Mobile Gaming’s Whales Overwhelmingly Male, Spend Big On All Types Of Video Games

Source: Forbes

Call me Ishmael. And call mobile game developers and publishers Ahab. Turns out, monetizing apps is a lot like hunting Moby Dick.

After all, in the mobile gaming business, nothing is more important than the elusive “whales.”

“We classify mobile whales as the top 5% of mobile spenders,” Jesse Divnich, of video game research firm EEDAR, tells me. “They spend in excess of $10 or more a month on mobile gaming.”

The firm recently published their 2013 Deconstructing Mobile & Tablet Gaming report, which surveyed 3,000 self-identified gamers.

They’ve put together a handy infograph to summarize the findings:

As you can see, young men are more likely to be whales than women, by a 2:1 ratio, which is one reason we see games targeting male audiences more than females.

Of course, this becomes a cyclical problem and says just as much about potential untapped markets as it does about current spending data.

Whales aren’t merely a mobile phenomenon, however.

“The PC market has been making a comeback for years,” Divnich says, “but keep in mind for Non-Payers, their PC gaming distribution is primarily on social networking sites like Facebook. Among whale mobile gamers, their PC distribution is primarily in core categories such as MMOs and First-Person Shooters.”

Divnich adds that “core mobile gamers are often core console gamers as well” suggesting the two demographics are not always as disparate as we like to think.

This is why free-to-play is on the rise on PC and console systems, and why we’re only going to see more of this trend in the next generation.

When it comes to the Xbox One and PS4, Divnich points out that these “consoles are not just competing with each other, but all forms of interactive entertainment.”


How Responsive Design Boosts Mobile Conversions


How Responsive Design Boosts Mobile Conversions

Google is a strong advocate of responsive design. Mashable named2013 “The Year of Responsive Design”. But is responsive web design actually the answer to boosting mobile conversions?

2012 was a milestone year in the consumer devices market. For the first time since 2001,PC sales were lower that they were the previous year. Tablet sales are expected to top laptop PC sales for the first time in 2013. In addition, Nielsen reports that 55% percent of U.S. mobile subscribers own smartphones and 2 out of 3 Americans opt for a smartphone instead of a feature phone when purchasing a new mobile.

Mobile usage is increasing and translating into a growing percentage of mobile visitors. If businesses operating online want to benefit from this trend, they need to optimize the mobile experience for their website visitors.

Shopping on mobile devices can be a pain

The process of trying to buy something from a desktop design site with a smartphone can be summed up with one word – pain. Navigating from from one end of the site to the other, zooming in and out to find relevant content. Filling forms that assume that you are a screen tapping ninja and the checkout button which has the link “Terms and Conditions” below, making it an unexpected challenge to reach the checkout page. It´s no wonder that61% of mobile visitors move on to competitors sites after encountering a frustrating mobile browsing experience.

Meanwhile, mobile visitors are becoming more comfortable in taking action with their mobile phones, when its favored that is. Nielsen reports that 29% of smartphone owners have used their device for online shopping. The percentage will surely increase as businesses improve the mobile browsing experience on their sites. Companies that have already acknowledged the potential, and have invested in improving the mobile experience are reaping the benefits.


A good example of a company who is successfully converting mobile traffic, a family-owned retailer of underwear, sleepwear and lounge-wear. announced 2012 mobile commerce sales of $168,000, accounting for 5.4% of total sales. For, mobile sales in 2012 increased a whopping 169,2% from 2011. The company is implementing both a responsive design and a tablet-optimized catalog to boost their mobile and tablet conversions, and clearly its paying dividends. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the same success?

A business with a desktop design website that would like to enhance the mobile browsing experience and boost conversions has three options in general:

  • Build a website using responsive design.
  • Build a dedicated mobile web.
  • Build an mobile app.

Responsive web design

Is a flexible, liquid layout that adapts to fit a various screen sizes, resolutions and devices. It allows websites to automatically change layouts according to the visitor´s screen resolution whether on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone creating a user-friendly interface when visitors browse websites.

If you’re viewing this blog post on a desktop browser, you can test responsive design in action. Try making your browser window smaller and you´ll notice the images and content column shrink to fit your screen.

