Place 2014, the leading industry event produced by Opus Research and held July 22 in New York City, brought together a range of developments and ideas: indoor location, online-to-offline tracking, and proximity-based mobile marketing. The agenda and presentations below reflect the what’s next for indoor location with perspectives and expertise from brands, retailers, agencies, technology providers, regulators, and investors.
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
The Place-Based Moment - Opus Research senior analyst Greg Sterling will present new data and original research on in-store consumer behavior, the “privacy paradox” as well as merchant demand for offline analytics and in-store marketing.
Speaker: Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst, Opus Research
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9:15 AM - 9:45 AM
The Agency Perspective - Michael Lieberman is Co-President of Joule US, where he oversees the expansion of Joule’s East Coast business. Based in New York, Michael heads up teams responsible for delivering mobile strategy, media and creative services that produce effective mobile campaigns for world-famous brands including AT&T, Dell, Colgate, and Ikea.
Michael Lieberman, Co-President, Joule US
9:45 AM - 10:25 AM
The Indoor Technology All-Stars - Google’s Don Dodge will lead a discussion with companies representing the full range of indoor location technologies, from WiFi to BLE beacons and LED lighting. From cost, accuracy and analytics perspectives, which technologies are “must haves” and which ones are “nice to haves”?
Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & CEO, aisle411
Chris Goodall, Founder & CEO, Trusted Positioning
Dan Ryan, Co-Founder & CEO, ByteLight
Steve Cheney, SVP of Business and Operations, Estimote
Don Dodge, Developer Advocate, Google (Moderator)
10:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Ahead of the Curve: Alex and Ani - Alex and Ani’s Digital Strategy VP Ryan Bonifacino discusses the insights and opportunity that led the jewelry retailer to test and then rapidly deploy indoor location to all its stores across the U.S. – well ahead of its retail peers.
11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Indoor Atlas and Magnetic Positioning
Wibe Wagemans, President, IndoorAtlas
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11:30 AM - 12:10 PM
Connecting the Dots: How Location and Offline Analytics Will Transform Digital Marketing - Offline location data and analytics will deliver huge dividends to retailers, ad networks and marketers in general. They will enable better visibility into campaign effectiveness and permit new levels of personalization and targeting. What will this new world of integrated data look like and how will it change digital and traditional marketing?
Juha Mattsson, VP, Marketing & Sales, Walkbase
Anne Marie Stephen, VP of Sales, iInside
Maria Fernandez Guajardo, VP of Products, RetailNext
Luke Edson, VP, Sales, YP
Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst, Opus Research (moderator)
12:10 PM - 12:25 PM
Case Study: SK Telecom - John Kim, Senior Business Development Manager with SK Telecom, will discuss multiple deployments of indoor location technology in the South Korean market.
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1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Featured Speaker: Facebook - Doug Stotland is in charge of local solutions for both small and large businesses marketing on Facebook. Prior to his current role, Stotland worked on marketing science, pricing and building Facebook’s teams across Asia and the Pacific. Stotland will discuss Facebook's varied and creative efforts to track and measure the offline and in-store impact of Facebook advertising.
2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Beacon Location Security & Encryption
Jimmy Buchheim, CEO, StickNFind
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2:15 PM - 2:55 PM
Indoor Location & Privacy: Steering Clear of the ‘Creepy Line’ - Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director and Co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, will guide a diverse panel of industry observers, marketers and experts through treacherous waters: how to drive engagement without crossing the “creepy line.” What are the issues and emerging best practices? And will the “surveillance” backlash derail merchant adoption of indoor location?
Maya Mikhailov, EVP and Co-Founder, GPShopper
Amanda Koulousias, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission
Kate Kaye, Writer, Advertising Age
Eloïse Gratton, National Co-chair, Privacy Practice Group, McMillan LLP
Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director, Future of Privacy Forum (Moderator)
2:55 PM - 3:10 PM
Hillshire Brands, inMarket and iBeacon - Agency BPN will present a new case study showcasing how beacons and geofencing are driving purchase intent, brand awareness and sales for Hillshire Brands.
