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Why I left Yahoo to join Solohealth

17 Jul

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked in the past 3 weeks why I’m leaving Yahoo or where are you going, I’d be a little wealthier. That being said, figured the easiest and fastest way to address this is to add it to the blog.

First, if you came here to read about the skewering and downfall of Yahoo you can stop reading. That is not what this is. Yahoo provided me with opportunities and education that I’m not sure I could have gotten elsewhere. I’ve met some of the most intelligent people in the digital space over that time and established friendships that will last forever. I’m not naming names because honestly it would take too long. Sure, Yahoo has it challenges but a lot of companies are envious of the position Yahoo is in. This was about the opportunity that presented itself.

I’ve been working in digital media sales since 1998, and because of this my phone rings quite often from recruiters. I’ve had people reach out for opportunities big and small. Major social sites, gaming sites, content creation and others have expressed interest. I decided that when/if I moved I wanted go to a real small startup that provided me an opportunity to grow, be challenged and utilize all my interests.

Solohealth fit that criteria, plus a few others.

The things I was seeking in the next company were as follows:

  1.  Is the product uniquely differentiated
  2. Can it cause disruption in the market
  3. Is it focused

So for those wondering what Solohealth is, I will do my best to sum it up after 1 week.

“We help businesses engage consumers with precision targeted media and content integration, through various health assessments that occur inside retailers stores.” (Yes, it needs work, but that is where I’m at) Consumers are literally logging onto the web at stores like Wal-Mart, Publix, Sam’s Club, CVS and others I can’t mention, and doing health assessments on areas like BMI, Blood Pressure, Vision, Pain Management and others.

Anyone that knows me understands my unique interest in working with CPG manufacturers. I’ve always said half the battle is getting the consumer into the store; the other half is to get them to buy. Well we’ve eliminated the first barrier and depending on the studies you read 65-75% of all purchase decisions happen inside the store.

This solution can help so many businesses ranging from OTC, Pharma, CPG and even companies like Subway and McDonald’s which operate restaurants in Wal-Mart as well as I’m sure a 100 other categories I haven’t thought of yet.

The other thing that appealed to me was our ability to actually work with businesses to integrate content and questions right within the assessments. I can go on and on about the opportunities but that is for another post.

I’ve enjoyed the startups I’ve been part of before, going all the way back to Citysearch in 1998 or when we opened the WebMD office in Chicago. My passion for product development, sales, true measurement at retail, building a team from the ground up has all come together in this role.

I don’t doubt challenges are ahead, I’ve seen a few, but the team at Solohealth is amazing. When you can sit down with the VP of Product and give some feedback and he takes the feedback and starts to think how to implement quickly is an awesome experience. The team is all working, with passion, towards the same goals. They’ve accomplished so much the past 6 months and I can’t wait to help keep the pedal down as we grow quickly. I’ve got a team to build across the country and a lot of people asking to be part of the national rollout.

My tweeting has slowed and my FB surfing will be cut back, but I can’t wait to look back in 2-3 years and see how far we’ve come and think about where we started.

I couldn’t do any of this without everything I’ve learned from my first days at Citysearch to the last 6 years at Yahoo. It was hard to leave Yahoo, it was a part of me, and always will be, but I’m excited to be part of something special at Solohealth.


Imbalance Creates Opportunity – It’s the Year of Mobile and…..

30 Mar

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join eMarketer for a discussion around “Digital Ad Trends: What’s Behind the Spending Boom.”  David Hallerman provided great insight and some good discussion followed.

It should come as no surprise that the growth is happening around video, mobile and social at a much higher rate than display ads.  A couple interesting things did come to light during these conversations that I thought I’d share

1. 64.4% of all mobile dollars are consolidated between iAds, Google and Millenial Media

2. In 2002 72% of all digital dollars were spent with the top 10 ad selling companies, the number in 2011 was 72%

3. In 2011 banner advertising made up 62.2% of online investment, in 2016 banner advertising will make up 47.7% of the market

So as a marketer, publisher or entrepreneur imbalance creates opportunity. 

