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Branded App Show-off Contest – recap

Battle-of-the-Apps-Logo-Final-300x2491MXM Events Mobile Mondays Branded-App Show-Off Event

Back in October, I had the privilege of presenting at the MXM Branded App Show Off during Ad Week.  http://www.mediacrossmedia.com/mxm_series/nyc/oct_1_2012_branded_app/.  Matt Snyder has been doing a great job in establishing the Mobile Monday’s event – and seeding the mobile community here in NY. He worked with the different mobile associations of NYC and put together this event specifically for Advertising Week. According to his YouTube page, “the goal of this event is to create an opportunity for the community to learn about the best Apps for brand marketing build by developers, agencies and marketers in NYC”.  The event featured 7 different Branded Apps presented to the audience while being moderated by a panel of 8 judges. The event took place at Union Square Ball Room on Oct 1st 2012.

Here’s a recap of the event: (you can also see some photos of the event on his Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.436505746386162.89136.151610504875689&type=1

There were roughly 600 people in attendance. The 7 app presenters were apparently selected from roughly 50 registrants.  The parameters for consideration were that the apps being showcased had to be designed for the purposes of promoting a specific brand – and for building the business of said brand.  The event kicked off with a standard opening networking reception and bar schmooze – followed by intros from the hosts. Next were the presentations/demos – in a “battle of the brand” type showcase – by the selected Branded App presenters – that were moderated by a panel of judges:

  • David Berkowitz- 360i
  • Scott Jensen – MTV
  • Taynah Reis – GDI
  • Andrew Reis  – SamStella
  • Jake Ward – App Developers Alliance
  • Timothy Ware  – WSJ
  • Chad Mumm – The Verge
  • Richard Ting – R/GA

The 7 Branded App presenters were:

  • Northface – Northface was the winner of this App –Off event.
  • Duracell Powermat-  Powermaster app –  Provides a means by which consumers can not only monitor their current battery power, but also allows users to find Powermat HotSpot locations nearby AND also “nominate” places that they want to be HoptSpot enabled.  This is a Social Gaming feature that drives advocacy and recruits users as a part of a grid-building movement to spread the word of wireless power.  It features full social integrations and a badge winning program with leaderboard.
  • Disney Parks – This app won the “Audience Award”.
  • Trojan
  • Girl Scouts
  • Cadbury
  • ESPN

Each presenter walked the panel through the app and its features and were asked to focus on these points in the presentation:

  • What were the core business goals for the app?
  • What you did to build the Brand, and achieve those goals
  • What was the effect of your efforts- brand value
  • Any audience or ROI figures you could share
  • Did your brand marketing effort lead to actual purchases or sales of the product and why.
  • How did awareness get converted into ( for example)  intent, purchase, support, loyalty and advocacy for the Brand.
  • Any lessons learnt

Overall, it was a pretty diverse grouping of brands and approaches. Overall, what was clear is that mobile apps are still a tactic that demands innovation.  Just making an app is no longer enough.  I see 7 key things that are MUSTs for successful apps:

Content  – App must either solve a real problem for the user – or must be a highly addictive time waster.

Functionality- Simply put, the app must work.  i.e., if there’s a bar code scanner- it should open smoothly and connect to the desired content with no hiccups or issues; if it’s got an mCommerce store, it needs to close the sale for the user seamlessly and smoothly.
Design- it has to look good.  Apps are getting sexier and sexier – and consumers want innovation and sleek design.

Usability – Kind of like Functionality – but this is more about how intuitive the app is – button sizes, locations of elements, user flow from screen to screen – placement of content on screen, etc

Information Architecture – The logic of the navigation needs to be well thought out so it syncs up in a natural flow.

User Input- It needs to be easy for users to enter information into the app where required.  Some apps are now auto-filling content or have great image recognition technology that can read credit cards.

Mobile Context – Where and when is the user using the app?  Does the app take into consideration the location/time/activity/history/preferences of  the user?  This makes the app experience more personal and relevant.

Trust – Security – Does the user feel comfortable entering data into the app?  How will it be used?

Who leaves voice mail anymore? Please don’t

I was looking over some emails today when a colleague of mine txt’d me to tell me that she had 56 unheard voicemails in her box.   We both laughed ( or lol’d) about this as we agreed that she was likely not going to listen to any of them anyway.   So we both started thinking:  who the hell left these in the first place?  Who really expects anyone to listen to these – let alone respond to them.   At this point, in our industry, if a message is not sent to me via email or text, it’s not a message.  it’s like a fax.   Wow. I don’t know the last time I actually sent a fax.  I certainly don’t recall the last time I received one either.   Heck, I don’t even know where the fax machine is in my office.  If someone told me I had a fax, I’d likely think it’s either a joke, or one of those office cleaning guys who pilfered some list.   I installed PhoneTag , on my Blackberry well over two years ago, so really any one that actually DOES leave me a voicemail gets to me via txt message anyway.  Recently, I put Google Voice on my Blackberry, so all of my voice mails are now in my inbox as text and are fully searchable by either my Gmail account or my Vista search client.  But I don’t actually listen to them. Ever.  I operate under the assumption that most, if not all, of the people that I am trying to reach don’t listen to them either.   You should too.   Let’s all together do away with this silly antiquated form of messaging.  Don’t leave voice mails, and most importantly, don’t listen to any either.  Eventually the industry will catch up and do away with this useless medium.

RFP: R.I.P.

For all of my fellow agency stalwarts, the RFP process has become the biggest running joke of the industry. There’s no bigger waste of agency resources than putting perfectly competent agency strategists to the task of responding to one of these preposterous documents –  that is if your even lucky it shows up as a document.  Its time we finally killed off this laborious and time-sucking process once and for all.

You know the scenario:  Lets say you work as a strategist at one of the top 5 search engine marketing agencies, or web dev agencies. You get an email from some marketing manager at, lets say, Union Carbide, requesting a response to their RFP for a new Paid Media agency.  Then the trip to hell begins.   First of all, I dont remember the last time I read an RFP document that actually made any sense. Vague, undefined goals, no real understanding of how agency services are delivered or managed, preposterous assumptions, and no room for any possibility of communicating your agency differentiation are common place.   And any attempt to get the Marketing Manager (lets call her Jennifer) on the phone to decipher the codec is thwarted and used against you in any future discussions (you can almost see the criteria spreadsheet Jennifer has open on her desktop – with categories for “cooperation” ,”attitude”).

So, what is really going on here?  RFPs are a ruse.  Designed by frightened bureaucrats, and nutless marketing execs, RFPS are a satanic tool designed to set a group of highly trained agency professionals off on a fruitless quest to compete with one another to ultimately help them figure out, define and solve their marketing strategy so they can just pick the agency that has the personal relationship with their CEO.  When you think of the sheer dollar value of the information that these guys end up with after 3 months of detailed RFP responses and PowerPoint presentations, its no wonder these guys continue this process.  Its the cheapest way to get the best counsel.  And nobody wins. Union Carbide ultimately selects the agency that is likely least qualified (lets face it, they were picked long before the RFP was ever written) and all five agencies end up with a group of spent, pissed and dejected service people who wonder why they were just abused like that for 3 months.

Its time we take charge and end this ridiculous time and resource wasting ritual.