Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Building Brand Evangelists Through Gamification

Gamification is most often defined as the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications. The term also suggests the process of using game thinking to solve problems and engage audiences.

The word “gamification,” much like the phrase “social media” a few years back, is being lobbed around in technology circles as the next frontier in web and mobile. Just as nearly every application, website, brand and marketer now employs social media in some capacity, so too will these entities gravitate toward game mechanics in the years ahead.

Humans are naturally competitive. We like validation of our place in the world. When society provides independent measures of our success, we can contextualize our personal achievements. We don't naturally like to see things "uncompleted" and we like to be aware of or status at all times.

Playing to win has strong appeals, regardless of the channel. Through gamification, brands are able to build loyalty amongst a community, all under the veil of playful interactions. Game mechanics are essentially a marriage of tools that measure and report statistics and those statistics are used to represent progress and justify rewards.

A recent Gartner report from April of this year suggests as much. Analysts predict that by 2015, more than 50% of organizations will gamify their innovation processes.

“By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application,” the Gartner report concludes.

The five most commonly used game mechanics, as identified by Gabe Zichermann, the author of Game-Based Marketing and the CEO of Gamification.co are as follows:
  • Points: Points are everywhere, and they’re often used in non-game apps as a way to denote achievement. Points also measure the user’s achievements in relation to others and work to keep the user motivated for the next reward or level. They can even double as action-related currency. Health Month, for instance, uses points in an interesting fashion. The site asks users to set up weekly health-related goals and stick to them for an entire month. Each person starts with 10 “life points” and the goal is to end the month with at least 1 life point. The player loses a point every time he breaks a rule, but friends can help the player “heal” and earn back points.
  • Badges: While badges have their origins in the physical world, Foursquare popularized the digital variety with its oh-so-clever set of real-life merit badges that range from easy (Newbie badges are awarded to users on their first checkin) to nearly-impossible to unlock (it takes 10 movie theater checkins to earn the Zoetrope badge).
  • Levels: Zynga uses levels to make the seemingly mundane task of tending to crops all the more enticing, and LevelUp encourages mobile users to level up and get better discounts for becoming more loyal patrons.
  • Leaderboards: Leaderboards rank users and work to motivate and encourage them to become players. Foursquare started with city-centric leaderboards, but now places the emphasis on ranking users against their friends. Earn a few points for a checkin, and Foursquare will show you which of your friends you’ve flown by on the leaderboard.
  • Challenges: These range from the simple to complex and often involve communal activity or group play. Priebatsch gamified his South by Southwest Interactive keynote with a group challenge that required all attendees to work together in rows. A proffered $10,000 donation to the National Wildlife Foundation was used to sweeten the deal.

Through gamification digital brand marketers build the kind of customer engagement that drives quality participation with brands, because it is built upon natural human desires.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Augmented Reality - Our Physical and Digital Worlds Collide

New emerging technologies are embedding digital cues, graphics, links, and interactive mediums into our physical world. While there technologies have been around for some years now, the boom in higher powered mobile consumer devices has brought about a viable marketing opportunity for brands. The possibilities are really limitless.

This new technology, called augmented reality, blurs the line between what's real and what's computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.On the spectrum between virtual reality, which creates immersive, computer-generated environments, and the real world, augmented reality is closer to the real world. Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists. Both video games and cell phones are driving the development of augmented reality. Everyone from tourists, to soldiers, to someone looking for the closest subway stop can now benefit from the ability to place computer-generated graphics in their field of vision.
Augmented reality is changing the way we view the world -- or at least the way its users see the world. Picture yourself walking or driving down the street. With augmented-reality displays, which will eventually look much like a normal pair of glasses, informative graphics will appear in your field of view, and audio will coincide with whatever you see. These enhancements will be refreshed continually to reflect the movements of your head. Similar devices and applications already exist, particularly on smartphones like the iPhone.

Brand marketers a are finding creative uses for augmented reality. The image below shows how a product on a shelf of a grocery store can display recipes based on a given item and how a candy bar can turn into an interactive game where players can post their score to the web, share their scores on Facebook, and invite others to play. Great cross between AR and Social Media to create a viral brand experience.

Examples above use the Bippar AR technology
 Video games have been entertaining us for nearly 30 years, ever since Pong was introduced to arcades in the early 1970s. Computer graphics have become much more sophisticated since then, and game graphics are pushing the barriers of photorealism. Now, researchers and engineers are pulling graphics out of your television screen or computer display and integrating them into real-world environments.

What's New in Google Analytics

We’re excited to share that the new version of Google Analytics is here. In addition to a redesigned interface that makes it even easier to explore your data, you’ll also notice some significant new features. Here are a few of our favorites.

Google Analytics Real-Time

Real-Time reporting shows you what’s happening on your site - right now! The reports are updated continuously and each pageview is reported seconds after it occurs on your site. You’ll find Real-Time reports in the ‘Home’ tab.