Chris Hiland, Chief Strategy Officer, BPN
Todd Dipaola, CEO & Founder, inMarket
Presentation coming soon
3:25 PM - 3:40 PM
Best Practices for Consumer Push Notifications
Scott Townsend, Director of Agency Programs, Urban Airship
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3:40 PM - 4:20 PM
Street, Store or Shelf: Rightsizing the Consumer Experience - Indoor location and proximity marketing allow retailers, networks and brands to put marketing messages in front of consumers at strategic points in stores, malls and other venues. But just because it can happen doesn’t mean it should. What’s most effective in geo-fencing and proximity targeting? When is it best to engage consumers and how do we avoid creating more ad clutter and noise?
James Smith, Chief Revenue Officer, Verve
John Dempsey, Head of Mobile and Video, Datalogix
Catherine Lindner,Chief Merchant Officer, Shelfbucks
Asif Khan, Founder & President, LBMA (Moderator)
4:20 PM - 4:35 PM
Comparing Indoor Location Technologies - GISi Indoors will discuss the company’s real-world comparisons of multiple indoor location technologies, its findings, implementation experiences, when and when not to use it and conclusions.
Michael Healander, General Manager, GISi Indoors
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4:35 PM - 5:15 PM
Whither Geofencing: What Is the Future of Mobile Location? - Location is now often used for mobile audience discovery and profiling rather than for real-time location targeting. In some percentage of cases, location thus “disappears” into the background and becomes a proxy for behavioral and demographic information. How far will this trend go? What role will “geo” play in the future of mobile marketing and advertising? The panel will explore these and other provocative questions about the future of location and place-based marketing.
David Shim, CEO & Co-Founder, Placed
Eli Portnoy, President & General Manager, Thinknear
David Staas, President, NinthDecimal
Sarah Ohle, Director of Marketing Intelligence, xAd
Bill Michels, SVP of Product & Partnerships, Factual
Greg Sterling, Senior Analyst, Opus Research (Moderator)
App retention is getting better, according to Localytics. The company said that only "20% of apps are used only once, an improvement of 6% over four years." The data in the report were collected from 1.5 billion devices and 25,000 apps using the Localytics platform.
Localytics attributes increased retention to better developer-publisher "understanding of and focus on user engagement that has enabled developers to create more useful and personalized apps." Here are the aggregated topline data:
In a worrying development for iOS developers, Localytics says that iOS showed weaker app retention than Android:
In 2013, both Android and iOS had the same percentage of apps (34%) with 11 or more sessions. Now, Android has surpassed iOS in app engagement by increasing to 45%; nearly half of Android apps are opened 11 or more times, whereas only a third (34%) of iOS apps are.
The company speculates that "iOS users may be suffering from app overload. With the relatively larger number of apps installed on iOS devices, competition for an iOs user’s time increases and can weaken retention."
As indicated, weather and social apps showed the highest retention while sports and games had the highest percentage of one-time usage. Localytics observes that social networks are filled with personalized and highly dynamic content.
Yet sports apps have dynamic, changing content (e.g., scores) too. Perhaps personalization is a missing element or, alternatively, sports content may be highly "generic" and widely available, making any individual app less compelling.
This morning at its developer conference in San Francisco Facebook is expected to make two significant mobile announcements. First it will announce what it's calling "Facebook Audience Network," a mobile ad network that will leverage Facebook data for ad targeting in third party developer apps.
Facebook has been working on and refining this since 2012 and the formal announcement is expected today. This will instantly make Facebook a major mobile ad network and primary rival to Google in the mobile ad space. It may also foreshadow a broader introduction of an AdSense-like display network for the PC too.
The other expected major announcement is a payments API. This will streamline the user payment experience (form filling) in third party commerce apps. It will also lead to more user/conversion data for Facebook.
As the mobile payments battle heats up Facebook could quickly become tier-one player, along with PayPal, Apple, Amazon and Google. The open question is whether consumer-users will trust Facebook with their payments and credit card information. Many already do.
Both of these opportunities are natural, logical and very large for Facebook.
