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Luxury Daily and Plastic Mobiles COO, Melody Adhami, team up to take a closer look at a series of advisements by Leading Hotels of the World featured on Departures’ mobile website.

While the ads seeks to entice viewers to explore their properties, their approach does not evoke the uncommon aesthetic that the brand maybe aiming to communicate; conversely this may be something that attracts the reader’s attention. Mel elaborates on this potential, for the ad to intrigue those who aren’t familiar with Leading Hotels of the World, and ultimately land more bookings.

“Travel is aspirational and as a luxury hotel service focused on destinations and experience, Leading Hotels of the World is strategically utilizing mobile as a travel-planning tool to get people excited (and dreaming) of their next vacation.”

In terms of the ads potential to drive engagement – which is an integral part of any mobile strategy, Mel discusses whether or not the landing page takes advantage of mobile functionalities.

“In order to deliver a better and more contextual experience Leading Hotels of the World could have made better use of native, device-specific functionalities,” she said. “For example, using location-based services to identify where the user is, and serving up content that speaks to that geographic area.”

Although the series of ads are a good introduction to the possibilities and experiences that Leading Hotels of the World has to offer Mel points out that the limited screen size makes it challenging to articulate the whole brands promise.

See Leading Hotels of the World’s series at of advertisements here, to get a better look at their most recent mobile strategy.

Target’s Demise

By on February 23, 2015

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As we know Target has endured quite a series of unfortunate events this past year.  After acquiring 220 irresistible Zellers’ leases, the mega-retailer lost billions of dollars and evidently $211 million by its Canadian operations’ in the first quarter of 2014.

Some attribute Target’s demise to pressure placed on the brand to enter Canada within merely months; some point out that their competitive pricing was simply too high, and that their stock was inconsistent. One thing that is evident though is, Canadians are still deprived the option to purchase Target goods online, and the Target mobile application is still not available to Canada. The kicker is, loyal customers who are able to access Target’s mobile application seem to be highly disappointed with it, even with new updates.

Unlike many new businesses entering the app market, Target is already a well-established household name that may not be prioritizing app adoption. However, based on the many negative reviews we quickly see users discouraged from engaging with the app and ultimately the brand. Scoring a 2.5 on Apple’s App Store, users synonymously seemed least impressed with the apps registry, purchasing cart, and significant glitches impeding on their shopping experience. Target Cartwheel, Target’s discount app, hasn’t captivated customers either. Users like the idea but the app’s experience struggles with seamlessness in the shopping experience.

Although global expansion is not an easy task and the closing of 144 Target stores in Canada has truly set the tone for their expansion plans, entering international territory can definitely be throttled with focus on mobile-first strategies.

Canadian retail prices are notorious for being higher than the US, thus Canadians are profoundly appreciative of a good sale. Tapping into that cultural enthusiasm for value and allowing Canadians to interact with Target Cartwheel and other in-app discount incentives would have been very beneficial to Target during their momentous time in the mobile savvy Canadian market. Even the big blue retailer, Wal-mart, has been exploring ways to better engage customer loyalty through mobile initiatives with their click-and-collect grocery ordering.

Target’s desperate times, call for smarter measures. Mobile has the capacity to drive engagement and reach customers in ways that are efficient to both the consumer and business.

To our dearest family, friends and colleagues,

Although some of you may have heard the news, we wanted to take the time to personally share with you the recent events that have taken place. Plastic has started an exciting new chapter in its life.

As most of you know, we began our journey into entrepreneurship 7 years ago when we quit our jobs and set our sights on a vision.

We began a mobile business at a time when only a few (Steve Jobs included) really saw its full potential some years down the road. We spent the first few years knocking on doors and mostly having them slammed in our face. We took our first business from our living room and within a few weeks needed our first office space. The building, which was practically abandoned, fit with deplorable bathrooms and a daily trek of 4 flights of very steep stairs was perfect (and affordable) for a small startup, bootstrapped business. It didn’t take us long before we outgrew our humble, 1000 sq ft and made the jump to Liberty Village, which has been our loving home since.

Our first few years were difficult and involved a lot of “growing up.” We have seen heartbreak as we lost employee number 1, joy as we celebrated 5 successful years and pride as we installed management teams (some very talented folks if I may add) and well oiled machines that allowed us to take our honeymoon 4 years after we got married.

About a year and a half ago, our business reached a maturity and level of expertise where we felt we could play with the “big kids”. We wanted to, and started participating in large RFPs (Requests for Business). Some we won and some we lost. The wins were momentous as we beat the likes of Deloitte, Publicis and other giants but the losses were tough. Tough because our reason for losing was almost always our “size”. So we began thinking. It was time that we take the next step for our business and allow our talented teams to achieve their potential.

Enter Havas. The 6th largest communication group in the world, headquartered out of France with the global footprint that we needed. The partnership was perfect. We had a skill and expertise that is unique in the digital space and they offered the global scale that would allow us to take Plastic to the next step. It was time for our “baby” to graduate and enter this exciting next chapter.

Today, Havas acquired Plastic Mobile and we joined the vast network of this amazing company with over 200 years of history. Today we are ecstatic about the potential that this venture offers Plastic and the challenges that lay ahead of us. We will continue to operate Plastic as CEO and COO under the Havas umbrella.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our friends, family and colleagues who supported us until now and thank them in advance for the support we are sure we will continue to receive as we take Plastic to new heights.

Thank you all!

Sincerely,

Melody and Sep

 

 

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Parisa Durrani, Lead Marketing Strategist of Plastic Mobile and Nicolas Bianchi, VP of Sales and Loyalty Marketing at SPC, took the Canadian Marketing Association Loyalty Conference podium by storm Tuesday, when they revealed the keys to mobile marketing. IT Business Canada covered the talk, outlining some crucial messages to take away.

