Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Localytics CEO Raj Aggarwal on Mobile, Apps, Bots, and Customer Engagement
In the mobile-first ecosystem, we used to talk about users exclusively: acquiring them, understanding them, engaging them, and monetizing them. For most leading mobile-focused companies that has radically changed. Now, most are focused primarily — whether they realize it or not — on customers.
Mobile customers are “users” with two specific characteristics:
  1. they derive specific value from what a mobile publisher offers
  2. they provide significant value back to that mobile publisher
This means that user-acquisition campaigns, which used to be all about quantity — the numbers of app installs you could drive — have become customer acquisition campaigns, which are all about quality and the value of new users. That changes how mobile publishers advertise, and it changes what data they feed back to their ad partners.
I asked Raj Aggarwal, CEO of Boston-based app marketing company Localytics, what this means.
Koetsier: Almost no-one buys mobile users anymore. Instead, mobile marketers build campaigns for customers … users who go beyond the install. What percentage of your mobile-first clients send in-app events to you to help you target the right kinds of people for their apps?
Aggarwal: One hundred percent; it’s the absolute core of who we are and what we do at Localytics. Our whole reason for existing is around connecting the data to the engagement. We encourage our customers not to do any blast-based engagement, it should all be based on the context that you have about the user and what they are doing. That comes from in-app events and other in-app data.
Koetsier: Non-mobile first companies are slower to do this, although I’ve talked to some CMOs in very traditional industries who are very advanced. What do you think the percentage of non-mobile first companies doing similar things is? Why?
Aggarwal: I can’t guess at the percentage, but I think that the reason a lot of them don’t is two-fold. First, a lot of the non-mobile first companies are less mature in their path to mobile. It’s with maturity that you start to better utilize your data to roll out more personalized, contextual and relevant engagement.
Second, many of these types of companies are ones that put a lot of focus on other channels. For them it’s somewhat of a greater challenge because they have to figure out what is going on in the mobile channel. They haven’t learned how to connect it to non-mobile data to get the full perspective so they are still in the dark. There used to be a belief among these types of companies that it would all eventually coalesce into one platform — but mobile has become so different that they’ve had to readjust to put that at the front of their marketing strategy.
Koetsier: Recently, messaging and bots have been huge. Strategically, this is great for messaging platform owners, who are trying to become the new app stores and the new gatekeepers … perhaps. Thoughts?
Aggarwal: Chatbots and voice activated systems are essentially just an extension of apps. It’s another endpoint by which to communicate and interact with the user.
For marketers and companies trying to engage with users — whether through messaging or bots — having the appropriate context around the user and their actions and leveraging that to improve communication with users is paramount, no matter what the platform is. So yes, chatbots will become relevant for some kinds of companies. And yes, there will be new gatekeepers and app stores.
But in the end, it’s just a matter of being where your user wants you to be and engaging with them based on the context that you have.
Koetsier: Interestingly, Pokémon GO has reminded us that apps not only are still alive, but kicking, and can drive huge usage, huge adoption, huge change, and huge revenue almost overnight, given the right confluence of factors. Agree?
Aggarwal: Absolutely. I believe that mobile is still relatively untapped – Pokémon GO showed us that. It was one of the top apps in recent memory to really tap into that potential, utilizing all aspects of mobile: location, camera, etc.
I think we’ll see more apps take off as app publishers figure out how to take advantage of everything mobile has to offer. The list of use cases (logistics/transportation, healthcare, and restaurants to name a few) that we haven’t quite figured out is huge — we’re only at the surface of what is possible.
Koetsier: What are the factors that have led to the massive engagement numbers that we’ve seen from Pokémon GO … engagement that beats Facebook, until now perhaps the stickiest app ever?
Aggarwal: Pokémon GO has been a breakout success because it allows you to gamify your life. It connects your digital world to your real world in a new and awesome way that few apps have been able to before.
To me, that is fundamentally what mobile is all about.
It’s probably not going to beat Facebook’s stickiness long term and it probably won’t maintain that level of mainstream popularity forever – but it’s amazing to see how it’s taken a hold in the cultural zeitgeist.
Koetsier: When you’re building marketing campaigns for apps and you’re looking for users that will engage, what factors are you looking for? Are there any that can be listed, briefly, or are they a confluence of dozens if not hundreds of factors that you really need a fairly big data automated approach to understanding?
Aggarwal: We don’t really think of it that way – I think that’s the wrong question to ask in today’s machine learning-driven world. When we are building marketing campaigns for apps, you aren’t really looking at specific factors about users that will drive engagement, but rather we are looking to do more of the things that drive the actions that we want. Part of that is a big data automated approach – it allows you to take action quickly and iterate continuously.
Koetsier: That’s kind of a comforting thought for publishers: they have more influence than they know on driving the actions that they want. Any other thoughts on apps and engagement?
Aggarwal: Over the past few months I’ve talked a lot about how I believe we are in a Mobile Engagement Crisis. This is because a lot of companies haven’t been able to innovate fast enough to keep pace with consumers’ and expectations. According to the latest data we have internally at Localytics, 23% of apps are only ever used once – that’s a scary number for someone involved in mobile marketing.
Many are making efforts to engage with users through mobile tools like push and in-app messaging, but are still getting it wrong. Our latest data shows that many mobile campaigns launched by retailers are actually driving customer retention down. I think we’ll start to see apps and businesses fail if they don’t drastically change their approach to meet and exceed consumers’ mobile expectations by engaging with them in personalized and contextual ways.

How to Use Data to Drive Online Video Success
From content creation to subscriber retention, video publishers are embracing Big Data in a big way. These are the most important trends and challenges behind the video data revolution.
Ask any digital video publisher what its data strategy is, and you'll likely get an answer ranging from, "We're a highly tuned data-driven organization," to, "Well, we collect a lot of it, but don't really know what to do with it." Without solid analysis and interpretation, data is useless. So what kind of data is most valuable to streaming publishers, and how can they gain insights and generate outcomes from the data they collect?

Audience Profiling

Our first stop on the data trail uses data to identify what content the audience wants. Nonprofit broadcaster NPR collects data to deepen the relationships between stations, sponsors, and listeners. NPR comprises member radio stations all around the country, and it delivers personalized content through the NPR One app, which promises listeners, "Public radio made personal."
How do you make content personal? "The location of the end user is of great importance because it helps us to target not only which member station they're affiliated with, but also localized content that we would push to them," says Michael Dube, head of streaming media at NPR.
NPR developed the app and made it available for local stations to give them an affordable platform for distribution. Listeners from all over can tune in to hear locally produced content tailored to their interests. The result is data-driven content curated via a combination of machine learning and human assistance.
For deeper recommendations, listeners have the option to identify themselves and have their likes and dislikes tracked. "We do a tremendous amount of A/B testing around our media delivery," Dube says. This testing has been a way for NPR to design features and content, and then test to see what resonates. For example, if a user chooses not to listen to politics, then the app won't deliver political news to them, although it may present a piece that has a wider subject matter and includes political content.
"We're creating personalized and dynamic experiences," says Dube. Content is commonly 2–5 minutes long, with longer shows occasionally divided into short clips. The average unique session on the NPR One app is 40 minutes, which suggests its curation formula works well.
NPR stations raise funds from local listeners as well as sponsorships placed within the programming, and NPR's data helps them attract more sponsors. "Big Data is very important, because the more people are consuming our content, the more opportunities we have to include our sponsors within those deliveries," says Dube. The organization is selective about the types of sponsors it works with, and it uses its own ad network to perform dynamic sponsorship nsertion into content driven by audience data. Accurate analysis of audience data is vital to keeping media companies on the right side of their audience, since irrelevant sponsorships can send listeners somewhere else.

