Enhancing the Consumer Experience

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iBeacon Technology at SWSX (Austin, TX)

According to the Pew Research report on Mobile Technology in January 2014, 90% of Americans own a cell phone and 58% of Americans own a smartphone. This equates to be about 285.3 million people who own a cellphone, and 138.6 million people own a smartphone. This number of smartphone will continue to grow in the future as younger generations will be growing up with this technology. Who actually remembers having a brick phone?

As this technology industry sector becomes a big player in the future, Apple is working on bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and online customers. As we all know now, when we want to buy something from a particular store, we do some research and comparison online first. Then, we would have to remember the specific item and drive to the store to purchase it (and sometimes have to ask the sales associate, if there are additional questions). That is old-fashion, outdated, or what your “hip grandma” does. Because my grandma doesn’t even know much about computers. 

Apple has introduced this new technology called iBeacons. These devices are powered by Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology to “talk” to nearby mobile devices (i.e, your smartphone or tablet). iBeacons are able to pinpoint your location, like if you are inside of Macy’s department store and show you items that are on sale or special deals that are relevant to you. When they have located you, the app would send you a push notification with an invitation for you to opt-in to the service. After you ave agreed, there will be special promotions and coupons sent to you.

Additionally, these iBeacons will soon eliminate your contact with a sales associate. Questions will be answered by the app since there will be customer reviews and recommended product for you. This program is also capable for you to check out and make purchases on your own. What would this mean for future sales associates…? Technology is going to replace these jobs.

With this iBeacon technology, Apple is hoping to create a seamless customer experience for future consumers. We are very close to this type of technology and bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping is quite important going into the future. Their recent iOS 7.1 update includes updated iBeacon technology which are capable of detecting the beacons even when an app is not open and not running in the background. Hmm, I am sniffing a potential privacy issue here…

There is a goldmine of data in everyone’s smartphone, so why are advertisers going to let that go to waste? That’s my thought.


Mobile Privacy: a Right or a Privilege?

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Looks like there’s a market for privacy phones already.

It’s been less than a year that Mr. Snowden became a household name. The government slamming him for being a traitor, and some claiming him to be a hero. So what does your smartphone reveal about you anyways? What can the NSA track and what can you do about it?

Blackphone vs. FreedomPop’s Privacy Phone 

Tech startups are popping up left and right. Privacy is becoming a big concern now that the world is moving into a digital age. Let’s take a look at the two smartphones that are suppose to “add an additional layer of privacy protection and Internet security from third parties”.


– Custom-designed handset by Geeksphone
– Runs on a modified version of Android with added security (called PrivatOS)
– Features a 2-GHz quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM, 4.7 in HD display and supports LTE / Wi-fi
– Unlocked, up to user to choose which cellular carrier
– Pre-loaded with Silent Circle’s own privacy apps — including Silent Phone and Silent Text, both VoIP based
– Disconnect Search and Secure Wireless doesn’t track personal information
– Has a Security center that allows users to pick and choose what each installed app can do — an “a la carte” menu
– Comes with remote-wipe and anti-theft built into the phone’s iOS

– Costs $629 up front before a carrier pay-as-you-go plan
– Includes subscription fees to a number of highly reputable and secure services, including 2 years of Silent Circle
– Does not have a pre-loaded anti-virus software
– Users can only call or text people with either Silent Call or Silent text apps – this is why they are pushing the 3 one-year subscription app deal to users

Privacy Phone 

– Doesn’t use regular cellular voice and text channels
– Done via VoIP (voice over IP) on the phone’s Wi-Fi or 3G connection
– Uses the commercial virtual private network (VPN) client private Wi-Fi network to encrypt and anonymize all traffic
– VPN lets the web bowser to “bypass any website restrictions and connect to any site online” – can get through location-specific restriction, but not paywalls
– Uses the Kaspersky Internet Security for Android anti-virus app to keep the phone safe from malware
– Rely on Kaspersky Internet Security which can remotely lock, locate and wipe a missing phone
– Cost only $189 up front (which includes 3 months of unlimited voice and texting and 500MB of data) – this costs $440 less than Blackphone

– Operates on a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S II running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (outdated model)
– Specs include: small 4.3 inch screen, 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and 3G only

Both creators included a disclaimer that their privacy phones are not 100% secure, but then again nothing in this age is. These phones only add an extra layer of protection to your mobile activity. If we put these 2 prototype models side by side, it looks like the Blackphone is more developed in security than the FreedomPop’s Privacy Phone – but we won’t know until these two smartphones come into the market this year.

WE’RE BACK – Media never sleeps.

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A lot has definitely happened during my (unexpected) hiatus since the last post. This blog is going to be geared towards the digital/tech industry. But still keeping the advertising/PR perspective. The mashup between digital/tech and advertising will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

As always, I welcome all questions from my readers. Please feel free to shoot me an email at theadvant@yahoo.com.

