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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile advertising’

Film Festivals Embrace High-Tech

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, social media, Technology, Video, Movies & Television on March 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm
RiverRun International Film Festival April 4-13

by Jeff Sandgren

riverrunThe 16th annual RiverRun International Film Festival will be running from April 4 – 13 in Winston-Salem. Held annually each spring, RiverRun screens a wide variety of feature-length and short films from all genres, and also presents a broad range of special events, including high-profile regional premieres of significant films. This year, festival winners can even become contenders for next year’s Academy Awards.

The festival, like its more famous cousins at Sundance and SXSW, relies increasingly on new technologies to develop and deliver the wonder of traditional moviegoing. We spoke with Christopher Holmes, Program Coordinator for RiverRun, about how they use small-screen and other new technologies to bring this banner event to the big screen in the City of Arts and Innovation.

BTN: How has technology changed the realization of your film festival?

RRIFF: Online streaming platforms have made all of our jobs tremendously easier. Keeping up with the programming landscape at major international festivals like Cannes has become so much more manageable – without ever having to leave the office. In the past it might take several emails back and forth and then the mailing of a physical DVD screener to facilitate the consideration of just one potential film, or even schlepping to the festival in person.

Online filmmaker services such as Cinando and Festivalscope now exist that allow us to request and receive invitations to watch streaming versions of many films, and this can all happen within the span of an hour or less now, given the response time from a particular filmmaker or distributor. Likewise Vimeo and YouTube have become high quality, legitimate receptacles for screeners from filmmakers that respond to our open call for submissions, so it’s really changed things for the better in terms of how quickly we’re able to preview titles that pique our interest.

BTN: How does it help support and promote the event?

RRIFF: Social media tools and their mobile apps have become integral to the way we promote the festival. We used to rely heavily on our in-house printed film guides and brochures, and local print media to get the word out, but now we can do that worldwide within a matter of minutes using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These tools additionally allow us to maintain a direct running dialogue with our supporters in the community and make everyone feel actively engaged with what’s happening at RiverRun on a consistent basis.

Keeping in touch with our audiences and staying on their radar in the many off months has always been a particularly challenging undertaking and technology has allowed us to accomplish this in a more purposeful and conversational way. And just in terms of design and implementation of graphic elements, it speeds up turnaround time on the creative end as well, since sharing high-res mock-ups and proofs via email is now very simple.

BTN: What is this new connection with the Academy Awards?

RRIFF: This year, for the first time in our history, we’ve been approved as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards in the category of Short Subject Documentary, of which there are only a handful in the Southeastern United States and just a few dozen overall. Each year we assemble a jury for each competition category, comprised of noteworthy professionals, writers, academics and other personalities from the cinematic arts. Those juries deliberate during the festival to distinguish films with awards in their respective categories.

What the Oscar-qualifying tag means is that whichever film our Documentary Shorts jury awards with the Best Documentary Short prize is automatically in the pool of films that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members ultimately consider for Oscar nomination. Basically we are a necessary filter between the entire mass of documentary shorts produced every year and what the Academy members are able to consider with their extremely limited time. So there’s a decent chance that one of the films programmed will be among the Oscar nominated shorts this time next year, and directly because of its participation in the festival.

BTN: We hear a lot about multiscreen user experience these days. Are you discouraging or encouraging it for events like this? 

RRIFF: We are certainly discouraging it during the screenings themselves!  There’s nothing more magnetizing to the eye than seeing a screen light up, and it is an enormous disruption to the immersive environment filmmakers covet when creating their work, so we do everything we can to be faithful to that interaction. However we are certainly encouraging the integration of all sizes of screens and technology in representing the festival more generally—talking about viewing experiences our audiences have had, sharing viewpoints on films we’ve shown, events we’ve put on or experiences we’ve created, and including things like trailer links and other visual content on our web-based analogs.

BTN: How can moviegoers use their mobile devices to select films and track showing and ticket availability?

RRIFF: Our website has a mobile version which enables sorting through film listings, viewing the schedule, watching trailers and buying tickets online. Additionally we have a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices that makes simply sorting the films even easier … it even allows the user to filter out a combination of attributes such as genre and venue to achieve a very specific set of recommendations based on a lot of different variables.

BTN: Looking ahead, how do you think wearables – especially devices like Google Glass – may change the film going experience of tomorrow … for better or worse?

RRIFF: Hmm, we wonder…

We don’t see a small-screen application like Google Glass as particularly conducive to the large scale, projected effect that cinematic communication necessitates. After all, larger screen sizes have been positively linked to viewer engagement and interactivity (even on a physiological level) so the smaller the viewing space, the less control the filmmaker has over the way and degree to which the audience engages with the content.

