Archive for Technology


Presentation: 10 Key Ingredients of a Modern Brand Website

At the center of an integrated marketing ecosystem (I hate that word too, but it works) is the brand website. But it still amazes me how many brands don’t get what it has to do. This deck tells the story.

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Popcorn Video Tastes Good

Popcorn for videos

A new type of video content creation.


This post is about a brand new digital technology for video called Popcorn. It’s one of a number of technology led efforts to broaden what video is capable of, and in a world where soon 90% of data on the internet will be video, that’s good news for marketers, but first a little context.

My career and IQ, my digital agency started out in the video business. Over the years I’ve seen big changes as we moved from film to HD video, and from expensive post-production to a million dollar edit bay on a laptop. But despite these changes the basics of video creation haven’t changed that much. It’s still a linear experience made out of the combination of visuals and sound. It still a demanding art that takes quality writing, acting, lighting, sound design, animation, and post production, to say nothing of great ideas, to make quality videos.

Now, with the Content Age in full swing and a general mad scramble for video content creation, companies are finding that while they might be able to produce a talking head video of the chairman or an interview with a customer, it still takes experts to make the quality of video that captures the imagination or moves us emotionally. Today companies can go out and spend a couple of thousand dollars on a camera that would’ve cost a fortune a few years ago, they can buy microphones, lights and editing software and be fully equipped for chump change. But in the end it’s still the experience and expertise of the people using the equipment that’s the difference between wonderful and OMG.

Many forces are driving this demand for video, not the least of which is that it’s become incredibly easy and cheap to put high quality video in digital channels. So much so that video has replaced many of the interactive experiences we used to make. This is good and bad. The bad, at least for brands, is that we have moved away from interactive experiences which required the participation of the viewer. Instead of two way experiences we’ve gone back to a one way traditional video experience. Until now……

With the introduction of a new technologies like Popcorn that may have changed. Popcorn is open source technology that allows us to put links, images and even dynamic content into a video stream. That can be as simple as a link to where to buy that sweater you’re looking at, or a photo and email address for an insurance agent in your area. Popcorn essentially turns videos into mini-websites so that when your video travels around the web from person to person and site to site, it has the same capabilities you could have on your home page.  The possibilities are as many and varied as the technology is flexible. It can adopt the dynamics of “choose-your-own-adventure” and allow brands to follow viewer preferences and interests, or it can enable the functionality of shopper video without the big platform cost. On first blush it looks like Popcorn is moving video into the digital age with functionality capabilities that could reshape what we think of as video. It’s early days for Popcorn, but it appears we’ve been given a new paint box for video and I can’t wait to see what’s possible.


Busting Hump for a Dev Contest Can Pay Off

You’ve probably seen the commercials Samsung and AT&T have been running lately for the Galaxy Note – Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? – luckily for me it was a money maker. I bought the “phone” a month or two ago, and honestly I really dig it – but that’s probably a topic for another blog entry.

Timing would have it that Samsung announced a developer challenge shortly after my purchase – with a crazy development turnaround time of a month – and of course I didn’t hear about it until a week after the contest was announced. During those remaining 3 weeks I had a vacation in Vegas planned on top of my already busy work and personal life schedule (which includes a 15 month old). On top of that I’d never personally developed for Android before, hadn’t coded in Java in about 10 years, and wasn’t familiar with Eclipse either. It also looked like the only time I would have was 2 weekends – before and after my Vegas vacation - and maybe a few weeknights if I was lucky. So, of course I went after it – cash prizes can be quite a motivator.

I ended up working two weekends of long hours trying to learn Android, the Samsung S-Pen SDK, and write an entire game from scratch. I ended up working two 25 hour weekends and a handful of super-late nights (thanks to my lovely wife watching our son). In the end I submitted my app at 1:30am in the morning on the Monday due date – needless to say I was worn out. After having felt burned in my last developer contest a few years ago, I doubted my sanity in killing myself trying to compete in something like this again. Now I just had to wait ~20 days to find out the results.

