Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interactive Better Served With Mobile - The Convergence of TV and Web

Are you watching TV when an ad shows up and on top of the ad is a box inviting you to hit ok to receive more info on the ad? Are they intrusive or helpful? Have you reached for your remote to press the ok button? Or simply ignored?

Perhaps you prefer to interact with your TV on a different device. Through an audio signature, an app on your smartphone or tablet will connect you to the appropriate site. "It then serves up links, coupons or music downloads corresponding to what it hears on the tube through smartphone microphones." Intrusive or helpful? It seems in an app world, unless you proactively open your app, you are immune to these messages. It is your call to receive these signals. In the case where pop up boxes simply appear on your TV screen, they are not as easy to eliminate.

An innovate use of mobile ad interaction comes from Shazam. "One of the earliest users is Old Navy. The retailer's chief marketing officer, Amy Curtis-McIntyre, talked about the company's Shazam ads at Ad Age's Digital Conference this past spring. When consumers used the app to identify any of the songs heard in Old Navy spots, styling tips, deals and key looks featured in the commercial popped up." An intriguing way to interact with a brand.

For networks, working to make their programming more highly involved, interactivity can work on many levels. It can lead to more loyalty with a program, it focuses the attention span to the programming, and ultimately the ads that run with it, and it better measures who is watching. "With listening technology that loosely mimics Shazam's, ABC launched apps to serve ancillary trivia in step with the now defunct TV show "My Generation" last fall and, more recently, "Grey's Anatomy," thanks to Nielsen Media Sync technology."

This relationship of multiple devices synced together is the future of interactivity on television, not intrusive pop up ads on the TV screen. TV programming and TV advertising can actually improve thanks to the rise of mobile devices in the home. As viewers get more comfortable engaging with programming through their iPads, iPhones, and other devices, improved measurement will occur and ad revenues will rise. Internet and TV working better together.

The Barnes And Noble Makeover

Netflix moved from hard goods to soft, and Borders didn't. Netflix is growing and Borders is bankrupt. So it is now Barnes and Noble's turn to decide where it's future lies. "As reading moves ever faster from hardcovers and paperbacks to electronic gadgets, the retailer is attempting to reinvent itself as a seller of book downloads, reading devices and apps." The loss of Borders can potentially help B&N in the short run to improve it's store sales while focusing on it's next generation of products. Perhaps it is time to take notice too of the Apple Store model to help reconfigure stores to a software industry.

"Today's Barnes & Noble depends on its bookstores to introduce customers to its Nook e-readers, but its growth and future profits hinge on outfoxing and outselling deep-pocketed rivals Inc., Apple Inc. and Google Inc. on the digital-books front." And it is B&N stores that can help in that differentiation. It may require a merger with a different type of retailer, it will require a keen focus on service, and other differentiation strategies to make book lovers more loyal to the B&N model then to Amazon and others.

Like Apple stores, the B&N store is a place to gather, a place to test products, and a place to mingle with like minded customers. But once a customer buys their Nook, they need reasons to return to the store. Whether merchandising or service, adding this push and perhaps even bringing your Nook with you to the store can lead to more selling opportunities. I watch as my son brings his Nintendo DSi to Game Stops to download free characters, to look at new games and to ultimately shop. Perhaps B&N should consider an expansion into gaming as another means to bring customers into their stores. With B&N stores so large in size, they will need other merchandise to sell. Digital books don't require any space and their will be less of a need to stock large volumes of hardbound books. If not a reallocation of space, then stores may need to get physically smaller.

The loss of Borders is an opportunity for B&N to grow. There is a new generation of readers out there getting more and more comfortable with digital over physical books. B&N has taken the right direction with their Nook; their innovation needs to continue to maintain their leadership position.