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Discovery Still a Struggle for Branded Apps Like Kellogg's

  |  May 7, 2014   |  Comments

Two new apps from Kellogg’s and Marriott highlight the problem of discovery for marketers when rolling out branded apps.

When creating branded apps, marketers face challenges similar to that of Kevin Costner in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams: If you build it, will they come?

And two new apps in the crowded mobile space help highlight the issues marketers face when it comes to discovery.

One, Kellogg's Web-Slinging Game app, debuted prior to the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie on May 2. It allows players to unlock game scenes by taking pictures of phone icons on Kellogg's snack, cereal, Pop-Tarts, and Pringles products. When all three scenes have been unlocked, a Spider-Man photo overlay appears to allow consumers to take photos in the Spider-Man suit.

A Kellogg's rep was not available for comment.

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has also released an app, CUR8, which it says helps guests create digital souvenirs of their vacations. CUR8 has about 1,000 downloads after officially launching in mid-April.

According to JW Marriott, CUR8 allows guests to easily create shareable digital videos by combining branded content with photos and videos from their phones and social networks, as well as social media check-ins. Users also have the option to personalize the videos with music and text.

"As we all have our travels, our cellphones are inundated with videos that never go anywhere outside our cellphones," says Jim McMahon, senior manager of global brand marketing at JW Marriott. "We take the best of best and are curating the experience and allowing them to package it into a nice video that can be shared on social networks to tell the story of their stay."

The app is currently available at 64 JW Marriott properties internationally. The brand is still working to collect images for additional JW Marriott properties for the app and is looking at releasing an Android version at some point next year, McMahon says.

JW Marriott's ad agency of record, Team One, created the app which McMahon says, "seemed like a perfect fit. JW Marriott focuses on curating experiences at our properties. Our intent is to minimize distractions for our guests and allow them to focus on the big picture."

McMahon says most of the promotion is happening in owned channels, as well as in the properties themselves among employees that have high interaction with guests. And this is where Anna Bager, vice president and general manager of the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, says Marriott has an advantage over Kellogg's.

That's because JW Marriott has a built-in audience for its app among guests and reward club members. However, Kellogg's may have a trickier time ensuring its app is discovered and utilized and may have to rely on an additional promotional medium like TV advertising.

While she says the real-world product and app integration component in the Web-Slinging Game is interesting, Bager questions whether consumers will want to go through the hassle of finding Kellogg's products and taking pictures.

The movie tie-in should help generate interest, but Bager stresses the issue for both apps is discovery.

"How do you get people to actually find out about the app and download it and use it?" she asks. "You need to make sure that the right users realize that the app exists and then that they download it and you have to make sure there's a trigger so that they also use it. We all have a lot of apps on our phones that we don't use. Branded apps like a Kraft cookbook that serve a purpose and have utility and drive us back constantly are great opportunities for marketing. If it's a really fun, entertaining game, it could drive us back to the app, but if doesn't have that component, [it won't]."

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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