10 Cool New Tech Ideas For Businesses

robots, technology

Photo: AP

Today we’ve got billboards that can ascertain our ages and genders, movie trailers that can change in real time depending on who the viewer is, and mobile apps that can detect what commercial is airing on TV and send viewers related coupons on their phones. And that’s just a start.There’s no doubt technology is ushering in some fascinating new ways of connecting brands with consumers. In fact, to say technology is rapidly evolving doesn’t even fit anymore.

Disruptive is an adjective more likely to be used today because, honestly, tech exponentially builds on itself, resulting in a veritable sandstorm of innovation.

“There’s definitely a renaissance of marketing technology,” says Andrew Frank, research vice president in Gartner’s media industry group. The Web and the digital revolution, in general, along with mobile have unleashed a lot of thingsā€¦There’s certainly a lot to keep track of.”

Here is our roundup of 10 of the latest developments in technology that can impact your marketing.

Rob Gonda

Zappos.com Inc.

IntoNow Inc.

Google Android

5. Mobile: Codes and spot targeting

Quick Response (QR) codes are the little black-and-white pixilated squares commonly found in print ads, on products, displayed on TV, and even stitched into fabric. If you have a phone with a camera and the right kind of reader app, you can scan a QR code to display text, contact information, or open a Web page.

People are also scanning UPC bar codes--especially the ones found on products you'd find at a grocery or drug store--for product pricing and information.

According to David Javitch, VP of marketing for New York City-based Scanbuy, the company has seen an 800 per cent increase since a year ago in the number of barcode or quick response (QR) code scans it processes and is now doing more than one per second.

While Scanbuy currently has 8 million people using its ScanLife app on their phones and has worked with big companies such as The Home Depot and Taco Bell on huge code campaigns, the company is rolling out a platform that will allow regular people and small businesses to create their own QR codes starting at $25 a month.

While pricier than QR codes, StarStar Numbers might be a titch faster from a consumer perspective since it only involves one step. They're branded vanity mobile numbers that let consumers call a brand's name. For instance, if you've got a craving for Samoas or Thin Mints, you can call (not text) **GSCOOKIES and you'll instantly receive a text message with a link to a Girl Scout Cookie Locator app.

In addition to smart phones giving consumers near-instant access to marketing or product information and digital content, they also are empowering businesses to do local spot targeting that only serves ads to people near a certain geographic location. For instance, a movie theatre could broadcast show times to only those smart phone users within a mile radius who happen to be doing things like playing Angry Birds, listening to Slacker Radio, or other similar activities.

Millennial Media, a Baltimore-based mobile ad platform, delivers such ads to consumers who are browsing the mobile Web or using apps. The company says advertisers can use a variety of formats such as banner ads, rich media ads or interstitials.

Near Networks

Sabrina Dee

Chris Selland

9. Web

Is your Web site doing the best job it can for you?

Plenty of great tools now exist for getting measurable data about the effectiveness of your site design and how well you're marketing to your traffic.

EyeTrackShop is different. It's a Sweden-based digital marketing research firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles that conducts eye-tracking studies to gauge the effectiveness of not only Web site pages but also online ads, banner ads, print ads and packing designs to see if your audience will notice what you want them to. Some of their clients include P&G, Google, SnapFish and Clorox.

You simply send your sample design to EyeTrackShop, along with the demographic you want to test. From there, EyeTrackShop enlists its U.S. database of 6 million users who use their own Web cams to send video to EyeTrackShop, which then uses retina scanners to gauge gaze duration and location.

EyeTrackShop says it returns results in 48 hours, charges $2,500 for one stimuli test and $1,800 for two tests.

Another useful tool you might check out is Gigya, which you can use on your Web site to allow users to login using their preferred social identity.

While you can use something like Facebook for Websites to let people log on using Facebook, if you want to save the development time, Gigya offers what it calls a 'Super API' which lets users to log in to your site with over 25 different identity providers such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo and more. The company says you'd be surprised how many people choose to log in with non-Facebook identities.

Gigya also offers a suite of social plugins that can to your site features such as comments, sharing, ratings and reviews, games and chat.

When users log in to your site using their social identities, they grant access to data inside their social apps which Gigya can then collect and store on your behalf. For marketing purposes, this can allow you to not only serve them specific content, but targeted ads as well.

10. Deals

Daily Deal sites are everywhere and whether using them is good for business is a topic Inc. has written about elsewhere.

Signpost, however, does it differently than most. Instead of taking a share of each deal--money that should be going into your pocket--it lets you set up as many deals as you want on its platform and only charges you $99 a month (with the first month free).

Its self-service platform gives merchants complete control over the discount amount, when
each deal is announced, the timeframe in which the deals can be redeemed, and the limit of how many deals can be sold.

Signpost markets the deals businesses create through its Web site, daily newsletter and social media following.

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