After Plastic Mobile and SPC joined forces, they took hold of millennial users and the SPC app saw a dramatic improvement – as this is SPC’s fourth attempt at a mobile application. Since Plastic’s redesign,

 “… the app has seen a 75 per cent increase in downloads compared to the year before, as well as more than 50 per cent of users reporting they’d used their SPC cards more often, thanks to the app. Plus, 85 per cent of users said they’d recommend the app to their friends,” IT Business writes.

You’re probably curious to know how the Plastic Mobile team finally tapped into SPC’s audience and gain such a beautiful response from millennials.

Parisa brilliantly captivated the crowd while explaining, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your app looks. It doesn’t matter how great your ideas are … especially in talking to these millennial audiences. They don’t even know what 3G is – they had LTE coming out of the womb,”

Parisa was clear and firm in her emphasis on the importance of engagement through gamification and reminded attendees the value in personal preference when redesigning the SPC app.

Make sure you read more, here.

 

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As we know, digital wallets are poised to become one of the most interesting discussions this year.

Recently, mobile tech expert and Plastic CEO, Sep Seyedi, spoke with TechCrunch about the the on going War of the Wallets.

The article outlines the battle between enterprise frontrunners Apple and Google, as they compete to disrupt personal finance with mobile.

Sep begins by identifying how the digital wallet space is fragmented, “Since the inception of mobile payments, there has been a lack of a cohesive solution by key players in the space.”

He continues by addressing Google potential acquisition of Softcard and how the internet giants are striding to make headway over Apple in the mobile payment market. “A month after Apple Pay launched, Google Wallet saw transactions increase by 50 percent in a single month, and the number of active users doubled” he said.

To get the full scope of how Apple and Google battle it out to be the most revolutionary mobile payment method read the ‘War of the Wallets’ on TechCrunch.

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In efforts to engage New York magazine’s audience, German automaker, Audi, recently featured a new mobile ad on The Cut that targets women and differs from their usual advertising style.

Plastic’s President and COO, Melody Adhami, sat down with Luxury Daily to answer a few questions about the campaign.

Melody addressed the interactive ad stating, “It’s great to see Audi moving in the direction of interactive advertising, but the convoluted content really discourages users from interacting with the ad with a clear intent.”

She suggests that any brand trying to break into the mobile sphere must have a strong mobile strategy. “A brand is ready to dabble in mobile advertising only when it already has a robust end-to-end offering in the mobile space.”

On a final note, many brands and business are still trying to understand how to optimize mobile-first initiatives. Melody further explains, “Mobile advertising is intended to drive traffic to a mobile portal, be it a mobile optimized site or app, where a clear call to action provides an opportunity for users and brands to engage with one another.”

The more the automotive industry embraces mobile the better chance they have at being successful with these mobile strategies.

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Plastic Mobile’s CEO, Sep Seyedi, sat down with Yahoo! Finance to discuss the role technology – and mobile – plays in Canadians’ personal finances.

Sep noted that “the user experience of banking apps in general is quite limited and basic today, just providing the core banking features.”

Despite the current state of mobile banking apps, Sep did address the potential they have. “In the next couple of years, we are going to see huge transformations in the functionality and the user experience of these banking apps” he said.

As the future of banking becomes increasingly digital, Canadians continue to embrace online services and mobile devices that manage their finances more and more. The problem here is that the finance industry has yet to reciprocate this need with a strong mobile strategy causing customers to be extremely unhappy with their experience.

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Automotive key fobs are a staple of the auto industry but have remained largely unchanged for an extensive period of time. The keyfob performs it’s basic functions through RF technology to let you communicate with your car remotely. Luxury car maker Audi is looking to do away with this technology to help add to the premium classification of its vehicle line up.

Audi demoed a wearable that completely replaces a standard key fob and adds additional functionality. Adario Strange of Mashable reported that the smartwatch is looking to become Audi’s remote starter replacement.

The new smartwatch starter was tied to Audi’s A7 sedan, the same vehicle that drove itself to CES without any human intervention. Surprisingly the smartwatch showcased was not powered by Android, but instead a re-iteration of WebOS. This operating system is being pushed by LG on its smart tv and future wearables as it bought the open source operating system.  The smartwatch also has a sort of fail-safe to allow you to unlock your car even if the watch is dead. The watch features NFC as a way to unlock which a conventional remote is unable to do when not charged.

Details on availability or a time line were also scarce leaving us to wonder when we can interact with our car while glancing at our watch.

 

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Big news came out this week from 9to5Mac regarding the Apple Watch, courtesy of the iOS 8.2 beta. News began with the finding of an Apple Watch companion app which 9to5Mac was able to get their hands and provide a complete breakdown of. The app simply name “Companion” outs several key features of the Apple Watch.

Customization: Being able to customize a device is a pillar of user interaction. The Apple Watch with its now famous circular grid style home screen will allow users to re-arrange icons to their liking. On a more personal note users can create a virtual monogram of 1-4 letters allowing them to imbed their initials or the like on the clock face.

Functions: Users will be able to enable a small circular red dot on the watch face as an indicator of a new notification. This can be likened to an LED light on some smartphones. For the more business minded amongst us, Apple Watch will allow you to receive a stock quote directly on the watch through a specific watch face.

Messaging: The Apple watch will not feature a keyboard function, however responding to messages is still completely possible without interacting with your iPhone. The Apple Watch has the ability to respond to text messaging via voice commands. A user will be able to send actual voice messages or transcribe your voice into text. If you are responding to an iMessage the ability to enable or disable read receipts is also available. Finally if you are not a fan of constant notifications on your Apple Watch you will be able to disable text message notifications on the watch. Furthermore you can  set it to only receive notifications from certain contacts, allowing you to ignore overzealous friends or family members.

