Category Archives: Mobile Marketing

The Newest iPod Nano is Sweet!

My mother is pretty much the last person at the gym, aside from a few 80 year olds who go there to use the pool, who doesn’t listen to music while she works out. My brothers and I decided to buy her her first iPod (ever) for Christmas this year.  I went to the Apple store and bought her a Nano in her favorite color, purple, and then realized that my mom will have no clue how to set it up herself.

So I took it out of its package and hooked it up to my iTunes so that I can load it up with music, playlists and photos.  I haven’t felt the need to have an iPod Nano since the iPhone came out, so it’s been a few years since I’ve held one.  As I played with it, I couldn’t get over how different and cool the new ones are.

This seventh-generation Nano is the thinnest ever and roughly the size of a credit card, but its display screen is almost twice the size of the previous model.  Even though the screen is small, the photos that I loaded on it still look good. And, thanks to the accelerometer, photos auto-rotate as you go from portrait to landscape, which was nice.

The new Nano has a touch screen and is the first model to have a tiny home button, just like some of its bigger siblings. It has five buttons in all- a slender power button on the top and a three-way volume rocker that allows you to adjust the volume and, by pressing it in the middle, play/pause music or skip tracks.

Because my mom will be using the device while working out quite often, I will advise her to use the Nike+ function, which has been made better by having everything built-in.  Her Nano can track her walks and runs, and she can even connect a Bluetooth heart monitor wirelessly.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the new design of the Nano.  I think it’s the best yet, bringing lots of functionality in a tiny package.  I look at it as $149 well spent, and I’m excited to give it to my mom and watch her fall in love with her first Apple product.

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BMI Elite Buys Employee A New Car, Then Takes Staff to Bahamas

There’s never a dull moment around here at BMI Elite.  We’re back in the news once again, this time for surprising one of our longest and most deserving employees with a brand new 2013 Ford Escape for his 52nd birthday last week.  We’ve been on the front page of the Sun Sentinel’s money section, on the homepage of MSNnow, and many other news channels including CBS12, CNN and WPBF.

Chris Ninos has been BMI’s chief financial officer for the last two years and is one of the most loyal, honest, trustworthy and hardworking employees that our CEO Brandon Rosen has ever met.

“Chris will call me up at midnight, at 5:00 a.m., and on holidays just to talk about business,” said Brandon.  “He’s one of the hardest workers I know.”

Chris has been driving an old 1998 green Ford Escort for the last 11 or 12 years, and recently it’s been giving him lots of trouble.  Even though everyone around the office has been telling him to trade it in and get something new, Chris was determined to ride it until it died.  So last week, a few days before Chris’ birthday, Brandon and BMI’s president, Dan Lansman, decided to surprise him with the new Escape as a way to thank him for all that he does for the company.

Chris was told by some co-workers that they were taking him out to lunch to celebrate his birthday.  They said they needed to make a stop at the Maroone Ford dealership, and when they arrived at the showroom, Ninos was surprised with a new 2013 Ford Escape filled with balloons.

Before this all happened, BMI contacted the media to capture the moment as well.  Not only did Chris get a new car, but he also got the celebrity treatment for a few days.

If that wasn’t enough, BMI Elite is taking its entire staff on a cruise to the Bahamas this weekend for our holiday party.  I am excited and I feel lucky to be working at a company that is doing so well.  In less than two years, BMI has grown from two employees to 55 and next month, we are moving from a 4,500 sq. foot office to one that is over 21,000 sq. feet.  There are lots of big things to come!

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Target Is Playing Catch Up in the Digital Marketing Game

There has been much speculation that the internet will dominate in holiday shopping this year. With this said, Target is switching up its game in an effort to make sure they won’t fall behind in the digital market.

Last holiday season, many shoppers went to Target just to scan product barcodes and then made purchases from online retailers such as Amazon, instead of actually buying the product for full retail price. Target wants to prevent this from happening again, so they will match the prices of various online retailers between November 1 and December 16. They will even match prices from the online prices of Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R’ Us and Babies R’ Us. Target has matched local competitors in the past, but never online retailers due to the inconsistency in prices.

Target is really trying to prevent a trend called “showrooming,” which is when consumers go to retail locations to test products and then go online to buy it. For example, I know people who have gone to Best Buy, found the exact television that they want, and bought it online. Generally, online stores like Amazon offer cheaper and exclusive internet prices.

