How To Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics by Customizing a Standard Report [Tutorial]

Custom Reports in Google Analytics

Custom reports in Google Analytics are incredibly powerful.They enable you to tailor reporting, based on your own business, your own conversion goals, key metrics, etc.The problem is that custom reports can be confusing to create. You have metric drilldowns, dimension groups, report views, filters, etc. If you aren’t familiar with creating custom reports, the interface could be daunting. That said, you shouldn’t give up trying to create custom reports! Again, they can be very powerful for analyzing traffic.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through creating a custom report that displays organic search traffic from mobile devices. The report will also enable you to view those visits by location. It’s a nifty custom report for any local business. The report lets you quickly view top keywords leading to your site via organic search (mobile traffic), but also lets you view how many of those visits are from potential buyers (people located near your business).

In addition, Google recently released functionality for customizing a standard report versus having to create every custom report from scratch. This is a great option if you are new to custom reports and want to tailor some of the existing reports in Google Analytics to fit your needs.

Creating a Custom Report from a Standard Report
As I mentioned earlier, we’ll start with a standard report in Google Analytics and tailor it to meet our goals. Since we are going to create a report showing organic search from mobile devices, let’s start with the Mobile Overview report and customize it to display:

  • Organic keywords leading to the site (mobile traffic).
  • The region those visits are from (i.e. states).
  • The cities within those regions that visits are coming from.
  • The mobile operating system from those visits (android, iphone, etc.)

The goal of the report is to know the organic keywords leading to the site from mobile visits, and how many of those visits are from potential customers (people located near your business).

How to Create the Custom Report (from a Standard Report)

1. Open up Google Analytics, click the “Audience” tab, and then expand the “Mobile” link in the left side navigation. Click the “Overview” link to view the Mobile Overview report.

Accessing the Mobile Overview Report in Google Analytics

2. Click the “Customize” link in the action bar of the report. This will enable you to customize this report for your own needs (by creating a custom report based on this standard report). Note, not all standard reports can be customized this way. Tabular reports can be customized this way, but you will find other reports within GA that cannot be converted to custom reports:

Customizing a Standard Report in Google Analytics

3. When you click “customize”, the standard report will be loaded into “report builder”. The initial view will show you the current report mapped out already in report builder. Then you can tailor the various elements, based on what you are trying to achieve with your own custom report.

Report Builder in Google Analytics

4. You can keep the current metric groups if you want. If you ever want to go back and customize the metric groups, you can by editing the custom report. For example, you definitely want to set up various conversion goals and events so you can better understand quality traffic. Once you do, you can add them to your metric groups so you can view performance by traffic in your custom report.

5. Under dimension drilldowns, you will only see “Mobile” listed. Adding more dimensions will enable you to drill into each level to find more data. As I explained above, we want to drill into mobile traffic to reveal the organic keywords leading to the site. Then we want to view location by region and state. So, let’s add those additional dimensions to our report.

Adding Dimensions to a Custom Report in Google Analytics

6. Click the “Add Dimension” box in dimension drilldowns and select “Keyword” from the “Advertising” list.

Adding More Dimensions to a Custom Report in Google Analytics

7. Next, add more dimensions to your report. Click the “Add Dimension” box again, and include the “Region” dimension from the “Visitors” list. After adding “Region”, you should go through the same process to add another dimension for “City”.

Adding Location Dimensions to a Custom Report in Google Analytics

8. Filter Your Traffic
The last step is to make sure the traffic is only from organic search. We only want to view mobile traffic from organic search, so we need to tell Google Analytics to filter that traffic for us. Click the “Add a Filter” box under the “Filters” category. Select the “Medium” dimension under the “Traffic Sources” list. Then select “include” from the first filter dropdown, leave “Medium” as the dimension, leave “Exact” in the third dropdown, and then enter “organic” in the text box (without quotes). See the screenshot below to follow along. This text tells Google Analytics to include all traffic that exactly matches “organic” as the medium. “Organic” is what’s listed for all organic search traffic.

Filtering Traffic in a Custom Report in Google Analytics

Congratulations! You just created a custom report, based on a standard report. Click “Save” at the bottom of the report and you’ll be taken to the functioning report in Google Analytics.

