Stumbling Into the Wearable Media Era

The near future of media is wearable, at least if you watched any of the news coming out of CES. But in the short term, the market will continue experiencing an awkward phase befitting a medium that is not ready for prime time.

Consider the intrusionary nature of Google “Glassholes“, or the many awkward apps developed for bulky and somewhat unfashionable smart watches. The world is stumbling into the wearable media era.

Does that mean content creators should ignore the medium for now? Maybe, but they will also risk losing marketshare to early adopters. What to do about wearables was a primary conversation point for a DC Ad Club presentation (see below) I gave at the Newseum this morning.

There are some clear indicators about what will work with wearable media. But first, let’s talk about the square peg in a round hole syndrome.

Just because you can create an app or put a sensor into something wearable or portable doesn’t make it a hit. Further, what works on another medium, specifically smartphones and tablets doesn’t make for a wearable hit.

Glass showed us that [obvious] wearable cameras are an intrusion. People know they are always under the watch of a surveillance camera. Yet, having a wearable camera thrust upon them created animosity. The video/photography experiment failed here.

Recently, I have been testing a Samsung Gear S watch. I don’t want to watch video on my smartwatch, nor do I want to look at photos, email or social networks. I do like having an independent phone for texting and voice calls on the go. The simple functionality allows me to escape the always on nature of my smartphones.

Then there is the “stick-a-sensor” into anything you wear or use. Many of these sensor-driven apps and their incessant social rankings seem like a waste of time. Consider this: I may not want a sensor in my nail clipper. Nor do I want my nail clipping habits ranked against my peers (yuck – more for you than me!).

Early Indicators

intelligent-sportswear-3

The first obvious area of success for wearable media is the use of audio media. Consider audio interfacing with programs like Siri or Google Talk, listening to podcasts in varying forms, or simply enjoying music. Audio is the linchpin of wearable media.

Why? Typing and reading on these devices is almost unbearable. And as we have seen with cars and even walking, over engaging portable media can be dangerous.

Podcasts may be the silver bullet of all. Podcasting is enjoying a bit of renaissance thanks to smartphones, tech enabled autos, and other mobile devices. Twenty percent of Americans already listen to at least one podcast a month.

It’s likely that podcasts will reinvent themselves a la YouTube. The standard “I am/we are talking about something important” format is just one way that audio files can be created. A food company could offer simple audible recipes, or someone could post directions on how to tie a windsor knot.

The other key feature for wearable media is usefulness. This is where the contextual media aspect of sensors comes into play.

Check out the top apps for Samsung Gears right now. They include a babysitter app which lets you helicopter back into your house and see your child. One app lets you tally expenses as you shop. And of course there are pedometer uses for training.

Almost all of these apps are low attention types of utilities that help someone on the go maintain their lives. You cannot underestimate how important is for an app to be nonintrusive and yet useful for wearable media devices.

What do you think about wearable tech hype?

My Big 5 Marketing Predictions for 2014

I am presenting a free Vocus webinar this Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the five big trends that will impact marketers in 2014. Vocus is a client of Tenacity5 Media.

Everyone wants to know the most important trends of the new year for their marketing program. After reading thousands of posts and reports and sifting through corresponding data about marketing, these are my five bold predictions for 2014, and what you should do about it.

Trend 1: Mobile Begins to Dominate

Google Glass will grab the headlines, but old-fashioned mobile marketing will command the budget. Thanks to responsive and adaptive designs, geofencing, and diverse mobile media properties, businesses can deploy customized campaigns to attract customers on the go. As ROI increases, expect mobile specific efforts to become the next marketing boom.

Key Statistic: In 2014, 3.7% of the total U.S. ad spend will be mobile ($6.2 billion). We saw 81% growth this year in the U.S. market, with that rate slowing down to 61% in 2014 and 53% in 2015, when mobile will make up 8.4% of the total ad spend. Source: ZenithOptimedia.