For more small-screen, commercially driven applications like viewing sports, news, film trailers and social media, we can imagine it being very appealing, even if only from a novelty perspective. People are constantly looking for new user experiences and ways to keep their messages fresh and vital, so Google Glass and other wearables seem like they could present new opportunities in that respect.

Perhaps there’s a way to integrate the glasses with 3D moviegoing and TV experiences, as well?  How about it science? – JTS


A Global Road to Mobile Marketing Success

In brand-building, mobile & tablets on October 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

Lessons from abroad, courtesy of InMobi

by Jeff Sandgren, Technology Editor

Mobile is top digital channel in Africa

Mobile is top digital channel in Africa

Here in North America, mobile devices are in the process of overtaking traditional PCs – Gartner predicts that combined sales of smartphones and tablets will exceed desktops and laptops for the first time this year.  In other markets the mobile devices have already established their dominance.  So it makes perfect sense that leadership in mobile marketing solutions reveals a top player who leveraged a true reverse market strategy.

That company is InMobi, a global mobile advertising network launched in 2007 who mastered their boot camp skills in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, all markets where mobile is the number one digital channel, before market timing and marketing savvy set the stage for their big beachhead assault on the North American market.

At this summer’s Mobile Marketing Association Forum one of the best presentations was delivered by Anne Frisbie, InMobi’s VP & Managing Director for North America, backed up with some very solid market intelligence developed by James Lamberti, InMobi’s VP of Global Research & Marketing.  Anne and James were the first two strategic hires for InMobi’s North American market entry, and we had the opportunity to spend time with both of them.InMobi VP's Anne and James

We asked Anne what surprised her most about the recent studies presented at the forum.

“Two thirds of mobile shoppers make direct purchases on mobile,” Anne revealed.  “People used to think it would all be digital, games and ringtones.  But we’ve found that a third of the users are buying physical goods and services on mobile.”

InMobi now serves over 50 billion impressions per month, according to the company’s website.  Their US push includes two recent catalysts: a $200M investment from Japan’s SoftBank, and their opening this month of their new Manhattan offices. Although the office is new, Anne and James have actually been busy in the US for a few years, since most of the advertising inventory comes from the US.

“We’ve been working with lots of publishers here in the US for the past three years,” Anne explained.  “There’s been a big leap here over the past year.  Marketers have really woken up.  The immersive, rich media ad experience that became possible on the smartphones was really eye-opening.”

Anne’s a straight talker.  “It’s pretty schizophrenic out there,” she told us, “about half of the top 200 brands don’t have a mobile optimized website.”

Analytics point the way

Marketers now are trying to measure all the way through to the point of sale, Anne contends.  InMobi has seen a big increase in their customers’ usage of the available analytics.  This seems to be indicative of a real turning point, as advertisers and agencies are driven more and more by the need to demonstrate return on marketing investment.  Test, Learn & Evolve is a common mantra of advertisers these days.  Numbers rule: it’s been demonstrated that ad budgets are growing faster in channels that have more metrics.

InMobi is big on analytics.  “We offer real-time analytics,” Anne continued “and can track over two dozen variables, back to whatever event people want to monitor: engagement actions like videos views, or right down to conversion and sales.  More importantly, this real-time analysis drives the ad-serving logic, so the ad serving can truly be optimized.  At the publisher level we’ve seen a huge difference.”

This big difference in Marketer perception complements the growing usage by consumers.  The research reported at the MMA event showed that the demographics of smartphone shoppers who say they prefer mobile to PC shopping now includes all age groups except those over 65.  “Every six months, you bring another decade of consumer demographics into the market,” said James Lamberti.  According to this study, even non smartphone users prefer mobile to PC shopping.Smartphone and Feature Phone users prefer mobile to PC shopping

James, who previously pioneered some of the top tools on comScore, including qSearch™ and Video Metrix™, now widely used by hundreds of clients around the world, has played a key role not only in driving the focus on analytics at InMobi, but also in helping see where the market was going at an early stage.  According to James, “we recognized earlier than many that Android and IOS would be game-changers, delivering compelling consumer experiences at scale, globally.  And we recognized that it would be a ‘developer economy’ with application developers becoming publishers, and doing so in a new way that was truly global.  We saw them focusing on global monetization, without a lot of ‘country bias’, so that’s been key in helping us architect the right platform.”

In fact, over half of the developer/publisher revenue comes from outside the US.  Let’s recap that important distinction: over half the ad inventory comes from inside the US, but the majority of revenue comes from outside.  So InMobi has built itself to be “a one-stop shop for global monetization”, according to James.

