Culture

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July 02, 2015

Cuba Tackles Web Connectivity Deficit

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Last week, Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde announced government plans to expand the country’s underperforming web infrastructure by adding Wi-Fi capacity to dozens of internet centers and cutting the cost of access.

A spokesman for Cuba’s state communications company said that, as of next month, 35 government computer centers would have Wi-Fi at a cost of around $2 per hour - still unaffordable for many Cubans, but a significant step in the right direction (where Wi-Fi was available previously, it cost around $4.50 per hour to access).  

Until now, the only Wi-Fi availability in the country has been at tourist hotels. While critics say the lack of connectivity is down to fear of social unrest, the Cuban government insists the problem is a result of the U.S. embargo, and has publicly stated an intention to expand internet access across the island.  

The recent move is indicative of the government at least beginning to make good on its promise.   Another positive indicator of a shift towards the open internet access enjoyed by other countries was the government-approved Wi-Fi spot provided by Cuban artist Kcho. Established at Kcho’s Havana arts center, the spot has attracted praise from open internet advocates in Cuba and around the world who hope it is the thin end of the wedge for fairer web access in one of the world’s least-connected countries.

Cubans - and especially young people living in the capital - are as au fait with computer technology as their contemporaries in other, better-connected countries. Visitors might be surprised to see iPhones and Androids in use all over Havana; hundreds of mobile-phone stores number among Cuba’s private businesses, all of them offering ways to install offline apps, as well as providing the usual repairs. 

Things look less developed outside the capital, where there are far fewer cellphones per head, and smartphones are extremely thin on the ground. But at least, with the recent slashing of prices (by more than half) for web access, Cuba is moving slowly towards the inevitable future of a fully connected citizenry.

July 01, 2015

Mobile Marketing Tactics for July 4th

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Independence Day is around the corner, and that means a marked increase in consumer spending across a variety of industries. As per the overall trend away from desktop, the majority of online shoppers will search on their smartphones, so it’s important to target mobile device users if you want to make the most of the holiday. 

Whatever line of business you’re in, give your July 4th a boost with some of these mobile marketing tactics:

 

Social Media Photo Competition

Use the power of social media to drive user engagement. A photo competition relevant to your industry, with a Independence Day-themed hashtag, can start the all-important online conversation. Do it right and you may even go viral!

Give Free Stuff Away

People. Love. Free. Stuff. That’s unlikely to ever change, which makes freebies the evergreen classic of the marketing world. Start an text message marketing campaign to let the world know about your free offer. The bigger and better it is, the more people will share it, and the more sign ups you’ll generate. It’s going to be a loss leader anyway - so you may as well go all out. If you generate long-term mobile contacts from a free giveaway, it’ll be well worth it. 

Tweet

Tweeting about special offers can work magic. Twitter is capable of disseminating information at incredible speeds, if an idea catches the imagination of enough people. You can even use apps like Viral to hide discounts until they’ve been retweeted a certain number of time, allowing you to control that 50% discount so that it works for you, or not at all. 

Themed Games

July 4th is a time for fun and games. Why not run a trivia quiz relating to the holiday. Offer a big prize to the winner, and multiple smaller prizes for runners up.  

Partner Up

Creating partnerships is an essential part of any business. It could be with other local businesses, but with the proliferation of social media accounts and other online networks, there’s a striking new type of partnership on the marketing scene: your employees. Most employees will be willing to spread your July 4th mobile marketing campaign to their friends and family, especially if it’s a fun video or themed song. If you have 25 employees, each with a hundred friends on Facebook…well, you can do the math!

