Tag Archives: marketing

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

JagTag Admits Defeat, Goes With QR Instead

Women’s beauty/fashion/lifestyle magazines are crazy with the mobile barcodes. Well, to be more precise, the ads in those magazines are crazy with mobile barcodes. Rarely do I ever see an article with a barcode that says, “Check out exclusive behind the scenes video of this interview/fashion shoot/celebrity, right from your mobile phone!” I guess advertisers are quicker on the uptake than publishers.

This month, my wife received the usual Marie Claire and of course I was the first to flip through the pages (the fact that Katie Holmes is on the cover has nothing to do with it). There are 8 barcodes. Five QR codes, two Microsoft Tags (more on this in a later post), and one barcode that was confusing. It looked like a QR code with the three squares in the corners but wasn’t your typical QR code. Plus it came with a slew of instructions as you’ll see.

See? It looks like a QR code. Curious, as always, I read the fine-print to see what they are saying I should do and it becomes clear; it’s a JagTag. The instructions say to take a picture with my camera-phone and email it to them. Unless I’m on AT&T or Verizon in which case I can send via MMS to a shortcode.

I’m on Sprint so I email the pic to the address given. Several minutes later I received an email (not text-message) that said, among other things: “..Click the link to watch how Advanced Color Lock Technology works. http://jagt.ag/ColorRevitalize3” Admittedly, this was more than the magazine ad promised to show me, which was nothing. So I clicked the link – IN MY EMAIL – and was greeted by the screenshot below.

Nice, Huh? This is a verrry tiny, eentsy weentsy video player. It’s hard to tell, I know. Here’s the closeup:

This is almost exactly the size of the video that I’m looking at on my 21″ iMAC screen. Watching the video I see that it is a 30 second commercial! Very much like you would see on the TV.  No behind the scenes scientist describing how this fantastic product is so super-awesome due to it’s polymer stuff. No bloopers of a scientist giving away trade-secrets. Nothing. A stupid ad. Sheesh.

Beyond disappointed at this point I close my browser and dream of a day when desktop computers go away and all marketing experiences will be designed for mobile exclusively.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

I don’t need to go into the details about the use of JagTags. They were covered nicely in this post and the campaign above has identical issues. The primary issues with JagTags are:

  • Confusing and cumbersome call-to-action (MMS vs Email depending on mobile service operator),
  • The number of steps required by the user, and
  • The fact that when a user engages via email (i.e. Sprint and T-Mobile users) the content delivered is the same as gets delivered over SMS/MMS. It’s a terrible experience and one that assumes I’m reading the email from my phone.

What is really interesting about this campaign is that the folks at JagTag have finally recognized that QR codes have killed the JagTag. The ‘JagTag’ in this campaign is, indeed, a QR code. In fact the instructions even tell you that you can scan it with a QR code reader:

As a show of reluctance to give in to the QR code completely these instructions were sheepishly added at the end rather than up-front where they might have saved the user time.

Guinness Tries Mobile With a JagTag

Jon and I were at The Trumpeter after work yesterday when, along with our pints we were offered an opportunity to “Take The Guinness Challenge This March” (It was July). The coasters under our beers (not Guinness, alas) were printed with this challenge along with instructions to “Take A Pic. Text It In.” and an image that looks a little like a QR Code or maybe a black and white version of a Microsoft Tag (the kind with dots).Image: Guinness JAGTAG Coaster

The details of the promotion say, “Feeling bold? Show us what you’ve got! Send us a photo of this JAGTAG.” My first thought was, if we’re all taking pictures of the same JAGTAG how will we show how bold we are? Not sure, but I continue reading. It appears that AT&T and Verizon customers can send the pic to a short code, 524824, but all others have to email it to Guinnessmarch@jagtag.com. “Look for a bold response, ” it says. Ok.

I’m on Sprint so I grab my phone and open a QR reader app. Oops! This isn’t a QR code. For this I need to open the camera. (I’ve become accustomed to seeing QR codes so opening I-nigma or some other reader has become almost second nature when I see promotions with little square data-matrix-looking images).  So I send a picture of the tag to the email address listed and wait. My Nexus S uses Gmail to send email so rather than wait for the mail to come in and send a notification to my phone I just switch over to the Gmail app.

I bailed out at this point and continued later that night from my computer; this is no longer a mobile experience.

The reply from Guinnessmarch to my picture is an email with a link to a video. It won’t play on my computer. Tapping the link on my phone, the video plays for 5-10 seconds and then stops and leaves me staring at a blank page. Backing up and trying again the video doesn’t even start. A bit of a fail there. During this process another email has come in from Guinnessmarch with the subject, “Bold question 1 of 2″ and saying, “Please text back the letter that matches your answer to receive a spot on the team. You are watching basketball and a guy near you is loudly rooting against your team: Do you:
a) Wager him a round
b) Quiet him with stats
c) Victory dance in his face
d) Focus harder on the game
e) Glare at him
f) Change seats

I reply with the letter “C”, the least likely that I would do – Victory dance in his face. A minute or so later I get another email. Subject: “Bold challenge question 2 of 2″  Message: “You prove your team loyalty by painting your:
a) Face.
b) Car.
c) House.
d) Spouse.
e) Boss.
f) Toenails.

