The future of marketing is platform agnostic

More than ever, with the constant development of new digital products, marketing and consumerism is increasingly divsersified and companies face a platform agnostic future.

It doesn’t matter how someone gets to your business, what is important is facilitating the opportunity for them to do so. Businesses can’t afford to not be where their current and future customers are. Businesses that aren’t able to convince themselves to open up to as many platforms and access points as is reasonable are doing themselves more harm than good.

Oils ain’t oils

Think about the petroleum industry, particularly petrol stations. Petrol Stations are one of the oldest living examples of a platform agnostic business model. Petrol station owners don’t care what vehicle you turn up in. They don’t care if you have a 30 year old 100cc scooter, a family sedan, a brand new Ferrari or a 10 tonne truck. It simply doesn’t matter to them, as long as you buy fuel (and some snacks) you’re the right customer. To them, the ‘vessel’ in which you’re going to consume the petrol isn’t their concern – they accept you’ve bought the vehicle you’ve chosen for your own reasons.

Carrying this example over, think about the ‘vehicles’ that consumers might use to research, evaluate and consume your company’s products. Consumers might use everything from various mobile phone platforms, the emerging tablet market, social networks and social media, websites, online forms, and all of the other various push and pull channels, such as EDM’s, PPC, outdoor advertising, newspapers, magazines, and retail stores etc. There are more channels than any one business can possibly be constantly across – but that’s OK.

Thankfully, fewer businesses each day are seeing digital, mobile and tablet marketing, as a way to dictate how people engage with them. Sticking exclusively with one or two technologies and expecting consumers to follow suit has all the classic trappings of losing market share and alienating whole market segments. Businesses that see the opportunity to engage with customers no matter what platform choice that customer independently made, will reap more benefits in the short and long term. Few, if any, consumers would purchase their smartphone with all of the companies they use at the moment in mind, while also making sure they’re all compatible, for example.

If your website, or app, is great on an iPhone, but not on Android, or Windows mobile, or iPad, or the Samsung tablet, or the RIM technologies tablet, that needs to be fixed, and quickly. Why? Because if your current, or potential consumers are having a poor experience trying to access you they’re less likely to try again in the future. Worse, they may just switch to a competitor offering a similar product with a more user friendly interface.  Even worse, if they can’t access your business on any of the platforms they’re using, few will bother to tell you – especially if they’re not a loyal customer – and if they are they may well be more critical in their feedback, and may well do it in a public arena, like twitter.

Being across every platform is impossible

Coming back to the example above – petrol stations don’t open up everywhere, they open up in strategically useful places. And the same sort of thinking can be applied to other businesses too.

Businesses don’t have to be across every social network, or every new technology that comes along. But they do need to have individuals that are given the time, and the explicit remit, to explore beyond ‘what’s cool’ and progress to what’s useful and what can be tangibly beneficial to both the company and the consumer. If a large percentage of your current core customer segment are Nokia’s, one might argue that there’s no need to optimise for Smartphones like iPhone or Android. But that ignores the growth potential laying behind your next generation of consumer.

This can be scary, no doubt about it. The leap of faith required to get new social, digital, mobile and tablet initiatives off the ground, where no solid figures exist, can be a hurdle which may be difficult for some to jump over.

After all, if no one else in the industry is doing it, and no one is making money from the social/app/other access product being suggested, how does anyone know it’s going to work? Well sometimes you just have to try these things – toe in the water approach if necessary – to see what happens next.

The best things in mobile life cost $9.99, apparently.

Distimo has released a report detailing the average price of apps across all the major mobile platforms, and the implications for developers and businesses aren’t as straight forward as one may assume.

It is quickly apparent that the 99 cent to $1.19 app while good at spreading a basic message, may not be both valuable to enough people to create a sweet spot of both profit and scale.

Average price of apps

What comes as a surprise is that Blackberry users, while having a smaller app selection is actually higher than the iPhone users in relation to the average price of all paid applications.

It’s also worth noting that despite the different uses for the hardware, the difference between the average price of all paid applications between iPhone and iPad is less than 80 cents. With the iPhone having several times more users, and a few key usages, it’s hard to see the iPhone losing it’s dominance as the most coveted app development land any time soon.

So what does this mean for brands? It means they have to work harder to provide a more valuable app in the first place, and that the widely used, but often forgotten mobile users – Blackberry – may just be worth developing for after all.

