Wineries, 911 Call Centers, and South Korea’s Largest Cell Phone Provider (Final Post in the Apps not Ads Series)

What do wineries, 911 call centers, and South Korea’s largest cell phone carrier have in common?  Intertech’s team has built mobile applications for all of them.

In this final post in the series For Mobile Devices, Think Apps (not ads!), I’m sharing a few examples of what we’ve built for our customers.

A Media App for a Mobile Phone Carrier

Working the largest mobile phone company in South Korea, Intertech developed an interface for a service similar to iTunes or Spotify.


911 Call Centers

Intertech created a mobile application for 911 call centers for the reservation of channels on radio networks.  Part of the solution was a “quick schedule” to reserve a channel immediately with one touch.


Multiple Mobiles for a Health Insurance Company

For an existing customer’s application, Intertech extended their platform with a mobile version of an application’s admin, client, and public portals.


Adding Attaboys to Facebook

Have you ever sent an “attaboy” (name changed to protect the client) on Facebook?  If you have, you were using an application created by Intertech.  This app integrates Facebook accounts allowing posting a thanks to someone’s wall or timeline.



Mobile, One Vine at a Time

If there ever was a project where we should have taken “in kind” payment…this was it!  Built for iPads and iPhones, this Intertech created application helps vineyards manage field production.


If we could be of help on a mobile project or help your team spin-up on mobile app development, please let me know.

For Mobile Devices, Think Apps Not Ads (Post 4 of 5)

Mad-on-CouchIf you’ve been following my last few posts, you know I’m focusing on how to use mobile applications in innovative ways to reach customers. A good article by Sunil Gupta in the March 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review lays out five smart ways to create apps that enhance consumers’ lives and reinforce your brand in the process. See my previous post for the first two ideas. Today I delve into the remaining three: (1) provide social value, (2) offer incentives and (3) entertain.

According to Gupta,

Providing social value is solving Facebook’s challenge of how to make money without alienating users. He writes, “Facebook added its billionth user in October 2012; its app is one of the most used in the mobile world. Yet Facebook, like other social media companies, has struggled to monetize its user base through advertising. Marketers question the effectiveness of ads on social media sites because ads interrupt the user experience of connecting with friends. Activities that enhance connections among friends are a different matter.

Social gifting is a case in point. As Reid Hoffman, a cofounder of LinkedIn and a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners, has observed, it draws on three hot trends: gift cards, social networking and mobile shopping. Consider two examples: Since its November 2011 launch, more than 300,000 people have used the Swedish startup Wrapp to give their Facebook friends promotional gift cards available from nearly 100 major retailers. (In all, more than 2.2 million cards have been sent.) And in September 2012, three months after acquiring the mobile social gifting company Karma, Facebook announced the rollout of features that let users send their friends gift cards for Starbucks coffee, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes and other goods.

 (2)  Offer incentives. Apps that give away mobile minutes, for instance, can entice customers. The basic concept is familiar: many firms use short-term promotions and other incentives to entice customers to buy their products or the “like” them on Facebook. To win a spot among the handful of apps on a consumer’s mobile phone, however, marketers need to come up with especially creative incentives.

Coca-Cola did so with a recent promotion in Brazil. In March 2012 the company began installing special devices in venues such as beachfront kiosks—bright red machines that look like soft drink dispensers and bear the Coke symbol and the phrase “Refil de Felicidade” (“Refill Happiness”). After downloading a mobile app, consumers—typically teenagers—can hold their phones up to one of these machines, which will “dispense” 20 megabytes of free data credits while an image of a Coke bottle being filled up appears on the screen.

The last strategy for using effectively using apps to expose customers to your brand is to:

(3) Entertain. Companies can capitalize on the popularity of mobile gaming by devising games focused on their brands. Recall that smartphone users spend more than 40 percent of their app time playing games, and that the figure for table users is even higher. This represents a huge opportunity for savvy marketers.

Red Bull is one company that has capitalized on the opportunity. Instead of creating an app focused on its brand, it devised several mobile gaming apps, including Red Bull Kart Fighter, Red Bull X-Fighters, and Red Bull Air Force. For an energy drink company, building games requires a new and very different set of capabilities, and it is more complicated than simply buying banner ads. But the effort is paying off. In all, the games have been downloaded about two million times to date, and whenever a customer hits “play,” he’s engaging with Red Bull.

Another plus: developers’ fees often are far lower than those of ad agencies. So apps are not only the most effective way to reach mobile consumers; they’re also more cost-efficient than many traditional ad campaigns.”

In my next and final post on this topic I’ll tell you about mobile apps Intertech has created and how they’re helping our customers in the business-to-business space.

