Which is better – a branded or campaign-specific mobile app?
June 25, 2012
The New Belgium iPhone app
When thinking about delving into mobile, applications are usually one of the first words that come to mind for brands. However, marketers need to think strategically before rolling out an app to see if a branded or campaign-specific version is best.
Deciding between a campaign-specific app or long-term branded app is different for every brand. For example, some brands roll out tailored apps that are specific to one campaign. Others, such as craft brewer New Belgium Brewery, started with several apps and now have one central hub.
“We decided to go with a one-app umbrella as this is ultimately a better user experience given that we can update all content on this app as campaigns come and go,” said Adrian Glasenapp, brand activist for New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO.
“We can keep the content fresh without the user having to delete and search new apps - it's kind of like having your cake and eating it to. Ephemeral campaign apps can come and go at the right time while the updates happen in the background,” he said.
For many brands just dipping their toes into mobile, apps are a way to experiment with the medium.
New Belgium, for instance, rolled out a campaign-specific app for the company’s Joy Ride campaign. The FatTireCam app incorporated social media to let users upload pictures for a chance to win prizes – however once the campaign was over, the app lost its value.
Instead, now New Belgium houses all of its apps under its branded app (see story).
In addition to single-campaign aspects, New Belgium has integrated features such as the BeerFinder function into its apps that uses a device’s location to find the nearest New Belgium products.
New Belgium's iPhone app
Branded apps make a natural fit for brands that use mobile as part of shorter campaigns.
For example, New Belgium’s current campaign runs through the end of the summer. Therefore, housing the initiative under one app gives the brewery a better chance at building a long-term, one-on-one relationship with consumers.
On the other hand, some brands would rather take advantage of a specific event or moment to hone in on.
Take Coca-Cola’s newest campaign with the upcoming Olympics, for instance.
The soda giant recently rolled out its largest digital campaign to date with mobile at the center. One of the major mobile components centers around the My Beat Maker iPhone and Android app that lets users create music by moving their mobile devices. (see story).
Coca-Cola's My Beat Maker app
Since the Olympics have a global footprint, Coca-Cola is clearly betting that consumers will be willing to download an app that is available for a specific period of time.
In addition to the Olympics app, Coca-Cola has a number of different apps that all serve different purposes of specific groups of consumers.
“The [campaign-specific] strategy is suited to large brands with diversified product sets that target different demo groups,” said David Scatterday, product manager for mobile at MediaMind, New York.
“The downside to campaign-specific [apps] are while they offer more relevant content for each target demo, the potential over-segmentation means lower likelihood of active usership,” he said.
“It is also important to note this strategy consumes incremental development time.”
As other examples of successful campaign-specific apps, Mr. Scatterday points to Budweiser’s Track Your Bud campaign, which lets beer connoisseurs track their beer through the brewing process.
To keep users engaging with the app in the long-term, consumers can earn bottle caps as virtual achievements (see story).
Different strokes for different brands
According to Matthew Cava, strategy director of mobile solutions at Vibes Media, Chicago, the majority of brands should be thinking about a one-app strategy.
“It’s a challenging enough task to get the right features and functionality into one-branded app that customers and users find valuable, let alone several campaign-specific apps,” Mr. Cava said.
“Also, in the App Store, brands will want their customers to search for their brand and find the official app. There is potential for confusion if there are several apps with brands’ names on it. With tens of thousands of apps to choose from, having customers find brands’ apps quickly is vital,” he said.
Regardless of which method a brand goes with, the key to any app-based effort goes beyond just rolling out the initiative – instead brands need to view an app as part of an overall mobile strategy.
“At a basic level, letting customers know that brands have a branded app is step No. 1 - this sounds like a no-brainer, but when it comes to syncing the messaging across media, many times the native app gets left off,” Mr. Cava said.
“Once customers and users download the app, use push notifications to inform and reengage users with branded content,” he said.
“Next, creating new content for the app – whether in the form of an update or pulled into the app via the Web – is a way to provide a deeper level of campaign integration. Finally, developing a native app that specifically ties into an advertising campaign has the potential to have the best experience for customers.”
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York
- Trackback url: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/trackback/13157-1