The Privacy elephant in the boardroom

The privacy issues commonly come up in conversations about mobile marketing.  They technically center around the UDID (Unique Device ID), which, as the name suggests, is an identifier unique to each individual device.  The UDIDs are pretty critical to Application functionality, so they’re necessarily accessed.  Will they be classified as personally identifiable information, from a personal privacy standpoint?  How will they be allowed to be used by marketers?  The Mobile Marketing Association is developing a Point Of View and recommendations on dealing with privacy in mobile marketing, as one of its top initiatives.Privacy concerns are top-of-mind for mobile marketers

According to James, the Tier 1 players are all aggressively managing privacy issues, as a group.  They’re leveraging the learning from privacy concerns on PC-based web marketing, so the hope is that they will solve these issues fast and better than their desktop/laptop predecessors.  But not everyone is on board.  James cautions, “If some Tier 2 providers are promising a high degree of targeting, marketers should be sure to ask the tough questions.”

The investment by SoftBank might be a significant validation of InMobi’s leadership.  SoftBank is a big, big player in digital media, the dominant Japanese Digital Media company.  Case in point: they have a 40% stake in Alibaba, the Asian counterpart to eBay.  They’re clearly staking a big bet on InMobi as a key investment in mobile.

Looking ahead

InMobi offers advice to those who haven’t yet optimized.  Looking ahead, Anne expresses a consumer-driven vision.  “We expect over 100 million Americans every month will enjoy a better mobile ad experience by the end of this year.  I would love to see every ‘top 2’ brand optimize on the mobile platform BECAUSE it matters to consumers.  Not all CMOs fundamentally believe yet that people are buying on mobile.  But it’s changing fast.”  Brand Marketers have good reason to heed the trend.  InMobi shared a case study from ten Memorial Day campaigns that showed clients realizing a 74% reduction in cost of conversion.  Marketing, Shmarketing, now you’re getting Finance’s attention.Aggregate of 10 campaigns with 74% reduction in conversion costs

For those ‘sub-optimized’ brands, Lamberti counsels that you start safely and solidly.  “There’s a lot of distracting shiny objects in mobile right now, that don’t all scale well and may have high opportunity costs.  You don’t want to start off with a bad first impression on mobile.  Start with the common elements, aspects of Mobile that are working now, not just all-in on rich media.  Build a holistic plan.  And don’t just take what worked on a PC and stick it on the mobile phone.  There are five main calls to action for mobile – you need to make sure you use them all.”

James sees the evolution in phases.  “Deployment at scale was Phase 1.  Achieving real consumer engagement, at scale, was Phase 2.  We’ve done both. Phase 3 comes when you solve the problems of privacy and tracking, and when you solve the equally important challenges of bridging the analytics and message delivery between mobile and other channels.”

InMobi, we guess, is working hard on both these challenges.  We think bigger things in mobile marketing are yet to come.  -JTS

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A Snappy Approach to Mobile Advertising

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, Shopper Marketing on October 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

by Jeff Sandgren

Quiz: What innovative 2-D tag image solution was used in these advertising campaigns this summer?

  • Ocean Spray, in their cross-country mobile sampling tour
  • Toyota Motors’ ToyoTag, to “move the consumer closer to the transaction”
  • Gap, in Glamour Magazine (right on the cover, next to Rihanna’s … personality)
  • Office Depot’s nationwide back-to-school promotion offering $500,000 in mobile gift cards
  • Wrigley’s Orbit gum back-to-school in 100 million packages of gum
  • Bud Light’s “Ultimate Fan Experience” promotion
  • Casa Noble Tequila and Bar Louie restaurants offer chances at tickets to a Santana concert
  • Chivas Regal’s “Brotherhood” campaign

If you answered Quick Response (“QR”) Codes, or the more colorful Microsoft Tags, you’re wrong.  The correct answer is SnapTags, a solution offered by SpyderLynk, a mobile activation and marketing platform company.

This could be mobile marketing’s worst kept secret.  While Quick Response codes seem to dominate the news, and Microsoft Tags fight for a share of media attention, SpyderLynk continues to build up an ever-growing stable of successful campaigns.  And there are two good reasons why.

The first, from a brand point of view, is looks.  QR codes are functionally nifty, but they’re ugly … by design.  They were developed by the Denso Wave Company as a better way to track car parts, with more information than traditional ‘striped’ 1D barcodes.  Nicole Skogg, SpyderLynk’s Founder and CEO, is also the inventor of the SnapTag, which feat she performed before she’d even heard of a QR code, so the whole angle of approach is different, coming from a visual, brand-friendly starting point.  Where the visual appeal matters (e.g. Rihanna on Glamour), the choice of a simple, attractive logo with a surrounding circle, rather than the black and white QR checkerboard, has better brand appeal.

