Tag Archives: Apple

Decisions, Decisions… Android, iOS, Windows 8 or HTML5?

Article first published as Decisions, Decisions… Android, iOS, Windows 8 or HTML5? on Technorati.

The last month has introduced much new food for thought if you are trying to decide which mobile platform to build on first:

It has definitely been an eventful pre-Holiday Season in mobile.

Which Platform To Build On First?

With all these different metrics and shifts in leadership, which platform do you pick? The market share leader (Android)? The eCommerce leader (iOS)? The one most familiar to enterprise (Windows)? The one most open of all (HTML5)?

If you are Fortune-500 company with a big mobile budget the decision is easy: build on several. If you are smaller, you probably can only build one or two at most (or at least one to start on first). Which one do pick? The answer is actually simple—if you ask two key questions about your intended user base.

Question 1: What is the (Intended) Usage Pattern of Your Customers?

Notice that this question does not ask, “What is the Intended Usage Pattern for Your App?” Why? Because sometimes building an app is the wrong thing to do.

Apps are really fun to build. However, they require a lot from your customers. First they have to find the app. Then they have download and install it. Then remember to open up and use it. That’s a long chain of dependencies required for success.

If your customers use your product regularly—and this use is transactional or highly interactive in nature—then build an app. Open Table is a great example: I book dinner reservations several times a month, on the spur of the moment. It is much easier to do from an app, especially one that needs to interact with other Apps on my device (i.e., calendar, telephone, maps).

However, if your customers only use your services intermittently, don’t waste (their and your) time and effort with an App. Instead, use HTML5 to make your site work really well on mobile. The same is true if your customers only consume content from one source. There is no need to download an App to read a news site. As the Financial Times has shown, HTML5 is much better for this.

Question 2: If You ARE Building an App, What Are Your Customer Demographics?

If an App is the right thing for your customers, then you are really lucky: you get to pick from a great set of mobile platforms. The question now is which platform best suits your needs.

Whereas back end technologies are hidden from customers (allowing the freedom to pick based purely on technical considerations), mobile platforms are virtually “joined to the hips” of your customers. Picking a platform that your customers do not widely use will not provide the results you want—no matter how great the platform and app is.

To avoid this problem, pick the platform that best fits the demographics of your customer base. If you are building for gamers, build on Android (do the same if you are building for users in Emerging Markets). If you are building for doctors, build on Apple (do the same if you are building for high-end commerce). If you are building for internal enterprise IT use, Windows 8 or BlackBerry 10 may be your answer.

There are many ways to find out what platform you customers use most: industry analyst reports, Xyologic stats, or even your website’s Traffic by Operating System in Google Analytics. As long as you pay more attention to these metrics than the latest attention-grabbing mass mobile headlines, you will be using the right technology for your customers.

Getting Mobile Advertising Right: You Have One Opportunity

Mobile Advertising is more like classic Direct Response Marketing than Web Advertising: you have one opportunity for the perfect pitch: for each person, based on who he is and what his is doing—right NOW.

Mobile Advertising is NOTHING Like Web Advertising

Facebook’s IPO, and the myriad analyst remarks on its challenges in the mobile space, has brought the discussion about how to make mobile advertising work back into the limelight. Many have argued that mobile advertising, especially mobile advertising in non-Search apps, has much lower likelihood of success because customers are not in the process of “seeking to buy something”. These arguments are based on the assumption that mobile advertising is like web advertising. This assumption is wrong.

Web advertising (in-text or display ads) offers you the opportunity to present many advertisements to a customer at once on a screen. You can leave these ads up for the duration of the customer’s perusal of the screen or rotate new ads in place over time. In addition, if the customer is logged in (or you have really good cookies) you have high certainty of his or her identity.

Mobile advertising is entirely different. The screen real estate only provides the opportunity for one advertisement. Even worse, you only have a small amount of time (less than two seconds) as your advertisement is “getting in the way” of the customer’s attempt to do something on their smartphone. What you do have in your favor is near certainty of the customer’s identity.

The Approach Needed Solve Mobile Advertising Has ALREADY Been Developed

This is not a new challenge. It is the same situation faced for years when cross-selling products and services to customers from the call center. They had: 100% accurate customer identification, lots demographic and account information on the specific customer, and only a few seconds to offer one compelling promotion before ending the call.

The trick to solving this challenge was to figure out the one ideal promotion to present to each customer based on who he is, what he is currently doing, and the current time-of-year, day-of-week, and time-of-day. Just as important is using the feedback on each to calibrate future promotions to the same customer (to avoid turning advertising into a nuisance), making this more of a Recommendation Engine challenge than an Advertising Engine one. The rewards are enormous: bounty payments for accepted promotions are frequently 100x greater than those for clicked-on ads.

The Technology Exists to Scale This to Mobile

A decade ago, we scaled this model from the 10-transaction-per-second world of call centers to the 10,000-transaction-per-second world of the Internet, generating billions of dollars of value per year. Now is the time to scale this to 1,000,000-transaction-per-second world of mobile to capture tens of billions of dollars in value (luckily we can now grab Big Data technologies off-the-shelf to do this, in the past we had to invent new technologies to scale 100- and 1,000-fold). Mobile, with its “Perfect combination” of validated identity, addressable application data, location awareness and real-time notification services offers an amazing opportunity to take this to the next level.

The Results Would Be Incredible

Imagine this mobile Yelp-like example:

Barney has smartphone and is in the Financial District in Manhattan, Monday through Friday each week. When he installs your app, you get his email and mobile phone that lets you (via sources such as Flurry and PRIZM codes) guess he is likely an affluent male in his mid-thirties. Based on this you may want to advertise local bar Happy Hour promotions when he opens your App between 12pm and 6pm ET on Thursdays. Clicking on the promotion provides a bar code, QR code or confirmation number for redemption with the ad buyer. You can adjust future advertising by tracking redemption rates and controlling for mobile location, day-of-week and time-of-day.

Adding social data to mobile makes this scenario even more valuable. Imagine this mobile Facebook-like example:

Barney has entered lots of information about himself in your App: he is single, he is interested in women, he works at Goliath National Bank (GNB), etc. You can now get incredibly targeted. You can offer a promotion that gives Barney more savings if he brings co-workers from GNB with him. You can now track his response against others based on location, day-of-week, time-of-day and a slew of confirmed individual demographic data (gender, employer, age, etc.) to plan and refine future promotions.

Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, FourSquare, Yelp and many others have assembled a “treasure trove” of data on customers. Today’s technologies make it easier for companies to parse this data for recommendation and promotion than ever before. Apple and Google make it easy to reach over a billion people worldwide through in-App ads, alerts and notifications. The next step is to map traditional cross-sell models into the mobile space (rather than force-fitting web advertising models).