You can start drilling into the report by clicking “Yes” in the mobile report, which will reveal all organic keywords from mobile traffic. Then you can click any keyword to view the region those visits are from. If you click the region, you can view the cities within that region. Again, this report can help you identify mobile traffic from organic search, the keywords being searched for, and identify if these are potential customers (based on their proximity to your local business).

Bonus: Access the Custom Report Template
As an added bonus, I have shared the template for this custom report and you can access it by clicking the link below. Once you click the link, you can add this template to a Google Analytics profile and start using the report today. You can also analyze the report setup so you can work through creating similar custom reports. Click the following link to access the custom report for organic search visits from mobile devices.

Summary – Customize It!
I hope this post helped clear up some of the confusion associated with building custom reports in Google Analytics. I love that Google added the ability to customize standard reports, since that’s sometimes all you want to do… If you are new to custom reports, then I recommend starting with a standard report and then customizing that report to fit your needs. Going through that process should help you get more comfortable with working in report builder and could lead to more advanced custom reports. And that can all lead to advanced analysis of your traffic. Good luck.


How To Quickly View Mobile Visitor Performance in Google Analytics Using The New Mobile Reports [Tutorial]

Analyzing Mobile Performance in Google Analytics

As smartphone sales boom, and mobile traffic is on the increase, I’m finding many marketers are unclear about mobile visitor performance. I say this because whenever mobile comes up during conversations, I ask how well that traffic is converting, and I typically hear crickets (unfortunately). On a similar note, there are some marketers that are making decisions about creating mobile apps, mobile websites, transforming content, etc. without analyzing their mobile traffic. They hear that Android phones, iPhones, and iPads are selling like crazy, so their knee-jerk reaction is to make serious changes to their websites. That’s dangerous, since they are basing changes on opinion and not data. And if you’ve read previous posts of mine, you know I’m a firm believer in basing changes on hard data. It’s one of the reasons that analytics is a core service of mine.

So, if you are wondering how your mobile traffic compares to your desktop/laptop traffic, then this post is for you. I’m going to show you a quick and easy way to use the new Google Analytics to understand top-level mobile performance. Note, you’ll probably want to dig much deeper than what I’m going to show you, but this process will give you real data about mobile performance. I want you to be comfortable the next time your CMO brings up mobile traffic at your weekly meeting. As everyone else in the room is nervously quiet, you can be the one that starts presenting real numbers, based on Google Analytics reporting. Let’s dig in.

Gaining a Mobile Baseline
In order to make smart and informed decisions about mobile strategy, you need to at least have a basic understanding of how your current mobile traffic is performing. In addition, it’s a wise move to have data points handy when asked how your current site handles mobile visitors. For example, if your CEO or CMO suddenly want to know the percentage of revenue or conversion coming from mobile visitors. As explained earlier, instead of awkward silence, you can be the one speaking up and giving hard numbers.

Using the methods listed below, you can fire up Google Analytics, access just a handful of reports, and view performance data for mobile visitors. In addition, you can view mobile performance by operating system (iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry, etc.), since we know that’s the next logical question your CMO will ask. :) Before we hop in, you’ll be happy to know that the latest version of Google Analytics provides mobile reports that contain this information. Using this data, you can quickly understand if mobile visitors are having problems when visiting your site, if they are bouncing, not converting, etc. After you run this top-level reporting, you can choose to dig deeper, identify changes to make, and form a stronger mobile strategy.

Two Quick Methods for Viewing Top-Level Mobile Performance
I’m going to explain two quick methods for accessing mobile reporting in Google Analytics. Both reports are contained in the Mobile reporting tab within the Visitors section of Google Analytics. The first will enable us to see a top-level report for desktop and mobile visitors, while the second report will enable us to view mobile visitors by operating system.

Accessing Mobile Reporting in Google Analytics:
In the new Google Analytics, you can access mobile reporting in the Audience section of the UI. Click Audience, and then Mobile to reveal two reports (Overview and Devices). Note, Google Analytics has updated the interface, and the tab used to be named Visitors.