June 14, 2015

6 of the Best Summer Marketing Campaigns

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Some summer marketing campaigns are truly awesome, and remain in consumer minds for many seasons. If agonizing about your summer marketing campaign or how you can possibly craft one consumers will love, throw something on the grill and check out six of the very best summer marketing campaigns (possibly) ever: 

 

Share a Coke Campaign

The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola was hugely successful, and based on the idea that people looovve their names on things. The company put names on their cans and bottles, such as those that read “Share a Coke With Alyx.” As seen by the spelling of “Alyx,” Coca-Cola went a step further and make it possible for those with unusually-spelled or unique names to personalize their own bottles. They named their campaign after their call to action, which is quite brilliant, and even came up with ways to ensure sharing. For example, the soda brand had vending machines at the Minnesota State Fair where you could personalize a can for free.

 

Pacifico’s “Well-Traveled Beer” Campaign

In June of 2011 brewing company Pacifico did a road trip from Mexico to the U.S. and stopped in five cities along the way. They brought kegs to surfer get-togethers, bonfire parties, etc. and documented their journey via photos, videos, and status updates. Brand engagement and excitement resulted.

 

Pixar and Disney’s Monsters University Campaign 

In preparation for the 2012 summer release of Monsters University, Disney and Pixar created a Monsters University website featuring information on monster sports teams, School of Scaring tours, famous alumni, news and events, etc. It looked like a real university website and created plenty of movie buzz.

 

Atlantic City Alliance ‘Do AC’ Campaign

In April of last year, the Atlantic City Alliance dealt with a casino closings and a drop in tourism by launching the $20 million ‘Do AC’ campaign. Entitled ‘Do Anything. Do Everything. Do AC.,’ the campaign was created to expand on the beach city’s image and take it from gaming destination to family-friendly vacation destination. Ads were crafted for television, print, billboard, and digital advertising. 

A bold rebranding move, it nevertheless worked, and capitalized on the idea that people want to be “seen” in AC enjoying all of its many attractions, not just casinos. 

 

IKEA’s Books on the Beach Campaign 

IKEA celebrated Billy Bookshelf’s 30th birthday in 2013 by erecting several of their Billy bookshelves (filled with books) on Bondi Beach in Australia. Beach-goers could take a book in exchange for donating to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The campaign therefore promoted IKEA as a compassionate brand while simultaneously advertising the Billy.

 

Starbucks Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long Campaign

In 2014 Starbucks launched their Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long campaign, an SMS and MMS campaign. The coffee bigwig posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 with an image of a Frappuccino. Consumers had to draw eyes on their frappucino, and the copy read “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

 

 

 

June 12, 2015

Millennials Prefer Apps to Ads

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Mobile marketing provides a business with the ability to reach customers and potential customers anywhere at any time. And while this is a great, great concept, other businesses are attempting the exact same thing. It therefore follows that trying to stand out from competitors gets tricky.

Those interested in reaching millennials need to realize that the key to mobile marketing isn’t about ads, no matter how snazzy they may be. It’s about apps. 

 

Why Millennials Matter 

Wondering why millennials matter in the first place? According to a study by Oracle, 85 percent of people ages 18 to 34 fit the “Millennial” label, and currently own a smartphone. This sizable chunk of the population bought a whole lot of smartphones in the past year, rising 23 percent in 2014 from the previous year. This indicates that millennials are not only using smartphones, but that interest in the devices is increasing. 

 

Their Mobile Activity

So what do millennials use their smartphones for? A wide range of things, according to Oracle. This includes paying bills, using social media, researching local businesses, and more. Millennials use their apps for the majority of these activities--for example, the social media juggernaut Instagram is an app. Oracle notes the top three reported uses regarding apps are 1) uploading media content (75 percent), 2) product purchasing (74 percent), and transferring funds to a friend (61 percent). 

It was also reported that across all usage options, millennials went for smartphones over tablets two to one. 

 

Using Apps Effectively 

The main proverbial road block regarding apps and the brands that utilize them is the near-constant maintenance and development. While not exactly cheap, it’s still very possible to utilize apps and see a return on investment. Check it out: 

  • Performance Over Features: Go for performance instead of features, as poor performance and speed are the main reasons millennials eskew apps. 
  • Account/Money Management: If possible, provide user accounts and or money management through your app. Millennials are huge fans of using apps to make purchases and deal with billing. 
  • Sharing is Caring: Share deals, discounts, event information, and other fun stuff on your apps, but don’t go overboard. While millennials enjoy receiving regular app updates, they don’t enjoy being inundated. Think of how often websites and social media channels provide updates and ensure you don’t exceed them. 

