Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Geo-Tagging, What Art Thou to Me?

Those of you who read my blog (much appreciated, by the way) may think that I am obsessed with foursquare. And, perhaps that is true. I am very much looking an upcoming talk by Dennis, but that is beside the point. I am simply fascinated by the concept of this mobile application, how it affects my life, other people's lives, our society, communication, and so on - and how that is evolving with the expanding usage of this tool, Gowalla and other hyper-local activities.

As of this week (this entry was initiated March 20th),
foursquare has half a million users. That is up from 400,000 last week due to intense guerrilla marketing at the South by Southwest event (SXSW) last weekend. That, in itself, is noteworthy. From what I've heard, foursquare got the jump on Gowalla last March when it spread throughout the South by Southwest community - demonstrating the power of crowds and of live viral communication. Bring a group together with a passion for social media, and you can increase your audience by 25% in a weekend. Based on a CNET podcast, it also seems that Gowalla increased its user base that weekend with many foursquare users adding that application to their smartphone portfolio.

As someone who often works from home and who has many different "
social graphs," i.e., social and professional networks, foursquare has been of great interest to me as it has allowed me to stay in touch with the world beyond West 74th Street, meet new people, feel connected to a range of people and deepen my personal and professional relationships. I am also intrigued by the way in which the gaming aspect of the function affects me. By ranking people based on points and awarding points based on the number and characteristics of check-ins, foursquare brings out my competitive side and consequently influences my behavior. I feel motivated to get out, to go to multiple locations, to get to the gym because Kandace went there before work, and I want to unlock the Gym Rat badge, to check-in on my way to the subway so that I have time to capture that location. It also makes me more aware of my behavior. Until foursquare told me, I had no idea that I had been to a certain location 10 times in 30 days. I thought I went there once or twice a week. I am the mayor of Pinky Nail Salon, Fashion 74 Nails, MaxWax, Andy's Deli, Duane Reade and other local spots; this makes me aware of the fact that I frequent these place and that few other foursquarers do. And when I am dethroned, as with Duane Reade, I sense the expansion of the game's popularity. The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere is check in. The next thing I do is check my ranking.

Each day, foursquare has a unique impact on my day as I watch the way in which it influences my city, myself, and at the risk of being melodramatic, my world. I include my world because I was surprised to see how prevalent it was in Puerto Rico.

Hence, I have decided to keep a little diary of my new life with foursquare:

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

I've just returned home from a long day in Central Park, at a seminar and hanging out with a friend.

Most days that I check in at home, there is nothing trending in my neighborhood, which makes me feel like a bit of a pioneer. Today, there were two places: First, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, the huge multiplex theater on 67th-ish and Broadway. That makes sense. And second, a place called, I believe, Bar 460. I say, "I believe" because when I went to double check it just now, it was no longer trending, and I couldn't find it at all. Ah well, I came very close to learning of a new venue in my neighborhood.

Oh, and in going back to look for Bar 460, I saw that the AMC theater had only 5 people. So, that's trending for the Upper West Side. It could be one group of friends. Ah, and voila, at 10:45pm the movie theater is no longer trending. I guess the early show is finished.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Five weeks ago, I was fresh off the
Social Media Week boat (metaphorical) and freshly on the foursquare bandwagon. I was like a person who had just finished the Landmark Education Forum. My enthusiasm was so great that it was contagious. It was at that time that I had a meeting with a senior executive at a major advertising agency. In demonstrating the application - having already checked in at the location - I noted that there was one person at the agency who was showing up as present. A senior Creative executive. The Strategy executive called him to acknowledge his tastemaker status, and I friended him.

Today, I visited the agency again, and there were six people who had checked in. A six-fold increase in five weeks. I should feel good that the religion is spreading, but I am also feeling a little less uniquely "cool."

This evening, as I was walking from one nail salon (closed for the night) to another, I used the opportunity to check in. Glancing down at my options, I noticed a new location that was "Trending Now." The name seemed to be "Sunburned" something and glancing at it as I walked, I thought it was a tanning salon! My observation, therefore: it looks like folks are getting ready for the warmer weather - though I was a little perplexed given the current temperature of 50-something and a less than inspiring weather forecast.

Later that evening, when I arrived home, and my nails were dry enough to remove my iPhone from my pocket, I took another look at the name of the locale - which was still trending on the Wednesday night. It was "
Sunburnt Calf." As it turns out, Sunburnt Calf is a new bar and brunch locale - an offshoot of Sunburnt Cow in the East Village and BondiRoad on Rivington Street - wherever that is - and has been open a little more than two months. Perhaps I am back in the know!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I've noticed that a my foursquare friends seem to spend a lot of time at airports. Is it a reflection of my group of friends, of people in general (with me as the exception), or the fact that since people have a lot of "free" time at airports they are more likely to check in. I think it is a combination with an emphasis on the latter. I've also noted that a disproportionate number of my friends seem to out of JFK - very few from Laguardia - and often fly JetBlue. Good taste. As I see them checking in at Terminal 5, I try to recall whether I was the one who set up that specific location.

