Last month, Twitter announced a new feature for developers called mobile app deep-linking that received less attention than it deserved. This feature allows app developers to enable links directly to their apps from tweets. To use one of Twitter’s examples, say you take a photo in Path and…
I wrote a blog post today. It’s pretty rare, so check it out if you get really excited about mobile marketing and arcane developer features in iOS 6.
When we look back on the holiday shopping season in 2012, we’ll see that mobile platforms are increasingly becoming a viable way for consumers to shop. There’s already an abundance of data that supports this from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to a report from IBM, Cyber Monday saw an increase of 70% in mobile sales. The iPad represented 7% of all online sales and completely dominated competing devices by producing 90.5% of all tablet e-commerce sales. 24% of Black Friday retail traffic came from mobile devices up from 14% in 2011 and less than 1% in 2009. The trend is clear and it’s not reversing. What’s leading to this shift in user behavior?
1. Mass adoption of smartphones and tablets. Apple has sold 100 million iPads in less than three years. There are 1 billion smartphone users globally. The growth rate of smartphone and tablet adoption is far surpassing that of other platforms/devices. This is both across device purchases and usage. In two years, mobile internet use has grown >300% and represents 13% of global traffic. Mobile commerce is merely a subset of this macro trend.
2. Improved mobile shopping experiences. As a result of the above and their own internal data, e-commerce companies have realized that they need mobile optimized websites and dedicated native apps across platforms. Companies like Branding Brand and Revel Touch are rapidly growing to accommodate the demand from traditional e-commerce companies who don’t have mobile design expertise in-house. “E-Commerce 2.0” companies like Fab, Gilt and One Kings Lane are increasingly taking a mobile first approach and thinking about mobile platforms ahead of the web. Fab anticipates that they’ll see 50% of sales from mobile next year. Companies that have built mobile-optimized and/or native app experiences are seeing higher conversion rates and increased adoption of using mobile devices as part of normal buying behavior.
3. The advent of “couch commerce.” This is less quantifiable than the above, but it’s an anecdotal observation that you’ll be hard-pressed to deny. People shop on their desktops/laptops while at work to procrastinate. When they get home, they’re increasingly sitting on the couch, watching TV and on their smartphone or tablet answering emails, playing games and, of course, shopping. You’ve done this. I’ve done this. I think this behavior will continue to increase and #1 and #2 will be gasoline on the fire.
It seems clear that as Apple and the bevy of Android manufacturers continue to churn out high-quality mobile devices, consumers will increasingly discover new things to buy on the go or while relaxing at home using these emerging platforms. The companies that have built best of breed UX on mobile and who are able to acquire and retain customers efficiently will reap the benefits of this behavioral shift.
I haven’t written about my new gig yet because I’ve been busy with the new gig. Here’s one of the (many) things I’m currently working through. If you think you can help, give me a shout:
I’ve got a fun task that I need help with. Quick disclaimer: I’ve never written a creative brief so don’t hold me accountable for a general lack of adhering to conventions or using the right terminology. I hope that’s not a problem. If it’s a problem, I guess we shouldn’t work together?
So here’s the deal: I want to partner with someone to form an early-stage start-up’s brand identity from a design standpoint. This entails helping us come up with:
a kickass logo
a refreshed website to reflect this new design sensibility (ideally working within bootstrap if that’s cool with you)
initial frameworks for marketing collateral: keynote deck, one-pager template, that sort of fun stuff
probably some other things that will occur to both of us when we talk.
This project is for a company called tapCommerce (told you we needed a little help). People are increasingly turning to their phones and tablets to buy things. We help companies selling things to reach people buying things on their mobile devices efficiently and then keep them coming back for more. We’re based in SoHo, NYC.
If this sounds like something you think you can help me out with, I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an @ reply on Twitter with a link to your work and I’ll give you a shout.
I arrived in September 2011 as part of the transaction that saw OneRiot acquired by the world’s largest retailer.
We had some clever technology for targeting relevant content at mobile consumers based on their social signals, not to mention a super-smart team of Big Data…
Nice post on navigating big companies. Certainly a lot of this resonated for me based on my time at CBS. I’m now taking the reverse approach and I’ve spent the last two years learning how to operate at a start-up pace.