Health and Fitness: The Apple Watch companion app features the now standard gamut of health and fitness options. Heart rate tracking is built in, allowing you to measure your heart rate at a glance, this can be disabled as well. Calorie counting and pedometer functions are built in as well.

Passcode: Security on the Apple Watch will be similar to that of your iPhone. You can set a numerical passcode to unlock the watch independently from your iPhone. If you unlock your iPhone your Apple Watch will also unlock automatically allowing for easy device continuity.

Other: With the companion app it was outed that the Apple Watch will indeed have onboard storage. This storage will be accessible to users to use as they please. Lastly you will be able to access a sort of mini-settings app on the Watch showing you how much storage you have left, what you have stored and other basic information like serial number.

It is only a matter of time till Apple enthusiasts can get hands through an Apple Watch, and Plastic Mobile cannot wait!

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French-Italian outerwear brand, Moncler, recently added a unique flair to its marketing efforts with the release of a Facebook app, Snow Experience, to interact with its consumers. The app requires users to take a picture of themselves with a “snowy” filter depicting winter like conditions.

Plastic’s Lead Digital Strategist, Parisa Durrani, works with some of Canada’s top brands to develop and execute their digital strategies, and sat down with Luxury Daily to talk about Moncler’s recent social media initiative. “The app is merely a campaign to garner awareness about [Moncler] products and associate them with cold weather,” she said.

Parisa also commented on the longevity of the app saying “The app is most likely to have a short life cycle, considering it is on Facebook and could lose its appeal after one picture is taken, The likelihood of repeat usage is minimum.”

She added that the brand could have done a better job by recommending some of their products in its Snow Tracker section.

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Deloitte ushered in the new year via its TMT Predictions 2015 event, used to showcase its biggest technology, media and television predictions. Plastic Mobile was there to see what Deloitte had to say about 2015. The list of predictions was informative and detailed with census data as recent as last week to back up the bold predictions they were making. Lets look at a few quickly:

Mobile Pay: In 2015 Deloitte predicts that the mobile pay landscape will finally catch fire and go mainstream. It is expected that there will be a 1,000% increase in the number of consumers using a phone to pay at least once a month. This prediction was specifically based on NFC payments, not barcode scanning.

Media Content: Media content has evolved over the years and purchasing habits have evolved with it. Millennials in 2015 are expected to spend $750 annually on media content, this could represent up to 15% of their income and outweighs the percentage older generations will be spending.

Smartphone: Smartphones will still remain strong in the forthcoming year with an expected 1.35 billion sold globally. The smartphone category is growing by 12% year over year. You would be mistaken to attribute this to new consumers, 1 billion of the devices sold will represent upgrades of older smartphones with only 350 million attributed to new customers.

Wearables: These devices have been a hot topic and media buzzword for several months now. Deloitte predicts that in 2015 these devices will become a staple of enterprise solutions, not consumers, as previously predicted. These devices will drive innovation through cyber-fying workforces.

3D-Printing: Seen as a mix between niche and mass market product, 3D printing in 2015 will find its home within enterprise. Again Deloitte has predicted that this technology will move back to an enterprise solution while consumer markets dwindle. The ability to rapidly prototype and create part replicas with precision while maintaining costs will prove an invaluable solution.

The conference provided by Deloitte this morning will now visit several other cities across the world to share its predictions. Plastic Mobile was able to get a head start on what are expected to turn out as some of the biggest tech trends as predicted by Deloitte.

Rounding up CES 2015

By on January 09, 2015

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It is well known that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. That is, of course, unless you’ve been trapped under a rock because when it came to CES 2015, nothing stayed a secret.

The myriad of news from CES didn’t trickle out slowly but hit us like a tidal wave. CES 2015 covered everything in tech, and nothing was left behind. Throughout the show floor we saw products ranging from smart home to drones, wearables and beyond. Let’s quickly recap some of the biggest products and trends that hit the floor this year:

Smart Home: The idea that all the autonomous appliances in your home should be able to communicate freely and be controlled remotely was indisputable this year. The wine cooler talked to the washing machine, the fridge and stove become best friends and in control of them all was a mobile device of your choice. Every major company at CES demonstrated some sort of smart home device from the simplistic such as a wifi security system to a pot plant that can water itself via your phone. Qualcomm showcased a complete smart home in the form of a hotel room where attendees could play with the devices using qualcomm tech. Smart Home was undoubtedly one of the most important themes at CES this year.

Auto: As mobile began to gain dominance over the last few years, automakers have started to capitalize on the technology within their vehicles to create a “wow” factor beyond car design or performance. Several companies were on hand this year showcasing concept or new model cars. Audi and BMW showcased self driving cars that can operate with or without a driver.

BMW, in particular, setup a literal crash course and dared conference goers to attempt to crash the vehicle. As expected (and thankfully), nobody succeeded.

Audi integrated wearables with its latest sedans incorporating all the features of a remote starter into a WebOS powered smartwatch. Over the next couple year we can expect to see cars controlled completely by mobile and key fobs that are touch based with full LED displays.

Wearables: Before we dive into this one, we will just say they were everywhere. It is as if nobody dared to show up at the conference without one for fear of being left behind when this market explodes. Wearable tech at the conference went above and beyond the synonymous smartwatch. We were able to see rings, belts, jewellery and even shoe in-soles that had mobile connectivity each with their own distinctive features. Wearable technology has moved far beyond a simple pedometer or the ability to read your text messages, the products showcased at CES went far beyond what we thought wearables could do.

CES 2015 has been a fun time for everyone at Plastic Mobile. The conference provided us with content to discuss and surprise other co-workers with. As CES 2015 draws to a close we look forward to seeing all the mobile tech and developments from the conference become a consumer reality this year.

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It would be expected that as CES enters its final day the excitement and entertainment would begin to wind down, however on the penultimate day of the conference there is still no sign of companies, journalists or innovators slowing down. Las Vegas is still buzzing with self-driving cars, fitness wearables and of course start-ups looking to make a splash.

