Bitcoin and Crypto-Currencies

It is not often that we hear about an actual currency being created and actually becoming popular, but that is exactly what has happened with Bitcoin (BTC), a type of crypto-currency that is beginning to take the world by storm.  Originally created in 2009, the currency has blown up over the last year and it is beginning to gain ground as a legitimate way to pay for goods and services.

I wish that I would have found out about Bitcoin earlier because those that invested in the currency in its beginning can turn a huge profit due to the high exchange rate between BTC and U.S. Dollars.  Right now, one BTC is equal to somewhere around $680.  Earlier this month, I saw the exchange rate as high as $1,200.  It is unbelievable how much this currency, which was created by an unknown person, has taken off.

One of the reasons for Bitcoin’s sharp decline in price in the past few days is the fact that the government of China banned the clearing of BTC by payment companies.  This has caused the price of Bitcoin to drop at an alarming rate due to the high volume of BTC holders in China, but the prices have slowly started to rise again.

Bitcoin has also become so popular that there have been other types of crypto-currencies created in an attempt to parody BTC, but they have actually become semi-noteworthy.  The most well-known new currency is Dogecoin, which was created as a joke based off of the Doge meme.  Dogecoin has actually skyrocketed in popularity, but it is being forecasted as mostly a joke and many are expecting a collapse of the Dogecoin market.


I definitely think that crypto-currencies must be looked at as a fixture of the future because of how easy they are to use and how they are not controlled by one central bank.  Bitcoin is here for now, but will it be here to stay?

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How Social Media Has Changed the World

When I sit and think about social media and how far it has come in less than 10 years, I am truly amazed.  I can remember making my Facebook page in late 2006, when you still needed to be invited to use it.  At that time, I thought it was a really cool thing, but never expected it to become what it has.

Along those same lines, Twitter has changed the world as well.  I remember when I first heard about Twitter and thinking that it was stupid and would never last.  Wrong doesn’t even begin to describe how off my thoughts were.  Today, I have trouble going more than a few minutes without checking my Twitter feed so I can be up to date with the latest news about anything that I am interested in.

The thing of it is, even with the changes to my life, can we say that social media has changed the world? It obviously changed the way that many people look at things, but saying something changed the world is a large task.  I think that we can say that about social media though.  Look at the Arab Spring.  It was fueled by social media.  Without the social networks keeping people informed, would the people in those countries have been able to accomplish what they did? Below is a great video on the role technology played in the Arab Spring protests:

Social media played a huge role in connecting the world.  There are not many places left in the world that social media has not had an impact on.  What will be the next way that it will impact each of us? I wish I had the answer, but I can’t wait to see.

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Mobile Food Ordering at Sporting Events?

With the proliferation of smartphones and the level of connectivity they have given the world, I think one of the most interesting things to examine is how much they can help make a task more efficient.  With my background in sports, I often wonder how smartphones can help fans have a better experience at games and other events.

Imagine being able to order food from a concession stand and having it delivered to you.  No more missing plays (I missed this play because I was getting something to drink. Even almost 10 years later, missing it has stuck with me. I never go to the concession stand other than halftime anymore.)  I think there is definitely a market for a service that would deliver food and drinks to your seats during games so that you never miss a second of action.

I’m not the only one that feels like this is an untapped market in the sports world.  There are three startup companies that are trying to change the way that fans get food and drinks at sporting events from professional leagues to minor league venues.  Bypass, Yorder, and Snagmobile are the three leaders in mobile ordering at sporting events, and I think that within the next few years, this will become the norm at sporting events.

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The Future of Cable

A trend that I have noticed is gaining a lot of ground is consumers beginning to drop their cable subscription for other services such as Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services.  In many cases, it makes sense to stop paying for cable.  Anyone with a basic understanding of web browsing can find places that stream their favorite TV shows and movies for free.  Personally, I could live without cable for anything I watch on TV other than sports.  It is almost impossible to get an HD-quality stream for free on the internet, and to be honest, I’ve become spoiled and have to watch sports in HD now.

In 2011, around 1 million cable users unsubscribed from their service.  Even with that number, the cable industry isn’t taking that much of a hit.  One thing that could change the face of the cable market is a la carte package pricing.  This would allow consumers to choose what channels they wanted and could possibly save them money in the long run because they no longer have to pay for channels that they do not want.

A la carte subscriptions will have a major hill to climb to be taken seriously as a business model because of the two biggest names against the pricing model.  ESPN and Disney both want to keep things the way they are.  When names as big as those two are against something, it will be hard for a change to come.

I’m interested to see where cable goes in both pricing and how subscriptions are handled in the future.  As nice as saving almost $100 a month sounds, I don’t know if I would be ready to completely cut the cord and drop my subscription.