A good example of responsive design in work on the example of The Boston Globe website. Notice how the same content adapts to fit the various devices

Boston Globe Responsive Layouts
Image source

Responsive design has gained a lot of advocates due to its benefits compared to alternative solutions:

  • One website to build and manage: a strong advantage for business who update their content often as it is no longer necessary to ensure content parity in various locations.This advantage also plays dividends in conversion optimization, for example in A/B testing, as there is only one body to conduct tests on. In addition, visitors encounter a cohesive brand experience regardless whether they´re using a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
  • Search engine optimization: all links and bookmarks point to one URL. No wonder Google recommends responsive design.
  • Social Media: with responsive design, the URLs visitors encounter are the same regardless whether they´re browsing with a laptop, tablet or smartphone. That makes sharing content through social media foolproof, as it´s guaranteed that the recipients will be able to browse the content in the most optimal view.
  • Analytics: one complete view of all the traffic.
  • Future-friendly: whatever the new trend setting device might be, responsive design has it covered by shrinking content to fit the resolution of the device.

The effect of responsive design on mobile conversions

Lets take a look at some examples of how implementing responsive design has boosted mobile conversions. All of the following companies have gone from a desktop site to responsive design:

O`Neill Clothing

O´Neill Clothing Homepage Screenshot

The popular e-commerce store O´Neill Clothing racked up some impressive results after implementing responsive design. O`Neill monitored conversions, transactions and revenue for three weeks prior to going responsive. Then, after deploying the responsive conditions to the already live site, they monitored the same metrics for another three weeks. The results are staggering:

For iPhone/iPod:

  • Conversions increased by 65.71%
  • Transactions increased by 112.50%
  • Revenue increased by 101.25%

For Android devices:

  • Conversions increased by 407.32%
  • Transactions went up by 333.33%
  • Revenue increased by a whopping 591.42%

Think Thank Photo

Think Thank Photo (TTP) is a company that produces equipment and accessories for photographers. After witnessing their mobile visitors triple in a year to 13% of their overall website traffic, TTP made to decision to rebuild the site using responsive design.

As a result of the new responsive layout and other optimization efforts, TTP achieved a 188% increase in revenue from Black Friday through Cyber Monday compared to 2012. Transactions from users on smartphones and tables increased more than 96% and pageviews among mobile users increased by 224%.

Skinny Ties

Skinny Ties Homepage Screenshot

A family-run company that has been designing and producing neckties since 1971, Skinny Ties decided to reinvent the brand`s identity and build a platform that would be future-friendly. Bearing in mind the increasing penetration of smartphones and tablets, the company opted for responsive design. The site launched in October 2012 and within a couple of weeks Skinny Ties experienced massive improvements in sales metrics compared to the previous three months:

  • Revenue from iPhone grew a staggering 377.6%
  • iPhone conversion rate increased 71,9%
  • Revenue from all devices went up 42.4%
  • Overall Conversion rate increased by 13.6%
  • Bounce rate dropped 23.2%


Maxatec is company that offers POS & EPOS systems, mobile and barcode products. Similarly to the previous examples, Maxatec saw an increase in mobile visitors and decided to the improve the user experience of tablet and smartphone visitors and boost conversions in that segment.

The results: mobile visitor goal conversion rate went up by 12% and the average time to complete a task decreased by 50%.


As predicted, the described case studies unambiguously show that responsive design is far superior to desktop design in converting mobile visitors. Businesses who attract mobile visitors to a desktop design are missing out on a large chunk of potential conversions and revenue and as smartphone penetration is increasing, having a desktop design could turn out to be expensive (in terms of lost conversions and revenue).

Dedicated mobile website

A business may also opt for building a dedicated mobile site to enhance the browsing experience of mobile visitors. A dedicated site lies separately (separate URL) from the desktop site and it´s sole purpose is to host mobile visitors.

An example of dedicated mobile website: Amazon

Amazon Dedicated Mobile Website

The advantages of a dedicated mobile site:

  • Dedicated mobile sites optimize for both mobile behavior and resolution, while responsive optimizes for only resolution.
  • Faster load times. When Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center wanted to improve their sites mobile experience, BlueTrain Mobile made an example of how one page of their website would have looked if they had adopted responsive design, and how the page would have looked in a dedicated mobile site. In the same mobile network, it took 15 seconds for the page in responsive design to load while the dedicated mobile page loaded in just 2 seconds.
  • Easier to optimize for mobile conversions. Dedicated mobile sites focus solely on mobile visitors, while with responsive you have to keep in mind laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The disadvantages of dedicated mobile sites are basically the same as the advantages for responsive design:

  • Two bodies of content to manage
  • Separate URLs: if you´re using content marketing to attract visitors, this is a huge disadvantage as link sharing in social media is problematic.