From a marketer standpoint advertisers should be looking at ways to own the mobile marketplace, put an early stake in the ground and be a leader.  I realize this is a blanket statement, and obviously each advertiser must look at the goals they have and identify the best way to do this.

The other thing advertisers need to be thinking about is how to engage audience in new ways.  The early days of the internet we all touted how online was the most measurable media, I think many of us are regretting that to some extent.   Digital does offer other unique opportunities.  Look at opportunities that a company like Solve Media is providing, where you can engage audiences in new meaningful ways.  Even here at Yahoo we have evolved to where advertisers can now contribute to content, to give you scale you can’t get from your own site. Imagine taking your content from the 1-10 million users you reach on your site to the 174 million consumers Yahoo reaches ever month.

As a publisher you have to be thinking about how to grow mobile audience and drive share.  The fact that 3 publishers own the space tells me we have a lot of growing up to do here.  It shocks me that publishers haven’t been investing here.  I mean how many years have we been saying that this is the year of mobile.

Having been in online advertising 14 years I’ve seen tremendous change on how consumers engage with content and how advertisers leverage that engagement to reach potential customers. The pace of change will not slow, thank goodness, embrace the change, find opportunity in change, and use data to drive these decisions. These simple things will provide success.

In the coming weeks I will touch on some of the additional things that we discussed in the meeting.  Such as:

–          Programmed media vs. sponsorships and other media

–          Are we all in the media business today?  The evolution of content creation and advertising

–          Social, what is it to those of who are not in the media industry

–          What major disruptions could slow the growth mentioned above – Cost of Data?

Has CES Jumped the Shark?

11 Jan

This week was a week for many years that I’ve always looked forward to. The latest announcements around the latest and greatest technology. The last few years I’ve been able to actually attend the show and while I’ve enjoyed the experience I typically saw things that I’d either read about or we all kind of looked at and thought “What the hell?”

So this year Steve Ballmer announces that Microsoft will no longer take part in CES moving forward.  I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but this was actually a good decision, and one that Apple made long ago.   We at Yahoo actually have gotten more involved in CES over the past few years and with good reason.  The advertisers visiting CES now come from all industries.  It is a great opportunity to engage advertisers in technology rich environment.

So has CES jumped the shark?  After reading the Mission Statement from CEA, who actually puts together CES, yes and no.  At its core it still is accomplishing what it set out to do. Unfortunately this seems to be the route these type of conferences, where they are starting to become almost unmanageable.  I remember attending SXSW years ago.  This was before it blew up.   I remember hearing about Twitter at SXSW.  I can actually prove it, I started on Twitter March 23rd, 2007. Just put in dbonert if you don’t believe me

I’m sure other conferences are out there that are somewhere in their infancy that are set to explode.  Love to hear any that you are attending.   So will I be at CES next year?  Most likely.   It is still providing value, and well, it is in Las Vegas.  Although 2 days is enough for me.

Did Fox Just Create the New Model for Buying Advertising at the TV Upfronts?

17 May

For those of us in the advertising industry, everyone is aware that the TV upfronts are going on this week. I’ve been enamored with the TV upfronts the past few years and always interested to hear the latest ideas and offerings coming out of the upfronts. In recent years digital companies have actively participated in the upfronts and the process has morphed into something much bigger than TV.

Well today a relatively new idea was put forth by Fox. What they are calling, “a unified audience experience.” Advertisers will now have the ability to buy spots that will run on a TV show anywhere it airs — including digital sites such as Hulu. CW, launched the similar idea calling it a “Convergence strategy.”

At first I was thinking what a great way to engage your consumers on all platforms, especially around programming you think is relevant for your consumers. I do think this makes sense when you are looking at shows that have a passionate following around particular topics such as cooking and fitness, but is it really better for an advertiser to target someone who watches American Idol on Hulu?