Accessing the mobile reports in Google Analytics

The first report we are going to access is the “Overview” report. This report simply shows mobile visitors versus non-mobile visitors. Although this looks like a simple report, it can show you the overall performance difference between the two segments of traffic (mobile and desktop visitors). Once you access the report, you’ll see two rows of data, one labeled “Yes” for mobile visitors, and the other “No” for non-mobile visitors. View the screenshot below.

Click the image below to view a larger version:
The mobile overview report in Google Analytics

At this point, all of your mobile traffic is lumped into the “Yes” row. You can quickly view top-level metrics like Bounce Rate, Pages Per Visit, Average Time on Site, etc. After taking a quick look at the report, how does the Bounce Rate look for mobile visitors? If you see a much higher bounce rate with your mobile traffic, it could obviously mean they are not having a great experience on your site. You might start asking some questions at this point… Does your current site render ok for mobile visitors? Is your navigation missing or broken on mobile devices? Can users convert, complete a transaction, etc? When helping clients review this data, I’ve seen some reports show a bounce rate for mobile visitors twice that of desktop visitors. There’s probably an issue if you see this…

Checking Conversion for Mobile Visitors
If you have set up multiple conversion goals, then click the Goal Set tabs.

Viewing mobile conversion in Google Analytics

Now you can see the difference between desktop and mobile visitors with regard to conversion. If you run an e-commerce site, you can view revenue numbers for each segment, as well. Again, we are just looking at a top-level view right now. Based on what you find, you will probably want to dig much deeper into traffic sources, campaigns, keywords, content, etc., but that’s for another post. :)

By the way, notice the process you are going through to analyze mobile traffic in Google Analytics is quick and easy, but also very powerful. Many companies I speak with aren’t armed with even the most basic data regarding mobile performance. By quickly going through this process, you will have a top-level view of mobile performance based on data. This will enable you to make informed decisions about how to best move forward with your site content, how to drive conversion via mobile visitors, etc. Basically, you’ll have data backing your case.

Viewing Mobile Traffic by Operating System
Let’s say that mobile traffic has a high bounce rate and low conversion (obviously). Your next question might be, “which mobile operating systems perform best or worst on my site?” For example, Android vs. iPhone vs. Blackberry vs. iPad. The good news is that you can quickly see the breakdown via the “Devices” report in the Mobile reporting in Google Analytics. Once you click the “Devices” report, you can dimension the report by mobile operating system by clicking the “Operating System” link (which is located horizontally at the top of the report.) See screenshot below.

Viewing mobile reporting by operating system in Google Analytics

Once you click the operating system dimension, you will see all of your mobile visits broken down by mobile operating system. Then you can go through the same process we used above to view bounce rate, conversion, revenue, etc. You might find that certain OS’s have more problems than others. For example, maybe iPad traffic has a 92% bounce rate and very low conversion rates, where Android phones have a 42% bounce rate and decent conversion rates. You won’t know until you run the reporting. And again, you will probably want to dig deeper once you get a top-level view by OS. But again, that’s for another post.

Fast and Easy Can Still Be Powerful
The next time you’re in a meeting and someone asks how mobile visitors perform on your website, you can now be armed with data. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t base decisions on opinion when you can analyze hard data via Google Analytics reporting. In just minutes, you can gain a top-level view of mobile visitor performance, and then dig deeper to view performance by mobile operating system.

Are you ready to analyze your own site now? Don’t hesitate, go and access the reports I just covered in this post. You never know what you’re going to find.


Flixster – A Shining Example of a Killer Mobile App [Case Study]

Flixster Mobile App for Movies

As if we didn’t know Mobile was booming already, Google and others in the industry released some numbers that overwhelmingly confirmed that point. For example, this past week Gartner released a study that found over 428 million mobile devices were sold in the first quarter of 2011. Yes, that’s 428 million, just in just one quarter.

Also, at Google I/O this year, Google revealed that 400K Android handsets are being activated daily. Yes, per day. Both statistics are incredibly powerful, and they do make sense when you break it down. Mobile, and more specifically smartphones, provide incredible functionality and ease of use, enabling people to take mini-computers with them wherever they go.

Smartphone adoption and growth has led to the mobile app boom we have seen over the past few years. As users flock to smartphones, developers also flock to build apps for them. As the iPhone took off, developers started building thousands of iPhone apps. Now, as Android booms (surpassing the iPhone in market share), developers are building more and more apps for devices running Google’s mobile OS. Again, this makes complete sense, business-wise. Go where the users are.