Mobile app

Building a mobile app to enhance the browsing experience of mobile visitors is a good idea if you have a unique social or interactive platform our when your site is your product. If you´re not Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – build a dedicated mobile site or use responsive design.

Just think about it. When your site is not your product, can you think of any realistic reason why anyone should download your app from an appstore, install it, and use it just to visit your site? No? Thought so.

The additional disadvantages of apps are that they have a restricted amount of content and functionality, plus they´re operation system specific. Most probably you´ll need need to build for both Android and iOS to optimize for your mobile visitors.

Responsive vs Dedicated Mobile: which one should you choose?

Responsive has a lot of advocates for a reason. When comparing the two alternatives, responsive design is more future-friendly, has one body of content to manage (assures content parity), provides a constant brand experience and is social media friendly.

Dedicated mobile sites have basically one advantage – faster load times. But with the improvement of mobile networks and faster downloading speeds, the loading time differences between responsive design and dedicated mobile will lessen.

From a conversion optimization standpoint, the fact is that with both alternatives you´d need to follow the same route: constant improvements, A/B testing and multivariate analysis. Therefore it would be wise to go with the alternative that provides the most advantages – responsive web design.

5 things to keep in mind when optimizing responsive design for mobile conversions

1. Focus on the important

When optimizing for mobile visitors, it´s important to remember that the most annoying thing for mobile visitors is going through bunches of plain text. If mobile visitors can´t find what they´re looking for quickly, they´re gone.

Critically review your content and keep everything that helps mobile visitors to find what they´re looking for quickly. Get rid of anything that may lead to visitors clicking away

Make sure that the first thing your mobile visitors see is your value proposition (VP).A value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your product solves customers problems; delivers specific benefits and why the customer should buy from you and not from the competition. For more information about building a viable value proposition, read this blog post.

Fork, an open source CMS, is a good example of a responsive web that has a highly visible value proposition for mobile visitors. When browsing the site, a mobile visitor will immediately know what Fork is and what are its benefits. The questionable part of the VP is “will rock your world”, which really communicates nothing. Replacing it with a statement that says who Fork is aimed at (eg “small businesses”) would be much more informative.

Fork Responsive Design Example

Although a dedicated mobile site, Kumon is a very good example of a business that is correctly communicating its value proposition. A glance at the site and you have a clear understanding of what the service is and who is it designed for.

Kumon dedicated mobile example

In addition to making your value proposition visible, statements developed for boosting conversions, for example free shipping and money-back guarantee, should also stand out from rest of the content.

2. Make your CTA-s stand out and according with mobile behavior

Make your call-to-action buttons so large that they take up the entire width of the mobile screen. This ensures that mobile visitors don´t need to zoom to focus in on the CTA button.

Also, put your CTAs in accordance with mobile behavior. A 15 page white paper may be a conversion hit on a desktop site, but it´s highly unlikely that a mobile visitor will be interested in going through the trouble of downloading the paper and then reading it on a tiny mobile screen. “Sign up for Our Newsletter” or “Like Us on Facebook” are better call-to-actions for a mobile visitor who is on-the-go.

A clever idea is to implement mobile specific call-to-actions under contact information, such as “Call Now” or “Get Directions”. The mentioned CTAs will start a phone call or open a map application, overall resulting in a more targeted mobile browsing experience.

Audi has a highly visible CTA on their mobile landing page. Though not responsive design, it´s a great example of a well placed CTA, leaving mobile visitors with no confusion on what to do next.

Audi Mobile Landing Page
Image source

3. Make use of photographs and videos

Reading plain text on a mobile phone is tiresome and difficult, especially when you consider that most of mobile browsing happens on the fly with texting and apps interfering. Photographs and videos on the other hand are great for capturing the attention of mobile visitors and communicating your marketing messages.

A great example of a responsive design site that uses photographs to capture mobile visitors attention is Food Sense, a food recipe blog. When on the look for recipes for delicious meals, it´s highly likely that you´ll stop on a site which uses remarkable pictures to develop a craving for food.

