Sears Uses SCVNGR to Drive In-Store Location

The US retailer is using the social location game, SCVNGR to drive sales in their footwear and fitness departments. Using a specially developed version of the game, they are encouraging their customers to check-in and try on items at various locations in their stores. Users can also upload photos. In return Sears are offering ‘players’ discounts of up to 20% on purchases and loyalty points. The app certainly ticks a lot of the boxes on getting customer engagement through mobile. It will be interesting to see how this initiative works out.

UK smartphone market share: iPhone, Android & BlackBerry

Update: click here for more stats on current UK smartphones

The latest UK handset share stats have just been released by ICM Research. They have found that Android has the largest share of smartphones at 13%, followed by BlackBerry with 10% and iPhone with 9%. Overall, smartphones have increased their share of handsets in use since last year, with RIM increasing by 4% and Apple adding 2% to their market share. The largest just though was from Android who doubled their market share against the previous year. That’s thanks largely to Samsung and HTC’s mid-range handsets. Windows measly 1% share is also thanks to those two manufacturers.

‘If Apple only have 9%, how come everyone I see (apart from teenagers) has an iPhone?’ you may be asking. There are a couple of reasons for that: first of all we know that iPhone users do more of everything than anyone else – more web browsing, more app downloading – so the chances are much higher that an iPhone user will have their device in their hand. Secondly, Apple only have 2 models on the market, with the 4 and 3gs. All of the other operating systems are represented by a much larger range of phones. That makes the iPhone the most successful single handset.

According to ICM though, the outlook for Android and BlackBerry is very good as they fill the mid-range smartphone gap very nicely. Apple in the meantime probably don’t care that much. What with the app store, they make more profit than all of the others put together.

What’s Next After QR Codes?

See new article, How to Make QR Codes Work in Advertising

Whilst QR codes haven’t exactly been a roaring success, other technologies are appearing that take the basic concept but add more engagement and interactivity. Essentially this is the next iteration of image recognition. Last year, technology company Kooaba showed of their app, which works on the basis of taking a picture, leading to more information. The obvious applications are in brand marketing and the company is focussed to these needs, including an API to integrate into their app. Last month, Royal Mail (yes, the people that occasionally deliver the post in the UK) showed off their Digital Watermarking scheme. Working with technology company Digital Space, they have created an iphone and Android app which provides enhanced information to users who hold their phone over an relevant image. Royal Mail’s interest in this technology is to offer a more exciting, engaging experience from direct mail.

The newest trend on the image recognition front is to combine it with augmented reality (AR). So far, AR on mobile has largely used location to overlay the image with additional information. With Image Recognition AR, you hold your camera over a picture and stuff happens in a virtual environment. Blippar, which was announced this week, showed off this technology in their video (below). They even got their app onto the UK TV news (no name check though) which is good going. They are calling it ‘Image Recognition Advertising’ which Blippar claim that this will make QR codes redundant. This seems to be a strange analogy. QR isn’t exactly universally understood in the way that apps, for example, have become. AR Image recognition actually offers much more than that, by providing a rich and interactive content.

Of course, as with any new technology the bit ‘if’ is that of consumer adoption. Will anyone actually use it? Mobile always works best when it taps into existing behaviours. We want to communicate, we want to play games, we want to shop, we want tools for an easier life. All these needs existed before the mobile phone, and technologies from SMS, to apps or the mobile web simply tap into this. Will the new image recognition apps meet those needs or will it be another technology that brands and marketers love, but most consumers just don’t get?