Hah, media never sleeps — even if you do.

Recording Shows with a #Hashtag

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So we all heard about the baby that was named Hashtag? Well, here he is for your viewing pleasure.


Hashtag wasn’t even a word a few years ago, and now a couple decided it was a good idea to name their kid after Twitter lingo and/or symbolize their kid’s name with a number sign “#”.

Another hashtag breakthrough occurred today.

Brazil’s largest satellite provide, Sky, rolled out this service to customers today. Working with their digital agency in Brazil called AgenciaClick Isobar creates a Twitter hashtag that acts as a record button, if you forget to record a show.

Customers link their Twitter accounts to their Sky subscriber numbers. Next , when customers see @skybrasil tweets stating what shows they want to record, they will retweet and add the hashtag #skyrec. This is when the magic happens and Sky connects with the subscriber’s DVR and starts recording.

This sounds too good to be true. Can we really merge TV recordings with just a hashtag? But this is an innovative idea though, despite the marketing team might have a lot of work cut out for them. They would need to expand their small audience base (about 81K followers) and reach out to more people and most importantly prove that this service will work. Sky subscribers will be more active on Twitter if this digital service follows through, which will spark more Twitter buzz in Brazil. Maybe it will be really convenient for people to record shows just by “hashtagging” and not manually setting their DVRs. Oh, the inconvenience.

Yahoo! & Tumblr

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YumblrThe recent marriage of Yahoo! and Tumblr have sparked a few arguments on the Forbes website. People are doubting that this deal was a good one. Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer made this move in hopes of probably attracting more traffic to the Yahoo search website since they have lost a huge share of their online marketing to Google in the past three years.

But why are we doubting that this will be successful?

Tumblr’s founder and CEO, David Karp, sold his company for $1.1 billion to Yahoo! Many people are saying that this was too big of a sales price and that Yahoo! paid more than it should have needed to acquire the blogging website of only about 300 millions users. (Yahoo! has about 700 million users worldwide.)

Tumblr boasts its super-simple, minimalistic and attractive blogging platform which CEO Karp has done his best to not have advertising on his users’ blogs. So it sounds like users enjoy the ad-free environment, which might change after Yahoo! becomes in charge of Tumblr. Tumblr only earn $13 million in revenue last year, and I am assuming that Yahoo will choose to make more profit out of this social media platform.

Mayer has already mentioned putting ads on Tumblr’s dashboards and on popular blogs and integrating Tumblr data into search. A problem that they might run into if they incorporate ads into Tumblr is the mobile app that is not compatible to include ads.

This acquisition has left a lot of people and users a bit skeptical because with Tumblr in Yahoo!’s hands, there will definitely need to be changes in order to catch up to Google and Facebook’s market share. WordPress’s co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, had reported last night that “WordPress imported over 72,000 blogs from Tumblr in a single hour”, once users knew of this deal.

Brands Bracing for Change: Upscaling & Downscaling

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Top tier and lower-end brands are shifting their positioning in the consumers’ eyes. While some brand names are downscaling their value, some brands such as Walmart and Mazda are trying to upscale their name in hopes of attracting more consumers to buy their products. 

Why is it difficult for companies to brace for this change? Because companies are like humans. Companies don’t want to cope with the fact that consumers’ ideals are changing rapidly. In the age of social media, your brand could be dead last one day and with a viral video overnight, it could be the only brand people talk about the next day. Brands are changing constantly, but is it a good idea to shift their positioning? 

The case study mentioned in Ad Age’s article, “Why JCP, Walmart, and Others Fail at Changing their Spots” talked about Ron Johnson and J.C. Penney. Ron Johnson has transformed the company into a JCP boutique-like department store and all the prices were changed to whole dollars. This transformation soon led to Johnson’s departure due to insufficient market sales, and the company had lost $985 million. 

On the other end, Mercedes-Benz is hoping to catch the consumers’s eye by offering a sedan with a coupe styling for only $29,000. This car model has not been released yet, but there was a Super Bowl commercial highlighting the low price for the Mercedes, which will be unveiled in September. You know you are up to big things, when you can release a commercial 7 months prior to the actual product launch and get people talking. 

So is this good strategy to get consumers buzzing about your high-end product? Probably not in the long-term. Consumers think of name brands for a reason – the top tier, the quality, the best, the superior. And price usually goes hand-in-hand with that thought. So for MB to lower its prices, it might open a new target market for them, but brand as a whole might lose some value and dollars. It’s always easier to sell something at a lower price. 


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Sorry for the long hiatus in blog posting. Transferring to a different school and keeping up with classes made up an interesting year.

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