Food Sense Webpage

Another company that is effectively using images to capture mobile visitors attention and communicate its brand values is Starbucks:


With creative, keep in mind that more photographs and videos translate into a longer page load time. A study found that 67% of people expect a mobile site to load in under just 4 seconds. Also, never use flash as it´s not supported on some mobile devices, for exampleiOS.

4. Cut down your forms

Long forms are conversions killers on desktop sites. They´re even worse for mobile visitors. Filling out forms with a smartphone is time consuming and uncomfortable. To boost mobile conversions, keep your forms short.

Review forms with the view of “Is this field absolutely necessary?” If the answer is no, delete it. You can ask for additional information after the actual conversion with a follow up e-mail or call.

5-6 fields are the maximum recommended amount of fields in a form when optimizing for mobile visitors. In addition use vertical-align labels (top) instead of left-aligned labels.

A good example of a business who has made filling out forms as easy as possible is Hertz, a car rental company. You can get a quote on a rental car by filling out four information fields. No name, address or contact information needed – they´re irrelevant when requesting a quote and can be gathered later, when the customer has made the actual purchase decision. Well done Hertz!

Hertz Responsive Site Example

5. Use expandable content or tabs to avoid mobile scrolling

When running an e-commerce business, try implementing expendable content or tabs on your product pages. The point of tabs is to structure information based on categories so that mobile users can find what they´re looking for quicker.

For example, instead of scrolling to waves of content to find product reviews, a mobile visitors just clicks on the “Review” tab on the product page and voila – he has the needed social proof to make the transaction.

Tria offers a good learning example with their desktop product site and the same page as a mobile landing page. Notice how all the content on the bottom half of the desktop site is placed as expandable content on the mobile landing page.

In addition Tria gets credit for the CTA which is highly visible and well placed. Also notice how “Free Shipping” has been made more visible compared to the desktop site. “Reviews” have been altered in the same manner to provide social proof to mobile visitors.

Tria desktop and mobile experience comparison
Image source


  • An increasing amount of website visits are performed on smartphones and tablets meaning that businesses who want to benefit from this trend, must enhance the browsing experience for these devices.
  • Responsive web design allows websites to automatically change layouts according to the visitor´s screen resolution whether on a desktop, tablet or smartphone, thus creating a user-friendly interface when visitors browse websites.
  • Companies that have invested in improving the browsing experience of mobile visitors and have gone from a desktop design to responsive design have seen increases in mobile conversions.
  • When optimizing responsive design for mobile conversions make sure your VP and other conversion boosting elements are highly visible. Use images and videos instead of plain text and make your forms as short as possible.

Highlights from Nielsen’s Mobile Consumer Report

(Source: by Nick Mulligan in News on 19 March 2013)

Nielsen’s Mobile Consumer Report

Nielsen have just released their Mobile Consumer Report. It’s got some interesting findings, so we thought we’d give you a summary.

The current landscape
Mobile phone ownership in both developed and high-growth countries has reached a critical mass, with no growth from the first half of 2012. The high rates of ownership are shown in the below graph:

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.09.25

Nevertheless, the kinds of phone we own are changing. Smartphone ownership is highest in South Korea, China, Australia and the UK, whilst those in Turkey and Brazil were most likely to own a multimedia phone. Feature phones are most popular in India, owned by 80% of all those with a device.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.14.04

Some countries have a higher prevalence of multiple-device ownership, too, as highlighted by the coloured segments in these pie charts:

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.15.28

The report also contains interesting information on where and why we purchase our devices. 49% of Russian mobile users purchased their device at a major electronics or media store, whilst 39% of those in the UK purchased online. Factors vary by location: value for money is most important in the US, UK, Italy and China, as opposed to Russians who care about ‘stylish design’ or Chinese consumers, who want a large choice of apps.

Behaviours: shopping, social & video
Worldwide, text messaging is by far the most popular use of a mobile device. E-mail, instant messaging, social networking and the general use of apps are big too; the latter two showing high penetration in almost all markets other than India. Within the use of applications, social networking is strongest in the US, where 85% of smartphone owners are regular users, followed by 67% in Brazil and 60% in China. 58% of UK smartphone owners regularly make use of social apps.

