New Intel Campaign Leverages the Strength of Mobile

When it comes to advertising, Intel is known as an early adopter of new strategies and a client that likes to push the limits of what is possible. This morning’s announcement that Intel is pushing mobile ‘envelope’ with Crisp Wireless and the Hyperfactory comes as no surprise.

The ad is designed to capture data by interacting with users on a deeper level than your standard survey.

Intel Mobile Advertising Campaign from Crisp Wireless on Vimeo.

Derek Handley, CEO at The Hyperfactory said:

“Using the Crisp platform, we are able to create rich, iAd-like mobile ads that run across devices, publisher sites, and applications, as well as measure detailed engagement metrics across the entire campaign.”

This is an excellent example of a campaign that leverages the strengths of mobile advertising. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Crisp and the other ad networks as more and more advertisers enter the mobile space.

Read the full release here.

Accuracy in Location-Based Apps

This past Tuesday I attended the Official Geo-Loco Networking Event at Simple Geo’s HQ in San Francisco. I met some great people and had some very interesting conversations. One item discussed was accuracy of location-based apps, and the affect this can have on user experience.

Over the past month I have been using Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl and Yelp to check-in almost everywhere I go. While much to the chagrin of my friends, the point is to compare each service on game play, offers, usefulness and a few other metrics. While each app varies on these aspects, I am going to focus on Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp with regards to accuracy. Let’s get into my experience.

The Apps

Foursquare: For the most part Foursquare is accurate. My actual location usually appears in the first three venues listed. And to improve accuracy, the app ‘learns’ from your previous check-ins. If you are close to a location where you have checked-in before, Foursquare collects those venues under ‘My Favorites’ at the top of your search results. Foursquare will also highlight locations near you where several people are checking-in.

Gowalla: It just feels off. I do not have any empirical data to enforce this, but on the whole my actual location tends to be five, six or even ten entries down the list. They also have a trending feature called Hot Spots

Yelp: By far Yelp is the most accurate of the three with my actual location appearing first in most instances, if not in the top three. Most major venues, stores and the like are present, but event specific check-ins are not.

Foursquare, Gowalla & Yelp Venue selection screens

I do not know the differences in how each of these apps is coded to behave, but there are some features that can attribute to the some of the discrepancies.

User Submitted Venues

Foursquare and Gowalla allow users to submit their own venues. I took advantage of this when I added the Boing Boing Picnic to both services earlier this month and then compared the results the next day.

While this has helped both companies to increase the number of venues and engage their users, it has also caused ‘bloat.’ Users have added their homes, bathrooms and even streets, which create clutter.

Silicon Ally Insider recently published “Your Mom’s House” And Other Places You Should Not Be Able To Check-In To On Foursquare. In they article they quote a user who compares the service to the early days of MySpace.

“One of the reasons MySpace was able to grow like a weed is because it had an “anything goes” attitude towards users that led to the creation of a lot of disposable joke accounts, fictional person accounts, and total freakshows like Tila Tequila.

After the hype died down, MySpace experienced a population crash because (in part) the non-freak users got tired of the freakshow and started fleeing to better-managed sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.”

While that is an extreme position, it does raise the question of which strategy will work best in the long-term. Yelp stands steadfast by their decision to keep locations limited to what is on their site: real businesses. And this is working from an accuracy standpoint.

So What’s Best?

While the space is still in its infancy and there is room for several players, decisions made now on venue submissions and editing will affect these companies down the road. I believe first adopters and younger users will favor the openness (and craziness) of Foursquare and Gowalla, while older users will favor the more controlled and defined environment of Yelp.

Recommended Reading & Viewing

Here’s what I am reading online.
MASHABLE: HOW TO: Use Game Mechanics to Power Your Business

In this How-To, Shane Snow, author of Inside Foursquare: Checking In Before the Party Started, teams with Phin Barnes to analyze game play mechanics and how they apply to your strategy.

Many of the “games” being built in this flurry, however, are certainly not going to be fun. Many will distract the user from the core value proposition of the application or service. At worst, copycat “game mechanics” will quickly become annoying and trite — destroying value for users and creators alike.

MASHABLE: RIM Previews Blackberry 6 and MobileMe-Like Service

Christina Warren reviews RIM’s latest reveal of Blackberry 6.

In fact, in this second preview, almost all of the interface elements appear to be touch-based. There is even a new virtual keyboard on display that looks similar to what the iPhone sports, as well as support for pinch zoom. This makes us think that RIM is planning to launch a new line of touchscreen BlackBerry devices.

SCOBLEIZER: Why I can’t kick the Apple iPhone habit

Robert Scoble has been vocal with his disappointment with the new iPhone and its reception issues. Still, he cannot pull himself away. In this article he explains why.