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The Museum of Natural History has been trending this week. It must be spring break. On a related note, the Shake Shack across the street from the museum has also been trending.

A new person has started checking into Pure Yoga. A man! Quite a feat since I get absolutely no AT&T coverage within the building.

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

25 people at the SOHO Apple Store early on a Saturday morning. Could it be that early adopters of foursquare are early adopters of the iPad. I think so. Moreover, it leads me to ask: What is the ratio of Apple to PC users...

...in general
...on Twitter
...on foursquare
...with iPads - ok, that one is loaded

Tuesday, April 7th, 2010

I'm told that foursquare now has 750,000 users and 16 employees. (I wouldn't mind becoming #17...)

Attended a social media panel at razorfish's NY offices (SMAC) followed by drinks and plentiful bar food at Heartland Brewery. foursquare users abounded - first time for me in a while.

Whoops - almost forgot the most important bit of news! foursquare is rolling out analytics services. The implications for marketers are tremendous!

Oh, and another, Tom C. tells me that the social marketing executive for JetBlue always keeps tabs on who is the Mayor of Terminal 5 at JFK. Smart. As I said above, I think there's a lot of opportunity at airports - captive audience with time to kill away from most of their social graph.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

One of the more interesting things that Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital and Social Media Strategy for Pepsi, said on a
SMAC (Social Media Advertising Consortium) panel the other night was this: While historically, a huge (300,000 people, I believe and hundreds of thousands of products, I believe...) company like Pepsi would find a movement/application like foursquare to be too small to be relevant or usable, their current outlook is that they have the ability to take something like this, if it is truly interesting, and make it big. (He didn't use the word scaleable, but I felt a need to say it... like a trained reflex.) Very interesting.

I am now starting to be ousted as mayor from locations I personally created such as Penang UWS and Andy's Deli on Amsterdam. Isn't that always the case. I'm out there using it when everyone thinks I'm crazy, and then someone else gets the glory. :-)

I've noted that when I am at a networking event and another digital strategist (typically male) is using foursquare, he will "aggressively" take ownership of instructing those not familiar with it and assume that I know less than he, even if I have checked in as well. I've also noted a lot of people who seem to have some personal knowledge/relationship with Dennis or his colleagues but also have some difficulty gaining access. Oh, how I hope my plans to have dinner with him following an upcoming talk that I am co-sponsoring do not fall through. It seems to be a highly sought after privilege.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

After discovering Burnt Calf via foursquare trending some months ago, I finally checked it out in person on Saturday. It's very close to my apartment and has bottomless brunch cocktails. However, it turns out that brunch doesn't start until noon. So we went elsewhere and sat outside on the lovely day that seems to be preceding a rainy one - still holding out hope for a 5pm tennis game.

There is a young fellow named B.H. who is the mayor of two residential buildings on CPW in the West 90s. His tip is "Live Here." Do we think he's a broker?

I've come to the conclusion that the mayor of the Central Park Tennis Center does not play tennis at all. He seems to be a runner that checks in at each venue he passes. That explains why the overseer at the courts didn't recognize him.

I have noticed that a former colleague of mine was spending a lot of time at the gym (as communicated via foursquare and, before that, facebook). She would check in at 4 in the morning and often check in twice a day. I found out today that she's a body builder! So, it wasn't that she was going to the gym before an early day at the office, she was spending 4 hours a day working out!

A few months ago, when I first heard Gary Vee speak, he asked his audience how many of them had sworn at one point that they would never have a cell phone? And how many swore they would never have a facebook account? When I heard him speak last week at the re-Set conference, he added foursquare and Gowalla to his list of things once forsworn.

Hey! Did foursquare just add back the ability to Shout Out once you're already checked in? It seems that they have.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Can foursquare hurt your career? As a consultant, and depending upon the specific project, I often work from home and have the flexibility to work whatever hours I like - as clients who have received 3am emails will attest. However, if a client - or potential client - sees that I hit the yoga studio at 4pm or grab a game of tennis at 3, will she think I have too much time on my hands? Or will she think that I have a good work-life balance or level of discipline? This came up in a conversation today with an executive who passed on a job candidate because the applicant didn't have a lot of LinkedIn connections. Personally, I think that is a very valid and relevant assessment. When I interview someone for a job, one of the first things I do is check out the LinkedIn profile - particularly if I want to get a sense of the digital savviness of the candidate. Does use of foursquare signal that you are a vanguard or simply give out too much information?

I am convinced that foursquare needs me to reach their full strategic potential. I'm going to spend the next few days figuring out why.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Oooh, I'm #15 on my list of friends this week! Usually I'm at least in the top five. Often in the top two by the end of the weekend. This can't be good.