Smartphones have the biggest impact on shopping for US users, who are most likely to use their devices for in-store price comparison, online coupons and purchasing products.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.18.37

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.25.57

Another big use of smartphones is in watching mobile video, the frequency of which is shown below. This is most prevalent in emerging markets, especially China, and less so in the developed world, with the exception of the US.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.31.36

In most countries, video is most often accessed via mobile web, but South Korean and UK users prefer to use a mobile app. In the US, both mobile web and applications are hugely popular: 72% of smartphone owners watch mobile video through these. Downloading clips is the least popular method in most countries, other than in India, where it outranks applications and Russia, where the two are level.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.29.27

Mobile advertising
As smartphone usage grows, it is unsurprising that mobile advertising increases with it. In every country other than India, more than 50% of smartphone users who receive mobile ads did so at least once a day.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.33.43

The effectiveness of these ads varies by country, too. In developed countries, people are less likely to click on adverts, whilst fast-developing countries see greater success. Interestingly, whilst it was shown above that Indian smartphone owners are least likely to receive ads, they are more likely to submit personal details once an ad is seen.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 19.49.16

To conclude…
So, there’s a whole host of information about the differing nature of mobile ownership around the world. We’re seeing smartphones take over the developed world, with developing economies following not too far behind. All across the world, we’re using our phones for more and more exciting activities: apps, social networking, m-commerce. When it comes to mobile advertising, we’ve seen an increase in volume, which may well be responsible for a dip in effectiveness.

There’s plenty more in the report, too. For even more information, as well as details of the research methodology in different countries, make sure to have a look at the whole thing.

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Web And Mobile Revenue Models

  • Display Ads – ex. Yahoo!
  • Search Ads – ex. Google
  • Text Ads – ex. Google
  • Video Ads – ex. Hulu
  • Audio Ads – ex. Pandora
  • Promoted Content – ex. Twitter, Tumblr
  • Paid content links – ex. Outbrain
  • Recruitment Ads – ex. LinkedIn
  • Lead Generation – ex. MoneySuperMarket, ZocDoc
  • Affiliate Fees – ex. Amazon Affiliate Program
  • Classifieds – ex. Craiglist
  • Featured listings – e.g. Yelp, Super Pages;
  • Email Ads – as done by Yahoo, MSN
  • Ad Retargeting - ex. Criteo
  • Real-time Intent Ad Delivery
  • Location-based offers – ex/ Foursquare
  • Sponsorships / Site Takeovers -  ex. Pandora
  • Retailing – ex. Zappos
  • Marketplace – ex. Etsy
  • Crowdsourced Marketplace – ex. Threadless
  • Excess Capacity Markets – Uber, AirBnB
  • Vertically Integrated Commerce - ex. Warby Parker
  • Aggregator – ex.
  • Flash Sales:  Gilt Groupe, Vente Privee
  • Group buying – ex. Groupon
  • Digital goods / downloads – ex. iTunes
  • Virtual goods – ex. Zynga
  • Training – ex. Cloudera (??), -> Coursera
  • Pay what you want – ex. Radiohead
  • Commission – ex. SharesPost
  • Commission per order – ex. Seamless, GrubHub
  • Auction - ex. eBay
  • Reverse Auction - ex Priceline
  • Barter for services ex. SwapRight
  • Software as a Service (SAAS) – ex. Salesforce
  • Service as a Service – ex. Shopify
  • Content as a Service – ex: Spotify, Netflix
  • Infrastructure/Platform As A Service - ex. AWS
  • Freemium SAAS – ex. Dropbox
  • Donations – ex. Wikipedia
  • Sampling – ex Birchbox
  • Membership Services - ex Amazon Prime
  • Support and Maintenance - ex 10gen, Red Hat
  • Paywall - ex. NYTimes
  • Voice and video-conferencing – ex. Uberconference
Peer to Peer
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending - ex. Lending Club,
  • Peer-to-Peer Gambling – ex. BetFair
  • Peer-to-peer buying – ex Etsy
  • Peer-to-peer insurance/home/car - ex (??)
  • Peer-to-peer computing (CrasPlan storage, or SETI@home)
  • Peer-to-peer service - ex. Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit
  • Peer-to-peer Mobile WiFi/Tethering - ex (??)
Transaction processing
  • Merchant Acquiring - ex. PayPal (Online / Offline), Stripe (Online), Square (Offline)
  • Intermediary – ex. IP Commerce (POS 2.0), CardSpring
  • Acquiring Processing – ex. Paymentech
  • Bank Transfer – ex. Dwolla
  • Bank Depository Offering – ex. Simple, Movenbank (spread on average deposits)
  • Bank Card Issuance – ex. Simple (interchange fee per transaction)
  • Fullfilment – ex. Amazon
  • Messaging – ex. Peer-to-Peer SMS, IM, Group Messaging
  • Telephony – ex. termination/origination in public telephony networks (skype out/in)
  • Telephony – ex. termination/origination within private telephony cloud (e.g. native skype)
  • Payment Gateways: Mobile -ex. Braintree
  • Platform Monetization (“Tax”) – Facebook Credits; iO6 30% cut.
  • Per Seat License – ex. Sencha
  • Per Device/Server License – ex. QlikView
  • Per Application instance – ex. Adobe Photoshop
  • Per Site License – ex. Private cloud on internal infrastructure
  • Patent Licensing – ex. Qualcomm
  • Brand Licensing - ex. Sesame Street
  • Indirect Licensing – ex. Apple Volume Purchasing
  • User data – ex. BlueKai
  • Business data – ex. Duedil
  • User intelligence – ex. Yougov
  • Search Data – ex. Chango
  • Real-time Consumer Intent Data - ex. Yieldbot
  • Benchmarking services - ex. Comscore
  • Market research - ex. GLG
  • Paid App Downloads - ex. WhatsApp
  • In-app purchases - ex. Zynga Poker
  • In-app subscriptions - ex. NY Times app
  • Advertising - ex. Flurry, AdMob
  • Digital-to-physical - ex. Red Stamp, Postagram
  • Transactions – ex Hailo
  • Freemium – Free to play w/ virtual currency - ex. Zynga
  • Subscription-  ex. World of Warcraft
  • Premium - ex. xBox games
  • DLC – (Downloadable Content)  - ex. Call of Duty
  • Ad Supported - ex -

