Category Archives: Tech

It’s been windy and rainy in the Texas capitol, but there’s still 24,000 people huddled together for SXSWi. Day One of Interactive (for me) was about mobile marketing. Tim Reis, the head of advertising for Google, kicked it off:

Mobile marketing/advertising is now about weaving into the consumer’s device. It’s about having a conversation with the consumer. The device is used for dialogue, and marketers now have to do more than just throw banner ads out there. The real opportunity is to learn how people use their devices and interact with them to build a relationship with them.

Mobile is the signature device of the 21st century. It will also interact with the device of the 20th century: the TV. The second screen experience is where your primary focus should be for mobile advertising.

What is mobility and context? New patterns are emerging as consumers integrate multiple screens into their day. Context used to mean placing an ad next to content. Now it means where the consumer is and what they’re doing, and what mood and mode they’re in. You need electronic cigarette usa to focus on how the consumer moves across multiple screens, and their ever-changing context is.

Consumers weave seamlessly through context, doing what they do at any given moment. Devices are blurry — phones are getting larger and acting like tablets, tablets are getting smaller. The device itself is no longer important. Context is what it’s all about. We used to think about intent. Intent is a powerful signal. Combine intent and context, and you see the direction we’re going in.

Five years ago marketers thought of social, local and mobile as buckets. As new tech emerges, we tend to box them into buckets we can understand. Consumers don’t see these buckets, however.

Contextual opportunities are the essence of mobile. Consumers take their digital life with them.

Friction is also key. Eliminating friction in the process empowers your connection to your consumer (stop asking someone for their city and state when you’re also asking them for their zip code). On a phone, that friction is big. Bigger than on a laptop. Think through the friction points. Erase friction.

I picked up a Microsoft Surface RT, as I’m trying to extract myself from the Apple ecosystem. I’m discovering it’s difficult to traverse the different OSs out there, but I’m trying very hard to use an iPhone with my Google Calendar and Contacts and a Surface RT.

In fact, I thought the Surface RT would be the perfect device for South by Southwest next week. I was excited about the Surface.

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CC-BY-SA, Alexander Drachmann via Flickr

In the time that I’ve owned the RT, I’ve been nothing if not frustrated. First off, Google withdrew support for ActiveSync back on Jan 30. I didn’t realize that when setting up my accounts. The RT/Win 8 still asks if I want to sync my email, calendar and contacts. It turns out that trying to sync calendar and contacts just blows everything up. However, it can sync my many Gmail accounts – just without calendar and contacts.

In order to add the contacts, I had to add them to my Microsoft account via It was sort of a pain, but you know what? It worked. I don’t know if those contacts will sync or not.

Next I tried the calendar. That was a no-go. Since Google isn’t using Microsoft’s ActiveSync format anymore, I can’t add it. Of course, the RT still gives me the option to add a Google calendar – it just won’t work. Thanks Google.

But my real beef is with Microsoft. CalDAV is an open standard for calendars, as CardDAV is for contacts. Google does use these standards. More importantly, so does my company. I work Electronic Cigarettes for a Really Large Enterprise Company. Seriously large. We don’t use Exchange for our calendars, email, and contacts. We use open standards. For calendars, we use CalDAV.

Microsoft DOES NOT SUPPORT CalDAV (or CardDAV). This boggles my mind. A couple hours worth of researching the problem gets me nowhere other than “MS might start offering the support with no timeline”. Other suggestions include “Migrate everything to Outlook!” Well, people, it’s my Work stuff, not personal, and it’s not on Google. My office uses open standards. Migrating is not an option. There are also no third party apps to correct this. It’s simply a non-starter.

One of the great things about the Surface RT is its seeming ability to enable productivity. I don’t find my iPad productive. It is primarily an entertainment device, but never am I popping open work documents on it. But I can, at least, open my work calendar and contacts. With the Surface, I looked forward to making notations in PowerPoint or whipping out Word docs in locations where I didn’t want to lug a PC. But if I can’t even access my work calendar or contacts, that changes everything.