Subscription Data

Our next data point comes from the video platform's perspective. Vimeo's VHX subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform provides media companies with the technology they need to sell and serve subscription content. Vimeo's media customers use the VHX dashboard to see information about viewer conversion rate and location, along with which platform is driving the most traffic. This data helps their media customers create stronger businesses.
"One of the biggest things we've been rolling out this year is our branded apps on every device," says Casey Pugh, co-founder and head of product at VHX. "That data [collected via app use] helps sellers place their marketing dollars in the right place to reach customers." VHX's top SVOD seller is Black&Sexy TV, which bills itself as "the leading network for young and progressive black people since 2008." "It has some of the best conversion on the entire platform. It has niche comedy and drama series which you don't typically find on any other platforms," according to Pugh.

Vimeo’s VHX SVOD platform offers a dashboard that lets publishers analyze their data based on products, subscribers, and—shown here—traffic.
Data is nothing more than useless numbers and meaningless statistics until you gain insight about what works. Black&Sexy TV found that push notifications and releasing content over the weekend both drove increased engagement. The media company is also very active on social media, constantly engaging with its audience.
Another optimization technique VHX publishers use is offering promo codes for discounts to specific customers. "We released this new tool that allows sellers to create a promotional code to give out to the customer to get, for example, 30% off their subscription," says Pugh. "It's a marketing sales tool to drive more subscriptions by creating a lower barrier to entry and increase conversion. Black&Sexy TV has rolled out the promo feature, which has shown significant increase in subscribers already."
While Black&Sexy TV has identified the important items that drive their engagement, not all publishers are as focused on all of the distribution details as they should be. Pugh says VHX provides automated and human advice to all its publishers based on evaluation of customer data. "One [piece of advice] is a simple thing," Pugh says. "For SVOD, you need to upload content all the time. Some people forget to do it, and they are slowly churning customers." It seems obvious, but analytics can drive decisions about putting up new content, finding the right time to publish the content, and making sure viewers know about new offerings.

Optimizing Strategy

While Vimeo is ensuring its publishers have the building blocks to create strong businesses, Ooyala is providing strategy optimization to its customers through its data insights. "I come from the world of TV. When we had a new show come out we had to wait till 9:00 the next morning to hear how viewers had reacted to that show," says Steve Langdon, global director of the strategic media consulting group at Ooyala. "Now, publishers can see all sorts of details and immediately make changes to their video strategy." Langdon outlined a few examples where data has allowed publishers to uncover valuable information to optimize their businesses.
In the first scenario, a publisher gained insight by examining its licensing and user interface (UI) structure. The customer was a property delivering kids' content. "Their viewing data showed episode one of each of their TV shows was getting about 90% of the overall views, and episodes two through 10 were getting the other 10%. That went completely against our standard analysis of SVOD," says Langdon. "The reason for that is children enjoy the repetition." The insight meant the publisher could ask itself if it actually needed to buy a whole series or just the first episode of about 40 different series.
In the next scenario, Arsenal Media Group, the media property associated with the popular English football club, wanted to find a way to gain longer engagement periods and reduce what it calls the one-video bounce—viewers who watch a piece of content and then leave. Analysis of traffic showed that viewers started dropping off around 60% of the way through a program, so Arsenal decided to run a thumbnail saying which video was coming up next. "You would never see an episode of Downton Abbey finish on a commercial network and then the screen goes to black," says Langdon.
The last scenario shows the importance of context. In this case, Ooyala had two newspaper customers. At one, people were only logging on from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. At the other property, viewers were checking in at various points during the day, with the peak between 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The overall traffic numbers showed one peak period, but the exact content viewing time showed peaks and valleys. This key differentiator provided guidance for tweaks to programming strategy for each publisher.
"The result is the first publication can go about informing its viewers that there are lots more videos to be watched in the afternoon and the evening," says Langdon. "For the other company, it's about how do you maximize what's happening on the commute to promote content. That one single data point changes the way we speak to both of those companies."

Dailymotion uses data from third-party providers such as Tubular and Tableau to determine what content might do well on its platform.

Analyzing Trends

Our next stop on the data trail looks at how data is used for licensing rights. "Because we are an acquisition and business development group, we use data to identify what content creators we want to reach out to," says Anthony Layser, content director at Dailymotion. The ad-supported user-generated content (UGC) platform uses tools from two companies, Tubular and Tableau, to help it make sense of its data. Tubular posts a daily report of what is trending on about 30 social media sites.
Merging Tubular's information with internal data allows Layser to build projected revenue models. "We can get a rough idea about what potential revenue might look like if we were able to acquire that partner's content on our platform," says Layser. "If there's a content manager who is managing sports, they can see what sports-related accounts [on Tubular] were popular last week from a traffic standpoint."
If you need to analyze data for thousands of content partners, finding good tools becomes key to your business. Layser uses Tableau to help see and understand trends. "When you have a partnership you're handling that has many dozens of channels, you need some centralized location where you can categorize and manipulate data to get a clear understanding about how the partnership is performing," says Layser. "For example, I have over 800 Fullscreen accounts on the platform. If I want to see how all those accounts are performing collectively from a revenue standpoint or from a traffic standpoint, Tableau allows us to easily arrange that data."
On the partner side, Dailymotion offers two types of measurement tools. "The traffic dashboard is a lot of view data—minutes watched, geography, what the audience retention is, percent of video watched, domain breakdown [for embedded content], and traffic sources," says Layser. "The revenue dashboard is a day-by-day breakdown of impressions, average CPM [cost per thousand], and estimated revenue per day."
Partners with content on multiple platforms such as Dailymotion, YouTube, and go90 need to be able to grab the data from their partners and crunch the numbers themselves, says Layser. "It's really important to them to be able to  export spreadsheets from our dashboards to a CSV file and drop them into a centralized database [so they can compare how activity does on different locations], rather than having to manually see something in a dashboard and have an intern actually trying to create a spreadsheet," he says.
This brings up two very important points. First, the manual handling of data easily allows errors to be introduced. Second, standardized metrics are critical, so publishers can compare apples with apples.

Data-Driven Creative

Our next media company is going data first when it comes to designing content. Whistle Sports' focus is providing content to young millennial sport fans. "The truth is, sports happens billions of times a day in backyards, in parking lots, in playgrounds, in practice fields, sometimes even in office buildings, and that can be at least as compelling as that live sporting event if you aggregate it," says Brian Selander, EVP at Whistle Sports. Viewers are highly engaged by this content, so Whistle Sports is able to monetize it not by selling ads but by finding sponsors. This is the latest approach brands, sports leagues, and media companies are taking to combat ad backlash and ad blockers.
Competing with live content can be challenging, but Whistle Sports is creating evergreen branded entertainment. "If you're a brand or agency and the content you've created with us can be rediscovered in a month or 6 months and be as interesting to somebody, that's an investment that pays off repeatedly," says Selander. "This means it's important to figure out what's going to work before you make it. Sports that really engages young millennial audiences needs to be research and insight first, content second."
So far, Whistle Sports' insight has proved successful. Since its launch in January 2014, it has attracted 190 million followers in the 14–32 age range across all social platforms, and it attracts 2 million new followers a week. The company has approximately 400 content partners, such as Dude Perfect, a group of entertaining guys broadcasting a reality show, sporting event, and long-form commercial all rolled into one.
"I'll often say at conferences, we need to liberate brands and agencies from the tyranny of the view count," says Selander. "I think particularly in the digital space, people remain hung up on how many views something gets and are less concerned about the more important number, which is how engaging this content is and how often people are actively sharing it.
"Before we bring any creator into the environment we take a hard look at the data around their engagement, their viewability, and their scalability. We are data-driven from the beginning of any decisions," says Selander. "We get hundreds of millions of data points a month from interactions between creators, content, and fans that we analyze to see what works best."
Whistle Sports looks at data points like what time of day content is viewed, what brand integration is connecting most strongly, and what words in the video description may make viewers more likely to engage with content. All stories are crafted based on the insight Whistle Sports gains from its persistent focus on translating data into valuable analytics. "We may follow a particular video minute-by-minute after it launches, and we can also have insight across the network on an hour-by-hour basis," says Selander. "Then at the end of the month we can compile that to see if there are any emerging trends we might not have seen if we were too in the forest and not standing outside of it. Media has always been data-driven; it's just the immediacy and levels on which that feedback happens are now far more connected."