In the World of Mobile, Think Apps Not Ads (Post 3 of 5)

Mad-Men-Falling“Although smartphones are ubiquitous, ‘mobile advertising’ can be a hollow phrase. People simply don’t like ads on their screens,” writes Sunil Gupta in the March 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review. Gupta lays out a convincing case for marketers to forget about ads and instead to focus on creating effective apps in an attempt to positively influence consumers. He says, and I agree, that consumers don’t perceive apps as intrusive advertising—they value them for their functionality.

Gupta recommends that effective apps do at least one of the following:

(1) Add convenience. Banking apps, for example, let people pay their bills online and most airlines have mobile apps that allow customers to check in and to monitor their flight status. Convenience adds exposure to a brand but they face three constraints. First, while they can strengthen relationships with existing customers, they aren’t very effective at acquiring new customers. Second, established brands with large customer bases have an inherent advantage in using these apps to drive retention and engagement; such apps aren’t a viable alternative for every company. Third, as more and more companies build convenience into their apps, they will find it hard to differentiate themselves on that basis.

(2) Offer unique value. Commuters can use an app to order groceries while waiting for their trains or buses. Another example: Nike has capitalized on mobile’s distinctive abilities with Nike+, an app (originally for iPods, now available for most smart phones) that works with a special chip in runners’ shoes to monitor speed, distance, and calories burned. Although the app itself is free, people must buy either a sensor-equipped Nike sneaker or a shoe-mounted sensor in order to use it. Nike credits the app with having driven growth of 30 percent in its running division as of 2012, and it has expanded Nike+ to include apps and accessories that track other activities, from playing basketball to sleeping. This cool app does not act or feel like a traditional marketing communication—and that’s exactly the point. Mobile users don’t want ads; they wan apps that deliver unique benefits.

Next time I’ll tell you how apps are being used to provide social value, offer incentives and even entertain—all in the name of marketing!

In the World of Mobile, Think Apps Not Ads (Post 2 of 5)

Apps-for-Mobile-Not-AdsMost of us spend more time with our mobile phones than with our spouses or children. Ludicrous? Think about it. Your phone is the first thing you may interact with when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you touch at night. You carry it around with you all day long, checking it frequently for important messages.

When work is done, you probably have some fun with your phone playing games or posting on Facebook, getting headlines and stock quotes or whatever helps you unwind. When out with family and friends, your phone becomes the event archivist as you snap photos and shoot video of the fun and instantly send it to Facebook or directly to folks in your contacts list.

It’s time to admit it: we’re having a love affair with our mobile phones! Maybe that’s why it’s so annoying – and even sometimes disturbing – when advertising pops up on those personal little screens.

Harvard Business Review devoted its March issue to the topic of “Advertising that Works,” including an interesting article by Sunil Gupta called “For Mobile Devices, Think Apps, Not Ads.” Gupta’s three arguments for why mobile ads don’t work:

1-    People don’t like them. Surveys show that people find mobile ads more intrusive than desktop ads because mobile is a more private venue. In fact, fully one in five say that mobile ads are “unacceptable.”

2-    There’s no right side. PC users are conditioned to find ads in the right margin of the screen—they appear that way on Facebook and in Google search results, for example. But mobile screens are too small to have a usable right margin, so ads pop up in unexpected places.

3-    The “Fat Finger” effect. Advertisers closely track how many users tap on an ad. But many of those taps are inadvertent because the ads are so tiny—so it’s difficult to judge an ad’s effectiveness.

Next time I’ll share Gupta’s thoughts, and my own, about what does make sense for marketers interested in reaching consumers through smart phones.

In the World of Mobile, Think Apps Not Ads (Post 1 of 5)

Apps-Not-Ads“Public”, “social”, and “mobile” took on new meanings in the aftermath of the Boston terror attacks. Not only were many people on the streets as the terrifying events unfolded, many more were connected via text, photos and video that was created and transmitted in real time by people to their loved ones in other locations. This instant reporting from the bloody aftermath of the bombings both terrified and reassured those not on the scene.

The use of mobile devices soon took on an even more noble purpose as the surreal week progressed. Police used texts and tweets to provide important public safety announcements. Most significantly, they released photos of the suspects that were obtained from the cell phones of marathon supporters, as well as video shot from a nearby security camera. Once those images were released, social media mavens began posting the photos. (Even folks in Minnesota posted the grainy suspects’ photos on their Facebook pages in an attempt to spread the word and facilitate their capture!)

I heard at least one seasoned broadcast journalist remark during the harrowing Friday manhunt that this was the first time a serious crime investigated had been “completely crowd sourced.” He was referring to the pervasive use of social media tools by police and the public in managing and, ultimately, resolving this public safety crisis.

The comment reminded me of an interesting article I read recently in Harvard Business Review about mobile advertising and effective apps. I’ll share my thoughts on that article in my next few posts.