Top 6 Augmented Reality Mobile Apps [Videos]

October 9, 2009

Top 6 Augmented Reality Mobile Apps [Videos]

August 19th, 2009 | by Ben ParrComments

A lot of excitement has been building around a category of iPhone and Android apps, most of which have yet to be approved or released. They are known as augmented reality apps.

These applications combine virtual data into the physical real world by utilizing the iPhone 3GS or an Android() phone’s compass, camera, and GPS system. The result is that you can see things like the location of Twitter() users and local restaurants in the physical world, even if they are miles away.

Some of these reality-bending mobile apps are already available on some Android phones and it’s rumored that they will start becoming available on iPhone with the 3.1 OS update. Facial recognition, assisted directions, augmented reality tourism … it is all coming soon.

In order to get a better understanding of this new trend and phenomenon, we’ve brought together six of our favorite augmented reality mobile apps. Note that this is only the beginning; we can only imagine what entrepreneurs will imagine and developers are going to build in the next few years.

1. TwittARound

Ever want to know where tweets are coming from? Sure, there are apps that will show you what tweets are nearby, but they’re nothing like TwittARound, which we covered earlier this month.

TwitARound takes the iPhone’s camera and overlays live video of the world around you with tweets. Move around and you can see who is tweeting and how far away. Because words just don’t do it justice, here’s the amazing demo:

2. Layar

Layar is an augmented reality app available for Google Android phones. It allows developers to create their own augmented reality by adding layers on top of the live video on your phone. Yelp(), Wikipedia(), Google() search, Twitter, and more can be seen through the eyes of Layar. Plus, they have a great introduction to Layar 2.0 with their Layar Man, Episode 1 video:

3. Nearest Tube

Not only is this augmented reality app cool, but it’s useful as well! This iPhone app will help you find the nearest subway station. No need to ask for directions, and you will never get lost.

Okay, just watch and be amazed:

4. TAT Augmented ID

This one not about location, but about people. This app uses the Flickr() facial recognition technology of Polar Rose to identify a person’s face and pull up info like their online profile and contact info. Both creepy and amazing at the same time.

5. SREngine for iPhone

SREngine is a lot like TAT in that it recognizes objects, in this case local scenes and architecture. You could use this type of thing to identify rocks, houses, monuments, bugs … I could go on.

6. Wikitude AR Travel Guide

Why hire a travel guide when you can just hold up your phone and it will bring up Wikipedia information on the site you’re looking at? Yes, seriously, you could learn about practically anything by opening this app up.


Mobile Video Gets Ready for the Masses

October 9, 2009

Mobile Video Gets Ready for the Masses

The Search Continues for the Best (and Most Profitable) Way to Bring Emerging Digital Medium to the Mainstream

By Rita Chang

Published: September 14, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO ( — As with everything in mobile, hype precedes reality and mobile video is no exception. Despite being more than 5 years old, it is a nascent medium searching for a mass audience in a fragmented landscape.

A full-page Coldwell Banker interstitial that pops up in some of the apps created by Rhythm New Media

This year, 6% of U.S. mobile users, or 18 million people, will watch videos on their cellphones, according to IDC, and by 2013 that number will rise to 27 million. Even then, mobile video’s reach is eclipsed by what mobile ad networks already deliver today: Millenial Media said it was reaching 44 million mobile users as of June.

“The campaigns we’ve run to date have shown a lot of promise, but I think the key is that because of the limited reach of mobile video, it works best when combined with other pieces of the mobile marketing toolkit — things like mobile display ads, a solid mobile website for the brand, and even SMS,” said Jeremy Lockhorn, director of emerging media at Razorfish. “Essentially, mobile video can be a bit of a shiny object — much like iPhone applications — sexy and powerful, but chasing after it with irrational exuberance can be dangerous.”

Unlike the desktop environment where people simply head to a website to watch video, in mobile, video-viewing can take place on an app, a mobile website or over the carrier’s streaming TV service.

“Everyone’s trying different things to see what sticks,” said Wayne Purboo, CEO of QuickPlay Media, which powers mobile TV services for carriers such as Alltel and Leap Wireless. “It’s a big sandbox.”