Multi-Channel Funnels
See which channels your customers interacted with during the 30 days prior to converting or purchasing. Conversion path data includes interactions with many media channels, including clicks from paid and organic searches, affiliates, social networks, and display ads.
Video demo & Usage guide

Mobile Reporting
More and more, visitors are using mobile devices to browse the web. Mobile reports in the new version of Google Analytics help you understand how mobile visitors are interacting with your site. You can even see which mobile devices your visitors use and optimize for those devices.

Flow Visualization
Flow Visualization is a beautifully designed and highly sophisticated tool for graphically showing how visitors navigate through your site. We've completely re-imagined and redesigned the navigation tools available in the old version of Google Analytics.

Video demo & Usage guides for Visitor Flow, Goal Flow

Over the next few weeks as Google makes Google Analytics v5 the default for all users, Google is simultaneously rolling out the report email scheduler and PDF export.

Need to check something in the old version?
We think you’ll enjoy all the features of the new version but if you need to refer to the old version, there is a safety latch.  Look in the top right corner of Google Analytics and you’ll see a link for Old Version. Switch back and forth as much as you need, but keep in mind, that the old version will only be available until early next year.

Want help adjusting to the new version?
The Google Analytics Help Center is up to date on all the step by step of how to navigate Analytics using the new version. And, there is a section of the Google Analytics Help Forum where you can ask questions and discuss the new version.

Feel free to contact Nadi Creative Branding Group or myself if you need help. We’re excited to bring all of our clients this new, state-of-the-art Google Analytics.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Google Provides Google Grants for Non-Profit Organizations

In-kind advertising for non-profit organizations

Google Grants is a unique in-kind donation program awarding free AdWords advertising to select charitable organizations. It supports organizations sharing Google's philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.

If you don’t yet have Google Grants, it's worth applying: you can receive up to $10K/month (or more) in free advertising.  And, your organization can apply for more than one grant for individual initiatives.

Here are some beginner’s tips to Google Grants:

Tip 1:  Know the rules
Google does not have a limited amount of grants to give out.  The selection process is not excessively stringent, but it does take approx 3-4 months.   To date they have approximately 4000 active grants -   To be eligible, you must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Eligible organizations include (and are not limited to) Animal rescue & conservation, Arts, Disaster & relief services, Education, Environment, Health, Science & technology, Voluntarism & community outreach, Youth advocacy & programs.

The application is very straightforward.  You’ll need to explain how you expect the Grant will contribute to your organization, describe your target audience, and write a sample Google ad.   Ads need to be mission based.  If you’re selling a product for a charity for example, you must include this mission or cause in your ad copy.

Tip 2:  Use your grant wisely
If you are a lucky recipient, Google will initially grant you $10K/month.  Google sets a default daily spend of $330/day so that you don’t spend your entire grant at once – but this daily cap can be overridden.  The maximum amount that you can bid for each keyword is $1.00.  “Keywords” are the search terms people use when searching on Google.  By selecting targeted and relevant keywords & keywords phrases, you’ll find that many ‘cost’ under this amount. 

Tip 3:  Define your audience & goals – and become a keyword ninja! 
As with any SEM paid campaign, define your target audience and your campaign goals.  What do you want to accomplish?  Obtain an email address? Obtain a donation?

Initiate your keyword list by thinking of search terms from the audience’s perspective.  Use the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find related terms, synonyms, and search phrases.  Develop multiple keyword Ad Groups: set up each group of keyword phrases to display a different relevant Ad in Google search, and direct users to a relevant landing page.  For example, you’ll probably want to direct a person who searches for “Support Oregon Parks” to a donation page.  However, you may want to direct a person who searches for “Volunteer Oregon Conservation” to a volunteer page. These are examples of different “Ad Groups.”

And there ya have it.. Get started today to power up your Google presence.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Social Media Finally Gets Real Commercial Traction

Social Media has now gained commercial traction…so it’s time to prepare your Social Media marketing strategy; to get customers talking about you and open up that essential two-way communication…

As Digital Director of a full service marketing and branding company, my job is to leverage digital assets for our clients and to bring to light the most effective and efficient way of connecting their brands to the world around us.

Of course, I'm an egghead, gadget junkie, and love playing with all of the "hot off the wire" technologies as the come down the pipe.. but without careful consideration, in 2007 I would have had all of our clients chasing MySpace and had every one of them a staking out their territory in Second Life.

So, for relevance, it's really about traction. Although it's been years now that Social Media has been transforming the way that we communicate, shop, and share our brand experiences, the numbers and staying power just have to be there. And they are in a few cases.

Obviously, one such case is Facebook. Facebook, as of this writing, has over 800 million registered users.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the world, only second to China and India.

Consumers can like, recommend, and share ideas on brands.. and WE CAN MONITOR that dialog.

Now we're talking. I can show not only qualitative, but quantitative data to our clients.

Social Media delivers the ability for both consumers and companies to build a dialogue that is meaningful to all participants and gain a genuine, long lasting connection. When used properly, it enables you to build a bond with your customers in an evocative, engaging and yes, manageable way.

If you check out some of my other posts coming on Emerging Technologies, keep in mind that these are "on the radar" and where they will land to make a real impact on relevance for our clients is yet to be seen.