The iPad Impact

"What is unique about the iPad is they are truly the most tactile device, with a larger screen where you are actually moving the content with your hands, not a mouse or keyboard," she said. "This is a more immersive experience than the lean back of TV or the lean forward of the PC. You are part of the content."

Great quote from Catherine Spurway, Pointroll VP Advertising and Marketing.  I've been using an iPad for about a month now and my expectations and early hypotheses have been shattered.  When Apple announced the iPad I felt it would be mostly a media consumption device - a large iTouch.  I believed it would be hard to use for productivity based work apps.  I under valued this revolutionary product and the great opportunity for touch interfaces.

The iPad experience is so superior to the PC or Mac model.  I now refuse to travel with my Sony notebook (which is quite small).  I am typing this blog from my iPad while the person sitting next to me on this AA flight watches a movie on hers.  I brought my notebook on this business trip but haven't booted it up - just thinking about that makes me queasy!  For now on, the Sony will stay in its dock in my office.  I feel so liberated and know my travel life will be better, easier, more productive and more entertaining.  A wise colleague has a great blog called "Death of the Mouse".
 Through my recent iPad experience, I now understand the paradigm change to touch interfaces.  As the mouse dies, so will the hardware and software that work with mice and support the PC paradigm.

This is possible due to the beautiful Apple design and user experience plus cloud computing, easy low-cost apps, and improved and pervasive mobile broadband.  This iPad experience will only get better as more apps are released and integration between apps, device and cloud services improves.  There are a slew of new business productivity iPad apps hitting the market including apps for viewing, editing and saving Microsoft office files.  The NY Times reviewed a couple of these new apps today. 

The Puppy Effect
Many of us have experienced the magnet effect of walking a puppy in NYC (free tip for singles out there). Well, my new puppy is my iPad.  Everyone wants to see it, touch it, play with it.  I am having more conversations with strangers (do I really want/need that)?  And once someone tries it, they must have one.  I have seen this with a few friends already with their wives contacting me with questions so they can order the iPad for Fathers Day.
Naturally, being the digital marketing consultant and competitive freak that I am, I need to make a bunch of predictions about the winners and losers from the new iPad paradigm so here goes.

The Winners
  • Apple, naturally – the stock broke 270 today…all time high.
  • Smart advertisers (and agencies) who will test this platform before it reaches scale – test, measure, refine…
  • iPad app developers – the smart ones will develop “universal applications" (iPad, iPhone, etc.)
  • iPad accessory makers – the iPad needs a lot of accessories to connect to devices, to enjoy media, etc.
  • Desktop makers – much cheaper than laptops.  More will ask “do a really need a laptop and iPad?”.
  • Cloud services – as local storage goes away, demand for the cloud increases.
  • Digital Content producers – the iPad is the best digital content device ever.
The Losers
  • Apple, again - do we really need both iPad and iPhone?  There are better phones and networks.  Plus, there's little app synergy yet.  Time will tell...
  • Notebook makers – see above.
  • Software incumbents – see above.

So, what do you think?  Please comment below.

A New Decade Finds Google Under Assault

In an earlier post, I referred to the prior decade as the "Google Decade".  For digital marketers, the big story last decade was paid search and organic SEO.  Google grew search market share every quarter and expanded their AdWords program to many sites and countries.  They also established a culture of innovation that resulted in numerous new products such as Content (display ads), Earth, Print, TV, Gmail, Analytics, Apps, etc.  Despite this new product rollout, Google still derives the vast majority of their revenue from AdWords, leaving them vulnerable to changing user behaviors and other advertising options.  After dominating the last decade and proving a great ability to innovate and execute, Google finds itself being attacked from all sides.  The recent news and announcements from Apple, Facebook and Microsoft tell the story.

