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Jasper Engel

Rebel Yell: How to not be obnoxious when advertising on mobile  
 Banner ads, coupons, and interstitials are becoming a thing of the past for many leading mobile brands. At this week’s  Shopper Marketing Summit outside Chicago , Manuel Rosso, CEO of Food on the Table, said, “Nobody clicks on mobile banners, it’s a terrible message medium.”    Banners were once touted as a key tool for app promotion and monetization  because they were easy to set up and wouldn’t distract users from the app they were using. But with newer apps that meticulously utilize every inch of screen real estate, many app developers are finding that sacrificing the lower-third (or full screen) of their app to an advertiser disrupts the experience for their users.  
  In addition, brand experts point out that banners (and coupons) tend to be poor drivers of brand engagement and loyalty.  While they increase the brand’s presence, tappable in-app ads tend to encourage the wrong type of consumer behavior. Bryan Leach, founder and CEO of Ibotta, said, “Digitizing coupons is a poor investment” because “it reinforces a transactional relationship with the consumer.” It’s better to encourage consumers to engage than to transact. 
  The hard part for developers and brands is that creating engagement doesn’t follow a simple formula.  Some brands have sought to tell stories or build games in order to encourage brand loyalty and trigger rewards. Target and Starbucks are two such brands that have steered their mobile apps towards engagement and rewards, and away from transaction (although they both offer in-app transaction capabilities). Both have seen significant increases in mobile adoption and sales.   Messaging is still an important part of the mobile brand toolset, but it needs to be selective, relevant, and timely.  Selectivity  means messages need to be delivered for special purposes, such as to announce a sale or event.  Relevance  means messages need to be sent to the right audience segments, i.e. the ones most likely to be interested in the content of the message.  Timeliness  means that messages need to be delivered at times when users are most likely to read them and take action.    Following these three rules will help any brand put together an effective mobile messaging strategy, but this is still secondary to the function of the app itself.  Brands that want to benefit from mobile need to develop concepts about how to offer non-transactional value to customers. Whether this is done through storytelling, design, user experience, gameification, rewards, or some other method doesn’t matter so much; what matters is that the mobile app gets users interested in the brand apart from merely offering ways to buy. Interest breeds brand appreciation, which increases the likelihood of consumers to transact, which in turn helps to boost sales.

Rebel Yell: How to not be obnoxious when advertising on mobile

Banner ads, coupons, and interstitials are becoming a thing of the past for many leading mobile brands. At this week’s Shopper Marketing Summit outside Chicago, Manuel Rosso, CEO of Food on the Table, said, “Nobody clicks on mobile banners, it’s a terrible message medium.” 

Banners were once touted as a key tool for app promotion and monetization because they were easy to set up and wouldn’t distract users from the app they were using. But with newer apps that meticulously utilize every inch of screen real estate, many app developers are finding that sacrificing the lower-third (or full screen) of their app to an advertiser disrupts the experience for their users. 

In addition, brand experts point out that banners (and coupons) tend to be poor drivers of brand engagement and loyalty. While they increase the brand’s presence, tappable in-app ads tend to encourage the wrong type of consumer behavior. Bryan Leach, founder and CEO of Ibotta, said, “Digitizing coupons is a poor investment” because “it reinforces a transactional relationship with the consumer.” It’s better to encourage consumers to engage than to transact.

The hard part for developers and brands is that creating engagement doesn’t follow a simple formula. Some brands have sought to tell stories or build games in order to encourage brand loyalty and trigger rewards. Target and Starbucks are two such brands that have steered their mobile apps towards engagement and rewards, and away from transaction (although they both offer in-app transaction capabilities). Both have seen significant increases in mobile adoption and sales. 

Messaging is still an important part of the mobile brand toolset, but it needs to be selective, relevant, and timely. Selectivity means messages need to be delivered for special purposes, such as to announce a sale or event. Relevance means messages need to be sent to the right audience segments, i.e. the ones most likely to be interested in the content of the message. Timeliness means that messages need to be delivered at times when users are most likely to read them and take action. 