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Video Game Ad Placement

Last month, I was one of the millions of people that shelled out around $500 for Sony’s newest video game console, the Playstation 4.  I got the console on launch day and so far have been very satisfied with the product.  One of the games I got with the system on launch was NBA 2K14, 2K Games newest basketball game.  Honestly, one of the first things I noticed about this game is blatant product placement in not only during games, but also in the commentary.  I tried to find a video or recording of the commentators for the games talking about how a player needs a refreshing Gatorade, but could not.  To me, that is so out of place and it feels so forced that it actually makes me think less of Gatorade.

I won’t act like this is the first time that I have ever seen product placement in a video game, doing so has been common in sports games for many years.  From Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour items appearing in football games to Nissan sponsoring the Heisman watch in last year’s NCAA Football game, I am used to it.  It never bothered me because it was all a part of the presentation. Nissan is the true sponsor of the Heisman Trophy.  It didn’t feel forced like the Gatorade ads in NBA 2K14.

Some analysts are predicting a huge jump in video game advertising in the near future, with some going as far to say that it could be as high as $7 billion by 2016.  This type of jump would not surprise me in the slightest.  Video games are an untapped territory for advertisers. Sure, there are mobile games that are made to advertise something, such as the Scarecrow game made by Chipotle for iOS products, but for the most part, huge video game titles have not been touched yet.


The screenshot above is from this summer’s biggest hit, Grand Theft Auto 5.  Imagine seeing actual advertisements and stores instead of fictional items.  Do I know for sure this will happen? I don’t, but if I had to guess I would say it is more likely than not.

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The Ups and Downs of Location Based Marketing

As we all know, the world is more connected now than it ever has been before.  Almost everyone has some type of mobile device that they carry with them at all times, which allows marketers to become very innovative when it comes to delivering a personalized message to their target audience.  One of the ways that has quickly gained popularity in the past couple years is location based marketing.  There are many different ways to deliver a message to consumers based on their location, but for this post, I’ll focus on two very different location based tactics.  One of them is an excellent example of using location to personalize a message for a specific consumer and the other is a perfect example of what not to do when it comes to using location.

The first, and great, example of location based marketing involves the combined efforts of Quiznos and location based marketing industry leader Sense Networks.  Quiznos and Sense Networks established a series of mobile ads that were sent to devices of individuals between the ages of 18 to 34, who had been at similar quick-service restaurants over the previous 30-days and who were within a 3-mile radius of a Quiznos in the Portland, Oregon market.  By the time the campaign ended, Portland Quiznos locations saw nearly 3.7 million new impressions and had a 20 percent boost in coupon redemptions compared to similar nationwide campaigns that did not use location based tactics.

The campaign was so well-received that it was named a finalist for the prestigious Mobile Marketing Association’s Smarties Awards.  It was the only U.S. based campaign to be nominated in the global location based marketing category.  Obviously, the campaign was a huge success and should be looked at as a prime example for any company looking to start a location based campaign.

Now, to the bad.  Retail giant Nordstrom was caught tracking their customers’ movements through their stores by using the Wi-Fi signal coming from their mobile device.  The program started out as a private program, but once customers found out they were being tracked, they were not happy.  Consumers felt like they were being stalked.  Those who were in favor of the program said that Nordstrom was not doing anything different than what retailers do online, and I do agree with that point, but I also agree with consumers who said it was different because they were being tracked in person.

Nordstrom has since stopped the program due to the backlash they were receiving, but it is easy to see how delicate using location based marketing can be.  There is definitely a line that can be crossed without much effort.  They key is finding this line and staying on one side of it, while still finding ways to innovate.

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Is 4 Screens Too Exact?

I am without a doubt a sports junkie.  Right now, I am flipping back and forth between the NFL game and a replay of the WVU loss to Texas from Saturday  night (I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.)  Along with that, I am keeping track of fantasy football scores on my laptop and checking social media on my smartphone.  This may seem like I am just rambling on, but it all ties into the overall point of this post, which is how new media has changed the way that we consume media.

Even as little as five years ago, it was not a normal occurrence for people to watch TV while multitasking on other devices.  Now, it is almost impossible to find many people who are not using at least one more screen while watching TV. Below, I posted a video from Google and Moira Davis, Vice President of Marketing at ESPN, which covers the 4 Screens way of thinking and delivering media to consumers and their devices.

I don’t particularly know how much I agree with the entire basis of 4 Screens though.  To me, it would make more sense to think of consumers’ media consumption as multiple screens instead of focusing on the number four.  For example, I have a TV, smartphone, iPad, and laptop.  I can only think of one or two times that I have ever had all four going at once, but almost every time I am consuming media in some form, I am using multiple screens.

I am also not the only one that thinks sports has been a major catalyst in the multiple screen movement.  Research has shown that the immersive social experiences have taken viewers even closer to the events they are watching.  Almost half of those surveyed in a 2012 study by Level 3 Communications said that smartphones and tablets have changed the way they view sporting events because of the added features of the experience.

I, for one, do not think that multiple screen viewing of events, especially sports, is going to go anywhere soon.  From a marketing perspective, it is important to realize that this connection exists, so that new and innovative ways to reach consumers can be developed.

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