Accessing the mobile site for Forex.com, a site that facilitates trading opportunities in forex and other global markets, revealed some peculiar labeling. The image at the top of the mobile page reads "ForexTrader.Wireless," which is confusing for a number of reasons.
Most glaringly, .WIRELESS is not an established gTLD, nor is it even a gTLD that anyone applied for in the New gTLD Program; it does not exist. If the gTLD doesn't exist, the domain name can't exist, which makes navigating directly to ForexTrader.Wireless impossible.
Additionally, Forex doesn't even own ForexTrader.com, making the choice of branding the mobile of the site in this way even more curious. It appears that the use of ForexTrader.Wireless is purely aesthetic, but it certainly raised some questions.
Have you heard? There’s a new technology making its way to the masses of the Western world: QR codes. Formerly reserved for the technologically savvy and (let’s face it) slightly geeky, QR codes are now being integrated into mass marketing. The young and the old, smartphone and “normal” phone users alike are invited to scan these two-dimensional codes in order to access additional branded content online.
Purely from a marketing standpoint, QR codes hold a great deal of potential. They prompt viewers to engage with the brand across multiple touch points — in print and then on their phones through video, audio, or even a website — and getting consumers more involved with your brand is always desirable. Plus, the novelty factor alone is likely to generate great word-of-mouth buzz for brands that use this technology.
Not sure they will catch on? The Smithsonian family of museums just completed a large campaign that used QR codes to facilitate a scavenger hunt through nine of its museums, where visitors could check in to answer questions and compete for an Apple iPad. Sports Illustrated also introduced QR codes in a recent issue so that readers could unlock additional images of some of its swimsuit models. Ralph Lauren was using these codes as early as 2008 to promote mobile shopping. The possibilities are vast.
From a direct navigation standpoint, QR codes are great because they can link directly to a URL, thereby eliminating the risk of type-in errors. Scanning a code that transports the user to web content ensures that viewers are presented with your brand’s content and that they are not diverted to another site. Not to mention, tiny keyboards can make typing addresses into a phone’s browser a hassle. Scanning a code is much quicker and, therefore, makes consumers much more likely to engage with brands when they’re on the go.
QR codes are not playing a huge role in computer-based web browsing. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if these codes become the next big trend on the mobile web.
A new kind of Public Service Announcement (PSA) has arrived - the public service app. It looks like smartphone apps are no longer limited to games, drink recipes, and social media platforms, meant purely to entertain us and keep us from having to interact with others during those oh-so-tedious minutes waiting for the elevator, bus, or metro. According to CNN and Mashable, both the United States and UK governments have now released a handful of official apps for both the iPhone and Android that are designed to improve citizens’ quality of life. Several US government agencies, including NASA, FEMA, and the EPA, have released apps to provide up-to-date information related to their activities, and both countries have released a variety of lifestyle apps designed to help citizens lose weight or get better gas mileage. The UK has also created apps that are meant to help users quit smoking or find a job.
I think these lifestyle apps are very interesting. They offer citizens additional, “on-the-ground” support for achieving goals set forth by government programs, like getting people to eat better, exercise more or quit smoking. These apps could boost participation in those programs by making such efforts more convenient, more manageable, or even more fun.
Just a few years ago, the Internet was the undisputed king of consumer engagement. Directing citizens to a website equipped with facts, tips, and recommended plans-of-action is much more interactive, and usually more successful, than simply instructing viewers to take action via a television ad. Now, however, smartphone apps are becoming the hottest way to engage customers. Apps provide instant and individual programming to users every day no matter where they are — not just at their computers. These two governments appear to understand that both consumer habits and forms of communication are rapidly changing, and they are aptly trying to adapt their messaging.
Most, if not all, of these apps have corresponding websites, and it is unlikely that the apps will cannibalize traffic from the websites already in place. For extended visits and in-depth searching, consumers are still likely to prefer using their computer to a smartphone. Instead, these apps will hopefully augment the existing sites and make consumers more likely to engage with and integrate the content into their daily lives. If these apps catch on, the age of mobile marketing could work wonders for the PSA.