Target is also lending out QR codes in stores to help people shop and navigate through their website.  According to Target, they are trying to improve their online marketing to become more personalized and integrated with consumers. If there is a particular item that is sold out, people will be able to scan the QR code on the tag and order the product on Target.com. For example, the top 20 toys will have QR codes on them. This is very beneficial for consumers because all they would have to do is scan the code and they will be lead to the product. Then, they can buy the product and chill out while thousands of consumers are impatiently waiting in long lines.  If people are worried about using up data on their smartphones, Target will provide free Wi-Fi to help access the codes that were scanned.

Target has been recently trying to play catch up with other retail powerhouses with digital marketing strategies. It is part of their new project called Multichannel, which offers consumers various online-related services to make it more convenient to shop at Target and on their website. Although they are behind rival Wal-Mart, they feel it is never too late to implement strategies that others have already put to use. For example, they are also planning to test in-store pickups of online orders and home deliveries within hours, which is something eBay has implemented in some states. Target shouldn’t feel ashamed that they are using strategies that their rivals use. Pablo Picasso once said that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

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The iPad Mini is Coming October 23

One of the worst-kept secrets in tech has finally been made official.  Following months of speculation and rumors, Apple has finally released press invitations for its next big launch: the iPad Mini. The event will be held at the California Theatre on October 23rd in San Jose, California.

The iPad Mini is expected to be much smaller than the current 10 inch iPad model. Rumors say that the iPad Mini will be around seven or eight inches, with fewer pixels than the current size. Some say the new device could tout a retina-resolution display, 3G connectivity, two rear speakers instead of just one and use the new lighting connector introduced with the iPhone 5.  Apple has no confirmed any of these reports, of course.

Although the company is traditionally secretive about product details and announcements, leaks have been spilling out of its factories and hitting the web more than ever before.  Just recently, iPhone 5 pictures and specs circulated the internet long before its official launch in September.

Steve Jobs famously opposed trimming the size of the iPad, saying the introduction of a seven-inch tablet would be “dead on arrival” and users would need sandpaper to shrink their fingers for an optimized experience.

“While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size,” Jobs said.

Considering how popular seven-inch tablets have become in the past year, it was only a matter of time for Apple to step in. Companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and Samsung are already competing for market share and the arrival of an iPad Mini would certainly shake things up.

So now everybody is busy getting ready for the iPad Mini’s release.  Manufacturers aren’t wasting any time ahead of Apple’s big announcement next week- screen protectors for the iPad Mini are already on sale.

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Yahoo Closes $7.6 Billion Deal with Alibaba Group and Marissa Mayer has Money to Spend

After more than two years of on-again, off-again negotiations, the complex $7.6 billion deal is done between Yahoo and China’s Alibaba Group.  Yahoo’s shareholders, who have painfully watched the company weaken over the last few years, are likely breathing sighs of relief right about now.

In recent months there has been a lot of buzz about what would happen when this deal finally closed.  Where would the billions of dollars in cash and stock go?

Before hiring its latest CEO, Marissa Mayer, in July, Yahoo had pledged to distribute nearly all of the proceeds from the sale to its shareholders.  But then there was talk of Mayer warning shareholders that she might not return money to them after all.  Yahoo wavered from its pledge and filed regulatory documents disclosing that Mayer was in fact considering denying shareholders of the proceeds.  Instead, the money would eventually be spent in her efforts to revive the company’s growth.  The documents stated that Mayer was examining possible acquisitions, but they did not provide specifics.

Obviously this did not make shareholders happy, but overall I think that using the money to grow the company would have been a wise idea.  Giving billions to shareholders through a stock buyback or a one-time dividend is like giving a five-year old $10,000 instead of putting it toward his college tuition.  He’ll love you at first for it, but eventually it will be forgotten and the long-term outlook will grow dimmer.

Upon the completion of the sale we have learned that Mayer will not be holding on to all of the Alibaba money.  After taxes, most of the profits from the sale ($3.65 billion) will be paid out to shareholders in the form of dividend or stock buybacks, leaving Mayer and her team with about $1.3 billion to play with.

“This yields a substantial return for investors while retaining a meaningful amount of capital within the company to invest in future growth,” Mayer said in a statement.

