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Making Talking Generate Next Billion Dollar

In February 2014, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for an unbelievable figure – 19 billion dollars. Within the next few weeks, it was all over everybody’s blogs, Facebook statuses, lunch conversations, and even kids in school were talking about it. People could not understand that a company whose only product is a messaging app could be worth that much money.

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WhatsApp is not the only messenger out there. Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, LINE, WeChat, and many others are also stakeholders in the industry. They proved to be a cheap alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS, and they provide many more features that SMS doesn’t have. According to statistics, in August 2015, WhatsApp has an active user number of 800 million, Facebook messenger has 700 million, and WeChat has 600 million. If we just do a simple math and not include all added features that each messenger provides, all chat messengers have a combined valuation of over 200 billion dollars. That’s half of Google or 4 times more than Yahoo!.

Interestingly on the contrary side, all these messaging apps struggled to figure out their revenue model. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder of Snapchat, acknowledged in an interview the extreme difficulty of making a feasible one. Many internet companies are backed by ads revenue. Google, for example, revealed in their multiple annual reports that more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. One of their many services, Google Adsense, analyzes a web page and provides advertisements that best fit the content of that page. However, most people on messengers send private messages to their friends, and it is impossible to insert any ad into the conversation. Out of privacy concerns, it is also unlikely to run algorithms on user’s messages to provide personalized recommendations.

Realizing this limitation, apps began to expand their service into other communication areas, such as emojis, playing games with friends, sending money, interesting new content, etc. This is a very successful first step. In 2013, LINE reported in their Q2 quarter report, that out of their $100 million quarterly revenue, game purchase and in-game purchase accounted for 53%, and emojis accounted for 27%. Snapchat is piloting the new discovery feature that pushes sponsored content to the user. With the existing ads before playing video revenue model, the company stated that their revenue is estimated at $50 million dollars this year.

In addition to these efforts, LINE and WeChat also aim to build up their own ecosystems. WeChat launched a feature to send money to multiple friends in January 2014. It targets the Chinese tradition of giving monetary gifts to friends and family for auspicious blessings on special occasions. On 2015 Chinese New Year’s Eve, more than 1.5 billion “red envelopes” were sent on a single day. WeChat also keeps a semi-bank account for a user. Besides sending money to friends from the account, the money could also be used to make purchase, refill phone cards, call a taxi, pay utility bills and many more. WeChat has built a successful image within China and it has penetrated into many aspects of people’s life.

In conclusion, the entire messenger ecosystem is very enormous. The user-to-user communication nature allowed exponential growth in the user base. With the vastly and constantly growing user base, companies are able to reach billion dollars valuation within a very short amount of time. The next step, to achieve their billion dollars revenue, companies are experimenting to expand their services into our daily life. LINE and WhatsApp have built up their ecosystem that allows users to call taxis, stream music, order foods, and we can predict soon other companies will have similar strategies to expand their verticals.


Vending Machines in Japan: The Next Marketing Tool?

You are rushing to get your train but want to grab a drink before getting on. Next thing you will probably do is heading to the “kiosk” or the vending machines. In the Netherlands, for a small amount we can easily get a drink or a candy bar from the vending machines at the stations. However, in Japan, the vending machine is much more than that.

Vending Machines in Japan
At first glance, the vending machines are not that different than the ones we are used to. You put coins in the machines and you will get the product that you have selected. However, what makes them remarkable is that there are a bunch of them in Japan. It is estimated that there is about 5.52 million vending machines in Japan, which is even more than the total population of New Zealand (Jnto, 2015).
The vending machines in Japan also include bizarre contents which makes it unique: hot meals, fresh lettuce, cup noodles, flowers, umbrellas and even used underwear. You name it, they have it!

Next-generation vending machines
Vending machines has been already for over 50 years in Japan. However, technology is the key behind that keeps it evolving. For instance, there are vending machines with solar panels and touch panels that can sense the demographic of the customer. This allows the machine to suggest a drink on the display (Ryall, 2010). This is just a small example as there are tons of new features that could be added by companies to make a better user experience.
Recently, the company Kirin even implemented a selfie feature in their vending machine. The vending machine is fitted with a large LCD display and camera. The idea is that you can take a free selfie and share it with your friends through Line, a popular smartphone-messaging app in Japan. The service will be only offered free for those who buy a drink (Ashcraft, 2015). This is definitely a fun and exciting experience for customers. However, in my opinion there are lots of implications and potential in this Selfie Vending Machine. There could be branded backgrounds and localized digital content right there in images with you. Or when the Vending machine is not in use, the display can also show advertisements for products.


