It’s been a crazy year. My goal is to blog more often going forward.
It’s been a crazy year. My goal is to blog more often going forward.
When it comes to recommendation engines, Netflix and Amazon are industry leaders. They do a great job of studying a person’s search and purchase history and suggesting new products that the user may enjoy. Amazon takes it a step further by sending suggestions simply based on what you search. For instance, I went to amazon.com the other day and was logged into my amazon account. I searched for “Machine Learning” books, I checked out some books but didn’t buy any. The next day, I got this email:
This is excellent, I can say that this would increase the probability of purchases. (One note I would make is that my name is clearly not “Amazon.com customer”, if Amazon knows my email and can connect that to my search activity, they surely can connect my name to my email address. Small detail, but personal touches matter.)
Strategies like the one above are well implemented to help me come back to the website. But once I am on the website, how do I decide which books to buy? Like most shoppers, I read the reviews. I read the reviews but never leave any, even though I have purchased numerous amazon books. I blame Amazon for the fact that I never review, they can do a better job of encouraging me to leave reviews. It is their job to make leaving reviews as seamless as possible. More reviews lead to more ratings. Their recommendation engine can use my previous reviews to suggest books that are not only similar to the ones I read before, but similar to the ones I read and liked.
Here are some suggestions that would lead to more reviews:
1. Make Reviews Timely and Easy
When is the best time to review a book? When I just finished reading it. When I read a book on my Kindle application, there is nothing on the last page that tells me or encourages me to leave a review. Adding a quick note and field at the end of the book would make it easy for folks to leave thoughtful reviews.
When I log into Spotify, I am notified of people who have subscribed to my playlist or have recently joined Spotify. Why not have something similar on amazon.com? Why not have a notification button that would remind me to leave reviews on books I read?
Alternatively, this can be done on my kindle application. My kindle application shows all of the books I’ve read:
Why not remind me to leave reviews on them? Highlight the books that I need to leave reviews for and allow me to do so in-app.
These quick fixes would increase the number of reviews, improve the recommendation engine, and will help convert more users into buyers.
Mobile gaming is a very competitive space. Many mobile gaming studios feature very similar games and go after the same audiences. Pockets Gems and TinyCo are no different. While these studios have similar games, they have much different strategies when it comes to incorporating facebook into their games. Both have games in the social zoo category, Pocketgems has Tap Zoo and TinyCo has Tiny Zoo.
A good measure of retention is the DAU/MAU ratio, which measures the stickiness of the application.
Recommendations for TinyCo:
While doing some research on the different mobile ad models out there, I created a quick reference chart that I thought I would share:
Not only does Eastern Europe have some of the fastest mobile speeds in the world, the region also features some of the fastest growing rates in mobile ad spending. Ex-Russia, Mobile ad spending grew 302.5% and 148.9% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. When it comes to mobile, Eastern Europe is a region to keep an eye on.
Mobile Ad Spending:
Mobile Ad Spending Growth:
While reading Ooyala’s Video Index White Paper, I came across an interesting infographic that outlines internet connection speeds around the would. I was surprised to see that Greece and Ukraine have the highest mobile and tablet connection speeds, respectively:
Every new year, most people have a new year resolution of going to the gym more. I am no different. Like most people, I decided to act on this resolution in the summer. To track my gym time, I used foursquare checkins.
Foursquare has badges that reward certain achievements. Since I frequented the gym a bunch of times in July, I unlocked the “Gym Rat” badge.
After I was awarded this “Gym Rat” badge, I got these tweets:
I thought, why is GE tweeting me? How did they know I went to the gym? First I wondered how they knew I went to the gym, then I remembered my Foursquare badge. I then wondered if it was a spam message. I figured I would take my chances and followed the @generalelectric account as they requested. I then got this:
Whoa. My name and address? I figured I would give it a shot and dm’d @generalelectric my information. A few weeks later, I got this in the mail:
Pretty cool. I never tied General Electric to fitness but I will definitely do that now. Although there are some friction points, excellent execution.
My father is a news junkie. As a kid, my dad would watch the news with me in the morning and come home after work with two newspapers for me to read. It was a trait that I inherited and carried into adulthood. Being a trader, it was easy to maintain my news fix, as I had a dedicated Bloomberg terminal, so I was always up to date on not only events in finance, but politics and sports as well.
