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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google TV in Canada - A Primer

I was able to pick up Google TV last week in Dallas and I guess I was lucky as the Best Buy where I purchased it is having a hard time keeping them in stock.  From the full demo, at the store, it will be incredible to have the ability to have a full converged environment with your TV and online content, it will become one of those must have for home entertainment.

I ended up purchasing the Logitech Revue vs the Sony Google TV box.  The Sony Google TV box has a Blu-Ray player but the Logitech Revue has a full keyboard and an add-on for video chat. I didn't need a Blu-Ray and the full keyboard seemed important to me (the Sony Google TV has what looks like a PS3 controller with a mini-keyboard).

I wasn't sure how much value having the Google TV add on would be in Canada (as it isn't supported here - note: you need a ZIP code in the setup process but you can use 00000 to skip the step) but I was happily surprised. First off you don't get the convergence with TV and the Internet (so you can't run your DVR, leverage Queue fully or have a TV guide in the apps) but it acts as an Internet layer over your TV so you can can leverage most of the other functionality.

Overall I am really happy with Google TV.  With the access to the Internet and the HD video available from most of our Canadian TV networks on their sites, Netflix and NHL GameCentre we may even try to go without our Bell TV subscription for a bit.

Pros:

1. It is pretty cool being able to jump back and forth between Internet and live TV (the show can go PIP or flip between screens) and so far it seems much better than having a laptop kicking around.

2. The additional content is great from a bunch of different sources, Google TV Spotlight is a series of content apps designed for TV (Large screen viewing - the leanback mode) - These all have all (or some) content available in Canada - CNN, New York Times, Flixster, TNT (just show trailers), Vimeo, Crackle, CNET, blip.TV, the Onion, Cartoon Network (only the games are available in Canada), clicker,  Dailymotion, KQED, MeeGenius, TuneIn Radio, CHOW TV, Net-A-Porter, Vevo, and of course Youtube.  There are also others but you don't have access to them in Canada at this moment.

3. Picasa Gallery and the fact you can access multiple Google Accounts on Google TV.  Having access to all of your pictures and movies on the big screen is great

4. Google Queue.  This is really cool and will even be better when TV content is available to be integrated in Canada.  In short Queue is like Google reader for your TV and online content.  Below is a video that outlines its features.



5. Online Content from the Canadian networks - almost all of the networks in Canada have access to the current shows online - most in HD.  So you can access all of the shows when you want (after they air) through their websites and if they have a feed you can add the shows to your Queue so you will know when they are available.  I also purchased NHL Game Centre through NHL.com which lets you access all of the games online which now allows me, through Google TV, to get all of the games in HD on the television.

6. I like that it runs on Android.  So many of the new features coming out soon will quickly be added to this as well - Music / Media store, streaming of content over the cloud and the integration between the phone and Google TV.

Cons:

1. I may be missing something but I can't find an app for gmail, the only way you can access it is going through the browser.  I am sure this is coming but it is a little of an annoyance now.

2. Netflix in Canada does not yet support streaming on Google TV - it looks like it is coming soon.

3. No integration with a music player but I believe that is coming with the release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread in the next couple of weeks.

4. No app store (or that i have found) or access to other apps - this has to be coming or I just missed it.

Overall Google TV is great, very different that Apple TV as it is more focused on integrating content from online and TV than media playing.  Can't wait until it fully launches in Canada (no date as of yet) and seeing what happens when they continue to develop the platform. Still a great buy now for Canadians that are interesting in seeing what the future will bring.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some Inspiration for a Rainy Sunday Afternoon

Surfing on Youtube this afternoon and I came across YouTube Play which happen last week at the Guggenheim on the 21st of Oct.

Some really cool inspirational work that makes you think. Next time you have an hour to spare spend some time exploring the Youtube Play site or watching the event.

Creativity can come from so many different places and takes many different forms, it is one of the reasons why you can't aways work inside the box as you will only become stale as others innovate around you.  Make sure you (and your team) spend time just creating, not towards as specific goal or guidleline but exploring the areas outside of what your business and creative guidelines are today. Trust me the seeds of innovation are there, you just need to give them the space and time to grow.