Following these three rules will help any brand put together an effective mobile messaging strategy, but this is still secondary to the function of the app itself. Brands that want to benefit from mobile need to develop concepts about how to offer non-transactional value to customers. Whether this is done through storytelling, design, user experience, gameification, rewards, or some other method doesn’t matter so much; what matters is that the mobile app gets users interested in the brand apart from merely offering ways to buy. Interest breeds brand appreciation, which increases the likelihood of consumers to transact, which in turn helps to boost sales.

6 Essential Music Apps for the Post-Pandora Generation   Pandora revolutionized the music industry by offering on-demand, user-customizable radio stations and an enormous library of music on desktop and mobile. Since Pandora, the industry has seen the rise of several niche services that make it even easier for users to discover new music, personalize their listening, and share their favorite songs and artists with friends. These 6 apps are essential for music listeners who are looking to expand their horizons beyond Pandora.   Shazam |  .com    Shazam lets users quickly identify songs, commercials, TV shows, and more by pointing their mobile device towards the audio source and tapping a button on the app to record and process an audio clip. Once the app has identified the media, users can navigate to the song or video on YouTube or a 30-second iTunes preview. In addition to being a great organic discovery service for users, Shazam has become an important tool for brands. By integrating Shazam into radio and TV ads, brands have been able to re-direct mobile users to custom brand experiences on their devices, which helps with migrating analog audiences to mobile.   Beats Music |  .com    Beats Music has a stylish, sophisticated user interface in line with its coveted audio accessories, and a library of more than 20 million tracks and curated playlists from audio experts like Pitchfork and XXL Magazine. Beats emphasizes personalization above all else. The app offers “The Sentence” — a feature that requests a user’s location, mood, and current activity in order to select the ideal song for the moment.   Songza |  .com    Of the many music apps available today, Songza may offer the most robust personalization features. Songza’s Concierge feature lets users select the time of day, day of the week, current activity, mood, energy/concentration needs, and genre preferences to hone in on the perfect set for the occasion. Telling Songza you’re at work will get you a largely instrumental set — more conducive to sustaining focus — while telling the app you’re pre-gaming with friends on a Friday evening will get you a custom mix of dance and pop songs to put you in party mode.   iHeart Radio |  .com    iHeartRadio is a free digital radio that lets users listen to their favorite live stations and create ad-free custom stations. Users can access more than 1,500 live radio stations from across the country, with genres including pop, country, urban, rock, talk, and college. Users can also browse radio stations by genre and location, then tap the scan button to navigate from station to station. A thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system also lets users send feedback to DJs on which tracks are trending.   Slacker Radio |  .com    Slacker offers users hundreds of stations curated by human music experts. Popular stations include “Music Festivals,” as well as custom stations based on user-selected artists. Users can personalize their stations with continuous fine-tuning based on likes and bans on songs and artists.   Spotify |  .com    With a sleek user interface, flexible pricing, and access to more than 20 million songs, Spotify is one of the leading apps of the post-Pandora era. The Spotify mobile app lets you shuffle any artist or album for free, while the tablet and computer versions give users unlimited, ad-supported access to music. Recently added browsing capabilities make it easier than ever to find playlists, and Spotify Premium enables unlimited offline listening and ad-free streaming on mobile.

6 Essential Music Apps for the Post-Pandora Generation

Pandora revolutionized the music industry by offering on-demand, user-customizable radio stations and an enormous library of music on desktop and mobile. Since Pandora, the industry has seen the rise of several niche services that make it even easier for users to discover new music, personalize their listening, and share their favorite songs and artists with friends. These 6 apps are essential for music listeners who are looking to expand their horizons beyond Pandora.

Shazam | .com

Shazam lets users quickly identify songs, commercials, TV shows, and more by pointing their mobile device towards the audio source and tapping a button on the app to record and process an audio clip. Once the app has identified the media, users can navigate to the song or video on YouTube or a 30-second iTunes preview. In addition to being a great organic discovery service for users, Shazam has become an important tool for brands. By integrating Shazam into radio and TV ads, brands have been able to re-direct mobile users to custom brand experiences on their devices, which helps with migrating analog audiences to mobile.