Microsoft, I think you’ve got a great product and your one-OS-across-devices is a great strategy. However issues like this – not supporting an open standard such as CalDAV – will hinder your ability to thrive in both consumer markets (almost everyone has a Google calendar) and the enterprise. Many of us are looking for one device that allows us entry into both worlds.

I hate to say it, but as soon as I return from SxSW, I’m returning the Surface. Sorry Microsoft!

Ah, Facebook. No other company so exemplifies the adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Back in May, Facebook rolled out an option to promote your own posts for around $7 or so, depending on geographic area and reach. I can see the point of this – if you’re raising money for a charity or have a lost puppy, you want more people to see that post. Of course, you can also use it to promote your more inane posts, such as “Decided to buy a different brand of toothpaste” or some such thing.

Now Facebook is upping the ante. According to TechCrunch, soon you’ll be able to pay to promote your friends’ posts, and you don’t even need their permission. Once again, this is great for the well meaning amongst us. If Joe is running in a marathon to raise money for cancer, I can promote his post to help support and publicize his cause to a larger number of people (his friends + possibly my friends). If Mary lost her puppy, I can promote that post so that possibly more people can be on the lookout for Rover.

TechCrunch cites stats that say only around 16% of people see any given status update or post on Facebook. Basically, if you’re not looking at Facebook when someone posts  a new tidbit, chances are you’ll probably miss it all together. Promoted posts push selected posts to the top, guaranteeing more people will see them.

Promoting a friend’s post will still adhere to privacy standards. Sort of. For instance, if Joe posted his marathon information to just his friends, and I promote that post, it is still see by only Joe’s friends. Hopefully just more than 16% of them.

If Mary posted that Rover was missing and the post was public, I could promote that and the post is still public – my friends, her friends, and anyone else could look at that post.

This sounds great in theory, but I can see where it could go horribly wrong. Not too long ago I wrote a private blog post. However, my blog software automatically shared it out to Facebook and Twitter, where I had to scramble to delete it (and modify those blog settings). Someone with less than good intentions at heart could have grabbed that post and promoted it. Ouch. Don’t want that to happen. Aside from that, people are cross-posting from other sites to Facebook all the time. In a lot of cases, people might not even be aware their FourSquare status is on Facebook. Maybe they don’t want that information promoted.

As far as I can tell, there’s no label on the promoted post saying “promoted by friend”, also giving the post the possibility to look rather self aggrandizing.

I’m not sure about this new feature. Hopefully it will just fall by the wayside as one of Facebook’s more risky ideas. If not, I guess we’re about to welcome in the era of promoting posts for someone else.

The days of hanging up on those pesky debt collectors may be coming to an end. Some debt collection agencies are now harnessing the power of Big Data to take a scientific approach to profiling those who are more likely to pay up, and then working with them to get the debt paid. Using analytics and applying algorithms to filter through the “water hose” of deadbeats to get to the few that are willing to pay will bring a bigger return for companies trying to recover their cash. This will nipple pokies galleries allow collectors to focus on a more positive approach as well by enabling more “self-service debt repayment” through customized re-payment plans that are workable for those who really want to pay their debts. Big Data’s promise in this space requires a new set of skills though: it’s not about being a database administrator. It’s about being able to analyze data and hash algorithms. Expect debt collectors to start hiring scientists very soon. A scientific approach to getting you to pay your past-due Visa card is the wave of the near-future.

Starting yesterday, if you have an my gift card was purchased.

Coming next, synced cardholders will be able to accept offers from merchants by tweeting the hashtag in the offer. If I get an offer from Target that digital cameras are on sale, I could simply tweet the hashtag #BuyDigitalCameraTarget, for example.

The big question is — will consumers feel comfortable making purchases this way? Will they be more inclined to make “smaller” purchases using “pay by tweet”? What are the security issues? It’s good for Twitter to team with Amex first, since their trustworthiness is high with consumers, but are their cardholders early adopter types?