Japan is famous for its vending machines. However, it is not just the sheer number that exists in the country what makes it fascinating, but how they make these machines their own in a unique way. In combination of Technology, they keep improving their vending machines and create a better user experience for customers. There is huge potential in these vending machines and seems to unlock new ways of branding. So what do you think? Would we be able to improve our vending machines like the ones in Japan?


Ashcraft, B. (2015) ‘Japanese Vending Machines Now Taking Selfies’,, October 8, 2015.

JNTO(2015) ‘Vending Machines’ ,, 2015.

Ryall, J. (2010) ‘Japanese vending machine tells you what you should drink’,, November 16, 2010.

What’s your “klout” worth?

The importance of social media platforms never stops growing. What started of as “social networking sites” enabling friends to stay in touch has transformed into something way more than that. Organizations now have departments dedicated to social media platforms and how to improve their presence there.

What is Klout?

“Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content.”

Users at Klout can link multiple social networks and get a score which would be an aggregation of the scores from the various social networks individually. Currently, Klout uses data from Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia to create Klout user profiles that are given a unique Klout score.

Klout for business

These days, online advertising campaigns are a must for any major brand but social media campaigns are relatively still a new concept. Klout has realized that there is a huge market for earned media and the impact it can have on brand awareness and brand associations.

“Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, as opposed to paid media, which refers to publicity gained through advertising.”

Why Earned Media Matters?

“Earned media isn’t new. Consumers have been talking about your brand for years on social media, and because 92% of people trust their peers, it’s had a major impact. In fact, earned media provides 4x the brand lift of paid ads.

But it’s never been more important to build earned media into your plan. Reaching consumers through organic and paid channels is increasingly difficult and expensive.
Klout Perks connects the world’s top brands with the most powerful content creators online to easily and scalably create authentic earned media that works.”
Check your Klout score and compare it with your friends!

Pinterest for Business

Companies around the world are using various social networks to promote their businesses and market their products. Although, one of the lesser known social networks among businesses is Pinterest, it has carved out a valuable niche for itself. At first glance this network seems to be all about home décor, food, and fashion. How can it be relevant for business?

Pinterest For Business

Pinterest has an active user base of 70 million members, this creates a great opportunity for businesses that want to drive traffic and new sales to their websites. Especially for lifestyle brands Pinterest is great fit as it is a scrapbooking network that focuses mainly on lifestyle. Because of this other companies might be skeptical to use Pinterest due to its limited marketing capabilities. This is unfortunate because there are a lot of ways Pinterest can help a business increase traffic to its website. Pinterest can connect users directly to the website of a business. Thousands of eCommerce sites now cite Pinterest as one of their top referrers for traffic to their websites. Data show that Pinterest drives more Web traffic than any other social network.

Pinterest is used as an online shopping catalog with 70% of people using it to get ideas on what to buy online. An industry study found that the orders coming from Pinterest increased by 79% from last year. In addition, a survey carried out by SocialMouths found that Pinterest generates trust among consumers. They trust the information provided on Pinterest more than on Facebook or Twitter. Also, the users of Pinterest are twice as likely to engage with brands they support than users of Facebook. This can provide more opportunities for brands to market their products and get fans clicking onto their websites.

Pinterest is a perfect social network to reach a female audience. 80% of Pinterest users are women. The average user is 25-45 years old and 50% have children. If a brand is focusing on this consumer segment than Pinterest should be its most important social network. Also, if businesses feel they have exhausted other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is a great opportunity for reaching new audiences. Pinterest pins last on average three and a half months. That is 1600 times longer than Facebook where a post could last for just 90 minutes. This does not mean that the posts disappears, they just are not shown in the user’s newsfeed.  With Pinterest businesses can drive traffic to their websites for weeks after they create a post.

Most importantly, Pinterest is extremely easy to use for companies. The process to create pin boards and populate them with images is not complicated and businesses can start directing traffic to their websites straightaway. Pinterest also offers helpful analytics tools that businesses can take advantage of when marketing their products. These tools provide insight into which pins are performing best and how much traffic they are generating to the website. 80% of the pins on Pinterest have been repined from someone else therefore, Pinterest does all the hard work and generates traffic to the website without businesses having to work hard for it.