One of my foursquare contacts (Seth H) has gone rogue on foursquare as follows: "I've subverted Foursquare to add Mitzvot in this case Sepharat H'Omer - the Counting of the Omer the days between Passover and Pentecost (Shavout.) It's 49 days so every day I try to put something clever in. I also added a check in for Shabbat. I'm still trying to figure out why I'm not the Mayor of Sephirat H'Omer as I've checked in twenty something times."

Another of my contacts likes to include little sales pitches in her posts. I'm not a fan of this approach.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Creepy? Maybe. Helpful? Yes. I have a business contact who lives in Boston that I want to meet with when he is next in New York. This morning he checked into Penn Station, Philly on his way to NYC. I sent him a text. This afternoon, he checked into Penn Station, NYC. I sent him a second text. This evening, we are meeting for drinks!

I would estimate that foursquare has a million members at this point.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I've noticed that the AMC Theater and Shake Shack are often trending in my neighborhood. Could this be related to the fact that both places involve downtime in which you are waiting for something to happen - waiting for the movie to start & waiting in line... similar to why I think airports often encourage check-in.

Came home today to see lots of activity at the Beacon Theater. When I checked in at the fruit cart just south of the stage door, I noticed 47 people checked in. With a little Google sleuthing, I figured out that Fox TV is having their upfront presentation there. I then went onto Twitter to see whether attendees were tweeting about the event. Tried out #fox and #foxupfront. Indeed, they were - though very minimally relative to the number of folks on foursquare.

I then decided to take a look at who is attending the upfront. I clicked on a person and then took at look at her mayorships. It's quite amazing what you can piece together from this little bit of info. You can basically infer where the person lives, where she works, what her family status is and what her interests are. One attendee is mayor of Zenith HQ. Hmmm... a media buyer, perhaps. Another attendee is mayor of Berry Hill Elementary School, the CVS on "Cold Spring Road," LIRR Syosset and PM Pediatrics on Jericho Turnpike. Dr. House would have a field day with this stuff!

Wednesday, May 19th

I noticed that ABC had more check-ins for its upfront presentation at Avery Fisher than Fox did at the Beacon. Around 57 vs. 47. I'm assuming that it was a larger crowd - otherwise, it could mean that the foursquare population is growing over the course of and due in part to upfront week.

5 people checked into the JCC at 1am on a Wednesday morning. Strange...

Created a check-in for "Stuck In Traffic." It had to be done.

Tuesday, June 1st

Foursquare is losing its allure as the time it takes to check in increases. If I can't check in before the subway train arrives, then spending my time on the platform waiting for foursquare to load is not a good use of my time. I understand that check-ins have gone from one per second to 100 per second, so I'll be patient and wait for the foursquare team to catch up, but the situation definitely reduces the fun factor and the usability quotient.

One of these days, I'll start a new entry about the commercial applications of foursquare and location tagging. In the meantime, here is an interesting example from May 3rd of what Pepsi is doing. Recall from a prior posting that the beverage manufacturer's Bonin Bough said on a SMAC panel that if a startup like foursquare has an attractive concept, Pepsi will not dismiss the venture as too small but rather might find a way to bring it to scale. In this case, it looks like Pepsi has gone rogue:

Pepsi to Roll Two Geo-based Loyalty Efforts for Mobile

By Brian Quinton

Beverage maker Pepsi has announced that it will roll out two location-based mobile campaigns to offer discounts and loyalty points to consumers who use them to patronize nearby restaurant partners.

In the first, slated to launch in mid-May, the beverage maker will roll out Pepsi Loot, an iPhone app that will use the geo-location abilities of users’ mobile phones to identify and direct them to nearby restaurants that serve Pepsi beverages, both chains such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, IHOP, Popeye’s, Dairy Queen and Arby’s and also participating independents with Pepsi on the menu.

Users who find these locations, or “Pop spots”, with the app and go there will then be encouraged by both mobile alerts and in-store signs to “check in”. Users that check in at three pop spots will earn “Loot” loyalty points that can then be redeemed for music downloads from Universal Music Group, behind-the-scenes video content for mobile phones from Loot featured artists like Jamie Cullum and Katherine McPhee, or discount and free-food offers from Pop Spot member restaurants.

Thursday, June 3rd

56 people were checked into Bryant Park yesterday afternoon. That's crazy! I wonder how many people are at this one square block park at any one time. A sign of warm, sunny, weather and a reflection of how fast Foursquare is spreading on this little island called Manhattan.

Tuesday, June 8th

Starcom MediaVest starting to show up on a regular basis as top trending venue during the day. 15 people today at 11am.

I have been wondering whether the Cirque du Soleil that is currently resident at the Beacon is something I would want to see. Yesterday, when I checked into a parking meter near my home, I got a pop up from Anna O. recommending it - though she did comment on the clowns, and I am more interested in the performance/acrobatics/skill elements of CdS. I will text for more info. That also reminded me that I should check the "Tips" from the Beacon for more info. The only potential downside is that people tend not to leave negative tips, so it will be a bit biased.

