For some people—people who work for culture blogs, just to take an example—getting advance copies of books is nothing new. That’s how reviews are published right when books go on sale. But for book lovers who usually have to wait for a title to show up in stores, the chance to take an early look at the work of a favorite author is something to salivate over and to talk about.At least, that’s what the publishing company Penguin Group hopes.As part of their new and free program called First to Read, members will have a chance to download so-called “advance reading copies” of upcoming titles from writers like Elizabeth Gilbert and Richelle Mead, up to three months before they’re available to the public. Any member can enter the pool to win a limited number of digital copies—the first group of titles will be given out June 25—but it’s the other way of getting access, where First to Read gets interesting. First to Read isn’t the first program to offer readers sneak peeks. Goodreads has a giveaway program with a similar sweepstakes format, and offers titles from many publishers. Penguin Group only gives away their own books, if you didn’t guess. But First to Read also reward members with “points.”Activity on the First to Read site—from sharing items to winning advance copies of books—will earn points for users, explains Suzie Sisoler, Penguin’s senior director of consumer engagement. Right now nobody has points, but in the future they’ll be redeemable for guaranteed access to galleys. The idea, Sisoler tells TIME, is that those who participate are likely to be big readers who the company hopes will talk about books and generate word-of-mouth buzz prior to publication.
Archive for the ‘Points and Rewards’ Category
Credit-card issuers are making it easier to use your rewards points to make purchases on the spot.
This summer, Citigroup began allowing cardholders to use rewards points to buy concert tickets directly through ticket-seller LiveNation.com. American Express customers can use points for purchases made via Ticketmaster and Telecharge. Discover Financial Services, and American Express cardholders can use their rewards to shop on Amazon.com.
The deals add to the growing array of options available to rewards cardholders—and offer a chance to skirt the clumsy redemption process.
But the shopping power of the points varies significantly—from one cent per point to half that amount—and they don’t always provide the best rewards value. That makes it important to figure out how much your points are worth and how that compares to the value of other options before you start shopping.
Some deals carry restrictions. The Amazon offers don’t carry minimum point requirements, but consumers can’t use their rewards for certain items, such as Kindle downloads. American Express requires cardholders to redeem at least 2,000 points for a Ticketmaster or Telecharge purchase.
Card issuers such as J.P. Morgan and Discover say they are seeking additional retail partners. Consumers “see this as a real convenient way to redeem their cash-back bonus,” says Dana Traci, vice president of rewards at Discover, which introduced its Amazon offering last October. In July, it began allowing cardholders to use their rewards to make online purchases from Apple’s iTunes, Walt Disney’s Club Penguin and Facebook.
The deals are yet another sign of the stiff competition in the credit-card industry at a time when consumers are more cautious about spending, says John Grund, a partner at First Annapolis Consulting, an advisory firm focusing on the electronic-payments industry.
White label gamification platform BigDoor has raised $5 million in new funding led by existing investor Foundry Group, bringing BigDoor’s total funding to $13 million.
BigDoor’s gamification platform essentially allows online publishers to add game mechanics to web interactions and engagements. BigDoor helps companies build game-like mechanics and loyalty programs into their sites or apps by enabling points, badges, levels, leaderboards, virtual currency and virtual goods.
The company’s newest product, Gamified Rewards Program, is being released today out of private beta, which allows publishers to give users rewards for engagement, such as exclusive content, unlocked powers, exclusive virtual items, as well as tangible rewards. The company says that private beta tests of the BigDoor Rewards program resulted in a threefold increase in the number of website registrations based on the rewards available.
Online publishers have three options for implementing BigDoor: Lite, Plus and Premium. Lite is a free offering for websites with fewer than 25,000 monthly visitors. Plus is a white-label and highly customized solution built for medium-sized websites with up to one million monthly visitors. For enterprise customers, BigDoor creates a fully customizable rewards program as part of the Premium package.
Besides just allowing publishers to implement game mechanics within a website, BigDoor also gives clients reports and analytics on how the program is influencing behavior and web engagement. BigDoor’s dashboard focuses on four key areas of performance to track the overall health of a site including loyalty, engagement, virality, and average revenue per user. This data can be measured in hourly, daily and monthly increments. And customers can also A/B test their program via BigDoor.
BigDoor says that partners realized an average lift of 153% in user loyalty, 672% in engagement, 355X in social sharing, and 9X in average revenue per user.�Customers include MLB.com, Dell, Nickelodeon, Spartz, and Wetpaint.
