Monthly Archives June 2014

How TV Apps Are Changing The Marketing Landscape

Back in 2009, Flightpath designed one of the first TV Everywhere apps, by incorporating a live streaming feed into Cablevision’s MSG Varsity app.  We’ve just finished the third iteration of the app and in the ensuing years, television viewing habits have changed dramatically.

TV Everywhere, a term for authenticated viewing of broadcast shows from channels you subscribe to on your cable or satellite network, grew in popularity by 246% over last year, according to a study by Adobe.  Today, 1 out of 5 households use TV Everywhere apps to watch television content.

adobe2

While the future of TV in general is still up in the air, marketers would be crazy to ignore the soaring number of TV Everywhere apps when thinking about their upcoming marketing strategies.

Below are four TV app trends marketers should watch out for:

Cross-platform marketing of TV apps

On tablets, over the top (OTT) service apps such as Netflix currently have more users than those offered by both TV networks and operators.  Why is this?  Lack of marketing efforts for existing TV Everywhere apps.  Expect network marketers to increase promotion of their TV app in traditional and digital ads.

Greater selection of advertisements

Consumption habits have shifted and viewers are now watching multiple episodes at a time.  To avoid bombarding the viewer with repetitive ads, marketers need to provide a wider variety of advertising content for these engaged users.

TV as an e-commerce platform

With the recent release of Amazon Fire TV, it’s hard not to think about the synchronization of e-commerce and television.  Imagine a consumer watching content and being able to seamlessly save and purchase their favorite items from the show.  Now is the time for marketers to start thinking about TV as the next screen for commerce.

Integrated social components

Consumers are demanding more and more from the TV watching experience and social media is no exception.  Social media is a natural platform for discussing TV content but consumers want the interaction to be as seamless as possible without taking them away from what they’re watching.  If TV apps begin incorporating social media functionality, marketers will want to take advantage of additional real-time marketing opportunities with TV viewers.

This post was written by Stephanie Bousquet (@sbousquet), Marketing Manager at Flightpath.

The Future of Facebook: Is Paid Reach Declining?

Since Facebook’s recent statements regarding their algorithm change, the topic of conversation for many marketers and business owners has been organic reach (or lack thereof). The issue of declining organic reach is something we have been aware of and dealing with for clients since August 2013. However, lately we have been noticing an even more alarming trend: the decline of paid reach.

Starting mid-April 2014, we noticed a significant decrease in paid reach on promoted posts across all of our clients’ brand pages. Overall, we’re seeing the cost per reach nearly doubling.  

cost-per-reach-v1.8

There is always the possibility this decline in paid reach was caused by minor changes in content and scheduling but for the most part we have followed a consistent campaign strategy since implementing promoted posts. It seems highly unlikely that we would see this trend across multiple clients all within the same time frame.

One thing to note is that although paid reach decreased, engagement levels appeared to remain the same.

So what does this mean? It’s hard to say for certain but it could force companies to dish out even more money to reach the same number of fans. In other words, expect the cost of effective promoted posts to rise (especially as more and more brands start to utilize this advertising option).

In the future, marketers may want to focus on narrowing the targeted audiences on promoted ads, increasing engagement rates and ramping up influencer marketing strategies to see continued success on Facebook.

This post was written by John Lee (@johnlee27), Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Flightpath.

Intro to Merchello: A New E-Commerce System from Umbraco

Merchello is a new, open source e-commerce system for Umbraco that was recently announced at uWestFest. It was created by Rusty Swayne of Mindfly and Jason Prothero of ProWorks. Being new, it may not be as mature and feature-rich as other systems such as Magento or uCommerce, but it has promising potential and fills a niche by providing a free, open source e-commerce solution for Umbraco web sites.

Why Merchello?

There are a number of reasons that make Merchello a compelling choice for building e-commerce websites. For one, it is licensed under the Open Source Initiative-approved MIT license. This means that it is free to use and modify. And that means you can customize it to meet your specific needs. In fact the architecture of the system is designed to make the entire storefront experience customizable.

