Coca-Cola exec: Brands haven't broken code for memorable apps
By Chantal Tode
January 22, 2013
The My Beatmaker iPhone app
NEW YORK – A Coca-Cola executive who delivered the opening keynote presentation at Mobile Marketer's Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2013 conference last week said that the code has not yet been broken for creating a truly memorable branded mobile application.
“Of the 100 applications we have, we have a few really good apps,” said Tom Daly, group director of mobile and search at The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, GA.
“The apps are getting two and three stars – there are very few five star apps,” he said. “We are not in the business of producing two star commercials.
“I don’t think we’ve produced the app that people will be talking about in 40 years. I don’t think we’ve cracked the code.”
Better mobile Web experiences
In addition to mobile apps, marketers are also struggling with delivering strong mobile Web experiences. Contrary to many beliefs, responsive design may not be the answer, per Mr. Daly.
Since responsive design focuses on taking the same content and delivering it across multiple devices, the assumption is that consumers want the same content on mobile that they consume on desktop, which may not be the case.
“If you start talking about HTML5, hybrid apps and responsive design, you start forgetting the consumer experience,” Mr. Daly said.
In an assessment of Coca-Cola’s mobile push in 2012, Mr. Daly pointed to some key successes and some areas where improvement is needed.
Looking forward to the next 12 months, Coca-Cola will be focusing on continuing to test and learn, while also trying to scale-up several of its efforts.
However, the bottom line is that mobile is an important focus because of the key role it plays as a marketing technology.
“The notion of mobile being as close as you can get to your customer is a wonderful encapsulation of what makes mobile different from any other marketing technology that is out there,” Mr. Daly said.
“Mobile is on your consumer’s person – you cannot get closer to them personally or physically,” he said.
One example of how Coca-Cola leveraged mobile in 2012 was its efforts around the summer Olympics.
In its largest digital campaign ever, Coca-Cola leveraged music to target teenagers and bring them closer to the Olympic Games, with mobile playing a key role.
The Move to the Beat campaign included the My Beatmaker mobile app, which enabled teens to create their own beat through the motion of their phone.
The mobile aspects of the campaign were activated in more than 50 countries around the world with QR codes in-store, SMS activation at live music events, links within the brand’s desktop and mobile experiences and augmented reality, which brought its packaging to life.
Some of the key successes from the effort included leveraging social feedback – often through mobile devices – to optimizing the programming for 10 Web series episodes on a daily basis.
Additionally, Coca-Cola was able to use SMS to engage consumers on a one-on-one basis.
“We think we did some things right,” Mr. Daly said. “From our point of view, we created some relevant content, we know consumers were interested – we saw downloads, significant SMS signups, conversion and saw the audience consuming the content.”
Apps were one of the key areas of focus for Coca-Cola in 2012 and will continue to be so this year.
Other areas of focus include SMS, mobile Web, video, location and 2D.
“In terms of priorities, and as a corporate guide, those six things probably have the most value under the most circumstance for the most people,” Mr. Daly said.
The company is also experimenting with emerging opportunities such as augmented reality.
Furthermore, Coca-Cola is betting big on mobile commerce and transactions, recognizing that this has the potential to make the company more of a direct response business.
“Driving people through location and coupons to a place where they can pull out the phone and buy a Coke – that is really different,” Mr. Daly said.
“The minute little Johnny is using the phone to buy a Coke with an allowance that his mom gave him, we are in the direct response business,” he said.
“But, this doesn’t mean we are out of the brand building business.”
Coca-Cola has partnered with both ISIS and Google Wallet to let consumers purchase beverages from vending machines.
With ISIS in Austin, TX, and Salt Lake City, UT, users can walk up to a vending machine and pay for a purchase and instantly be integrated into the Coca-Cola loyalty program. This enables users to buy 10 drinks and get one free.
Coca-Cole is also experimenting with using SMS to pay for vending purchases in Atlanta.
“From SMS to NFC, we are looking at ways to sell Coke,” Mr. Daly said.
In terms of where Coca-Cola will focus on improving its mobile efforts over the coming year, Mr. Daly pointed to the need to do a better job parsing out content to local marketers, figuring out how to create content that can be used across countries and looking at ways to better leverage SMS and social media to really connect with what is going on in real-time.
Additionally, the company will be looking to better leverage POS, SMS and 2D bar codes to drive sales.
“In 2013, we are learning how to scale some of the things that we started in 2012,” Mr. Daly said. “That doesn’t mean we are not introducing new things – we will always experiment.”
Tom Daly is group director of mobile and search at The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, GA
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