In its recent Q1 earnings report Facebook said that it had 609 million mobile daily active users and total mobile users of 1.01 billion. Mobile ad revenue represented approximately 59% of ad revenues for the first quarter of 2014, up from approximately 30% in the first quarter of 2013.
Update: The Facebook Audience Network mobile ad network was announced but not the payments API (so far).
Yesterday Twitter, Yelp, AOL and Pandora released quarterly earnings. AOL said that mobile was one of several drivers of 50% ad revenue growth. Yet it didn't break out any mobile numbers. The other three did, illustrating the degree to which each is or has become a mobile-centric company.
Below are the mobile highlights . . .
Twitter beat financial analysts’ expectations with $243 million in Q4 2013 revenue ($220 million in ad revenue). However that strong revenue growth was undermined by weak user growth. The company said it had 241 million monthly active users and nearly as many (184 million) mobile users.
Amazingly, 75% of the company's ad revenue for Q4 came from mobile. In real dollar terms that represented $165 million for the quarter.
Yelp reported just under $71 million in Q4 revenue. There were 53 million mobile users (120 million total users). Yelp also reported that 30% of new reviews were coming from mobile devices, since it started allowing reviews to be written via mobile.
Yelp added during the earnings call that 59% of search queries were from mobile: 46% from its app vs. 13% from the mobile web. In addition, 47% of ad impressions were served on mobile devices in Q4.
Revenues for the full year were roughly $638 million. Pandora brought in just over $200 million in Q4. Of that, $162 million was ad revenue. Mobile was responsible for 72% of that ad revenue or just under $117 million. The company also said that 80% of Pandora listening happens via mobile devices.
All three companies started on the PC and have evolved into mobile-centric entities in response to user behavior. Indeed, Pandora's iPhone app is largely responsible for the company surviving and going public. Overall for these companies most of the ad growth, revenue and usage is now in mobile.
Yesterday Facebook reported Q4 and full-year earnings figures. The company strongly beat earnings estimates and reported revenues of $7.87 billion for the full year. Facebook said that Q4 2013 revenues were $2.34 billion, which was a nearly 80% increase from the previous year.
Mobile was 53% of total ad revenue for the fourth quarter of 2013, or $1.24 billion. That's roughly what the company earned in total ad revenue in Q4 of 2012. Facebook's revenue growth is accelerating as it emerges as a clear number two alternative advertising platform to Google.
Facebook also reported:
What's striking is that the mobile and PC numbers are getting very close. Facebook has effectively transformed itself into a mobile (marketing) company, where most of its users are largely if not primarily interacting through the site's apps.
Recently Facebook took steps to launch its long-awaited mobile ad network for apps. Assuming that Facebook goes "all in" it would become the second largest or potentially the largest mobile display network in the world. Four years ago we anticipated this.
It also introduced Custom Audiences retargeting for mobile.
In addition, Facebook is pursuing a new strategy: starting to launch a number of stand-alone mobile apps outside of its flagship Facebook app. Those include Instagram (which it acquired), Messenger and now mobile "news" app Paper. This approach will enable Facebook to potentially appeal to different market segments and use cases, as well as create new mobile ad inventory for the company.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said on the Facebook earnings call yesterday that Graph Search would be coming to mobile "pretty soon." That promises to be very interesting and could have significant implications for local-mobile search. Indeed one could imagine a stand-alone local search app from Facebook (to rival Yelp, etc.). To date, its "Nearby" functionality has been buried and not really lived up to its promise.
The Wall Street Journal published an interesting overview piece on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's evolution and maturation as a CEO. One of the most amazing aspects of Facebook's post-IPO growth and "turn around" has been mobile. In a little over a year the company has gone from less than $100 million to more than $800 million in mobile ad revenues.
"Taking Facebook public and reshaping it around mobile phones forced him [Zuckerberg] to grow up," assert unnamed sources in the article. The WSJ credits Zuckerberg individually with driving the transformation of Facebook's mobile business though an increasing focus on the bottom line.