Slowness of checking-in continues to be a downer. I guess it's understandable given that foursquare is nearing 1.6 million users

See interview with founder Dennis Crowley from the Mashable social media Summit

Monday, June 14th, 2010

DVR'd Dennis Crowley's interview with Maria Bartiromo. Need to watch and/or record it before Time Warner Cable comes by to fix my cable service.

72 people were checked into the Twitter Conference (TWTRCON NY10) this morning. 50 people were checked in at the Tony's last night. Sometimes 4SQ alerts me to a place for me to go, or motivates me to get somewhere - such as the Internet Week Expo - but sometimes it's too late to make plans for it, or I just don't have the access, which sometimes makes me sad - I admit. Green eyed FourSquenvy.

I realized that it's probably not a good idea to check in somewhere that it's illegal to be such as Central Park at 1am. In theory, the Park police could monitor it. I know that they leave tips about venues within the Park.

I sincerely believe that foursquare could be the next facebook. According to what I've seen thus far of Dennis' interview, they do not yet have a working biz model, but are building up the audience, participation and data to have a truly powerful monetization machine (in my own words).

Tuesday, June 15th

It must be summer in Central Park because I've seen Delacorte Theater (Shakespeare in the Park) and Summer Stage trending over the last week.

Wednesday, June 16th

Today is the day that someone other than I checked into my apartment! It was the second place she had ever checked-in, the first being the cafe where we had tea. This hereby justifies - in my mind - my creating a venue for my apartment building.

Karen's Coins - iTunes Optimization, The Sixth Force and Other Phrases for Thought

Here Are Some Phrases, Terms and Concepts I've Created and Coined. I hope they give you food for thought:

iTunes Optimization (aka iTO) - The art and science of marketing an iPhone application via the iPhone application store - and within the mobile ecosystem in general. The ultimate goal is to get the application as high as possible on the list of relevant and/or recommended applications. This involves paid mobile advertising, cross-promotion and other tools, as yet unmastered.

Alternatively Application Store Marketing and Application Store Optimization (ASM and ASO)

The Sixth Force - Refers to the importance of "complements" in evaluating the strategic position and approach of a company or organization. The sixth force supplements Porter's existing five forces: Suppliers, Customers, Competitors, Potential New Entrants, Substitutes. When I was a brand manager for RAGU Pizza Sauce, the introduction and declining popularity of Boboli pizza crust turned out to be the most important element in explaining the rise and fall of pizza sauce consumption over a three-year period.

Segmented Media Pricing - Print publishers need to start looking at their business in a new way. Rather than maintaining the print versions of their magazine and newspaper publications as they are, and then deciding what form of walled garden, paid, metered, micropayment and/or freemium model to implement online, they need to unbundle and redesign what they offer - which is news and information, not a printed magazine or electronic replication with enhancements.

(Formerly called Disaggregation Correlations Optimization)

Social Mediaphobe - A marketer, manager or executive who is afraid to expose his brand to the masses - to what the massess might say - in a social forum. He is afraid that consumers might disparage the brand or say something inappropriate - and that, and this is the most common fear - he will be responsible because he sponsored, created, condoned, enabled, facilitated, hosted or participated in the forum. He is afraid of having his feelings hurt or his wrists slapped.

Hold the hands of these Social Media-phobes as they look down upon the icy ski slope. Tell them they can do it. They can conquer the mountain. Tell them not to lean back. Not to look back. That will only cause them to fall. Let them know that they can enjoy the ride. The journey. And that it can be exhilarating and even, well, social.

Beer Diplomacy - The use of beer by the president of the United States to patch up an awkward race-relations situation.

Eccentrepeneur - Simply put, an eccentric entrepreneur. You'll know one when you see one.

Mistweeting - I did not personally coin this and give credit to Michael Herz at NYSSA. This refers to the act of stating or implying that you are doing something or located somewhere and then contradicting that with Twitter updates.
Spoken Word -- "I will be out of town all summer."
Tweet -- "Just had dinner at a great restaurant in the West Village!"

Coffaholic - Someone who loves, loves, loves coffee [you know who you are] and everything that comes with it. Someone who will sit in a Starbucks just to soak in the aroma. Someone who buys every variety of those traveling coffee mugs she can find - even though she really needs no more than one.

By the way, does anyone remember thermoses - with the screw on lids and a cup on top of that? Do those still exist? The ones where you could add a little something to your warm beverage to make the football game a little more entertaining.

Reconnaissance Shopping - A quick walk through a retail establishment such as Loehmann's to keep tabs on the types of merchandise they carry should a specific need arise. For example, recent reconnaissance made me aware of an abundance of very cute low-heeled boots, but I was not in the market for these. However, upon hearing from my doctor that I should stop wearing high heels, I was able to complete a quick, efficient shopping expedition on my way home from her office. Reconnaissance shopping is not the same as window shopping, which is more recreational and leisurely.