Beats Music | .com

Beats Music has a stylish, sophisticated user interface in line with its coveted audio accessories, and a library of more than 20 million tracks and curated playlists from audio experts like Pitchfork and XXL Magazine. Beats emphasizes personalization above all else. The app offers “The Sentence” — a feature that requests a user’s location, mood, and current activity in order to select the ideal song for the moment.

Songza | .com

Of the many music apps available today, Songza may offer the most robust personalization features. Songza’s Concierge feature lets users select the time of day, day of the week, current activity, mood, energy/concentration needs, and genre preferences to hone in on the perfect set for the occasion. Telling Songza you’re at work will get you a largely instrumental set — more conducive to sustaining focus — while telling the app you’re pre-gaming with friends on a Friday evening will get you a custom mix of dance and pop songs to put you in party mode.

iHeart Radio | .com

iHeartRadio is a free digital radio that lets users listen to their favorite live stations and create ad-free custom stations. Users can access more than 1,500 live radio stations from across the country, with genres including pop, country, urban, rock, talk, and college. Users can also browse radio stations by genre and location, then tap the scan button to navigate from station to station. A thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system also lets users send feedback to DJs on which tracks are trending.

Slacker Radio | .com

Slacker offers users hundreds of stations curated by human music experts. Popular stations include “Music Festivals,” as well as custom stations based on user-selected artists. Users can personalize their stations with continuous fine-tuning based on likes and bans on songs and artists.

Spotify | .com

With a sleek user interface, flexible pricing, and access to more than 20 million songs, Spotify is one of the leading apps of the post-Pandora era. The Spotify mobile app lets you shuffle any artist or album for free, while the tablet and computer versions give users unlimited, ad-supported access to music. Recently added browsing capabilities make it easier than ever to find playlists, and Spotify Premium enables unlimited offline listening and ad-free streaming on mobile.

How messaging apps like Whatsapp are changing the Mobile Marketing Landscape  
 Since Facebook’s $19B acquisition of Whatsapp last week there has been increased speculation about the role of messaging services in allowing brands to expand their marketing reach. Shortly after Facebook announced the deal, the Japanese online retailer,  Rakuten, said that it would be buying Viber  — an internet calling service similar to Skype that reports close to 300 million users — for $900M. Meanwhile, WeChat, a Chinese-based messaging service, is also said to be  closing in on 300 million users  and may become the next major acquisition target.  
  Deals such as these signal the potential for messaging apps   to evolve into platforms with continuously monetizable users.  Whatsapp serves some 500 million users, mostly in emerging markets, roughly 70% of whom use the app on a daily basis. A recent report from Deloitte predicts that in 2014 an average of  50 billion messages will be delivered each day  across these types of messaging services. For many brands, such numbers indicate the opportunity to reach a global audience with immediacy and precision. 
  For Facebook, the Whatsapp deal will help to cement  the company’s involvement with messaging and voice calling .  But it may also help Facebook attract interest from advertisers looking to make inroads with consumers in emerging markets. Facebook has struggled to gain traction in Asia  against a lineup of competitor networks , but with the acquisition of a half billion active users there it can now focus on boosting mobile user activity in Asian markets, which may enable the company to start charging advertisers more aggressive rates without stifling demand. Plus, with the unique demographic-targeting options that Facebook offers, the company may be primed to gain a competitive advantage as a distribution platform.  
 The gain in users may also allow Facebook to start bringing revenue into line with investor expectations. Since its 2012 public debut the social networking giant’s  price-earnings ratio has hovered above 100 , indicating a discrepancy between the company’s perceived worth and current earnings. But such an influx of users in high-interest markets may help to boost advertiser interest and earnings.   
  The rise of Whatsapp and other messaging apps may also underscore a key feature of the new marketing landscape : with the explosion of smartphone and tablet usage across the globe, brands need tools that provide both precision and reach on mobile. Marketers increasingly gauge ROI in terms of the ability to reach mobile audiences with strategic timing and differentiated messaging, both of which Facebook is now better equipped to provide.  OysterLabs’ AQUA  – a combined mobile CRM+Analytics platform – offers such capabilities at highly competitive rates, and is a critical tool in the arsenal of any mobile marketer.