A new “Buy Pin” is coming soon that will let users purchase products without leaving Pinterest, using a credit card or Apple Pay. This will create the possibility for consumers to buy a product directly as they see it on Pinterest without the extra clicks of visiting the website. This can generate a lot more sales for businesses. Therefore, in the future Pinterest will businesses’ number one network for generating traffic as the opportunities this network provides are greater than may seem in the first place. What do you think?



Security as a unique selling point

While Apple and Samsung are competing fiercely at the higher end of the smartphone market, a new niche market is emerging in the industry. Instead of ever improving the specifications of their flagship smartphones, these new devices do not even come close to their hardware level. Yet, they are offered in the same price range. If it are not the specs, then what else is it that adds so much value to these phones?

Truth is, it is the security they offer. A few days ago, Archos – a French manufacturer that has not produced anything of note in recent times – introduced the GranitePhone. This smartphone was developed in a partnership with SIKUR, a Brazilian vendor of encrypted company-focused communications apps (Androidpolice, 2015). The phone is the latest to enter the emerging global market of ultra-secure smartphones, in which manufacturers  are anticipating growing concerns regarding the protection of data. That the software is coming from a Brazilian company might not come as a surprise. In 2013, the president of the country, Dilma Rousseff, cancelled a state visit to the United States, after Edward Snowden released documents which indicated her email and phone calls were monitored by the U.S (Bloomberg, 2015). The Granitephone is not the first of this type. Precedents include the Blackphone, produced by Silent Circle, and the Boeing Black smartphone. Interestingly, none come from established smartphone manufacturers and offer these companies an entry position in the entire smartphone market.

In this market, which surpassed 1 billion yearly smartphone sales in 2014 (Gartner, 2015), the advantages are well known. The devices have become an extension of daily life and are often trusted with our most intimate data. In addition, they generate enormous amounts of new data about the users. This is also where concerns are being raised, as the data appears to be less private and secure than is often realized by the user. (Jeon, et al., 2011) identify eight threats apparent to smartphones, of which four are caused by external attackers and the other four by the unawareness of the user:

  1. Malware. Malware can alter or expose private information and abuse costly services and functions.
  2. Wireless network attacks. An attacker can corrupt, modify, or block information on the wireless network.
  3. Denial of service. The risk of availability due to attacks on base stations and networks, or using radio interference.
  4. Break-in. An attacker gaining partial or full control of the device.
  5. Malfunction. The user can mistakenly disable their device.
  6. Phishing. Exposing private information due to phishing activities.
  7. Loss. The user can lose his/her smartphone.
  8. Platform alteration. Intentional alteration of the smartphone (e.g. jailbreaking).

The GranitePhone offers a solution focusing on the first four threats. It encrypts all outgoing messages and calls by storing them on SIKUR’s cloud based platform, which is only accessible through various layers of authentication (Tech Times, 2015). The Boeing Black smartphone even tackles one of the user-related threats, as it self-destructs in case of loss or theft. As the example of the Brazilian president above indicates, it are not only consumers which should be concerned about their mobile privacy. For corporations, politicians and defense the benefits of a secure phone might be even greater, as they possess more sensitive information.

So, are there no limitations of the Granitephone? Sure there are. As mentioned before, the hardware specifications of the phone are nothing special. The functionality is also limited. Currently, there is no internet browser available. In addition, it seems unlikely that productive applications like Gmail will be available on the device. It is even unclear if third party software can be installed at all. Then there is the price. It currently costs $849, around the price one can buy the newest iPhone for. In addition, there is debate about the actual security of the platform and the transparency around it.

Hence, it is unlikely that the phone will appeal to the mass consumer market. However, for certain corporate and political positions it might be the solution to safeguarding their most valuable information. Maybe more importantly, it adds to the existing debate on the security and privacy of mobile data, which governments and other companies seem take into account less and less.

  • Bas van Baar (358545sb)

Androidpolice, 2015. Archos Enters The Niche ‘Secure Phone’ Market With The $850 GranitePhone. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 10 October 2015].

Bloomberg, 2015. Brazilians Are Developing an Untappable Phone. [Online]
Available at:

Gartner, 2015. Gartner Says Smartphone Sales Surpassed One Billion Units in 2014. [Online]
Available at:

Jeon, W., Kim, J., Lee, Y. & Won, D., 2011. A Practical Analysis of Smartphone Security. Human Interface and the Management of Information, pp. 311-320.