Neiphews - Kind of a cop out. Looking for a word that encompasses both nieces and nephews as in, "I have four niephews - three nephews and one niece."

Frolleague - A colleague you would friend (or have friended) on Facebook.

Ovation Inflation - The somewhat recent practice here in NYC of giving a standing ovation to any performance that costs enough that the audience feels they must justify their expenditure by categorizing the performance as one that calls for a standing ovation. Personally, I save my ovations for occasions in which I am so moved, impressed or rendered speechless that I rise to my feet without even knowing it.

The Fourth Dimension - Of course, this term is not new; however, I would assert that via time shifting technology, we have indeed reached the fourth dimension. Deep.

(As it turns out I learned during a dinner with one of the Hadron Collider experimental physicists that digital video recorders and podcasts have not given us access to the fourth dimension. Evidentally, the fourth dimension derives from the Space x Time = Distance equation. Ah, well.)

Foursquenvy - Feeling bad because someone has checked-in somewhere you wish you could be

Monday, June 14, 2010

Calendars... Open! Upcoming Programs, Conferences, Panels & Events

Here are some programs, conferences, panels and events that I have on my radar that you might find of interest as well.


NFL's Commissioner—Roger Goodell: The Business of Sports, NYC

Checking In with the Co-Founder of foursquare, Dennis Crowley (I am co-sponsoring this event)

As social networks and online spaces proliferate, we risk losing contact with the real world. Why go out, when we can access the entire world through Facebook or Twitter? Enter foursquare. Part social network, part city guide, part game, foursquare encourages you to get out and experience your city, while simultaneously participating in online space. "Checking in" to various venues like restaurants, bars, and stores tells your friends where you are and the more you check in, the more badges you can earn. If you have the most check-ins at a particular venue, foursquare names you the "Mayor" -- a distinction many of the New York's restaurants and bars are coming to recognize with special discounts and offers. When co-founder Dennis Crowley checks in to the Harvard Club, he'll give us a special glimpse into foursquare's past, present, and future.


Internet Week 2010 NYC

Mashable Media Summit - still more to watch via Livestream recordings

From On Demand to Always On - How to Reach and Engage a Mobile Audience. Limelight Networks and MTV Networks Talk Mobile Video -- still available via recorded webcast and presentation

What a difference a year makes. Remember when the iPhone had the app store market cornered? When there wasn't a Droid, or a Nexus One? A Kin, or an Incredible? When there wasn't a Nook, or an iPad, or a Slate? The mobile market is changing, and content publishers face a world of complexity in delivering media to audiences on the go.

Limelight Networks CTO of Mobility and Monetization Solutions Jonathan Cobb and MTV Networks Senior Director of Product Development Todd Kennedy discuss evolving market conditions, mobile strategy considerations, and real-world examples of mobile media success.

The webcast covers:
  • Media delivery to mobile browsers and mobile apps across a wide array of devices
  • A range of publisher scenarios from premium television delivery to "how-to" video streams
  • A list of variables to consider when forming a mobile strategy, as well as recommendations for implementation and monetization
  • An in-depth look at how MTV Networks has expanded into mobile delivery with many of its well-known television brands

A Conversation with Jimmy Wales, Founder of wikipedia. (I organized this event on behalf of the Harvard Club of NYC in conjunction with the HBS Club of NYC.)

Is it possible to collect the sum of all human knowledge and make it available to every person for free? Jimmy Wales thinks it is. And as founder of the online collaborative encyclopedia wikipedia, he has made that his goal. With 15 million articles in 271 languages and 680 billion monthly visits, wikipedia is the largest, most popular general reference on the web. So, how is the content on this expansive source of information created, maintained and “policed?” Is this open-source resource reliable or biased? And what is the future of this kind of collaborative web culture?

Come find out through a special interview with Jimmy Wales by media expert Adam Klein (MBA ‘79, JD ’87). A former strategy and management professor at HBS, Dr. Klein teaches at Columbia’s Journalism School and as founder of Media Leader LLC, continues to apply his strategy, innovation and change management expertise to the rapidly transforming media industry.
Mr. Wales was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and appointed a fellow of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Linked-N Bergen County Networking Event. Social Media Discussion Panel About LinkedIn. I was one of the panelists. Tuesday, May 18th. 6:30-9pm. Crowne Plaza Hotel, Paramus, NJ.

Registration will be from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m with networking until about 8:15 p.m. And then back by popular demand we will have another panel discussion hosted by Chris Kieff.

The food is being catered by Bone Fish Grill, and there will be a cash bar. The Crown Plaza is located at 601 From Rd next to the Paramus Park Mall and across the street from the Garden State Parkway.

You can register at the link above. The cost is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. There were 84 people at the last Linked-N Bergen County event, and we expect to break the 100 mark with this program.