So, why am I more productive on iPhones than on Android?
It came down to small things that I’ve noticed. For one, each app works more consistently. On Seesmic on Android, for instance, I could scroll to the top of its window by clicking a red bar. On every iPhone app that happens by clicking the top bar. On EVERY app. On Android it isn’t in the same place, or with the same command.

LAUGHING SQUID: EpicWin, Turning A Todo List App Into a Role Playing Game

Tie this video back to the Mashable article above and see how this app developer adds game mechanics to your to do list.

Foursquare vs. Gowalla at the Boing Boing Picnic

Testing Balloons
This past Saturday, Boing Boing hosted a picnic in Golden Gate Park and a few of my friends decided it would be an excellent place to do some winds tests on their dirigible project called Airship Victoria (Facebook page.) We hauled in a custom-made 10 ft. vinyl balloon, filled it with helium and anchored it with a 80+ ft. tether. The balloon lifted a small wireless weather station and was attached to a scale so we could measure the affects of the varying winds on the balloon.

The project was a success on two levels; we gathered useful data and raised awareness of the Airship Victoria.

Since we arrived before the picnic started, I conducted my own side experiment and set-up Boing Boing Picnic check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla. By the end of the day, the results were fairly clear. Not counting myself, 18 people checked-in via Foursquare, versus only one on Gowalla. While this is in no way scientific, and it can be argued that Gowalla was co-hosting an event with Threadless at the same time, it does show that Foursquare does have the lead, at least with this very small sample.
Foursquare Venue Data

This is by no means a death sentence for Gowalla. There is still room for players in this space. Brightkite, Loopt and Whrrl each have their own style of game play.

Acquisition rumors will percolate, and brands will create their own check-in strategies in the near future. The winners will be those that offer the best UI with the best game play and value to the end user.

Check out more pictures and videos of the picnic at the Facebook event page.

4 Augmented Reality Demos

This week there were big announcements in the world of augmented reality for junaio, Qualcomm, Condé Nast Traveller and Ben & Jerry’s. (The following are listed from oldest to newest.)

TechCrunch: Augmented reality demo: junaio takes advantage of iOS 4 camera access.

TechCrunch: Qualcomm’s New Vision-based Augmented Reality Platform Will Knock Your Block Off

Mashable: Condé Nast Traveller Blends Location and Augmented Reality in New iPhone Apps

Mashable: Ben & Jerry’s iPhone App Gets Even More Psychedelic with Augmented Reality

Lost in the clicks: Poorly Planned Mobile Campaigns Hurt User Experience

I am a Words With Friends addict. I’ll reach for the Scrabble-like game on my iPhone whenever time permits. I play the ad-supported version that includes Greystripe banners and interstitials in-between turns to generate revenue for the developer. Most of the ads appear to be for mobile applications, similar games, or are offers to upgrade from the ad-supported game to the premium version.

While playing over the long weekend an ad caught my eye. It was a simple banner that promoted a restaurant in San Francisco (where I was at the time.) I was not familiar with the restaurant and the location-based targeting intrigued me enough to click on the ad.

What happened next was almost a total failure. The banner lead to a brief splash screen offering me the opportunity to call the restaurant or view their full profile on Citysearch (the sponsor according to the ad.) Still wanting to learn more, I clicked on full profile and was taken to a mobile formatted search page on Citysearch. All of the fields were empty.

I was taken aback. I applaud the decision to provide contact information, but the blank search page is a horrendous strategy. I backed out of the ad and reloaded the game until I saw another Citysearch ad and took the screen captures below demonstrating the flow of the campaign.

Campaign Flow

Here is where I take issue.
1. The ad proffered the ‘Full Profile’ but took me to the search page,
2. Requiring the user to input search terms adds one more opportunity for typos or user error, and
3. More clicks mean more opportunities to lose a potential customer.

These lessons are nothing new to the online advertising community, but it is sad to see old mistakes being played out in mobile today. If these ads are somehow being generated dynamically, there should be a method to deep link to the actual restaurant or service advertised or at least a search results page.

I do not know the terms of the deal, but judging from my experiences with Greystripe ads, this is most likely a limitation on the part of the advertiser, and a potentially fatal one at that.

UPDATE: After posting, Dane Holewinski, Director of Marketing at Greystripe, commented below, informing me that they are not Greystripe banners. Most of the other ads have Greystripe branding which lead me to erroneously attach their name to this campaign.

When I was writing the post I had reservations about even mentioning Greystripe, because I could not confirm that these ads belong to them. Those reservations manifested in the last line “but judging from my experiences with Greystripe ads, this is most likely a limitation on the part of the advertiser…”

My apologies to the folks at Greystripe.