Some startups, like mobile video ad network Transpera, help media companies build free, ad-supported videos that are viewed via an app or the companies’ websites. Transpera charges media clients a service fee for delivering video and shares ad revenue with them. Rhythm New Media, which produces smartphone apps for TV properties suchas “Entertainment Tonight,” charges for some apps but not others, though advertising lives inside all its apps.

Others, like MobiTV, Quickplay Media and MediaFlo, aggregate many channels, replicating a linear TV-viewing experience. They sell their services to carriers, which in some cases brand them as their own and charge viewers a monthly subscription fee, akin to the cable model. Carriers, hungry for data revenue to offset declining voice revenue, realize it’s these types of services that will drive consumers to buy data plans and in some cases are throwing their marketing weight behind them and giving vendors a cut of the subscription revenue. MobiTV also makes money from selling the advertising inventory that comes with licensing its channel partners’ content.

For consumers, the plethora of choices between carrier-branded vs. third-party video services and various ways to access video all add up to a somewhat convoluted landscape. But one trend is starting to emerge: It’s often not free.

After watching online publishers try to unwind the free content giveaway of the last 15 years, some mobile video providers are skeptical that advertising alone can sustain their business. They face the same profitability hurdles that saddle their online peers, including expensive bandwidth, infrastructure and hardware — both Hulu and YouTube, for example, have yet to turn a profit, though both say they’re close.

“There is no one making money today on ad-supported video,” said Mr. Purboo, adding that his company will be profitable within 12 months, and cash flow positive in nine. “I just don’t think we’re going to move to ‘all content is free.’ We’ll move to a mixed model where some content will be free, and quality content that people are willing to pay for will not be free.”

Forrester analyst Neil Strother agrees: “We’ll live in this hybrid world where you can grab some stuff for free but for the richer, deeper content — advertising won’t support that. These guys watched what’s happened with online content and they’re trying to put the genie back in the bottle.”

An open question is whether enough consumers are prepared to pay for small-screen video. Fifty-eight percent of those who have never watched TV on the go rank cost as the top reason for not doing so, according to a survey commissioned by QuickPlay. But the growing subscriber base of channel aggregator mobiTV, which has almost doubled to eight million from a year ago, argues for a more optimistic estimation. The success of Apple’s iTunes, which owns 69% of digital music sales, also suggests consumers will pay for certain content.

And while consumers believe free is an entitlement in the online world, it helps that they haven’t been conditioned to that idea in mobile, where content like ringtones still cost money. There’s also less fear from media owners that mobile channels will cannibalize TV viewing, which means channels like ESPN, which aren’t yet offered in full on the PC web for fear it will cut into its TV audience, are offered through mobile.

Handset fragmentation poses another challenge, and the numerous platforms, ranging from Java to Android, that video providers have to cater to, could potentially sink profitability ambitions.

“Each platform requires new development and costs, and could ultimately either break the model or require consumers to pay more,” said MobiTV CEO Paul Scanlan. “Getting critical mass and meaningful revenue becomes harder to find and-or keep.”

There are a few other things that will need to happen for mobile video to go mass. The first is that more people will need to adopt mobile broadband. Only about 20% of U.S. mobile users have all-you-can-eat data plans, according to Chetan Sharma Consulting. There will also need to be a shift from older, conventional cellphones, whose tiny screens and slow processing power stall video adoption, to smartphones, whose large interactive screens help deliver a better experience. IPhone users, for example, watch six times as much mobile video as a typical mobile subscriber.

That shift is already under way and those in the business say mobile video is on the cusp of significant growth.

“It was only really in 2005 that the [online video] category started to break out and 2006 that it exploded,” said Frank Barbieri, CEO of Transpera. “Mobile video is very close to where online was in early 2005.”

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates

October 9, 2009

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates

Or, Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to Foursquare

Posted by Allison Mooney on 08.05.09 @ 03:00 PM


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Allison Mooney

No, this isn’t “the year for location” in mobile. That phrase has become industry cliche by now. But it’s hard to ignore the hype that one location-based service called Foursquare is getting in some circles — and no advertiser should. The NYC-based startup has built a sticky platform, an avid fan base and, quite possibly, the next-generation platform for proximity marketing.