Wrap-Up

If your brand isn’t as hip in the app department as you’d like, don’t despair. Find ways of utilizing existing apps to your mobile marketing advantage, or try partnering with other companies and their subsequent apps to improve your audience’s experience. 

 

 

June 02, 2015

How Do Kids Use Mobile?

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As web-enabled mobile devices proliferate among the adult population, it’s not surprising that kids are getting their hands on their parents smartphones and tablets. The use of mobile technology among children of all ages has exploded over the past few years - even as overall screen media exposure had declined.

A 2013 study from Common Sense Media showed that 89% of American children had used a mobile device that year - up from 38% just two years prior. On average, children under the age of eight were using smartphones and tablets almost as much as tweens and teens, with 75% having access to a mobile device during 2013. Even babies are getting in on the mobile revolution, with 38% of under-twos having used a mobile device. 

Since the research two years ago, there have been no significant studies on children’s usage of mobile technology, but given the soaring rates of smartphone adoption in the United States, the number of kids using them is unlikely to have dropped. According to an Ericsson report from last year, the number of mobile devices per family is increasing, with 90% of U.S. households having three or more web-connected devices; almost half have five or more devices, and nearly 25% of households have seven or more.  

But there’s a twist. The Common Sense Media research indicates a drop-off in average screen time among youngsters. Television still accounts for about half of the two hours of average daily screen time for kids, with the rest being spent on DVDs, video games, computers and mobile devices. But that overall average screen time (1h55 minutes) is 21 minutes less than it was in 2011. 

Could that be an anomaly? Or are parents becoming more responsive to concerns about the perils of continuous exposure to screens? More research is needed to demonstrate that, but with investment in mobile marketing at an all time high, studies like this are never far away.

May 31, 2015

What is Kaomoji and How Can I Use It?

 

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |

|     I  AM         |

|     SIGN         | 

|     BUNNY      |

| _______| 

(\__/) || 
(•ㅅ•) || 
/   づ

Most of us are now aware of the emoji phenomenon that’s been taking over our digital conversations. Less well-known is another Japanese innovation in creative texting: the art of kaomoji.  

You may not be familiar with the word, but you’ve almost certainly seen kaomoji in effect. Your cat knows what we’re talking about:

(^._.^)ノ

Online communities have developed thousands of kaomoji to express their thoughts and emotions in a more refined, slightly classier way than standard picture emojis. Popular kaomoji include the ‘shruggie' face¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and the classic sign bunny (see above). 

Kaomoji has found a niche among creative texters who eschew the shortcuts provided for emoji, preferring to use standard keyboard characters to create the digital equivalent of the line drawing. Copy and paste still plays a role, but true community kudos comes from modifying existing patterns or - even better - creating brand new ones. 

The most authentic thing you can do as a kaomoji enthusiast is get a Japanese keyboard, which uses the katakana alphabet. Many of the characters in popular kaomoji (such as the bunny nose, above) come from katakana, which takes a more pictorial form than the Greek alphabet on your qwerty keyboard. 

Used in the right way, kaomoji can be a useful addition to your mobile marketing arsenal. Here’s how to add the Kana keyboard (containing the katakana alphabet) to your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > General > Keyboards
  • Select ‘Keyboards’
  • Scroll to the bottom and select ‘Add New Keyboard’
  • Scroll down to ‘Japanese’ and select the Kana keyboard

Though this won’t give you any shortcuts per se, it gives you all the characters you need to start copying existing kaomoji. Once you’ve immersed yourself in the ‘language’ of kaomoji, you can start creating your own, original work. 

Fun it may be, but as mobile marketing tactics go, kaomoji is not to be taken lightly. The aforementioned Shruggie and Sign Bunny have both gone viral more than once, with new cultural happenings helping to resurrect old kaomoji and inject them with fresh meaning.