As it turns out, I placed 2nd in the contest. Honestly, when you win $50k you still feel like you won 1st place. Of course Uncle Sam is going to want his $20k, but I can’t complain. In the end it was all worth it, and of course now I have the time to go back and really learn how to develop properly for Android vs hack at it for a crazy deadline.

As someone who doesn’t code all day for a living anymore, this was quite a challenge – and one I really enjoyed. The contest was powered via, which has a bunch of other challenges for those interested. Over this last weekend Samsung announced another contest – this one with $4 million in prizes – guess I better start resting up.


Don Norman on Mental Models and Gestures

In this first day without S. Jobs at the helm of Apple, I thought it appropriate to point to an deep article by Don Norman which explains how touch-screen gestures are creating user confusion and frustration (from Core77, a design blog).

Norman is a long-time UX researcher, writer, who was a, no actually the first “User Experience Architect” that Apple ever hired (that’s what Wikipedia says at least). He argues that during periods of technological advancement, confusion is a by-product as different companies create different solutions using different mental models. Is Apple correct in changing their touchpads and mice to scroll the content upward, instead of sliding the window downward? He argues that both mental models are correct, and in fact the regular WIMP (acronym check) interface paradigm actually uses both in different contexts:
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The iPad is hungry

Can a piece of consumer electronics be hungry? Yes, at least according to this Business Insider’s article headline: The iPad Just Ate 11% Of The PC Market. (image credit: Jalopnik)

I’m no number cruncher but this quote from the article really put into terms I could understand, “…if the iPad were lined up against all other computers, it would be the fourth-biggest computer brand in the world — after HP, Dell, and Lenovo, and ahead of Acer.” Wow.

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Brilliant use of QR codes in Korea

In an attempt to grow to number one without increasing the number of their brick and mortar stores, Tesco home plus created a virtual shopping experience inside busy korean subway stations, to bring the store to the consumer.

Check out the video!

And while you’re at it, Take a look at the Tesco Real Foods Windows Phone 7 application designed right here at IQ!


Insights on Designing Pikchur for Windows Phone 7

IQ just finished designing an awesome picture sharing app called Pikchur for Windows Phone 7. It is the first mobile application by Pikchur, a leading picture sharing service. The application makes it fun and easy for Windows Phone 7 users to share photos with all of their social networks at one time.

Pikchur allows users to quickly connect and share photos to many popular social networks, micro-blogging services, and media hosting websites. The Windows Phone 7 application is packed with new platform features such as Bing map integration for geotagging, pivot controls for organizing photo information and comments, and a live tile, so users can see their most recent photo on the phone’s start screen. The application was launched simultaneously in five languages, provides privacy options, and includes Facebook and Twitter integration, so users can start sharing instantly. In addition to new mobile features, IQ worked with Pikchur to develop new branding elements being adopted on

Keep reading after the jump to learn more about some of our design process and insights.

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Mobile Analytics

There has been an explosion of mobile devices – both in smart phone and tablet format – in the past year. It is predicted that by the end of 2011 there will be 70 million smart phones in use across the US (33% of the mobile audience). That statistic does not even take into account the new proliferation of tablet computers that also account for today’s mobile computing.

With so many people turning to mobile devices for data consumption, it’s only natural that companies start investing in ways to leverage these devices. In the past companies primarily focused on mobile optimized web sites, however with the rise of the iPhone and Android and the popularity of their apps, it’s only natural that companies also begin to invest some of their resources towards app development as well.

Early statistics are already showing that mobile apps are more successful than mobile optimized web sites:

  • Mobile apps show a 26% lift in conversion rates over mobile optimized sites
  • Mobile search has an 8x better click-thru rate vs. desktop search, and even higher when using a dedicated search app.

As companies start to spend revenue on developing mobile apps, it will be critical to show how successful (or not) these apps are being – and this is where mobile analytics come into play. Using tracking similar to web analytics, mobile analytics can help show the performance and troubleshoot mobile apps in near real-time. Some of this data would include information like:

  • How many times has the app been downloaded, and onto which devices?
  • How often are users launching the app? Do users of one kind of device launch it more than others?
  • How often is the app crashing? At what point and on what device does it crash the most frequently?
  • What is the conversion rate from app users vs. mobile optimized site / web site?