Merchello embraces the philosophy and design principles of Umbraco. Many content management systems have a lot of plugins and modules that provide extra functionality but you are often stuck with their user experience design and it takes a lot of effort to customize that experience. Umbraco embraces simplicity and gives developers an API to build a custom user experience. Likewise, Merchello allows developers to build a custom online retail experience by providing an API for adding store functionality to the front end of their Umbraco website. The API follows the patterns and practices of the Umbraco core API, so it is easy for an experienced Umbraco developer to learn and use. The Merchello creators have provided a great sample site (pictured below) to show how to use the API to build store functionality such as product display, a shopping cart and the checkout process which you can use as a starting point. And, of course, since it is built on Umbraco, a Merchello storefront can leverage all the features and APIs that come with Umbraco to provide a great web experience.

Merchello example

Merchello’s back office embraces the new, elegant design of Umbraco 7. With Umbraco 7, the back office interface was completely redesigned and implemented using Angular.js so that it is more responsive and easy to use. The Merchello back office integrates with Umbraco in a way that is consistent with it’s user experience and extends it to provide catalog and order management. It also follows Umbraco 7’s plugin architecture for providing support for adding additional payment, shipping and taxation providers to process payment and calculate shipping and taxation.

Features

While the current release of Merchello (version 1.1) is missing some basic features, it is quickly evolving and new features are being added regularly with frequent releases.

The current version has:

  • Catalog/product management with full-text search
  • Variant pricing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shipping methods based on providers (with flat rate and UPS providers available)
  • Payment methods based on providers (with cash and Authorize.net providers available)
  • Order management with credit card payment capture and shipping tracking

Upcoming versions will have:

  • Order notifications
  • Persisted customers integrated with the Umbraco member system
  • A Paypal payment processing provider
  • Support for multiple warehouses
  • Back office Localization

The creators of Merchello are also looking for input on what functionality to include and prioritize and, as an open source project, are of course open to accepting contributions. You can find more information about Merchello from the links in this Bitly bundle: http://bit.ly/Merchello.

This post was written by Alex Lindgren (@alexlindgren), Director of Technology at Flightpath.

Build a Better Hamburger Menu; Because It’s Not Going Anywhere

Over the past several weeks, the hamburger menu has received some seriously bad internet PR for being a poor navigation tool that destroys engagement.  One article even referred to the three-lined menu item as “the devil”.

Whether you love or loathe the hamburger icon, it is hard to deny that is has become somewhat of a design standard over the past 5 years, thanks to growing mobile apps and users.  Also, now that responsive design is the norm, the hamburger icon is even more prevalent across all screens.

In a recent article, one UX designer raised a very valid question: “Why kill a ubiquitous icon, which our users know and understand, and replace it with a new iteration for them to learn all over again?”

We would have to agree with this logic. We have bigger design problems than the hamburger menu for which we could be finding solutions. Why not simply improve on this design foundation that we worked so hard to build?

In hopes of saving the hamburger menu, we’d like to offer 5 ways to enhance it:

  • Streamline your IA no matter what.  Menu bar items should serve a necessary purpose and be prioritized based on the users needs.  Hamburger menus should not be a dumping ground for worthless content.
  • Add a ‘menu’ label to the icon if you are worried about users not identifying the navigation action.  It’s all about knowing your audience; most mobile users recognize that this icon signifies action so it may not be necessary.
  • Leave user utility items such as ‘sign-in’ or ‘donate’ on the main screen in addition to having them in the sidebar menu.  Without overloaded navigation tabs, this can actually emphasize these important conversion points.
  • On desktop, increase efficiency and changes in navigation patterns by allowing the menu to remain static once it has been opened.  At least for large desktop screens, the existing content should be able to scale accordingly without overwhelming the user with too much information.
  • Have some fun with it. A major reason the design community is so up in arms about the hamburger icon may in part be due to our own laziness and reliance on it.  If nothing else, standardizing the icon should give us more opportunities to present this menu in surprising, exploratory ways.

That being said, there are times when designers should not utilize the hamburger menu: e-commerce and transactional sites (for the most part) and sites with very few navigation tabs.  In these cases, there are plenty of alternative navigation menu options designers can use instead of the hamburger menu.

As designers, we need to make smart, strategic decisions when determining a design format.  It doesn’t make sense to completely write off a design element that serves an important purpose, like the hamburger icon, but it’s important we don’t throw all caution to the wind and abuse it.  There are rules and there are no rules; just guidelines.