Mobile whizzbangery still lying dormant on most phones

  • Digital
  • April 26, 2010
  • Michael Carney
Mobile whizzbangery still lying dormant on most phones

In this edition of Michael Carney's Marketing Week:


  • Feature creep: how we really use our phones (and brains).

  • Radio: now online and maybe even with pictures.

  • The perils of mobile stalking via GPS.

  • All hail the Super Marketer.

  • If you're going to spoil your kids, at least do it properly


"Never Knew It Could Do That"

You've probably heard it said that we only use 10 percent of our brains – with the unspoken assumption being that if we could somehow increase that usage to even just 15 percent, we'd be supergeniuses. Alas, that 10 percent usage claim turns out to be merely a myth. Research by spoilsport Barry L. Beyerstein of the Brain Behaviour Laboratory at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University suggests that the mistaken belief dates back to the pioneering American psychologist, William James, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was more of a selling point for various self-help works than a serious and verifiable scientific claim.

Apparently, according to the late Professor Beyerstein, all of our brain is in use and needed: observing the effects of head injury reveals that there does not seem to be any area of the brain that can be destroyed by strokes, head trauma, or other manner, without leaving the patient with some kind of functional deficit.

Another myth shattered. Darn.

On the other hand, it is fair to say that most of us do only use 10-20 percent of the capabilities of the technologies we have available to us. The Canadians (them again) recently conducted a research study into what mobile phone facilities we use. The results are regrettable but not surprising:

Use of mobile device features (Total Canada)


  • 89 percent Phone calls

  • 56 percent Clock/alarm

  • 52 percent Text messaging

  • 52 percent Camera

  • 40 percent Calendar/agenda/organizer

  • 28 percent Email

  • 19 percent Emergencies Only

  • 18 percent Instant messaging/Blackberry messenger

  • 18 percent MP3’s /music/ videos

  • 18 percent Picture/ video messaging

  • 15 percent Web browsing

  • 14 percent GPS or mapping services

  • 14  Downloading (games, ringtones, etc)

  • 13 percent Search

  • 11 percent Facebook mobile

  • 5 percent Contests/promotions

  • 4 percent Subscriptions/alerts

  • 3 percent Twitter mobile


Source: Delvinia's 2009-2010 study of Canadian mobile behaviours conducted through AskingCanadians

These findings, which we're sure represent a universal truth, not an unfortunate deficiency of maple-leafed Mounties with mobiles, suggest several underlying implications for Kiwi businesses:


  1. Those leading-edge early adopters we see at the front of every bell-curve are indeed a very small minority. Not only that, but the widgets and accessories they find so fascinating may NEVER be used by the mass market. So be careful not to bet the farm on new whizzbang technology that's not thoroughly intuitive and user-friendly.

  2. On the other hand, if your products offer slight enhancements on core features that are actually used by most customers, you just might be able to steal market share from your competitors who may offer significantly more advanced technology – but whose benefits on basic features are minimal. Want proof? Look no further than the original iPod or iPhone (not as advanced as their then-rivals, but user-friendly to the max).

  3. If it comes down to an engineering choice between small human-friendly improvements and revolutionary big-picture makeovers, insist on (actually DEMAND) validating consumer research before you commit to high-tech solutions that win awards but fail in the marketplace.

  4. If you want to impress your colleagues, clients and peers with your technological superiority, simply RTFM (Read The Full Manuals) for some of the stuff that you already use in everyday life. You'll be amazed at the hidden capabilities of some of the ordinary tools out there – look no further than mastering a few of the features of Microsoft Office and you'll dazzle your co-workers showing off capabilities that you previously never knew existed.


Radio In Transition?

Late last month the Radio Network announced the sale of one of its Rotorua frequencies. That in itself isn't particularly newsworthy, but what is interesting is the way that the Radio Network described the move, with the headline "Easy Mix Moves from On-air to Online in Rotorua".

The spin is understandable, and absolutely true: Rotorua listeners, as well as everyone else, can now get their EasyMix fix from the EasyMix.co.nz website. But driving NZ radio listeners online is either a really, really smart move or one fraught with danger.

Why "dangerous"? Because (as US radio brand strategist Mark Ramsey pointed out in a recent blog posting) internet radio can and will cannibalise over-the-air broadcast listening, not replace it. And it will cannibalise radio's advertising pool, not replace it.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said: "A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges."

And those edges are tasty, indeed. Particularly as the speed-bumps to accessing and using and enjoying internet radio are cleared - as they will be - over the next few years; particularly as advertiser demand continues to build for the highly targeted capability of Internet radio which, quite frankly, leaves its over-the-air alternatives in the dust; particularly as revenues for internet radio build and agency acceptance of this new medium grows; particularly as the internet becomes embedded in everything, everywhere - even in places where radios generally don't exist (or won't exist forever) - like, say, your pocket; particularly as Google and others provide new access ramps to monetisation for publishers (formerly called "broadcasters") large and small; and particularly (our thoughts) because there's very little competitive barrier to entry with internet radio if you've always fancied yourself as a radio jock.