Trend 2: Wearable Moves to the Wrist

Wearable computing hype will move away from the head to the wrist. Google Glass is too awkward and clunky to be anything more than a niche product. Meanwhile, Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit continue to show how wearable computing can quietly be accepted in day to day lie. Expect Apple and Samsung to take advantage of the form factor, and define the market.

Key Statistic: Google Glass will move 21 million units in annual sales by year-end 2018. Source: BI Intelligence

Trend 3: Vine Becomes a Major

In 2012 we saw the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. 2013 was promising but less successful with Vine and SnapChat.

But toward the end of the year interesting acquisition chatter between Facebook and SnapChat commanded the headlines. Then Facebook delivered a vain attempt to replicate video messaging functionality on Instagram (the McDonalds business strategy strikes again).

There are serious monetization issues with SnapChat. Facebook is turning the Instagram platform into something for everyone, and at the same time nothing distinct.

Vine is already tied into Twitter’s ad platform, and will benefit from its unique video only format. Expect Vine to breakthrough in 2014 because of its simplistic utility, short video, and Twitter’s increasingly successful ad platforms.

Key Statistic: At the end of September, Twitter-owned Vine grew a whopping 403% between the first and third quarters of 2013 according to Mashable, Statista and GlobalWebIndex. That makes the video app the fastest-growing app of the year; it now has more than 40 million users. Source: Business Insider.

Trend 4: Native Advertisers Clean Up

As native advertising continues to expand and infiltrate traditional publishing and social media, consumer trust will decline and legal action will increase. Brands and media properties alike will come to understand the impact sponsored content makes on trust. Native advertisers will clean up their offerings, and brand reputation will take precedence over short term gains.

Key Statistic: The most popular forms of native advertising in 2013 were blog posts (65%), articles (63%), Facebook (56%), videos (52%), tweets (46%), and infographics (35%). Source: Hexagram.

Trend 5: Marketing Automation Improves

The potential for marketing automation is well documented as is its impact on the bottom line. But most automation solutions are hard to use. Marketers don’t have the analytic and technical skills to succeed.

What is hard must become easier. Companies will put pressure on their teams and vendors to make marketing automation more useful to their businesses. Training and user interface evolution will make marketing automation a bigger success.

Key Statistic: Just 16% of B2B companies use automation solutions extensively, and 14% of B2C companies leverage the solutions set.Source: Research Underwriters and Ascend2.

During the webinar I will provide actionable steps if you would like to explore these trends and stay ahead of your competitors. I hope you will join us!

Featured image by Desmond.

How Wearable Computing Helps Me Lose Weight

After exploring the early iterations of wearable computing, I decided to buy the new Nike Fuelband SE. It is interesting walking around with a sensor on my arm. I am actually learning some interesting things about my lifestyle, which help me to lose weight.

But first, let’s discuss the expanding gut problem.

I’ll admit it. I’ve gotten fat over the past year. Ever since I blew my knee out, the pounds have been adding up, and the belt knotches have been slipping. About 25 pounds to be exact.

Now, I was in really good shape before the knee blew out thanks to running the Tough Mudder, BUT, matters have gotten a little out of hand. It is time to reign my waistline in.

Plus I wanted to try out wearable computing. I didn’t like Google Glass when I was given a chance to wear a headset, in large part because I am blind and don’t want to wear contacts. The Galaxy Gear wrist watch is neat in concept, but has some issues.

Then there’s this weight issue. So I decided to go with a wearable fitness sensor, and opted for the new Fuelband SE over Fitbit. I made the choice based aesthetics and Nike’s social community.

Coach Fuelband

Comparison

Yes, Fuelband has a couple of issues, but I really like it. The app (currently only on iPhone) is great, and let’s you log-in special activities. You can see performance, compare with your peers, and set goals. If I want to share online I can.

Within the Nike+ Community I can better gage my performance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Further, the data is providing insights into my weight problem.

During the period when I was gaining weight, I was on client site four days a week (through October 11). I still go in one day a week, and this week I wore my Fuelband. Guess what? I was so sedentary that my activity level dropped by 50%, even after a 40 minute workout at the facility gym. This showed me how important a couple of 10 minute walks a day are.

