Browsing posts in: Analytics

Apple Pay – and the missing link in mobile payments

apple payWhat Apple unveiled at their big September 9th event was, without hyperbole, revolutionary. I’m not talking about the watch (I remain a skeptic there). I mean Apple Pay, the company’s new mobile payments service.

Let me go on record: Apple Pay is a big, huge deal. Most of the early reviews/criticism have focused primarily on its applications for in-store purchases (and indeed, Tim Cook cited big retailers like Disney, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Whole Foods and, of course, Apple itself as examples), but the real implications – and biggest value – of Apple Pay actually go much, much further than that.

Apple Pay really represents Apple’s strongest move yet into online commerce and identity brokerage. It’s a sharp elbow in the ribs of Google and Facebook (in different ways), and a beautiful example of some of the smartest strategy in the industry. It’s also a clear call to action for merchants and marketers: true mobile commerce is nearly here. Start getting ready. Now.

More after the jump.

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“So where do we begin?”

Even for major vendors, the marketing technology space can seem like a confusing place sometimes.

roadBroadly speaking, I see ever-increasing numbers of three types of “martech” vendors: highly focused point solutions; mostly point solutions whose marketing overstates what their solution specializes in; and the truly integrated suites. Vendor name recognition increases accordingly: in the first category, you have all of these guys (good luck keeping track). By the end, you’re left with the familiar names: Adobe, IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, etc. (Check out my high-level tally of big vendor acquisitions.) Keeping track of who does what has become harder and harder.

Every year, more and more companies realize they’re outgrowing their basic tools and want to explore what else is possible to elevate their marketing; or they want to improve or change strategy in a specific tactical area. But the cacophony of marketing tech vendors results in both confusion and paralysis of analysis, and it’s generally a mess. Leaders in these companies often have a simple, common sense question: “where do we begin?”

I’m going to propose an answer to that question.

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Happy Labor Day

I spent most of last week hiking Glacier National Park with one of my best friends. Here are a couple of pictures we shot. Two things:

  • If you are one of those people who does not take “real” vacations – meaning a week or more at a time – I would urge you to do so. It does wonders for your personal health and perspective.
  • Go see Glacier National Park. I can confirm that it truly is “the shining jewel of America.” Simply incredible.

Pictures after the break.

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The shared digital future of media

If you’ve kept up with the slow-moving implosion of the journalism industry over the last several years, it’s hard not to think you’re seeing the same story set on repeat. “Dead-tree media” publications seem to spin endlessly through a death spiral of shrinking subscriptions and advertising rates, leading to editorial cuts, contributing to crappier content, which leads to shrinking subscriptions and ad rates, and… so on and so forth into utter irrelevancy.

dead tree

The old giants of journalism are being slowly picked apart by digital native competitors like BuzzFeed, Vox, the HuffPo and more generally by the constellations of blogs (woohoo!) and independent websites out there as well. This is part and parcel of a broader, tectonic shift in how our wired society accesses, consumes and even creates “news” that is driven in large part by new technology.

I wrote a while back about how many legacy brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling with the rise of digital commerce. Today, I want to talk about how the same is happening in media and journalism, because many of the same dynamics apply: namely, institutional inertia, failures of leadership, and a misunderstanding of how central digital analytics are to a competitive media enterprise are steadily winnowing the field by basic natural selection.

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The so-called commoditization of digital analytics

Usually, when we talk about “commodities” in technology, what we mean are services whose price point has been relentlessly driven down over time, if not simply offered for free. In different ways, email, search and cloud storage have all fit this pattern: while differentiation between competing products exists, vendors only have pricing power in a few very, very niche pools of those markets (ex. super-secure email).

commodities-4

A couple of true commodities.

It has become common to relegate digital analytics platforms to this category as well. I believe this is a mistake caused by incorrectly conflating use cases. Rather than commoditizing, digital analytics as a technology is inherently expandable – indeed, expanding – to new, higher-value applications that resist the downward pressure towards “free.” Indeed, this is one of the major reasons why digital analytics platforms have emerged as a foundational component of the major marketing solutions out there today. They are completely central to the future of marketing.

So what’s with all the talk about analytics as a commodity?

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