Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mobile advertising means native ads, re-targeting options

Mobile advertising is taking off because people spend more time on mobile platforms. The number one activity people do on mobile is arguably social applications. More and more people spend time on social applications on mobile platforms. The trend explains why there is high level of funding activity by venture funds in the space. TapCommerce just raised $10.5 million in Series A round.

TapCommerce aims to increase effectiveness of mobile advertising by targeting and re-targeting customers based on "very large amounts of data coupled with sophisticated statistical analysis." Advertiser wants to know the intent and likelihood of purchase to reach the most likely customers with advertisement. The problem lies in figuring out the intent. Search is the gold standard in customers' expressing intent. Advertising on mobile and social applications have harder time to understand the consumer intents.

The harder to predict nature meant that businesses are turning to analytical tools to dissect correlations and relationships using larger amount of consumer behavior data collected via various commerce site actions.

The reigning king of social network, Facebook, is developing more targeting and engagement methods. Instead of driving just installs, Facebook allows publishers to do call-to-action advertisement as well. User has the highest trust level for ads that appear native. Hence the new expansion allows the action from facebook advertisement to navigate to other native apps for action.

One can argue that switching to mobile advertising is simply chasing where customers' eyeballs. The use of big data analytics is yet to be proven to be more effective as e-commerce platforms collect more and more customer behavior data.



Digital strategies help Black Friday warriors hang up battle gear

Holiday deal-hunters no longer have to fight crowds and chaos at the mall on Black Friday to save big, but scoring the deepest discounts still takes a well-thought-out battle plan.
In a year when online shopping passed brick-and-mortar for the first time, consumers have at their fingertips a slew of mobile apps, targeted emails, deal aggregators, discount portals and location-based promos.
Since retailers today know more than ever about who we are and what we’re likely to buy — thanks to social network activity and big data information-harvesting — shoppers will need a strategy to cope with the digital deluge this holiday season.
Stacking deals, taming email
Quia Querisma, an online marketing professional in Texas, said she prefers to shop online and avoid the whole Black Friday frenzy. “It’s a lot easier to find (items) online than in-store; people can’t hide things,” she said.
And she still gets deals, oftentimes more than one. Even if an item is already marked down, Querisma said she increases her savings by making the purchase via a rebate portal, using a coupon code and paying with a cash-back card. Last year, she bought a designer dress for a New Year’s Eve party originally priced at around $300 for less than $50.
The first step to stacking discounts is organizing the flood of retailer messages.
“You get inundated,” said Sharon Cichy, a 41-year-old business development consultant to companies that target moms. “Everything from clothes to household items …. You start to know what (offers) are going to come.”
Querisma created a dedicated email address to receive the loyalty program updates, coupons, web-only deals and other offers she gets.  
Email remains popular with marketers because it’s less expensive than old-media marketing, said Jack Rose, a professor at the Johnson & Wales University College of Business. Retailers have been able to keep this relatively mature form of digital communication relevant thanks to advances in data gathering and analysis, particularly on social media platforms.
Being social has perks
“Social media is probably one of the biggest non-intrusive ways of acquiring info,” said Hardeep Bindra, executive vice president and head of the creative platform division at tech company Collective.
Following a brand on Twitter, liking it and talking about it on Facebook all give marketers a peek into shoppers’ minds. With more people logging on from their phones, brands often also have information about what kind of device a person is using and where they’re located.
And talking about brands sometimes “earns” social media fans special perks, Bindra said. “Fans that interact may see special messages” and promotions, he said.
The appeal of social media interaction for shoppers is that they’re the ones who initiate the contact, and the messages are short, said retail consultant Andrea Woroch. “Usually, you’re seeking out those brands,” she said. “They’re easy to browse, they’re easy to look at.”
Thanks to both social media and conventional big data gathering, retailers can figure out what people like by watching their browsing habits. Gone are customer surveys indicating their preferences; now, retailers can learn or infer this information without having to ask the shopper and can send tailored promotions or coupons.
Digital coupons: always more coming
Just like their paper counterpart, digital coupons are popular among deal-hunters, with shoppers saying they regularly visit sites that aggregate coupon codes before clicking “buy” on any online purchase.
Since more retailers are blending on- and offline couponing, more shoppers are turning to the mobile app versions of these aggregators so they can look up a code before getting to the cash register.
But it’s easy to get jaded and develop coupon fatigue. Cichy said she doesn’t worry about scheduling her holiday buys around any one deal, because she knows another one will hit her inbox soon. “They’re constantly sending coupons. It seems crazy to spend full price for everything.”
Price comparison tools
Like couponing, price-comparison sites have also evolved into hybrid tools thanks to shoppers’ growing use of mobile devices at visits to brick-and-mortar stores, which let shoppers like Querisma check prices with their phones before they head to the cash register. When buying a dress for her daughter, Querisma used an app and found that the same dress was 30 percent off on the store’s website, then got the cashier to match the online price.
But as receptive as shoppers are to many of these high-tech helpers, some tools still feel too intrusive. Marketing tools that use the GPS on a shopper’s smartphone to send promotions when the phone is near a store have yet to take off, for technological reasons as well as the perception of intrusiveness.
“Text is very intrusive,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester Research. “Email is (the) most preferable medium." The location pinpointing often isn’t precise enough to target shoppers at the right time, which just turns them off to the idea even further. “It’s a solution that’s looking for a problem.”