When I left finance and my beloved Bloomberg terminal, I struggled to find a consistent and easy source of news. Digg and Reddit never did it for me. Google Reader was a decent solution until I became an avid Twitter user. Twitter now provides the bulk of my news. I follow industry leaders as well as different news twitter feeds, so I get a constant stream of articles and news posts. Not only do I consume on twitter, I share a lot of articles. I used to just post links into a black hole, so I would only know if someone read my article via a retweet or reply.That gave me inaccurate data as I would miss out on the majority of people who checked out my link. Thats why bitly is the perfect solution. Opening a bitly account allowed me to see which articles people enjoyed.
Since I mostly used Tweetdeck to view twitter, it was easy to connect my bitly account and obtain more data around my twitter posts:
But here is the problem, I don’t always consume news on my desktop. I love to read news on my IPad using FlipBoard. Flipboard is an amazing application that turns your favorite social media accounts and rss feeds into digital magazines. They also make it quite easy to share what you read with your social networks:
Flipboard has its own shortening mechanism. As you can see, my techcrunch link was shortened to flpbd.it, which is great but where are the analytics behind that link? Why can’t I connect my bitly account to my Flipboard application? If there is a way to connect my bitly account to flipboard, it is not clear. Flipboard meet bitly, bitly meet Flipboard, you two would be perfect together.
I’m often asked why I am so bullish on mobile, this blog post will outline why.
It is no secret that tech industry leaders are struggling on the mobile platform. A huge reason why the facebook IPO did not meet expectations is because of their inability to monetize on mobile. Facebook is well aware of this issue and isn’t sitting idle, out of the eight acquisitions they made this year, seven were mobile companies: Acrylic Software, Instagram, Spool, Karma, Lightbox, Tagtile, and Glancee.
Mary Meeker’s 2012 Internet Trends report delves deeper into the mobile monetization issue:
There is also confusion on platform. Just like the early PCs days, where the prominent battle was between Mac and PC, today we are having a battle between Android and iOS. Which platform monetizes better? Opera says that iOS monetizes way better than Android, but TinyCo claims that Android can monetize well if developers focus on it as much as they do iOS. Let’s argue that this evidence is enough proof that you should develop on Android, you then have to worry about development. How do you account for the numerous Android devices? For example, Animonica has to test their application on over 400 devices before they ship. With so much conflicting data and advice, mobile is a confusing place. I truly believe that where there is confusion, there is opportunity.
We are still early, the prevailing thought is that mobile is where the Internet was 7 years ago. When the monetization and platform issues are figured out, there will still be tremendous opportunity, particularly globally.
This chart breaks down mobile phone, Internet, and iOS/Android penetration as a percentage of the world’s population:
Data Source: Flurry
Meeker’s report also highlights the room for growth: In just 3 years, Mobile Traffic as a % of Total Internet Traffic grew from 1% to 10%. There are 1.1 billion 3G mobile subscribers globally, which represents only 18% of the world’s population.
If all of the aforementioned points are not enough to convince you that mobile is an amazing opportunity, let me highlight the amount of mobile innovation in the emerging markets, particularly in Africa. In many ways, mobile innovation in Africa has leapfrogged that in the developed markets:
M-PESA, the mobile banking platform in Kenya, has a user base of 15mm and over $400mm is transferred each month. Despite many attempts, no mobile money business in the developing world has come even close to achieving a percentage of the success that M-Pesa has in Kenya. Even the FT is calling on European leaders to look at Kenya’s M-Pesa as a model to improve the velocity of the euro.
Hattery Labs’s Wash 2.0 white paper outlines how mobile technology can improve sanitation and reduce the prevalence of disease in Africa and South Asia. Hattery Labs worked with the Gates Foundation to explore how mobile gaming has the potential to change hygiene practices and stop the spread of infectious disease. Two games profiled are:
Soap Wars makes hand-washing an entertaining challenge where players use the soap dispenser as a weapon against dangerous germs.
Sanitation Heroes engages players in the process of sanitation maintenance from capturing, transporting, and disposing of feces to reusing it as fertilizer. It features different scenarios in a memory game that prompts the player to match the solution to each different stage of capturing and treating waste.
This level of mobile innovation is done using a combination of J2ME and SMS technology. Imagine when Androids and IPhones become affordable enough for these markets?