marketing

Google announced yesterday the initial roll out of a new “store visits” metric for AdWords. Essentially, it is an attempt to trace conversion from an ad click to an actual store visit. According to Google:

With the holiday season upon us, it’s clear that the majority of sales for many industries still happen in person – in fact, roughly 95% of retail sales take place in physical stores.1 And online activities are influencing offline transactions more than ever, bringing together the digital and physical worlds. Thirty-two percent of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the impact that search ads have in driving visits to your physical locations, whether that’s a store, hotel, auto dealership or restaurant.

The implementation, however, leaves something to be desired. Google will establish location by conventional means, e.g. geo-fencing and Wi-Fi, and which can have an error rate of over 500 meters!

This means the store visit metric will only work for certain kinds of retailers. It won’t work for stores in dense areas or in shopping malls. It’ll only work for a Costco-like mega store that’s in the middle of nowhere by itself.

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Xbox’s Japan chief resigned recently due to lackluster sales of the Xbox One in Japan. Only 39,000 units were sold to date; 24,000 of which at launch. That’s horrible.

When it comes to console games in Japan, Microsoft needs to realize it is David not Goliath. Microsoft can’t fight Sony head-to-head, sword-to-sword in Japan. It needs to go guerilla warfare and use a slingshot.

Here’s what I would do if I was chief of Xbox Japan:

Scale back operations. Forget the huge office, the army of people, the national distribution networks. Xbox Japan should think like a start-up and go lean. This will allow them to shift resources to initiatives that actually work, instead of pouring money into hopeless battles.

Embrace the outsider identity. Position Xbox as anti-establishment. Make fun of regular Japanese people who only play regular Japanese games. Paint the Playstation 4 as conformist — you probably wear a suit and bow a lot if you have the Playstation 4. The Xbox One, on the other hand, is about being free. About giving the middle finger to the rigidity of society; basically, American values. 🙂

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There’s a great story on Wired about how several accomplished entrepreneurs are doing “start-up factories,” which really just means experimenting with ideas until something hits. Kevin Rose of Digg fame, for example, has a goal of creating one new app every three months. If the app doesn’t take off, he moves on to the next one. If it does, he doubles down on it.

This was in fact the same model that my co-founder and I started with, and feecha was our first product. feecha did see some traction early, so we doubled down. The second iteration unfortunately was a disaster — it took nearly a year to launch and it was too confusing — but that’s a post-mortem for another day. We’re already working on our next thing.

After three years of the start-up factory model, I’ve come to the conclusion that it only works for “known” entrepreneurs. I.e., entrepreneurs with a large following and friends in the media. When they make something, there’s enough initial curiosity that a sufficient number of people will try it. There will always be data to judge the product by.

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I had dinner with a friend a few months ago. He is the head of a 500-person company, and he was telling me how he wished there was an off-the-shelf mobile app they can use as an internal directory for his company, given the company was at a size where not everyone knew everyone. So that he could walk into a meeting and his phone would tell him who everyone is, what they do and how he can reach them later.

I told him Yammer was probably that product. He had never heard of Yammer. A few weeks later I followed up to see whether he had installed Yammer and he said no, he was too busy to get around to it.

The Financial Times is now reporting that Facebook is testing a Facebook at Work product. Or, basically, another Yammer; a closed social network for companies. The reason why I think it can work is the reason my friend hasn’t heard of Yammer — everyone knows Facebook and is already on it.

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Didn’t know what to write today, and then @nilanp came to save the day:

My answer to that is great design is everywhere. Lots of tech companies have great design. The problem is not everyone cares.

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Google is a smart company and Sundar Pichai is a smart man.

When Android One was first announced at Google I/O, I didn’t fully understand what the program did. New details have emerged in a BBC article, and I have to say, it’s genius.

I’ve consulted for an Indonesian company before interested in launching its own tablet. It was not an easy process. They had to meet many potential vendors in China, test an endless list of components and spend a lot of time haggling over price. Even then, prototypes were often disappointing from a price-to-performance ratio point of view. It was a huge management challenge, especially for a company whose strength is marketing and distribution.

The Android One program makes all that easy.

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Congratulations to Ashwin, Aniela and Jesus (!) for getting the three OnePlus One invites. Gentle reminder that invites have a time limit, so please place your orders before they expire. Once you get your phones, check out my nine suggestions for improving usability.

With that announcement out of the way, it just occurred to me who should adopt OnePlus’ marketing strategy: Microsoft with the Surface 3. To recap, the OnePlus One strategy is to sell flagship devices to tech geeks as a loss leader to generate hype and demand (see here for the blueprint).

I don’t think the Lumia is a good fit for this strategy as consumers won’t have an easy way to compare the value of a Lumia to an iPhone or Android, so its ability to act as a loss leader is limited. But that restriction doesn’t apply to the Surface, which competes with 300 million PCs shipped every year.

Microsoft should create a Surface 3 that is priced aggressively: one with a beastly Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, pen digitizer, Surface Pro 3 display, and a thinner and lighter profile than its predecessor.

Charge $199 for this device. With Office included.

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