In-store Mobile Commerce During the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season

Nearly six in ten cell owners used their phone inside a physical store for assistance or guidance on a purchasing decision this holiday season. In the 30 days preceding our early January 2013 survey (the final weeks of the holiday gift-giving season):

  • 46% of cell owners used their phone while inside a store to call a friend or family member for advice about a purchase they were considering.
  • 28% of cell owners used their phone while inside a store to look up reviews of a product to help decide if they should purchase it or not.
  • 27% of cell owners used their phone while inside a store to look up the price of a product, to see if they could get a better price elsewhere.

Taken together, 58% of cell owners used their phone for at least one of these reasons, with young adults and smartphone owners leading the way — 78% of cell owners ages 18-29 and 72% of smartphone owners did at least one of these with their phones this holiday season. The 46% of cell owners who called someone for advice about a purchase represents a significant increase from the 38% of cell owners who did so during last year’s holiday shopping season.



The PSRAI January 2013 Omnibus Week 1 obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults living in the continental United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (501) and cell phone (502, including 241 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from January 3 to 6, 2013. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.6 percentage points.

Intuit’s New Mobile Payments Directions In NFC, Passbook And Facebook Revealed In 20+ New Products

Source: INGRID LUNDEN, Tech Crunch, January 29th, 2013

Yesterday Intuit took a step into social commerce with the acquisition of the team, technology and patents ofsocial payments startup Payvment. Today, it’s revealing more about how it plans to expand its services into new areas to complement its bread-and-butter business of payrolls and accounting software, with over 20 new products. They include those in payments technologies using NFC and Apple’s Passbook, consumer-focused big data apps, and new products for its Mint financial-management range.

A handful are getting launched this year and some tomorrow, while the rest are still in the experimental phase, Mint says.

Although today’s event is happening one day after the Payvment acquisition, Intuit tells me that’s more coincidence than intentional, but taken together they point to how the company is trying to be more aggressive and innovative about how it plans to develop its product lines going forward.

The various products were unveiled at an innovations showcase at Intuit’s HQ in Mountain View. Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting among them, with some comments from CEO Brad Smith on the wider trends that they speak to:

Facebook marketing (experiment). This is one area where Intuit may expand on Payvment’s technology in  social commerce and advertising, the two services that Payvment already offered to businesses. Here the idea will be to use Intuit’s mobile and online commerce platform, GoPayment, to push out discounts to customers via Facebook after they make a payment, facilitating repeat purchases.