The Full Event:


And some of my favourite video (you can see them all at youtube.com/play):



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Evolving Shift Family Expands

As you all know I am very passionate about building out how companies leverage eCommerce.  To that point I figured it was time to introduce some additional voices to the Evolving Shift family to provide some different perspectives (and help keep me on my toes).  I am very excited to introduce Rick Neuman to the readers.  Rick is one of the up and coming stars in the Canadian eCommerce scene and has worked with some of the largest brands in the business.   He brings an incredible focus on the customer and understands the link between great technologies and teams in bringing it all together.  Rick will challenge your thoughts and it is great to have him as a contributor!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is This How Your Company Treats Social Media?

As funny as these are many companies still treat social media as a thing they need to do because it is the buzz today vs that they need to do it because they can A. Listen to how their brand is perceived by consumers online; B. Engage consumers in an active media that isn't possible in traditional advertising and C. Support and transact with consumers in the channels they want vs the channel you want them to.




How is your company treating social media and what is being done to ensure you are engaged with your consumers?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Can You Really Afford to Piss Off 8% of Users

I am continually shocked by two things over the past year when it comes to browser compatibility.  First is that so many sites just don't work when using Google Chrome and more often that not of late it is when I get to the checkout that the site just won't work.  Second is that most of these sites support Safari and when talking to IT groups and business leaders they feel this is more of a priority than Chrome.  Let's forget about the point that Chrome surpassed Safari in usage earlier this year and focus on the pure numbers (I also don't think this should be a one or the other decision).  The latest numbers show that Chrome usage is now approaching 8% and with recent growth trends I would expect that we will see 10% early in the new year.  The other point to consider is that Chrome users are early adopters (vs the IE crowd) and I would propose they are more like to purchase online.



So I guess the question is - Can you really afford to not support 8% of your consumers in the way they want to shop?  Maybe you can but I'm sure someone else needs those sales.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Measuring Online Impact In The Stores

I just got back from Copenhagen and Munich were I had the opportunity to speak to eCommerce professionals at two different conferences.  One of the points that I focused on was the importance of engaging your consumer in the ways that they want to be engaged (What they want, where they want, when they want) and that your role as an eCommerce professional isn't always about driving conversion and sales online but it is about driving sales to the overall organization which includes call centre and store based sales.

A question came up after the conference in Copenhagen on how to best measure this.  I thought I would put the answer here and if anyone is interested we can expand the conversation.

First off this is were we get away from the comfort of online analytics where everything is measurable to a high degree of confidence.  When measuring the impact of online to offline you need to build models to understand the consumers interactions with your different channels.  Below are some things to start doing that will allow you to have a much better understanding of the impact your site is having on your stores.

1. Understanding offline habits on your site:  Do a deep dive on what consumers are doing on your site that is related to offline purchasing.  Look at sections of your site like Store Finder, Digitized Flyers, Return Policy etc and understand the volume and habits of these consumers.  If you are not looking at this already you will be surprised to see the large % of your visitors thats sole purpose is to engage these sections.  For some large retail sites this can be well over 50% of traffic.  If you don't have some of these basic features on your site move to get them setup ASAP.  Store Finders can be setup very quickly through Google Maps and companies like Conversys can quickly get your store flyers setup online.  You can also look to setup and measure more advanced store integrations like inventory look-up, promotional databases and in-store pickup. These, when a consumer takes an action to complete, can also be measured as separate conversions on your site allowing you get to a much deeper view into consumer interactions and the success of your website.

2. Couponing and Promotions: Another easy way to measure the impact of your site (and online marketing channels) is to offer exclusive promotions or in-store only coupons that are available only on the site and / or through interactive channels (an exclusive promo email for example).  These can be as simple as taking a product that was target for broad promotion (in flyers) and moving it only to the website - they you can measure the growth in sales vs other products in the line-up.  More advanced is a special coupon for use in-store that can be collected at POS (if you are lucky) or manually counted to determine the impact.  A word of caution on these is that you will need to test it multiple times to understand what motivates your online consumer base and where best to communicate the message.  Plan to do a series of exclusive promotions and codes over a couple of months and track progress / impact to the business.

3. Surveying:  A much more sophisticated level of measurement is surveying your customer base.  This can be ad-hoc where you are polling online and in-store customers about the impact the online business has on in-store shopping behaviours or, and in my opinion the best method, ongoing surveying of the customers on your site.  Foresee Results has a great multi-channel survey that is added on top of their base browse product that provides deep insight and understanding of how consumers are using your site in the purchase consideration cycle and the impact it is having on your overall business.

In the end it is important that you are spending time understanding this consumer, not only to improve your overall business but to ensure your are delighting these customer by giving them the experiences and tool on your site they need to complete the task the brought them to your site.