The Rise of M-Commerce

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 5.19.21 PMMobile commerce transactions continue to grow and extend beyond commercial transactions over the Internet. Mobile commerce, also known as m-commerce, includes purchase of goods and services, online banking, bill payment, information delivery, and research using a mobile device or tablet. The rapid growth of m-commerce is being driven by increased use of smartphones. This surge has increased opportunities for advertisers to engage with consumers. Consumers can easily shop and research online through apps or mobile devices. M-commerce is growing and expected to grow as consumers become more and more dependable on smartphones:in fact, 9 out of 10 consumers in the U.S. keep their phones within reach 24/7.

Consumers can easily shop and do research online using a mobile device or tablet. According to Ninth Decimal, 81% of retail consumers use their mobile devices to research items before they go on a shopping trip (either at home or at work), as opposed to on-the-go (19%).  With consumers using mobile devices on a daily basis, marketers must include a mobile marketing campaign in its strategies in order to drive sales. eMarketer projects m-commerce sales will continue to grow, reaching $34.80 billion by 2018, 26.1% of the total retail m-commerce sale.

With this projected revenue growth in mobile, it is clear that having a mobile-optimized website can increase sales, generate more traffic, and boost customer engagement. Also, a mobile-optimized website will give marketers an advantage over competitors since consumers will leave a website that is not optimized. Mobile offers significant opportunities for increasing revenue as well as lowering costs.


Mobile Apps Versus Mobile Website Which Wins?

There are some significant benefits for a marketer who develops a mobile app and/or mobile website to promote the products and services it offers. However before a marketer can consider which of the two or if both would be the most beneficial, the company must evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of either option. Also, the marketer has to consider internal issues and benefits such as cost, timeframe, target audience, competitive advantage, app functionality, etc. According to a Pew Research Report, 90 % of American adults own a cell phone, 32 % own an e-reader, and 42 % own a tablet computer. These stats indicate how important it is for a business to create and develop a mobile-friendly website and/or mobile application.

Check out this video Mobile Web vs Mobile Apps: Where Should You Invest Your Marketing by Rand Fishkin


Mobile-friendly websites must have optimized, responsive and dynamic designs.  Optimized means that the website will reformat content, navigation buttons, and images typically, making them smaller for handheld devices.  This provides the consumer with an optimized user experience for their mobile device whenever and wherever.   Responsive picks up where optimization left off and is where the website is completely flexible regardless of the device.  The website automatically responds and seamlessly reformats itself based on the screen size of the device.  Dynamic is similar to responsive in that it will adjust depending on the device, but the content is not the same depending on the device.  Dynamic will pick and choose what information is being served to a specific device in order to provide an optimal experience for the user.

When deciding between a mobile website and mobile app, there are some benefits that mobile websites can provide.  One it can be accessed by all mobiles users, compatible with various operating systems.  Also, it can be easily located through internet searches and most importantly its cost effective and can be executed promptly.  Finally mobile websites can be developed to operate and feel like a mobile app.

When it comes to mobile apps, 85 % of mobile users prefer apps over mobile websites, 55% believe they are easier to browse .   Apps can be defined by three categories: utility, productivity and immersive.  Utility apps are quick-access apps that provide information or tasks that are needed to be performed right away, such as weather, stock summaries, traffic reports and sports updates. Productivity apps are more complex and provide a lot more features. Apps that fall into this category would be social media, calendar and updating apps such as Spotify, Apple Calendar, and Instagram.  Immersive apps are designed to create a unique experience and are highly interactive — for example, games. Apps provide a new and exciting opportunity for brands to communicate with consumers, and many marketers can benefit from it.  Mobile apps can do things web-sites can’t, like push notifications and offline access. Apps are faster and easier to operate.

Which do you think would be better for markets or would both win?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Knowing exactly who a marketer’s consumers are, empowers the organization to strategically plan a more targeted and effective marketing campaign. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the newest technology that businesses are turning to this year. AI will have an impact on the way businesses operate, from planning to creative to delivery.

Defining artificial intelligence (AI) is a little difficult, for it includes everyday technologies already in use. However, the technical definition is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include:
Speech recognition
Problem solving

Knowledge engineering is a core part of AI research. Machines can often act and react like humans only if they have abundant information relating to the world. Artificial intelligence must have access to objects, categories, properties and relations between all of them to implement knowledge engineering. Machine learning is another core part of AI. Learning without any kind of supervision requires an ability to identify patterns in streams of inputs, whereas learning with adequate supervision involves classification and numerical regressions.

There is a whole range of industries launching new products with AI embedded in them, from the smart fridges of LG and Samsung to smartphones like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. With sufficient data, it is possible to identify patterns of behavior. To deliver this, the right volume and variety of data need to be gathered and processed. AI will help to market with predicting consumer behavior, allowing for better engagement and service. Once marketers gain a strong understanding of the consumers’ behavior, the detail in data opens the door for them to make predictions or calculations on the customer’s next behavior.

