Friday, June 14, 2013

App Sales Reach New Heights as More Businesses Jump In

It’s hard to believe that it’s been only five years since Apple started the app market.
With 700,000 apps offered between the Apple and Google mobile platforms, consumers are faced with more choices than ever before. It’s estimated that mobile users spend on average about two hours a day with applications. The revenue from this market is expected to rise 62% in 2013, and reach $25 billion by the end of the year.

Growth…and bumps along the road. This massive growth hasn’t been without its trials for companies, online media buyers and consumers alike. There was a “wild west” like feel to the market five years ago, a variety of scams and hacks that plagued consumers and far too many loopholes for developers who wanted to make an easy buck.

Now the industry has matured and developers are becoming more methodical and strategic with app development. Instead of rapid cycles of development followed by quick releases of shoddy apps, they are concentrating on the very best apps and marketing them well.

More growth ahead. But there’s still a lot of growth to be expected in the industry – and a variety of different companies are looking to get in on the future growth in an already saturated market.

Only 2% of the top 250 publishers in Apple’s App store are “newcomers,” versus 3% in Google’s Play store for Android apps. This means new apps are competing directly with popular, time tested apps for sales and usage.

Not only are businesses challenged with developing apps that work correctly across a variety of different platforms, they also have to find a way to market them. Selling apps in a crowded market means digital advertising is a must. Online media buyers for apps are seeing costs rise higher than expected. Startups and vetted companies are challenged with marketing their apps in a saturated market while keeping costs low.

With strategic development, smart ad buys and persistence, though, businesses can make a splash in the app market– if they can stay consistent and afford to maintain their efforts.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Which Products Make the Grade for DRTV?

There are a number of different types of products being promoted through Direct Response Television (DRTV).

The criteria for choosing which products appear on which infomercials is very specific and not all items available to consumers will make the proverbial grade.

USP. For one thing, the product must have a unique selling proposition, or USP. It must do something in a different manner than other products currently available and it must capture the interest of the consumer viewing it.

Appeal to the masses. Since the product is being promoted using a mass media device like television, it must appeal to a large demographic of prospective customers. If the product is one which would specifically appeal to a certain niche market, it may be successfully marketed on a specialty channel.

Looks matter. Infomercials use a product demonstration format to show the viewer how it works. For a product to be successfully promoted in this manner, it must be one which can be shown in a way that is DRTV “friendly.”

What’s in it for me? Customers need to believe that the product being demonstrated can solve a problem which they are experiencing. To get a television viewer to open his or her wallet, they must be able to see the benefit of making the purchase.

Keep it simple. Unless a product being promoted through an infomercial can be easily explained, it is not going to do well. Prospective buyers will click away from something which appears as if it will be too much trouble to use. However, if it is a product that can be demonstrated effectively, DRTV can be a very effective way to promote an item.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can Your Social Media Past Hurt Your Job Prospects?

Although criminal background checks, credit reports and online searches are standard fare these days for employers evaluating potential employees, social media history is growing increasingly important as part of the equation.

Social Intelligence, a social media history aggregation company, is banking on it. It provides a unique service for employers and gives them everything they need to evaluate someone in terms of their online activity.

While this may seem like detective work, CEO Max Drucker is quick to dismiss the connection. “All we assemble is what is publicly available on the Internet today,” he stated in a recent interview. The gathered information is categorized into several different sections, including professional honors, charitable work, racist comments, references to drugs, racy photos, displays of weapons and violent actions.

The service may seem like a safe bet for employers, but the FTC was notified by privacy advocates who are concerned with employers making determinations based on factors that aren’t relevant to job performance. In the subsequent investigation, the FTC determined that Social Intelligence’s business is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

According to the company, the reports remove references to religion, race, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and other protected information. What is exposed can be damaging – like a woman who was found to be hunting for Oxycontin on Craigslist. With employers looking to make smart hiring decisions in the tight economy and social media data being created every day, Social Intelligence is likely to be joined in the social background check space by competitors soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Facebook and Twitter Buttons Track Users Around the Web

According to a new study by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook and Twitter social widgets are being used to track website visitors around the web, whether or not they engage with these buttons.

The social widgets – Facebook’s “Like” button and Twitter’s “Tweet” button – are ubiquitous. In the past year they have been added to millions of web pages and are normally used to share content with friends and followers.

The Wall Street Journal found that Facebook and Twitter are able to tell which websites the users are visiting even if they don’t “like” or “share” the content. The tracking happens unless users completely log out of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facebook says that they only use the tracking function for advertising purposes in order to display ads related to search history on a user’s Facebook sidebar. Twitter reports that they delete tracking data “quickly” and that the tracking is an unintended side effect of the functionality of the button.