The Flood of Current Apps
There are currently hundreds of thousands of apps available across iPhone and Android. But, just because you can build an app, doesn’t mean you should. There are obviously many apps that are useless. Some don’t work well, others provide very little functionality, etc. With the incredible low cost of entry, and low risk, you could build an app just for the heck of it. Then there are also loads of games, which fill an entertainment void that was present on most feature phones (AKA dumbphones). Based on what I’m explaining, you are left with thousands and thousands of apps, some of which are valuable, while others are just taking up (digital) space.

For me personally, apps need to provide value. I’m really busy, running my own business, I have young kids, etc. Time is extremely valuable to me, which is why you won’t find many apps on my Android phone that don’t provide value in some way. I view my phone as an extension of my office, so apps need to provide some type of value if I’m going to use them on a regular basis. For example, some of the most valuable apps to me include:

* Twicca (an incredible Twitter app)
* Swype (I couldn’t imagine actually typing on my phone, since I can swype 60+ words per minute)
* The Weather Channel app
* Google Maps (with Navigation)
* Shazam (An incredible app for music discovery, which saves me a lot of time)
* Yelp (which just helped me find an amazing restaurant on my trip to Hilton Head)
* Flixster (the ultimate app for movie-goers, and the focus of this post)
…and several other apps that help me on a regular basis

Meet Flixster
I mentioned Flixster above, and I wanted to dig deeper with the app so you can understand why I think it’s the ultimate mobile application. If you’re not familiar with Flixster, it’s an app that provides everything you need to know about movies, including movie reviews via Rotten Tomatoes, movie trailers (video), movie information, theatre information, box office information, and ticketing (through When you break it down, the app makes it incredibly easy to review movie information, watch trailers, find the closest theatre, and buy tickets, all within minutes (or seconds if you are familiar with the app). And it works flawlessly. On that note, I was out to dinner with my wife this past Saturday, scanned the latest movies, and purchased tickets in about 60 seconds, just in time for our appetizer to arrive. :)

The Box Office Screen in Flixster:
The Box Office Screen of Flixster's Mobile App

A Deep Database of Movies
Not only will Flixster give you new releases, but you can search for any movie that’s contained in the database (pretty much any movie). So, the app covers any user. The reviews are provided via Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from across many sources. With Rotten Tomatoes, you can quickly view the “tomatometer”, which scores each movie based on the reviews (0-100 score). I’ve found this typically gives me a great feel for how the movie is. You can see screenshots below from the app.

I rarely find myself going elsewhere for movie information…

Why It’s the Ultimate App
Now that I’ve covered what the apps does, let me break down the core reasons that I believe it’s the ultimate app (from a marketing and business standpoint). It really comes down to a few core reasons, which include incredible functionality (providing value), effortless usability (making it easy for users), and commerce (the ability to complete transactions easily, while giving Flixster the ability to generate revenue). I’ll briefly explain each below.

1. Valuable Functionality
I covered some of this earlier, but the app does exactly what you need it to do, and more. I can’t remember a time that I searched for a movie (no matter how obscure), and didn’t find a boatload of information about it via Flixster. The combination of rich information, movie reviews, video trailers, box office information, etc. give movie fans everything they need.

The Movie Information Screen in Flixster:
Movie Information Screen in the Flixster Mobile App

Movie Reviews in Flixster:
Movie Reviews in Flixster

2. Effortless Usability
The app is ridiculously easy to use, laid out extremely well, and has incredible performance. If you own a smartphone, then you have probably come across some apps that are slow, bomb all the time, etc. Flixster has never failed me performance-wise. It’s organized well, and even enables you to buy tickets in mere seconds. More on that below.