 

May 28, 2015

MMS Myths Debunked


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A fair few myths surround Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). And despite the billions of messages sent and received by consumers every month, MMS is still misunderstood. 

Let’s check out the most common myths concerning MMS: 

 

Myth #1: MMS Is More Costly Than Regular Text Messaging

Today’s consumers know their SMS texts are usually covered by their plans, but are frequently concerned MMS messages are not. If you have a text messaging plan (which you probably do, c’mon now), you’re charged the same amount for text and multimedia messages. Most major U.S. wireless carriers bundled the two together some years ago, meaning brands, media companies, and advertisers may deliver 30-second videos to customers for the same price as regular text messages. 

 

Myth #2: A Smartphone is Required to Receive MMS Messages

One of the biggest and best advantages of MMS is you don’t need a smartphone to enjoy multimedia content sent to your mobile device. There’s over 2,700 unique mobile devices in today’s market with the support needed for MMS, and many of them are not “smart.” 

 

Myth #3: Most Phones Don’t Support MMS Video

The aforementioned 2,700 mobile devices capable of receiving MMS messages? They’re also more than able to handle MMS video content. 

 

Myth #4: MMS Requires a Data Plan

Just because your service plan doesn’t include an internet or data plan doesn’t mean you can’t send or receive MMS messages. All your device needs is MMS functionality, which it can easily feature minus so-fancy apps and data service. Additionally, it’s entirely possible for mobile marketers to craft and send detailed mobile marketing campaign messages to non-smartphone users via MMS. Nice, right?

 

Myth #5: Only Those Crazy Kids Do the Text Message Thing 

Hardly. Pretty much everyone, from tweens to teens to young adults to older adults utilize text messaging. It might originally have been considered a “kid thing,” but that’s sooo not the case anymore. All age groups text, which explains the photo of your kids that your parents sent you while on a grandparent-grandkid excursion. 

 

Myth #6: MMS Is Popular in Europe and Asia, But Not the United States

Not true. MMS has been on the same usage level as SMS for years, and is currently eclipsing it. There were 10 billion MMS messages sent in the first half of 2009 in the U.S.--yes, 2009. 

Consumer fascination with MMS presents a variety of exciting opportunities for media companies, as mobile messaging is a billion-dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down. MMS provides the chance to reach consumers anywhere, anytime--in other words, it’s one heck of a marketing asset. 

 

May 21, 2015

Global Smartphone Sales of $96bn in 2015 Q1

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Recently released figures suggest 2015 will be a record-breaking year for the smartphone. According to market research company GfK, global sales hit $96 billion in Q1 - an 8% year-on-year increase.  

The market has never witnessed such a successful quarter. The number of units sold went up by 7%, to 309.7 million (from 290.1 million in the first quarter of 2014). The lion’s share of that growth comes from Middle Eastern and African markets, but strong growth in North America continues to drive revenues. 

Outside the USA, there has been a slowing of growth in other mature markets such as China and Japan - though analysts predict this is a temporary hiccup rather than a new trend. As more consumers make the transition from 3G to 4G, developed Asian markets are expected to fuel a resurgence in regional sales. 

Much of the ground made can be attributed to a combination of 4G and large-screen adoption, but low-end smartphones have also experienced an upsurge, increasing their market share from 52% in the previous quarter, to 56% in Q1 of 2015. Mid-range devices remained stable and price erosion in emerging markets has seen high-end models (retailing at $500+) take a tumble.

What are we to make of these figures? According to GfK, global smartphone demand is predicted to grow by at least 10% year-on-year for the remainder of 2015. Asia - and in particular India and Indonesia - is forecast to be the primary growth area, as the economies are strong but smartphone penetration is still relatively low.

May 20, 2015

Millennials Pose Biggest Mobile Security Risk

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Internet technology security has become of increased concern for companies with sensitive internal data. The risk from outsider infiltration has been of topic for years, yet a recent report conducted by endpoint security specialists Absolute Software, says otherwise.

