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BlackSmith Communications attends "Bringing it Back: CES and SXSW" panel, Part III

8/01/2012 comments: (0)


Part III: Navigating the multi-screen digital landscape

As we find ourselves diving deeper and deeper into digital, our devices are no longer simply appendages to our lives—they are the vehicles that fuel our existence. We interact with the world through our gadgets; we live on the Internet via carefully curated profiles, abbreviated tweets, and glorified Instagram photos. Oftentimes, we enter a deeply attached and committed relationship with our devices; other times, not so much. During MITX and BIMA's "Bringing it Back" SXSW/CES panel discussion, Digital Influence Group's Steven Brennan ever so casually coined the statement, "I'm cheating on my phone with my tablet; I hope my TV doesn't find out!" In a multifaceted, multifunctional, and multi-screened digital landscape, marketers must examine consumers' ever diversifying and intensifying relationships with their gadgets.

Earlier in 2012, the InMobi Ad Network published the results of their mobile media consumption study, which featured a breakdown of the 7.2 hours of media consumed daily by the average mobile web user. Of these 7.2 hours, 140 minutes (32%) were spent online; 117 minutes (27%) on a mobile device, and 98 minutes (23%) in front of the television.  With mobile use surpassing television, 66% of consumers are more or equally comfortable with mobile advertising compared with television or online. Throw tablets and e-readers into the mix—the percentage of American adults who own these devices nearly doubled from 10% to 19% over the December 2011 holiday season!—and we are now very visibly and literally changing the face of advertising.

The contemporary consumer perhaps still works on a desktop at the office but prefers a laptop at home. She owns a tablet for casual web-browsing or e-reader for "thumbing" through digitized novels. On public transportation and waiting in line at the convenience store, she's scouring social media platforms for the latest gossip, photos, and 140-character-or-less epiphanies on a mobile device. And once she's home after a long day's work, the media marathon continues in front of the television or even better—the connected television.

You may be wondering, whatever happened to consumer loyalty? Our allegiance to the tried-and-true television is wavering as we juggle our phones, tablets, and laptops. In the digital landscape, where the only constants are change and innovation, television in the traditional sense no longer stands a chance. Fortunately for consumers, the connected television (think: tv's sexy younger sister) is making headway. Television's big comeback presents a product that is freshly connected, widely networked, and undeniably enticing to the contemporary buyer.

So, while the mobile phone is too busy fuming at the tablet's newfound popularity, and the traditional television is left sulking in a dark corner of the market, the connected television has quietly sowed seeds of desire in consumers. Oh, the heart, how she is fickle.

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BlackSmith Communications attends "Bringing it Back: CES and SXSW" panel, Part II

5/01/2012 comments: (0)


Part II: Pinterest. There, we said it.

The 2012 SXSW Interactive Award for best breakout digital trend goes to, surprise surprise, Pinterest. Just a few weeks ago, Pinterest (104 million total visits in March) was ranked as the third most popular social network in the United States, placing only behind Facebook (7 billion) and Twitter (182 million), and beating out LinkedIn (86 million), Tagged (72 million), and Google+ (61 million). Why the sudden and seemingly nonstop surge in popularity? As one of our "Bringing it Back" panelists so eloquently described, the pinboard-style photo-sharing social website "turns everyone into a creative ninja."

At first glance, Pinterest appeals mostly to middle-aged women interested in fashion, design, interior decor, recipes, crafts, and the like. These women are already surfing the web for inspiration to fulfill personal aspirations: what kind of person do I want to be?  They may organize their findings on pinboards created around specific ideas and hobbies, allowing users to keep track of favorite recipes, inspirational images, and anything else that strikes their fancy. Pinterest grants users a space in the digital realm in which to construct a visual identity.

According to Google's DoubleClick Ad Planner data, Pinterest is female-dominated, with approximately an 80/20 skew as of March 2012. The most common age groups are 35-44 (29%), 45-54 (26%), and 25-34 (24%). Of the site's users, 61% have "some college" education and the majority (38%) have an annual household income of $25,000-$49,999.

Named breakout social network of the year in 2011, Pinterest is not slowing down any time soon. Pinterest continues to grow at lightning speed in the early months of 2012. At the SXSW Interactive conference in March, co-founder Ben Silbermann announced that an iPad app is currently in the works. Tablet users, be forewarned.

Companies are flocking to Pinterest and curating pinboards to represent their brands' best interests in the digital, social sphere. Our "Bringing it Back" panelists especially cited the Chobani Greek Yogurt Company's effective use of pinboards. Chobani's profile boasts breakfast foods, dietary inspiration, fitness tips, and even artistic spoons, with which to eat "America's #1 Greek yogurt" of course.