Everyone loves pets; whether you are a cat or dog person, it’s hard to resist a cute ball of fluffyness running around without paying attention to it. Pet owners hate to be away from their pets and as far as we can tell, pets hate being away from their owners. Enter the “Petcube”, designed to solve all your pet detachment issues and keep you two closer together than ever before.

The “Petcube” is a combination of technologies that will embed your pet into your daily life, even when you are not at home. The device is a camera that features wifi connectivity and compatibility across mobile devices. It has built in lasers so you can do that thing your pet loves so much. The “Petcube” features several intuitive features that allows you to interact with your pet anywhere. Using the mobile app you can watch your pet via the camera built in and speak voice commands to it. The laser is touch controlled and as you drag your finger across the app a laser will replicate the movement in front of your pet keep in entertained while you are taking a lunch break. The device is a sleek 4-inch cube that features a 720p camera and two way audio.

“Petcube” will be available in February for $199.

Keeping us closer together than ever with our furry loved ones has deemed the “Petcube” our CES 2015 Pick of the Day! Look out for our CES 2015 wrap up tomorrow!

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The second day at CES was nothing short of revolutionary with product announcements and demonstrations coming from startups all the way to massive industry players. Smart home products were buzzing throughout the conference combined with showcases of wearables, laptops and curved displays.

Since the introduction of cables, their functionality has been essential but their clutter and hassle were always a negative side effect. Energous’ “WattUp” is looking to bring mobile device charging to the forefront of the cable clutter issue. “WattUp” a device agnostic wireless charging system that is not only contactless, but can also charge devices from up to 15-feet away!

Sounds too good to be true right? Well to demonstrate “WattUp” turned a Las Vegas hotel room into a wireless charging cradle. The device works similar to an internet router, you place it in one section of your room and it takes care of charging your devices.

Lets break down the tech specs of how it actually works. “WattUp” features connectivity via LE Bluetooth and RF. The device acts a router within your room, it identifies devices through Bluetooth and then sends out directed RF signals on the same bands as wifi which your device converts into DC power. This device is all about connectivity! It can even create a closed or public network for charging and can prioritize devices based on low battery.

“WattUp” should be available by 2016 with a host of accessories for devices that don’t already include the charging tech. Read more about the “WattUp” on their website http://www.energous.com/overview/

Leading the wireless charging revolution while leaving your cables in the dust makes Energous’ “WattUp” our favorite product of CES Day 2 2015! Check back tomorrow for another pick as CES 2015 reluctantly begins to wrap up.

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CES 2015 is upon us from Las Vegas with countless tech inventions and innovations to captivate us all week!

Wearables, wearables, wearables! The idea of turning everything you wear into a smart device has caught on with many companies trying to distinguish themselves through innovation in both design and technology. Wearables have expanded beyond just smartwatches, however.  Bragi has introduced “The Dash” at CES 2015, a wireless ear-bud style headphone that has all the features of a smartwatch and more.

Let’s start with a few tech specs of “The Dash”, it is a pair of earbuds that connect simultaneously to your phone and each other wirelessly. These earbuds feature touch control, 4GB of onboard storage and a battery life rated for 3.5-hours. The Dash will appeal to the fitness crowd with its inclusion of an accelerometer, heart rate monitor and even a oxygen saturation sensor. Further niche features include the option to hear ambient noise, personal trainer feedback and in the future real time language translation. The Dash is able to do everything from basics like skip a track to sending advanced fitness data back to a smartphone of your choice whether it be Android or iOS.

“The Dash” is already available to early backers of a KickStarter campaign. General availability is scheduled for Spring 2015 with a price tag of $300.

Far beyond your traditional earbuds and a new take on wearables Bragi’s “The Dash” is our favorite product of CES Day 1 2015. Rest assured Plastic Mobile will bring you a Tech Pick of the day at CES 2015 for the rest of the week!

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Italian outerwear label, Moncler, recently leaped into the mobile space with the launch of its first mcommerce mobile app which allows users to both shop and consume content. Moncler aims to provide its audience with a more convenient and contained shopping experience through its app.

Plastic’s VP of marketing and business development, Salome Sallehy, addressed Moncler’s mobile initiative with Luxury Daily saying “I think that this is just a first step for Moncler on mobile, some brands do it the other way around in that they first launch with branded content on mobile and then proceed to bring a more complete brand experience by including commerce in later versions.” However, “Moncler has brought their core offering first and the content will likely follow. Neither approach is really the best.”

When asked about the need for a mobile app Salome said “A mobile app allows for use of the native functions of a mobile device such as location, push, time and date as well as the device security features, allowing Moncler to provide a more contextual customer experience for the user.

“For example, when a customer is detected to be in proximity to a Moncler store or vendor a personalized message can be pushed to the customer.”

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Recently our President and COO Melody Adhami sat down with Luxury Daily to discuss the mobile gaming marketing efforts of the British department store Selfridges. The department chain is building awareness for its in-store helpers through gaming efforts, the game is called “Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest” which is available on desktop or as an app on Apple devices. The premise of the game is the consumer plays as one of the retailer’s in-store helpers to save Christmas and performs similar tasks to that of a sales associate, suggesting thoughtful gift ideas for stumped customers.

“Gift shopping adds a layer of complexity because the best person to facilitate the decision is usually also the recipient of the gift. Offering a service that mobile users can turn to make those difficult gift decisions is a utility that is likely to be appreciated by the users and allows them to fulfil the social validation of the purchase.” Melody shared. “Mobile users are already in the habit of turning to their smartphones in the shopping experience.” “They take and share photos, check out product reviews, and do price comparisons to help make buying decisions.