Brad Smith, Intuit’s CEO, confirmed that Payvment’s technology will be going here, but also into other areas in Intuit’s portfolio. “We were most excited about exploring the opportunities,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “We wanted to get the team on board; it was an acqui-hire in that sense. Facebook marketing is one of several areas they will work on but what I like is how they can bring the social aspect into other areas.”

Optical Card Scanning (launching on Wednesday). This is a new extension for GoPayment, where users will now be able to use a smartphone or a tablet’s camera to scan cards for payment, rather than use the swiper. This is similar to the service provided by PayPal’s

I asked Smith whether he thought the mobile payments space would inevitably consolidate, given how many players are built on the Square model of dongles-and-mobile-devices. “Mobile payments right now is not a zero sum game,” he said, noting that 55 percent of businesses in the U.S. still don’t accept credit cards. “We are going to have tons of category growth, but it will come down to who has the best overall value proposition. Payments have to work with banks, accounting packages, and so on. We have all that. That’s why I feel good about our package. We have an ecosystem that supports payment. Consolidation will come down to a handful of people, but it will be about people who have the ecosystem and scale.”

Passbook Discounts (experiment). This will be Intuit’s first foray into Apple’s Passbook loyalty and coupon/ticket aggregating service. Similar to its Facebook marketing experiment, Intuit will use Passbook to push discounts to would-be customers; here the idea is to make the service location-based and send them out when they are near a particular store via geo-fencing technology.

NFC (experiment). Yes, Intuit is looking to take the NFC plunge, but it is still in the process of figuring out if the technology is something that its customers would actually prefer to use instead of cards. “I can’t say it’s inevitable but it’s one potential scenario,” said Smith. “Whether we’re looking at NFC or the dongle, we’re casting all those scenarios. We need to have a bet in all of them but then let the market decide who will win. It’s the power of customer data. Not opinion.”

QuickBooks Online (launching). This is one of several products where Intuit is looking to add more social services. Here, the company is expanding its invoice service QuickBooks to 40 markets, and in the localizing effort, it’s adding a wiki-style, crowdsourced element to let locals contribute new data to help others in their regions. Generation Demandforce, Intuit’s automated marketing tool, now will give its users access to an online community to “connect and share unique insights with thousands of other business marketers.”

“Social is huge for us,” said Smith. “We are looking at trends and how they will shift in the next 10 years and how companies will operate. And what we’ve found is that we no longer want to be consumers. We want to be participants: we choose what we want so we have to make our products configurable from actions to interactions. When you have 60 million customers who can share their wisdom, it can help power people as individuals.”

Data Connections (experiment). The idea here is to develop a big data-based service for small businesses and individuals. Using anonymized data from across Intuit’s 60 million existing customers, individuals will be able to get insights into how particular businesses or business segments are performing.

“We see data as one of two things,” Smith told me. “The first is that it helps you do more things and the second is that it delivers new insights to help you improve your life, using data to get a better return on investment. Very few people have the data we have: We process 40 percent of the U.S.’s tax returns; we pay 1 in 12 Amercians, and we’re the fifth-largest bank in the nation based on bank data. So with users’ permission we can produce a lot of interesting insights.”

The full list of products covered today by Intuit:
QuickBooks Online Global
TurboTax CPA Select
Mint Home and Business
Purchase Rewards
GoPatient (a mobile companion app for doctors’ patient portals that lets patients refill subscriptions, see lab results, make appointments and pay their bills)
Data Connections
Tablet Banking (this is taking a current iPad app to Android)
Intuit Payment Network
Intuit Partner Platform
QBO Cloud Ecosystem
QuickBooks Financing
Snap Payroll
Health Debit Card
Live Customer Community
SnapTax Expanded Capabilities
TurboTax CPA
TurboTax for iPad
TurboTax Military Edition
TurboTax Refund Tracker



Luxury Brand Shoppers Prove Mobile-Friendly

Source: January 18, 2013 by MarketingCharts

ForeSee-Luxury-Brand-Shoppers-Mobile-Use-Jan201359% of luxury brand shoppers say they’ve used mobile to interact with a company, finds ForeSee [pdf] in a new study. That makes luxury brand shoppers 40% more likely than shoppers at the top 100 e-retail sites (by sales volume) to have ever used their mobile device to interact with a brand (59% vs. 42%), according to the study. Among those who have used their device, one-quarter of luxury brand shoppers said they made a purchase, compared to 16% of top-100 shoppers. Luxury mobile shoppers also were more likely to research products on their devices (56% vs. 40%), compare products or prices while in-store (24% vs. 18%), and use retailer-developed mobile shopping applications (13% vs. 10%).