Mapping Your Movie Theatre in Flixster:
Mapping Your Theatre in Flixster

Connecting With Facebook or Netflix in Flixster:
Flixster Integrates Facebook Connect and Netflix

3. Commerce
Flixster is a free app, which greatly helps with adoption. But make no bones about it, there is a serious commerce aspect to the mobile app. I’ve mentioned the ability to buy tickets via Flixster, and it’s a great addition to the ultimate app. From any movie page, you can quickly check movie times at theatres located near you (GPS-wise). You can also enter a location to find movies in an area not close in proximity. Once you are ready to buy your tickets, the app seamlessly enables you to go through the process of selecting the number of tickets, entering your credit card information, and completing your purchase. You are immediately sent a confirmation email and you can be off and running in less than a minute or two. You need to try this out to appreciate how elegant of a solution it is.

Viewing Movie Times in Flixster:
Viewing Movie Times in Flixster

Seamlessly Buying Movie Tickets in Flixster:
Buying Movie Tickets in Flixster

What This Means To You
If you are looking to develop a mobile app, I highly recommend spending some time with Flixster. I believe you’ll understand pretty quickly the power of the app, and how it potentially could be a model for your own mobile app (no matter what you focus on). As I explained throughout this post, Flixster combines functionality, usability, and commerce extremely well, which makes it a great model for mobile apps. Sure, you can try and create fun, silly apps that go viral, but I don’t like basing business decisions on “viral”. Instead, you can provide real functionality that solves real problems and can generate real revenue for the long haul. Now excuse me while I check the latest move releases. :)


Mobile Visitor Trending and The Impact On Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Campaigns

The impact of mobile visitors on paid search ROI.

All you have to do is look around you right now to see the power (and promise) of mobile technology. Everyone is holding some form of mobile device, whether that’s a smartphone like an iphone or blackberry, or a feature phone (which is a marketing term for a standard cell phone with relatively basic functionality). And as mobile devices gain traction, more and more people are accessing the web via mobile browsers to research information, buy products, sign up for your services, contact local businesses, etc. It’s becoming hard to ignore that fact.

Based on what I explained above, here are two important questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you know how many mobile visitors are browsing your site?

2. Are those mobile visitors able to accomplish what they need to do on your site (and what you want them to do)?

Some Examples of Mobile Trending

Let’s take a quick look at mobile trending since January of 2009 for three sites that I control. Although the percentage of total site traffic still isn’t staggering, the trend is clearly on the rise (and especially over the past six months).

The Increase in Mobile Visits Since January 2009:Trending of mobile visitors since January 2009

Trending of mobile visitors since January 2009

Trending of mobile visitors since January 2009

Note: To view mobile trending, I used a regular expression in Google Analytics to include only screen resolutions under 320×480 (which is a smart method of filtering mobile visits documented by Craig Hordlow on iMediaConnecton). Although Google Analytics added mobile tracking in October of 2009, that doesn’t give us enough data (due to the timeframe). You can filter mobile visits a number of ways, but I like the screen resolution method when looking back in time.

How This Impacts Your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Efforts

If more people are visiting your website via mobile devices, and you are paying for some of that traffic, how does that impact your ROI? I’ve provided three points to consider below with regard to mobile visitors and paid search.

1. SEM Targeting (Along With Other Campaign Targeting)
There are times that search engine marketers do a great job mapping out campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads, but still the campaigns aren’t driving the ROI that they were expecting. For some of these campaigns, unintended mobile visitors could be dragging down your return. I recommend checking your campaign settings to see if you are targeting mobile devices and then checking the user experience for those visitors. You might find that those visitors have a horrible user experience when visiting your website (such as your site design breaking when it renders on mobile devices). For example, if you have a nifty JavaScript-based hero image that’s not rendering properly or a slick flash element that cannot be displayed (with no alternative content). Heck, your navigation might not even be showing up. From an analytics standpoint, you can typically identify a serious issue by checking the bounce rate for any given ad group in SEM. If you see a high bounce rate, then you would obviously want to dig deeper to learn more. For example, you might see a bounce rate of 85% or higher for certain ad groups. While checking your campaign settings, you might just find that mobile targeting is turned on, and more importantly, that your site isn’t ready for it. This is why I typically recommend setting up separate campaigns targeting mobile users versus mixing mobile and desktop targeting (but that’s for another blog post).

In case you are wondering what a broken site looks like in a mobile browser, I’ve provided screenshots of sites not rendering or working properly below:

Visitors Won’t Be Able To Get Very Far If They See This:

JavaScript inhibiting the proper display of a website on mobile browsers.