How messaging apps like Whatsapp are changing the Mobile Marketing Landscape

Since Facebook’s $19B acquisition of Whatsapp last week there has been increased speculation about the role of messaging services in allowing brands to expand their marketing reach. Shortly after Facebook announced the deal, the Japanese online retailer, Rakuten, said that it would be buying Viber — an internet calling service similar to Skype that reports close to 300 million users — for $900M. Meanwhile, WeChat, a Chinese-based messaging service, is also said to be closing in on 300 million users and may become the next major acquisition target. 

Deals such as these signal the potential for messaging apps to evolve into platforms with continuously monetizable users. Whatsapp serves some 500 million users, mostly in emerging markets, roughly 70% of whom use the app on a daily basis. A recent report from Deloitte predicts that in 2014 an average of 50 billion messages will be delivered each day across these types of messaging services. For many brands, such numbers indicate the opportunity to reach a global audience with immediacy and precision.

For Facebook, the Whatsapp deal will help to cement the company’s involvement with messaging and voice calling. But it may also help Facebook attract interest from advertisers looking to make inroads with consumers in emerging markets. Facebook has struggled to gain traction in Asia against a lineup of competitor networks, but with the acquisition of a half billion active users there it can now focus on boosting mobile user activity in Asian markets, which may enable the company to start charging advertisers more aggressive rates without stifling demand. Plus, with the unique demographic-targeting options that Facebook offers, the company may be primed to gain a competitive advantage as a distribution platform. 

The gain in users may also allow Facebook to start bringing revenue into line with investor expectations. Since its 2012 public debut the social networking giant’s price-earnings ratio has hovered above 100, indicating a discrepancy between the company’s perceived worth and current earnings. But such an influx of users in high-interest markets may help to boost advertiser interest and earnings.  

The rise of Whatsapp and other messaging apps may also underscore a key feature of the new marketing landscape: with the explosion of smartphone and tablet usage across the globe, brands need tools that provide both precision and reach on mobile. Marketers increasingly gauge ROI in terms of the ability to reach mobile audiences with strategic timing and differentiated messaging, both of which Facebook is now better equipped to provide. OysterLabs’ AQUA – a combined mobile CRM+Analytics platform – offers such capabilities at highly competitive rates, and is a critical tool in the arsenal of any mobile marketer.

How to Choose a Platform for your Mobile App   
 Whether you’re a Fortune-100 brand or a one-person business, choosing which platforms your mobile app will support can be a confusing process. The past few years have seen the rise of Windows and Blackberry app markets, but for most businesses looking to build a mobile presence the choice comes down to the two major platforms: Android and iOS.  
 This morning I had a  Twitter exchange with Charles Nutter  after he tweeted: 
 
  “Am I crazy, or is it madness to release mobile apps with no support for Android devices now? And to have no plans to ever support them?”  
 
 The question is a good one since many businesses out there are wondering the same thing. My reply was: “Yes it’s madness.”  
  To clarify: if you are just breaking into mobile,  it may not be madness to begin by only supporting iOS even though it controls  just 15% of the global market  as compared to Android’s 78%. But to rule out Android support completely is to ignore a huge potential source of users and revenue.  
 The key question to ask yourself is how much you plan to charge for your app. Despite Android’s huge lead in global market share,  Apple pulls in an estimated $5.1M a day in App Store revenue , compared to Google’s daily $1.1M from Google Play. That means that the average iOS user spends roughly 25x as much on apps (and in-app purchases) as the average Android user. So if you plan to release a paid app, it may make sense to start by allocating your development resources to a quality iOS release rather than splitting your budget between parallel iOS and Android builds. 
 At  OysterLabs  we’ve worked with many clients who went that route and then re-invested a portion of their iOS app earnings into a follow-up Android release. For cash-strapped businesses and startups in particular, this is a time-tested approach that may not yield huge revenue right off the bat but almost certainly won’t break the bank.  
  Not everyone is interested in the paid app model, though.  Businesses whose apps rely on in-app purchases, ads, and/or incentivized downloads for revenue may see Android as the priority platform given its much larger user base. If your app’s revenue model relies on many users downloading and using your app – what industry insiders sometimes call “eyeball potential” – then it makes sense to prioritize support for the platform with more users.   
 But that raises a secondary question about how to get those eyeballs focused on your app. Big brands can rely on their marketing budgets to drive installs and impressions, but less well-endowed developers often must resort to clever usage of social media and paid distribution channels. Google Play offers an advantage to the small guys here with its superior search capabilities that enable users to find apps even when they misspell keywords. 
  Final Thoughts   
Your decision-making about mobile platform support should be driven by your app’s revenue model and available budget for development and distribution. The ideal scenario is to support both iOS and Android, but that may not be a reality for every business at the start.
  If you’re thinking about developing an app, give us a shout at  Hello@OysterLabs.com  and we’ll help you develop a mobile strategy that meets your business’ goals and requirements. 
 View the full infographic at   Beutler Ink