Store warriors hang up battle gear
There will still be die-hards who hit the mall and big-box stores, but a growing number of Black Friday warriors have been converted after shopping from the comfort of home.
“For many, many years I have battle-shopped,” said Linda Kennedy, a 52-year-old property manager in North Carolina. Some years, Kennedy said she saved more than $1,000. But last year was a turning point. “I did a lot of online shopping once I saw that they ship it to your house for free,” she said — and she saved just as much.
“Every year I always wind up buying more than I want (and) I end up overspending,” said Ame Murphy, a 29-year-old Idaho resident who works as office manager in an assisted living facility. So for the first time in three years, she plans to skip the crowds and rely instead on online price comparisons, coupon codes and loyalty programs to replicate the kinds of deals that used to involve a cold wait in line outside the mall in the wee hours.
“Surprisingly, I’ve already got quite a few good deals that are equivalent to Black Friday,” she said.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving online sales

Thanksgiving is now far from what it used to be years ago. While families still get together to give thanks and enjoy a nice turkey lunch (or dinner), many wait for what comes after the Thursday of thanksgiving: Black Friday! Even Black Friday has changed over the years as technology and digitally savvy consumers find the easiest way to get the best deals without going physically to the store.
The last couple years have seen a rise in mobile and online sales that offer great deals and bargains from the comfort of the tablet or phone. In 2012, Black Friday online sales actually surpassed $1 billion, and this year, they were up by 9.7% over the same period as last year. Mobile traffic accounted for 37 percent of all online traffic, up 36 percent compared to the same period last year, and the average order value was $142.33 compared to the average order value of $127.59 from the day before. EBay performed the most strongly on Black Friday as shoppers turned to the online marketplace to find hot items, such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming consoles, that sold out in major retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy due to their small supply of these items.  
Thanksgiving's robust online sales may actually reduce the traditional frenzy of Black Friday shopping in the coming years as more people use e-commerce to access the major deals.


The Saks Fifth Avenue "Yeti"

Saks Fifth Avenue just unveiled their Christmas window displays on 5th Avenue, as part of a NYC tradition that attracts millions.

This year, Saks created a window featuring the "Yeti" which is a creature that is rumored to live on the top of the Saks building.  Yeti creates snow during the holiday season, according to local lore.

Visitors can interact with the Yeti window by entering their name in to a mobile site that was created by The Science Project.  The site "Yeti-izes" the names that are entered.  Users are then prompted to select a snowflake design to accompany their "Yeti-ized" name.  Once this is done, users can flick (literally, flick the image of their name and snowflake from their phone, towards the Yeti window) and their name and chosen snowflake will appear in the background of the Yeti display.

This interactive experience draws the user in to the displays, and is an excellent example of an innovative marketing campaign that combines traditional and digital marketing. There is a high probability that I will be visiting it, myself!

See the video here:
(part about the Yeti window is about half way through)


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pinterest going into SOLOMO

Pinterest is launching location based pins so people can share their favorite locations with friends.  Pinterest is rapidly expanding its offerings, allowing users to share more, from recipe ingredients/directions to now the location-based option.  This way people aren't just sharing pictures, but also where their favorite places are.