Foursquare bills itself as 50% friend finder, 30% social city guide, 20% nightlife game. Basically, you tell it where you are (a bar, a park, a museum, whatever) by “checking in” (via iPhone app, SMS or mobile site). The service then tells your network of friends, recommends things to do in the area, and awards you points and badges for your activity. It also lets you recommend things other people should do and track what you have done yourself.

Part of the appeal of the service is how it links the digital and “real” worlds — truly putting the “social” in “social networking.” After its big unveiling at SXSW, the service has garnered a passionate and growing base of early adopters (full disclosure: I’m an alpha tester and “super user” myself). The other weekend, some avid Foursquarers in New York even organized a bar crawl, called Town Holler, for people who’d achieved “mayor” status at a certain venue.

Dan Maccarone

Co-founder Dennis Crowley puts it this way: “I think Foursquare found some kind of sweet spot between the intersection of social utility (Hey, I know where my friends are), sharing/oversharing (I log everywhere I go/everything I do) and gaming/rewards (every check-in gives you a little piece of candy).”

Foursquare is designed with these game dynamics in mind, and it’s the absurd appeal of its reward that makes the service so “sticky.”

“Even after having written the code that makes the badges work, I still find them absurdly compelling,” says Crowley. He recently checked in all over Manhattan’s Upper West Side to get Foursquare’s “Douchebag” badge). For me, it often takes the place of making plans. I can just see where people are congregating and swing by (note to users: refrain from checking in on a date or other private engagement). If I do make plans, I’ll often choose to hit a place in order to snag the “mayorship” or get a new badge. People are now checking in at the gym, at work, from the supermarket — I even saw one from a free clinic recently — all in an effort to score points and stay socially connected.

This is a concept we’ll see more and more of — in fact, the team behind “World of Warcraft” just released an app called Booyah Society that rewards users for status updates.

Some are calling it “the next Twitter” and Mashable describes it as following the same evolution: breakout at SXSW, passionate early adopters, media, naysayers, misunderstanding … Also, like Twitter, you need to use it to “get it.”

This usage may look very different depending on the person. As Crowley says, “The product is really complex — score, leaderboards, friends, tips, to-dos, etc. — and I think different parts of the product speak to different people. If you get on Twitter and search for Foursquare, you find people who think it’s ‘Delicious for places!’ or ‘Twitter with location!’ or ‘Loopt, but with points!'”

Many people already use Facebook status updates and Twitter to share their locations — witness the “tweetup” — so Foursquare is tapping into an existing behavior. But the fact that it’s actually tied to location through GPS coordinates is what makes all the difference — and the potential for advertisers, especially on a local level. As The New York Times recently pointed out, local businesses need to manage their online reputations and engage with tech-savvy customers to promote themselves in the social-media channels. Foursquare presents the perfect opportunity to do this.

“There are a ton of branding and marketing opportunities and we’re approached by people all the time — sponsored badges, sponsored mayorships, etc.,” Crowley told me. “What [co-founder] Naveen [Selvadurai] and I feel really good about is building two things at once — things that make it easier/more fun for our users explore the city (tips, finding friends, badges) and things that make it easier for venues to reach out to their most loyal/vocal/early-adopter users. For example, it would cost $5 for a restaurant to give my brother a free dessert for being mayor, but with Foursquare linked to Twitter (read word-of-mouth), that $5 could go a long way towards driving people to that venue. The local ad market has long been underserved — and that means one thing to a lot of companies (e.g., finding nearby doctors and dentists and lawyers and lawn care, etc.) but something different to us (cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars).”

Another advantage of Foursquare is its location data, which can measure foot traffic to a store, proving quantifiable ROI for an advertiser. Charlie O’Donnell points out that this is the missing ingredient for Yelp. Beyond that, though, Foursquare can provide an incredibly compelling data set for anyone interested in consumer behavior (check out Social Great, which shows the most popular venues based on check-in data).