  • iPhone - despite their closed approach, single carrier strategy and Google's aggressive Android push, the iPhone continues to gobble up smartphone market share.  For the quarter ending March 28, Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones, representing 131% unit growth year over year.  Users don't search as much on their iPhones as they do on their desktop or laptop PCs. iPhone customers, instead, depend on Apps to find and enjoy digital information and content. Apple's App ecosystem and superior user experience are key to the success of the iPhone.
  • iPad - 500,000 units have shipped in the first week or so.  This new device type, which runs on the mobile, iPhone OS, is changing the game in terms of how we consume and interact with digital media.
  • iAd - introduced on April 8, this program greatly benefits developers, publishers and advertisers. All iAds will be hosted and served by Apple. More about this can be found here and here.  
  • iTravel - on April 21, Apple filed a patent for iTravel - their travel-centric App for the iPhone and iPad. Apple is getting into the travel transaction (full user experience) business according to the filing.  This is consistent with their iAd strategy to allow advertisers to reach iPhone and iPad users without making them leave the App to respond to or buy from the iAd.
  • Implication for Google:  For the first time, Apple is now in the digital advertising business and they have the mobile OS and platform to grow their advertising market share at Google's expense.
  • 400 million active users - also, it was announced on March 19 that Facebook eclipsed Google and became the largest website in terms of page views.
  • Social Plug-ins - last week, Facebook announced their new distributed "Like" program which will significantly grow their rich user data and provide earned media value for commercial websites of all types.  This valuable profile data will yield greater advertising value (ROI) and quickly grow Facebook into a digital advertising powerhouse.
  • New Graph API and platform - this simpler platform is designed to add value for developers, users and commercial websites.  This should result in more "social graph" data for advertisers to target.
  • Implication for Google: Facebook is innovating quickly and solidifying itself as an extremely large and valuable advertising platform where precise targeting can occur - sounds similar to how we described Google 5 or 6 years ago.
  • Yahoo Search Partnership - this deal will allow the #2 and #3 player to join forces to battle Google.
  • Bing launch and share growth - for the first time in memory, a search engine besides Google gained search market share.  Microsoft has shown a great ability to innovate with Bing.
  • Facebook Partnership - last week, Facebook and Microsoft announced their social collaboration through the launch.  This site, which leverages Office, cloud computing and Facebook,  enables users to create and share Microsoft office documents with their Facebook friends.  
  • Implication for Google:  Microsoft has a war chest of cash and is spending it to gain market share in Search and cloud-based Apps - two strategic markets for Google.
Google is firing back:
  • Android mobile OS and Nexus One phone - launched on multiple carriers with numerous headset models including Google's Nexus One phone.  Early results suggest these phones are selling and allowing Google to gain smartphone market share, at the expense of RIM and Palm.  Android phones make "searching" the web a lot easier than iPhones.
  • Bazaarvoice partnership - Last week, an interesting partnership between Google and Bazaarvoice was announced.  Bazaarvoice provides private label user review technology to many major manufacturers and online retailers.  Google will index these reviews and aggregate user scores and include them in search results and sponsored search ads.  This exciting integration of earned media with paid media and search results will be interesting to watch.
  • ITA acquisition - just a rumor, but the strategic thinking behind this potential travel acquisition shows that Google is now willing to risk their AdWords revenue and compete with some of their largest advertisers (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) in order to dis-intermediate the travel supply chain and bring more efficiency to the travel market.
What's your take on my analysis?  Will Google withstand this attack and continue to grow at the levels we've all become accustomed to?  Please comment below and keep the conversation going.

    Apple's iAds - Further Analysis and Predictions

    After I wrote my last blog post about Apple's iAd mobile advertising program, I came across a link to Steve Jobs' 10 minute iAd introduction. I have to admit, I was blown away with the presentation and, while it confirmed many of my thoughts expressed in my last post, it also helped me crystallize the following implications and predictions for app developers/publishers, brand marketers and direct-response, transaction-based advertisers.

    iAd Value for App Developers & Content Publishers
    • New revenue stream for existing their apps through the 60/40 ad media revenue share with Apple.
    • New source of business for developers through a new iAd development service.
    • A better advertising channel to market their own Apps.
    • Development tools that are "very easy" to use, according to Mr. Jobs.
    • Simple & easy process - Apple sells and serves all iAds.
    iAd Value for Brand Marketers
    • Superior digital creative - iAds offer more interactivity than TV ads & more emotion than Display ads.
    • Better user experience - according to the presentation, navigating an iAd is "very simple".
    • Innovation value - brands can ride the "cool" and "innovative" halo from Apple.
    iAd Value for Direct Response & E-commerce Advertisers
    • This lies with Apple's growing option value.  I predict Apple will launch iStore which connects to merchant and travel back-ends via APIs and allow the user to transact via iTunes, just as they do currently with songs, movies, books and apps. Jobs mentioned a "shopping list" for Target - what does he mean?  Is this a new form of shopping cart that Apple is working on?
    • When will Apple launch iWord - a DR ad solution tied to App Store inquiry targeting?
    Net, net...the winners: Apple, developers and publishers, brand marketers.  And, the losers: Google, Microsoft, Adobe.  