Let’s use for example Ford who is a large advertiser on American Idol. Assuming all CPM’s are the same, would you rather engage someone who watches American Idol or someone who has actively searched for Ford, Truck or visited, or looked at trucks or did comparison shopping on Yahoo Autos? I think the answer is pretty cut and dry.

The beauty of digital is the ability to engage consumers with better targeting and ultimately better messaging in a more relevant time frame. Buying TV on digital does not necessarily get you there. The other part of the equation is scale. No one can argue that the ability to offer sight, sound and motion at mass scale to advertisers makes TV a unique opportunity, but that doesn’t always translate online. In a recent post on Video Insider the article talked about how portals continue to own the majority of the video online.

So has Fox put forth an idea that other networks will attempt to follow? I do think other networks will attempt to copy this method. Here is why I don’t think it will be successful:

1. Execution of advertising outside of and will be difficult to execute. AOL TV and Yahoo TV all are providing viewing opportunities. Does this mean Fox won’t distribute to other partners?

2. Targeting on digital is much more sophisticated and advertisers understand this.

3. Scalability off of TV will be difficult.

I think this is a great attempt and as viewing of shows off the TV set increases it will make more sense. What the networks should be thinking about is how can they work with advertisers help augment through digital. Whether that be things such as actor history, behind the scenes, alternative endings, bloopers and so on, that the consumer can engage with during the show is much more valuable. The evolution will be interesting.

Can Groupon, Livingsocial and Other Group Buying Platforms Drive Loyalty?

21 Apr

Three years ago at a street festival in Chicago some women asked me if I wanted to sign up for Groupon. What the heck is Groupon I said? Multiple Groupons later I’m a huge fan. But do the marketers who use Groupon like a consumer like me? Probably not.

I just had an opportunity to participate in the Mobile #AiMA luncheon where Groupon, Yahoo and Insight Express all shared great data on the evolution of mobile media. Each individual shared useful information on trends in the marketplace and how consumer behavior is changing rapidly.

During that conversation Matt Drinkwater, VP of Sales East Coast for Groupon, shared with the group that Groupon will be launching in Chicago an opportunity for consumers to choose what they are looking for when they launch the app. For instance you could see a screen with choices ranging from Pampered, Eat, Shop and so on. Groupon is calling it Grouponnow. To be honest I think it is brilliant for both the consumer and the advertiser. The example that Matt shared was that Subway wants to spike breakfast, you would choose eat, and then find a Subway offer that would need to be redeemed by within the next 6 hours.

During the Q&A the question was posed on how many people return to stores, restaurants or shops after using a Groupon. Matt shared that 89% of all advertisers would participate in Groupon again. Just a quick note on the economics of Groupon as I understand it. If you run an offer for $10 worht of product or services for $5.00, Groupon gets $2.50 of that $5.00. So essentially you are giving $10 in product or services for $2.50. I’m not sure where Matt saw the 89% number but it did get me thinkiing about my own behavior on group buying platforms.

I’ve bought numerous Groupon’s, Livingsocials, Hotdealslive, and others. In fact, part of my daily routine is to visit which aggregates all the deals locally from around the web.

After the individual posed the question to Matt a small focus group started at our table and surprisingly most people say they are a “one and done” crowd. I will admit that most of my group buying experiences result in me not visiting again. I’d put it at close to 75% of all businesses I visit through group buying I never visit again. On the other hand it did get me to visit places that I would have never visited beforehand.

Gawker had a piece on the love/hate of group buying which can be found here!5787645/groupon-the-business-owner-experience
The more people I talk to, the more people say that they really don’t visit or go back to the places that they buy the deals from.

So the common response is that running a group buying deal isn’t a good investment but other things need to be kept in mind. Here are just a few:

1. What’s the value of a consumer who doesn’t buy but is exposed?
2. Driving short term demand at a loss is still good if a certain percentage returns? (Each business should understand this when they go into the deal)
3. If a consumer spends more on services or product because they have a Groupon, what does that due for your business?