How To Deal with Unsolicited Accident Claims, Debt Management or PPI Text Messages

New DMA research shows that 43% of people have received one of these messages

In the UK there is currently an epidemic of unsolicited text messages for accidents, debt or mis-sold insurance. These are sent by companies who are seeking leads to sell on to claims management companies or solicitors. They are misleading and breach a number of regulations. Unfortunately there are enough people who have had an accident, in debt or have paid for PPI who understandably believe the messages are genuine. They are not. Often the messages start with words along the lines of ‘FREE MSG: Our records indicate that you are [or ‘you may be’] entitled to …’. If they really had such records then it would be a breach of the Data Protection Act, but they don’t have any records. They are just trying to mislead the recipient. At best these texts are annoying, at worst they could be distressing.
Here’s what you can do about them:

Ignore it
The good news is that receiving such a message in the UK won’t actually cost you any money. Only messages sent from four, five or six digit numbers (called shortcodes) can make a charge to your phone. If the message comes from something that looks like a normal mobile phone or has a name instead of a number then it will not make a charge to your phone. If you think that it has cost you money then report it to the premium rate regulator, Phone Pay Plus immediately. They have emergency powers to close down numbers that are illegally making charges. You can make a complaint by email, phone or even SMS by following this link: http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/For-The-Public/Make-a-complaint.aspx

Don’t delete it immediately, do make a note of the details
An ordinary SMS cannot damage your phone – it can’t add a virus, delete anything or make a charge to your phone bill. If the message icon looks different to other text messages, then it is wise to delete it without opening it, however, if it looks like any other SMS, then it will not cause any problems.

It’s important to make a note of the details including:

  • The time and date you received it
  • What the message said
  • The name or number that it came from

Report it to your operator
In the first instance, tell your operator about it. All of the mobile operators have a spam SMS reporting service:

  • Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Three: Forward the SMS to 7726
  • Vodafone: Forward the SMS to VSPAM (87726)

Alternatively complain through their customer service department.

Report it to the Ministry of Justice
The MOJ regulate companies in the accident claims, debt management and mis-sold claims sector. They are very interested in hearing about companies who send unsolicited messages.

Their website is here: https://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/index.aspx

You can complain by email: info@claimsregulation.gov.uk or by phone on 0845 450 6858 or 01283 233 309 (only use the 0845 number from your landline as phoning from your mobile will be more expensive).

Report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office
As of 26th May 2011, the ICO has new powers to both investigate spam and to raise fines of up to £500,000. They are also keen to hear from anyone who has had an unsolicited SMS from a company.

You can complete the form or call them from this page on their site – http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx

Replying to The Messages
These messages usually include two ‘keywords’, one keyword (such as CLAIM) to make a ‘claim’ and STOP to opt out of further messages.

We would not advise you to reply to the text, however there is no evidence that replying to these messages will either cost you money (other than the cost of sending the text itself) or result in any significant increase in spam. If you reply with CLAIM then you will get a call within a day or so from someone saying they represent a ‘a network of claims management companies’ and asking for details of the accident (or debt or PPI). They sometimes call from a withheld number (which is illegal) and when questioned, they will refuse to give the company name. If you are lucky enough to find out the name of the company, then make a note of it, along with the date and time of the call and any subsequent communications, then report it to the MOJ and ICO (details above).

Replying STOP is probably pointless. They are suggesting that you will be opted out of further communications but there is no evidence that they will actually do this.

If you reply with anything else (including threats or profanity) then it will simply be ignored. These messages are received by a computer which will only recognise the specific keyword (eg CLAIM), which is then passed on to the call centre. Anything else will simply disappear into cyberspace and will never be read by a human. The best way to get revenge is to report it to the organisations listed above.

The regulators are well aware of the problem with spam SMS and are currently working closely with operators and industry experts to both stop these messages. Providing as much information as you can to the regulators will help catch the spammers.

A Week on Foursquare: WSJ Looks at the Data

An interesting set of sets has appeared from the Wall Street Journal who looked at a week’s worth of check-ins on Foursquare in February. Comparing two of the social location’s most popular cities, New York and San Francisco, it reveals some interesting (but not totally unsurprising) stats:

  • Out of 2 million+ venues, 44.5% had just one check-in
  • 2,500 venues had 100 or more check-ins
  • 61% of the check-ins were from men
  • Men were more likely to check-in to transport venues, whereas women veered towards beauty and health venues (such as doctors’ surgeries)
  • The most check-ins – over 13,000 – wasn’t a venue at all but Snowpocalypse, celebrating the heavy snow fall that week

View the complete figures from WSJ here