You Might Also Like …

While Whistle Sports is experiencing great success curating its viewers' experiences, our next company is there to help when you want to watch something, but you're faced with too many choices.
Most of the major TV Everywhere (TVE) providers use tools from Digitalsmiths to identify trends and build on user preferences. "The old Amazon model is, ‘This show is similar to these three things, so you might be interested,'" says Billy Purser, VP of marketing at Digitalsmiths. "We take into consideration what that person typically watches, on what type of device, at a particular time, then make sure it's blended into the recommendation." The number of data sources on which Digitalsmiths bases its analytics varies from 10 to a couple thousand pieces of information, including scheduling data, what's on now, what's available to a subscriber, third-party critics' ratings, popularity, type of content, mobile location, and device type.
How do you make sense of thousands of pieces of information? Digitalsmiths does multivariate A/B testing, which is testing 60, 70, or 80 variables to identify which UI, features, or promotional campaigns have the best reception. It's like A/B testing on steroids. A/B testing typically tests a single variable to determine the effect of a change to that variable. With multivariate testing, several variables can be tested together to uncover the best combinations.
This type of testing helps providers segment subscribers to ensure the right audience is receiving the best recommendations. "I think where the market is going is segmenting the appropriate audience from a promotional standpoint and being able to leverage data to drive more viewership, more engagement, [and] more revenue," says Purser. "The Holy Grail is to deliver a really personalized offering so all the recommendations are unique to the person or the group that's in the room."

Measurement as a Platform?

Moving from the TVE world to the other end of the spectrum brings us back to Tubular. Tubular publishes daily rankings of content on the top advertiser-supported video platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Vine, AOL, Yahoo, and Twitter. Tubular has about 120 enterprise subscribers, and it offers a free version.

Tubular publishes daily rankings of content on the top ad-supported video platforms.
"People use data for content strategy, for sales support, for media planning, for executive reporting, for identifying influencers," says Allison Stern, co-founder and VP of marketing at Tubular. "There are a lot of different ways to use that intelligence layer, but it all [goes] back to being data-driven and using data to inform your content, promotion, and distribution decisions."
Tubular's data enables companies to track their own or competitors' content and see what is trending by views and engagement metrics. "If you are Scripps and you're tracking food content, you can have a dashboard that shows you what are the trends in food, what food videos are taking off on what platforms," says Stern. "It can [answer the question], ‘How is Tasty doing?' Or, ‘How is TipHero or Tastemade or all these other food channels doing in comparison to your food channels?' You can get a feel for how engaging your content is benchmarked across the universe."

Tubular also offers enterprise subscribers insights into how videos from particular creators are performing
Ranking results gives publishers an idea of best practices they should follow to see, for instance, what production style drives higher engagements. "For food videos right now, there's a lot of stop motion that makes the recipe in 10 different steps where it's pictures of the food, not of the person making it. In news, there are videos that have a lot of text because in Facebook the sound is off."

Driving Revenue From Data

The takeaway from the experts varies according to the business model, but there are three keys to making data drive revenue: Understand what the high value questions are, monitor the data that gives you answers, and gather insight and identify how to respond. Everyone wants higher engagement rates with their content, whether they are ad-supported or subscription-based. Some media companies need their data to tell them when to deliver and market new content, while others look at their content's engagement levels to see exactly what resonates with the audience. In each example, the experts tested what they were doing and tracked whether their ideas resonated or were something they should revise.
While our data trail ends here, the world of Big Data is only just beginning to impact video. Content creators and publishers need to find ways to integrate it into their businesses. "People who are analyzing data and are making decisions based off of it have one skill set, but that's not the skill set of a typical video creator or producer at a major media company," says Stern. "To me, that seems like a big challenge that people are facing. It's a misalignment of skills."
Does this mean video producers now need to become more adept in analytics? Will we see data analysts more involved in production? The solution may vary from publisher to publisher, but few other types of businesses have the ability to have an intimate conversation with each and every customer and then meticulously comb through the conversation to see how to find incremental value and improve the bottom line.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Why TV Is Going to the Apps
How cable operators are transforming the TV experience through apps

Dish Network's Dish Anywhere app offers subscribers access to live, on-demand and downloadable content choices.
Digital apps, born on mobile phones and nurtured by a nation of finger-tapping millennials, are about to change TV.

The data-packed buttons that dominate the first screens of most smartphones and tablets are about to comprehensively change the way most Americans access video entertainment.

That transformation is already happening, as cable, telco and satellite operators move to consolidate functionalities into their main apps. Eventually, with the proliferation of smart TVs, they’ll look to deliver their entire TV and Internet product suite through their own app, virtually eliminating the need for set-top boxes.

That could be a sea change for the business, as cable operators spend billions of dollars per year on new set-tops and box maintenance. But it’s a shift that could take several years as the cable network moves toward Internet protocol-based technologies.

The key is the set-top box, and the timing of its demise. Big operators like Comcast, with its X1 platform set-tops, and Charter Communications, with its WorldBox technology, are rolling out new set-top equipment that should at least have a multi-year lifespan.

Over the long term, though, the industry wants to move in an IP direction. Accelerating that evolution is the Federal Communications Commission’s move to bring more competition to the set-top industry by “unlocking” the cable box.

Since the FCC unveiled its plans to make the set-top market more competitive, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has countered with its “ditch the box” initiative, an apps-based approach that would make cable content searchable beside over-the-top offerings while protecting copyright, advertising, and contractual arrangements with programmers.

Earlier this month, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said his final ruling will likely include suggestions from the cable industry. Operators have flirted with an app-based content delivery for the past few years, starting with Time Warner Cable’s IP trial in New York City with Roku in October 2015.

In April, Comcast announced its Xfinity TV Partner Program, which would extend a bridge to retail devices and enable subscribers to access their pay TV service, including live TV, VOD and cloud DVR recordings. At the same time, Comcast announced a deal with Roku that will bring its authenticated Xfinity TV partner app to Roku streaming players and integrated TVs.

Earlier this month, smaller operators got in on the app act, with tiny Mississippi-based wireless company C Spire announcing that it would make all of its video services available via apps, doing away with traditional set-tops later this year.

The C Spire service would target a wide range of platforms, including Roku players, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and iOS- and Android-based devices, as well as select smart TVs.

Teaming up with Mobi TV, C Spire will begin beta testing the service in November, featuring a full linear TV lineup including local broadcast stations, video-on-demand service, DVRs and a seven-day catch-up service.

For cable operators, apps have evolved significantly since they first came on the scene — essentially as a way for customers to use their smartphones as another TV remote. Today, they have become an integral part of the TV experience, offering not only another way to access programming in and out of the home, but a portal to help resolve customer service issues, change the levels of service and perform functions like programming DVRs.

Altice USA executive vice president and chief marketing officer Matt Lake has been deeply involved in app development since the MSO’s predecessor, Cablevision Systems, first introduced the Optimum apps in 2011. Since that time, Optimum has added customer- service apps (Optimum Support) and an app to help subscribers find the more than 1.5 million WiFi hotspots located throughout its New York metro area service territory.

“The objective is to make this as easy for customers as possible,” Lake said. “In the world of connectivity, it’s about simplifying complexity. What we’ve found is if there are particular needs for a customer out there, an app can potentially solve that.”

Lake said about 2 million customers have downloaded its Optimum TV, Optimum Support and Optimum WiFi apps since the TV app was first introduced in 2011. Today, on average, customers use at least one of the apps 45 times per month. Customers use the app for everything from watching TV — mostly in-home on different devices — to setting up service appointments and troubleshooting service glitches.