A measure of the desire for an iPad.

It’s been hard to escape the fanfare that the iPad has generated over the past few weeks. And with good reason. The iPad is devastatingly pretty. It is, as you would expect very easy to use and well it has been a hotly anticipated product for over 12 months.

In celebration of the release of the iPad Mashable created a whole new section, media worldwide gave it broad and favourable coverage and all over the world pictures and video were streamed across the web and our televisions of individuals who lined up and waited for hours just to be the first to get one so they could have their images streamed across the web and our televisions.

Rupert Murdoch has claimed that the iPad may well save newspapers, well, save the media company that produces them anyway and there was outrage from some quarters about the ‘rich kids’ that bought them just to destroy them, (didn’t want to promote that stuff though so here a link to ‘will it blend’ blending an ipad.

But beyond all of the hype and the media’s reporting of the iPad launch the burning question is: what’s the demand from the consumers? How much do they want them? Are people as excited as they are about, say, an iPhone, or an android, or even just searching for Facebook, or Oprah or Coca Cola, or a really mundane product like .

The answers are below.

iPad vs nothing (a benchmark):

iPad vs iPhone

iPad vs Facebook

iPad vs Oprah – the really interesting thing here is that Oprah as a search term looked like it did better in the United States and (was massive in) Canada but then got outpaced in the rest of the world.

iPad vs Coca Cola

iPad vs Ebay

Amazing eh? Good to see the buzz build up, but perhaps a little disappointing to the Apple crew to not see the second ‘hump’ of iPad buzz be bigger than the first. Of course, this doesn’t take into account tweets and Facebook postings, but neither nor does it do that for any of the comparison companies.

What the Apple team would be particularly pleased to see though, and perhaps one obvious reason for Google searches not being higher, is the mass of media coverage. If it’s everywhere in the media then maybe there just wasn’t a need to search that much. Read three articles about it and you don’t really need to find out more about a flat, touch, tablet device that does less than an iPhone.

Will it be a huge seller like the iPhone? Perhaps, but it’s less about the products themselves and more about how you use them. An iPhone is a communication tool as much as a diary, social and consuming content device. The iPhone by Steve Jobs own words is a ‘great device for consuming’. He didn’t mention anything about connecting, communicating, talking etc.

Apple’s iPad ‘hype spike’. Does it mean doom or glory?

Will all the hype about Apple’s iPad really translate to sales or a product doomed to get dusty on a salesfloor shelf? Well if history is any guide, Apple and Steve Job’s will need a new pit for all the cash about to come their way, here’s why.

It’s been nearly a month since Apple’s executive team demonstrated the ‘awesome, exciting, magical, groundbreaking, every-positive-noun-under-the-sun’ power of the iPad. It has created tens of thousands of articles, quick product reviews, Youtube videos and several million tweets, comments and blog posts.

So what has all this done to traffic? And what does the traffic tell us about the likely success of Apple’s newest edition to the iFamily?

Not bad right? A big spike, but where’s the longevity of the hype? Should Apple be concerned about the drop off? Looking at it as compared with other Apple products, probably not, take a look. Below is a graph charting search of the iPad, iPhone and iPod over the last 12 months.

The primary reason why big spikes of attention is probably just fine with everyone at Apple from their marketing and product team’s right up to the big turtleneck wearer himself, is that they’ve done it before and their system works at generating interest and strong sales in the long term. Why change something that’s working just fine?

Below are Google Trends graphics showing search patterns for the iPad, iPhone and iPod for ‘all countries’ for ‘all time’. The iPhone saw nearly the exact same spike in ‘hype media attention’ and ‘hype search attention’ and did just fine. Of course, the iPhone and iPad are different products, so there’s still an the question of ‘will the iPad take off? But at the very least the media strategy seems to have hit the spot. It also looks like the iPad could be expected to fade a little more from the media and search frequency before it turns around if the previous search spikes are a good guide.

Despite how big these spikes are, in Google Insights the iPad doesn’t even make a mention in total search stats when compared with it’s brethren. Below, the iPad is in blue, iPhone in red, iPod is orange.

So is the ‘hype spike’ a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a good thing, by a long shot. Most marketers would kill to get that kind of cut-through and message delivery. Apple aficionado’s and curious Apple passerby’s are just waiting to see if the product matches the hype.