This type of service is delving deep into the SOLOMO practices, where social, location and mobile services are combining for users.  How will this change how users use other services such as Foresquare or even websites such as TripAdvisor to find places that are interesting in new locations. 

This will also help Pinterest create a source of revenue.  However, once advertising is more in place, will that turn off current users to this type of service.  The benefit is recommendations by peers.  Once more advertising is in place, people may not be as excited about showcasing places they have been that they've loved.  Pinterest will have to walk a thin line to make sure it doesn't turn off users but encourages them to use these types of features, which will increase their frequency on the site even more.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Millions of Fake Accounts Dog Twitter

Fake accounts, often bought for publicity purposes to influence trending topics, are thriving are Twitter. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the activities of one Twitter promoter, Jim Vidmar, who buys fake accounts, which are then programmed to follow his clients. Recent clients have included a number of rappers trying to break onto the scene. Dave Murrell, one of his clients, is totally aware that many of his followers are fake, but thinks the results are great. In his words, "if you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right. [...] It's part of the game."

So how are Vidmar and his colleagues able to get away with this? They program the fake accounts to simulate real users: tweeting, retweeting, following, and unfollowing. While Twitter claims that fake accounts represent 5% of all accounts on the social network, researchers have found that number to be almost double. The concern, obviously, with these fakes accounts is their ability to influence what is trending, which could undermine people's trust.

Facebook has been more successful in shutting down fake accounts than Twitter (Vidmar's account on Facebook has been suspended and legal action was threatened), which begs the question of why Twitter hasn't been doing more. With increased scrutiny now as a private company, perhaps, they will have to be more active in taking down these fake accounts and preventing the actions of Twitter promoters like Vidmar.

One step in the right direction is a recent job posting from Twitter for an anti-spam product manager. Anyone interested?



Shoppable Instagram

Online consignment websites are coming up in a big way. With a large amount of these websites recently being funded, and millions of fashion conscious consumers getting on the bandwagon, many of these consignment start-ups are re-inventing the retail arena.

One example of such a start-up is Bib + Tuck. Bib + Tuck has recently launched their mobile app, which comes with numerous innovative features. The co-founders of Bib + Tuck have said they were aiming for an "instagram-like app experience" that also fulfills all the functionality of the website.

The app allows users to put up pictures of their clothing / items and use filters / photo effects on the app. Users can also search by price, brand, condition, and category, and follow people's closets (again, a very similar feature to instagram). This is a classic example of 'permission marketing'. Users are coming to the website and gaining access to rich fashion content, from a fashion community that they have opted to follow (opted being the keyword). 



Kohl’s launched a unique social media initiative leading into this year’s Black Friday to engage potential customers and drive site traffic. The “Choose Your Own Black Friday” marketing campaign solicited online and Twitter votes for Jennifer Lopez’s real-time pathway to the American Music Awards this past Sunday. Viewers could either vote at or through a variety of hashtags (e.g. #JLoTunnel or #JLoRoofRun). The seven commercials leading up to the awards show featured products for sale at Kohl’s, including a Jennifer-Lopez designed jewelry collection called JLove.

The campaign was a partnership between Kohl’s (promoting its JLove jewelry collection launch), ABC (promoting the American Music Awards), and Jennifer Lopez (promoting her personal brand and celebrity labels), and provides insight into the future of omnichannel partnerships (here: television, live awards, Twitter, e-commerce, and ABC website). ABC cited the increasing importance of creating immersive viewer experiences for successful advertising. The campaign also highlights the increasingly competitive e-commerce landscape for this year’s Black Friday, with Kohl’s reportedly spending 20% more on marketing for this year’s shopping holiday.



Fun with Legal

In setting up a mobile marketing campaign, one area that is very important but can be sometimes pushed to the background is the legal component.  It will obviously have to hit center stage at some point, and when it does, having fun with it can have a meaningful business impact.
For instance, when you have customers fill in their information, you will need to make a range of legal comments and get them to agree to certain items.  While doing this, and if it is relevant to your brand, you can add some funny commentary to help make the process not so mundane.  I was signing-up for one website and while I was going through the disclaimer section, it made the comment “Don’t worry.  We hate spam more than you.”  This simple comment was kind of funny in the context and made me feel a little happier.  I then noticed that I instantly associated that feeling with the brand.  It was not a huge deal but still very helpful I think as doing little things for your customers can go a long way.
I also read an article on the different aspects that you need to consider when developing your legal page.  Some of the high level categories include the following: 1) the choice you give customers to either opt-in or out, 2) letting them know how you will use the data being collected, 3) giving them control over when they can unsubscribe, and 4) ensuring them that the data is secure.  Making sure you cover these and other legal aspects will help protect your firm, and if you can make it fun for customers, it could help increase your business. 


