Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Web Browsing on your mobile?

The word social usually involves doing things together with others – browsing usually means casually looking at something. Combined the words suggest casually looking at something together with others – or simply being able to share what you are doing. So what does social web browsing on mobile phones mean?

No doubt Social Web Browsing is being used as a marketing term to differentiate between phone browsers, another attribute to swing the buyer or drive curiosity towards downloading a new browser to the phone. The attribute described is ability to ‘share’ a web site with a friend. This sharing is implemented one of more of these ways:

  • Create a tweet on your Twitter with the site address (URL) and accompanying text – look at this cools site etc.
  • Write about site and share address on your Facebook Wall
  • Send an SMS to you friends with the site address and comments
  • Send an email to your friends with the site address and comments
  • Send a browser message to your friend with site address and comments

All these ‘Social’ ways have in common that friends can open the web site on their mobiles and if they like what they see, they can add it to their bookmarks or even download an app to their phone. They all allow casually looking at something and sharing it with your friends.

At mJetz we take this concept a bit further. Not only have we implemented browser to browser messaging allowing you to send and share and receive messages and sites within your mJetz browsers, but we have also implemented 'one click' addition to your favorites making it very easy to incorporate your friend’s suggestions – mobile sites, web sites, RSS feeds or mJetz apps - with your personal favorites. And with mJetz unique navigation and personalization, you will easily find these without searching through bookmarks or flipping through pages of icons. That is the mJetz way, the mobileWeb easier to use.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mobile Universal Search

When the word universal is thrown around it usually suggests high hopes and intentions of finally having something that works everywhere and does everything - a panacea of sorts. The quest for Universal Search on mobile phones fits this description. After all, don’t we want exactly the results we are thinking about presented on our phone screens - in a way that is easy to use and navigate. Yes, use and navigate, because there are always a number of results associated with each search even if we are only interested in one specific result. It is finding and making that specific result available that is the crux of the matter.

All searches start with some type of search intent, often derived from a texted term or spoken word. This term/word can be augmented by knowledge of interests, demographics and maybe location information, time of day, weather or time of year. A good search function will blend these together in a meaningful way and deliver a search query to – well a search engine that magically delivers results back. But what do these results look like?

  • A list of mobile web sites?
  • A list of videos?
  • A list of mobile applications?
  • A list of web sites?
  • A list of sound bites?
  • A list of music?
  • A list of RSS feeds (yes, that highly usable format on mobiles)

- Or, maybe a very long list of all of the above in which the result the user is really looking for is well hidden. What is clear is that major mobile companies are hiring people and pouring resources into finding out how to improve mobile search and delivering results with a better user experience.

At mJetz we believe the problem has two parts:

  1. Generating search results from multiple sources
  2. Delivering these results in a way that makes it easier for the user to find the specific results they are looking for.
Based on this we augment the user’s queries and deliver several types of results from multiple sources. These include:

  • Apps
  • RSS (yes, that highly usable format)
  • Mobile web (from multiple search engines)
  • Real web (where results are categorized for ease of use)

But the real value of mJetz is to deliver the results in a way that makes it easy for the user to navigate and select what they want. mJetz fluid and expanding navigation takes care of that. Pictures are worth more than a thousand word so here is a look at mJetz search results for 'Universal Search'

But the real value of mJetz is to deliver the results in a way that makes it easy for the user to navigate and select what they want. mJetz fluid and expanding navigation takes care of that. Pictures are worth more than a thousand word so here is a look at mJetz search results for 'Universal Search'

And each result category opened up with mJetz easy to navigate fluid user interface:

Universal Search Applications

Universal Search RSS results

Universal Search Mobile Web results - notice choise of search engines

Universal Search Web results - notice categorization

As you can see, Mobile Universal Search is here today with mJetz

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flat, Folder or Something Better

Judging from the popularity of the iPhone and Android user interfaces (UIs) it looks like users prefer pages and pages of icons (flat) compared to more traditional UIs where each icon opens a folder. Is this really the case or are we just looking at a current fad where the newness of quickly swiping between pages seems cooler that ‘the old fashioned’ tapping to open a folder?