Now that Mayer got the cash infusion that she was looking for, the technology world is eagerly waiting to see what she is going to do next.  She’s already provided free food and offered to buy an iPhone 5 or Android for her entire staff, so now what?  Her options are numerous, but there is speculation that she may try to make a huge move like putting together a takeover offer for one of the Internet’s hot websites, such as Pinterest, Vimeo, Yelp or even Foursquare.  Mayer already tried to purchase Yelp once when she was at Google, but Yelp rejected the offer and went for an IPO.  Yahoo is not nearly mobile enough, and acquiring Yelp would give its mobile platform a tremendous boost.  Yahoo currently has a monthly audience of 700 million users that it plans to build on as it develops more effective ways to connect with people on smartphones and mobile devices.

Vimeo would also be an excellent site for Yahoo to purchase.  I consider Vimeo to be YouTube’s potentially very talented little brother.  If Yahoo aims to be a serious contender to Google (who owns YouTube), it could use its own version of a leading video sharing site.  Internet videos have become a useful method of sharing information, and they are extremely popular with people.  Internet users watch more than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos on Facebook every day, and they share about 700 videos on Twitter each minute.  Video content is now part of the content marketing strategy of many webmasters and marketers.  Acquiring Vimeo would probably come with a price tag of around $3 billion, but it could greatly increase the amount of traffic to Yahoo, boost the company’s search and social, and bring in lots of brand advertising money.

If Mayer does not wish to spend most of Yahoo’s money in one place, a smaller, less costly acquisition would be Foursquare.  Reports surfaced back in 2010 that Yahoo was considering purchasing the mobile check-in service for around $100 million.  That deal didn’t work out, and Foursquare’s last funding round valued the company at $600 million, meaning that Yahoo would have to pay at least $500 million to $1 billion for the company.  Foursquare is currently one of the hottest names in location-based services, and it could give a big boost to Yahoo in social, mobile and local.  Mayer was in charge of local at Google, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Foursquare was her top acquisition candidate. 

In order to succeed, Mayer must use the money from the Alibaba sale to take one of the Internet’s most recognizable brands and make it more profitable.  She must apply her extensive knowledge of working on the user experience, doing for Yahoo what she did for Google.  By recapturing the audience’s attention and driving more traffic to Yahoo’s website, this will in turn help Yahoo sell more online advertising space and revive revenue growth. I am personally rooting for Mayer’s success because I am eager to see epic new products that will give Yahoo the reinvention that it needs and make the Internet a better place for all of us.

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Your Baby Can’t Read- It’s Just false & Deceptive Advertising

At 9 months old, most babies are just starting to babble, crawl and pull themselves up. Have you ever met one who can read?

If you ever saw an ad for “Your Baby Can Read” and still had doubts afterward about children as young as 9 months old actually being able to read, you are not crazy.  These ads promoting the program were nothing but fiction, says the Federal Trade Commission, who just filed false and deceptive charges against them.

The charges come as another huge blow to Your Baby Can, LLC, which was forced to close its doors last month.  The settlement with the company and its president and CEO prohibits the defendants from further use of the term “Your Baby Can Read” and imposes a $185 million judgment, which equals the company’s gross sales since January 2008.  How the company will pay back this money is questionable, considering they are already broke or pretty close to it.  When Your Baby Can went out of business last month, the company cited the high cost of fighting complaints alleging that its ads were false.

The lesson learned by Your Baby Can and all the other companies that are facing similar lawsuits is that false and deceptive advertising may seem like a great way to make fast and easy cash, but it will get you nowhere in the long run.  If a company is running ads that are not factually correct and deceive or mislead consumers, it is only a matter of time before the consumers will figure this out.  It probably didn’t take very long for parents to realize that their baby was not actually learning to read, and I’m sure it didn’t make them feel very good.

In this age of the internet and social media, these consumers who feel angry, disappointed or misled by a company have a place to publicly complain.  In many cases social proof causes these negative posts to spark comments and feedback from even more unhappy customers.  These negative posts are available for potential new clients to see and can be extremely destructive to a company.  In the case of Your Baby Can, it ruined their reputation.  When you search “Your Baby Can Read” on Google, almost all of the results on the first page are negative.  A majority of the related search suggestions refer to the words “reviews, scam, and does it work,” which will also lead to negative posts.

Companies should use this as a great lesson and example of where false and deceptive advertising will get you.  With all the information that consumers have access to today due to the internet and social media, it’s no longer as easy to get away with deceiving and misleading them.  Consumers should also learn a lesson from this case- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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What Has Marissa Mayer Been Up To At Yahoo?