How to Choose a Platform for your Mobile App 

Whether you’re a Fortune-100 brand or a one-person business, choosing which platforms your mobile app will support can be a confusing process. The past few years have seen the rise of Windows and Blackberry app markets, but for most businesses looking to build a mobile presence the choice comes down to the two major platforms: Android and iOS. 

This morning I had a Twitter exchange with Charles Nutter after he tweeted:

“Am I crazy, or is it madness to release mobile apps with no support for Android devices now? And to have no plans to ever support them?”

The question is a good one since many businesses out there are wondering the same thing. My reply was: “Yes it’s madness.” 

To clarify: if you are just breaking into mobile, it may not be madness to begin by only supporting iOS even though it controls just 15% of the global market as compared to Android’s 78%. But to rule out Android support completely is to ignore a huge potential source of users and revenue. 

The key question to ask yourself is how much you plan to charge for your app. Despite Android’s huge lead in global market share, Apple pulls in an estimated $5.1M a day in App Store revenue, compared to Google’s daily $1.1M from Google Play. That means that the average iOS user spends roughly 25x as much on apps (and in-app purchases) as the average Android user. So if you plan to release a paid app, it may make sense to start by allocating your development resources to a quality iOS release rather than splitting your budget between parallel iOS and Android builds.

At OysterLabs we’ve worked with many clients who went that route and then re-invested a portion of their iOS app earnings into a follow-up Android release. For cash-strapped businesses and startups in particular, this is a time-tested approach that may not yield huge revenue right off the bat but almost certainly won’t break the bank. 

Not everyone is interested in the paid app model, though. Businesses whose apps rely on in-app purchases, ads, and/or incentivized downloads for revenue may see Android as the priority platform given its much larger user base. If your app’s revenue model relies on many users downloading and using your app – what industry insiders sometimes call “eyeball potential” – then it makes sense to prioritize support for the platform with more users.  

But that raises a secondary question about how to get those eyeballs focused on your app. Big brands can rely on their marketing budgets to drive installs and impressions, but less well-endowed developers often must resort to clever usage of social media and paid distribution channels. Google Play offers an advantage to the small guys here with its superior search capabilities that enable users to find apps even when they misspell keywords.

Final Thoughts

Your decision-making about mobile platform support should be driven by your app’s revenue model and available budget for development and distribution. The ideal scenario is to support both iOS and Android, but that may not be a reality for every business at the start.

If you’re thinking about developing an app, give us a shout at Hello@OysterLabs.com and we’ll help you develop a mobile strategy that meets your business’ goals and requirements.

View the full infographic at Beutler Ink

The new Lexus 3D AR mobile app allows users to explore 3D images of Lexus car models on their mobile device.

Augmented reality (AR), which continues to gain relevance in the mobile app space, lets brands showcase their products in interactive environments that don’t just build interest, but convey key information and provide organic methods of engagement. Rather than simply displaying products, augmented reality allows for an immersive experience that can be supplemented by any combination of video, audio, graphics, and data. 

AR applications have already begun to disrupt the traditional approach to mobile product marketing – to drive consumers into a transaction funnel in hopes of achieving continuously higher conversion rates. With the onset of rich AR apps and devices that can support graphics-intensive operations, more brands are beginning to see the benefits of mobile as a means to immersion and brand building.

The takeaway is that branded mobile apps should offer more than just browsing and purchasing capabilities; they should allow for a level of engagement that fosters appreciation for a specific product or class of products, which in turn should boost conversion rates over time.