Tech Times, 2015. Techtimes. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 12 October 2015].

No need to visit a webshop anymore, use WhatsApp!

Nowadays smartphones are all around us. When taking a train, walking around on campus or visiting a concert, you can see people using their phone everywhere. One of the major purposes of the mobile phone is texting. However sending SMS (for the ones who never heard of it: Short Message Service) messages is completely out-dated. Mobile service providers lost their cash cow to various message services that are using an Internet connection for getting messages from one person to another. The most popular one is WhatsApp.

Currently WhatsApp is installed on 90% of all smartphones in the Netherlands and the application has 9.5 million Dutch active users (Bathoorn, 2015; Multiscope, 2015). Furthermore, the app is used frequently: on average Dutch WhatsApp users are sending 30 messages per day while receiving 65 messages. For young adults between 18 and 34 years old, these numbers are even 60 and 150 respectively (Multiscope, 2015).

Mobile phones notifying you all day long about a new picture that has been send by your friend or about your mom asking you when you will visit your parents again. But the app is not just used for personal messages. Currently 38% of all WhatsApp users are using the app for business purposes as well. Among young adults (18-34 years) this number reached 48% already (Multiscope, 2015).

Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps and people tend to use it for business purposes as well, why haven’t a lot of companies switched to WhatsApp in order to reach customers yet? That is exactly what Jarno Duursma discusses in his book called ‘WhatsApp voor bedrijven’ (WhatsApp for businesses). Duursma describes four major reasons why businesses should use WhatsApp (Bathoorn, 2015):

  1. With 9.5 million active users, target groups are using the app on a large scale.
  2. WhatsApp is user friendly; everyone knows how to use the app.
  3. Messages are more likely to be read. WhatsApp is currently in the top 5 of apps being used most frequently worldwide.
  4. WhatsApp can lead to higher conversion in comparison to social media, since messages can be send anonymous instead of via a public page.

An early adopter of WhatsApp for business is SuitSupply, a well-known men’s fashion brand. To provide high quality service via the app, SuitSupply linked the message service to their CRM system. By doing that, they directly know whether a customer purchased something before, whether he is still waiting on a package to arrive or whatsoever (Duursma, 2015). As mentioned by Martijn van der Zee, marketing director at SuitSupply, customers can send WhatsApp messages when they need any style advice. Customers can easily send a picture of their suit and a SuitSupply employee will find and share matching shirts and ties. If a customer is interested, he can even pay via WhatsApp and in most cases the products will be delivered the next day (Duursma, 2015).


So, with an incredible number of active users and the successful case of SuitSupply, WhatsApp seems to be a valuable way of contacting and serving customers. So, would you prefer WhatsApp instead of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? And do you believe in ordering via WhatsApp, or would you rather visit a webshop?

Let me know!


Bathoorn, J. (2015, June 6). WhatsApp voor bedrijven, doe jij al mee? Accessed on: October 10, 2015, at

Duursma, J. (2015, October 5). WhatsApp als servicekanaal: Suitsupply pakt het innovatief aan [case]. Accessed on October 10, 2015, at

Multiscope. (2015, July 28). Nederlander krijgt 65 berichten per dag via WhatsApp. Acessed on October 10, 2015, at


Twitter Increase Character Limit

As you might have heard in the past few weeks Twitter is considering removing the 140-character limit. Currently, Twitter is creating a new product that will enable users to share tweets with an unlimited amount of characters. But what does this mean for the future of twitter? There are various characteristics that separate Twitter from other social networks but the 140-character limit has always been the most important trademark of Twitter. Twitter has been under scrutiny about this for years and many have argued that Twitter should expand the limit. But now that this might actually happen, will the users see blocks of text on their timelines? Or will it be a separate blog-type of service? This change will certainly have an impact on marketers who use Twitter to connect to consumers. Due to the longer content that will crop up almost immediately after the change, marketers will have to spend more time writing the body of tweet. This could create a shift on Twitter from many, small tweets throughout the day to fewer, longer tweets because marketers will not want to deplete their own time and resources and alienate consumers who may unfollow if they feel bombarded with content.