I also sometimes questions the businesses that run group buying discounts. Just this morning I saw an offer for Aqua Bistro, which looked interesting. After reading a few reviews on Yelp it sounds overprices and the service is not good. If the prices are already 50% marked up you are not getting a discount.

So back the question at hand, does group buying drive loyalty? I’d say the answer is not very often. The caveats are when the service or product is exceptional. Unfortunately my experiences have been good, not great. This is okay, you don’t need everyone to be a repeat customer. Do I think we are going through a fundamental change on how people buy things? Absolutelty. I’ve gotten to the point if I don’t buy something with a group buying offer, on sale or that days special it is almost a disappointment. I do think I’m an exception to the rule. But what happens when more and more people start to think this way.

Group buying will not go away and is predicted to be a $6 billion dollar revenue in 2015 from the $873 million it is today as reported by BIA/Kelsey.

At the end of the day I think group buying has a place for businesses moving forward, and I think it is a big one. The ROI will work in some scenarios and in others it probably won’t. Then again isn’t that like most advertising.

On a side note my good friends at General Mills just did the first CPG Groupon today. Looking forward to hearing how that worked for the promotions team. I give them credit for trying something different.

Love to hear what you think.

Advertising and Social, like Oil and Water?

17 Feb

It’s been sometime since I last blogged and a lot has happened. Some quick hits and observations.

While attending CES it became evident that CPG advertisers are beginning to value how Tech, Media and Creativity continue to merge.

The tablet game is evolving and opportunities to engage consumers are endless through this platform. I’ve seen some interesting studies that I will share in upcoming blogs.

On a personal note me and my wife are now residents of Atlanta. Hence, the reason for the tardiness in blogging.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had an opportunity to be part of conversations with marketers from diverse categories in regards to how social advertising is working. What they shared was that from a traditional sense, Social Advertising is failing to deliver on the success metrics they have identified.

So what does that mean? First when we refer to advertising we are talking about pixels on a page, not content that is advertising. This morning I came across an article from emarketer that highlights some of the trends in advertising and social. As you might expect click thru rates are decreasing.

In comparison to the industry standards and that of Google text ads this is quite low. The article does provide insight on how to create higher CTR. These are rather obvious but good reminders.

1. Make your ads social
2. Incentivize the Consumer
3. Lead with insights and make your messaging relevant

For those of you who work in the industry we’ve all heard the term social graph and many of us refer to it but still aren’t quite sure what it means. Wikipedia even struggles to define this but in short here is what they say, “social graph describes the relationships between individuals online, as opposed to the concept of a social network, which describes relationships in the real world.”

So what does this mean and how does it affect you as an advertiser? As more and more publishers connect to the social leaders and activate social on their own platforms we now have vast data to help tell a better story to consumers. Today, Facebooks platform is extremely limiting in letting marketers tell stories via creative. So what happens when you have the proper canvass to tell a meaningful story to consumers using the social graph and various other data? High likelihood of either engagement or CTR substantially increasing. Think of it as having a 1/4 of a page on a magazine versus a full page. From a personal experience what are you likely to remember? Imagine now having all the information to make that full page extremely relevant. New mom – Diapers, Like Twilight – New Movie Release, Enjoy Basketball and live in Atlanta – Hawks Tickets. You see where this is headed.

My title should probably say, “Facebook and standard advertising like Oil and Water.” That seemed a little long and boring. In summation if you can successfully tap the social graph and place it on a canvass that can engage consumers in a meaningful way the impact will be much higher then what you could get using the FB platform as it exists today Where FB wins is when they move advertising into content and it something that they have the unique ability to do, but by my standards have not done it very well. Earned Media will continue to see the increase in investment as exhibited in this emarketer study.

In the coming weeks we will discuss how people are engaging fans in a meaningful way. Today marketers struggle to continue to develop continues dialog with consumers but I have some great examples of who is actually doing this without just relying on promotions.