Artificial intelligence also benefits consumers as AI robots know “BustyGirl69” isn’t sending you emails you want, so those unwanted e-mails go straight into your spam folder.  AI is already working to suggest a scarf that similar users bought to go with the winter gloves you just ordered. The technology knows it’s dinner time and shows you nearby restaurants in your Waze map on your way home.

With vast quantities of data being generated from all areas of business, there has never been a better time to generate insight to improve performance. Although the sheer complexity of this data is beyond human capability, AI will be on many business’s radars in the near future.

Brain Powered Appliances No Longer Science Fiction

When consumers think of digitally enhanced items, the first things that come to mind are computers, tablets, and smartphones. Internet of Things creates a world where just about anything can be connected and can communicate through the internet.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Whaa? IoT describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and will be able to identify themselves to other devices. Simply put, any device, be it a phone, couch, computer, car, or sneaker – basically anything capable of connecting to the Internet – is a part of the IoT.

In 2015, there were an estimated 10 billion connected devices globally, and the impact of these connected smart devices on the global economy was estimated at close to $2 trillion. Connected devices are expected to increase to 75 billion units in the next five years adding close to $20 trillion to the global economy by 2020.

IoT will change consumers in terms of how they process information and how they carry out their day-to-day lives. Common devices like tables, lamps and the coffee machines will be connected to the internet. Consumers will now live, work and play around enchanted objects with the devices doing all working and thinking. Many everyday non-electronic household products will be given dynamic, social web intelligence via smart tags in combination with smart software and smartphones. This will change the way in which items are consumed and how users manage their time.

Advances in IoT technology will allow marketers to gain access to all kinds of new data streams. These devices, integrated into our lives, will give marketers access and insight into its customers like never before. Objects will automatically collect data and send the information back to the advertiser allowing for more personalization and customization to the consumer. This will provide unique opportunities for the marketer to listen to the user and respond to the needs and issues immediately. Also, it will give marketers the opportunity to monitor better their return on investment.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.15.17 AMOne of the most highly visible and popular pieces of Internet of Things technology is the Nest, a smart thermostat that’s connected to the internet. The Nest learns your family’s routines and will automatically adjust the temperature based on when you’re home or away, awake or asleep, hot or cold, to make your house more efficient and help you save on heating and cooling bills. The mobile app allows you to edit schedules, change the temperature when you’re away from home, and even receive alerts when it looks like something has gone wrong with your heating or cooling system.

IoT offers endless opportunities for consumers and markets. Having electronics and sensors embedded in everyday non electronic household products gives marketers insights into consumer behavior. This new emergence in technology helps to expand the advertiser’s understanding of its target audience. This will enable a business to focus on its customer, allowing the marketer to provide a more personalized experience.

Move Over Siri and Cortana Meet M!

Siri (iPhone), Google Now (Android), Cortana (Microsoft), and Alexa (the voice of the Amazon Echo) have turned everyday devices into personal assistants. What makes these devices unique is its voice recognition capabilities. Speech recognition has been around since the 1950s. Because of the complexity of human language, the first voice pattern was only able to learn numbers. Over the past several years, developments in technology and software have opened the door to expand on voice recognition.Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.07.16 PM

All these devices can instantly answer a person’s question regarding trivia, weather, news, and stocks and can even tell its user a joke. These products rely entirely on technology, and though they can be used by many people, they still have a long way to go. However, what these personal assistants lack in ability is where Facebook’s M picks up.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.28.31 PMM is a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence as well as a band of Facebook employees, dubbed M trainers, who will make sure that every request is answered. M’s software will decode the natural language, ask follow-up questions in the message thread, and send updates as the task is completed. Users won’t necessarily know whether a computer or a person has helped them; unlike Siri and Cortana, M has no gender. To access M, users go through Facebook Messenger app. Similar to how you would send a message to anyone on Facebook, the user taps the bottom in Messenger, and it will send a note to M.

It’s not hard to imagine the business opportunities that M could bring to Facebook. For one, should Facebook discover a business is getting lots of inbound requests, it could partner with that company to offer a more direct, efficient service over Messenger. For instance, you have a lot of calls that have to be placed by people to cable companies; this is an indicator that customers would like another way to connect with the company, and M offers that interaction. Facebook is hoping that users will forget Siri and Google for M.

The only setback for users: M is currently in the test phase. It has been released to a few hundred random Messenger users in the San Francisco Bay Area. The service will expand slowly over time and will eventually reach everyone. As this happens, the array of tasks it performs will certainly grow. Some believe Facebook may be too ambitious, but M’s success would make Facebook a bigger player in several areas: data collection and mobile and voice search, as well as the increasingly competitive messaging app space.

Is the Purchase Funnel Dead?

The purchase funnel is known as one of the ideal marketing tools for understanding and researching consumer behavior. It theorizes that all consumersScreen Shot 2016-04-09 at 10.23.39 AM
follow these specific steps, from being in contact with a company in which they are interested in purchasing that product or service ultimately. The purchase funnel consists of several steps: awareness, opinion, consideration, preference, and purchase.   Purchase Funnel Diagram

Brands and agencies have been using this method, for decades, to assist in designing strategic promotional and marketing campaigns. However, with the emergence of the internet, many argue that the purchasing path of consumers have shifted, and because of the emergence of social media, tablets, and smartphones, the theory is now antiquated.