Saatchi & Saatchi 7x7. Wednesday, May 5th, 2010. NYC

CLEOPATRA: The Most Powerful Woman of the Ancient Mediterranean World, a talk by Dr. Duane Roller, author of a new biography of Cleopatra. Monday, May 3rd, 2010. Harvard Club of New York (my event)

The Future of Publishing by WIMI (Wharton Interactive). Friday, April 30th, full day. NYC.

Traditional publishing models have been disrupted, fragmented and dissolved. For books, magazines or newspapers, new behaviors and technologies have changed the face of publishing forever. Join the Wharton Lab for Innovation in Publishing (part of the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative, Knowledge@Wharton, and Wharton School Publishing to examine the new technologies and strategies that impact all facets of the industry to help bring actionable answers to publishing executives. Conference highlights include:

Keynote addresses from Gordon Crovitz, Co-Founder of Press+ (a service of Journalism Online) and Martin Nisenholtz, Senior Vice President for Digital Operations at The New York Times Company

Panel discussions spanning the consumer, publisher and delivery of the future, the value of social media in publishing and the mobility of new content with speakers from Hearst Interactive, Google, Simon & Schuster, Condé Nast, Wall Street Journal, Ipsos Mendelsohn, Demand Media, Digg.com, Hyperion Books, Fast Pencil, Open Road Media, Outside.In, NBC Universal, Flurry, and many more
Open forum style where attendees will be strongly encouraged to engage in discussion and brainstorming in the panel workshops

Seven Guidelines for Achieving ROI from Social Media. Webinar with Geoff Ramsey by eMarketer. Thursday, April 29th, 2010

F8 by Facebook. Wednesday, April 21st from 8:30am-5:15pm - Still available via Livestream. Definitely check it out to hear about the open graph protocol and other revolutionary announcements.

How to Lead in Tough Times with Bob Seelert, Worldwide Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi. Tuesday, April 20th. Harvard Club of New York (my event).

re-Set: The Business Models of Tomorrow. Presented by VANITY FAIR and HARPERSTUDIO. Panelists include Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Eisner, Tom Peters and Anna Bernasek. Tuesday, April 20th, 8am - noon

Michael Tuts, US physicist in charge of the Hadron Collider. April 12, 2010. Harvard Club of New York. (I was the co-sponsor of this event.)

Social Media Advertising Consortium NYC Salon. Wednesday, April 7, 2010 from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM. Razorfish Offices, NYC.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marketing an iPhone App - What a Difference a Year Makes in a Digital Media World

What a difference a year makes! I posted the blog entry below on May 27th, 2009. As I watch the iPad spiral to unforeseen levels of penetration in just a few weeks, as I ogle over the new HTC Droid, as the number of application stores reaches 5+, and as the number of Droid applications is expected to surpass those for iPhones this year, I thought it was worth pulling it up for old time's sake and to notice what a difference a year makes - and also what has stayed the same. So, in the interest of time - as I have important meetings at 2pm and 4:30pm, here are a few data points for thought:

  • Mobile ad sales accounted for approximately $391 million in 2009 and are forecast to reach $561 million in 2010 (Zenith Optimedia). Of course, this doesn't begin to take into account content revenue: music, video, applications, etc. or usage charges: text messaging, data, voice (remember voice?)
  • The global market for mobile applications reached $10 billion in 2009. (Didn't see that coming in 2006!) - Juniper Research
  • Apple sold 1 million iPads in 28 days and more than 2 million in less than 60 days.
  • It took 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones.
  • As of May 3, 2010, 12 million iPad applications had been downloaded and 1.5 million eBooks (Steve Jobs)
  • There are, I believe, 200,000 iPad applications available
  • Android applications are expected to reach 150,000 by the end of 2010 - though I believe a Motorola executive speaking during Internet Week referenced 40,000 available apps - as she was making the case that WAP sites are even better than apps... Note that iPhone users are more likely to use apps than websites; that's flipped for other smart phone users.
  • 65,000 Android phones ship daily (Eric Schmidt, May 17, 2010 via AndroPhones.com)
  • Android phones were not around a year ago
  • Unlike iPhones, Android phones have multiple manufacturers including Motorola, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, and are available through multiple carriers
  • The term is no longer "iPhone App" but rather "Mobile App."
  • The term is no longer "iPhone" but rather "Smartphone."
  • Smartphone penetration reached 21% of wireless subscribers at the end of 2010 and is expected to pass the 50% mark in 2011. (Nielsen)
  • 14% of mobile customers have downloaded an app in the last 30 days. BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Mobile users have between 10 and 14 apps on their phones, with RIM on the low end of the scale. Android users average 22 apps, compared to iPhone owners who devour, as Steve Smith of Mediapost puts it, 37 apps.
  • As of May 2010, Apple is larger than Microsoft.