I’m tempted to reply with d) but decide to go with f) Toenails. I reply with the word, “toenails”. Several minutes later I get a message that says, “We’re sorry, we could not read a JAGTAG in the image you sent. Please send us a picture with an in-focus JAGTAG in the center of the frame. ” Grrrr. I didn’t send an image. This is a fail as far as I go. I should be able to enter the letter or the single word. Fine. I reply with the letter “F” and receive an email saying,
“You have earned the position of:
Team GUINNESS Shooting Guard
You will take a bold outside shot at a beauty on the dance floor, or make an
inside move on a friend of a friend.  Now shoot for a bolder brew – GUINNESS.
Your player badge will be sent to you shortly.  Download and post it on
Facebook, or use as wallpaper on your phone or computer.
Get more info at www.Facebook.com/GuinnessUS.  Now step up and order a
GUINNESS!”

I then received another email with this 176px by 144px (QCIF? Really?) image. Pretty small for my computer.

Guinness BadgeIt’s over. Finally.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There were quite a few rough spots in this campaign. Let’s start with the use of a JagTag. There is absolutely no reason to over-complicate this promotion by using a JagTag. Thinking about all the steps required to take a picture and send it and then how only some can use MMS and others need to use email it is a curiosity Guinness US even went through with the promotion. They could have simply used SMS or even a QR code, “Text MARCH to 524824″ They clearly already have the shortcode and with SMS you reach many more people with a much more consistent experience. I suspect someone from JagTag was just out pitching their wares and no one was giving Guinness any strategic guidance.

Now to the video. Video is a nice addition to the mobile experience. That is, when it works. In this case Guinness was using a downloaded .3gp video rather than a hosted, streamed video (i.e., YouTube.com). This makes sense in some ways because more phones can play a .3gp video than can stream video. But, the video didn’t play on my phone – a problem that could likely have been resolved through additional handset testing. In addition, had they detected that I was trying to access the video using my computer they might have sent a format more compatible with the desktop.

Essence Still Trying (and Failing) With Mobile

Essence magazine has content that they are trying to let mobile readers see. It’s just that, well, you can’t see it.  We’ve written about Essence before here on MobileMarketingFail.com.  I decided to try them again to check in on their latest efforts. Here’s how it went.

The most recent edition of Essence prompts theimage: Essence Mobile Tag reader to scan the (Microsoft) tag to “Tune in to Shake Your Beauty on Essence.com.” Why this is compelling I’m not quite sure but I’m not a subscriber nor do I even read the magazine so perhaps there’s something I don’t know about “Shake Your Beauty.” Also, I can only guess that the tag will take me to a YouTube video based on previous experience but it doesn’t really tell me what I’m in for. Oh, well.

I pull out my HTC Hero and look through several screens of app icons until I find the one for Microsoft Tag Reader. I only do this because I happen to know that this style of barcode is an MS Tag and not because the page tells me it’s a MS Tag.. How many other people will know this? So I scan the code. (On a side-note here, one of the things that I like about he MS Tag is that you are taken directly to the destination rather than having to click ‘OK’ like you do in many other tag readers; one less step.) The scan does indeed appear to be taking me to YouTube, just as I’d guessed. And I’m on an actual video rather than at the Essence channel main page. It appears to be a behind-the-scenes video with Janet Jackson, the cover model this month. So far so good! Now I just need to play the video.  I look around for the superimposed arrow that starts the video but don’t see it. What I do see, however, is an unfortunate line of text at the bottom of the video box:

image: Essence mobile video fail

"Video cannot be played on mobile"

“Video cannot be played on mobile”

Sigh.

Fail.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Essence is getting close with this effort. They really are. That is, they are getting close to moving out of the fail column by having something that actually works. In this case the issue boils down to two things that Essence failed to do, test and re-test.

Someone on Essence marketing team should have rounded up 5 or 6 models of smartphone and tested the experience prior to print.  Any problem that comes up at that point can be solved before printing or, at worst, the tag and call-to-action could be removed.

So testing would have saved the campaign from outright failure but there are other improvements that may help such as a more engaging call-to-action. Tease the reader with a hint about what is ‘behind’ the tag. What’s so special that the reader should pull out their phone and go through all the steps? Additionally, a mobile-optimized web page into which the videos are embedded can allow Essence to control the experience a little better and give the reader additional things to do on their mobile; a direct link to a video is something of a dead-end.