Newbery writes, the internet, combined with the growth in the number of channels, devices, and means by which the average consumer shops and considers purchases, has made the path to purchase a very different process. Although the five steps, awareness, consideration, interaction, purchase, and advocacy are unchanged, the means by which consumers engage with them are very different.  New Marketing Funnel Diagram

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 11.15.02 AMThe arrival new technology has increased the engagement and awareness of products and services offered to consumers. Consumers can easily shop and do research online through an app via mobile device or table. These new technologies have transformed the ways in which advertisers reach consumers and how they engage with them. It has transformed the way marketers advertise to consumers which have become more personal and personalized. Even in the purchase phase, the channels through which products and services can be purchased have evolved, with mobile leading the charge.

Online purchasing has been decreasing over the years, especially now that more company websites are mobile optimized and apps are available on smartphones. In addition to the increase of mobile usage, we see consumers turning to mobile as a necessary part of their purchase decisions. These changes in which consumers can purchase products and services have altered the level at which they enter the purchase funnel. In addition to the screens they use to search and purchase, the influence of others, the information they gather, social media platforms networks they rely upon and experiences. Do you believe the purchase funnel exist in today’s media world?


Multi-Screen Marketing: Are 4 screens better than 2?

The Internet has dramatically changed the way people access information. No longer are consumers only receiving news and entertainment through television, radio and print. Today’s consumer, owns four digital devices on average, and the average U.S
consumers spend 60 hours
 a week consuming content across devices.

90% of all media interactions today are screen-based – this four-screen or multi-screen usage has transformed consumers’ behaviors and how they utilize media.  Even though television viewing is on the decline, it remains the one screen that is dominantly viewed by consumers while mobile usage has been increasing over the years.

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults will spend an average of 4 hours and 11 minutes watching traditional TV, down 4.1% from 4 hours 2Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 9.40.44 PM2 minutes in 2014. In 2016, time spent with TV will fall another 3.1%, to 4 hours and 3 minutes. Meanwhile, video consumption as a whole, across all channels, will hold roughly at current levels—suggesting consumers are swapping TV time for digital vido time.

Four-screen usage has also affected marketing strategies and how marketers interact with consumers. Advertisers are shifting millions of dollars away from traditional advertising platforms such as television, radio, and print to digital platforms.  Even though television usage is on the decline, it still remains the dominant media that receives the most advertising dollars.  Also, television is the platform that typically initiates a search.

When the users move to his or her mobile, tablet, or PC to search the product, the message that initiated that search should be the same for the user to avoid confusion.  Having a cohesive, seamless approach allows for easy usage across screens by the users. Also, with 90% of all media interactions being screen-based, having a holistic approach increases engagement.  Do you believe an advertiser’s message should be unified across 4 screens or 2?


What does PII mean to you?

Personally identifiable information (PII)  is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual.  Any information that can be used to distinguish one person from another and can be used for de-anonymizing anonymous data can be considered PII.

What does that mean to you? Think about how frequently you use your phone or tablet for shopping, researching, banking, social media, or just playing games. Would you want someone collecting personal information about you, such as your location, e-mail address, age, sex, or contact information? Most internet users realize that critical pieces of their personal information are being collected but don’t know the extent of how much and what it is being used for.

Researchers from MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie Mellon  found that apps downloaded from Google Play or the Apple Store may be sharing personal information with third parties, with Android apps spying more than iOS apps. Of the 100 plus apps that were reviewed, 73% of Android apps shared personal information like email addresses, and 47% of iOS apps shared location information. The study found that Android apps were far more likely to share personally identifying information, such as one’s name, than iOS apps. Also, 3 out of 10 apps under the “Medical Health and Fitness” category share medically related search terms. In translation, if you were to search for “herpes”, that would now be something known about you. I think that that’s a little scary, and most people are not willing to share their PII. Is it a little creepy? I definitely think so!

“What can I do about it?” you might ask. Simply put not much, because you’ve consented to it. Companies are allowed to collect this information because of their privacy policy or terms and conditions agreement with you. Every company has them, but how many of us actually take the time to read them? Half of online Americans don’t know what a privacy policy is.  Did you know that a privacy policy is a legal document that discloses how a customer’s data is managed and used, not how a company keeps all the information collected confidential?

The reality is that most users don’t read them, and, intuitively, when we encounter something that reads “privacy policy”, we believe that it’s something that is protecting our privacy, and that’s not always the case.  As emerging technologies continue to advance, companies will continue to seek ways to collect our PII. Users will continue to reveal personal information as wearable devices, more apps, smart appliances, and connected cars become available. Just beware of the personal information that is being collected the next time you download an app or search the internet.

If you’re one of the billions of people who have downloaded the Facebook Messenger app downloaded the Facebook Messenger app. Here is a list of some personal information the Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.38.30 PMapp is allowed to access.

  • Allows the app to change the state of network connectivity
  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.
  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.
  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.
  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.
  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

The below below chart shows various ways internet users have tried to limit their PII from being observed online.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.31.49 PM