Between October 23rd – December 24th, Selfridges sales associates were referred to as Elfridges for a festive twist. For instantaneous help, customers will be able to  interact with the Elfridges via Twitter for quick gift recommendations; they could tweet the department store between 10am – 8pm using the hashtag #AskAnElfridge and include the chain’s Twitter handle @Selfridges with details about who the gift is for and their ideal price point.

“Over the years we’ve seen a steady surge of mobile game activity over the holidays when people are spending time with family,” Melody added. “Games and entertainment sharing has become a popular social pastime at the dinner parties and the holidays lend themselves well to the occasion.

“This is a time when mobile users are seeking new gaming experiences, and tying it to a customer service offering is very timely because the service stays top of mind for customers as they’re being entertained,” she said. “Both the game and the Elfridges service are in high demand at this time and will likely yield results as pairing utility and gaming is a winning combination in mobile.”

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Facial recognition software has been gaining traction lately, edging it’s way to becoming the next big thing. Some of technology’s juggernauts like Google, and Facebook have been tapping into the power and revolution of this image recognition software. Countless hours of research and experimentation have translated into major strides in the recognition space, making it a close second to the human brain’s ability to perform the task of recognition.

Facebook has developed a software called DeepFace – not kidding – despite it’s unusual name it can look at 2 photos and decipher with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face, regardless of the angle or the lighting. Quite impressive when you compare it to that of human accuracy which is about 97.53%. Developed by Facebook’s AI (artificial intelligence) research group, the intelligence is supported by a simulation of a learning neural network, which is the essence of the technology. The software incorporates what is called “deep learning” which is one of the many methods of machine learning. Deep learning involves looking at a large body of data – in this case human faces – and developing a high-level abstraction by looking at reoccurring patterns like eyebrows, cheeks, and ears. This deep learning method also consists of a learning process that sees the creation of 120 million connections between those neurons, based on an assemblage of 4 million face photos.

Complimentary to their facial recognition software, which is still a bit ahead of it’s time, Facebook also plans to release Facebook Search this month to iPhone users, formerly known as Graph Search, which allows users to search for content on Facebook using natural language, for instance “places my friends like to travel to.” This way users can navigate directly to filtered content, rather than leafing through the endless pages of posted media.

Similarly, Google and Stanford University each have their own rosters of scientists working independently, and collaboratively on an artificial intelligence software that is capable of recognizing and describing the content of photos and videos. The intelligence is sophisticated enough to mimic human levels of understanding, and teaches itself to identify entire scenes for example, a group of children playing on a jungle gym. Both groups of researchers merge to weave two types of neural networks together; one focused on recognizing images and the other on recognizing human language. The researchers found it astonishingly accurate when compared to that of human observations of the same compilations. Modern advances in technology has made it possible to better catalog and search billions of images and hours of video more efficiently.

Thus far Google has been relying heavily on image descriptions to accompany a photo in order to tag it accurately, a requirement that cannot be easily regulated and maintain consistency with all the users of the world’s biggest search engine posting content daily.

While this is a huge technological advancement and testament to that old saying “if you can conceive it, you can achieve it!” This caliber of technology begs the assessment of risk, privacy, and vulnerabilities.

As the topic evolves the technological enhancements are steering towards a future of behavioural recognition. Although we’re talking about new technologies, we’re also talking about ancient human responses rooted in the oldest part of the brain. By identifying patterns of behavior as they correlate to facial expressions, which are universal, we will be able to collect psychographic data at an unprecedented rate, and at a much lower cost than what we’ve ever been able to do. The opportunity for marketers and brands to acquire a deep understanding of their customers’ needs and expectation and collect data in an unobtrusive manner will change the market research as we know it.

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The extremely popular social messaging app LINE, set up its first pop-up store in North America, located at 1515 Broadway in New York. LINE’s pop-up store will be open from December 9th until December 31st, offering shoppers a variety of products, including stationery, stuffed toys, mugs and jewelry based on the original characters from the app. Shoppers also get a chance to take photos and interact with LINE’s official mascots.

LINE has been very successful in Asia thus far and is now making a leap into the Global market, especially North America where a number of messaging apps like WhatsApp, and KIK  have found their glory. The messaging app currently enables users to make calls and send messages for free, as well as offers in app purchases of stickers featuring LINE’s own original characters.

Very few mobile-first brands have become popular enough to support a real-world presence one of the rarities being the Angry Birds game, which spawned a wealth of licensed merchandise, including stuffed toys and apparel. Sep Seyedi, CEO of Plastic Mobile discussed LINE’s pop-up store strategy with Mobile Commerce Daily noting that “Mobile-first businesses have an advantage in a heightened level of engagement with their customers that strictly brick and mortar business can attain,”

“Pop-up shops lend themselves perfectly to this opportunity, but we’ll be seeing more mobile-first businesses make permanent fixtures of themselves in brick and mortar going forward” Sep said.

Sep went on further to say, “mobile users are now ready to take these intimate relationships, with the businesses that serve them on mobile, to the next level and experience them in a more tangible manner.”

 

Wearables: Beyond The Wrist

By on December 12, 2014

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The wearables market has quickly become one of the fastest growing mobile industries we’ve seen to date. From watches to fashionable bracelets it seems that everything needs to be smart in one way or another. Smart gear has been progressively moving beyond the wrist; check out the smart clothing line up for the new year:

Athos Apparel, founded by Dhananja Jayalath (DJ) and Christopher Wiebe, is a fitness shirt that monitors your biometrics in real-time then sends the stats from your workout to your smartphone. Using an EMG (electromyography) device that detects muscle effort, muscle building toning, overall training, and muscle fatigue. The device then relays this information to your smartphone companion app which translates it into readable data and training suggestions.

Another product that has been around for some time is the Nike+ shoe sensor. This little device was released in 2006 as an iPod accessory, a nugget sized device measures your pace, distance, time elapsed and calories burned, which is then transmitted to your iPhone or iPod via bluetooth. The data is then saved on the device which enables users to have easy access to their progress data.