Bing and Skype fans have a new reason to rejoice. Microsoft announced today on the official Bing blog that it will be rolling out new rewards for Bing users. Over the next few days, it will be adding Skype Credit to the Bing Rewards redemption center. For 100 Bring Rewards Credits, members can trade them in for up to 60 minutes worth of Skype Credit based on call rates of 2.3 cents per minute for making calls on Skype. With the Skype Credit they can make calls to landlines or mobile phones, send SMS to mobile phones, set up a Skype To Go number or access Skype WiFi though 3rd-party hotspots.In case you’re unfamiliar with Bing Rewards, users basically earn credits by using Bing to perform their searches or trying out new features on the service. With these credits, they can trade them in for different rewards at the Bing Rewards redemption center – it’s basically Microsoft’s incentive program for people to using Bing as their default search engine and more. Definitely a win-win situation for people who already love using Bing anyway. Find out more about Bing Rewards.
“By 2017, a CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.” —Gartner GroupFor the first time in history, businesses can leverage big data for the benefit of driving marketing insights. We are at the very beginning of this wave, but this fundamental shift will create several multi-billion dollar winners. And a set of technology companies will emerge as the marketing equivalents of Salesforce and SAP.Based on this thesis, my partner Scott Friend founder of Profitlogic and I have been actively investing in this arena on behalf of our firm, Bain Capital Ventures. BloomReach, CQuotient, HookLogic and TellApart are among our recent early-stage investments in this new category of marketing innovation.At the heart of each of these companies are CTOs and engineers who have experience with big data and modern techniques for data mining, analytics and machine learning. These companies typically charge on a performance basis as opposed to charging traditional enterprise software license fees. And they are having a significant impact on their customer’s revenues and profitability.
Klout, the startup that measures influence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and other social media sites, is expanding the functionality of its Perks program. Klout Perks are exclusive offers or experiences, given as a result of your Klout score. For the first time, Klout is matching savings based upon a specific score.The startup is partnering with flash sales site Gilt to allow Klout members to use their influence to receive a percentage off of their Gilt purchase that matches their Klout Score. For example, if your Klout Score is 81-100, you could receive up to 100 percent off of your purchase.Klout and Gilt have also selected influencers across several categories, including fashion, interior design, social media, finance and parenting, and have asked them to curate a special sale to be featured across five of Gilt’s properties, including Men, Women, Baby&Kids, Taste and Home. Curators include Loren Ridinger for Gilt Women’s business, Art Jonak for Gilt MAN, Ciaran Blumenfeld for Gilt Baby and Kids, Erin Loechner for Gilt HOME and Pim Techmuanvivit for Gilt Taste.It’s interesting to see Klout start matching scores with corresponding discounts. In the past, Klout has offered Spotify invites, free tickets on Virgin America, a laptop from Hewlett Packard and a weekend driving in an Audi A8. For Klout, it’s a way to engage brands with the platform, and connect to users.
Should Consumers Hop on the Mobile Bandwagon?
Early adopters will be getting in line for Google Wallet and carrier-led rival mobile payment platform Isis. But the average consumer might not be far behind. Its not just convenient and the high-tech cool to “touch-and-go” pay with your phone.
Mobile payments have practical, valuable benefits that may compel everyday consumers to toss their trifold for a mobile wallet.Interaction with your spending — With the average consumer facing $6,285 in credit card debt, according to CreditKarma.com, mobile wallets can take on a sort of “financial conscience” to curb debt and encourage financial responsibility. Interaction with a digital interface, rather than a flat plastic card, opens the door to integrated apps and services for budgeting and real-time account tracking.
For example, MasterCards mobile payment app has built-in money management features such as options to set spending limits and alerts, approve or block purchases in a category, and enable overseas activity. While some credit cards offer activity monitoring online, mobile payments are real-time and preemptive. A spending alert popping up before you make a payment on your phone is harder to ignore than a credit card statement at the end of the month.Integrated shopping opportunities —
To really push adoption, mobile payments cant rely on contactless payments alone. Smartphones cant just be bulkier, digital credit cards. The beauty of mobile payments is its intersection with mobile commerce. Take Google Wallets “integrated experience” that combines deals, location-specific advertising, as well as payments.