How Google will win everything (and why Facebook and Twitter still need it).

“One search engine to rule them all, one search engine to bind them”.

It doesn’t quite have the elegance of the original line from The Lord of The Rings, but it neatly encompasses the battleground that is based upon precious and profitable percentages of your time and your online usage habits, Dear Reader.

Google is still the dominant player in the Google>Twitter>Facebook tryst and try as they might to fight it, and claim independence, Google is the binding party to Twitter and Facebook’s success to date and for, possibly, some time to come.

Taking a look at compete.com you’ll see that not only is Google and gmail’s traffic so much higher than Twitter and Facebook, Google is also one of, if not, the major traffic referrer’s for both the social networks as shown in the graph below.

Google's dominance with gmail and Google buzz as seen compared to Twitter and Facebook

Google's dominance of Facebook and Twitter (click to see full size)


There’s no doubt that Facebook and Twitter have their own momentum but there are some key things worth noting about the information and the companies behind them.

First is that Google isn’t primarily a social media company. It’s primary purpose is as a search engine. It’s not relying on people wanting to connect, it relies on curiosity, learning and intrigue. Google search also compliments Twitter and Facebook users’ experience – if you want to know what’s so great about that band/article/topic you’re friends and contacts are tweeting and updating about, no problem, go Google it.

Second is that Twitter is the odd one out here. It’s neither a deep search engine with millions of informative articles and research nor is it about, necessarily, connecting to your friends. It’s primary purpose as the company founder Biz Stone said is to become the “pulse of the planet“. Many users start following celebrities, academics, companies and other people that they don’t know but like and respect. That’s great, but companies and people you’ve never met aren’t friends necessarily, thereby making Twitter potentially more dispensable if users start running short on time.

Third is that Facebook has some thinking to do. It’s not often you can say this about the world’s largest social network, especially when according to research they’re driving 44% of the social sharing on the web, but with Google Buzz’s launch it’s time for Facebook to clarify it’s intentions. With Buzz pumping out 9 million buzz’s in just a week or two of being launched and twitter only slowing down a little, it’s time for them to clearly communicate where Facebook is headed, to the users. At the moment Facebook is a very easy and familiar communication tool to keep in touch with friends across neighbourhoods and nations, as well as a great way for companies to do very well with addicting games like Farmville. But is it much more than that to the majority of users?

While most users may give up their grandma quicker than they would their Facebook account the question is now, ‘where is Facebook headed?’ And with a user license agreement that states Facebook is entitled to sell, use and distrbute anything you put on there at their discretion how much information will people be comfortable putting on there anyway?

Fourth, Google Buzz. A brilliant move by Google, the rumblings of those upset with the development will forget about it and move on or not use the service, but everyone new that signs up to gmail will have it upon starting and it won’t be a foreign intrusion to their usual email habits. Problem solved.

While much of the talk since it’s launch has been ‘Will Google Buzz threaten Twitter?’ perhaps the more pertinent question is ‘How will Google Buzz threaten Facebook?’

Google Buzz just isn’t so much taking aim Twitter as it is for Facebook. In a nut shell Google Buzz connects you with people you know, via a common and comfortable platform and lets you update, share and discuss anything from simple conversations to videos, images, retaurant reviews, articles and more. Sound familiar?

Further to this, people already trust Google and Gmail so it’s not such a leap-of-faith moment to get people using Google Buzz, you’re already connected to these people so there’s no ‘upload your address book and find people you know’ when you sign up like other social networks and, as a major bonus, it’s the same login as your email. So you don’t have to go to yet another site and remember yet another login.

So where to next? Well, with Google’s Android being an arguably better mobile platform than Apple’s locked down proprietary system, already being the biggest search engine and still growing, as well as having one of the largest free public email services on the planet and connecting it with a new social network with people you know it’s hard to see anyone chipping away at their dominance.

Google have more fingers in more pies and are a more diverse company than any of their competitors. Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly have their own strengths and will continue to develop their platforms. But the one thing that no company can do is provide the user with more time in a day, it’s just not possible, so the fight is on for your mind, your heart and your time Dear Reader.

So if you had to cut time from one of these which is it going to be? And if Facebook, Twitter and Apple get together we may just have a game on our hands.