Check In – Dead/Local – Explodes/Ad Networks – Consolidate

9 Dec

The world is changing and it is changing fast. I’ve been reading all the year in summary and what to expect in the coming year. This year has created rapid change from platforms like tablets and social is exploding and was anyone “Checking In” a year ago.

So where will we be in a year and what will we all laugh about that we were doing a year ago?

Hyper-Local: I started in this industry working for Citysearch selling local advertising. Everyone keeps talking local but the execution has underwhelmed. This is the year the platforms are in place to exceed. Look for local to continue to explode.

Social: Sorry if you thought it was going away. Social will get better at taking the data and using it to really create a conversation with consumers. The data is there today but we haven’t figured out how to do it without creeping people out.

Branded Entertainment: This space is going to continue to explode. We will still struggle with creating good content and getting consumers to the content but advertisers will continue to push into this space.

DSP’s: While this was built for the DR advertisers, brand advertisers are figuring it out quickly. New metrics will be put in place that will allow brand advertisers to “justify” and expand.

Check In: Only 4% of all people actually are using a check in mechanism. I don’t see this increasing. I’ve said in previous post that I check in almost everywhere but I don’t know why I do it. Try explaining to anyone not in the industry the “check in” idea. They think you are crazy.

Ad Networks: Consolidation all around. We used to see ad networks pop up about every other week. The evolution of DSP’s and publishers getting better at valuing inventory will force consolidation.

Do Not Track: It’s coming in some form. Browsers are making it easy to set it up and users are getting smarter. We will start to see some of the effects next year but give it a few more years.

These are the highlights but a lot of activity will happen in mobile, video and 3rd party targeting. All of these will see continued increase.

What do you think the year holds?

A Guide to Creating a Shopper Marketing Plan to Win

9 Nov

In my last blog I talked about how at the Shopper Marketing Expo the focus of digital was overwhelming and marketers are quickly trying to identify ways to use all the data available to create a marketing plan to win. We are still in the learning phase but things are moving fast. I’ll share you with you some of my thoughts and how to effectively use digital in shopper marketing, but like I said the space is moving rapidly, so this is an evolution.

Today Marketing Daily actually had an article on how Shopper Marketing is growing faster than Digital and Social. In the article Matt Egol, who moderated a panel on “Recipes for Success with the Digital Shopper,” talked about how the traditional vehicles have staying power but how consumers are engaging in the digital environment.
A few blogs back we talked about all the technologies and targeting that can be used to drive high ROI for Shopper Marketing initiatives.

I don’t want to devalue other means of driving ROI through shopper marketing; in fact I believe in-store marketing still is driving the highest ROI for CPG manufacturers.

Over the past years I’ve seen a lot of companies talk about capabilities to target consumers based on geo, surf behavior and offline purchase data. Some of it has validity and some it is smoke and mirrors. Some fundamental issues that I’ve seen in these proposals are lack of scale or in some cases even remote ability to show how the targeting really works.

I’ve taken part in numerous digital shopper marketing campaigns and some key learning’s have come out of these programs and I will try to highlight some guidelines as you move forward.
1. Targeting
a. Geo – by creating zip code bundles and in some cases grouping DMA’s we’ve been able to reach large amount of consumers who are more likely to shop at one particular retailer. This is a great way to go broad and deliver scale. We’ve been successful with retailers as big as Wal-Mart and retailers as small as Food Lion.
b. Offline Data – Things get a little funky when thinking about offline data. We have all kinds of companies talking about targeting based on offline data. My recommendation here is use something like Vizu or Dimestore and asks the offline data partner to show you, via a simple question such as “Have you shopped at Target in the past 30 days for food, soda?” or whatever product you are promoting. Offline companies can provide scale but I’ve also seen a lot of these companies lack true audience sizing. Make sure to manage R/F when running these programs

2. Creative
a. Dynamic Ads – I’ve talked about these before but just a refresher. The use of dynamic ads let you pull in appropriate banner stores creative it also can help to deliver creative messaging based on the retail trading area.
b. Personal Retargeting – for brands that have large websites that attract numerous visitors this data can be extremely powerful. For example if you are a large CPG manufacturer and people are visiting a site like Green Giant you can now serve up a Green Giant offering. If they had visited Yoplait now you can serve up a Yoplait ad. Extremely powerful.