Retail Needs to Cater to Mobile Empowered Shoppers

Yesterday Steve Smith at the Media Post blog, Mobile Insider, published Catching Up With That Shopper. He collected some telling statistics on how slowly the majority of retailers are implementing mobile strategies. From the article:

Knowledge Networks just found that 40% of smartphone owners consult apps at least sometimes when making shopping decisions, and 32% say they are more inclined to buy from companies that advertise in apps. And yet another survey from Acquity Group finds that even among the top 500 Internet retailers, only 12% even have a mobile Web site. The share of companies with mobile apps was only 7%.

That is a fairly large disparity, especially when you consider that the iTunes app store is now over two years old and by all accounts has been wildly successful.

In an earlier post, What the Red Laser Acquisition Means for eBay and Retailers, I conclude that retailers need to differentiate with services in order to avoid becoming ‘showrooms’ where mobile shoppers come to try before they go online to buy. One of these differentiating services is a strong mobile presence incorporated throughout marketing efforts.

A successful mobile strategy is not a compliment to your existing plan, but a core element of your interactive strategy. Banners, mobile commerce and a mobile site/app are only the fist steps. QR codes, augmented reality, coupons, location-based services, games and more can be implemented to drive brand loyalty, viral marketing and in the end, sales.

While not every retailer will use all of these strategies, the technology and user adoption rate are finally at a point where mobile can deliver on promises made years ago. Now it is retail’s time to realize, embrace, integrate and profit from mobile.

The iOS 4 Experience on an iPhone 3G

iOS 4 Home Screen
As soon as iOS 4 was released I updated my iPhone 3G. Over the last nine days I have hammered the update using it relentlessly on my commute and in the evenings. While some of the new features are nice, it has become clear that the iOS 4 is very taxing on the hardware. Here are a few of my observations.

Slow Apps: A couple of apps are much slower. Messages, Camera and Facebook take several seconds longer to open on my 3G with iOS 4.

App crashes: Several apps will start to open, hang and then close. Twitter and Words With Friends (free) repeatedly crash and I have to reopen them.

Folders: Overall the folders work well, but there is a minor lag that is noticeable especially compared to the iPhone 4.

It was publicized that some iOS 4 features (in addition to app switching) would not be available to 3G owners for performance reasons and judging from what I have experienced that was a wise decision. Overall I like the new OS even in its limited form and will continue to use it. 3G owners can only hope that an update is looming that will help alleviate, if not eliminate these issues.

UPDATE: I just found this parody video which does a good job conveying the issues I have experienced.

Recommended Reading & Viewing

Here is a collection of recent articles and videos that I recommend.

Why We Check In: The Reasons People Use Location-Based Social Networks
This article from ReadWriteWeb analyzes the various reasons people choose to share their private lives on mobile social networks.

Entelligence: App stores are not enough
Michael Gartenberg has a great piece on the future of app stores.

How to increase publicity for your mobile application launch with Aaron Watkins, co-founder of interviews Aaron Watkins at and they discuss promotion strategies for app developers.

Pandora’s Guide to Mobile App Platforms

GigaOM reviews a talk on mobile platforms given by Pandora’s CTO, Tom Conrad, at Digg.

5 Cool Non-Profit Uses of Location-Based Tech

Mashable outlines five location-based strategies currently being used by non-profits.

iPad Magazines: Don’t Believe the Hype
Peter Cashmore writes on the future of magazine iPad apps for CNN.

What the RedLaser Acquisition Means for eBay and Retailers

Yesterday eBay announced that they acquired RedLaser, the developer of an iPhone application that allows users to scan product barcodes and compare prices. According to CNET and Mashable eBay’s short term plans including offering the application for free in the App Store and integration with eBay listings and products. The eBay integration will include its online listings as well as adding Red Laser’s technology to their own mobile products.

Mark Carges, eBay’s CTO and Sr. VP of Global Products said in a statement:

“Mobile enables consumers to make impulse buys and convenient purchases wherever they are, and eBay is constantly innovating to make mobile shopping easy and reduce the friction in commerce.”

The acquisition moves eBay closer to competing directly with brick and mortar retail outlets. Just like the promise of mobile dating based on proximity (see From Check-In to Lunch: Location-based Apps Connect People) mobile price comparison and shopping services are nothing new. I can remember using a flip handset in 2000 to access MySimon’s pricing guides while in a store. But now advanced mobile devices have penetrated the market to a point where everyone from shoppers to retailers is paying attention.

The end result will have two effects on retailers. Small shops, who eBay provides a national or international customers, will benefit as long as they can complete on price. National chains will become showrooms for consumers to see goods first hand and then reach for their phones to determine the best price. Chain stores will have to compete on price and even more so on services (warranties, returns, installation, set-up, etc.) to keep their customers.

In the long term we will have to wait and see how this will affect eBay’s relationship with national chains.

Listen to Robert Scoble’s interview with execs from eBay

CNET: eBay acquires RedLaser bar code scanning app

Mashable: eBay Acquires Barcode-Scanning iPhone App Redlaser

Red Laser’s app was featured in the iPhone commercial below.