Lifting the limit might seem like a good thing, however, will Twitter be able to differentiate itself from other social networks after this implementation? This change could be detrimental to the unique community of writers and creatives who have found a home on the platform. The inconvenience of the 140-character limit has forced Twitter users and marketers to become better writers and salespeople. These parameters have taught Twitter users to develop their own unique style and flow. The only downside to the limit is that there is not much room for nuance. Twitter user must create a thread of tweets in order to show a progression of thought. However, this separation actually allows followers to process information much more seamlessly. After practicing marketers can learn to use the limit to their advantage with more precise and to the point content, as the most successful Twitter users manage to be both poignant and witty in bite-sized portions.

Not only is Twitter a platform where ideas are exchanged constantly but it is also a platform that turns minorities into targets of harassment by trolls. If Twitter is strongly considering lifting the 140-character limit ban, it must first put in place stricter anti-harassment regulations. Without the character limit trolls will be given more freedom to attack. This can cause the number of Twitter users to decline while Twitter is desperate to find new ways to attract users to the product.

Twitter wants to improve its appeal to the mainstream social media users, who do not know how to interact on a 140-character landscape. Removing the 140-character limit is a way to achieve that and will provide new readers of marketers’ content. However, the question arises whether or not this would actually increase Twitter’s audience. Twitter’s 140-character limit has force innovation in language and art, and created a platform perfectly tailored to facilitate instant interaction and community building. Instead of eliminating the characteristics that make Twitter unique among its competitors and the power these innovations have, Twitter should focus on making it secure for users and use this opportunity to improve this innovation and differentiate even more. Do not mess with what is not broken. Or do you think otherwise?


A useless toy or a game changing expedient?

Despite the fact that no average-customer has ever tried it in person, everybody knows what Samsung’s Gear VR is. In theory as being defined as a portable, wearable device to display a virtual reality, in practice … just an other Oculus Rift


We have seen pictures and we have read articles since 2010 about this kind of products, but we are far from integrate these devices in our life. In addition to this, when we think to any possible applications, the only thing that comes to our mind is the gaming industry.

In other worlds, right now they are complex and expensive toys.

Is not of this idea Audi, the famous automobile company. The German firm has find an innovative way to use the Samsung Gear VR to enhance the customer engagement. In simple words: a great marketing expedient. Audi, in order to support the launch of the new TT, have crated the first ever digital car showroom (these are the exact words used by Raju Sailopala, head of Sales at Audi city London) and it has provided all its115 Audi centres with the Samsung visors.

Customers can now choose the model, customize it and see it in a matter of second in first person. Audi has also recorded a test drive and now the customer can seat as in the passenger seat and enjoy the experience of a test drive.

After this first success, also another member of the Volkswagen Group has embraced this marketing strategy and has proposed at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show a virtual driving experience on the new amazing Lamborghini Huracan LP 610.

Audi will for sure leverage this new technology to open new stores in the great metropolis and capitals, where the space is a premium and there are no competitors, but will it dare to abandon the traditional dealerships?

Technology of the Week: Programmatic Marketing vs. People-based Marketing

DoubleClick vs Atlas

Information technology has a huge influence on electronic marketplace transformation. Electronic market integrates multiple functions such as advertising, product ordering, product delivery, payment system and after-sale service.

Online advertising, one element of electronic market has drawn increasing attention in the modern society. In 2014, the costs of global digital advertising reached to $146.42 billion (Statista, 2014). For advertisers, the online advertising spending is cost-efficient only when the ads are served to the target audience; however, according to the data provided by Nielsen, only 60% of online ads are successfully reach to the target audience. DoubleClick and Facebook Atlas Solutions are two ad serving companies which provide different intelligent automated technologies to search the right customers for advertisers.



The disruptive technology used by DoubleClick is called programmatic advertising. This technique utilizes the cookies from banner ads for tracking each user’s online behavior and building a profile of a user from these data. According to the cookie-based data, advertisers are able to deliver online ads in the right context, monitor their performance and further maximize the return on investment for a certain online advertising campaign.


Facebook Atlas

Facebook Atlas Atlas uses real-time data and Facebook’s knowledge of user preference, demographic and browsing history to guide advertisers to promote and deliver their products to the right audience. Moreover, Atlas monitors and traces people’s online activity through multiple device platforms to deliver real-world data which has a strong impact on both online and offline world. With Atlas, advertisers can deliver cross-device ads to the target audience more efficiently and create more value for the business.



Both DoubleClick and Facebook Atlas offer a way for helping advertisers deliver the product ads to the target consumers on the electronic market and auction market. However, they use different technologies for tracking and measuring online people browsing history. Instead of cookie-based technology which applied by Google, Atlas measures the behavior of real users and counts the number of ads each individuals has actually been exposed to.