Eventually, the intention is to integrate all of those functions and more into a single app, but Altice USA is likely to take a wait-and-see stance regarding set-top replacement.

Instead, Altice USA sees apps as a means to improve the overall customer experience and to make the company stand out in what is an increasingly competitive environment.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we have a differentiating experience for our customers and separate ourselves from the competition that is out there,” Lake said. “That’s how we tend to look our development efforts and where we put our investment in terms of the different technologies we pursue.”

But apps aren’t necessarily foolproof. According to The Diffusion Group senior adviser Joel Espelien, there is a hidden danger for distributors that opt to replace set-tops with apps.

“Where this creates pressure for distributors is they will have a hard time encompassing everything into a single app they control,” Espelien said. “MVPDs can ditch the set-top box and create an app that is a virtual set-top box; that is definitely doable. The problem is the consumer has already moved beyond that.

“The MVPD can get rid of the box and get rid of the user experience all together. Then it becomes a billing relationship.”

Espelien added that he sees the app replacement as more of an experimental move, perhaps as an alternative for set-tops that have reached the end of their useful life.

“To do it across the board, I don’t think customers will be with it,” Espelien said. “They will face choices down the road and continue to let set-top boxes age in place.”

Still, other operators are willing to take that risk.

“Unlock the box” is pushing Cox Communications toward more of an app-only environment, executive vice president of product development and management Steve Necessary said. The Atlanta-based MSO has introduced Contour Flex, a skinny-bundle service that can only be accessed on a mobile device via a specific app. Contour Flex began rolling out in July and is available in the majority of Cox markets, he said.

Cox is “absolutely” behind NCTA’s “ditch the box” initiative, Necessary said, and it’s looking closely at Comcast’s move earlier this year to make its X1 platform available through Roku boxes.

“We are very interested in following that activity,” he said.

“Ditch the box” calls for a single HTML5-based app to deliver service — a simple, one-time approach that has been a long time in coming, according to Necessary.

“From a Cox perspective, it’s never been a question of do we want to have apps and deliver our content more ubiquitously — we always did,” he said. “But what was historically one of the very painful realities is that every one of those apps needed to be different.

“When you started to look at the plethora of smart TVs, the wide variety of OTT-connected devices and game consoles [and] the burden that put on companies like Cox to continue to develop these apps and keep them up to date, you rendered them unfeasible,” he said. “Part of the beauty of this [NCTA] approach, is it’s basically one app. You comply with the specifications of the HTML5 spec and it’ll run. That’s a beautiful thing.”

The Contour app “bears a striking resemblance” to Comcast’s Xfinity app, Necessary said — Cox is licensing the X1 platform for Contour — and represents a “step up” for Cox customers.

“It links the customer to the full Title VI service; it’s the full megillah,” Necessary said. There’s one execption, though: Customers are not allowed to purchase transactional video-on-demand movies or shows through the Contour app.

That’s because Apple requires a “pretty steep” fee for any such purchase made through an iOS app, Necessary said. While the same doesn’t hold true for Android, Cox disabled that feature on the Android app to lessen confusion.

“We didn’t want customers to have a different experience based on the platform,” Necessary said.

But Necessary doesn’t see set-tops disappearing anytime soon. That makes sense, as Comcast and Charter are investing large sums in their respective new box platforms — Comcast has said it expects X1 to achieve 50% penetration of its 22 million customers by the end of the year and rolled out 855,000 X1 boxes in Q2 alone. That investment wouldn’t be abandoned immediately, even in the face of onerous regulations.

“It won’t be abrupt,” Necessary said. “If it necessitates buying a new TV in order for that app to work, TVs have a life cycle. What we would expect to see is a gradual erosion of the market. It’s going to take a while before the market is materially affected.”

That could take as long as five years, Necessary said. In its ditch the box proposal, the NCTA estimated it would take at least two years for new technology to be implemented.

While there is a movement to consolidate entertainment and service apps into a one-stop shop for consumers, Necessary said that is not the path Cox plans to take. In Cox’s research, service and entertainment rarely overlap, he said.

“We have consciously said it’s two different experiences; we’ll have two different apps,” Necessary said. “That’s the logic behind it.”

Dish Network director of advanced video products Mitch Weinraub said he too prefers to keep entertainment and service functions separate. The satellite- TV service provider offers the Dish Anywhere app for content and the website for customer service issues.

“That’s to not get in their way when what they really want to do is watch content,” Weinraub said. “The right place to do things like upgrades and downgrades is probably on the set-top box. Why bring in another device, log into another service, go through another path?

“Going forward, we believe there is a right answer there, and that is to let the customer adjust their content where they consume their content.”

With Cox Connect, customers can access the typical customer-service functions: They can upgrade or downgrade service levels, schedule appointments and track technicians. Earlier this month, Cox added a My WiFi feature to the app that helps customers find WiFi hotspots in their area.

About two-thirds of Cox’s customer base accesses at least one of those service capabilities via the Web or the app each month, Necessary said.

“It tells you about the appetite for having digital interactions from a service and support perspective,” he added.

Earlier this month, Cox added another feature to the support app — My WiFi — that gives customers insights into their WiFi service including performance metrics, signal strength and SSID numbers.

“An ever-increasing number of our customers would rather interact mobile-first rather than call or stop by one of our stores,” Necessary said. “It’s just a lot easier.”

It also adds significantly to an operator’s customer service reputation. In the past three years, Necessary said, Cox has seen about a 15-point swing in its Net Promoter scores associated with the digital service.

“It’s a pretty telling measure,” Necessary said. Apps “are one more way to serve your customer in the way they want to be served.”

But there is a cost involved in switching to app-based delivery, mainly in converting plant to IP. That’s something the larger cable operators are already doing to an extent, but it presents a roadblock to smaller operators.

The National Cable Television Cooperative, a programming and equipment-buying group for small cable companies, has been trying to assist in IP conversion and is encouraging eff orts to move towards apps.

NCTC president and CEO Rich Fickle said the organization has been very supportive of members’ app endeavors, and has also started initiatives to help them move to an IP-based infrastructure, another building block in moving toward delivering content via apps.

“OTT and TV Everywhere apps are through the startup phase and appear to be working well for certain devices and content, [but] apps for mainstream TV viewing including highly watched linear are still challenged and may not be ready for the most highly viewed channels on TV in scale but it will eventually happen,” Fickle said.

The main roadblocks, he said, include network loading/quality-of-service management, variations in device processing and memory capabilities, provisioning of localized content alongside national content and variations in supported security and encoding technologies. In the meantime, Fickle said, some set-top boxes might still be needed for a period for many consumers that watch popular content on large screens.

The NCTC continues to be supportive of more innovation in this area. It is encouraging companies to work with the co-op to unlock new benefits such as a seamless multiscreen experience; advanced advertising; near real- time feedback on user experience, features and content; the ability to quickly test new features and content; and flexible packaging based on local viewership data, Fickle said.

But for many smaller operators, apps are more of a vehicle to drive better customer service than deliver content. While many small cable companies have developed their own video content apps, several are opting to leave the entertainment side to TiVo, which agreed to be purchased by Roku box maker Rovi in April for $1.1 billion. TiVo’s app offers a robust feature set including VOD, DVR programmability, and live TV viewing through its own authenticated TiVo app.

At least for now, Mediacom Communications’s app focus will be on customer service, senior vice president, customer service and financial operations Tapan Dandnaik said.

About 288,000 Mediacom customers, or around 20% of its subscriber base, have downloaded Mediacom Connect, the mid-sized operator’s customer service app. For content, Mediacom uses the TiVo app, Dandnaik said.

Mediacom Connect currently allows customers to manage their account, pay their bill and troubleshoot service issues, but the operator has big plans for the app in the near future. It plans to allow customers to track their technician’s location before a service call in the manner of the Uber car-hailing app, and to allow a CSR to activate the camera on a customer’s smartphone to take photos of a problem or engage in a video chat with subscribers to walk them through a solution.