Marissa Mayer was well-known during her time at Google for being obsessively dedicated to products like search and Gmail.  Now in her fourth week as the CEO of Yahoo, it’s not surprising that she has been quick to push the company to focus more on its products and users.

While Mayer has not unveiled a detailed strategic plan for Yahoo’s future, her actions at the company so far show that her approach differs from the more business-focused CEO’s like Scott Thompson and Ross Levinsohn.  Mayer is more interested in building great products than focusing on revenue.  She made this clear to her employees when she removed Yahoo’s stock ticker from its internal company website in an attempt to keep them from getting distracted by share fluctuations.

“I want you thinking about users,” Mayer has repeatedly been saying to Yahoo workers, according to people who have interacted with her.

This is not the first time we’ve heard that Mayer is looking to improve Yahoo’s core products. Last month, one source told All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher that under Mayer, Yahoo is “becoming a technology company again,” adding that her focus is on “platforms and products.”

The top Yahoo products that Mayer seems to be targeting are search and e-mail, according to the Wall Street Journal.  She has reportedly been meeting with Yahoo’s product leaders to determine why the company is losing market share in search and to figure out how to revamp it.  The company’s search sites hold a market share of 13.4%, as compared to Microsoft search sites that have 15.4% and Google Search sites, which hold 66.7%.

These products are so important because without them, users have no real reason to visit Yahoo.  Mayer has also told employees that she wants to develop or acquire Web services to take advantage of new technology platforms like social media, mobile devices and location services.

Last week Yahoo announced plans to sell its stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba for $7 billion.  Mayer warned shareholders that she might not return to them the $7 billion, and my guess is that the money will be used strategically to grow the business.  If Mayer does keep the money, I bet she will spend a good amount of it on purchasing some startups with smart people and monetizable products built for social media and mobile.  I am personally rooting for Mayer’s success because I am eager to see epic new products that will give Yahoo the reinvention that it needs and make the Internet a better place for all of us.

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Face Recognition Marketing- Awesome or Too Much?

Facebook check-ins are a powerful way for businesses to reach out and offer deals to loyal customers, but very few (businesses and customers) have come to realize this.  It’s about to get a lot easier, thanks to a new technology that allows people to check-in just by showing their face- literally.

Red Pepper, an advertising agency that specializes in marketing technologies, has announced that it is in its final testing stage for Facedeals, a facial recognition- marketing app.

Facebook can already recognize faces and suggest the correct people to tag in pictures. Facedeals will use a similar technology, installing cameras at local participating stores.  If you opt into this service, the cameras will recognize your face when you pass by, based on pictures from your Facebook account.  The service will then simultaneously check you into that location on Facebook.  You will be sent customized offers and discounts based on your “Like” history.

The app uses facial recognition in an effort to connect in a more personalized way with consumers.  For businesses, there is no easier way to deliver customized deals.   “At Red Pepper, we explore technologies that can create relevant ways for marketing to intersect with consumers and their lives, as provide some added values,” said Red Pepper’s business director, Samara Andreson.

As incredible as this technology sounds, it has generated criticism and panic from some who think it is a total invasion of privacy.  Andreson points out that the app requires voluntary acceptance and is not forced on anyone.

“The idea is not to invade privacy, which is a big issue right now,” Anderson said. “Your face wouldn’t be in any sort of database unless you opt into it.”

At this point does it even matter?  I thought a person’s privacy pretty much goes out the window the minute they create a Facebook account anyways.  Facebook already knows everything about most of us because we have voluntarily provided them with the information.  It knows where we go, when we go, who we go with and what we like, which helps them to understand why we do the things we do.

While I don’t feel particularly threatened by Facedeals, I do have a few questions for them before I would personally opt into this app.  Is there a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it goes to Facebook?  Or is there at least a setting that would let me approve the check-in before it’s posted for my 1,214 friends to see?  For example, if a raunchy strip club is one of the participating locations and I happen to walk past it, will a camera snap my face and automatically check me in there, even if I never went inside?  Am I going to receive a coupon for a free lap dance that I don’t want?  If I’m going to have to worry about stuff like that, it’s a deal breaker for me.

Would you opt in to Facedeals, or do you think it crosses the line?  Please share in a comment.