And now to our formerly scheduled blog posting:


I recently attended one of Alan Brody's iBreakfasts - "iPhone Apps & Mobile Platforms." The panelists were Eric Litman from MediaLets, Ken Engels from Curious Brain and Alex Muller from Slifter. And it of course, got me thinking about iPhone apps. So here are some of my thoughts:


How Many Phones?

There are currently 40MM iPhone and iTouch devices (15)

17MM iPhones had been sold as of March 2009. (1)

Nearly 4MM iPhones were sold in the 1st quarter of 2009 - representing growth of nearly 125% vs. 2008. (8)

During the first three months of iPhone 3G availability (3Q 2008), seven million phones were sold, exceeding the six million first-generation phones sold in 1 1/4 years. (8)

26% of U.S. smart phone users have iPhones (35% have Blackberries). (3)

Where Are They?

iPhone applications are available in 77 countries. (7)

There are 500MM people with mobile phones in India...(5)

How Many Apps?

As of April 24th, 2009, 1 billion iPhone applications had been downloaded - 9 months after the launch of the store. (4)

On June 8th, Apple announced that there were 50,000 applications in the iTunes Store - up from 35,000 in April (7). At the OMMA Video conference on June 17th, I heard estimates of 54,000 by Gordon Borrell and 57,500 by Marketspace Senior Advisor Andrew Heyward.

As of April 15, 2009, 25,000 different iPhone apps had been downloaded. (6)

As of June 12th, 2009, 15 of the top 20 free and paid apps (top 10 free; top 10 paid) were games

The iPhone Applications Store model of centralized distribution is unprecedented.

It takes one to two weeks for a new application to be listed by Apple (if approved).(9)

What's Up with UrbanSpoon?

UrbanSpoon was one of the top applications downloaded in 2008.

Following favorable reviews from Macworld, TechCrunch, and even the New York Times, the free app racked up 300,000 downloads and over 6,000,000 shakes within the first 10 days.

In October 2008, UrbanSpoon began selling advertising on the application through a platform/ad network called AdMob that specializes in mobile advertising.

UrbanSpoon had already achieved 1MM downloads when it was approached by Apple to be featured in the Apple iPhone commercial. One month after the November commercial hit the airwaves, UrbanSpoon's downloads had jumped to 2.2MM. (10)

The UrbanSpoon iPhone application was originally introduced to drive traffic to its website. Its founders estimate that if they had charged for the application, e.g., $1.00, downloads would have been reduced by 90%. (11)

UrbanSpoon was recently purchased by IAC.

How Much Are They?

Most iPhone applications are paid apps. (12)

However, the top 10 free applications made up 7% of downloads as of December 2008. (13)

iPhone paid apps range from $.99 to at least $6.99 (e.g., BeamMe Pro). (14) The average price is $1.00 - $1.50. (12)

Apple takes 30% commission for paid applications. Apple's estimated revenue from app sales is undisclosed, but estimates range from $70 million to $160 million. (14)

What's Next?

Web 3.0 is here. The iPhone 3.0 enables in-application purchases (7)


ASO and ASM:

I have coined two new phrases: Application Store Optimization (ASO) and Application Store Marketing (ASM). These are core elements of iPhone application marketing.

Where do people go when they are looking for information and answers? Google - the "Q-Tip" of Search. Where do people go when looking for an iPhone application? The App Store - the centralized, exclusive source for iPhone Applications.

There are two goals: (1) turn up high on the results page of an app store keyword search (e.g., subway map, weather) and (2) be part of a "Top 10" list (e.g., games). 80% of downloads come from the top 100 applications. (16)

If you can't accomplish this organically, then go for Application Search Marketing (ASM) by paying to be a "Featured" application. As with SEM, ASM can be used to jump start organic search.

The key concept to remember is that popularity breeds popularity. Once you achieve a high ranking, take advantage of it. The one time you are guaranteed inclusion in a Top 25 list is when you are introduced, so support your application when you launch it, and focus your efforts.

If you are going to spend money advertising your application, then you are better off with one heavy push, i.e., buy your advertising all in one day rather than by sprinkling it around.

The "What's New" and "Top" lists are said to have rolling 24 hour windows. However, Apple has been continuously changing its algorithms.

Other Applications

A good strategy is to get included in other applications. This can be done by purchasing ad inventory through a third party or through partnerships. Creators of gaming applications often maintain a portfolio of games, using each one as a platform to promote the others. Whatever your application, it's important to target people who like a similar or complementary application.

Website Promotion

If you have an online presence, you can promote your mobile application on your own website. This can include deep links that can be emailed or texted to a mobile device or that links to the iTunes Store.

Social Media and Editorial Reviews

Develop a strategy for getting positive coverage: editorial and user reviews, blogs, Twitter, etc.