Of those who used their mobile while in-store, 65% of luxury shoppers accessed the store’s website, while 39% visited a competitor’s website and 24% a shopping comparison website.

Customer Satisfaction Counts

ForeSee measured customer satisfaction with the websites of 13 top luxury retailers, with those sites garnering an aggregate average score of 77, just below the 78 score for the top 100 e-retailers.

The researchers caution that customer satisfaction ratings have a strong bearing on brand loyalty, so should be taken seriously. Compared to dissatisfied customers, highly satisfied luxury website visitors report being:

  • 76% more likely to buy from the brand online;
  • 71% more likely to purchase from the brand next time;
  • 69% more likely to recommend the brand;
  • 69% more likely to buy the brand offline;
  • 65% more committed to the brand overall; and
  • 65% more likely to return to the brand.

A dissatisfied customer is roughly 40% less likely to display any of those characteristics.

About the Data: The ForeSee Luxury E-Retail Index is based on more than 3,500 responses from visitors to luxury brands websites with the highest revenue. Survey responses were collected via research panel during November and December of 2012. ForeSee’s technology is based on a methodology that has been shown to have a direct link with stock prices and other measures of financial performance.

Do People Actually Shop on Phones? The Answer Is Decidedly Yes

Source: New York Times, CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, JANUARY 9, 2013

09bits-shopping-hpMediumIn e-commerce, the mobile revolution is here.

In 2012, people spent $25 billion on purchases made from phones and tablets, an increase of 81 percent from the year before, according to eMarketer, which compiles data from 120 sources that track commerce.

That is still a minority of total e-commerce sales. Mobile accounted for just 11 percent of e-commerce and is expected to reach 15 percent this year. But eMarketer predicts that by 2016, mobile will be $87 billion, or a quarter of all e-commerce.

The shift is significant for a type of shopping riddled with challenges — like small screens that make it hard to view items and type. It reflects the consumers’ shift to doing everything from work to play on mobile devices.

“Particularly in the second half of the year and in the holiday season, there were signs that smartphones and tablets in particular had made much more progress than people had previously thought we would,” said Clark Fredricksen, vice president of communications at eMarketer.

Mobile shoppers spend a surprising amount when using these devices — an average of $329 per order when on tablets and $250 when on phones, eMarketer said.

Tablets in particular have significantly changed the way people shop. While in 2011, people spent more money making purchases from smartphones than from tablets, shopping on tablets surpassed phones last year: $13.9 billion was spent from tablets and $9.9 billion from phones.

People are more likely to use tablets while they are in a shopping mood, like lounging on the couch. And their bigger screens make shopping easier than it is on smartphones and in some cases easier than on computers, because shoppers can zoom in or drag items to their carts with their fingers.

For example, at Tea Collection, a children’s clothing retailer, just over a third of transactions now come from mobile devices. People are just as likely to buy from tablets as from computers, and some days more likely, but the conversion rate is lower on smartphones.

Leigh Rawdon, chief executive and co-founder of Tea Collection, said she was surprised at how quickly people have taken to shopping on mobile devices, and that she expects behavior to change yet again with the proliferation of smaller tablets like the iPad Mini that blur the line between phone and tablet.

Still, some retailers report that mobile commerce has not been as big as they expected.

“Many mobile storefronts have problems that make buying difficult,” Mr. Fredricksen said. “Even though sessions often start on smartphones, in the end consumers end up turning to computers or retail stores or even a tablet to seal the deal.”

Big e-commerce players that have poured resources into mobile shopping, like and eBay, are seeing significantly more mobile commerce than smaller shopping sites, Mr. Fredricksen said.

During the holidays, overall e-commerce sales on computers and mobile devices combined grew 14 percent to $42.3 billion, according to comScore. That was lower than expected. After a strong start around Thanksgiving, consumer spending shrank because of concerns about the fiscal crisis in Washington, comScore said.