Dennis Crowley

The startup is working on tools for local businesses that will help them with promotions and tracking, but we’re already seeing some take it into their own hands. Destination Bar in New York’s East Village and Marsh Cafe in San Francisco offer free drinks to the “mayor,” and Southside Coffee in Brooklyn listed the “mayor” on a chalkboard outside. Think about that — an incentive purely based on social capital! I can’t remember the last time that I (or anyone I know under 50) clipped and redeemed a coupon — these sorts of social incentives could be the new discounts.

Foursquare is available in 21 cities (mostly in the U.S.) with others on the way. Right now, the service has a strictly urbanite appeal, and it could inhabit this niche quite nicely. However, if local offers are incorporated in a compelling way as its coverage area expands, it could certainly head towards the mainstream. I can also see people using it just to discover what’s around them, regardless of telling people where they are. I’ll get toro at Ki Sushi since Carter P. tells me it’s the best in the city, or I’ll hit up an ATM if I go to Trout when D.M. warns that it’s cash only.

Advertisers — both local and national — would be smart to start thinking about their “location” strategies while there’s still a relatively open playing field. By taking advantage of mobile platforms like Foursquare, ones that engage and offer incentives to consumers within the proverbial “last 50 feet,” businesses can bring all the advantages of the social web to their front door.

~ ~ ~
Allison Mooney is VP-director of trends and insights at MobileBehavior, an Omnicom Group Company, and runs their blog Next Great Thing.

Mobile video consumption on the rise: Nielsen

October 9, 2009

Mobile video consumption on the rise: Nielsen

By Chris Harnick

September 3, 2009

The power of three

According to Nielsen’s Three Screen Report, the number of people watching mobile video increased 70 percent, from more than 9 million to more than 15 million in the last year.

The report also found Americans are increasing their overall media consumption. The Nielsen Company’s second quarter 2009 report found media multitasking is still part of the media consumption equation, but television viewing remains at 141 hours per month, an all-time high.

“Consumers continue adopting new screens of video consumption at impressive rates, but not at the cost of traditional TV viewing,” said Nic Covey, director of insights at The Nielsen Company, Chicago. “Millions of Americans are extending their video experience to the second and third screen and in doing so are growing the overall video pie.

“The American appetite for video seems insatiable as millions of consumers augment their TV viewing with online and mobile,” he said. “Mobile video has posted the most impressive growth in terms of viewers, with reach up 70 percent year over year.

“Though the reach of online video is no longer growing as dramatically, the amount of time spent viewing on PCs is: up a staggering 46 percent year over year, amongst viewers.”

The Nielsen Company is a global marketing and media information company analyzing how people interact with digital platforms, traditional media and in-store environments.

The Three Screen Report found the 15 million people subscribing to mobile video in the U.S. spend on average three hours and 15 minutes each month watching video on their mobile devices.

“For more than 15 million American consumers, mobile video is allowing them to access video content when and where they want it,” Mr. Covey said. “And it’s not just short clips they’re tuning into: our research shows that consumers are relying on their phone for long-form mobile video content, as well, often to rewatch a favorite TV show or catch up on episodes they might have missed.”

Findings also include children 12-17 years old spend the most watching video on their mobile devices at 6 hours and 30 seconds.

Young adults ages 18-24 spend 3 hours and 15 minutes while ages 25-34, 45-54 and 55-64 spend 2 hours and 10 seconds.

Mobile users between ages 35-44 spent 2 hours and 53 seconds. An age base size of 65 and older was too small to report mobile video consumption in terms of hours and minutes.

According to Nielsen’s first quarter 2009 numbers, 41 percent of video consumption on mobile phones was done by females and 59 percent done by males.

“Mobile video has been slow to take off, but the year-over-year growth suggests the tide may be turning,” Mr. Covey said. “Today’s growth is fueled by more advanced devices, faster network speeds and the increasing ability for consumers to access mobile video over mobile Web, rather than through a standalone subscription.

“Marketers who dismissed the mobile video opportunity a couple of years ago might do well to take another look: the audience for mobile video is still modest, but it is growing, engaged and providing first-mover marketers with an opportunity to uniquely interact with their target audiences,” he said.