Monday, November 25, 2013

You Stay Classy

Will Ferrel has been known to push the envelope when it comes to marketing stunts. He's been both the PA announcer and security guard at NBA games, conducted interviews only in Spanish for his "Casa de mi Padre" film, and hosted a full SportsCenter as legendary Ron Burgundy. As most of you know, the sequel to Anchorman is coming to theaters this December, and Will Ferrell has stated that he has produced more content meant for digital and social media than for any film before.

Though fictional, these characters have been played off successfully in real-life scenarios like talk shows and commercials, and are simply so absurd and diverse that I don't think you can know what to expect next, only to expect a lot. Paramount has made a partnership with Tumblr, who has been seeding social media channels with short small videos of the characters that are not part of the film. Ferrell and Paramount are also using social media to run a casting call to join the anchorman crew. People can audition for positions of anchor (#TeamRon), meterologist (#TeamBrick), sportscaster (#TeamChamp) and live reporter (#TeamBrian). Bloggers have posted video of screen tests and outtakes, and some auditions will be promoted through Burgundy's social media accounts.

This effort has really extended the possibilities of movie marketing on social media. By this, I do not refer so much to the creativity of the campaign, though again the characters do allow for a lot flexibility, but more so the sheer volume of activities and ways they are reaching audiences. They are incorporating videos, faux articles/news stories, audience participation, and surely other things we do not know yet. Studios will be looking at these efforts of a model of what to do... or not to do, depending on the success and ROI. This campaign works because the actors seem happy and wanting to participate, likely containing costs. However, this could be a case where incremental sales may not be enough to warrant the extent of the campaign. That remains to be seen when Anchorman 2 hits theaters in December. 


Video has become the new photo

When companies evaluate their digital marketing strategies, text and photos are synonymous with “branded content.” However, more organizations are finding ways to capture digital momentum with arguably the hardest medium to search for: video. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and now that Twitter and Facebook are experiencing booming trends in video sharing on their platforms, brands are chomping at the bit to find quality, sharable video content.
            Marissa Mayer announced today that Katie Couric will become a “global anchor” for Yahoo in an unprecedented partnership deal. This play by the media organization is one of many pushes towards building their video content library and virality. They have invested heavily into original content creators and curators, but Katie is the first established brand name to grace the purple banner.
            As more of these media organizations turn to established talent for their content, it is important to recognize the change in the winds for digital video. YouTube brought reach down the long tail in a big way, allowing any individuals to create a niche for themselves and build a significant following. As the platform evolves and Google finds additional ways to monetize it, more established brands and talent are looking to capture a piece of the pie.

            The future of digital video is a convergence of independent and professional content. Katie Couric will soon be synonymous with hundreds of similar voices each finding their own niche.  In order to remain relevant and more importantly valuable, media organizations will curate a diversified offering of both.


Shoppable Content on Instagram?

Instagram has rolled out its first ads in the form of promoted posts viewable within members' feeds, but individual Instagram users are still not able to add links within photos or captions that they post, and are thereby unable to monetize their own posts.  So why won't Instagram allow the consumer who is sharing content and thereby advocating for a particular brand or product to be compensated as the affiliate marketer?

Instagram's content rich platform is innately "shoppable", but the inability to reliably click through to purchase a product limits this potential.  So why, as other social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest aggressively look to monetize content, is Instagram shying away?


Apple Acquires 3D Sensor Company PrimeSense

Today Apple confirmed that it has acquired PrimeSense, a 3D sensor company after months of speculation.  PrimeSense is the company behind Microsoft's Kinect gaming software, which enables users to interact virtually with a videogame through simply a body movement. Many are questioning exactly why Apple has made this investment although it's not a surprise that the technology giant is looking to beef up its capabilities in the 3D space as this is a very hot and growing industry right now.

