As usual, technology is far ahead of marketing. Perhaps that's why I am not surprised to see how after so many years embracing the concept of cloud computing, its principles are now being applied to the marketing world. There is no doubt that platform and channel independence are the aim of every marketer. We all look for content that can live in any environment and that also has the ability to be both self-contained in messaging, and link up to form a greater narrative. But it is evident that this will only be possible if the main message lives in a platform that is accessible to people at anytime and within their own rules. Brands need to understand that the idea of an integrated campaign no longer fits people's lifestyle. Yes, they might be in touch with some pieces of the puzzle but definitely not with the entire picture. This is why it doesn't make sense to just promote a single narrative but instead several pieces capable of living on their own and, still, send the same overarching message. Something that technology will allow them to do. Is the mainstream ready to embrace it? Perhaps no. But we have to start with something no?
I'm a huge fan of Geo location services. That's one of the reasons why I think that the current buzz around them is just a compelling sign of the importance of the mobile Internet and the [many] implications that this promises to bring. However, when I look at the current set of tools available out there, I can't control but feel that the true value that these bring is still too vague. Yes, social gaming is certainly fun and it truly has the potential to raise a kind of cool competitive edge within anybody's social network, but, in its current form, I’m just having a hard time believing it is really adding any significant value to our lives. In fact, turning our everyday activities into a social game is something we were already doing organically [well, at some level]; these tools have just amplified the behavior by nurturing the narcissism inside all of us [people that are already social in nature btw]. And yes, I need to admit I’m the first one on the list. Now, if we look beyond the typical incentives driving user activity [in tools like Foursquare and Gowalla, for example] we will see that these do not provide us with a long term reward that, beyond usage, also encourages engagement. The truth is that having 19 mayorships and 17 badges [like I do] stops being exciting once you have achieved it. Yes, the hunt game is fun but, once you're there, the experience becomes forgettable. And that's where the opportunity lies. Adding gaming mechanics to the way we work, play, and aspire to improve ourselves [beyond just taking the concept of social networking further by personalizing the experience] has the potential to make us rethink our daily lives in more meaningful ways. And this is where 'the tools' have an opportunity to create a long-term experience that goes beyond what the technology does and, instead, taps into deeper human truths that help us see what can we do with it. Foursquare [and others like it] certainly have the potential to make our lives a bit better, in many aspects [see here] yet it seems we are still far from going away of the instant rewards that drive the experience and instead start looking at how it can – potentially - encourage others within a network to change their behavior. The idea is right on. I just don’t like the execution.