Mr. Covey said TV programming is amongst the most popular content online and mobile platforms.

“This is important, because TV programming will continue to serve as the fabric that relates these platforms and drives consumer interest and awareness in the second and third screens,” he said.

“Going into the 2009-2010 TV season, programmers will seek out ways to capitalize on the unique utility of each screen while simultaneously providing a more seamless content relationship across the screens, a cross-platform experience that will drive even deeper levels of program and advertising engagement.”

Chris Harnick is an editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

Mobile Advertising Slowly Grows According to Emarketer

October 9, 2009

Mobile Advertising Slowly Grows

Oct 7, 2009

– eMarketer Staff
NEW YORK Advertising and marketing dollars flowing into mobile media will continue to lag behind consumer use of the channel, mirroring the situation with online advertising.

And compared with online ad spending, mobile looks minuscule: eMarketer estimates that mobile outlays, including messaging-based formats, will reach $416 million in 2009. Further, eMarketer projects that mobile ad expenditures across all principal formats — display, search and messaging (e-mail and such) — will reach $1.56 billion by 2013.

Commensurate with its status as an emerging channel, mobile advertising will achieve a lofty compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.3 percent between 2008-13. That’s considerably higher than online ad spending as a whole, but more in line with emerging online formats such as digital video.


The Seven Myths of Mobile Advertising

September 25, 2009

by Krish Arvapally

Friday, July 10, 2009

With a clearer distinction between what’s realistic today and what’s been mystified by industry hype, brands, agencies and publishers alike can start leveraging the mobile medium now as an easy-to-use, creative, targeted, and measurable new revenue opportunity.

The myths that surround mobile are holding back many brand marketers and publishers from leveraging it for a competitive advantage, despite the fact that mobile is gaining more buzz every day. The industry needs a clearer picture of what’s possible and how to put dynamic mobile marketing solutions to work today. Here are some of the myths we hear time and time again, as well as insight to help set the record straight.

Myth # 1: Smaller screen, smaller effect. Many marketers assume that because mobile phones have a smaller screen, advertisements will look more cluttered, and be less effective. In fact, CTRs have been found to be higher on small mobile screens than traditional PCs, and ads on mobile devices often look cleaner than on the Web. Content clarity overall is more vivid.

Myth #2: Low CPMs. Publishers often assume lower CPMs on mobile versus the traditional Web, and in turn, lower revenue opportunities. The reality is, CPMs can go up to $15-$20 for premium mobile Web sites, and as the mobile advertising industry grows, so will these rates.

Myth #3: Mobile ads are harder to design. I have found that a large percentage of advertisers believe it’s harder to create campaigns for the mobile medium. However, the only real difference is that banner sizes are smaller. Any good designer can build them, and the Mobile Marketing Association offers standards to help guide you through it.

Myth #4: No unique user detection and targeting. On the Web, cookies enable advertisers and search engines to track unique visitors and who clicks on what link. It’s just as simple on in mobile. By using multiple identity parameters in the ad requests, like the device, WAP IP, or session info, it’s easy to detect unique users on mobile. And with that ability, concepts like frequency capping, demographic targeting and enhanced user targeting options prove mobile advertising a useful new marketing tool.

Myth #5: Creating a mobile Web site is difficult and expensive. Building a mobile content page is the first necessary step before launching a mobile ad campaign, and there are many free tools available to make it easy and painless. Mofuse, DotMobi and Ubik, for example, can help you build a mobile site, or simply translate your regular Web content into a mobile format. Then you can set it up to automatically extract your online content through RSS and feed it into your mobile site. Don’t get overwhelmed — if you have content already on the Internet, this can be done very quickly. The more automated, the easier it will be for you.

Myth #6: A perceived lack of ROI. The nature of mobile advertising allows you to capture conversions in a much more innovative way than the Web. The power of click2call actions, lead generation forms, and click2pay make it simple for advertisers to run mobile campaigns, determine effective conversions, and calculate ROI for their spend much faster and easier.