Dandnaik said that while app-based delivery of content is an interesting concept, for some the added cost of converting to an IP-based network isn’t worth the trouble today.

“It all comes down to what is preferred by the customer,” Dandnaik said. “Older customers prefer watching TV traditionally, passively and on a TV screen. Younger viewers are looking at stuff on demand, they watch shows on the go. Anyone can see using apps is more for younger customers. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

For other providers, the set-top is an integral part of the app viewing experience. For satellite-TV providers, some type of receiver is needed to accept signals from the dish. But that hasn’t hampered mobility.

AT&T’s DirecTV is planning to launch an OTT service, dubbed DirecTV Now, later this year. For Dish Network subscribers, the promise of a fully mobile TV package is reality through its Dish Anywhere app and its Slingbox-enabled Hopper 2 or Hopper 3 set-tops. Using the Slingbox that is integrated into the set-top, Dish Anywhere customers can access live and on-demand content and can download shows for later consumption.

Unlike other MVPDs that are constrained by rights issues, Dish customers using the Slingbox can access any and all the content they pay for anywhere they can get a wireless signal, as long as their home set-top is powered up.

Weinraub, who runs the team that manages Dish Anywhere, wouldn’t say how many customers have downloaded the app or use it regularly, but he said it is growing in popularity.

“The reason it is growing is that we have more and more customers with those boxes that are capable of doing that with the Hopper 2 and the Hopper 3,” Weinraub said. “As that audience grows, obviously, there are more people that can take full advantage of the unique capabilities that Dish has.

“As they start to understand it, they may download the app to a device and use it for a specific purpose and then they will realize what they have access to,” he said. “Then they become very regular users.”

Calculate the Life Time Value (LTV) of Your App Users for Massive Branding & Success [Infographic]
Customer Lifetime Value (of a user) often abbreviated as (LTV) is a vital metric that helps you calculate the probability of the success of an app over time.
LTV is an indicator of the real value of the client over time. It measures what your business stands to gain from a customer in terms of profit or loss from the time they sign up, to the time of termination of the relationship. Having LTV metrics means that businesses understand their best clients better and can set realistic budgets, revenue and growth expectations for their app development.
With this in mind, Dot Com Infoway, one of the industry leaders in the mobile app marketing vertical, has come up with recommendations and strategies that app developers can use to measure and take advantage of LTV metrics in order grow their app base and subsequently, increase their profits .
Why is this metric getting so much hype?
With more apps flooding the Android, and iOS platforms, the competition has never been stiffer. The app that will stand the test of time and prove successful and profitable is one that strategizes for long-term success through measuring and improving LTV.
While there has been an exponential growth in mobile apps, as in all things, the Pareto Principle applies to mobile apps. Measuring LTV helps developers to formulate and focus marketing plans and budgets on highly profitable clients (20%) that offer a better ROI rather than the low-value customers (80%).
How to Leverage the power of LTV
The first step in the development of an effective marketing strategy is the accurate measurement of LTV. Once you have the metrics, you can focus on enhancing customer value through the development of Internet marketing strategies which target low-value users for higher ratings, and retain high-value users for better ROI.
DCI, one of the world’s top digital marketing companies, has conducted extensive research on this trend and has presented its findings in an infographic that helps developers understand LTV – the single most important metric that determines the success of an app.
life time value of app users

[INFOGRAPHIC] Overcoming email marketing automation challenges
Around 58% of companies are yet to embrace marketing automation, according to a 2015 study by Ascend2. So whether it’s lack of budget, time constraints or convoluted internal sign-off processes that are preventing your business from taking the plunge, this infographic will help you to overcome the challenges of adopting automation within your business.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Snapchat is about to introduce something advertisers have been wanting for ages: behavioral targeting
Snapchat is planning to introduce behavioral targeting for advertisers, the company's director of revenue operations Clement Xue revealed in an eMarketer report published earlier this week.
Xue said the company was working towards rolling out behavioral targeting capabilities in the third quarter of 2016, according to the "Snapchat Advertising" report.
Snapchat declined to comment.
Business Insider understands that Snapchat will, at this stage, only be using behavioral data from users' activity in the app.
What that means is if users were heavy consumers of basketball content, for example — perhaps following an NBA Snapchat account or consuming lots of content on the ESPN Discover channel — advertisers could target them around categories such as "sports" or "basketball."

The fine line between "targeted" and "creepy"

Snapchat won't, at this stage at least, be using data from web browsing behavior that takes place outside of the app in order to serve targeted ads.
There is a possibility that could come later. Last month Snapchat introduced its first "log in with Snapchat" button inside the Bitmoji Keyboard app the company quietly acquired earlier this year. The button lets people sign in with their existing Snapchat credentials, rather than having to create a separate Bitmoji account.
Snapchat Bitmoji
Snapchat's Bitmoji feature. Snapchat
Snapchat's button looks similar to the now-ubiquitous "log in with Facebook" or "log in with Google" buttons you see elsewhere on the web. They act as universal login systems for users and also allow these platforms to track your browsing behavior in order to serve you targeted ads and measure ad performance. For instance, Facebook can tell if you looked at a product on an ecommerce site and can use that information to serve you an ad for that product when you go on to browse your news feed later.
Snapchat also rolled out its first advertising API (application programming interface) in July, which allows advertisers to buy, optimize, and analyze their Snapchat ad campaigns through third-party companies.
EMarketer spoke to a number of Snapchat's partners who suggested the company might be looking to launch more sophisticated targeting options soon, via the API — not least as several of the firms specialize in cross-channel and cross-device audience matching and targeting.
Johnny Horgan, vice president of global partnerships at marketing technology company Amobee, said in the report: “We are an API partner with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, and we have direct integrations with 850 websites. We have access to a lot of data and are hoping to be able to leverage that to activate media through Snapchat. That’s something that will come down the line, and we’re excited about it.”
However, Snapchat's CEO Evan Spiegel has long advocated against "creepy" ads that track users as they traverse around the internet.
Snapchat's Privacy Center also states: "We want you to feel understood. We want to understand what’s relevant to you and your life, and we want to show you things that you’ll care about. At the same time, we don’t want to serve ads that are so custom-tailored that they feel invasive or uncomfortable."
So retargeting — the advertising industry word to describe the method used by Facebook above — seems highly unlikely for now. It looks as though any behavioral targeting will be limited to broad categories, rather than serving ads based on very specific interactions you have made inside the app.
Nevertheless, advertisers are likely to cheer the news. One of the biggest criticisms about Snapchat from the advertising community is that it doesn't offer the kind of sophisticated targeting and measurement options that they can get from the likes of Facebook or Google.
Snapchat — which only began selling ads in late 2014 — has made leaps of progress in this area, though, increasing its targeting options to six types and signing more than 10 ad measurement partnerships.
Jed Hallam, head of digital strategy at global media agency Mindshare, told Business Insider: "[Snapchat introducing behavioral targeting will] be great for advertisers. There are two developments that would significantly improve the advertiser experience in Snapchat: behavioral targeting and the ability to segment audiences by ID — email, mobile, etc. Snapchat has always remained very loyal to user needs, and so even if those two got introduced, I'd imagine it would be done in a very sensitive way and not in a particularly creepy way."
These are all the advertising targeting options Snapchat currently offers:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Device/operating system
  • Mobile carrier
  • Content affinity (placing ads in the Discover channel that are appropriate for the type of content they are sitting next to)
The eMarketer report also predicts Snapchat will increase its userbase to 217 million by the end of 2017, up from 150 million in 2016.

