Applications are a bright spot in mobile advertising, and loads of marketers have plans to jump on the mobile app bandwagon. An overwhelming 64.8% of marketers and publishers reported planning to invest in mobile applications this year, according to a recent survey.
That said, the discipline is still young, and everyone’s trying to gather as much intel as possible on what’s working for marketers and consumers in appville and what’s not. I got shut out of the app-related sessions I was slated to cover at SXSW, but Shari Yoder Doherty, consumer marketing and communications guru and SmartBrief on Social Media reader, graciously agreed to share some of the best stuff she heard.
“You can’t be into social media if you aren’t into mobile as well,” said Shiv Singh, vp and global social media lead at Razorfish, during the session Extending Your Brand? There’s An App for That moderated by Adweek digital editor Brian Morrissey.
By now, most brands are aware of the powerful combination of social, mobile and local. The popularity and content of the standing-room only SXSW sessions I attended on mobile applications indicates, however, that many companies are still struggling to find the right mix of these elements.
Experts engaged in lively debate about what brands can learn from services such as Foursquare about the power of social status, reward systems and peer referral to inspire and curate local discovery and decision-making. One thing they agree on, however, is that some marketing apps are hot and some still have a ways to go.
- Amazon Mobile for iPhone enables people to take pictures of products you see out in the real world, which are then identified and placed in your cart to buy later. — Zeus Jones founder Adrian Ho.
- ShopSavvy, a bar-code scanner app similar to RedLaser, shows shoppers the cheapest product prices online or at nearby stores. — Artefact co-founder and principal designer Rob Girling.
- Vice Tracker proposes to keep people on top of their indulgences, “whether for health or for money.” Translation: it tries to change people’s spending behavior with social gaming and incentive features. — Shiv Singh, Razorfish.
- The popular VW GTI Real Racing app got the thumbs-down from Ho because “it doesn’t drive additional brand interactions and sales.”
- In Girling’s opinion, many luxury brands, such as Mercedes-AMG, have a tendency to release branded microsites as apps and miss the opportunity to connect and interact with passionate owners and potential buyers.
- Singh singled out the New York Times app as one that could greatly benefit from the addition of location-aware and social features.
One to keep an eye on:
One of my personal favorites, StickyBits, launched during SXSW this year. StickyBits is an innovative app that bridges the digital world to the physical world via bar codes. Users can scan any bar code and easily attach digital content like photos, videos or text to real world products. Then when anyone else scans the bar code, a myriad of digital content is revealed. It’s not hard to think of the practical uses of an app like this. Imagine viewing cooking videos as you scan foods in the grocery store or browsing styling advice and hearing new music as you decide which pair of jeans to buy. Keep an eye on this one as brands and consumers experiment with creative ways to bring digital content to life in the real world.
Which of your favorite apps should be on this list?