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I May Never Read A Book Again

It’s not because they all get adapted to movies these days (the books are still always much better).  It’s not because I’m lazy.  I just may never read a physical copy of a book again because I have begun reading my first e-book on my iPad and I am HOOKED.

I’m late to join the e-book trend because I’ve never been one to buy books.  I’ve never experienced a need to spend money on them.  How many times do you actually go back and read a novel?  As far as I’m concerned, there are plenty of good books out there that are on my to-read list, so why go backwards?  Of the 10 or 11 books that I have purchased in my adult life, a majority are coffee table books or children’s books that I kept in my bathroom.  They’re fun to pick up and glance at often, so I figure that I got my money’s worth.

One downside to e-books is that you can’t even loan the book to a friend when you’re finished with it.  There was this trilogy that I was dying to read.  All of my friends were raving about it, but none of them could loan it to me because they all read it on their Kindles and iPads.  I was a little annoyed, but I caved in and figured I’d try something new on my iPad.

Now I’m in love.  It’s so nice being able to have my computer, music player and reading materials all in one place.  I don’t have to turn pages or worry about bookmarks anymore.  What really sealed the deal was being able to read in bed at night.  I can read on my iPad in the dark, and once my eyes get heavy and I can barely stay awake I can fall asleep without having to get up and turn off the light.  That right there is enough to make me never want to read any other way again.

I can see this becoming an expensive habit.  When book #1 is finished and I’m dying to start #2, it’s going to be really tempting to just download it instantly.

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Don’t Worry, Be Appy!

In this age of smartphones and apps, we use our phones to do so much more than talk. Our mobile devices have virtually eliminated the need for everything from practical items such as day planners, digital cameras and wallets to novelty items that we probably never considered.  I mean, who wants to play Scrabble when you can just play Words With Friends?  (I’m being sarcastic- I played Scrabble about a month ago, as shown in the picture below.  But I know people who couldn’t be bothered with all those chips today.)

According to the Apple, there is over 500,000 apps available on their app store.  In March, the store hit 25 billion (with a “b”) downloads.  While we may not have yet created an app to cure cancer or end world hunger (although I’m sure there are some that are trying), people are now able to do some pretty awesome things from their computers, tablets and mobile devices.  Check it out:

Register to vote.  Candidates already use social media to get out the vote, so why not use social media to register to vote as well?  That question was answered last month, when Washington became the first state to allow voter registration through social media.  Microsoft developed the app at no cost for Facebook.  Registering through the social network makes the process a little easier because personal information such as your name and birthday are already stored.

Play Lazer Tag!  The game has been reinvented and upgraded for the smartphone era. With the new version, sold by Hasbro under the Nerf brand, you insert your phone into a Lazer Tag gun, launch the app and blast away.  The app is free but the blasters are $40 each and are designed only to hole the iPhone 4/4S or iPod Touch so far (sorry, Androids).

Get a cab.  The app GetTaxi allows users to order a cab via their computers or smartphones.  Once their order is made, the cab driver receives a notification with the person’s location.  Smartphone users are even able to track their cab through their GPS tracking.  GetTaxi has already hit it big in Russia, Israel and the U.K. and is set to hit New York City in the next few months.

Gamble.  As if Facebook isn’t addicting enough, its can now use it to gamble.  Available only in the U.K. so far, the app allows adults to play Bingo & Slots Friendzy with their credit card and PayPal accounts.

Check your heart rate on the go- by holding your iPhone up to your face.  Follow me closely on this one.  There is a new mobile app called Cardiio that’s about to be released that uses the iPhone camera sensor to detect your heart rate based off the amount of light reflecting off your face.  The company explains how the technology works on its site:

“Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone’s front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!”

Avoid traffic jamsWaze is a free GPS navigation tool for Android and iOS devices that is aware of traffic conditions including weather, accidents and hazards before it calculates a route for the user.  Waze also provides navigation to destinations such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations, showing the lowest gas prices in the area.

Upgrade your seats.  Pogoseat is a new service that lets fans upgrade their tickets and move to prime vacant seats during the middle of a sports game.  It’s a win-win for fans and the venue: fans get s a better view and the stadium can make a little extra money.  Using Pogoseat, fans can pull up a map of the stadium, and the appt recommends the vacant seats with the best views. After choosing their desired seat, users input their payment details and are able to move to their new spot immediately.

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