Even Victoria Secret has dipped into the wearables market with their very own heart monitoring fitness bra which features Body-Wick fabric, paired with bonded, seamless technology for comfort. You would then detach the transmitter after use and connect it with your compatible device to retrieve the results.

These products now being dubbed Smart Clothing are changing the way we track our health by providing a comfortable and relatively accurate means of tracking our daily physical routines, and giving the term ‘self-awareness’ a whole new meaning.

The development of these new products is becoming more commonplace with just about anyone being able to create them with a basic technical skill set. A blogger named Kathryn Mcelroy wrote an in-depth tutorial on how to build your own interactive, RFID and LED messenger bag. The limitations of how far these technologies can advance are only set by the skill limitations of the creators!

 

Battle

Our President and COO Melody Adhami recently shared her expertise with Mobile Marketer’s  digital publication regarding Yahoo and how it is on it’s way to become the third largest mobile ad platform, and surpass Twitter. Data from eMarketer suggests that Yahoo’s new mobile ad business strategy may be paying off, Twitter is predicted to have 4.19 percent share of the mobile advertising market by 2016. The two platforms are very different in terms of audience and offerings; Yahoo’s mobile ad products include display, and native search whereas Twitter only offers native ad opportunities.

Twitter and Yahoo provide advertisers with vastly different opportunities for marketers planning their ad spend. “I would consider Yahoo to be a mass-media player with a broader reach of audience, and Twitter to be more of a niche player in the media space, the opportunities each company presents is vastly different. Marketers can expect to reach more users through Yahoo, but can expect more engagement from Twitter users.” Says Melody Adhami President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

Yahoo has been around from the early days of the internet, but has had a bit of a struggle remaining relevant, especially with the mobile space which has quickly taken off in the recent past. Yahoo’s biggest competitive advantage in the mobile space is it’s strong focus on digital content, this is due in part to the increasing popularity and convenience of mobile.

Although Twitter is much younger than Yahoo, it has been a mobile-first company since it burst onto the scene in 2006. It’s youth has also been a factor in the length and strength of the brand’s relationship with its users. “I think we can expect to see innovation from Twitter that will likely challenge the top 3 contenders sooner than later,” adds Melody Adhami. Which seems to be likely as Twitter has put a specific focus on building its mobile ad business.

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Mobile payments have finally begun to get the global attention they deserve thanks to the recent buzz created around the technology by Apple. Ernst & Young recently hosted a Breakfast Series at their Toronto office with many mobile payment industry experts present to shed light on past, current, and anticipated trends.

The all-star panel featured Almis Ledas, Sumit Oberoi, James McGuire, Christian Ali and was mediated by Aran Hamilton. All five panelist shared over 20 years of combined experience within the mobile industry and were unanimous on what the next steps were for mobile payments.

The panelist agreed that the mobile payment process must to be further integrated by retailers for users to feel like it’s worth the switch from physical cash or credit cards to mobile payments. Until then it could be a bit of a slow start, with the bolder user base ready and willing to switch right out of the gate, and the mass majority following thereafter once more retail chains have enabled the convenience, and people feel more comfortable with the security of their funds.  When questioned about whether or not the security of mobile payment would affect its adoption, Aran cited the first time he and his fellow panelists first used their Interac card and their skepticism around “Tap and Pay,”  and now there’s not even a second of hesitation.

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APIs, Application Programming Interface, is not a new technology, in fact they have been around for a couple of decades. They are a set of protocols which dictate how software components should interact with each other. A good API allows a developer to build functions into a program easily and maintain fluidity, without risking operational issues.

A poorly constructed API can cause technical issues which can have serious implications on the overall experience, and ultimately the success of a project. Improperly organized data is one such consequence of a poorly constructed API as information being relayed between the systems can be mismatched or even misinterpreted.

Mobile apps and backend software are frequently updated and maintained as more users pile on to the system or when new features are added. Thus any errors during the maintenance can affect the performance of the app or the backend servers. This causes a disconnect that results in one or both sides of the app unable to exchange information, inevitably resulting in crashes until the error is found and resolved.

In addition, app developers should also be aware of potential attacks on their API’s. A DDoS attack, or Distributed Denial of Service, occurs when a server is bombarded by multiple requests, which floods the system. Imagine five people trying to call you at the same time, none of the five people will be able to reach you due to the high call traffic. If an app has too many calls to the server like those in a DDoS attack it can drastically slow down the performance of the app and even crash it. The preventative measure against a DDoS is usually limiting the amount of calls an app can receive in each function and building the API’s to serve up the data required. This relates back to the point emphasized earlier about data organization.

A strong app strategy depends on the performance of an app. An app that crashes or has technical issues in its basic core functions can lead the user to quickly abandon and delete the app from their device. The strength of an app lies partially in its robust API’s and these should be among the first priorities being evaluated when building an app.

Mobile Cyber Monday

By on December 02, 2014

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Capping off what could be considered “Cyber Week” – Cyber Monday was the proverbial icing on the holiday shopping cake – becoming the biggest day in US online shopping history! According to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark mobile devices held their own with 41.2 percent of all online traffic which makes it the first time mobile has driven almost half of all online traffic during the course of “Cyber Week” pandemonium. Retailers took advantage of mobile’s direct connection between consumer and retailer maximizing the 5 days of shopping discounts and deals to directly engage their customers via email marketing. By making deals and promotions more accessible through properly targeted emails, sending immediate email notifications for abandoned carts and pushing post checkout deals, retailers have gotten a tiny taste of the full power and potential of mobile.