A recent blog ‘Another Look at Mobile User Interfaces’ from Mobility Nigeria argues that the popularity of flat UIs is simply a bias and hides the fact that flat UIs are harder to use when icon-pages reach beyond – say three. After all, the extra tap to open a folder is just replaced by the extra swipe(s) to find the page where the desired application icon is located. Folders even have organizational advantage by being aptly named or easy to recognize icons.

What neither flat nor folder UIs have is a sense of location and direction or simple and clear organization – it is easy to get lost or forget where you are, forget how to get from here to there. It is also difficult to organize/personalize app locations and folders so that you can find what you are looking for. So is there something better?

The mJetz mobile web app replaces folder or flat with fluid navigation where apps, sites and folders are placed on an open UI that expands in front of your eyes as you navigate towards the right or up/down. Folders automatically open up and show their content when you get close to them and apps/sites become clickable when they come into focus. New apps or sites are quickly added as favorites with clear names or icons and can be organized Ifrom the phone or web) into personal folders and placed where you want them in the UI. With mJetz you always know where you are and your favorite apps are always easy to find and use.

So as the fad of flat fades - it is time to replace it with fluid!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mobile Advertising – Offering the Right Ad

Some blogs back we covered the subject of getting the right ad to the mobile user and concluded that things will get better if ad query requests are tagged better and mobile ad networks improve as far as inventory and fill rates. The big if is that the right ads have to be there in the first place. In order for this to happen, advertisers need no only to offer the right ads but have the tools so that they can do it. Sounds obvious, but we are not quite there yet.

Mobile advertising has the potential to deliver more relevant ads than most other media. After all, a lot is known about the mobile user, their location and even in what application and where within each application the ad will be placed. The only thing missing is that this information is made available to the advertiser in real time. Why real time? It is all about context matching. In mobile, the context is continually changing not just based on the user moving around but also as the user switches between mobile web sites and applications.

Microsoft, as it is launching Windows Phone 7, is addressing this opportunity by rolling out the first bid based ad exchange. This finally moves mobile advertising to a stage where ad buyers are fully informed about the context in which the ad is shown. It also brings real-time bidding to mobile following the industry trend in web advertising. Several ad networks are on board the Microsoft effort and there is little doubt that real time bidding will migrate to the mass market of mobile advertising. At mJetz we are ready to integrate these capabilities when they are available. By using our superior context generated keyword approach we will be Offering the Right Ad to our users.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Save us from our mobile User Interface and User Experience!

Innovations in mobile user interfaces/user experiences (UI/UE) happen at a slow and somewhat unsteady pace. The iPhone UI with it’s effortless finger-navigation and screen expansion was certainly innovative. But other parts of the mobile phone UI/UE seem to be nearly immune from innovation. A good example of this is the icon matrix home page that has been with us for ten years. The iPhone simply added pages and pages of icons – which was duly copied by all other smart phone UIs. Another example is the phone browser that seems to be immune to innovation and has gone through little change since WAP days. The rendering is better and we can now zoom in and out on some browsers but cumbersome bookmarks and tabs remain. The iPhone again addressed the bookmark problem by turning bookmarks into apps and placing them on the icon matrix home page – thereby making the home page unwieldy and creating a different discovery probblem. This funny ad spoofs the typical user experience on current phones and poses the question as to whether things will remain the same.