The below article believes that Apple isn't making this acquisition for mobile application just yet due to the technology constraints with incorporating something like this into a mobile device.  (Specifically that it isn't looking to apply a similar experience that the Kinect game does). Battery life is cited as one example as to why this channel doesn't make sense for 3D technology just yet. However I feel this view is incredibly limited and while the technology today maybe isn't completely ready to allow for this 3D technology, what we have all learned over the last decade is just how fast technology can evolve and improve. Therefore I think this is a very short-sighted frame of mind and I disagree.

One of my professors last week in a media marketing class stated "I think Apple has failed in the past few years because they haven't attempted anything risky." Basically his point (which I agree with) is that Apple is such a legendary company because of the risks they taken and the way they've changed not only technology products but how we interact with technology. They create products that shape experiences and consumer behavior.  That is a huge undertaking and it requires ongoing risk-taking and revolutions within the tech world.  I think an acquisition such as PrimeSense demonstrates a potential example of Apple evolving in this way.

- Mallory Godwin


Cyber November

Amazon is beginning its Black Friday sale a day earlier than last year and will be offering a record number of mobile offers.  Recognizing the increasing propensity of shoppers to peruse and purchase at any time they please, the retailer will also increase the volume of deals throughout the holiday season and not just on peak days.    

Traditionally brick-and-mortar stores, such as Sears, already rolled out mobile promotions at the beginning of the month that award shoppers loyalty points on all purchases during the holiday season. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Cyber Monday will go away anytime soon.  Consumer events like this one still generate a great deal of buzz and shopping frenzy that retailers can capitalize on - for an example, look no further than China's recent record shopping event.


Fully-Automated Ad Management Startup Multichannel Raises $3M In Seed Funding

I have found, just playing around with on-line advertising, that it is time consuming and difficult to manage everything. That is why when i read this article it seemed to make so much sense to me. A piece of software that helps you manage all of your online advertising campaigns...what a good idea!
The company describes itself as a "cloud-based software uses algorithms to manage online advertising campaigns across different channels and search engines like Google, Yahoo or Baidu." 

I am surprised that this is the first time anyone has done this, as it seems so obvious. After trying to manage many of these campaigns for a start-up I would have gladly paid money for something that could help me out...although after further research it seems that they want to charge $500/mo which seems pretty steep, but probably not a problem for larger corporate companies.


Miley @ AMA

The American Music Awards played tonight. It's usually a more conservative awards show--nothing like the mayhem you would see at the MTV Music Awards. However, in what looks like a thoughtless ploy to get ratings, they've actually done an ingenious combination to get more eyeballs on their screens and have people like you and me tweet/share/discuss what occurred and generate more ratings.

Miley knows how to get the viral blogosphere going to generate conversation and to increase online traffic. But how can she constantly out do herself? It's easy. One word: Cats. Miley Cyrus was on TV with a cat lip syncing in the background. Now, you might just dismiss this altogether as just another "the good girl gone crazy" plot. However, Miley once again utilized what she's good at--selling ratings through absurd content that we'll watch over and over again online. Remember, cat videos are ubiquitous to viral sensations. Some of the most heavily watch YouTube channels just focus on cats. Miley just combined the stickiness of this online genre with her own mass following. Result: pure viral madness.


3 Lessons Learned from Black Friday Online Advertising

Black Friday is the Super Bowl of shopping!  Yes, I have to admit – between Thanksgiving and the 2nd week of January, I completely lose my mind and shop, shop, shop!  In part, it’s because I’m an investment banker and after 10+ months without a bonus, I am in desperate need of some serious retail therapy!  I’d also argue that it’s because I loathe to pay retail prices when I’m certain that the price of the item is going to fall within minutes, hours, days and weeks of my latest purchase.  For this reason, I stay active online and incessantly revisit sites to confirm that I haven’t overpaid for an item (or that its price has dropped by 20%+).  What do I do if I see that the price has been reduced?  I immediately check to see if the website is still carrying my size – if yes, then I re-order it using the “Free Delivery & Returns” option ( – alas, where have you been all my life?) and prepare the more expensive duplicate for immediate return to the store.  Here’s the insane part – I’ve done this for multiple items that I have purchased on multiple occasions (yes – that is to say, I have bought, then returned, bought and then returned and bought, then returned on numerous occasions – my fiancĂ© would describe it as a “sickness”).  Thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk and the silly marketing team at Clarisonic, I have three examples to share:

1.      I experienced the first example: Clarisonic sent me a 20% off coupon for the exact same item that I purchased two days prior to receiving the coupon via email.  Of course, I returned the item w/ free sipping and recorded using the coupon!

