Friday, April 27, 2012

Is That Dick Tracy's Watch?

In a world where smartphones and even feature phones do everything from tell the time to the weather and your location, fewer and fewer people see the need for a watch. No surprise, then, that the global sale of watches has been steadily declining since 2005. But Eric Migicovsky and his team at Allerta may recently have changed all that. They’ve developed a watch reminiscent of Dick Tracy’s infamous two-way wrist radio that’s designed to be the best companion to your smartphone. It’s called the Pebble. You wear this attractive device just like a wristwatch and it connects by Bluetooth discreetly to your smartphone alerting you to incoming SMS, email, and phone alerts.

Other attempts at similar technologies in the past date back to 2004 when Microsoft introduced their Smart Watch, which retrieved weather, messages, reminders, and stock quotes. The watches transmitted over an unused portion of the FM radio band and users needed an MSN Direct subscription to download data. Well-known watch manufacturers Fossil, Tissot, and Swatch were involved in the production. The watches were discontinued in 2008.

More recently, other smart watches including the InPulse, the WiMM One, and I’m Watch have been reviewed, but as Chris Taylor explains in his recent Mashable article, “They were all powered by Android, or connected to Android smartphones only.  iPhone owners were out of luck until …the Pebble. It’s the first smart watch that can form a meaningful, long-lasting relationship with your iOS device, as well as Android.”

Besides being unique among smart watches because of its compatibility with iPhone and Android, Pebble has other noteworthy features. If your smartphone is lost in the sofa cushions or hiding in a junk drawer, you can use your Pebble to locate it. For those of us who’ve struggled with screen glare on sunny days, Pebble hosts a high resolution e-paper display that is readable outdoors. 

Pebble’s wrist-location makes it possible to glance at that text message or check to see who’s calling while still unpacking the groceries or holding onto your squirming toddler. It’s also water resistant. You can go swimming and run in the rain with it. And speaking of running, there are apps built in to the watch that allow you to track how many miles you’ve run (thanks to the built-in 3-axis accelerometer), control your phone’s music, and check the weather.

There’s also the Pebble watch app store, which will let you send watch-specific apps the company and third-party developers make to the watch. At its core, Pebble is a hands-free solution to determine why your pocket or purse is vibrating without having to dig out your phone. No wonder it’s become an overnight sensation. 

Of course the development has been longer than just overnight. Before turning to Kickstarter for funding to provide the dollars they needed for manufacturing, the Allerta team of high-energy entrepreneurs spent four years working on iterations. In Kit Eaton’s Fast Company article, Migicovsky compliments his industrial designer, Steve Johns. “(Steve) spent a lot of time looking at what people wear on their wrists, and how we could make something that could be customizable and beautiful, small and sleek."    

Here’s the Kickstarter video where Migicovsky succinctly explains the Pebble.

Next up on the horizon? People who choose not to go with the smart watch will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time. Stay tuned!

Here's some more information:
Pebble Kickstarter Watch at CES - press conference on January 9, 2013
Hands on With Pebble Smartwatch, the Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever, Alexandra Chang, May 14, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

DRTV Gets Social

I’m sitting in my favorite chair in front of the best screen in my house watching a show. A commercial comes on. It's a preview for the movie “Chimpanzee.” I want to know more, so I grab my smartphone and I’m typing in the search, when, all of a sudden, it occurs to me that all TV ads now can be DRTV ads. 

If you aren’t familiar, DRTV stands for direct response television and this is by no means a hot new marketing tool. This form of advertising has been around at least since the 1980s. There are two types. The short version, which is 30 seconds to two minutes, and a longer half-hour variety that you know as an infomercial. A DRTV commercial includes a bona-fide offer for a product or service and a method (like phone, text, or website) for the consumer to contact the advertiser directly. Advertising that satisfies these two criteria is defined as DRTV and also qualifies for a lower media rate. 

Much like shopping at Nordstrom’s Rack, DRTV advertisers can purchase unsold advertising inventory from stations and networks at rates off rate-card prices. To be successful, you need some experience selecting the right mix of rate, schedule, and timing; depending on your strategy, you'll need a call center that’s open when the commercial is aired, and don’t forget about order fulfillment. Also, because the real value in DRTV is the ability to track responses, who’s buying from which spot and when, you’ll need math competency and a method for capturing these results.   

This is why there are professional DRTV agencies like Hawthorne or Euro RSCG, and, perhaps you, who are rolling their eyes at my Eureka moment in front of the TV, but honestly, the technology surprised me and made me wonder if having another device handy has changed other consumers’ viewing behavior as well. 

Luckily Nielsen has just published a survey of connected-device owners and discovered that watching TV while using a tablet or smartphone, to check email, or to look up program or product information, is fairly common. In the U.S., 41% of smartphone owners confessed to using their phone at least once a day while tuned in to their TV. Also, 45% of tablet owners admitted that they used that device while watching TV at least once a day. 

It seems that there’s a growing trend of using a second screen. And although you may not want to craft a traditional DRTV spot, I think it may pay for us to keep some of those techniques in mind. After all, the consumer is sitting right there with a phone in their lap. 

So here’s what I’m thinking for my next commercial:
  1. Before the viewer is up and off for a snack, mention what I’m selling in the first 10 seconds or at least provide a search term or web address throughout the ad so it’s easy for the consumer to find the offer later and to share it.
  2. Connect the commercial to a landing page. It should reinforce the offer and provide a familiar framework (experience recall) for the viewer.
  3. Whether I’m using unique phone numbers and a call center or not, I want to track clicks to correlate viewers’ search activities on the website with the media schedule and combine with web analytics to get insights.
  4. Use the other screen. Maximizing this effort and expense of production by repurposing the content in other channels is a way to gain more sales and should lower my cost per acquisition. Examples:
    1. Run longer versions of the commercial on the website and YouTube;
    2. Blog about the production around an embedded version, show outtakes, use production stills;
    3. Share a video of an influencer speaking about the product's benefits;
    4. Point to the content on other social sites (like Facebook and Twitter).
Before the advent of the second screen, DRTV marketers were attempting to compel you out of your chair to that phone hanging on your kitchen wall. Now that consumers are sitting with a phone in their pockets, they can engage when and where the buying urge hits them. So if they are intrigued by your offer on TV, be prepared to provide them with the answers they seek. Like me searching on my smartphone for #MeetOscar, we just need to put ourselves in our customers' places to uncover the opportunities. What’s up next with Social TV or Interactive TV? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here are some additional insights:
How TV Will Change the Game for Digital Marketers, Dean Donaldson, March 16, 2012
The New Digital Battlefield, Greg Satell, March 14, 2012