Consider Giving It Away

As with other content providers, the developer of an iPhone application is faced with a tradeoff: (a) give it away to get broader adoption (b) sell it to get revenue and recoup costs. Consider giving away your initial version; it will get downloaded by early adopters who are sure to give you feedback in the form of reviews within the Application Store. Once you've refined the application and gotten some word of mouth, transition to a paid model (grandfathering the early adopters). Additionally, you can give your first release away for free and then charge for the 2nd generation premium or "pro' version. BeamMe went from free to $6.99.


iPhone applications are characterized by the early fervor of a new space, and there are low barriers to entry for a new iPhone application

More than one in four smart phone users have iPhones; Verizon needs to take this situation seriously as it evaluates whether to reach an arrangement with iPhone once AT&T's exclusive contract expires. A Blackberry representative recently told me that because only 7.4% of computers are Apple computers, there is limited incentive to create software for Mac users, e.g., a working program for synchronizing a Blackberry with a MacBook. However, if Blackberry can't offer a viable solution, Verizon will lose customers to AT&T and iPhone, despite the fact that Verizon offers dramatically better phone courage. If Verizon continues to let this happen, they are missing a big opportunity.


In early 2006, I wrote a presentation about the mobile space for a multi-platform publisher that included forecasts of mobile advertising and marketing revenue by a range of media pundits. This is what they forecast for 2009:
- Visiongain: $602MM (55% compound annual growth rate)
- RBC Capital: $1.5 Bn (101% CAGR)
- McKinsey: $250-$750MM
eMarketer: $434MM (20% CAGR)

(As it turns out, mobile advertising revenue for 2009 was $391 million - Source: ZenithOptimedia, "Advertising Expenditure Forecasts," provided to eMarketer, December 8, 2009 - it seems that eMarketer wins the forecasting contest.)

The wide-ranging projections could not have foreseen the iPhone application revolution, that provides increased opportunity for paid listings, sponsorships, cross-promotion, affiliate marketing and display advertising. That said, the majority of mobile revenue comes from text messaging. (12)

Sources: Eric Litman, Alex Muller, Ken Engels and Alan Brody, Network World, Zueo, Christian Science Monitor, Articles Base,
eMarketer, Tata, Steve Wax of Campfire Media, Stuart Farr of Not for Tourists

(1) March 24th, 2009
(2) January 28th, 2009 - while some of the difference between the 15MM and the 17MM numbers may be due to purchases made between January and March, some is likely attributable to iPhone owners who have purchased more than one iPhone - likely trading up from version 1 to version 2
(3) March 2009 - eMarketer, Skype survey
(4) 1 billion as of April 24th, 2009 - Apple.com - remember that iTouch users also download applications --> approximately 22 per device
(5) Tata - 92nd Street Y panel, June 2009
(6) Are there 10,000 iPhone applications that have never been downloaded?
(7) 35,000 as of April 24th, 2009 - Apple.com
(8) Apple financial report
(9) June 8, 2009. Recent applicant
(10) Ethan Lowry, founding member of UrbanSpoon, one of the most downloaded iPhone applications of 2008. Mobile Crunch, December 5th, 2008.
(11) October 30, 2008 - Seattle 2.0, Kevin Leneway
(12) iBreakfast panel
(13) Mobile Crunch, December 5th, 2008 - estimate by Greg Kuparak
(14) ClickZ, May 22, 2009
(15) Apple, June 8, 2009
(16) Gordon Borrell, CEO, Borrell Associates, Inc. - OMMA Video Conference, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Place the Spot; Spot the Placement

I can't help it! When I'm watching "The Big Bang Theory," and Leonard's "Mom" holds her soda can just a little too long and a little too high, and the can remains visible for 5 minutes of the show, then it must be a product placement. It's a bit of a game, a bit of an art to spot, so I'm reopening my log of potential spottings. I hope you'll join me.

- Rules of Engagement, June 7th, 2010 - Kiehl's moisturizer on Audrey's nightstand. Could be for character definition. In any case, awfully prominent, as in the only thing on the nightstand, just inside the shot and positioned so that you could read the label.

What do you think? Is Kiehl's helping to define Audrey's character, or is CBS helping to promote Kiehl's?

- Colbert Show, June 8th, 2010 - Colbert wearing a lab coat with a big Lexus logo on the back during piece about Consumer Reports.

- Colbert Show, June 7th, 2010 - Microsoft's Bing search engine agreed to donate $2,500 to a charity of Stephen's choice every time he said the word, "bing." The show raised $100,000 for the Gulf of America Fund.

- Ugly Betty and the Atlantis Paradise Island resort - the December 4th episode was one long, albeit beautiful, advertorial for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, interrupted only by, well, ads for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. There was even an entire scene designed around the famous water slide. If it weren't for the MEMORABLE footage of the dastardly but oh so hot Connor Owens wearing minimal wardrobe, it might have been too much. Ugly Betty is a great vehicle for brand integration. And I understand that the Latin American version, which takes place in an advertising agency, milks the product placement cow even more completely.

- Big Bang Theory, September 21, 2009 - new Diet Pepsi can - 3rd act of "Big Bang Theory." The can is - for me - one of five characters in the scene.