According to the survey, almost fifty percent of the workforce will be millennials by 2020. As this group replaces the baby boomers, there are new concerns posed by use and behavior with employer-owned mobile devices and personal computers. 

The survey took a look at 750 Americans over the age of 18 who work for companies with at least fifty employees. Although seventy-nine percent of those questioned reported they prefer separate mobile devices for personal and work use, fifty-two percent will use the company-owned property for personal reasons. What’s more, of that total, fourteen percent admit their personal behavior could compromise company data and lead to a potential security risk. 

What’s more interesting still, the age demographic and position level have strong influences on this behavior. Only five percent of baby boomers reported compromising activities on company property, while twenty-five percent of millennials report similar activity. Sixty-four percent of millennials reported using desktop computers for personal use, while only thirty-seven percent of baby boomer reported the personal use of company desktops. 

Aside from breaking company policies that protect sensitive data, among those surveyed, twenty-seven percent reported the content they view is not safe on company property. Five percent concluded their personal content was of no threat to the company’s security. 

Moreover, as position level increases, so too does the likeliness of an employee using employee-owned property for personal use. Of those at senior level positions, seventy-six percent admitted to personal use, and twenty-six percent have actually lost company devices in the last five years. Lower level positions were significantly less, with fifty-one percent admitting to similar personal use.

Vice President of Global Marketing Absolute, Stephen Midgley, says the report was conducted to help companies become more aware of this unique threat to IT security.

“Armed with this information, our customers can consider user behavior as an additional data point in their endpoint security and data risk management strategies,” said Midgley. 

The recommendation is simple: implement a security solution on all employee-owned devices. Additional measures might also include a combination of employee training, updates to guidelines and procedures, as well as personal responsibility placed on the employees.

 

May 16, 2015

A Third of UK Online Purchases in 2015 Will Be Mobile

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According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, one-third of all 2015 online sales in the UK will take place on smartphones and tablets. The figure is believed to increase by over 40 percent by 2019. eMarketer also estimates that UK retail ecommerce sales will rise 14.5 percent this year to reach £60.4bn. This increase is due to an improved economy, more purchase delivery options, and shoppers turning to mobile devices for buying products and services.

Digital will function as the “main driver” of overall retail sales growth, and subsequently its share of total retail sales will increase to 14.4 percent this year. The increase puts the UK on top of global rankings in regards to ecommerce’s portion of total retail sales. China will be second, with a 12 percent share. The U.S. is farther down the line at 7.1 percent.

Additionally, growth trajectory for mCommerce sales is quite sharp, with this year’s forecast predicting a 30.3 percent increase. eMarketer experts say UK retail mCommerce sales “will reach £19.9bn in 2015, and by 2019, that figure will almost double to just short of £37bn.”

Tablets are especially essential to UK mCommerce sales growth, says eMarketer, as more and more consumers use the devices for “lean-back browsing” of potential purchases. Some retailers are putting extra effort into their tablet retail sites and apps, ensuring they’re both rich and responsive. eMarketer predicts that in 2015 tablet retail mCommerce sales will reach £13.3bn, nearly 67 percent of overall UK retail mcommerce sales. Compare that to 2013, when tablets accounted for a 60.5 percent share of such sales. 

“That mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the retail shopping habits of UK consumers is without question, be that via smartphone, phablet or tablet,” said eMarketer analyst, Bill Fisher. “What this demonstrates, though, is that digital shopping and buying long ago entered the mainstream for most UK consumers, and buying via mobile is just the next step. Indeed, device-agnostic buying, thanks to users’ familiarity with these various device types, is becoming the norm.” 

Even though consumers have demonstrated their willingness to rely on tablets and other mobile devices for making purchases, many retailers have been slow to adapt. Security concerns are one reason for this, and new payment technology options have stagnated as a result. However, the UK is set to establish itself as a huge player in the mobile commerce market over the next few years.