Tag Archives: flash

Shameful Mobile Fail by the American Marketing Association

Not long ago I did a mobile marketing workshop for the local chapter of the American Marketing Association. It was well attended and they didn’t hiss at me or continually clear their throats so I think it we well. Fast forward to July and I figured I’d actually join the AMA and look for more ways to participate with the membership. So I signed up online at www.marketingpower.com and created my member profile.

About two weeks later I get a small package in the mail from the AMA. I figured it was just a Welcome packet – and it was – but I wasn’t expecting a membership card (Seems kind of old-school; am I supposed to flash this at the Maitre De for special restaurant seating privileges? Probably not.).

Image: AMA Member Card

I also wasn’t expecting to see a QR code on the back of the card. And wisely, they put some instructions next to the QR for those members of the marketing world who don’t know what to do with a QR code.

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But wait. Reading the instructions, I see it says to get a QR reader. Ok, fine. I already have one. Then it says, “Then take a picture of this code to go directly to your personalized web page.” What? Take a picture? I’ve seen, “scan this code” and even “snap this code” but never “take a picture”. That doesn’t even make sense. You take a picture with a camera app and you scan with a scanner app. Fail.

With a sigh and a sense of rising disappointment with my fellow marketers I pull out my phone and scan the code, almost afraid of what will happen. And, I got what I expected…and then some.

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This is, of course, a non-mobile web site. Fail.

After my eyes roll back down into position I look closer at the page by zooming in.

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That’s right. It’s a page that uses Flash and apparently is also needs the latest Flash player because I need to download a new version to see the content. This is painful from a user’s perspective and embarrassing from a marketer’s perspective. Fail. I have to stop now.

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What could have saved this campaign?

I’m really struggling to figure out what happened here. The issues with the whole execution are pretty obvious – I’ll go over those in a sec – but what I can’t figure out is how this could happen at an association of marketers? Of all business professionals I’d expect marketers to ‘get’ mobile.

  1. Call-To-Action – It was great that they tell you to get a scanner app. Not everyone has one. But to say, “..take a picture..” implies that they don’t actually know how smartphones, applications and QR codes work. It is pretty standard to say ‘scan’ though there is some debate about ‘snap’
  2. QR Formation – This QR code was created by directly encoding the url rather than creating a short url using bit.ly or some other service and encoding the short url. By encoding the main url into the QR you lose the ability to track how many people scan the code and you can never change the destination url without having to create a new QR code. You’re locked in with no visibility.
  3. Destination Website – I won’t belabor this point. This site needs to be designed for mobile. Period.
  4. Non-supported content – Even if a site isn’t designed for mobile specifically it may still be useful to the most dedicated smartphone user. However, this site has flash components that are dicey on Android devices and not supported at all on iPhones. Do NOT use Flash on mobile sites!

This was/is a fail straight out of 2009 and I’m amazed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the AMA and how this profound a fail can still be happening.

TIME Magazine Frames a FAIL

A recent post by ChinWonder had me trying yet another QR code. The code didn’t work for her so I thought it may be a FAIL worth talking about.  Well, the QR code worked for me but here’s what I found instead.

The Time Frames project is a web-based effort to organize history into some broad categories, or frames, through which you can explore related content from the TIME

image:Time Mag pop-up ad

Pop-Up Ad

archives.  Not a bad idea, I guess.  That is, until you try it on your mobile phone. It’s true, the site does load, though verrry slowly and not before a pop-up ad that is also too big for

the screen. Who knows how much of my mobile data plan is being chewed up by an image-rich site that is designed for broadband Internet users?

Panning across and up and down the site is a neat trick enabled by the touch screen on my phone the technique makes it hard to understand how, exactly, the page is organized. I tried zooming out to fit the whole site on the screen but then the text was impossible to read so I had to zoom back in and continue panning. As I do this, however, I notice a blank space with the notice, “We’re sorry. HTML5 players are currently not enabled for this account.” Huh? Who’s account?image:Time Mag Bad HTML Player What is an HTML5 player anyway? Something is broken there. There are also several flash elements on the page that are trying to load (and never will on iPhones) with intermittent success. Disregarding these I selected an article on Pope John Paul II from 1984 and the slow page-loading process started again. Sigh.

This time I scroll all the way to the bottom of the page just to see exactly how big this page is (I don’t have much patience for long articles).  It isn’t terribly long but there is a page counter that says I’m on page one of eight. Forget it. But wait! At the bottom of the page is a little box with an image of a mobile phone that says, “Read TIME Mobile on Your Phone.” Yay! A mobile version! Click. Wait. Wait some more. I’m taken to another non-mobile web page with the header ‘TIMEMobile’ and five tabs, one each for Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Mobile Site. Not being a big app fan I select the Mobile Site. The page loads – quicker this time, which is promising – and now the new sub headline says,

image: Time Mobile

TIMEMobile

“mobile.time.com The easy way to access Time.com from your smartphone.” Ok.. I was really just expecting to go right to the mobile site but it appears the editors at TIME want me to click one more time. Fine. I try clicking the big, red ‘mobile.time.com’ and…nothing. It’s not a link. I can’t click anywhere on the page to actually get to the mobile site! They have a mobile site and I can’t even get to it without typing it into my phone’s browser.

I’m done. FAIL.

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What might have saved this campaign?
Between spotty QR scanning success and the lack of access to the mobile site this campaign is in pretty tough shape.  At the very heart of TIME magazine’s problem here is that they are not recognizing mobile devices that access their site and providing a device-appropriate experience. Layered on top of that are efforts like Time Frames that don’t create a mobile version yet encourage access via mobile device. Perhaps the Time Frames team should read this.
Time needs a more strategic approach to mobile and really re-think their web experience with mobile at the center rather than mobile as an add-on. All project teams need to be in sync on this. In addition, they need to test the user experience from a variety of devices and ask themselves if broken video players and flash elements are acceptable and in keeping with their brand; I suspect it isn’t.

MLB and SU2C.org FAIL

From Meg Brown:

Stand Up To Cancer, an initiative to accelerate cancer research, sponsored the opening game of the MLB World Series tonight. They bought major ad time during the game that encouraged viewers to join in the movement and take a stand by launching a star in honor of someone you love who has been affected by cancer. “For as little as a dollar you can make a difference.”

The URL, www.SU2C.org, is short and sweet. It is perfect for a captured audience. They are at the game… with their phones. They are sitting at their local bar… with their phones. They are sitting on their couch… with their phones. Will someone PLEASE tell me why this website was not optimized for mobile devices? No one from MLB or Stand Up To Cancer realized that this website would crash every phone that tried to access it while watching image: SU2C mobile webthe game. Seriously?

A word of advice to all the marketers out there: Talk to your IT department before shelling out millions of dollars on a media buy that will FAIL.

Kelly: I guess it’s not like they tried to use mobile and failed. Rather they just failed to recognize mobile.

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What could have saved this campaign?
It may be obvious that the SU2C.org web site should have been prepared for access from mobile devices but I’ll state that first. Part of these preparations could have included a clear mobile web strategy that supports the SU2C overall objectives of driving donations and involvement (the mobile web is probably not a place to push TV viewership as they do from their main web site). Then, construct a (non-flash) mobile site that recognizes the context of the mobile game-watcher (in the stands, on the couch, in a bar). Finally, detect the mobile device and redirect them to the mobile site.
Also, with such a captive audience they might have used SMS to encourage $5 on-the-spot donations.