3. Publishers and Platform
a. DSP’s – So the DSP’s definitely offer the ability to manage R/F on a global level but the transparency on where the ads run is a little tough to swallow for most CPG companies. The first time you show up on a questionable site you might want to reconsider the DSP angle
b. Networks – Networks definitely provide some control over where you may or may not be seen. Think about scale when trying to determine the right network. Smaller networks will give you transparency but you might be sacrificing scale
c. Publishers – This is the safest environment but most likely the most expensive of all the options. Again thing about scale when running this campaign. Yahoo, Facebook and Google provide some of the largest reach. Figuring out who can overlay 3rd party data or do zip bundles is something you need to figure out. FYI: Yahoo can do both
d. Search – This is probably the cheapest way to reach consumers and obviously you only pay for the click. You will not get scale when you do this but it typically can deliver effective ROI. Today, only Google allows for zip code bundling

By linking the 3 pieces above you can start to create a Shopper Marketing plan that will allow you to learn, react and adjust. Utilizing these 3 areas effectively will put you ahead of the curve of most of the things I’m seeing in digital around shopper marketing.

On a personal note some things are changing for me and my wife, Sara. As some of you may have noticed it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged. We’ve been extremely busy trying to get ready for our big move. Over the next few months I will be transitioning from Yahoo Chicago to Yahoo Atlanta. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and some year round golf. My blogs may be sporadic in the coming weeks but I will do my best to continue to share my thoughts.

Shopper Marketing: Why CPG Manufacturers Are Under Investing in Digital

13 Oct

This past week I had an opportunity to attend the Shopper Marketing Expo at Navy Pier and heard some great speakers talk about how digital and Shopper Marketing are converging to create some unique opportunities.

In talking with the audience that attended the conference you could see the thirst for understanding digital.  Throughout the 2 day expo almost every breakout that focused on digital was entirely sold out.

Shopper Marketing teams, or retail marketing teams as defined by some CPG companies, have been seeking new ways to engage consumers to drive to local retailers to better align with key distribution partners.  The proliferation of private label as well as more selection of products has forced CPG manufacturers to put a renewed focus on this area.

So why are CPG manufacturers making such a big bet in Shopper Marketing.  Below are a few of my thoughts:

1.      Control of the distribution channel continues to be a challenge (Ask those that were removed from Wal-Mart last year)  Here is a blog from Nielsen talking about how stores plan to decrease assortments by 15%

2.      Profitably of Private Label – Kroger looking to acquire more private label companies

3.      Share of Shelf – Think of how many line extensions we have today.  Did you know that there are over 300 kinds of cereal available to consumers?

4.      Competition for Premium Placement in Store.  Think about what you see at eye level?

5.      Ability to get new products on shelf quickly.  Ah the holy grail to a successful launch.

In doing some research for this piece I can see why companies are looking for ways to increase digital investment as 60% of all Gen X and Gen Y shoppers go online before they shop for groceries according to a study done in the spring of 2010.  The proliferation of smart phones and easy access to high speed internet are changing the game.

The panel during one of my breakouts I attended consisted of Tyler Murray from Saatchi, Catherine Roe from Google, Laurie M. Clark from Coke and Kat Kozitza from Kroger.   The panel was moderated by Matthew Egol,Consumer Media and Digital Practice for Booz Partners.

Each member shared where they are seeing success in digital and shopper marketing.   Tyler sharing that the integrating the brand on the retailer website is delivering some of the best success and Laurie shared that value sites such as have worked for Coca-Cola.  As one might expect from a retailer, Kat shared that Digital Circulars have been successful for Kroger.