Unless You Are Selling Blank Boxes, This Won’t Suffice:

Tiffany's content not rendering on mobile browsers.

The Screenshot Below Might Look OK, But I Added Three Products To My Shopping Cart & The Site Wouldn’t Actually Add Them…

Mobile e-commerce not working on mobile browsers.

A Note About The Google Content Network & Mobile Applications
The Content Network can be a very powerful driver of traffic for your website, however, it also presents some challenges. For example, if you are targeting mobile devices across the content network, then your ads can show up on mobile applications too. Given the widespread use of some mobile apps (across iPhone and Android), you might end up with a lot of traffic via mobile visitors. If your site cannot handle those visitors, you’ll be throwing away a lot of money…

2. Obstacles to Conversion
Based on what I explained above about sites not rendering properly, you can imagine the impact on conversion. Actually, there won’t be any conversions from mobile visitors. :) But let’s say your site does render ok and mobile visitors are able to browse your website. That’s great, but can those visitors accomplish what they want to on your site (and what you need them to do in order to convert?) When I’m helping clients with analytics, I often talk about conversions and events, which are actions that are important to your company. These actions provide value and do not represent meaningless numbers. For example, revenue, downloads, requests for more information, contacting your sales department, subscribing to your RSS feed, etc.

So, if you are focusing on outcomes (conversions, events, etc.), then you probably want to make sure that mobile visitors can reach those outcomes. For example, if you run an ecommerce website, can visitors purchase from your site? If you focus on lead generation, can visitors contact you via the site, if you want people to download your ebook, can they submit the form that gets them to the download page? The quick way to understand how your site performs across mobile devices is to test it directly from those devices. You might find some interesting things as you traverse your site on a mobile device…

Excellent Examples of Providing Content Targeted for Mobile Visitors: provides one of the best mobile shopping experiences on the web: You can read more about and Mobile e-Commerce in a previous blog post of mine.

Mobile e-Commerce and
Mashble Provides a Mobile-Optimized Version of the Site Content:

Mashable's mobile-optimized content..
Best Buy Also Provides a Streamlined Shopping Experience for Mobile Visitors:

Mobile e-Commerce on Best Buy's website.

3. Video and Rich Media for Mobile Visitors
Online video is booming and it can definitely be an important component to your content development strategy. However, be very careful if your content relies heavily on video (when it comes to mobile visitors). Most of the visitors from mobile will not be able to see that really cool video on your landing page, and worse, that video element could end up breaking your page as it renders. I’m not saying to exclude video from your campaigns. You should just understand your audience and the targeting capabilities available via SEM. Then you can plan accordingly. For example, you can create a landing page for mobile visitors, you could redirect all mobile visits to a mobile-ready section of your site, etc. The worst thing you could do is spend $10-$20K on a killer video only to have it inhibit the very thing you are looking to do…convert visitors.

Your Next Mobile Steps
Mobile is rapidly growing and you should expect more and more visitors from mobile devices as 2010 progresses. If you are running paid search campaigns, understand the targeting capabilities available and adjust accordingly. Work with your development team on testing and refining your landing pages and site content to ensure they are mobile-friendly. You never know, you might be able to implement some minor adjustments that can make a big difference conversion-wise.

Just look for that 95% bounce rate and then dig deeper. :)


SES NY 2010 Series: Augmented Reality and Mobile Marketing, An Interview With Rachel Pasqua of iCrossing

Augmented Reality and Mobile Marketing.This is the second post in my SES NY 2010 series. The conference is only one week away and I’ll be covering it again via blogging and Twitter. As part of my coverage, I’m writing a few posts about sessions that piqued my curiosity. As I was scanning through the list of topics being covered at this year’s conference, it was hard not to be interested in the session about Augmented Reality (AR). AR is the hot new technology that merges real world data with computer generated elements, and it provides a world of opportunity for mobile marketers.

Last week I was able to speak with Rachel Pasqua, the Director of Mobile Marketing at iCrossing, who will be co-presenting the session titled “Augmented Reality: A Brave New World”. The session will focus on how marketers can use Augmented Reality to create new and engaging ways to connect with consumers. The session is being held from 4:45PM-5:45PM on Tuesday, March 23rd. And if you’re not that familiar with Augmented Reality, you’re not alone. Although there has been quite a bit of buzz about AR over the past year or so, there are still many marketers scratching their heads about how to best use the technology.