In Q2 2012 Facebook reported mobile ad revenue of roughly $69 million against overall ad revenue of more than $990 million. In Q3 2013 (the most recent quarter available), Facebook advertising revenue was $1.8 billion. Mobile delivered 49% of that amount or approximately $882 million.
Facebook said in Q3 it had 728 million daily active users and 1.19 billion monthly active users, up 18 percent. Monthly active mobile users totaled 874 million on a global basis and mobile daily active users came in at 507 million.
When Facebook reports Q4 2013 revenue it's certain that mobile will account for more than 50% of total ad revenue. Overall, in 2013, it's likely that Facebook will have made about $2 billion in mobile ad revenue globally.
There has been a near avalanche of shopping data released over the past several days, much of it documenting the rise of mobile devices in driving traffic and e-commerce purchases. Various estimates ranged from 23% to nearly 40% of traffic coming from mobile over the course of the weekend.
One of the clear winners of the Black Friday weekend shopping bonanza was the iPad. Apple and other retailers offered gift cards as incentives to buy the devices. In combination with general consumer demand that strategy seems to have paid off for Apple.
According to Localytics, which looked at over one million devices before and after Black Friday weekend, the iPad Air in particular saw very strong growth: 51% vs. the week before. So did the Mini and iPhone 5c. Admittedly the iPad Air is growing from a smaller base, although the device had a very strong launch.
The data in the chart above also don't reflect iPads purchased as holiday gifts and not yet opened/activated. So there are probably many more that were purchased than what's represented on this chart.
The top Android tablet was the Kindle Fire, which saw its own aggressive $50 discount from Amazon. The only other Android tablet to show growth is the Galaxy Tab 2, which was heavily discounted online and at several retail stores.
In October Apple announced that 170 million iPads had been sold to date. Given the momentum being reported, it's very likely that Apple will sell 20 million iPads (collectively) in the holiday quarter.
Google is the world's largest mobile advertising company. However after Google there are only a few big players on a US or global basis. Google doesn't disclose mobile revenues as a separate line item.
According to the IAB, US mobile ad revenues in the first half of 2013 were roughly $3 billion. That means we can probably expect between $6.5 and $6.8 billion for the full year 2013.
Online just 10 companies accounted for 70% of total online ad revenue in Q2 2013. In mobile, ad revenues are even more concentrated in a smaller group of companies.
Google's mobile revenues are probably, conservatively, in the range of 15% of its total ad revenue, which will come in around $49 or $50 billion globally for the full year. Let's also assume that roughly 50% of Google's mobile revenue comes from the US market. That would all mean Google would have about $3.6 billion in US mobile ad revenue this year. It could be more, however.
Facebook, Twitter and Pandora all report the portion of their advertising revenue that is generated from mobile devices. Facebook has by far the most mobile ad revenue of the group, which is likely to come in a little over $3 billion for the year. Twitter has said that 70% of its revenue is coming from mobile -- and most of that is from the US market.
The mobile component of total ad revenue for Facebook, Twitter and Pandora collectively will be roughly $4 billion for calendar 2013. It's not clear what percentage of Facebook's mobile ad revenue is from the US; however it's likely to be a substantial portion at this stage.
Accordingly, putting together my estimates for US mobile ad revenues from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pandora takes us to about 90% of projected US mobile ad revenue for the year. Ad networks such as YP, Millennial and a couple of others fill in the rest.
As you're aware Twitter filed its public S-1 statement this afternoon. There's a great deal of interesting material in it. The company said that in 2010 revenue was roughly $28 million. Last year it was $317 million. This year it could well exceed $500 million, reflecting triple-digit ad revenue growth.
The following are the important mobile-related stats disclosed in the S-1 filing (mostly verbatim statements):
In 2010 74% of Twitter's revenue came from data licensing and the remainder from ads. In 2012 85% of revenue came from ads and 15% from data licensing, reflecting a huge shift in the sources of revenue for the company.
Given that Twitter has a still relatively small number of users in the US and internationally there's plenty of room for growth -- domestically and abroad.
One of the questions that we'll be addressing on the "Microfencing" (in-store/in-aisle targeting) panel at Place 2013 is "who will own the indoor channel?" The operating assumption is that the venue owners/retailers will control communications and marketing within their indoor environments. But that may not turn out to be true if retailers aren't careful and quick to embrace indoor location.