From Microsoft 7 Mobile’s perspective the answer is of course no, but rather than describing the ins and outs of this new and slightly different user experience, let us take a look at some of the new underlying innovation that they bring to the table as they try to create a Glance and Go instead of a Stop and Stare user experience:

• Simple minimalistic design – fewer Tiles (icons)
• Active Application Tiles - glance to see changes
• Application Hubs – related apps in one hub for an integrated experience
• Hubs for integrated core services - social networking, messaging
• Personalize look and feel - your tiles - your way
• Dedicated Universal Search button (apps, sites, feeds)

While some things remain the same (like a home page with pages of icons/tiles) there is enough innovation to save us from our current User Interface and create an improved User Experience. At mJetz we already incorporate these concepts and will bring it to all phones - we even replace the static home page with an expanding user experience. More about this in a later blog!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mobile Advertising – Getting the Right Ad!

At a Mobile Monday last week in Boston, representatives from the advertising industry discussed what brands are doing in mobile today. The panel discussion was sobering. Despite a lot of hype, mobile advertising has yet to become an established part of the media marketing mix. In mobile there is still a void in ‘standardized’ reporting that big advertisers and media buyers want to see. This contrasts to web advertising where the types of measurement and response systems advertisers are used to have been implemented. Advertisers want to know who will be seeing their ads and what the associated response metrics are. Is this so hard to satisfy?

Right now the answer seems to be yes. The current state of most mobile ad networks is that an advertiser is able to create ads without supplying targeting keyword tags beyond the most rudimentary of subject, language and country – even those are not enforced or available much of the time. This lack of keyword tags means that ad queries, even if they have keywords closely associated with the type of user (age, sex, interest) and context (time, place), are either not served ads at all or are served generic ads that only meet one or two keywords. The result is irrelevant ads or no ads.

The good news is that things will change for the better as mobile advertising is just where web advertising was 10-15 years ago. This was the era before industry accepted keyword target matching mechanisms and reporting systems appeared. Today, the web advertiser is able to effectively target the audience they want and directly track results. So how long do we have to wait?

At mJetz we have the ability to generate very sophisticated keywords directly associated with the user and the context of the ad. In order to make sure that the right ad is served, we are building logic that allows us to select ad networks in real time based on the relevance of the ads that they serve. This logic will monitor which ads are being served thereby continually improving the quality and relevance of the ads the user sees. We are also able to measure the direct results of ads based on user type, context and placement within the mJetz application. Together with the ongoing improvement of ad networks, ad application logic will over time ensure that the right ad gets delivered to the user.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mobile Advertising – What about placement?

In traditional media, advertisement placement is everything – whether time slot in a TV show, where in a magazine/newspaper or the type and circulation/viewership of the media itself. And like no other variable, placement drives pricing. So what about mobile ad placement? Does it even exist?

Most mobile ads today are delivered based on the keywords the ad requests contain. These keywords have some (nearly) static parameters like phone type and IP address (country/region/operator) and variable parameters associated with the application or mobile media where the ad will be shown. Location stands out in a category of itself as it does provide information about exactly where the viewer is when the ad is shown, the place of the placement so to speak. As for placement on the phone screen the main distinction is banner ads versus ads placed within a mobile application or web page. As mobile web pages are smaller versions of web pages the placement is more limited but can be at the top or further down the page and even in follow up ‘click through’ pages. While this leaves plenty of placement options within applications and web pages, the placement opportunities at the highest level of the mobile web user interface, the front page so to speak, is relatively limited.

As long as we have static matrix like user interfaces to our apps and web on the phone, ad placement at the highest level will continue to be limited. But when we move to more open-ended navigational user interfaces, like mJetz, targeted ad placements amongst app and web icons suddenly become possible. These ads can be closely associated with where the ad is placed. If it is next to movie app it will be different than if it is next to shopping or news app and ads can also be placed dynamically next to where they make sense or where they have high visibility. In fact, mJetz is able to combine both static, variable, personal and placement data in its keywords and thus place highly relevant and high value ads throughout the mobile web user experience, both at the top level and within apps and sites. In this world mobile ad placement can provide the user with relevant ads at the right place and the advertiser has access to keywords so that they can create and serve these ads. These ads will become more valuable to bothe the user and the advertiser – a true win-win!