Mobile marketing and augmented reality

A few years ago, if you weren’t on the web, you were behind the times. Today, if you’re not mobile, you’re potentially losing customers. But not every small business has the resources to develop their own mobile app, let alone an app that has location information about potential customers.
Augmented reality has become quite a revelation among gamers and is drawing huge interest from corporate sponsors since the release of Pokémon Go in early July. While Pokémon Go may be the new craze, augmented reality games and apps have been around for a while. “There’s an app for that!” There is an augmented reality app that lets you see how your hair would look if it was a different color; there are apps to take virtual tours of real estate, and there is even an app that uses your phone’s camera to identify stars in the night sky.
Though there have certainly been some naysayers in the last few weeks, what is different with Pokémon Go is that gamers are no longer just sitting at home in front of their computers. The unique quality of this game is that its maker, Niantic Inc., has incorporated the use of the GPS locator in your mobile device (which essentially operates on a platform like Google Maps) so the augmented reality digital overlay requires that players move around, which presents a huge marketing opportunity. This is not Niantic’s first try at an augmented reality game. They also developed the Google Play Awards’ Top Game, Ingress, in 2012 using the same technology. But with Pokémon Go, they hit on a feeling of childhood nostalgia for millions. While Pokémon Go has yet to prove itself as more than a fad, the technology supporting the popular game will only get better as it evolves and becomes more immersive. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we will see from future augmented reality apps.
What this really means for marketers is potential sales. If you’re one of those with a “No Pokémon here!” sign, you don’t get it!  No other augmented reality game gets people by the thousands out in front of hundreds of potential retailers and in other public spaces. According to Forbes, more women (63 percent) than men (37 percent) are playing the game. The 18-29 age group is the largest demographic (43 percent), but a significant number of players are in all age brackets between 13 and 50 - a prime target for retailers. It’s a game you can play, your kids can play, your parents and even your grandparents can play.
Pokémon Go became the top-grossing mobile app only one day after its launch and makes money through microtransactions on in-app purchases. Some of the GameStop stores that are Pokéstops or Gyms saw a 100 percent increase in sales by the second weekend the game was out. Already, McDonald’s has partnered with Niantic to make 3,000 locations in Japan into Pokémon Go Gyms. In-game sponsorships, locational signs and sponsored items in the shop are likely ways larger companies will take advantage of consumer awareness and branded marketing opportunities moving forward.
A small company here in Springfield is not likely to enter into a sponsorship deal, but there are still marketing opportunities in these virtual worlds. Initially, Niantic had a request form for Pokéstops, but it seems they are no longer taking those requests. Keep an eye out for changes in this policy and be aware of opportunities when new augmented reality games come on the market — especially those involving mapping.
There may be Pokéstops near you already. Some retailers are using the in-game Lure Modules to attract not only Pokémon, but other game players to their locations. It is interesting to see how a Pokéstop can create awareness and traffic at local locations such as the Aviary, Ebbet’s Field or the 1984 Arcade downtown. Park Central Square has been an extremely popular location for the game. The “Fill the Square” event, by some estimates, drew 3,000 gamers downtown in one evening. Several restaurants and retailers were offering discounts and specials based on the number of Pokémon caught and a player's level on the game.  As they further develop game updates, there may be additional opportunities for smaller companies to imprint their digital image on the game’s augmented map.

Mobile advertising market set to grow according to research
iphone Mobile advertising market set to grow according to research
Two new reports explore the mobile advertising market, revealing it's strong growth prospects for the upcoming years.
It's estimated that two-thirds of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, according to a survey conducted by Pew. Smartphones have affected nearly every aspect of our daily lives, keeping us connected at all times. With the increased usage of smartphones, however, comes a growing market for mobile advertising. Companies are leveraging the power of mobile to promote their products and services to specific groups of users.
When you browse the Internet or run an app on a smartphone, you may see one or more advertisements. There are many companies out there who specialize in creating and offering these mobile-friendly advertisements -- and for good reason: statistics show that more people now access the Internet on smartphones and tablets than traditional desktop computers. Therefore, business owners should display ads on mobile devices to reach a larger audience and generate more sales.
According to the Global Mobile Ad Spending Market 2016-2020 report by RNR Market Research, the global mobile advertising spending market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6% through 2020. The report's authors say search ads, display ads, and SMS advertising are the leading forms of mobile marketing. And among the leading adopters of mobile marketing include retail businesses, financial service providers, and drug companies. Within this report, you'll find professionally researched and written information about the market's definitions, classifications, chain structure, cost and revenue, and more.
Some of the key vendors profiled in this report include AdMob, Chartboost, Flurry, InMobi, Millennial Media, and MoPub, AppNexus, Byyd, Convertro, Criteo, Fiksu, iAd, Kiip, Matomy Media, Mobile Network, MobPartner, Tapjoy, PubMatic, RevMob Mobile Ad Network, and RockYou.
The 2021 Market Research Report on Global Mobile Advertising Sales report by Deep Research Reports is a second comprehensive report detailing the global mobile advertising market. Much like the first report, it explores the mobile advertising market from all angles, revealing insight into both current and future scenarios. It also explores the global mobile advertising market's development policies and plans, cost structure, import/export consumption, supply and demand, cost, price, revenue, gross margins and more.
So, what's in store for the future of the global mobile advertising market? You'll have to check out these reports for professional forecasts. However, it's safe to assume the market will continue to grow in the months and years to come. As more people ditch their desktop computers in favor of mobile devices, the mobile ad market will grow and expand.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Apple may be building a Snapchat-like video app

After a failed attempt to go social with Ping in 2010, Apple may have a renewed sense of excitement over the social space, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Sources told Bloomberg that Apple is working on a video recording/editing app that would be similar in functionality to Snapchat, though there’s no mention of disappearing or self-destructing content in the report. Instead, the app is supposed to be easy to use with one hand for video recording, and users will be able to swipe between various filters or add drawings.
The main goal is that users will be able to create and edit videos within a minute.
One of the filters is said to be an Instagram-sized square, instead of the native rectangle on the iPhone, though Apple’s camera software already has that functionality built in. So…?
The ultimate hope is that people would use the app, which is being built by the same folks who built iMovie and Final Cut Pro, to create the content to share with other social networks.
Bloomberg reports that Apple is not clear-cut on when (or even if) this app will launch, or whether or not it will live as part of iOS or as its own standalone app.
For the first time in a long time, Apple’s iPhone isn’t shattering sales expectations quarter after quarter, so an enhanced focus on services business makes sense. However, you’d expect Apple to double down on existing, and potentially quite lucrative, businesses like Apple Pay, Music, and iTunes rather than diving into social, where so much land has already been claimed in the name of Facebook and Snapchat.
Then again, this report could be about a content creation app that complements social networks, as opposed to being its own full-fledged social network like the now-deceased Google Plus.
Or… this report could be about nothing. Apple is highly secretive, and it wouldn’t be the first time someone floated a rumor that never came to be.
We’ll have to wait, likely much longer than we’ll be waiting to see the next iPhone, to find out the truth.