Future Perspectives

DoubleClick is in the process of rolling out their programmatic marketing model to television screens and placing ads in online streaming and video on demand TV content across various interlinked devices. When this comes out it will be a one of its kind platforms for brands to advertise in online TV content. This might also prove to be very effective since the choice of TV content itself will give brands a good start to pinpoint on their target market.

On the other hand, Instagram and WhatsApp together accumulate 1.3 Billion users (Rany, 2015). With this quantity of users at disposal, it is only a matter of time that the people-based marketing of Atlas would soon hit these popular social platforms. Moreover, with Facebook integration the efficiency of their marketing would be strengthened to greater lengths as they will have much more background information for targeting consumers.



Statista. (2014). Digital advertising spending worldwide from 2012 to 2018.

Nielsen. (2012, 2 21). Measure the true audience for online ads campaigns.

Rany Ng, A. K. (2015, 3). Evolution of TV: The Promise of Programmatic TV. Retrieved from Think with Google:


Team 25

437457aj        Amogh Jain

437682et       Ewa Tulodziecka

429370gk      Gaurav Kumar

367347hl       Hanzi Li

441728zh       Zsofia Hajnik


Driving strategy using the Marimekko chart


As a marketer for an OTC company, I am dealing with market information every day. To determine where we need to go with our business and what strategy we should follow we ask ourselves numerous questions; How big is the market? Is the market growing? How is the market segmented? Which segments are interesting? How are we performing today? What are the relevant distribution channels? And so on.. I believe that market analysis is key to be able to provide an answer to these questions, to determine whether there is a need for your idea and what the correct strategic approach would be. A fault made by many marketers is that they base decisions upon ‘gut feeling’ and personal perspective. Maybe in the ’80s this was how things were done, but nowadays we have access to so much data and information, that there is no excuse for not conducting analyses.

So getting the data is not an issue anymore. What is very important now is that you are able to identify the data that is relevant for you. And, when you have all the data you need, that you find a way to illustrate it in a clear and structured way. There are hundreds of possible charts that you can use but what is the right chart for the job?

I will share with you one of my favorite charts, that has proven to be very useful for some of my business decisions – the Marimekko chart.Mekko chart

The Marimekko chart is a two dimensional chart that combines the information of a pie chart and a stacked bar chart in one stacked area graph. The Marimekko chart is excellent for strategy, market, competitor or product performance analysis/review.

Mekko-building tools are offered by various companies like Mekko Graphs and Think-cell, but the graph can also be built in Excel.

To illustrate how a Marimekko graph can be useful, I will give a fictive example of a start-up company that uses the Marimekko chart to make strategic decisions.

A start-up home decoration company wishes to examine the home decoration industry to determine what markets would be most interesting to operate in, with the biggest chance of growth. They examined many markets including textiles & rugs, art & picture frames, garden accessories & lightning

They created a Marimekko chart, or market map.

mekko decoration

What can they learn? The largest segments are textiles & rugs and lightning, they represent more than half of the market. The textiles & rugs segment is dominated by company A, so entering this market will very difficult. The lightning industry however is more fragmented, so they might have a better chance here.

In this case, the Marimekko chart provides clear information to this start-up company about what segments are the most attractive.

The Marimekko graph has already been very useful for me, particularly in making decisions for new product development. Of what types of charts & illustrations are you a firm believer?

By: Melanie Pieters, 420914MP


Employee of the Month: Facebook Pages

When it comes to customer service, Facebook is probably your eternal employee of the month.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.57.47 PM

Earlier this week, the company unveiled its new and improved features of Pages for business purposes. With currently about 45 million active businesses on the platform, Facebook is trying to become the primary source for their digital presence and storefront. This is especially applicable to small to medium-sized firms that are struggling to connect with their target customers. Pages almost makes traditional websites redundant and is also a lot more cost-effective since it erases all setup costs of registering a domain name, web hosting, web design as well as maintenance.