Although both Twitter and Facebook deny that the tracking has any other purposes, theoretically the implications are much different: User search behavior can be linked back to a person’s social profiles, which normally includes detailed personal information. A person’s reading habits can be tracked back to their name, email address and offline information – everything from health concerns to past times to political and religious views. Privacy advocates compare it to having someone follow you around the library and taking notes about every book that you look at.

The new revelations come out amidst increasing concerns about Internet user privacy. There have been at least five bills presented before Congress dealing with online privacy issues in the last year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Google Investors Ask, “What’s Next?”

Google has become synonymous with the Internet.

Google has also become a fixture in the American home with many people opting to “Google it.” The search engine giant has many things going for it, but even so, there is still some cause for concern.

Growing competition in the areas of search has cut into Google’s action and new emerging markets are still too young to count as assets. Does Google have what it takes to meet its investors’ growing appetites? In world where you are only as good as your last whopping success, can Google pull off a second miracle?

The rise of social networking catapulted Google into the stratosphere. AdWords, a pay per click advertising model created by Google, saw a tremendous rise in revenue thanks to market-targeted advertising. Facebook has taken notice crafting an ad program that bares striking resemblance to that of Big G’s.

Still not convinced? Let the numbers do the talking.

Just-announced 3Q numbers tell the story: Revenue from search drove a revenue increase of 23 percent and a net income increase of 32 percent. Google told analysts that display ads (images and video on YouTube, no text) are set to bring in over $2.5 billion in revenue in the coming year. (And mobile is estimated at about $1 billion.)

Yet for all of its successes, Google is still showing signs of age.

People are getting smarter about search and now with big box style websites like people are able to find all of their needs with less need to hunt around. As Google looks ahead it banks on the mobile market buying out AdMob, a mobile advertising agency.

Acquisition is the order of the day as Google strengthens its engineering and sales division by several hundred strong. The company is taking aggressive moves to make the leap into the new markets. Google’s vision is clear: To become the search engine for the social network generation, a sleeker more user intuitive interface working seamlessly behind the scenes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fight DRTV Fatigue With Creative Tweaks

For many in DRTV marketing, keeping the advertising fresh when the products and offers don't change much is a challenge.

In some cases, such as with Nautilus (which sells the Bowflex line of fitness equipment), the message tends to stay the same while only the faces and testimonials differ. With 20 years of ads and research, though, the company has found a system that works for them and stays fresh enough to keep interest levels high.

Other companies, such as Guthy-Renker (Proactiv and other health products) have an 18-month rule for an ad's lifespan, but change a few pieces of the ad during its life in order to keep it fresh. A 30-minute creative can have seasonal, promotional and competitive changes added or swapped to keep the ad fresh.

Keeping ad copy and presentation fresh is a challenge for those in competitive markets, such as cosmetics or cleaning supplies. In these markets, highlighting differences is paramount and the ability to change an ad mid-stream to cope with and differentiate it from new competition is important.

Some general advertisers have tried DRTV during the recession and have stayed, finding that it works. The Electronic Retailing Association, the industry trade group for DRTV, has added Jenny Craig, and Avon as members over the past year. This has also changed the market, raising TV ad rates and altering how some are required to do business in light of new competition and higher costs.

DRTV spending has grown to a $4.5+ billion annual market and, despite the recession, is becoming more and more competitive as well. Analysts are expecting a big year for 2010 and continued growth in 2011.

Friday, September 17, 2010

DRTV Industry will benefit on Fast-Tracking Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may soon be offering a way for frustrated inventors to hurry along their patent applications through a new, expedited system.

The Patent Office says this fast-tracking system is a response to many who believe that the patenting system is too slow to keep pace with the speed of technology.

“Some patents need to go fast and some need to go more slowly,” says Patent Office chief David Kappos. The plan would allow those who need a faster decision on their patent applications to pay an extra fee to have it expedited through the system.

The proposal could go into effect next year, after public input is completed this summer. Currently, and for its entire history, the Patent Office has reviewed applications on a first-come, first-served basis. This would be the first major overhaul to the patent process' system of acceptance since the Office's inception.

Many other government offices already offer expedited services at a higher fee, including the State Department's passport processing service. It takes an average of 34.6 months for a patent application to go from initial filing to acceptance, up from 26.7 months in 2003.

Currently, the Patent Office already offers a fast-track program for “green” technologies and that program has had good success. It’s looking to build upon these capabilities for this new, broader-reaching fast-tracking and will sure lead to a more productive drtv campaigns.