Myth #7: SMS is the only type of mobile advertising. Many assume mobile advertising is just SMS, which lacks user interaction and dynamic content, and offers limited ad text. Advances in mobile technologies have made it possible to expand advertising into interactive text and banners, and embed ads in mobile games and smartphone applications. The enhanced support for rich media on the iPhone, Android, Nokia and other smartphones has made it possible for advertising to take a step forward and offer more streamlined brand exposure.

With a clearer distinction between what’s realistic today and what’s been mystified by industry hype, brands, agencies and publishers alike can start leveraging the mobile medium now as an easy-to-use, creative, targeted, and measurable new revenue opportunity.

Google’s AdSense for iPhone Trips up Advertisers

September 25, 2009

Marketers Must Remember to Consider the Small Screen’s Nuances

by Rita Chang

Published: July 08, 2009


NEW YORK ( — In the two weeks since Google announced it would open up AdSense for mobile, serving up text and display ads inside apps, there are signs the online-ad giant — and marketers — are still figuring out how to create good experiences for mobile users.


Click on the image to see the landing page that the University of Kentucky ad led to.


Google is helping marketers run ads on the mobile web and inside applications built for the iPhone and G1 Android phone, but some of those campaigns appear built for the desktop web and don’t necessarily translate to the small screen.

For example, clicking on an ad with the headline “University of Kentucky” served inside the cellphone wallpaper app “Backgrounds” doesn’t land the user on the home page of the Bluegrass State’s university. Instead, users are directed to a Hewlett Packard page with information about student discounts for HP computers. The page has all the characteristics of a desktop web page, laden with text and with a multi-tabbed navigation bar that no mobile user would want to wade through. A mobile page, in contrast, would look more streamlined and simple, due to space limitations. (It’s not clear why the ad is headlined by “University of Kentucky” rather than Hewlett Packard, whose name appears in smaller letters by way of a website address.)

In the same application, Google served an ad titled “Good and Funny Stuff” from But clicking through sends users to a page that begins with the sentence: “You need flash …. to view this site.” At the moment, neither the first-generation G1 nor the iPhone supports the animation Flash software.

Meanwhile, an ad served in the Pandora radio app showed a link for a local cleaning service. When clicked, it took users to a plain landing page where one of the links appeared dead.

A reason for the flaws

One reason for these user-experience flaws? Some advertisers may be unaware that, by default, Google’s AdSense campaigns run not only on the PC web but also in mobile unless the advertiser opts out of mobile ad serving. As a result, advertisers could be paying for mobile clicks, even though they’re expecting PC-based clicks.


Click on the image to see the landing page that the Trident ad led to.


Google spokesman Eric Obenzinger said the company sent an e-mail last year notifying advertisers that mobile would join mix in its advertising program, and the launch was widely covered by the press and blogs. Mr. Obenzinger said advertisers have a choice to make mobile part of their campaigns and that it can be a visible and well-known feature for them.

In any case, Google’s program is still in beta, and the click volumes are likely still far from being significant.

The kinks do test Google’s philosophy that mobile-optimized web pages are not required for smartphones. The idea behind this thinking is that smartphones are really just minicomputers with browsers that read HTML pages; therefore, they provide a user experience that approximates the desktop web. Google’s self-serve mobile program only runs advertising for smartphones with full HTML capabilities, including the iPhone and the G1 phone. For advertisers that want to run WAP-based campaigns for BlackBerrys and feature phones, Google has a whole other process.

Will consumer interest be sparked?

“The issue for consumers is, will they be motivated to zoom into the website and learn more?” said independent wireless analyst Greg Sterling. If the consumer’s interest is casual, a landing page that delivers a streamlined and optimized mobile experience is more likely to engage the user, Mr. Sterling noted.

He also reckons that Google’s strategy is to first establish its position in mobile and ask questions later.

“They’re concerned about user experience but they’re also concerned about scale. Google has a dilemma: Mobile is strategic, so how do we roll it out faster, rather than wait for everyone to build out their mobile websites? There may be some sub-optimized experience, but it’s first trying to solve the problem of scale.”