With regards to the mobile landscape, 85% of the time spent on smartphones actually takes place within apps rather than on websites. It is not only a lack of financial resources that small companies face but also picky users that have only 29 apps on average on their smartphones. A small to medium-sized company is not very likely to make it in the Top 29. And this is just the beginning. Pages has already gone way beyond being just the digital storefront. It has become a tool for customer service and support, which becomes especially apparent when consumers publish their problems and complaints publicly as a post. These Facebook posts are similar to other social media metrics that are open, visible, accessible, and characterized by a high level of customer engagement; and this is a very safe recipe to easily become a PR disaster, as “social media is a leading indicator of firm equity value” (Luo et al. 2013).

So what do the new features entail?

  • More call-to-action buttons (e.g. book an appointment or even call the company directly)
  • Two new sections “Shop” and “Services” to showcase offerings more visible and accessible
  • Improved layout for viewing as a mobile site
  • Rewarding fast responses to customers’ requests and complaints with a badge
  • Ability to send private messages to angry customers

The last two aspects are particularly interesting as this could transform the entire practice of customer support. Instead of having to set up a call center with relatively high average handling times, companies can respond to several requests at the same time and optimize by using the same template. As a further step, this could also create a completely new opportunity for third parties to offer customer services solely targeted at handling messages on Pages.

Another caveat emerges for Google as consumers might start shifting from searching for companies on Facebook rather than Google. Due to the standardized layout, visitors are very familiar with the setup of Facebook Pages and will find the information they are looking for faster and easier. With all the features, there are more means to raise social engagement and to share with your Facebook friends. Hence, it is a lot more dynamic. And more importantly, it is exactly catering to the needs for improved mobile pages.

Currently, not all of features have gone live yet so we shall see to what extents this transformation will go.–so-much-time.html

Luo, X., Jie, Z., and Duan, W. (2013). “Social Media and Firm Equity Value”. Information Systems Research 24(1). pp. 146-163.

SID: 354902kh

Importance of user location in mobile applications

Identifying User Location has been gaining a lot of importance in mobile applications because this helps in tracking and predicting contextual user behavior at certain places and certain points of time. It conveys information about the user behavior/experience at different locations such as shopping streets, restaurants, universities or railway stations. This data about user locations helps in multiple ways:

  1. Marketing analytics: Based upon this user behavior insights from analytics, targeted advertisement campaigns can be designed to be pushed to users at specific locations. Offline businesses can utilize this further to attract customers who are passing nearby by pushing notifications to their devices informing them about latest discounts/offers. Facebook also announced that user location would be utilized for displaying real-time advertisements. For ex. Supermarkets can push deal notifications whenever a user passes near to their place and have an app installed or even detect users at a precise shelf or display (through Beacons described later).
  2. Consumer research: Specific businesses can also create survey campaigns and through this information collected from respondents, companies can decide where to place advertisements, shops or kiosks. Surveys can be made more targeted or personalized and delivered right at the point and in the moment of experience with combinations of user location and preferences. This enables lesser reliance on recall, more emphasis on real-time opinion collection at user’s convenience and getting an accurate feedback/response. For ex. For a user coming out of a movie hall, a notification is pushed to send feedback for the movie.
  3. Improving road traffic: Location information can also assist in utilizing traffic data from user’s location to design traffic signaling or traffic planning or users can plan their routes. Google Maps enable viewing traffic details through information obtained from users who have enabled GPS and using their speed to create a traffic map. Mobile operators can obtain user location by triangulation with mobile towers very easily and understand where the customers are spending time to enable advertisers to select right place. This also assists ride sharing applications such as lyft (
  4. Connecting people: Location information can also help in connecting people (friends or relevant people with common interests). Foursquare is one such application that helps users discover local places and meet friends. This would help in huge conferences, or festivals, or music concerts where people can enable their location detection, preferences and find friends through app.

Technologies utilizing user location

To improve the ecosystem of location detection, various technologies exist which create a smoother interaction with user location and utilize this information in innovative ways as follows:

  1. Geo-fencing: This technology works by creating a virtual perimeter and whenever the user crosses these “virtual fences” (detected by GPS on user device), users get a contextual notification which may be a feedback survey or an exciting offer if they have signed up and based upon their preferences. There are companies with success in marketing campaigns with location based targeted advertisements.
    1. Use case 1: A shoe store ‘Meat Pack’ wanted to attract customers going to its competitors which were its key audience. Every time a customers with a MeatPack installed entered the store of the competitor, they received a notification about a countdown time (reduced by 1% every second) from 99% discount which stops when the customer enters the Meat pack shoe shop. Thus Meat Pack did not only attract the customers quickly and efficiently. Meat Pack had stolen over 600 shoppers from competitors and one very speedy customer managed to get 89% off a pair of shoes! 
    2. Use Case 2: Placecast, which offers location-based marketing services, created geo-fences with a radius of 0.5 miles around over 1000 pubs in the UK that sold Bulmers MMS message informing them where they could claim their offer on Bulmers cider.
  1. Nearfield technology: This technology communications between nearby devices through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transfer. The information transmitting device has location information which connects with information receiving device and helps in identifying users through their devices. There are tiny information transmitting devices knows as Beacons which can be placed at specific places and whenever the user crosses nearby these devices, the user location can be precisely identified and appropriately utilized. This works without GPS and can be utilized in supermarkets, restaurants etc. For ex. Apple has developed an iBeacon technology for their devices to identify user location.

Issues with getting location information

  1. User awareness and convenience: A major difficulty is to attract or engage users to start sharing location information. Currently, data is obtained through metadata present in photos and videos shared online, through socializing applications (Facebook check-in or Foursquare) and through utility applications (Google Maps). User information Privacy is an important consideration to make users more open to sharing location. This should also be an opt-in process and users might need incentives for sharing location information (discount coupons for filling surveys).
  2. Compulsory connection to Internet: Both technologies described above need access to internet as one necessary condition for information delivery, which can prove to be a bottleneck for devices not connected to internet every time and lead to interruptions in user location information.
  3. Accuracy and precision: To enable interconnection between people, it is essential that location detection is more precise and correct to finer details. Absence of this would lead to inaccurately triggering notifications which could be both irritating and frustrating for the user.
  4. Phone limitations: Low end phones can’t handle location due to absence of features and high end phones use up a lot of battery. Also, variety of mobile devices do not track location in a coherent manner so the information aggregation becomes difficult.


It is essential that all these location based services ultimately add value to the user and not make them feel unsafe or frustrated. The business strategy of employing a user’s location needs to be though out clearly. Any company targeting users on the basis of their location need to clearly describe what level of information would be obtained and utilized before asking for user’s consent. User awareness about the implications of sharing location data will go a long way in developing the ecosystem further and increasing location information literacy for the user. When sellers know where and what their customers, are doing, they can select a better deal to go through.


  1. Golden, Paul, 2010. Moving Targets. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17-10-2014].
  2. Zickuhr, Kathryn, 2013. Location-Based Services. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17-10-2014].
  3. Apple, 2013. iOS: Understanding iBeacon. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17-10-2014].
  4. Erica, 2012. Unresolved issues in location-based market research. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18-10-2014].
  5. Crocker, Peter, 2014. More than maps: the evolution of location-based applications [Accessed 18-10-2014].
  6. Wikipedia, 2014. Google Traffic. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18-10-2014].

Windows 10 and how sometimes April fools jokes become real

By the time of this writing it’s been 2 hours since Microsoft announced their new product durring a press event in San Francisco. Everyone was expecting a demo and details about Windows 9. However, Microsoft decided to surpise the public with the announcement of Windows 10.

Yes, you read this right – 10! They decided to skip 9 and jump directly to 10.

Microsoft have stated more than once that they have teams working on the next Windows version even before the previous one is released. The point is to release new versions and upgrade the OS as fast as possible. Despite this, they decided to skip a whole version on which a dedicated team has been working for who knows how long and focus on the one after that. No one gives explanations why they did so but the 10th version is already being called “The best Windows yet”

In the live event when asked about the naming difference they answered:Windows10 Start Menu

Q: Can you talk about the name? Seems weird going from Windows 8 toWindows 10.
A: This product, when you see the product in your fullness I think you’ll agree with us that it’s a more appropriate name.

They even released a small introduction video showing some of the changes in the new OS. Windows 10 will reintroduce an enchanced version of the old start menu that we all loved before Windows 8 removed it. They are also distancing the product from the Metro style which was by and large optimised for Mobile devices. However, according to Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, the OS is designed to run on even more devices than the previous version.

I am sure in the following days and weeks we’ll get a tone of information about the new Windows. Meanwhile, I found this interesting article dating from 1st of April last year. The author, Pete Babb, jokes about Microsoft skipping a version of Windows and goind directly to 10. Is this a an inside information that no one saw comming or is it just a very lucky guess? 🙂

What do you, dear readers think? Is reintroducing old features going a step backwards or is it just a clever marketing strategy? Express your feelings in the comments below!