Second, I am actually quite activenow that I am not on client site. Yet the pounds are not slipping away as quickly as they have in other times of high level fitness activity. This points to a dietary issue.

Yes, I have been eating too much of Soleil’s mac & cheese, and half-eaten cupcakes, and everything else that she doesn’t eat. Plus we eat much more meat these days than I am used to. Ah, the quest to feed the baby protein. Caitlin admits that generally we could be eating lighter.

I can always ratchet it up a notch on the fitness front, and intend to do so. At the same time, Fuelband is showing me the problem lies elsewhere.

All in all, wearing a sensor on my arm has been less intrusive and much more helpful than I imagined. A big thumbs up for the early generation of what will surely be an evolving mobile computing technology.

Do you wear a Fitbit or Fuelband?

5 Forms of Apple Link Bait

Apple iPhone 4s 3rd August 2012 12:09.53pm
Image by dennoir

Everyone wants to talk about tomorrow’s iPhone 5 announcement. Why bother trying to compete?

Instead, let’s “newsjack” the iPhone 5 reveal with a fun post lampooning the most common forms of Apple link bait! Here we go:

1) Find a “Lost” iPhone/iPad Prototype

“We found this prototype iPhone in the restroom of a Palo Alto bowling alley.”

Come on! Does anybody believe these iPhones find stories anymore?
Continue reading “5 Forms of Apple Link Bait”

2012 Trend Spotting: Grieving Blackberry

Chart ws stock researchinmotionltd 20111216123240 top
Image by CNN

By all accounts, 2012 will be the year that Blackberry’s decline dramatically increases. Most analysts and even parent company Research In Motion’s SEC filings see Blackberry dropping out of the top tier of smartphones, surrendering the market to the Apple iPhone and the many Google Android operating system-based phones.

Because Blackberry has been a very strong brand, one that basically brought the Internet to phones in the form of email and casual web browsing, expect to hear a lot of complaining. People love their Blackberries!

But unfortunately, the company was never able to respond to tactile input technology and the subsequent mobile application revolution created by Apple and then Google. Users have little choice with Blackberry’s increasingly obsolete operating systems if they want a modern smartphone with the best technology.

The decline has been an ugly one. When the iPhone first launched, Blackberry was slow to react, chugging along with its 1.0 email monster.

BlackBerry Storm
Image by StrebKR

Finally, after the phone took off, Blackberry began to evolve towards touch screen interfaces. By then Android had launched. While Android is often considered an iPhone knock off, it was extremely competitive from an innovation standpoint and cost effective. It became the iPhone answer instead of a touch Blackberry.

Research In Motion responded by cutting costs to incredibly low levels, which buoyed sales into 2011. However, low costs, a revamped operating system and attempts to build a Blackberry only mobile social network and application marketplace have failed to stem the iPhone Android tide.

The final blow appears to be the failure to deliver yet another new operating system — Blackberry 10 — until late 2012. With market share rapidly deteriorating, Blackberry needed a turn around now, not in nine to 12 months. And so it seems apparent that in 2012 we will be hearing a lot about Research In Motion and Blackberry’s fall from grace, and their desperate last attempt to stay relevant.

Grieving Blackberry

Personally, I have never really liked the Blackberry platform. Instead, I preferred a Palm or Windows phone during the 1.0 era, and the iPhone and Android phones in the 2.0 era.

RIM Bullfrog

However, as a wireless reporter in the late 90s, I remember Research In Motion when it launched. The original Research in Motion device, a Bullfrog, was this innovative clam shell pager with a QWERTY keyboard. It was the size of a Big Mac!

Soon after they added voice capability, and became a start-up legend offering a phone that beat the big boys like Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung. The Blackberry revolutionized telecommunications, just as its current nemesis the iPhone has. It’s place in history should not be forgotten.

What are your memories of the Blackberry?