waze | outsmarting traffic together

You’ve certainly heard of the Waze app – If you haven’t, then download it and begin playing now.

Imagine millions of drivers out on the roads, working together towards a common goal: to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day.

Except for being potentially distracting for engrossed drivers, the platform provides a heightened awareness and a benefit beyond anything of the sort before. I’m highlighting it, because of the obvious power in connecting the physical and virtual.

Pushing the boundaries of the overlap of our physical and digital lives? Check!

Clearly, it is popular because of its utilitarian value – but what I find fascinating is how it resonates emotionally with its users.  This is one that Robert Scoble would rather die than live without (article in readwrite.com). There is something going on here that is much more than value as a real-time traffic advisor, navigator, and map – Waze plays to human psychology, behavior, and basic desires.

If we “map” Waze against some fundamental desires the picture becomes clearer:

  • We want to be in control | Waze empowers its users
  • We want to win, we want recognition | It utilizes gamification and rewards participation
  • We strive to understand the complex | It cleverly distills multiple layers of information in a manner similar to how we naturally view our environment
  • We want to play |  Waze is fun!

Think about this the next time you find yourself emotionally attached to an app.

Now get out there, become a Wazer! But keep your eyes on the road, please.

this interactive film and crisis simulator could be a lifesaver…

LIFESAVER uses absorbing, interactive film to instill unforgettable lifesaving tips

Save a life, really save a life

A revolution in the way we learn CPR, LIFESAVER fuses interactivity and live-action film to teach users the skills needed to save a person’s life if they were to suffer from a cardiac arrest – from Unit9 website 

The Resuscitation Council, U.K., similar to the American Red Cross, is promoting a compelling Interactive film and app available for smartphones, tablets and PCs which combines interactivity, storytelling, role playing to introduce and reinforce lifesaving tips.

LIFESAVER, produced by Unit9 and directed by Martin Percy, combines simulation, gamification, and first-person perspective to put the user in scenarios that test and teach first response CRP to heart attack victims.

The surprisingly emotional digital experience is  ingenious in it’s filming and scenario creation. The lessons and experiences are more evocative than the typical training in a classroom setting with a plastic dummy, such as Rusesci Annie.

It is now available.  Try it out; it could be the difference between life and death.

By Kevin R Foote. Read more in Meg Carter’s recent article in Co.Create  

badges, points, leaderboards, and brands

Competitiveness is a fundamental human trait; it’s programmed into our evolutionary DNA.  The first humans needed a fierce competitive instinct for survival and procreation.  More recently, abstract ideals such as status and access played to our competitive nature.   And today, with ubiquitous access to the internet, our means of competition now includes badges, points, and leaderboards as we gleefully announce our conquests, progress, and accomplishments across the web.

For companies, using our competitive nature to drive consumer engagement is nothing new; it is a cornerstone of old school loyalty schemes such as frequent flyer programs.  And, in the digital space, companies like Foursquare have successfully married online engagement with our physical world.  It makes sense that “gamification” of our behaviors works so well – it resonates with our instinctual traits.

But where is the laundry list of success stories where traditional, offline companies have built digital platforms and used competitive gaming tactics to produce meaningful business impact?  As marketers we know the opportunity is huge, yet few compelling examples seem to exist.

Let me share EpicMix, an example from the ski industry that I’ve come to know. VRMC, which owns numerous ski resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and Keystone, has done a brilliant job of creating more valuable customers and increasing market share through a digital sharing and gaming platform called EpicMix.  EpicMix effectively harnesses the power of engaging digital and physical behaviors with our competitive instincts.

By taking advantage of RFID chips in tickets and scanners located at the base of every chair lift, operators can track a skier’s activity and movement across the course of a day and throughout the ski season.  This information fuels the EpicMix social sharing and gaming platform where one can track vertical feet, earn pins for a wide range activities and accomplishments, see where your friends are, post updates to social networks, share photos – all from a smartphone.  People have become crazed about this. Vertical feet skied in a day or season-to-date have become metrics of status; participants actively seek to earn pins and points for a wide range of activities including exploring terrain, skiing on particular dates or conditions, and visiting multiple VRMC resorts.  The battleground customers, such as skiers in the Denver area who have many options, are choosing to buy season passes and ski exclusively at VRMC resorts to increase their leaderboard status and keep up with their friends.

So, if this works, why is it that so few companies, beyond internet-centric businesses, are doing this?  Our competitive nature is a basic human truth and our interest in broadcasting of our status, activities, and is accomplishments on social networks is real.  These are insights that can be a levered for almost any product, brand or service with an emotional connection with a consumer.

Clearly it takes the right combination of brand equity, consumer target, and business model to be an appropriate and relevant strategy, nevertheless it is a big opportunity that advertising agencies should embrace on behalf of their clients.

Now, can I get a badge or pin for publishing this?