2.      The next two examples (see pics below) show companies Tweeting on Black Friday; however, in both cases the company failed to post the link #fail


Automated Ad Management Start-up Raises $3M in Seed Funding

Multichannel, a fully automated ad management start-up raised $ 3 million in seed funding from investors. By using this product, companies can save hours on spending time for managing the advertising channel. Multichannel solves many issues that cannot be fixed easily by doing it manually. The system is programmed to gain knowledge as it is used and through this knowledge, it comes up with a more effective ad plan. It constantly collects and analyzes data from all your ad campaigns and channels and gives recommendation in real time based on the analysis. The program can also detect click fraud which can reach up to 60% of the original cost of the ad.

It can also be used for international ad campaigns by solving the complex language, foreign currency and legal issues. Multichannel is the first universal digital marketing tool that is even effective in China. You can deliver your message to millions of web pages and mobile display our ads internationally through a single interface in your own language.

The advantage of Multichannel over other ad management products include lower costs for companies, less administrative tasks and potential unlimited scalability into ad channels across the world. It almost sounds too good to be true. 


Help your job hunt with social content sharing

A common strategy for building your personal brand is staying active in social media by sharing your unique ideas. This is particularly important during the job hunt, when recruiters or headhunters may be on the lookout for that one social media maven that seems to be on top of his or her posts and building followership. I found this article interesting because instead of stressing how important it is to post proprietary content, it puts forth the idea that sharing other people's content will help you stand out in the digital space and position you as a great candidate for potential job openings. Here's why:
- It shows that you understand your industry and follow those who are highly knowledgeable on valuable information in your field.
- It proves that you are innovative and forward thinking as a "content curator".
- It shows that you enjoy helping others. Sharing the content of industry thought leaders will get you noticed - more so than talking only about yourself and your ideas.
- It shows that you are familiar with thought leaders, as well as up-and-coming content curators who are on the cusp of trends.
- Finally, it shows your access to people. The larger your network, the larger the network of your company. And your willingness to share this network is undoubtedly a positive throughout the recruiting process.

Here are some ways to share the content of others in the social space and leverage social sharing to achieve the desired results above: 5 Ways to Offer Awesome Content...


Taboola: the leader in paid content discovery is on track to make $100M this year

Taboola is a startup that powers a content recommendation platform.

I found this article to be interested since it shows another example of how companies in the marketing technology space are doing really well. In Taboola's case, they have because the market leader in the content recommendation space because they have created a way for marketers and brands to publish content on top publishers website.  

According to the article, "Taboola’s marketplace has marketers and brands on one side, who bid to distribute their content on top publisher sites, and algorithms on the other side, to match content with the most relevant users and predict what they want to watch." These recommendations will then appear at the end of an article, directing readers of the article to the content that marketers and brands are hoping to build awareness about.

Two additional reason why I'm impressed by Taboola, their strong video focus and their lack of alternatives in their space.  Regarding videos, Taboola has put itself in a strong position to capture Internet users video watching habits by creating a content market place that focuses on video. Second, Taboola doesn't have a strong competitor.  Through my research, LinkSmart was the only company that seemed like it could compete with the features that could be found on Taboola. However, LinkSmart's main focus is in-content links instead of the providing Recommended Content at the end of the article, which has a higher click through rate..  

Read more here:


New Channel for Advertisers.... in the far future

At National University of Singapore, a digital lollipop, which simulates taste, is being developed and tested.  The lollipop is made of a silver electrode and when placed on the tip of the tongue, it can simulate salty, sweet, bitter, and sour tastes.  It is created through alternating currents and changing temperatures which fool our taste receptors.  The person in charge of the research hopes that people can eventually use this technology to taste virtual things whether on the phone or computer.  The concept is fascinating, but the idea of licking my cell phone doesn't sound appealing at all.  Advertisers would love this though as it could allow consumers to really experience a product.  The applications can even extend into medicine where diabetics can taste the sugar without spiking their blood sugar levels.  The food industry would revolutionize as well - for example, being able to taste what is on a cooking show.  The research, however, isn't complete yet with much more to test including adding smells and textures to further trick the mind into believing that it's real.  I'm really looking forward to this technology - to be able to taste something without the calories would be amazing.