In the age of utility, more than ever before, products are things we buy to be who we want and live how we want.
For brands, the hardest part of a connected universe is creating openings for prospects to connect on their own terms. That means satisfying the connect-me-now expectation of smartphones and tablets. Luckily, we’re just seeing the first swell of handheld platforms for m-commerce.
One of the pioneers in the second-screen space – what pundits are calling cross-platform engagement and activation – WiO (www.wioffer.com) is paving the way for marketers to turn their best (or at least their most expensive) creative executions – TV spots – into m-commerce vehicles. What’s more, it’s extending the cycle of brand offers to any medium and any time
WiO is an app that works on your smartphone or tablet device. Once you’ve got it, you can point your device at any ad bearing the WiO logo and a keyword to get instant offers for products, purchases, information, sweepstakes or other material the brand is offering nearby. You can do the same thing with billboards, print ads, and in-store displays showing the WiO logo and a keyword. Anytime you want, you can pull up the app, speak or type the name of a product or brand, or listen to commercials, and get any offers that are registered with WiO.
To hear WiO co-founder and CEO Andy Pakula tell it, WiO is taking marketers places that second-screen companies like Shazam and Get This don’t go today, and in the process is extending the state of the art of m-commerce in sustainable ways. What’s most instructive about his proposition is an emphasis on simplicity.
How did you first get the idea?
That’s easy – the escalating use of smartphones and tablets. We saw the possibility that marketers could finally get consumers to engage and activate with their best creative, on television, in a convenient way. If you make it easy for consumers to use, they’ll engage more. If you give them a reason to, they’ll engage more. More engagement means more activation. If you make the process simple, you’ll get more people to use it. The same goes for advertisers. You won’t get on their schedules if you make it too difficult. It has to be an easy process in every way, from technology to reporting to pricing. And, if it’s a new medium, the opportunity has to provide important research.
Is simplicity the greatest value?
Absolutely. That’s what made search engines like Google so popular: a simple proposition of people searching for what they want and advertisers buying keywords that people are searching. These companies didn’t have to produce additional content, and they could expand rapidly based on pure usage. We’re similar in that we’re the most flexible second-screen, cross-platform app. People can see something on TV they want, and they can immediately get an extension of that offer just from clicking or speaking into the phone, right down to the hyper local level. We’re making it convenient and simple for consumers to interact with advertising whether that’s TV, billboards, products on the store shelf, newspapers, listening to the radio, or even at a ballpark. We’re not just tied to TV like Shazam, and we’re not tied to backend cable systems like Connect TV. We allow consumers to engage with any of a marketer’s messages anytime and anywhere – their home, outside, at a friend’s house, in the office, at the beach, anywhere. The more people use it, the more they’ll come to trust it.
How is this simpler for marketers?
We’re actually allowing marketers to connect with consumers across all media from one source, creating a central place for offers. They can measure in real-time how they’re doing across media without having to rely on multiple media companies for implementation, reporting and tracking. Marketers don’t want to spend a lot of money or overhead to get access to consumers across the board.
So what is your new firm actually selling?
We’re selling engagement and activation for marketers across different media and convenience and savings for consumers. Marketers can choose to use WiO the ways they want. We enable up to 14 different actions, including socializing their offers across Facebook, Twitter, SMS and email. All that gets generated dynamically. We’ve made it simple for consumers to engage quickly wherever they are, with just one click to call, buy, visit websites, get coupons, find the nearest location, save information and sale dates, register for movie premieres, enter a sweepstakes – it’s a very long list.
How do I have to change the way I think as a marketer?
Smartphones and tablets are the new consumer POS systems. Marketers need to start driving more activity to these devices. They need to be saying, “How can I take my most important media investments including TV and get people to engage and activate from them?” The world’s biggest marketers also need to think micro, not only, “How can I get consumers to engage?” but, “How can I deliver appropriate local activity to drive sales?” They have to prioritize convenience and make speed work for them. Offer something simple and localized on an ongoing basis. You’re going from a broad, national brand where you have to start thinking like Mom and Pop, and drive local traffic with relevant deals.
Are marketers making the leap?
Marketers and agencies are telling us WiO is a terrific solution, but they still need to understand how to integrate the app into their media plans. They want to do it right. And like any new medium, after a little bit of hand-holding, they’ll get it. This is a tool where you can get payoff today and build a new level of relationship with consumers going forward. It’s really a new way of doing business.
How are content companies reacting?
TV programmers are getting interested in WiO. Programmers are exploring how to use the app, because they’re getting requests from marketers. They’re seeing that WiO can provide a leg up when selling against competitors.
How would you sum up what WiO is in the world?
For consumers, it’s the ability to engage immediately with products and services they see advertised. For advertisers, it’s the ability to get activation from brand advertising, and monitor the action in real time across all media. That’s never been possible before.