Grow your kid-targeted IP with Vine

Posted on May 4, 2013 | No Comments

So, I’ve been out of commission lately as I had a baby in January. Veronica is a great kid and like every new parent, I naturally gravitate to Facebook to share her latest adventures.  One of the easiest ways for me to do this has been through Twitter’s Vine app.

Vine App

Vine is a mobile app that records and publishes six seconds of video. This length of video is perfect because I can tell you firsthand, most people have no desire to watch long videos of your offspring, even if they are the cutest thing.

Using the app is super easy – touching the screen starts the record function and releasing your finger acts as a cut-edit.  Once the recording is completed, the video is then looped so your viewers can watch the action over, and over, again.

Hmm… watch over and over again, I say? Why, isn’t that a typical request of the average preschooler? “Again! Again!” Methinks there might be an opportunity here for this industry to really take this app and make huge waves.

Given the firmly established passback phenom, where parents are handing over their mobiles to kids to play games and watch videos, there’s an opportunity to use Vine as a means to promote some fun features about your IP within the social media space.  It also gives a reason for more parents and kids to follow your brand on Twitter or Facebook if you’re regularly posting these quick and entertaining videos.

For inspiration, social media success story Oreo has some great examples on Vine. And feel free to also follow me – though fair warning, most of the videos will be about the baby or my dog.  For example:

Help People find your Mobile App

Posted on May 30, 2012 | No Comments

Let’s say you spent the money to develop the best, most awesome mobile app ever to teach people about, oh, I don’t know… the weather. But no one is downloading the app. How? Why?

Before dropping some money on a digital media campaign, have you considered:

The App Category

You may feel your ebook app features educational content because it teaches readers about thunderstorms and where snow comes from… but will potential customers be looking under educational or under… books?

Think about how your users will want to find your app.

Your Description

Based on the idea of helping your users find your app, consider keywords and key phrases they would use to look for a weather ebook and use them as part of your app description. If you’ve managed to get any reviews on your app, be sure to include snippets to help users decide.

The Image

Does the picture used to demonstrate your weather ebook app really show what the app’s all about? Is it a compelling image? Is it misleading?

Your Cost

Have you charged a reasonable amount for your app? Have you done any promotional sales to help draw new users who were on the fence?

Your Competition

Doing a competitive analysis of apps that are similar to yours (and those most popular ebooks) can give you tips and tricks on how to write your description, what keywords to use and where to get your new customers. Don’t automatically pull up Angry Birds and consider that as your competition, unless you’re creating an addictive mini game. Use other books in the category, consider similar topics, themes and features for your competitive analysis.

Try these steps before spending money on your digital ad campaign to give your app the best chance in an overcrowded market, or email us. We can help expand this strategy to ensure all your bases are covered.

When Bad Mobile Strategy Happens to Silly People

Posted on April 18, 2012 | No Comments


The City of Toronto announced an app today to help citizens reach its “311” information service, and it’s being promoted as an easy way to take a picture graffiti and send it to the government so it can be cleaned up.

The app costs $1.99.

While a portion of the money will go to support the library, you may ask yourself “why on earth would I pay $2 to download an app when I can do it for free?”


The most important thing to ask yourself with any digital endeavour is WHY. If you cannot answer the WHY, the product should not be made.

Why would someone download this app when your Apple iPhone will easily take pictures and attach them to outgoing email?

Why would someone download this app over calling Toronto’s information line: 311?

Why release this app only on iPhone?

Why would a citizen report graffiti on their iPhone when the average person who may complain is elderly and may not feel comfortable sending information via their mobile?


At least it’s not a QR code campaign.

Building an app for your TV Show

Posted on July 22, 2011 | No Comments

This one-hour video highlights how some television companies sync their TV content with apps downloaded on a mobile. If you don’t have time to watch it right now, I’ve got some highlights below, and a tip on how to make it work for your audience:

The most popular new app technology that syncs a handheld with a TV show is Nielsen’s Media Sync. This technology created buzz last February when ABC launched its Grey’s Anatomy app, where users were encouraged to open the app while watching the episode.

How it works

Using Nielsen’ audio watermark, which embeds audio triggers throughout a TV show to gather Nielsen television ratings, show content can be picked up by the microphones on smartphones to launch episode-specific activities, such as behind the scene footage, polls, and other additional content.

The video above shows two different examples of the application, and it does present a lot of opportunities to allow your audience to easily interact with the content, which is important because Yahoo! reported in January 2011 that 86% use their mobile while watching television.

How to Make this Work for Your TV Show

To make an app like this work with your TV show means considering the user experience and providing value for the interactivity.

This type of application seems like a natural fit for sporting events or live reality shows, but what can be accomplished to engage the user of a dramatic series like Grey’s Anatomy beyond providing trivia and poll questions?

As this technology grows, content creators and TV producers need to understand how the content they put into this application will be used by the user, and identify what will make their viewers want to participate each time the show is broadcast.

Producers and broadcasters must also be willing to admit when this type of interactivity may not be a natural fit for their TV program. To maximize this potential (or recognize its usefulness early), it’s important to consider the content implications during the development and scriptwriting phase, in order to properly exploit its opportunities. By engaging in this technology at the earliest stage, there are opportunities to create your own audio watermarks to make the audience do something with their iPad and create a truly interactive experience. reaches new heights

Posted on July 14, 2011 | No Comments has reached profitability two years ahead of schedule, according to its BBC Worldwide blog today: reaches new heights | BBC Worldwide Blog.

Their success comes from three key areas:

– Understanding their international audience, by bringing in local stories balanced with a global perspective

– Tailoring its editorial  and product offering to expand across multiple platforms, such as mobile and smart TV apps

– Building sales and marketing capability to lure in local clients. “We still had to assume that the medi buyer we were pitching to in, say Chicago had never heard of us before.”