Pizza Hut digital leader Baron Concors talks mobile strategy, best practices
To understand how mobile is impacting the retail experience one just needs to observe the cash register checkout line. No longer are shoppers grabbing magazines to peruse while waiting. They’ve got the smartphone in hand and are busy doing everything from checking messaging and social network apps to price checking one last time before the purchase transaction.
That’s why, says Baron Concors, the "focus on mobile is a focus on customer." Pizza Hut's global chief digital officer, who formerly served as CIO at Yum! Brands, believes it means retailers must turn their mindset to becoming students of human behavior.
"Humans are conditioned to pull out the phone… and now preoccupied with mobile," he said, adding the checkout line is now one of consumers having "mobile blindness."
Concors shared his insight on the state of mobile during Networld Media Group's CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit last week in Chicago. His keynote session was nearly standing room only and his presentation provided insight on mobile strategy and why Pizza Hut jumped out early with mobile technology and tools.
The main reason, he explained, is that today’s consumers want it.
"There are rapidly changing expectations, consumers want it easy, right now," he said, adding that experience is wanted from paying to dealing with customer service.
"Consumers have become conditioned to this level of service," he added, noting "there has never been an easier time to be a customer and never been a harder time to be a business."
The goal for retailers and restaurants is to become as nimble as possible and act like a start-up in regard to deploying mobile tools, he said.
"It’s about better, cheaper, faster, easier," he said, noting that consumers are also dealing with app fatigue, which for the retail segment, is a big challenge.
"Only diehard, loyalties of the brand are now downloading apps," he said.
So a good first goal is to engage with those who are using the app.
"Focus on this," he said, in a "conversational" approach. "Let your priorities be driven by data and insight. Look at the facts," he added.
During the concluding question-and-answer segment, Concors noted 50 percent of Pizza Hut’s sales are digital at this point, and 70 percent of that 50 percent are mobile device generated.
"The data shows us everything we look at is mobile and it is all we think about," he said.
In addition to engaging app users, the second focus is on attracting new app consumers and retaining them, he advised.
"You need to focus on both [mobile web and mobile app] users," he added.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

8 Hurdles Startups Face in the Way Of Mobile App Development
mobile app startup

Mobile app development has become the most crucial task, which has a direct impact on setting up of different companies as a startup, and also regarding their marketing and popularity. Of course, nobody wants an insipid and monotonous app which is identical to other apps in the market. Here I am going to present the voyage mobile app developer goes through.
In the current scenario, as a technical or nontechnical startup founder, if you are thinking about developing a mobile application think again! According to a report from WMC forum, just in October 2012, there were 43813 new apps launched in iOS app store alone i.e. 1400 new apps per day. Can you imagine where those numbers could reach if you include Android app store as well in 2016? But many of them were completely fiasco. Developing a mobile app is a herculean task. Even to reach the app store you have to cross so many hurdles.
Here are some unfeasible challenges faced by mobile app developer as a startup founder.

1. App Discovery

The fundamental aim of developing an app is to make life simple, productive and pleasant. Keeping it in mind, creating an app which gets noticed is a grueling task. There are a way more good apps than there are successful ones, and that’s because many of the good ones don’t get investment. App discovery is extremely concerned with who are your users, what type of service they are expecting, their financial background and many others factors. Make sure while choosing developer team, it must be chosen gingerly.

2. Development Approaches

Of course, the world isn’t small so the field of mobile app development. There are numerous development approaches i.e. Hybrid mobile app development (combination of native app & web app) Cross platform native app (app can be available for two or more platform like iOS, Android and even JavaScript, HTML5 etc) Platform specific native app (made for particularly one platform).
Deciding development approach will decide framework & mock-ups, UI & UX and many other imperative entities that mobile app is made of.  So user interaction is a total concern with choosing right development approach.

3. Investment Required

Once you have decided the development approach, to develop your app in real,  it requires ample amount of money (to hire the developers in case of you don’t belong to programming background). There is no one-time investment as after completion of development, to bring a new variety of features and for Iteration, adequate amount of money is necessary.

4. Device Compatibility

Our world is seemingly teeming with high-tech mobile brands. Challenges you might face are inevitable i.e. screen resolution, OS requirements, RAM and other factors and whether your app works on a smartphone or specific tablet or phablet. The main issue is choosing OS (either Android or iOS). For different OS you have to go for different SDK (software development kit), UI & UX, framework & Mock-ups and different iteration processes. Your app should run on a latest available version of particular OS as well as on an older version of similar OS. The empirical solution is to develop an app for each different platform available if you have enough investment. My personal opinion in the case of selection of OS goes for iOS, though both OS have their pros and cons.

5. Performance vs. Battery

Parameters such as an app design, UI, user interaction are important, but the main factors you should not forget are Performance & battery consumption. If you can develop a good performing, bug-free app which runs on minimum power, this challenge can be overcome. Developer team has to be specific about choosing right development tool (such as SDK) and be precise about device specifications as well.

6. Competition

Once you developed an app, you need to launch it into the app market, where as I mentioned before the gargantuan figure of apps are launched every day. As a startup, the biggest challenge is to stand out from the rest while creating an app. Even popular apps and games developers are struggling hard to make their mark.

7. ASO

ASO stands for App Store Optimization, is a process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in the search result. Just like SEO (search engine optimization for articles, images, and video content) is for websites, ASO works for mobile apps. Better your ASO, the more likely your app will reach thousands of devices. This is a most fastidious challenge that people have forgotten about. It also includes an imperative component of ‘App store rating’ & ‘App store ranking’.

8. Marketing & Promoting

Last but not least, as a startup, you should have precise knowledge about marketing and empirical way of promoting your app.  It includes PR & media plan, social & viral marketing & internationalization of app which mean the development of an app that enables easy localization for targeted audience, regions, and language.  You can put an app on the market in a weird but attractive manner that attracts consumers. There are several challenges that you will face: a crowded market, the same service provider as you, investment for promoting an app and others. To simplify marketing for you there are numerous tools like AppTamin, AppScend, MobileDevHQ, and Some other you should know about.
There are many other challenges like debugging, beta testing, prototype simulation & distribution of app to make it available in different languages. An auspicious app is about 90% marketing and 10% development (yeah you read it right 90%) but that does not mean development isn’t important.   
As a startup, developing a mobile app can be grueling yet fantastic at the same time.  Before you process for development it will be a great precaution to take a look in the market,and decide the factors that affected most during that particular period of time. Search for apps that are similar to yours read about them, whether they succeeded or failed. The combination of marketing, perfect time of the revealing product, development of most interactive app (quality product) & great development team can lead you to the doors of success.

People making content for virtual reality like Google and Facebook. But they like HTC even more.
Almost half of VR developers are building content for HTC.

If you’re building an app for a mobile phone, you have two options: iOS or Android.
If you’re building an app for virtual reality, though, you have a lot more options and a lot less clarity over which platforms will stick around for the long haul. The industry is new enough that a lot of big companies are still jockeying to become Apple's equivalent in the world of VR.
Not surprisingly, Facebook’s Oculus and Google’s VR products like Cardboard and Daydream are popular platforms for industry developers. But they aren't the most popular. That (unofficial) title goes to HTC, which recently launched its new high-end headset, the HTC Vive.
According to a new survey from the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (the same people who put on the popular Game Developers Conference each year), more than 48 percent of VR developers are building VR content for HTC compared to 43 percent for Oculus and less than 30 percent for Google Cardboard.
You may have noticed that these numbers add up to well over 100 percent. That’s because many developers are building on multiple platforms, which is the key reason why this data — while a good sign for HTC — doesn’t mean a whole lot right now. Just like how most mobile app developers build for both iOS and Android, VR developers are hedging their bets by building for multiple headsets. In fact, only 22 percent of those surveyed said their next VR title would be exclusive to any given platform.
Which is to say that while HTC is the popular pick right now, and worth keeping in mind when deciding which headset to buy for the holidays, but don’t count out Google, Facebook or Sony just yet.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Facebook Is Letting Brands Build Slideshow Ads Right From Their Mobile Phones
Upgrades Tools for Ads on-the-Go
On Facebook, slideshow ads are getting easier to build for mobile marketers.
On Tuesday, the social network launched tools for creating these moving-image ads, including the ability for marketers to create them right from their mobile Facebook pages. Slideshows are basically video ads, but use still images to string together a story.
Facebook launched slideshow ads last year, but the company just upgraded them with the creation tool directly from the mobile app. New features allow advertisers to add text and music. There's also a way to automatically convert a video into a slideshow.
"Mobile creation of advertising is a trend we see continuing," said Graham Mudd, ad product marketing lead at Facebook.
Facebook is just one of a number of platforms making it so marketers control campaigns on-the-go, mostly through apps. Of Facebook's more than 3 million advertisers, 40% have built ads on mobile devices, the company said. Also, 85% of marketers are using mobile devices to manage their Facebook business pages.
As for slideshow ads, those are mostly meant for small business and international advertisers, Mr. Mudd said.
"The thinking here is that there are quite a few markets in which video doesn't work well," Mr. Mudd said, meaning the communication networks and devices handle lower data speeds.
The slideshows use five times less data, according to Facebook.
Marketers like Corinna Graham, manager of content marketing and social media at the Boston Museum of Science, are crafting more and more campaigns on mobile devices.
"I boost posts from my phone all the time," Ms. Graham said. "And any content we're building on Facebook I assume people will be seeing it on mobile."
The museum's Facebook traffic is 72% mobile. The Museum of Science has played around with slideshow posts already, among other newer formats like 360 video.
Slideshows can generate 5,000 to 8,000 views by just using $15 to promote them, Ms. Graham said.
The format has been embraced by some international advertisers because they are multimedia that can play on slower networks, Mr. Mudd said.
"We've found that more than 50% of advertisers who use slideshow for the first time have never done video advertising," Mr. Mudd said. "This makes it easier to use for advertisers that don't have video assets."
The brands can use their own images and draw from Facebook's stock photo library to build the slideshows. A Spanish fabrics company called Brava said that consumers who viewed its slideshow ads were 35% more likely to buy its products than people who had not seen them, according to Facebook's announcement of the new slideshow tools.
Slideshows are becoming a familiar format on Facebook. They start automatically like videos posted by users. The slideshows typically play with the sound off, which is why marketers and publishers are using text in these posts.
"Text is a powerful way to drive engagement and attention from consumers," Mr. Mudd said.