An analogy may be the wireless carriers. Once the gatekeepers of all things mobile, they have largely been sidelined and reduced to "commodity" providers of bandwidth. The handset OEMs, platform providers and app developers dominate mobile.
Earlier today Reuters reported that Cisco was "working with Facebook Inc to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access to consumers at public places such as hotels or retail stores using their Facebook log-in. A visitor could check in at a hotel without having to line-up at a front desk by simply signing in via the Facebook application on a smartphone, Cisco said."
Google is also contemplating its own WiFi infrastructure. By the same token some retailers are hesitant or cautious about embracing indoor location. For example, JC Penney decided to eliminate public WiFi to save $7 million a year. In doing so it shut down its indoor location consumer infrastructure. While it will save some money it won't stop showrooming and may deprive JC Penney of an important marketing and customer service capability.
If companies such as Facebook and Google, or other third parties, step in and provide the consumer network, chances are very good that consumers will use the Facebook or Google network rather than the store's. That would likely make the Google and Facebook the new gatekeepers of indoor marketing, giving them a significant advantage over retailers and a stronger position when it comes to selling and delivering indoor advertising and promotions.
Retailers cannot and should not "wait and see" or they may find themselves, like the wireless carriers, on the sidelines of digital marketing activity in their own stores. I could be wrong and there are a number of unknown variables. But retailers stand to lose much if they fail to act.
We'll fully explore these questions at the Place Conference on Tuesday, October 8:
Microfencing: Targeting In-Aisle Shoppers
Billions of dollars are spent each year by brands and manufacturers trying to influence consumer buying in stores. A percentage of that money will migrate to indoor digital marketing. What conditions must first exist and what will those brand-consumer interactions look like? The panel will explore these questions as well as the contours of the broader indoor marketing experience.
This morning the Pew Internet & American Life project released new data on teen app usage and mobile privacy. The big "takeaway" is that teens care very much about privacy and have taken action against (deleted) mobile apps they feel unnecessarily or gratuitously collect personal information or location data.
Pew says that 78% of teens have a mobile phone (though not all have smartphones) and 23% have tablets. The teen smartphone penetration number is probably 58%, given that's the number of teens who have downloaded mobile apps.
Just over half (51%) "have avoided apps due to privacy concerns" while 26% have uninstalled an app because it was collecting personal data. And 46% of teen mobile users have turned off location tracking features (on their phone or in an app) out of concern for privacy.
Teens are more forgiving of apps that seek location data where there's a logical and clear justification for the information (e.g., maps). Girls are more likely to disable location tracking than boys; 59% of girls vs. 37% of boys have done so.
Separately but still on the theme of privacy, Facebook announced today that it would give more control to Facebook mobile log-in users over what information is shared by third party apps on the Facebook Timeline and News Feed. Here's what the company said today in its announcement:
Although Facebook Login is widely used, we understand people’s concerns about apps posting on their Timeline or to their friends. For the past several months, we’ve been rolling out a new version of Facebook Login on mobile to address these concerns.
With this new update, mobile apps using Facebook Login must now separately ask you for permission to post back to Facebook.
Don’t want to share your music playlist or workout routine with friends? You can choose to skip sharing altogether.
Clearly separating sharing means people can decide whether they only want to use Facebook Login for fast registration without also sharing back to Facebook. If you want to share later, you still can.
This involuntary sharing element was a selling point for publishers and developers but a turn-off to many users. It became a significant barrier for some to using Facebook log-in for third party apps/sites.
By separating sharing from social log-ins Facebook hopes to remove friction for many people who might log in with Facebook but don't today for privacy reasons. I'm in that group.
To say that Facebook's mobile ad revenue growth has been impressive is an understatement. It has been, what you might call, meteoric.
In the course of a 12 month period the company has gone from less than 10% of ad revenue from mobile to 41% in Q2 of this year. By the end of this year (or very early next) 50% of Facebook's ad revenue will likely come from mobile. (By comparison, in 2012 more than half of Twitter's ad revenues came from mobile.)