I’ve written before about how mobile now amounts to around 1/3 of all sales for Fab in the U.S.
We just launched our Fab mobile apps (iPhone & iPad) in Europe a few days ago and we’re already seeing a similar pattern. After 5 days, mobile is already amounting to more than 15% of Fab’s sales in Europe. And, that’s iOS only. We’ll launch Fab Android in Europe in the next few weeks.
I realize this is the 2nd reblog of @betashop in a row, but this mobile thing is legit and I feel like it warrants attention. Some fleshed out views on what I’m working on now are forthcoming…
“There should not just be buttons for page-turning, but great buttons. Buttons exquisitely designed and engineered to be perfectly placed and delightfully clickable. The problem with using the touchscreen to turn pages is that you have to move your thumb, from the bezel to the display and then back to the bezel after tapping, each time. With page-turning buttons on the bezel, like on the old pre-touchscreen Kindles, you never had to move your thumbs while reading. Not having to move your thumbs is one way a dedicated e-reader could hold an advantage over tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire — a missed opportunity here. It’s a little thing, but as always, it’s the details that matter.”—From Gruber’s review of the Kindle Paperwhite. I agree, this is my one complaint of an otherwise excellent device that’s leaps and bounds better than my erstwhile 2nd-gen Kindle.
“Back in May, David Einhorn, poker-playing founder of long-short value hedge fund Greenlight Capital, was in an analyst and investor conference call hosted by Herbalife (symbol HLF). Mr. Einhorn raised some questions about the company’s sales processes and why they had stopped reporting certain sales metrics. This five minute exchange resulted in a 8.8% decline in the stock during those five minutes and further in the day the stock fell a total of 20% accounting for a loss of $1.6 billion in market cap.”—
It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.
The whole experience makes me want to pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don’t try to be everyman. Don’t pretend you’re a member of every community you visit. Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come.
What’s wrong with being a generalist? Or rather, what’s wrong with having deep interests in a number of things? After all, hasn’t Kottke made a living doing just that? I can ask more rhetorical questions, but that position from Kottke was a bit jarring so I thought I’d point it out.
This post and comment thread is a great conversation on the current trajectory of e-commerce. I particularly like Jason Goldberg’s comment:
But, we (and others) can compete in an Amazon world and build a really big and interesting business.
Here’s some of how:
1. Selling stuff they don’t. >90% of the products we sell on Fab are not on Amazon. How do I know? We used Amazon’s own mechanical turk to find out. :)
2. Better product discovery and browsing. Amazon is a catalogue. Fab is a discovery engine. As I said above, Amazon is the best place in the world to buy the stuff you know that you need; Fab is the best place to discover the stuff you don’t know you need.
3. Mobile. Fab gets 30 to 40% of our daily visits from mobile. We’re building towards a world where mobile dominates. No one has yet solved for that.
4. Social. We’re still in the early days of shopping with friends.
5. Just making it fun, colorful, emotional. That’s how offline shopping is. Who says online shopping has to be so drab and transactional? We’re inventing entire new experiences.
6. Making markets. Fab is still in the early stages of making a market for design goods. We’ve already created a platform that previously didn’t exist for tens of thousands of people who make stuff - designers - to promote their products to an eager audience.
7. Building a platform. We’re hard at work on that. Early stages. But it’s quite possible.
8. Building a brand. Brands are emotional experiences not transactions. There are still many great opportunities to build long lasting e-commerce brands.
I think #3 is the largest opportunity. Mobile is the next major growth area for e-commerce and no one aside from Fab is focused on it in a big way. More on this soon.
“At the moment, we’re coming towards the end of a twelve-week
progressive overload cycle inspired by Pierre Auge, a Canadian Olympic
lifting coach and old friend of CFNYC. You’ve probably noticed we’ve
been focusing more on Olympic lifts as part of this cycle, and have
been building both weight and volume, all en route to a CrossFit Total
later this week, where you’ll have a chance to benchmark your
We’ve also varied weight and volume in the met-cons in concert with
the lifting cycle, using Prilepin’s Table to drive rep ranges and
weight. By now, towards the end of the cycle, we’re pushing towards
the highest volume and loads, and you’re hopefully feeling right on
the edge of overtraining. Or, in other words, a bit like we’ve been
beating you with a baseball bat.”—via the CFNYC August Update. Yes, the baseball bat sensation is accurate.
