Sunday, March 24, 2013

Smart kids. Smart technology. Bad behavior? Not always.

Digital marketing dollars are earned through cold hard data. And real life experiences. Often, one will support the other. This post is no exception. 

Take a recent article that appeared on ClickZ where the IAB defined mobile as a behavior and not a technology. Ann Bager, VP and GM of Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, originally said that "Our overall definition of mobile is not about the device. Mobile is a behavior, not a technology. It's about accessing content wherever you's really the use that is mobile, not the device." 

Boy-oh-boy, do I agree. As a mom to three young ladies, we have more than our fair share of mobile devices in our household. And it's the behavior, not the technology, that I am concerned with. Not to give out too much of the gory details, but here is a recent screenshot of monthly texting behaviors for 3 of our lines. 

Nearly 5,000 text messages in one month, for real? Yep. Not to mention the amount of data and time spend in apps and web browsing from their mobile devices versus a PC. Good golly, miss molly, what have I done? I'm creating social media monsters one text at a time. And I'm not the only one. In order to calm my parental worries, I headed straight to the internet to dig up a little research to prove that it wasn't just me, sending my kids straight to digital addiction counseling in their near futures. It's all of us. 

Mobile use penetration by generation climbs ever higher each passing year. The only reason Generation Z hasn't surpassed Millennials is that there has been some discrepancy in just how young is too young to get an iPhone. I suspect that the trending age of appropriateness will continue to drop until it hovers around the age of 12 or 13. It's just my opinion, but I think the general public accepts 18-23 as a vital age range to own and be proficient in the advantages of a smart phone. Think about the last time you encountered someone who DIDN'T own an iPhone. I simply can't. Research seems to indicate this trend will continue as mobile phones become ever more ubiquitous in our classrooms, shopping malls and life in general. 

Of course, all my interests in the internet and digital marketing fall by the wayside when it comes to parenting and all the potential pitfalls that come with trying to embrace evolution and all it's glory for the benefit of the next generation. I want my kids to understand the important role of technology and how they can contribute and lead it to bettering more than damaging. So I talk to them about all the cool new apps and the different tools that help make life more livable. The family that Facebooks together stays together, I always say. We check-in, checkout, Vine, skype, Instagram, hashtag and Path each other all day long. I also talk to them about sexting, driving while texting and so much more it makes my head ache and my stomach a little sick sometimes. I'm not saying we are perfect, but we try to talk it out. The more connected we seem to be, the more of a dire need to communicate face to face. It's not always the easiest, but certainly worth it. I also try to do my research to stay on top of it all, especially because I am not in the same generational audience pool as they and I don't want to be. I'm too old to be targeted for some of the behaviors they engage in. But I'm not too old to know where to look and who to trust. I check out what Mayo Clinic says about the risks of being a teenager who texts and I read up on all the news about the newest fads, like sleep texting and snap-chatting and all the hacking going on around iPhone sexting apps. Like I said, I don't trust it all, but I do trust my kids. 

And I'm not saying my kids use snapchat to sext. I have smart kids who use smart technology. That doesn't mean they are perfect and neither is the technology. But I do so love them both. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Top 5 Trends of #SXSWi

Droves. That's what they came in. More than 32,000 in all. To the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin. Because that's where great things happen. Good things, too, but let's face it. We are always looking for the next GREAT thing. Twitter came out in 2007. FourSquare hit the scene in 2009. 
So it was a little surprising this year that not a single clear winner emerged after a week of sessions and more grilled cheese than anyone should ever experience. 

Unless, of course, you count Matthew Inman from @theoatmeal. He rocked the house with all that empirical Tesla bullshit. 

Here are the top five interactive trends I observed.

Awards programs :: a marriage or one-night stand?
Some were more complicated loyalty programs based on long-term committed relationships and some were simple points-offering for specific social engagements like watching a video, sharing a link, retweeting or reviewing a  product. Fold in the ability to geo-target and all of a sudden global loyalty programs become more localized, more actionable and more social in nature. PeerIndex, glocal and invite users to discover, share and shop within an awards-based digital experience. 

Social engagement dashboards & cloud computing :: to systematically moderate & crowd-source or not...that is still the question. Nothing really new here except that the idea of calendaring social media content is still something brands and technologists alike are still trying to figure out. Exact same thing for cloud computing. Winners in this category included Mass Relevance, Meltwater, Resource, Bloomfire and probably a few more.

