Thursday, October 7, 2010

Apps with social functionality drive better interaction rates: CTIA panel

This is the key message to take home “We’re evolving the social aspect, not just attracting the audience, but also engaging the audience.” It is all about being social and not just pushing content but interacting and communicating WITH people and not TO people.

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Apps with social functionality drive better interaction rates: CTIA panel

During the “Applications: Social Networking” panel, speakers discussed the importance of having a social functionality in mobile applications. The panel was moderated by Mark Donovan, senior vice president of mobile and senior analyst at comScore, Reston, VA.

“It’s all about people wanting to share,” said Michael Luna, chief technology officer of Seven Networks, San Francisco. “To us, it’s not whether they share on Facebook or Twitter.

“We’re enabling them to have that experience with sharing,” he said. “It’s about the experience that the consumer gets.

“We’re all about how do you deliver all that content and enable that in a way that allows people to still communicate.”

Mobile video
MobiTV worked with NBC and AT&T on a mobile campaign for the Winter Olympics.

The company featured on-demand video highlights of the event in an application and integrated social networking. This includes a Twitter integration that let users follow athletes within the application.

“We saw a tipping point in the application,” said Ray DeRenzo, chief marketing officer of MobiTV, San Francisco. “More people were involved in the social aspect of the application and there were groups of people following a skier of Ghana.

“What started out as a video proposition, morphed into a social network application,” he said. “We’re evolving the social aspect, not just attracting the audience, but also engaging the audience.”

Companies investing in video should focus on the experience and engagement, per Mr. DeRenzo.

MobiTV makes its money via subscriptions and finds that the combination of video and social makes it a true value to consumers, therefore they do not mind paying.

“It’s context for the conversation,” Mr. DeRenzo said. “It’s what they’re about, what they’re seeing in the video.”

Mr. DeRenzo talked about his work with the NBA on an application.

The application streamed live basketball games. At the same time, consumers could interact with each other via the application and trash-talk the other team.

“We’re trying to bring a new and more personalized experience to the mobile phone and the tablet, for example, is another platform for us to be able to do that," Mr. DeRenzo said.

Social helps mobile
For music discovery engine Shazam Entertainment, social is building page views, which drives advertising dollars.

“Consumers come back to use our service more and more because they want that social currency,” said Andrew Fisher, CEO of Shazam, London. “Once we launched the Facebook badge on our application, users wanted to be the first in their peer group to get the badge.

“Then that stimulated their friends to join in,” he said. “There was a greater justification using the mobile application because of the social element to it.”

What Mr. Fisher finds important about social is that users can connect with friends who do not have to be on the same handset or network as them.

“Businesses will succeed [using] social,” Mr. Fischer said.

Mobile games
Games play another key role in how companies incorporate social into mobile.

Farmville gained a lot of success online, especially via Facebook.

Now, there is a Farmville application where users can not only interact with the game, but also with their friends. There is a Facebook feature in the application that takes user engagement to another level.

“Bringing games to consumers is a win-win for everyone,” said Jen Herman, director of Farmville Mobile at Zynga, San Francisco.

“Also, developing for HTML5 and using an application in functionality that’s native to the device that you’re on is important,” she said. “I think that we’re going to see explosive growth of social gaming on mobile.”

Augmented reality
William Volk, CEO of Playscreen, San Diego, thinks augmented reality will play a big role in the future.

“Augmented reality is going to give users another incentive to play games,” Mr. Volk said. “People are also going to want to compete for things, rather than buy things."

Mr. Volk said that brands should not just place a simple banner ad into an application because it takes something more innovative to really engage consumers in a dialog. 

“[For example], when a user plays a social game, they get a coupon or something,” Mr. Volk said. “That makes so much more sense.”


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