In the coming weeks, stay tuned to this blog as I’ll show you how investing in Content Strategy can help you achieve revenue growth and a better understanding of’s 3 key areas for success: audience; tailoring content; and marketing.

Group Messaging Apps Explained

Posted on January 11, 2011 | No Comments

A friend of mine just got an iPhone and was frustrated by an app she got that promised free texting – mainly because none of her friends got her texts. Yeah, we’d all be frustrated too.   Fortunately, there are better options!

Group messaging apps are real-time ways to text people for free, no matter what kind of smart phone they have (in theory). It’s like MSN Messenger or iChat for your phone… or for those Blackberry users, it’s BBM but works across all phones. While the cost to text isn’t necessarily prohibitive to all smartphone users (unless you’re traveling, then it’s ridiculous), it’s worth trying out something free, right?

There are a few apps that have been around for a while – Meebo, Beejive, etc, which use your preexisting memberships to Instant Messagers such as Yahoo! or MSN, but here are a few that break out:

Kik launched in late 2010 and I’d love to love it because it’s created in Canada, but it’s restrictive because you can only communicate with other Kik members. The app asks to scan my address book to find other Kik members, but since my contacts include some old and new work related people, I wanted to add my friends manually. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it because I could only search by Kik user name instead of pulling via predictive text from my address book, which is what I expected. Its creator, a former employee of RIM, is currently being sued by the maker of the Blackberry and the app has been pulled from its store.

Beluga was created by former Google employees and its app is available for iPhone and Android – but you can still access Beluga conversations, or “pods” from any mobile browser. You do need to sign in to use the service, but the process is really simple. While in the app, it uses predictive search using your address book to find who you want to start a conversation with (rather than automatically scanning for its members – great!).  You can turn on a map feature so people you text know where you are (very cool), though it’s not an exact science – I’m texting someone who is in the same room as me, but the map indicates I’m a few blocks away. I mean, really. In this snowstorm? No thank you. Another cool feature- it updates your conversation by scrolling down/release to refresh – just like in the Twitter app. I love that more apps are adopting this functionality.

GroupMe is another app, but it’s unfortunately not available in the Canadian iTunes store. I can’t test it.

I know a lot of people who love their Blackberries because of BBM, so the ability of apps to share this functionality across all different types of smartphones might be a text killer and save us all some money. I wonder if Beluga will ever make it into the Blackberry app store… hmm…

Are there other similar messenger apps to try out? Let me know.

Apps and ads

Posted on January 3, 2011 | No Comments

About 10 years ago when I had a gym membership, I was frustrated to see large scale ads in the change room. I was paying almost $100 a month (I know…) to use this upscale space for working out, and now I was forced to see illuminated advertising billboards? Since I was paying a premium price, shouldn’t I have been spared from the gym trying to make an extra buck?

It’s with this memory I look to the app store and acknowledge the increase number of ad-supported apps that are now available for download.

For free apps, it appears most people are willing to accept ads, such as lower thirds or sponsor pages. Some publishers, however, appear to be experimenting with advertising on slightly higher priced apps to either offset the cost of development or appease their internal sales teams. One random app I recently came across was from Real Simple magazine. Its $4.99 “No Time to Cook app was released on December 19 and looks great. However, of its 4 reviews on the iTunes app store, half complain about its use of advertising.

Commenter Jason Matte writes: “Are you kidding me? The unwritten rule in the app store is that if you pay for it, it should be ad free.”

Is that true? Is $5 considered a premium, ad-free price for an app? It costs about $25/year to subscribe to the Real Simple magazine, and that’s chock-full of advertising. So, what gives?

Some apps, rather than choosing the ad-based model, have offered a free app that sells premium content. Take, for example, Word Lens – an app that uses your phone’s camera to translate foreign languages into your mother tongue.  The free app provides a mirror image of the words, which gives users a good testing ground before purchasing language packs for $5 that translate English to Spanish.

This model seems to make sense, considering most people would pay more than $5 for a travel book with local phrases. Yet some vocal commenters angrily gave the app one star for using this model, stating the mirror image doesn’t show how the app works.

Are complaints about these business models examples of angry troll behaviour, or are users only reacting because the business model is uncontrollably changing from what they were taught was the norm?

Location apps, because you want to be followed

Posted on October 19, 2010 | No Comments

While I do enjoy Foursquare for its multitude of uses, from a social game to a cool app for instant tips from locals, I do understand why people roll their eyes at me when I insist on checking into a place. For those people, they don’t see a purpose to this app. Their iPhone probably has a weather app, maybe a to-do list and maybe a news feed: all solid, informative apps that turn their phone into a tool of function rather than a tool of fun.

Well, here’s an app that puts the fun in function. Yes, I just wrote that. Marco is technically a game of Marco Polo, except this time you access the app to find out where your friends are located. Say you’re waiting for your friend to arrive for dinner. You access the app and enter your friend’s name – it sends a text message (using your address book) that says “Marco! Show (the sendee) your location on a map” with a link. Click the link, and your friend is taken to the Marco website, where he/she taps a button to send an SMS “Polo” back. You don’t need to have the Marco app on his or her phone for this to work. From there, you receive the SMS “Polo,” which tells you how far away your friend is from arriving.

Similar apps already exist. The most popular one is Loopt, which has partnerships with most U.S. mobile carriers as a social mapping device, that also works as a loyalty service. Yet it isn’t yet available outside of the U.S.

Marco Polo is technically a game, sure – but the developers have created an app that can appeal to those users who dislike social gaming.  And those who do like gaming can redefine their usage of this game at their own leisure.