In Q2 '13 Facebook made more than $650 million in mobile ad revenue. If current trends continue expect Facebook to have a $1 billion mobile quarter by 1H 2014 (and possibly Q1 earnings). That would enable the company to claim a $4 billion annual mobile-ad revenue run rate.
Based on averages and simple math, Facebook made roughly $0.80 per mobile user in Q2 on a global basis -- up from $0.50 in Q1 of this year. However developed markets offer more revenue than emerging markets and so the revenue generated per mobile user will vary considerably from market to market in practice.
In 2010 we asked "How Long Before Facebook is a Mobile Ad Network?" and predicted that when Facebook turned on mobile ads it would immediately become the largest mobile "network."
As formidable as Facebook is becoming in mobile Google is still dominant globally. Incredibly, Mountain View is expected to capture more than 50% of mobile revenues on a global basis this year. Facebook claims a much smaller percentage of mobile revenues, but still ranks as the number two player in mobile advertising today.
There's considerable data (see, e.g., comScore) that indicate Facebook is the most popular mobile app in the US market. That extends beyond unique visitors to engagement and time spent.
Time spent with the Facebook mobile app outstrips every other individual app by a large margin. Earlier this year comScore found that 23% of all time spent with mobile apps was on Facebook. Nielsen has similar figures.
Source: comScore (Q1 2013)
Confirming just how popular Facebook's app is relative to other mobile apps are new survey findings from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The company asked 500 smartphone users and 1,000 tablet owners in the US about which mobile apps they used most often.
The question was: "What are the three apps you use most frequently?" There were no suggested responses (no multiple choice answers). The question was completely open-ended. Below are the results:
Among other interesting things Google Maps doesn't make an appearance in the surve results. Yet Nielsen and comScore data reflect that Google Maps is one of the most popular apps and the most popular location-based app. Mysteriously it doesn't appear here at all -- unless it's considered part of "Google." There's no clear explanation why.
Source: comScore (Q1 2013)
Location-based mobile ad network Verve Mobile released a "State of the Market: Location Powered Mobile Advertising" report this morning. It focuses on the fast-food and casual dining restaurant category and offers several case studies that show the lift provided by location targeting.
Here are a few datapoints from the report:
Below is the distribution of location/audience targeting methodologies employed by Verve's customer-advertisers:
TV is arguably the lone traditional medium that been able to retain its premium ad rates and audience reach (mostly), while other media have suffered fragmenting audiences and declining ad revenues. But the fact that millions still watch TV doesn't necessarily mean TV advertising has the power and impact it once did.
A recent study from ad network InMobi, involving 15,000 users from 14 global markets including China, Europe, the US and several African countries, argues that consumers now spend more time with mobile media than TV (there are competing data that show TV is still on top).
The survey found TV to still be the most influential single medium, followed by PC/online and then mobile. Other traditional media lagged behind in their influence over purchase decisions. The following reflects the percentage of survey respondents who reported that the medium "significantly influenced" their purchase behavior:
The data above are not broken out by country. Undoubtedly there would be variation, potentially significant variation, accordingly.
With respect to TV, however, users are now widely "second screening" -- that is, diverting their attention from the programming and advertising to focus on some activity happening on their smartphones or tablets. Two-thirds of the TV audience is now doing this on a global basis, with younger users (<35) being the most likely to multiscreen (graphic above).
What are they doing on those second screens? The survey says they're on social networks or otherwise messaging friends (see graphic below). Note that a substantial number are "searching for information about products" they saw on TV. This represents both a new opportunity for brands and TV advertisers generally.
Marketers now must be conscious that a significant portion, indeed the majority, of the TV audience is going to "look away" at their smartphones or tablets. Marketers must have a mobile optimized presence on search and social media. But beyond simple presence, TV advertisers need to make it easy for mobile users at home to find their products or services easily (the many hashtags used in Super Bowl TV ads is one example).
TV advertisers can drive email sign-ups/opt-ins, app downloads as well direct purchases with the right offers and TV-ad messaging. In addition, with coordination and planning mobile can be used to measure TV ad effectiveness as well.