    Do you agree?  Please share your comments.

    Apple's iAds - What it Means for App Developers, Brand and Direct Marketers

    Last week, while still basking in the after-glow of Duke's 4th national championship and nail-biting victory over Butler (which I witnessed with a good Duke buddy), Apple gathered developers to discuss iPhone OS 4.0 and iAds.  In this recent NY Times article about the launch of iAds, there were some interesting comments. Steve Jobs said, "People are not searching on a mobile device like they are on the desktop". A Google spokeswoman commented that Google mobile search is 5 times bigger than 2 years ago and that people are searching 30-50 times more often on smartphones than basic mobile phones. While these 3 statements may be true, they don't explain Apple's entry into advertising and their new iAd strategy.  While it's becoming more and more obvious that Apple and Google are locked into a long term battle, the questions this competition stimulates are more intriguing.  Will this battle lead to ever greater innovation that will leave Blackberry, Palm, Microsoft and Nokia in the dust?  What is Apple's strategy and rationale for entering the digital advertising business (this is more than just mobile advertising. think iPad)?  Should performance oriented marketers see value in iAds.  By analyzing iAds, one can conclude that it's all about supporting their app developer ecosystem.

    Let's take a look at Apple's iAds strategy.  Apple's mission is to make the iPhone OS the de-facto standard in mobile computing.  In keeping with their past, and in direct contrast to Google, Apple is winning with a closed approach due to their ability to deliver superior user experiences for consumers and, as importantly, developers.  iAds is consistent with these core principles.

    ·         By focusing the service on developer benefits, Apple will keep the apps flowing.  Combine this with Apples's app approval process and Apple should continue drive comp advantage of their app platform which will keep users migrating to iPhone, iPad, etc.
    ·         iAds allow app developers to have a revenue model for free apps and to keep paid app pricing down.  Developers/publishers will get 60% of ad revenue, Apple 40%.
    ·         Jobs believes iAds will deliver "engaging and emotive" experiences to users.  His relentless focus on the iAd user experience fits with their overall design approach and superior user experience.
    ·         iAds also take aims on Abode by pushing HTML5 over Flash for iAd development.  This is consistent with Apples past decisions to block Flash on the iPod, iPhone and now iPad.  Offering superior ad development tools, Apples hopes to diminish Abode's installed base asset.
    ·         It's a closed ad system that locks out Google mobile ads delivered through Google's recently acquired mobile network, AdMob.
    ·         iAds leverages the acquisition of Quattro whose core competency is around mobile display ads (qualitative), not quantitative ads tied to rich search or user data. The iAds announcement could have big implications for existing mobile advertising providers and networks such as AdMob and Millenial Media, which have built businesses on serving ads into iPhone applications.

    iAds will not allow click offs to transactional websites.  Clicking through on iAds will launch the advertiser content, which essentially takes the form of mini branded applications in their own right, featuring video, games, and other interactive content.  By leveraging it's core competencies, strategy and Quattro acquisition, Apple appears to be catering primarily to brand marketers.  The focus on emotion is very different than Google's approach which is centered on delivering simple solutions for quantitative focused, direct response advertisers. iAds also won't solve the App proliferation problem for developers or users.  Hopefully Apple will now turn it's focus on building a better App search engine/directory coupled with direct response sponsored ads which would provide value to users, developers and direct response marketers.  I still have many questions about iAds.  Please help me answer the following questions by commenting below.

    ·         Will iAds be able to host shopping carts and travel booking engines?
    ·         Will ad serving, management, tracking and optimization tools work with iAds?
    ·         Will digital marketers be able to “close the loop”?
    ·         Should direct response advertisers test iAds or just "wait and see"?  

      Search Fragmentation is Coming - Be Prepared to Capitalize.