Alternatively, why "really really smart"?

Because the Radio Network and RadioWorks (who collectively control the Kiwi radio waves) have already avoided the high-cost, negligible-gain of introducing digital radio to this country – and could, if they so desired, migrate their listeners across to internet-delivered radio alternatives, one market and one radio brand at a time.

In due course, most markets and most brands could end up being served through internet radio, saving our existing broadcasters a fortune in frequency costs.

Yes, they would be moving into an environment where competitors could easily set up – and many international operators are already there, pumping out a million million different music flavours 24 hours a day – but then there's the small matter of those iconic local radio brands that Kiwis already trust, and the small but perfectly formed band of hosts whose opinions we've grown to love (or hate)

Theoretically, it should be easy for anyone with a digitised music collection and an attitude to compete online with The Edge or Classic Hits. In practice, our major radio brands have spent years (in some cases, decades) building a following.

Just imagine a medium with the immediacy and intimacy of radio, the targeting capability of the internet – and, of course, the ability to add images, coupons, text. Radio with pictures, you might say. Interesting times.

Mobile Stalking

The NZ Privacy Act raises concerns about using current and new technologies. And now a new US study by Mobext (the mobile marketing arm of Havas Digital) and consumer research firm Cadio clearly demonstrates the potential and the privacy issues when you start mining GPS-equipped mobile data:

People who shop at Whole Foods are twice as likely to work out as those who shopped elsewhere, according to the study (reported by MediaPost). An obvious application of this insight would be for Whole Foods Market to create co-marketing programs with gyms or yoga studios to increase acquisition rates.

Among other findings of the study, Wal-Mart shoppers were 60% more likely to dine out than Target customers. Of the Target shoppers who ate out, about 25% went to a restaurant before going to one of its stores and another 25% afterward. The retail chains could use that data to offer more dining options than just snack foods or cross-market with nearby restaurants.

The research also shed light on the clash of the two coffee giants – Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. It found that half of Starbucks visitors also went to Dunkin' Donuts. But among people who went to Dunkin' Donuts, there was a 67% chance they would also go to Starbucks – suggesting that people preferred Starbucks coffee to Dunkin' Donuts.

What's among the biggest hurdles to mining this wealth of behavioural data via mobile tracking? Getting people to opt in to being electronically trailed wherever they go. The creepiness factor is hard to overcome.


Not to mention legislators' concerns ....

Supermarketer Down Under

The NZ Food and Grocery Council (FGC) is bringing America’s Phil Lempert, the 'Supermarket Guru' to New Zealand for the first time, in June. Known in the USA as the Supermarket Guru, Lempert is viewed as being one of America’s leading consumer trend-watchers and analysts. Each month he speaks to millions of Americans about new products, trends and other industry issues.

Mr Lempert will be speaking about future trends in Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Supermarkets, at a luncheon to be held at Auckland's Langham Ballroom on Tuesday 15 June. Tickets will be available through the FGC: www.fgc.org.nz

Pester Power In A Recession

Despite all the advice from Oprah and Dr Phil and stern looks from well-meaning educators and community advisors, turns out that today's parents are pushovers.

Not for them the Victorian maxim "children should be seen and not heard". This is the new millennium, sweetheart – kids just want to have fun and we parents want to give it to them, despite the inconvenience of a Global Financial Crisis.

The week's US AdWeek has a special issue devoted to "What Kids Want". Yep, if we're going to pamper them, might as well do it in style. You'll find the articles here, covering, amongst other things:

Your Wish Is My Desire
Penny-pinching parents might not be spending on themselves. But the kids? That's a different story. Despite the enduring effects of a recession that's supposedly over, parents are still shelling out money on their children despite double-digit unemployment and ongoing mortgage defaults. And that's good news for any brand that makes toys, clothes, candy, or just about anything else an American kid could want.

Snack Attack
For companies that sell food to kids -- food often high in fat, salt and sugar -- the spotlight on children and how they eat is a potential public relations nightmare. But marketers are not taking the healthy food movement sitting down. Some are reformulating ingredients, others rethinking their marketing strategies, and still others creating programs they hope will encourage kids to exercise. The question for critics is, are they doing enough?

Scary Movies
Do trailers for children's movies have to be so scary? With the tech breakthroughs in the last 10 years, trailers have only gotten more intense, chaotic and overwhelming. Some would argue that they're only the messengers -- that the real culprits are the increasingly loud and CGI-based movies themselves. But because trailers have to squeeze so much into two minutes or less, they are often scarier than the content they're selling.


If you market to Generation Z, this is definitely worth a read.

And the second season of Michael Carney's Social Media Marketing eCourse begins next Monday 3 May. You'll find the full details of the seven week course at www.marketingrebooted.co.nz.

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  • StopPress Team
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