Cashing In on Mobility: Real Money in Advertising, Content

While most UC&C vendors have stumbled through the money-losing boondoggle of mobilizing UC, a few have caught on to where the real money is to be made.
Those of us who work in enterprise networking are imbued with practicality. We make things work, we organize complex implementations, we have backup and recovery plans, we test them (well, sometimes), we optimize our configurations -- we get the job done. So, when UC&C came along, we naturally focused on developing reliable ways of extending those marvelous capabilities to mobile devices.
In so doing, we used the mobile network's data capability as an out-of-band signaling channel that would scoot business calls from the mobile network, through the UC or IP-PBX platform, and on to their destinations with a jim-dandy mobile app. However, nobody used the apps, none of the vendors made any money, and we all moved on.
Worst Case Comes Calling
The consumer mobile business follows a completely different, and what has turned out to be, a far more lucrative model. The focus there is on discovering either useful things for helping people accomplish practical tasks and keep in touch or totally goofy things people use to entertain themselves (Pokemon Go, anyone?). The best part is, you can get almost any of these apps without risk because the vendors are giving them away for free.
This model brought to fruition the mobile operators' dreaded worst-case scenario: As the use case changed from voice calling convenience to text-, data-, and GPS-driven environments, the mobile network would become the dumb pipe for someone else's highly profitable service. Of course that is exactly what has happened, and along the way consumer electronics has launched into the new millennium and we've seen delivery of services and capabilities that I for one would never have imagined possible (not to mention the making of countless creative geeks into multi-millionaires).
Of course calling these services "free" is a misnomer; these new-generation tech companies have found a way to monetize the value of exposure in our consumer-driven economy. In a nutshell, the new mobile entrepreneurs borrowed a script from broadcast TV. Give people great entertainment (I'm talking Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, and Carol Burnett, not "Naked and Afraid") for free, but make them sit through about eight minutes of advertising during a 30-minute program. Survival in a mass market environment required exposure, so advertisers underwrote the entire broadcast TV enterprise, which fortunately included a great news division.

Digital Ads Where You Live
The Internet took that "pay for eyeballs" model to a new level by increasing the accuracy of targeted messaging by orders of magnitude. An entire science grew up around how best to analyze a person's Web activity to determine what he or she is interested in buying. Compare that to the blunderbuss approach of national advertising on broadcast TV. Marketers recognized the advantage immediately, and started shifting their ad spends from broadcast to digital. Now marketing research firm eMarketer predicts digital ad spending will surpass TV in 2017.
In the U.S. alone, digital ads raked in roughly $60 billion in 2015, a 20.4% increase over the previous year, and mobile-directed advertising increased 66%, the Interactive Advertising Board has found. Meantime, Facebook attributed 84% of its $6.2 billion in quarterly ad revenues to mobile ads; mobile ads represented 11% of ad revenues in 2012, as reported in the Wall Street Journal article, "Tech Sector's Profits Are Fueled by Mobile, Cloud." The same holds true for Google where roughly two-thirds of its $21.5 billion in quarterly ad revenue is tied to mobile ads, as WSJ reported.
While some UC&C vendors use a freemium pricing model for their new social collaboration platforms, the "give away the goods and charge for the eyeballs" idea doesn't fit their traditional business models. However, some are starting to transition to that sort of model.
Cultural Crossover
In mid-2015, AT&T acquired satellite TV provider DirecTV for $49 billion. When you add AT&T's roughly five million U-Verse customers to the DirecTV base, media and communications research firm SNL Kagen estimates that the combined 26 million subscribers makes AT&T the largest pay TV provider in the U.S., beating out Comcast by roughly four million subscribers.
While AT&T is going for content distribution, Verizon is emulating the Google model and leveraging search and Internet advertising. In 2015, Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion, but its big catch was the Yahoo! core business, which it picked up last month for $4.8 billion. Yahoo! boasts one billion visitors a month. That's still relatively small stakes in the $60 billion U.S. digital advertising market, where Google captures 39% of the revenues followed by Facebook with 15%; Yahoo! pulled in 3% of ad revenues last year.
For AT&T and Verizon, pay TV and Internet search are radically new areas of investment. Their mobile businesses are still duking it out over bundled plans, pre- versus post-paid subscribers, and "net new adds," so we will have to see if the more freewheeling spirit of these industries has any impact on the companies' traditional "telephone" cultures.
By far, the most interesting crossover comes from Microsoft and the $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn it announced in June. This one is interesting because it sticks closer to Microsoft's enterprise roots, but could potentially put the company in place to cash in on some of that advertising lucre.
The immediate, widely recognized allure is that Microsoft can turn its analytics engines loose on the biggest digital Rolodex in the world, with 450 million users worldwide (128 million of those in the U.S.), it now owns. The best part is that the users do the grunt work of keeping their own profiles up to date. Salespeople routinely do a LinkedIn search on every new prospect, but the ability to see the big picture created by applying analytics would clearly add value.
LinkedIn has been something of a laggard in terms of generating ad revenues, garnering only $454 million, or 0.7% of total ad revenues, in 2015. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can reverse its record in capitalizing on acquisitions and turn that advertising opportunity into something meaningful.
Free Trumps All
The tech economy has transitioned into a new world with the advent of advertising-sponsored services. People can get free email, news/sports/weather, directions, voice and video calls, entertainment, and instant access to virtually any piece of information almost instantaneously from devices in their pockets. In the meantime, the carriers whose services make all of that possible are engaged in a fight to zero -- delivering more and more competitive data plans while investing heavily in their networks to keep even with each other. AT&T and Verizon are now investing to get into the profitable part of that revolution.
If absorbing the business model of new-generation tech businesses is a stretch for carriers, then it's a gargantuan leap for traditional UC&C hardware suppliers. From a strategic standpoint, I look at their efforts to move to software and transition to the cloud as baby steps. I also see the new business model as one of the drivers for enterprise users gravitating toward those same consumer services -- "free is a hard price to beat," and what they're getting is pretty darn good. Fueled by the unbelievably lucrative advertising profits, new-generation tech companies can simply outspend the old-line hardware manufacturers on R&D. (Note that Apple remains a unique exception.)
For years we've tried to divide the tech business between consumer and enterprise, but the consumerization of IT is eating away at that distinction. In the end, it's all about money, and unless our traditional enterprise hardware and network suppliers can figure out how to get into the new value stream, their futures might not extend beyond the door of the wiring closet.