I won’t go into the detail during this blog, as I could dedicate a series to the information that was shared.  Something that the group did touch on was why we still see such a delta between digital consumption and digital spend.  Everyone seemed to agree that the driving force behind this delta is digital doesn’t show up in the Media Mix Analytics.  While I agree that MMA will help get us more aligned on media consumption and investment by media vehicle, I do think that today we can implement strategies that can change this perception.   Next week I will touch on the ability to tap into the digital offering to maximize the change in consumer behavior.  Here are some of the things to think about when thinking about changing the game and the use of digital in the marketplace.

1.      Dynamic Ads

2.      Retail Trading Area w/ BDI and CDI

3.      Hyper Targeting at Scale

4.      High Impact, High Reach Local Buys

5.      Proliferation of Smart Phones and Location Aware Apps

6.      End of Week Scanner Data Outputs

Next week I will talk about how we can tie all of this together to facilitate greater adoption and accelerate growth in digital in the Shopper Marketing space.

Should I Build An App For My Brand?

27 Sep

We live in an App happy world.   The android market announced they have reached 80,000 apps and the iPhone app store claims to have over 250,000 apps according to Mobile Business Briefing .

Windows marketplace is actively trying to grow and blackberry seems to making a better effort to create a more robust marketplace having finally reached 10,000 apps.  So should your brand have an app?

First, when did this app world explode?  The other day I was telling my dad about this app I downloaded.  My father, who has been in sales for the majority of his life, asked what I what I was applying to, as if I was looking for work at McDonald’s.

For those of you that have been active in downloading apps, basically at this point if you can’t find an app that does what you need you probably haven’t looked hard enough.  In fact people are now complaining that there is too much junk in the app stores.

So before you run out and build an app think about this.  It’s estimated that the average app gets downloaded 22,222 times, based on 225,000 apps with 5 billion downloads as of August this year.

On top of that the average app gets used less than 20 times before they are abandoned according to Pinch Media.  Here is a great blog from Josh Clark on how to create sustainable apps.

Think about you as a user.  I probably have 15 apps and use 3-4, Slacker Radio all the time, and a few other social and infotainment sites.

The question I pose to the brand managers that ask the question of creating an App is, “What consumer need will your app provide a solution to?”  The typical responses are centered on health and wellness, cooking and recipes.  For anyone that trolls the app landscape like me you know that the amount of apps that are out there for these types of things are numerous.    So the questions you have to ask yourself are as follows:

1.       Can you make a better app

2.       Can you create a unique differentiator

3.       Are you committed to evolving and marketing your app

If you can say yes to the 3 things above then it is definitely worth investigating.  Consumer behavior can be changed just think about your surfing behavior.  I’ve gone from Mapquest to Google Maps, Pandora to Slacker Radio and so on and so on.  They all created a product that I felt was better than the one I was using.

I’d also challenge your brand to think outside the constrained walls of your business.  What if your brand created a great social gaming experience with product integration?  It doesn’t have to mimic your website.  Keep in mind your app has to be built for each marketplace.

The estimated cost of building an app is roughly $50K and can range from $25K to over $100K.  You have to commit to investing more in the marketing then you are in the app.  It’s not a build it and they will come world for apps, the exception to the rules are the ones we all read about.  For every 1 of those another 100 that struggle to build a base audience.

Can Apps be a great way to drive a good ROI?  Absolutely.  Many challenges exist but with a well thought out strategy and a commitment to market you can create a compelling app that can drive ROI.  Like everything else you need to have a plan and a vision going into the discussions with key marketing objectives clearly defined.

So what are your favorite Apps?

Here are some of mine you may have never heard of:

Slacker Radio

ESPN Radio (Streams radio from your local town, wherever you are)


Taxi Magic


Gate Guru

Special thanks to Brian Kilmer for helping with some of the data and insight on this blog @btkilmer

@btkilmer shared this with me.  Great article on best branded apps