The second reason for SnapTag’s success, from an advertising effectiveness standpoint, is reach.  At issue is the question of how many cell phones are “feature phones” (cell phones with cameras) versus how many are “smart phones” (iPhones, Androids, etc.), which matters because SpyderLynk’s SnapTags work with both, so they simply cast a wider marketing net.  Two equally credible reports came up with different answers this summer.  Nielsen finds that 40% are smartphones vs. 60% feature phones.  The report from comScore found an even smaller slice for smartphones, at around 35%.  SnapTags can potentially be “read” by virtually all of these devices.

Smartphone adoption is growing, but the numbers for now still give feature phones the majority.  On top of that, comScore also found only 6.2% of mobile phone users actually scanned a QR code in the most recent test period.  Here in the US, camera phone users can use a service from another company, Scanlife, to send a photo of a QR code via MMS to a special number, where a server decodes it and sends back an SMS message with the web link or other info that the user can then input to get more content.  Did that sound too involved to you?  Precisely the point.

We spoke on two separate occasions with Nicole Skogg, SpyderLynk’s Founder/CEO and Jane McPherson, SpyderLynk’s CMO, who have had a great view of the development of this new solution over the past few years.  We wondered, would the trend in QR adoption make it easier or harder for SpyderLynk?

Jane prioritizes brand strategy over technology:  “The bigger questions should be, are brands really giving consumers a reason to use them?”

“There’s a bit of risk,” Jane explained.  “If everyone throws QR codes on everything without offering consumers value beyond a web connection, will it turn consumers off?  Right now there’s still a novelty factor, but marketers are going to have think more carefully about the best times, places, and ways to use mobile activation codes.  We try to focus our clients on really meeting a market need.”

According to Nicole, “We’re moving into a Marketing 3.0 landscape.  Consumer-driven conversations are the next phase, an ongoing, on-demand dialogue with the brand.  It’s about brands getting close to consumers, and to their decision-making process.”

Adoption by brand marketers has come in waves, according to Jane.  “Traditional advertising was the first big wave, then event marketing, now retailers.  We’re finding that shopper marketers are focusing more on purchase consideration, rather than just dropping brand and awareness.  Their focus is on helping consumers in making a purchasing decision.  HP is doing a good job of serving short videos to help them answer questions about products.  For Coors, sweepstakes still work, because that’s a high engagement brand.  It varies by product.”

An interesting example of on-package marketing with SnapTags is the recent work of Colorado Native, a brand of AC Golden (MillerCoors) that’s marketed locally in the Rocky Mountain state.  According to Jane, they put SnapTags on their bottles.  Participating consumers are first “age-gated”, then drawn into a back and forth dialogue with trivia, polling questions, and social networking.

“They are doing a great job of crafting campaigns that drive loyalty in the marketplace.  Colorado Native contributes a portion of all sales to a charity. Right now, if you snap and send (with your cell phone camera) the SnapTag engagement lets the consumer decide which charity.  Now the consumer feels connected.  Colorado Native has also become arbiters of event news.  So they ask via SnapTag conversations: what events do you care about?  Consumers choose the event, and they send out messages about the appropriate events.  Their SnapTag community is as big as or bigger than their Facebook community.”

SnapTags were also used to clever effect in DVD launches, like Warner Brothers’ “Inception” and Sony Pictures’ “This Is It”.  Ah, but show business has a way of drawing the unwary into its web.  Nicole’s innovations were recently honored by The Producers Guild of America, in association with Variety, who chose her as one of the 2011 “Digital 25” Leaders in Emerging Entertainment.  That puts her in the heady company of Lady Gaga.  We’ll be looking for her first SnapTag tattoo soon.  -JTS

Editor’s Note, March 2012:  We learned from a David Alex that there might be some name confusion.  In the completely-unrelated world of biological research, a Professor Kai Johnsson developed ‘novel tools to study protein functions’ and calls the technology a SNAP-tag.   Spyderlynk’s mobile marketing technology is called a SnapTag and enables marketers to offer consumers the opportunity to activate commerce, social, promotional and couponing campaigns from any location. Nicole Skogg, the founder of SpyderLynk invented and patented the SnapTag.  We are not sure she how much she knows about protein functions … but she is a wiz at mobile technologies and marketing platforms.  Thanks, David, for helping with disambiguation.

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