Answering these questions, among others, will help determine not only the performance of the app, but also help troubleshoot and improve the app over time.

While the web and web sites are unlikely to go away anytime soon, mobile apps present a new opportunity in online marketing that should be taken advantage of wherever it makes sense to do so. To do so will require an understanding of the analysis of mobile apps in order to make the most of them.

Next-Generation Mobile Applications

The adoption of smartphones is increasing at an incredible rate. Nielsen predicts that smartphones will overtake feature phones by the end of 2011. This shift will be the catalyst for innovation in the mobile marketplace. Marketers and their partner agencies need to consider how they’ll create for the next-generation mobile devices.

These next-generation mobile devices will push far beyond current devices in both hardware and software capabilities. Increases in mobile broadband, processing power, image resolution, storage, and connected services will drive innovation.

A competitive mobile platform marketplace dominated by RIM, Apple, and Google has been the primary storyline over the last few years. Previous market leaders such as Nokia and Microsoft are poised to challenge the current leaders and regain market share.

The operating systems that have dominated the marketplace for the last few years have focused on an app-driven paradigm. The central focus was on the capabilities of the individual mobile application. Nokia, RIM, and Apple built successful platforms based around this type of user interaction. More apps in a platform’s market provided the end user with more options and a perceived greater value than other competing platforms.

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Why Omniture Summit 2011 Was the Best So Far

Omniture 2011

I recently attended the Omniture Summit 2011. This conference has really worked on transforming itself from purely a “users’ conference” to an Online / Digital Marketers’ Conference. As a web analyst, especially one who specialized in Omniture products, I have made it a point of attending this conference every year, since I started using Omniture SiteCatalyst in 2005. This year was definitely, in my mind, the best so far for a number of reasons.

Quality Keynote Speakers

This year the two featured keynote speakers were Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, and John Gerzema, a world-renowned social theorist on consumerism and its impact on growth, innovation and strategy. They both were very engaging speakers and shared a lot of their wisdom with the attendees.

Michael Eisner’s keynote centered around the theme of “from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg,” looking at how far we’ve come since 1455 in the realm of mass communications. One point in particular that struck me was “to punish failure, is to encourage mediocrity.” His point being that everyone makes mistakes (he personally pointed out the failure of Disney’s to jump on the paid search bandwagon far too late to rescue that effort against Google and Yahoo). However, if you don’t take risks (and risk making errors), you end up wallowing in mediocrity and never have the chance to achieve something potentially great.

John Gerzema’s keynote centered around the theme of his newest book “Spend Shift.” He discussed concepts like consumers moving from “mindless spending to mindful spending.” Overwhelmingly consumers are migrating more towards brands that share similar values to their own and that they now value brands known for kindness and quality over brands known for mystery and trendiness.

Much Improved Breakout Sessions

The breakout sessions this year were very well done. In years past the breakout sessions felt more like sales pitches, and I often came away from them disappointed. Also there were often problems getting a seat at some of the more popular breakout sessions. This year there were a number of excellent changes to help reduce this. First they encouraged attendees to register for breakout sessions ahead of time – this allowed them to plan the capacity of each better. Additionally each breakout was done in 2 parts – the first half focused on the topic in general, presented by an Omniture speaker. Outside of the specific Omniture product focused sessions, there was a lot less “sales pitch” in these presentations. The second half of each breakout session was a case study from a current Omniture customer. All the ones I attended had very thoughtful case studies that illustrated the point of each session quite well.


It wouldn’t be an Omniture Summit without entertainment and this year there was once again plenty to be had – from the opening reception on Tuesday night, to the lavish party and concert on Wednesday night (with Lenny Kravitz this year), to the after and after-after parties thrown by the various executives from Adobe/Omniture.

That sums up exactly why I felt Omniture Summit 2011 was by far the best Omniture Summit I have yet attended.

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