Mobile payment apps & group chat apps :: From Square to Paypal to Level Up to Google Wallet, mobile payment apps were popular, but not necessarily new. Same thing for group chat apps like Groupme. Maybe it's the grilled cheese talking. I can't be trusted. That lack of trust has kept me from using mobile payment apps as my preferred form of payment. Speaking of trust, I found an app that promises to provide enough privacy and security that users will want to share what they call memories, flirtatious messages between two consenting adults, so really less group chat and more one-on-one intimate communications. It's called the "Between" app and between you and me, I think it sounds gross. Sorry.

Video & music apps :: amping up what Instagram & Pinterest have perfected. A picture tells a thousand words, but really, how many words can you shout within the 6 seconds of a Vine video? Not sure and really don't care, but one thing really surprised me about this new notion of split second video recording. It's actually really difficult to capture SIX WHOLE SECONDS WORTH SHARING, so the ability to edit in Camera Plus and Clinch makes me feel like this trend will continue as technology to support UX needs develops at the same time.

Lounges & recharging stations :: helping conference go-ers make a go of it all. 
CUSP by Neiman Marcus had the most pathetic charging station; a single power outlet strip laying across the top of a glass table in the middle of a mostly empty room. Fast Company + Starbucks + Target + Evite, on the other hand took over a corner restaurant and turned it into a mecca of respite and recharge for weary badge-holders. They didn't crowd the space with business products but instead took the opportunity to build brand affinity while catering to the basic needs of already -overwhelmed consumers. 

One last thing that seemed to be everywhere; hashtags. Hashtag temporary tattoo's, painted on windows, plastered over entire buildings, on cover art and posters that lined every single lamppost, on napkins, cupcakes and large presentation screens. Want to ask the author a question? Add a hashtag and Tweet it. Want to enter to win a fabulous prize? Add hashtags, upload a photo and Instagram it. Want to learn more or be contacted later? Tag us, Tweet us and add a hashtag. 

What do you think? Expect #moretocome on #sxswi & nothing at all about the stupid #grumpycat.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Call Me Al

 I recently had the pleasure of starting my working day with Tim Berners-Lee and closing it down with Al Gore. It was all part of the SXSW Interactive line up of keynote speakers, expert panels and education sessions to keep the emerging market emerging. Tim invented the Internet and Al once claimed to invent the Internet but then later sold it to Al Jazeera or something ridiculous like that. Either way, it was a good day. 

I love Tim Berners-Lee for his unparalleled brilliance, but I may love Paul Simon even more. Decide for yourself.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kids & the Violence Against Women Act

Sitting on a plane today, I had the pleasure of overhearing the following story between two strangers and it left me with a refreshed sense of faith in humanity. 

Q: Do you have kids or anything like that? 
A: Ahhh sure. My oldest is 20, but I've also got an 11-year-old back at home. 
Q: Are they both from the same wife?
A: Good god no. (Both men start laughing.) 

What the hell?

Here's what I like imagine. 

Q: Do you have kids or anything? 
A: Ahhh sure. I've got three kids. Two in college and one in diapers. But more importantly, I ate sushi last night. It gave me a bit of gas, but it was worth it. The point is, sushi is a lot like kids. Good sushi is difficult to come by and even when you do, it's not something you want every day. 
Q: Are they all three your real kids? 
A: Good god no. I don't have kids or anything like that. (No laughing.) 

Of course, I'm being sarcastic. What choice do I have? Since when is it okay to ask a stranger if their children are all from the same woman? Exactly what is it that you are implying about men's choices, the value of a woman (or a mom for that matter) and the longevity of a male-female relationship? Maybe it's neither good nor bad, but it was extremely uncomfortable to witness. 

In other news, there has been some good news today. My American Airlines flight was rescheduled after what the pilot described as a "rather large electrical problem" knocked the first plane dead on the tarmac. It only took a little over an hour to empty the entire plane, redirect us all over to another terminal and load us all up nice and tight. It was the quickest clean up that I've ever experienced and unfortunately I have experienced more than my fair share of unfortunate air experiences. 

But the best news is that President Obama signed the expanded Violence Against Women Act. With a staggering statistic like 1 in every 5 women being raped during their lifetime, it's about time that our legislation drive cultural change wherever necessary and culture drive innovative government, if possible. It's a good day, but let's face it, it's not a great day. We needed the law in the first place. We have victims to protect and families to respect. It's a gender equity issue that requires legislative action until the imbalance is undone.

Obama said it best when he announced that it's not just about changing the rules, but it's also about changing the culture. 

I vote to start with those two jackals on the plane, giggling like children while belittling the role of a female; and not just any old female, but the mother(s) of his children. Such lucky mothers.