The larger point is that fewer and fewer TV viewers (especially those under 35) are watching TV or online video without a mobile device nearby. That allows them to either take action on ads they see -- or totally ignore them.
Mobile commerce, at least on smartphones, is partly held back by the UX challenges of forms and inputting credit card digits. Amazon does well in so-called "m-commerce" in part because it has millions of user credit cards on file making the mobile check-out process nearly painless (it also has a trusted brand).
Mobile check-out is part of the larger problem of being compelled to repeatedly sign in to accounts on a mobile device. Though some sign-in credentials are remembered by mobile browsers users are constantly being asked to input usernames and passwords. It's incredibly frustrating.
Nuance (and others) have tried to address this problem with voice authentication in lieu of manual password entry (one of the topics on the agenda at the upcoming Voice Biometrics conference in San Francisco next week). To date, however, voice authentication has seen limited adoption in mobile applications.
Separately Facebook has sought to become the universal log-in, to address the challenges of pain of creating multiple accounts and passwords -- particularly in mobile. Google is now starting to challenge Facebook in that arena, according to a recent study from Janrain.
Many people are disinclined to use Facebook to log-in to third party websites or accounts because of privacy concerns (uncertainty over what might be communicated to their networks). Enter PayPal log-in (and its mobile express checkout solution).
This solves a couple problems for publishers/developers and consumers. First it offers an alternative, single set of log-in credentials offering consumers more privacy than Facebook. It also offers a commerce solution that, like Amazon, avoids the "16 digit problem" of manually entering information on mobile sites.
Amazon and Google both offer comparable and competing solutions for third party merchants. But PayPal is in a strong position to become both a single sign-on and mobile checkout leader. The eBay division needs to aggressively promote mobile express checkout to merchants and the security and privacy benefits and ease-of-use of PayPal log-in to consumers, which will be a significant marketing challenge.
As part of that effort PayPal also needs to do something of a reintroduction of itself generally to consumers at large. Its brand needs to be "beefed up." However among "digital wallets" PayPal by far has the greatest consumer awareness, which the company can use in its argument to merchants.
Facebook's "launcher" Home isn't available for any of the smartphones I own: HTC 8X, Nexus 4 and iPhone. Thus I haven't been able to "live with it."
But when I saw it unveiled several weeks ago at the Facebook Home press event I was impressed by the design. I found it very imaginative and creative. I thought also that it might represent a new way forward for some developers and publishers with smartphone software. I even suggested that Yahoo might want to emulate it.
Apparently most people who've actually used Facebook Home for any length of time don't share my enthusiasm. The app is overwhelmingly negatively reviewed on Google Play. Out of more than 14,000 ratings and reviews it gets an average score of 2.2 -- with the single largest group (7,576 users) giving it 1 star.
This isn't merely the work of "haters" as some of the favorable reviews and comments suggest. There are significant flaws in the user experience.
While many people praised Home as a good initial release, others complained about poor performance and a negative impact on battery life. Still others complained that it made other Android apps and widgets difficult to access. And some wanted more capabilities and functionality than what Facebook is currently delivering.
There's lots of highly specific feedback for Facebook in the comments offered. If Home is to avoid a quick death and survive the company should look closely and adopt some of the suggestions.
A week ahead of the actual mobile ad numbers from the IAB IDC has released its estimates of 2012 US mobile advertising, as well as projections for 2013. The company says that mobile ad revenues were $4.5 billion in 2012 and will reach $7 billion this year. Our view is that the actual 2012 number will come in just under $4 billion.
According to IDC, search advertising represented 61% of mobile ad revenues in 2012 or $2.8 billion, while display brought in $1.7 billion or 39%. Directionally those numbers are right though the precise proportions may be off. For example, IDC's estimates of Google's share of search advertising is 79%, which is too low. It's more like 94%.