The direct value, in terms of generating ROI, of integrating Pinterest into a company's social media marketing strategy has yet to be determined. But our panelists are confident that Pinterest is here to stay. Its niche-to-mainstream model has moved beyond the target demographic of young to middle-aged women and expanded to the commercial market. The Pinterest website now boasts a highly diversified portfolio of brands, including Kate Spade New York fashion company, Whole Foods Market, West Elm furniture company, and Mashable social media news blog.

Whether it is defining a personal identity or sculpting a brand identity, Pinterest has empowered consumers to unleash the creative ninja within!

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BlackSmith Communications attends "Bringing it Back: CES and SXSW" panel, Part I

4/06/2012 comments: (0)

Always keeping a sharp eye and ear out for the next big digital trends, BlackSmith Communications was thrilled to attend MITX and BIMA's "Bringing it Back: CES and SXSW" panel discussion last week. Moderated by David Shing, AOL's Digital Prophet, the panel featured Adam Kasper of Havas Digital, Mike Schneider of Allen & Gerritsen, Steven Brennan of Digital Influence Group, and Jim Barry of the Consumer Electronics Association. In this next series of blogposts, marketing intern Angelina Zhou will share her favorite social technology and creative design highlights from the event. Please share, post questions and comments, or email!

Part I: SoLoMoCo 

Earlier this year, a major flurry of Tweets, clicks, and check-ins took the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive by storm. Amidst the social media networking frenzy, Mike Schneider noted the influence of SoLoMoCo, referring to social, location, and mobile commerce.

As seen in the case of Foursquare, the popular SoLoMoCo platform allows users to "check-in" at various locations, broadcast these trails to their friends and followers, compete to achieve "mayor" status at various venues based on frequency of visits, and even receive discounts on purchases and other rewards for customer loyalty. Created by co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai in 2009, Foursquare is now available in 11 languages including Portuguese, Thai, and Indonesian. As of January 2012, the website supports more than 15 million users, and over 1.5 billion check-ins, a number increasing by millions every day. Foursquare is designed to "make the real work easier to use" whether it is trip-planning, coordinating dinner plans, or simply keeping up with the day-to-day activities of friends and others in the community.

Foursquare users are essentially creating a rich data map of daily habits and interactions via check-ins. Various other SoLoMoCo platforms are also storing enormous amounts of clicks, demographics, and other information that could prove to be highly valuable to marketers, businesses, and the like. Yet, as Schneider notes, this data has largely gone un-investigated by the experts, especially at SXSW Interactive. During the "Bringing it Back" event, he gives the example of the virtual dressing rooms that certain clothing retailers have implemented to aid shoppers in the buying experience. Schneider speculates that these virtual dressing rooms would be much more effective if the program would track a customer's previous purchases at the retail location so that returning buyers may preview how a new purchase could complement items already in his/her wardrobe. This data is a tool to help marketers understand consumers, more effectively satisfy their needs and wants, and ultimately add value to any marketing or promotional campaign.

While SoLoMoCo platforms have been generating much interest and excitement from users and businesses alike, Schneider argues that check-ins and discounts are not enough to measure ROI. Foursquare and other similar social networking websites may appear to be all fun and games, but the truth is that they hold enormous value for businesses. This industry research has largely gone unrealized, but perhaps the data mined from these location-based services will be put to more strategic use as we enter the second quarter of 2012.

As social media matures and the Internet continues to go mobile, businesses can no longer afford to overlook SoLoMoCo technologies. Thank you, Mike Schneider, for drawing this strategy to BlackSmith's attention!

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Innovation: Up Close and Personal

2/08/2012 comments: (0)

As a forward-thinking entity, it makes sense that BlackSmith Communications is jazzed by innovation. Thus, we have an almost insatiable appetite for all things entrepreneurial and wish to learn more about innovation at every turn. That’s why BlackSmith couldn’t have been happier to discover MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in late 2011.

According to their own website, Technology Review’s annual Emtech is the premier conference focused on emerging technologies and their impact. Now in its 11th year, this unique event brings together business leaders, senior technologists, investors, and innovative entrepreneurs to discuss the technological innovations that are changing the face of business and driving the global economy. 

And also from their website, but importantly what BlackSmith found in their personal experience of the conference: Emtech is a place where technology, business, and culture converge. It is a showcase for emerging technologies with the greatest potential for commercial impact. It is an access point to the most innovative people and companies from around the world. Most of all, it is a place of inspiration: a place to glimpse the future of technology and begin to understand how it is going to impact the world and your business.
BlackSmith loved it! Thank you, MIT and Tech Review!

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