Value-added services for both consumers and merchants are the real staying power for mobile payments. For consumers, that means targeted offers and discounts, inventory searches and shopping solutions like hyper-local deals. For merchants, theres potential for customer tracking, purchasing data, and cost-effective advertising. Mobile payments arent just a way to spend your money; it converges ways to save money, track money and shop differently.
Convenience when you shop — As we log hundreds of face-to-screen hours daily and carry cellphones everywhere, mobile payments goes beyond consolidating accessories. Mobile payment platforms remove the physical limitations on where you can pay, how you pay, and to whom. Mobile payments streamline payments, making them faster at checkout through easy payment transfers such as Near Field Communications NFC technology. Across the five main types of mobile payments, the dominant payment trends will be the ones that allow consumers to make the easiest payments wherever they are, which is increasingly not in a physical store or with cash or credit card in hand.
Better security — 1 in 10 U.S. consumers is a victim of identity theft, reports Javelin Strategy & Research. Mobile payments can help stymie these numbers with improved security over traditional credit cards thanks to two-factor authentication, meaning youll need your phone as well as a PIN number in order to complete a transaction. Credit cards have one-factor authentication, in which you only need the card at point of sale, swipe, and the transaction is complete. Security measures for mobile payments will likely improve in leaps and bounds, especially under pressure from regulators and consumer watchdogs. For example, Google Wallet fortified its security measures by storing credit card data on a computer chip in the phones hardware, isolated from the phones hacker-vulnerable operating system software. Plus, smartphones offer apps that remotely lock and erase the phones data in the case of loss. A lost or stolen wallet simply doesnt have the same safeguards as a lost smartphone.
Google Wallet will work on PayPass terminals already deployed in stores, though some of the terminals will need an upgrade to work with the applications, according to officials at the demonstration. In the U.S., there are about 150,000 retail locations equipped with PayPass terminals, according to Kathleen Reilly, vice president and senior business leader at MasterCard, who said the Google Wallet application will be rolled out “within weeks.”
Up to now, the PayPass terminals have worked with NFC chips embedded in cards or special stickers placed on the outside of mobile devices. However, chips embedded in mobile phones offer big advantages, according to Mario Shiliaski, senior vice president of Innovative Platforms.
“A big advantage is that the chips are embedded in secure elements in the hardware, and if they are compromised they are designed to self-destruct,” Shiliaski said.
In addition, there will be a range of complementary applications for the technology that users will be able to download, Shiliaski noted. Google Wallets will initially offer the ability to store electronic coupons that can be redeemed at retail outlets, he said. Later this year, MasterCard’s inControl will be available for download, he added. InControl is designed to let parents or employers establish parameters for when, where and how their cards are used. Users will get text messages, for example, when certain limits are met.
Major retailers including Macy’s, Walgreens, Subway, Noah’s Bagels, American Eagle, Bloomingdale’s, Peet’s Coffee and Toys ‘R’ Us have signed up to work with Google Wallet.
It has often been stated that mobile payments are a solution searching for a problem. Indeed, what is the big deal about pulling a card out of your wallet vs. pulling your phone out of your pocket, to transact? Where is the value to drive the mobile payment other than convenience?Modo thinks it has to do with offers and they have integrated a framework for redeeming merchant offers with their payments platform. This makes sense to me. If I had to choose between paying with my Visa card in my wallet or my Visa on my phone that also happens to give me a big discount on the purchase I think the choice is obvious. So right out of the gate, ModoPayments has tied a distinct consumer value proposition to their service in order to drive usage they hope. Google Wallet has a similar concept. It will definitely be a motivator.The platform makes it possible to, in the words of Bruce, “generate a mobile payment transaction at any location that accepts either Visa or MasterCard with no change to POS and no change to the phone that uses ModoPayments.” It can exist as an SMS or native app solution; customers can choose either touchpoint.
In a couple of days, Facebook will require game developers to implement its Facebook Credits currency, as announced in January 2011 much to the dismay of some developers, although we should also note that several juggernauts, including Zynga, EA and RockYou, were already on board.This morning, Ifeelgoods is announcing that it raised $6.5m to strengthen its offering ahead of the July 1 Facebook Credits implementation deadline. Ifeelgoods offers a platform that allows retailers to provide Facebook Credits as marketing incentives in their online stores.Basically, Ifeelsgoods wants to make online retail promotions more effective and less expensive for sellers by having them hand out credits for virtual goods from popular social games in lieu of traditional promotions such as discounts, coupon codes or gifts.