6 New Mobile and Digital Trends

Have you heard about what Sears is doing?

Sears Auto Center is conducting a marketing campaign online for drivers all across the nation this summer.

Their mission: Take $1,500 for gas, food and lodging and make a video introduction of yourself with those going along with you then Tweet, blog, report to Facebook and video your adventure.

Some think Sears has pulled off a TV reality series without TV for the new age for pennies on the dollar.

Sears Auto signs have to adorn participating cars and they will use social media as content along with pre-recorded video introductions.

“Exploring My America” consists of 21 teams on week long trips to places like the Appalachian Trail, the Dixie Overland Highway and Route 66 from Chicago to LA. Each car (sorry, winners have to use their own) gets a $500 tune-up at Sears Auto Center and gets equipped with a video camera and WiFi card to help the images keep flowing at exporingmyamerica.com.

Sears reportedly received 100 video auditions by the beginning of July. Online viewers do the voting. Each week from July 11 through August 28, viewers are voting for their favorite team after watching online photos, videos and reading blog entries created on the road. The winning team gets $500.

Earlier in the year Pepsi bailed on the Super Bowl and did a community activism promotion where local do-good groups could receive some of the millions they were offering. Again, online voters determine who gets the money for their community campaigns.

Increasingly, advertisers are going on their own to use the Internet as an alternative to traditional media.

Radio could be and should be doing these promotions which sound very much like radio promotions from another day. Radio got lost in its own robo world when it relied on ticket giveaways and texting contests. It may be time for a rebirth of local radio promotions that may (or may not) reside on the station’s airwaves.

There is an audience out there that is worth harnessing and radio people have the talent to find it. Note the sports teams that are starting to treat their venues as social networking opportunities by tying them together during the game.

Broadcasters feel comfortable broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week and letting the audience catch them.

It’s obvious that content providers are going to now have to catch consumers where they live and work in other ways.

Five other interesting trends to keep an eye on:

1. Now people over 65 are adopting Facebook at a faster pace than any other age group – 6.5 million in May alone and more than three times from a year earlier according to comScore. Young demographics were indeed the earlier adopters.

2. Americans have increased their time on social networking sites by 43 percent, while their use of email has declined by 28 percent according to Nielsen. Some 40 percent of American’s on-line time is spent on social networks (22.7%), online games (10.2%), and e-mail (8.3%). These categories increased from 37% a year earlier.

3. An analyst for Simba Information says Americans use e-books at a rate much slower than it thinks. But there will be an estimated ten million e-readers out there by the end of the year up from only four million a year ago. Reading books electronically could be ready to take off but don’t count the Kindle out. Apple’s iPad has eye fatigue issues (not good for serious readers). There is also distraction from mail, the Internet, video and other things with the iPad that further complicate the segment. Color Kindles are on the horizon.

4. Streaming music subscription services continue to be rolled out even though no one service has caught fire. The latest is Rdio, a social music service that offers an unlimited streaming of seven million songs to computers and smart phones for $9.99 per month. Consumers can purchase tracks for 99 cents. This product and others such as Rhapsody seem built more for the record labels than a consumer. The labels insist on doing subscriptions their way which is why it will take Apple to stream your iTunes library from the cloud to make subscriptions work.

5. Android has become the number two smart phone behind iPhone (now 34% of the market). Blackberry slipped to third place within the past few weeks and RIM’s new iPhone-acting Blackberry isn’t selling all that well. It looks like a race between Apple and Google on this category. Global shipments of mobile phones running Google’s Android system grew 886% in the second quarter from a year ago (source: Canalys) and Apple is continuing to sell iPhones as fast as they can make them. Canalys analyst Pete Cunningham says, "By 2013, smartphones will grow to represent over 27 percent of shipments worldwide, with the proportion in some developed markets in Western Europe surpassing 60 percent and 48 percent in North America."

The first ten years of this new century were devoted to the Internet.

The next ten will be about the mobile Internet.

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