What is interesting about these last 5 days of shopping mayhem?  There is an obvious shift in consumer behaviour, with easily accessible information from multiple channels, shoppers are making more calculated shopping choices.  There is no longer pressure to succumb to rushing the shopping experience, cramming it all into one day of deal hunting. Places like the UK where 50 percent of retailers embraced Black Friday deals – compared to last years 15 percent – and Canada, where an estimated average of 2 million people took vacation days surrounding the American shopping bonanza, have welcomed Black Friday and Cyber Monday traditions in order to get their piece of the pie. This past November China famously celebrated its “Cyber Monday” with Singles Day, the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba saw a jaw-dropping $9 billion in sales in one day, this in turn has translated to conscious shoppers aware of their options, making strategic purchases, equipped with the right tools to source the best deals, and biggest discounts.

Three years ago only 17 percent of purchases were touched or influenced by digital platforms, now that amount has skyrocketed to 50 percent. What we are seeing now is a constant growing demand from consumers to have multi-channel retail access of both online and traditional brick and mortar stores to get what they need when they need it. This will mean that as more and more retailers find a happy medium between physical and online stores, the demand for appealing user-centric web design and responsive web will surely follow.

 

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s not quite Christmas yet, however Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday are giving Christmas a run for it’s money when it comes to the battle of the holiday shopping experience.  This year saw a decent increase in revenue for retailers in contrast to 2013, especially online mobile and tablet shopping.  According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report for the annual shopping mayhem event, Thanksgiving and Black Friday mobile and tablet traffic accounted for about 52.1 percent of all online browsing.  What was once thought to be an idle pastime, is now disrupting the market, quickly being adopted by a vast majority of consumers, 1 in 4 of all online purchases were made with a mobile device with most of those devices being Apple, a whopping 76.8 percent to be exact, and only 22.7 percent from Android users.

The shift in mobile browsing and sales can partly be attributed to convenience, the IBM Benchmark report indicates that shoppers are spending slightly less per order than last year, thanks to mobile shopping’s advantages.  Customers use their mobile devices to comparison shop and source out the best possible deals, using a combination of coupons and extra promotions; Thanksgiving and Black Friday shoppers definitely brought their A game this year and demonstrated just how savvy they are, with a little help from their mobile friend of course.  Even though mobile sales contributed a decent chunk of revenue to Black Friday with 28 percent of total online sales, the tablet is not to be forgotten. While more people definitely browse on mobile for it’s obvious convenience factor, the report suggests that people purchase more through their tablet with the average tablet shopper spending $126.50 per order versus mobile’s $107.55 per order.

The IBM report goes on to say that the most effective tool for retailers when it comes to driving Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales home, is less frequent, well targeted, email marketing.  In order to not turn off customers with spam, a bombardment of advertisements and promotions, retailers need to learn their customers well using indicative data, and properly channel their yearly ad spend to work more efficiently for them and return their investment.

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Recently our very own Vice President of Marketing and Business Development – Salome Sallehy – sat down with Luxury Daily to discuss Harry Winston’s new mobile Secrets ad campaign on Harper’s Bazaar digital publication.  The ad used the “screen takeover” technique, covering the home page of Harper’s Bazaar, Salome sheds some light on why this approach is effective when executed correctly.

Harper’s Bazaar  is a glamour content destination for a wide range of readers including the affluent Gen X and Y’s”  Salome said.  “The screen takeover ads are effective in that they don’t get missed, but are usually experienced on the other ends of the spectrum; the mobile user is either really annoyed, or really delighted, depending on context and relevance.”  She added.

The Harry Winston Secrets ad features a film, where the consumer is led through a large empty home, into a secret door that looks like a mirror.  The concept was that each piece in the collection had a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, hence the “Secrets” campaign.

Salome shared her insights, and expertise stating “in this case, the context is very fitting in that the content is aligned with what the mobile user is already discovering, so there’s a good chance they won’t be annoyed.  However, when a mobile experience is disrupted with something unexpected, the user is more likely to have a positive reaction if they feel that the content being presented is relevant and exclusive to them.”

Screen takeovers, when applied in the right context can actually be pretty useful, especially around the holiday season when shoppers are looking for that special gift. The ads allow for you to be a part of an exclusive deal that is likely only available for a limited time, without detouring you from the original website you intended to view.

“Since Harry Winston doesn’t engage in ecommerce, their mobile marketing efforts are to drive traffic to the stores and partner retailers and that’s a pretty tall order for a mobile ad if the user isn’t encouraged to get better acquainted before the trip.”

Tweet us your thoughts! Would you be annoyed or delighted if you went to your online shopping destination, and a screen takeover ad informed you about a feature, or deal? @plasticmobile

 

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There’s no denying the impact mobile has had on the customer journey. What was once a linear journey with clear start and end points, is now cyclical. Mobile has blurred the lines between the pre- and post-shopping stages and is giving brands the opportunity to constantly stay connected with their customers, and vice versa.

While most brands are understanding the importance of going mobile, by way of web and/or apps, there is still a gap between how mobile technology can be leveraged at each point in the customer journey (the pre-, in-store, and post-shopping stages) to drive brand engagement and in-store traffic.

Pre-Shopping Stage

Ask yourself: Have you ever researched a product on your mobile device? Whether it’s through a mobile site or app, chances are you have. And you’re not alone: Almost 60 percent of mobile users use their devices to research a product before purchasing. That’s one of the beauties about mobile: it has empowered customers to take control of their shopping experience by giving them the ability to research and discover the products available to them.

That’s why the pre-shopping stage is so critical to brands; it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with customers and stay top-of-mind. One key way of achieving this is via push notifications. Push notifications are a great vehicle to generate awareness in regards to promotions, coupons, new product releases, and even marketing campaigns. A recent study by Urban Airship has found that when used correctly, push notifications can increase response rate by over 300 percent.

With push notifications, brands can get the user’s attention even if they were not thinking about shopping. However, having a push notification strategy doesn’t mean quantifying the number of messages you send, rather it should focus on delivering quality notifications.