The most interesting part of IDC's figures and analysis is its juxtaposition between social networks (publishers) and mobile ad networks. Here are IDC's 2012 mobile ad revenue estimates for the major social networks/publishers (Pandora isn't a social network obviously):
And here are the IDC-estimated mobile display ad-network revenues:
The argument is that publishers/social networks have beaten the mobile ad networks. Online publishers essentially lost out over time to the ad networks on the PC internet because of traffic fragmentation and limited reach of most publisher sites vs. networks. The question is: will this happen again as real-time bidding and mobile exchanges become established? Or will major sites/publishers retain their ability to capture and control significant mobile ad dollars?
One point to be made here is that sites like Facebook and Twitter offer a multiplatform solution (and so does Google) that enables marketers to reach users on the PC and mobile simultaneously and usually with a single buy and single ad creative. That represents an efficiency advantage over most ad networks.
Yesterday Facebook introduced its homescreen Android makeover-takeover strategy: Facebook Home. It comes both fully integrated into a phone (HTC First) and as an app download. As you know it replaces the standard Android home and lock screen experiences with a proprietary Facebook environment.
Mark Zuckerberg and others at the press event yesterday confirmed that there would eventually be ads in its "Cover Feed." Cover Feed is the new photo-centric dynamic feed that constitutes much of the experience of Home. It includes Facebook content and select "Open Graph" partner content (e.g., Foursquare, Instagram).
Facebook stressed that it was working to make sure that any ads that eventually do appear (probably within a year, depending on adoption) would be consistent with the aesthetic experience and of sufficiently high quality. We're starting to see more ads in the mobile news feed that are of, shall we say, uneven quality.
However Cover Feed ads have the potential to be quite effective. If they're scarce and if Facebook uses strict standards they could become the equivalent of "Super Bowl ads for mobile." That of course will largely depend on how widely Facebook Home is adopted. There's early survey data that suggests limited demand -- but surveys don't always tell the whole story and can be contradicted by actual behavior.
In the past there have been several startups that sought to offer home or idle screen ads on mobile devices. All failed for various reasons (not enough scale, insufficient ad quality, limited advertiser demand/adoption). Today, to my knowledge, Amazon's Kindle (multiple devices) is the only place where such ads exist at any kind of scale. The picture above, at right is an example of a "Special Offer" on Kindle Fire.
I could find no data about the general consumer attitude toward these ads -- though there is plenty of online discussion about opting out. I also was unable to find any discussion or data about the efficacy of these ads and whether they perform for advertisers.
For many of the reasons already cited it's way too early to project how much Facebook could earn from Home ads. But if there are millions of users who adopt Home in the US and around the world, the ads could generate broad exposure (like TV advertising) and significant potential revenue for Facebook.
An interesting secondary question arises: if the most active mobile users migrate to Home (and use the app less often), do ads on Home then effectively cannibalize ads on the Facebook app in the conventional news feed?
Image credit: lovemyfire.com
Facebook is the leading app on the iPhone. But does that popularity as an app mean that Facebook would have success with its own branded handset?
Next week on April 4 Facebook seems poised to introduce some version of the long-rumored "Facebook phone." The speculation is that it will be an HTC-made handset carrying a "forked" version of Android. We'll see. But I'm extremely skeptical that anything like can succeed at scale.
HTC previously made two Android handsets in 2011 with deeper Facebook integration: the ChaCha and the Salsa. They both flopped. INQ has also made social-media-centric handsets since 2009, which have not done especially well.
Let's assume that everything on the hypothetical HTC handset is deeply integrated with Facebook: contacts, dialer, camera, maps, apps, messaging and so on. Let's also assume that everything works elegantly. It's highly unlikely that there will be mass-market demand for this phone.
Most people are not so involved with Facebook that they would turn over this most important piece of personal technology to the company. There will also be the inevitable privacy questions and concerns ("Is Facebook tracking me?"). Most people I know are quite content to use a Facebook app on their smartphones. The notion of an entire handset devoted to Facebook seems excessive and unnecessary.
Perhaps the phone will offer some unique and impressive functionality or be priced extremely aggressively. Perhaps "younger people" will be interested. I remain very doubtful, however, that the majority of users will want to buy a smartphone so closely aligned with a single social network.