Google Patents Ringback Tone Ads

in Advertising, Technology, Telecom No Comments

"Oh it's not for you, it's just an ad!"

Many recent headlines connecting Google with the telecom space have focused on Google Voice,  their VoIP (ie: voice-over-internet) platform.  Google’s next foray into the telecom space however, may be in the form of paid advertisements replacing ring-back tones.

The search giant was recently issued a patent from the USPTO for technology that will replace the ringing sounds you hear when you make a call with targeted audio advertisements.

The ring-back advertisement category, while relatively undeveloped here in the US, is healthy and growing in key international markets.  By offering their customers incentives like free minutes in exchange for hearing ring-back audio ads, Turkcell (Turkey’s dominant mobile provider) has drove significant revenue and subscriber loyalty.  Major beverage, retail, entertainment and CPG brands have also experienced positive response and results through leveraging ring-back ads.

While it’s too early to gauge consumer reaction to this emerging platform here in the US, comments observed in response to several Online articles about the subject suggest consumers would in fact be amenable to opting-in to hearing ads if they were incentivized accordingly. 

Google has yet to make any official announcement regarding plans to enter the ring-back advertising category, but between their proprietary technology, established VoIP platform and Android’s dominant position accounting for 53% of US smartphone SoM (source: NPD December ’11), few could be as well poised to command a leadership position in the ring-back advertising market.

Gold Island

in Advertising, Travel No Comments

XXXX GOLD beer has announced they have acquired a 15-acre island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia – dubbed ‘XXXX Island’ with the goal of turning it into a man’s paradise. Designed to be a “getaway for men”, XXXX Island will offer people the chance to customize their stay.

Currently the island has nothing on it, but consumers get to decide by visiting the island website where they can vote on and recommend what should be built and what activities should be offered. Submitting ideas gives you the chance to win a trip which carries a total value of $10,000. Is it weird that the first 3 choices to pop into my mind were fast food spots? (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, and Roy Rogers, in that order)

Spring Brings A Tailwind For 2nd Screen Usage

in innovation, Social Media, Technology, Television, Uncategorized No Comments

If you own a tablet or smartphone, and you watch a fair amount of TV, chances are you’ve vacillated between the two screens.  That simultaneous companion usage, or Mobile as 2nd screen, has the advertising industry pretty excited these days, and for good reason.  Smartphones interacting with “traditional” TV are creating opportunities for brands to establish meaningful one-to-one conversations with consumers that were never before possible.

Nielsen noted back in 2010 that 1 in 7 people who were watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics opening ceremony were surfing the Web at the same time.  A more recent Nielsen study in October ’11 found that figure trending upwards, with approximately 40% of tablet and smartphone owners in the U.S. reporting having used their devices daily while watching TV. 

It’s clear with that sort of year-over-year growth that Mobile is well-positioned to become a gateway enabling social interaction between viewers and broadcasters, and along the way, facilitating a host of innovative opportunities for marketers to tap the power of highly engaged 2nd screen viewer communities. 

That said, this phenomenon is still so new that the advertising community is working to understand exactly how consumers will want to use it. 

With no clear leader in the Social TV space as of yet, Miso, GetGlue, Umami and Peel, amongst others, are all currently vying to become the go-to 2nd screen TV companion app platform.  Though their offerings are somewhat different, they share a common core intent: striving to add value to the experience of watching your favorite TV shows (and of course, engaging with brands) by facilitating an element of social interactivity. 

Amidst the rapidly evolving Social TV landscape, a few of these key players have been making headlines of late, leveraging appointment TV viewing events that attract broad and mass audiences—the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and American Idol, for example—as springboards for driving consumer awareness of Social TV and trial usage of their respective application-based technologies.  

Earlier this week, Peel—a startup company that is looking to turn your smartphone into super-powered universal remote (among other things)—announced that their free application will serve as the 2nd screen engagement platform for upcoming episodes of American Idol.  The application, while currently only available to iOS users (don’t worry Android owners, it’s coming soon to a Droid near you), will enable viewers to voice their positive or negative sentiment for contestants and judges alike—in real time.  By tapping “cheer” or “boo” buttons as often as they like during the program, users will have the opportunity to play an active role in the broadcast,  In addition to being fun (and likely addictive), this intuitive approach to empowering viewers has strong potential applications for other types of programming beyond reality TV. 

Social TV was understandably a focus at this year’s CETW conference in Las Vegas and has been consistently pegged by technology and trend-spotting gurus like WIRED and the MIT Technology Review as one of the most important emerging technologies to look out for.  That said, the current Social TV landscape is fragmented and highly competitive, with new solution providers continually entering the mix.   In order for Social TV to achieve widespread consumer adoption and usage, a clear leader needs to emerge from the crowd of applications; the killer app of Social TV will need to deliver seamless integration with TV content via a simple interface.  Peel’s recent partnership with American Idol represents a promising step towards that ultimate goal.  

You can bet that we here at TargetCast will not only be watching to see how consumers respond…we’ll be interacting right along with them.

Tweet & Save

in Social Media No Comments

A new way to demonstrate ROI from a tweet comes via American Express. They’ve just launched a partnership with Twitter in which card members can leverage customized hashtags for savings. Currently being displayed at SXSW cardholders can sync their card to their Twitter account for deals and discounts just by tweeting a few times a day. If for example you shop at Whole Foods (known by it’s more common name of Whole Paycheck), you can save up to $20 by tweeting #AmexWholeFoods.

The deals are only currently running until April 30th so better start tweeting now if you think it’s worth saving a few $.

Here are some steps to get started:

1. Sync your Amex card with your account

2. Follow @AmericanExpress–when you see a deal tweet the #hashtag that is attached to it.

3. The credit will be applied to your credit card statement so just go to the store or online and start buying

Google Voice Assistant

in Technology No Comments

Though Google has been using/testing voice activation on desktop and mobile engines for a while, many outlets are reporting today that they will finally (rumors have it coming out in Q4) release a close competitor to Apple’s Siri….tentatively dubbed Google Assistant.

Similar to Siri, which debuted with the 4S, the new voice assistant would able to text, make phone calls, search for directions, etc. while also extending to Google TV and other Android-operated devices.

Apple will have to hurry to iron out the bugs as Techcrunch, which first reported the news, has said “Assistant’ is set to go beyond Siri in many ways, most importantly in that the search company will retain complete control of all the layers involved….meaning the tool will be able to leverage the search engine while also integrating with existing services such as Gmail, + and YouTube.

Search engines certainly aren’t in trouble but how this will impact future paid search (there would be no paid search without a search engine involved) and SEO initiatives (a switch to local focus?) remains to be seen.

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