In-Store Stage

More and more mobile users are utilizing their devices in-store to access pertinent information that can help them with their purchase decisions. Need proof? Nearly 85% of mobile users use their device in-store to do everything from price comparisons, to reading reviews. That’s why it is critical that brands stay one step ahead of customers by providing the key information that customers will be looking for when in-store.

Mobile technology has made it so the user interface can change, depending on a user’s location. For example, once in-store, the features and functionalities that are more relevant and timely for users can be displayed to encourage fast access to information. One great example of a brand deploying such a tactic is Apple.

Mobile apps are also a great channel to provide customers with added conveniences. Time-saving features such as mobile coupons, digital cards and wallets has not only made shopping a faster and more efficient process, but can improve a customer’s experience with the brand. You need to look no further than Starbucks for an example of a brand that has mastered this from start to finish. The ease at which users can purchase Starbucks products in-store is a testament to their mobile strategy aimed at giving users a convenient experience.

Post-Shopping Stage

The customer’s journey no longer ends when a user completes a purchase; in some ways, it’s the start of a re-engagement strategy that has brands continuing the conversation with customers to drive them back to the brand.

One such strategy that can be leveraged via mobile technology are time-based offers. Time-based offers are a great way to give users with a sense of urgency to come back and make a purchase. Rewards strategies are also efficient in driving engagement with brands. For example, giving users a credit off their next purchase (ie. percent off, or dollars off) is a great tactic to encourage customers to re-engage with a brand.

Final Word..

There are a multitude of opportunities and technologies that retailers can take advantage of through mobile. The key is to understand customers shopping behaviours in order to continue engaging with shoppers even after the purchase has been made.

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The Mobile Marketer Mobile Women to Watch Summit honors 25 of the greatest women executives each year who are set to make an impact in mobile marketing, advertising, media, and commerce. The 2015 Mobile Women to Watch Summit in New York, taking place today is recognizing Plastic Mobile’s Co-founder, COO & President, Melody Adhami, for leading some of biggest brands of our time into the Mobile Age.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a “major influencer” in mobile amongst hundred of other exceptional women. Having lived the astounding transformations that the mobile industry has gone through in such a short time, and having had the opportunity to shape some of those shifts has been incredible.” stated Melody Adhami.

With her 7 year journey of mobile experience, and having started out as one of the few women executives within the industry, Melody Adhami has proven that the technology space is equally exciting and prosperous for both men and women. Much like her peers also recognized by Mobile Marketer, Melody shares the ambition and dedication to revolutionize the way brands interact with their customers on mobile by facilitating the relationship with mobile technology.

next gen apps

Every so often you see those pesky red circles clinging on to the corners of the apps on your mobile device that remind you of the pending app updates designed to introduce changes and enhance your mobile experience so you keep coming back for more. Between short attention spans and an overabundance of stimuli brands are fighting to continuously engage their mobile app users. Hence, the ever-present red circles silently promising improvements in usability, speed, and performance. I won’t even mention bug-fixes. I mean, it’s almost 2015…bugs are the unmentionables. With QA flags flying high who has bugs any more?

Speaking of ‘almost 2015’…Most brands, even our beloved mobile laggard dinosaur brands, are on their second – if not fourth or fifth – iterations of apps. While the reconstructing and redesigning process begs the inclusion of new features and functions, it’s equally important to analyse users’ behaviour, based on all those prioritized metrics and data points that you obviously built into the app to measure right at the outset, to adjust the user experience and deliver more of what the users actually want and less of what they don’t.

With innovative practices pushing the boundaries of what’s possible at an unprecedented rate, and new technologies and applications being introduced at an equally astounding rate, one must pause…and plan. For example, beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy paired with some of Apple’s new features in iOS as well as Android’s new Lollipop OS can provide brands with new opportunities to introduce a more personalized interactive experience with their customers.

When creating the new versions of their apps, brands may often find themselves in technical debt by focusing primarily on getting a product to the App Stores rather than developing a user-worthy product. By sacrificing functionality and user experience, the product then requires revisions that ultimately cost more time and money by extending the product development cycle.

In addition to technical considerations while developing the next generation of a mobile app experience, the users’ level of comfort with, and preferences for types of feature must also be considered for alternate options, validated by AB testing. If the current version of the app houses dated features that a small portion of the user base is interacting with it, it may prove worthwhile to eliminate the feature as a whole.

Technology is providing new ways for brands to interact with consumers. As new device capabilities are introduced, users’ are adopting new behaviours more readily. But staying on top of technology is no longer sufficient to keep brands ahead of the curve. The current rate of change requires technologists to anticipate behaviour, needs and wants of users in order to let brands retain that coveted spot on customers’ mobile device.

 

The world of Android just got a little bit sweeter. The OS previously dubbed “Android L” now has a full name and full list of features and a brand new design for the popular Android platform.  Android Lollipop boasts a whole new set of features previously unseen on mobile devices all aimed at enhancing the user experience. A full list of them can be found on the official page, but here some of the key ones that stood out to us.

  • Users can create multiple users for a device, allowing users to share a device without sharing their files and apps as well. Google claims that this is a great feature for devices that are shared among family members.
  • Screen pinning allows users to pin a screen so another user can access just that content without messing with other apps or files.
  • ART, a new runtime that improves a user’s apps performance.
  • “Tap & Go Setup”  Users can set up a new Android device by simply tapping it to their old one (requires NFC which most devices are equipped with).
  • Better battery life management adds an estimated 90 minutes of life to your device.

And of course all the features are wrapped up in Material Design, Google’s new design methodology for their operating systems and applications. Material design is centered around building clean interfaces that are stylish, intuitive, and responsive to the user. Some Google apps have already made the switch to material design and the first batch of reviews cast a positive light on the mobile OS. Android Lollipop brings a whole new look and feel for Android, one that aims to unite the user with the device. Nice work Google!