It's being screened in the UK at the moment, and it's relatively simple engagement but this is the start. 

The first time I've seen it in this form. Wow.

Advertisers will be able to track brand engagement, develop other content attached to their Ad and publishers/broadcasters will be able to sell these extra engagements. You won't buy media space, you'll buy interactivity.

It's also good to note that Brainient claim to be working with traditional London Ad Agencies on 30/50-ish campaigns a month so you'll see more of this. That's a growth from only 100 in total last year.

As internet connected devices profilerate too, it presents more and more opportunities for advertisers. 

I think this is the biggest breakthrough on TV Advertising that I've seen in 25 years. The only people who'll underestimate it are traditional broadcasters protecting their patch. Because now they're going to have to change their model entirely.

Brands will devour it. 
Agencies will love it.
Consumers will get it into.

September 2012. You heard it here first.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Store cards, Coupons, Loyalty cards, all stored on your mobile? Exciting business, simple concepts. 'Gyft' gets going.

How many store gift cards do you have in a drawer and never used? In fact, they just go out of date. Most retailers estimate that about 20% are never redeemed, leaving a nice little profit on prepaid cards. Looks like that game is over.....

'Gyft' however, changes all that by allowing you to buy, share and redeem gift cards using your mobile and has just announced Apple "Passbook" integration. Which means buying them (or paying for them) has become much easier. More importantly, so is storing them. How cool is that?

(I blogged about better mobile payments yesterday - so if you're interested, it's the next blog below this one).

Because you can store your gift cards on your phone, it means that you can empty those plastic cards from your drawers and better still, this will warn you as they're about to expire.....Or indeed, to check your balance.They already have about 200 retailers on board but this is a very clever idea that tech was made for. It solves a problem.

Gyft is about bring the plastic card business to mobile by way of an App. 

Mobile is of course, ideal for anything associated with shopping. SnipSnap, a mobile coupon-sharing App and Belly, a loyalty card start-up, are also integrating with Apple's Passbook. SnipSnap for example, allows you to store coupons so when you visit a shop, you can see if you have any coupons for that shop on your phone. You have? use them.

Similarly with Belly, you always have your loyalty card to hand and according to Techcrunch, has been downloaded over 500,000 times. So you're in the store and you always collect your points.

The video above, will show you how to incorporate printed coupons into Passbook. But these are great ideas showing how mobile and apps can solve very simple problems,simply.

The key to them being, the development of mobile payment processing such as "Passbook". And points to Jack Dorsey being in the right place with his 'Square' mobile payments venture.


Monday 24 September 2012

Online payments processing is changing. Out with the old, in with the new. Square gets a 3 billion valuation. It's all about time.

I was reading in the FT on Saturday (which is completely recommended as a great weekend paper along with The Sunday Telegraph) about Brad Miller, a techy in California.

He goes into a coffee shop, but the time he gets to the till to pay for his coffee, his picture has appeared on the ipad, which the coffee shop uses as a terminal. The assistant identifies him from the photo, taps the screen and he's paid. It's one new mpayment system called 'Square'.

As he leaves, a receipt drops into his iphone.

This is becoming a world without cash and a world without cards.  Called mpayments (or mccommerce) as in 'mobile payments' it extends the way we buy tickets, coffee and anything from a smartphone. Indeed, one questions the need for ATM's in the future?

Payment processing is something I do know a little about having been involved as a Director with 'Realex payments' from the start, who have been the dominant Irish payments processor for some years. However, what's going on, is an upending of the traditional payments business made possible by tablets and smartphones.

Square, one such new company of about 150 start-ups in the space, headed up by Jack Dorsey of Twitter, reached a 3 billion usd valuation this week. A fairly slick App, it's linked to a users credit card or bank account. Running constantly in the background on a smartphone, it allows facial recognition in shops and that single tap to complete the transaction.

But changing habits will take time and technology can still get better. What it is doing however, is playing traditional payment processors such as Visa, Amex, off the field and indeed, traditional processing companies. 

Paypal are seemingly trying to re-invent themselves and fit into the mobile payment revolution but I think their game is up. Definitely, their margin is up (!) as is the traditional outrageously high margins charged by Mastercard, Visa and all. They're definitely facing a low income future - whatever happens - and about time too.

They'll certainly also have new competitors in the form of these start-ups but also mobile operators, well placed to adopt these new technologies and embed them in handsets. Which is absolutely key. Own the distribution, you own the customer.

Google and Microsoft are moving in and Apple have started, albeit gently, with their 'Passbook'. The space is heating up.

Gathering payment data has also other advantages in linking it to say, coupon features, shopping suggestions or indeed, advertising - and yes, given the privacy issues. 

One thing is certain too, we're looking at a boom in mobile payments at the expense of companies who've had it too long their own way. Digital is changing this business and replacing fat companies with new, lean, smart, start-ups.

And you'll see the new folks win.
And you'll see the big boys fall.
As we've seen before.

And no harm too.