What Ingress could mean to digital marketers

Yesterday, Google finally opened up the augmented reality game Ingress to iOS users, after having been an Android app for over two years. Ingress is a game in which you travel the real world, gathering resources, and looking for “alien portals” to take over or defend using your smartphone or tablet; these portals exist in the real world as historic landmarks and points of interest.

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It’s a fun game, filled with a great storyline and intriguing gameplay, especially since it requires that you actually get off your butt and travel to physical locations around you in order to attack or defend these portals.

What it is also, however, is a stellar example of what mobile is evolving to. Ingress is a beautiful demonstration of an immersive experience that blends offline and online nearly seamlessly. It’s not just another app. It’s also not just a game. It’s a hybrid experience that more brands and marketers will need to embrace and emulate if they want to stand out from the crowd.

Imagine taking the same level of engaging augmented reality to things like museums, encyclopedias, product guides, even the field of marketing. Imagine being able to visualize the reach of your competitors in the real world and taking real world actions (mapped to the social graph) to counteract them.

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Imagine looking at a real world map and seeing a social influencer activate, then seeing who they’re connected to, and touching the screen to see how to activate them. Imagine seeing a competitor’s business getting new links to their website and then identifying nearby media properties granting those links – and being able to win them over to your business.

Suddenly the idea of augmented reality seems less a game and more a viable way to conquer your niche, especially for local businesses.

The next wave of mobile is here: mobile as an integrated part of real life, not a distinct environment that insulates us from it. The games are just the beginning.


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When conferences aren’t enough

At a certain point in your journey to becoming a competent marketing professional, you’ll find yourself at a marketing conference. Conferences are terrific places to meet new people, to get exposed to new ideas, to jump headfirst into a topic area and see what’s available, at least at good conferences. Think of conferences like a buffet restaurant with a thousand different dishes. You can have the experience of snacking on a little bit of everything, or have a few exploratory bites and dine on a familiar, reassuring dish.

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At some point later in your career, you will wonder whether conferences are enough. Or you’ll reach a point where it feels like conferences might not be generating the same sense of enthusiasm and “ah-ha” moments that they once did. The answer for your continued growth as a marketing professional at that point is not more conferences. It’s at that point when you will want to start thinking about more formal training, from workshops to entire degree programs.

The turning point that will help clarify when you’re approaching that point (so that you don’t get overly frustrated or feel like you’re wasting time and money) is simple to diagnose: when you find yourself struggling to organize everything you’ve learned. What you typically get out of conferences and related events are little hints, tips, tools, and tactics. They’re the equivalent of little dishes, like the samples from the buffet or perhaps a tapas restaurant.

Your ability to make use of all of those tools and tactics is dependent on understanding a big picture context of where they fit into your overall marketing strategy. If you feel like you’re drowning in tips and ideas, that’s the point at which conferences aren’t enough. Neither are blogs or social media posts or any other “snackable” content going to be helpful, as they’ll just add more stuff you can’t organize and contextualize.

When you reach that point, go in search of strategies and frameworks instead. Formal education can provide some of them – instead of reading blogs every day, consider taking a timeout and reading something like the Portable MBA in Marketing or other solid business textbooks to get those bigger frameworks.

Once you have those bigger picture strategies and frameworks, then you’ll find that reading blogs and going to conferences becomes a pleasure again, as every new tip and tactic fits neatly into your framework – and when you find something new that doesn’t fit in the frameworks you know, you realize that you’re exploring new territory. That should then be a sign to seek out or create a framework around the new topic area so that you can quickly learn it.

That’s my preferred long-term strategy that will help you learn marketing as quickly as possible and keep making it a joy rather than a burden.


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Marketing Over Coffee: Mobile website traffic averages, Facebook retargeting, and more

In this week’s Marketing Over Coffee, hear about mobile website traffic averages, Facebook retargeting features, useless Kickstarters, and much more:

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