What did you learn about the ad business having been with a technology company that operated a media business model?
At end of day, cut the crap about targeting, I was making $2 million a month in ad sales, and roughly half that was selling the index page. We had a 900 x 250 ad unit with rich media and a skin. It was what advertisers wanted to buy. I made $100,000 a day selling our homepage. All our other pages were basically low-end garbage no one wanted to pay for. We either ran networks or no ads. I assumed there would be amazing things we could do and that a page view was a page view. I was selling integrations on the homepage that were rich media, flashy stuff. The notion that I had an infinite supply of inventory of high value was dead wrong. A page view isn’t a page view. I also learned international traffic is worthless. What percentage of Twitter and Facebook’s traffic is in Southeast Asia? You need to rely on your U.S., U.K. and European user bases to make enough margin to carry all your worthless foreign traffic. It’s a Faustian bargain. The people you need to keep the most you have to show the most ads. It has to be in the U.S. and surrounded by good content. That’s why Twitter is doing goofy stuff like doing a video series. Once you are there, you are off the reservation. This is the MySpace slippery slope. You become a media and entertainment company. But if you purport to be an open platform and are producing reality shows, something weird happened.
This is a great piece that I’m a little late to. A lot of truth to this particular statement from my experience at CNET. I think the one caveat is that with a site like CNET you can carve out other valuable real-estate in addition to the high reach home page based on contextual relevance. If you have a general interest property, like Caldwell’s imeem, not all page views are created equal.
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”—Nora Ephron (via austinkleon)
Andy Miller, who joined Apple as a vice president after Apple bought his mobile advertising company in 2009, asked Jobs if he could join the board of an independent company in a different business than Apple. “What?” Jobs responded. “You’re barely cutting it here,” Jobs said, which Miller understood to be relatively high praise, “and you want to go spend your time helping someone else’s company? I don’t even let Forstall out of the office,” Jobs added, referring to Scott Forstall, Apple’s mobile software chief, a high-ranking and considerably more influential executive than Miller. Needless to say, Miller declined the board membership offer.
I can picture the slight, wry grin that must have accompanied this conversation.
“If the industry hasn’t cracked the mobile advertising code after five years of energetic and skillful work it’s because there is no code to crack. Together, the small screen, the different attention modes, the growing concerns about privacy create an insurmountable obstacle.
The “$20B Opportunity” is a mirage.”—
Rafer sez: Excessively negative, but directionally correct. What pass for ads elsewhere in the digital world are going to have to change radically. The ‘native’ advertising for smartphone app (or maybe app stores) hasn’t been figured out yet.
It will be figured out, maybe even by Facebook, and it will grow to make that $20B look trivial in a decade or so.
JLG (and pretty much every other reaction I’ve read) neglects to mention the native/contextual ad model that’s currently dominating mobile advertising: cost-per-install (CPI). Irrespective of whether or not brand dollars are effectively onboarded onto mobile, the DR channel for app installs is growing rapidly with no abatement in sight.
Piggy-backing on top of CPI is the engine that fuels this advertising model in mobile: in-app purchase, especially in the games space. There is a willingness among consumers of mobile apps to purchase virtual items (goods, premium features, content) that, anecdotally at least, seems more seamless than similar behavior on the traditional web.
I think JLG is right to be skeptical of major brand dollars shifting to mobile to match time spent because most mobile advertising formats aside from CPI are like display on the web, but smaller in size (and more annoying to boot). To add to this, the ad tech plumbing in mobile makes buying traditional display seem like print. Still, mobile advertising might not need traditional advertisers to succeed in the near term. The voracious appetite smartphone users have for mobile apps paired with their willingness to buy things in-app means that a new and very healthy advertising market is emerging that is supplementary to branding. For the time-being at least, this should fuel growth and innovation while the rest of the ad world figures out how to optimally onboard that $20 billion in ad spend that “should” be on mobile devices.