      This week, a Google representative declared "in three years time, desktops will be irrelevant".  In December, Morgan Stanley stated "more users will likely connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within five years".   According to Facebook now has more users than Yahoo.  This rapid increase in mobile and social screen time is changing user behavior and creating new types of searches - apps, friends,  music, photos, etc.  These changes will fragment new search queries away from Google and other universal search engines.  Google will continue to dominate desktop-based searching, but new smartphone and social searching will fragment to a host of players including Apple, Google and new companies.  These new entrants, including Twitter, have an opportunity to adopt Google-like PPC ad model to complement search behavior on their services. Some will simply copy Google and design an even better mouse-trap and APIs for ad/bid mgmt. Digital marketers need to follow these trends, begin testing and measuring new models and start gaining insights, revenue, profit and, most importantly, a marketing competitive advantage.

      On this blog, I've labeled the last decade "The Google Decade".  Despite predictions of vertical search and resultant search fragmentation, it never materialized. In 2005, I remember search pundits predicting huge growth for vertical travel search. We have seen the emergence of meta-search sites like Kayak, but have also seen failures such as Yahoo's Farechase.  Vertical search never came to pass as Google added incremental features to their popular search service and creating Universal Search - local, images, blogs, maps, real-time Tweets (recently), etc.  For practical matters, Google's ground-breaking business, AdWords, only faced one competitor during the decade - Yahoo's Overture.  It's nice to be a fast-follower.  But, Google really focused on user experience and having the best search experience before they even added a revenue model through AdWords.  This is precisely the strategy of Facebook, Twitter and others.

      Google and Apple are in an epic battle for smartphone market share that will continue through this decade.  Google hasn't faced competition like this since the early days with Overture.  Based on this chart, both Android (Google mobile OS) and Apple are gaining smartphone market share and, most probably, will win.  As I spoke about in my January post, Apple is focused on a new user experience and Internet navigation model that is not centered around Google search. Also, Google's launch into Social through Buzz has been challenging and could contribute to a loss of trust and Google's looming privacy bubble this decade.  So, will these trends and new user behaviors lead to the search fragmentation others have been predicting years ago?

      Let's look at some predictions of things to come, how this will affect the way we search for things and how advertisers can capitalize on these changes.  
      • Apple iWords - In a recent blog post, I wrote about the proliferation of mobile Apps.  I posited that on Apple smartphones, we are being trained to navigate the web through apps and Apple's App Store.  In fact, the screen area dedicated to search in a fraction of what you see on a typical PC browser.  Just like Google trained us to use Search to navigate the Net through a PC, Apple is training us to use their storefronts. Apple's PPC solution will tie relevant search ads to app searches. I am sure their are plenty of App developers and businesses that would love to reach this highly targeted user base.
      • Twitter Search - Rumors abound that Twitter is about to launch a PPC model to compliment an improved Twitter search experience. This could work and provide a revenue model that doesn't interfere with the micro-blogging experience.
      • Facebook Advertising - Facebook has already launched a Google-like self-service, auction-based advertising service.  While the user feedback has been bumpy, the hyper-targeting opportunity remains.  Facebook has wisely exposed their API allowing bid-mgmt and attribution tools to add Facebook to their systems.  It is not a stretch to see Facebook improving their on-site search experience and adding these targeted ads alongside the search results.
      • Digital media mgmt technology will add new PPC platforms and optimize accordingly using holistic attribution tracking, measurement and optimization.
      How should digital marketers prepare for these changes to come?  Let's look at a few recommendations. 
      • Ramp up your knowledge about mobile, social, apps, etc.  Talk to experts, immerse yourself, read blogs.
      • Launch Social strategy.  Target social search PPC at your target social profile based monitoring, listening as well as technographic and socialgraphic research.
      • Launch Mobile strategy. How will users find your company from their mobile device?  What will the experience be like?
      • Utilize a 3-pronged media management approach for Owned, Earned and Purchased media. Use media attribution and optimization.
      • Test, measure and learn from everything.
      What do you think about this blog?  Do you agree with my take on how this will upfold?  I don't have a crystal ball - just enough experience to have a point of view.  This is a process of collective learning where we all benefit through dialogue and debate.  Please add your comments below.  Thank you.