Augmented Reality and The Blistering Speed of Online Marketing

Online marketing is now moving at a blistering pace. That’s up from a staggering pace last year, and an astounding pace the year before. :) It’s part of what I love about the industry. Augmented Reality is one of the most recent advancements, and I find there’s a lot of confusion about what it actually is, how you can use it, and what the future looks like for the technology. Currently, the iPhone is driving AR, based on how many devices are in the market and the ability to easily develop iPhone apps. Then of course, you have the app store, which then makes it easy to market and sell apps once developed.

What Is Augmented Reality?

As mentioned above, Augmented Reality combines computer generated elements with real world data. For example, an AR Twitter app for your iPhone might superimpose other Twitter user profiles that are in your vicinity, based on the GPS signal on your mobile device. Another example would be the ability to virtually try on clothes via an application that uses your webcam mixed with computer images from an online store. Although there are endless ideas for using Augmented Reality, the technology is still extremely new (which somewhat limits the real-world possibilities for marketers in the short-term). You can build the best app in the world, but it’s worthless if few people understand how to use it! Many of the AR apps available now still struggle with providing the value needed to gain traction, but that’s definitely starting to change. For example, Zugara recently launched a shopping app that enables you to virtually try on clothes via your webcam. It looks pretty cool, and definitely provides more value than many of the AR apps on the market. I expect more of these types of AR apps to hit the market in 2010.

My Interview About Augmented Reality With Rachel Pasqua

Rachel Pasqua of iCrossing.Based on my interest in Augmented Reality, I was able to track down Rachel Pasqua to ask her some questions about her session. Since Rachel is neck deep in mobile marketing, I was eager to hear her thoughts about Augmented Reality, the future of the technology, and how marketers can use AR to connect with consumers. I found that Rachel provided a very real-world view of the technology (no pun intended).

So without further ado, here is my interview with Rachel:

Glenn: What are the top two or three things people will learn at your session?

Rachel: Like most new technologies, AR is mostly being used right now for its own sake (because marketers are excited about using this new technology.) My presentation, entitled “What’s the ROI of AR?” will focus on ways in which various verticals can use Augmented Reality to support real marketing goals, as well as simple tips for getting started.

Glenn: Can you provide some innovative ways that companies are starting to use AR in their marketing efforts?

Rachel: The only truly innovative usage I have seen so far is the United States Postal Service’s Virtual Box Simulator. It’s a great example of AR being used to provide a service and improve the overall customer experience.

Glenn: Is there a high cost of entry to developing AR applications? Also, what type of turnaround is there for developing an app?

Rachel: The cost of developing an app all depends on the complexity of the app itself, what you put into it, and who develops it. You could get a freelance app developer to build you one for ~$25K or you could hire a hot agency to concept, design and market one for $150K+. Like all digital marketing, it really all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. There are several AR SDKs out there that can be used to implement the actual AR functionality so there’s not much additional cost to developing an AR app versus any other kind.

Glenn: Are there many vendors or developers that are up to speed on the technology?

Rachel: Yes, many – AR is one of the most promising new areas of mobile marketing so this is something developers are pretty excited about.

Glenn: Are there services, software or tools on the market that can help companies develop and employ their own applications (without external development)?

Rachel: The LAYAR API is probably the best known right now.

Glenn: Are there any case studies you are going to provide (along with statistics) about AR apps?

Rachel: None that I’m aware of just yet – this is all so new and most examples are gratuitous use of technology rather than well planned out marketing initiatives.


If you are interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how Augmented Reality works, then you should definitely check out Rachel’s session at SES. Again, the session is titled “Augmented Reality: A Brave New World” and is being held from 4:45PM-5:45PM on Tuesday, March 23rd. I believe the session will give you a solid understanding of how AR is currently being used, as well as what the future looks like for the technology. Now, let me go virtually try on some new cargo shorts via Zugara. :)

If you have any questions, post them below. Either Rachel or myself will respond.