Blippar: It Just Isn’t Clear What It Does.

I don't know this coke!

I don’t know this coke!

This post came to me because of an actual app experience I had and couldn’t stop thinking ‘that could’ve been a much better experience’. I’ll go over what happened and how I think app marketers and indie developers can avoid making these mistakes.

I came across Blippar after I saw a advertisement, for Watch Dogs, on the front cover on the free magazine Short List last week. In the advert was a promo for Blippar which stated interactive advert. My thoughts were this could be cool!

As soon as I got a good internet connection (it amazes me that, still!, some cafes don’t offer free wi-fi) I downloaded it. Then I didn’t look at it again for over a week. On Sunday I was standing on Platform B at St Pancreas and saw another Blippar ad advertising Coca-Cola. It didn’t really explain what the app did just that you could Blippar a can of coke. I assumed something cool would happen. I decided to scan a can of Coca-Cola that I had back at the house.

Right after I got home I went for the can of Coke. After about 20 seconds of 70’s Star Trek transporter style graphics on the screen, which I thought was pretty cool, I got the following image.

Blippar Coke Ad

Blippar Coke Ad

You Lied. You Said Scan The Coke and Something Would Happen.

After taking the time to remember to, then go get a can of coke to watch this awesome augmented reality advertising stuff unfold and ultimately improve my life, it didn’t work. I felt exactly like every person that takes the time to use the Blippar app feels.

Using Blipper is something you need consciously do. You need to stop doing something else to use it. It’s interruptive. So when a user takes that time to engage with a brand that they like you need to make it work, first time or gives a good reason to why it hasn’t worked.
Seeing an ad for a brand that Blippar supports 30 minutes prior to testing the app and then being told ‘it’s not a Blippable item’is pretty frustrating and not follow with a good reason or another action to compensate. The experience ends sharply at that point.

Honestly. It’s Not Just Me.

Looking at the app reviews and ratings it would seem that I’m not the only one having problems with Blippar.
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Blippar Adroid Page

Blippar Adroid Page


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Blippar Reviews

Blippar Reviews


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On Google Play Blippar have around 100K+ downloads and 900ish reviews here’s the Breakdown as a percentage:

  • 5 Stars          29%
  • 4 Stars          7.5%
  • 3 Stars          5.7%
  • 2 Stars          5.7%
  • 1 Star            51%

Depending on how you look at it this is good user feedback or at least useful. It may not be as easy to hear as ‘this app is awesome’ but it’s definitely giving Blipper qualitative feedback to work with. Blipper are doing their best to manage the complaints by responding to each negative review, enquiring for more info or explaining how it works. That in itself must be a full time job.

So Where Has Blippar Went Wrong?

This is an outside view and based on the users responses so I maybe wrong. It looks as if they’ve sold the service to users before fully on-boarding the brands.

They have extensive marketing campaign across the UK (I saw one ad in Glasgow and the other in London) across print and other out of home advertising (not cheap!) which I’m sure will have pushed them to the 100+K downloads that they have. In realising the app too soon they’ve angered almost 60% of early adopters and provoked a ‘meh’ response from the rest.

Take Away’s For Your App Marketing

Below are a few points that I think you can use to try defend agains the problems that Blippar are having.

Beta Testing

Hire, yes, as in pay someone. Hire testers to use the app for an entire day. Get 200-300 people from across your target market to test your app. 24 hrs of high volume use from a varied demographic will create a fantastic bug list.

Out Reach To Brand-Crazies

Using social media it’s pretty easy to find brand-crazies (I think they are also called ambassadors, ha!) as I like to call them. These are people that are always posting picks of the latest branded item they’ve bought.
Speaking to brand ambassadors (brand-crazies) will help you, as either a developer or marketer, understand the motivation and process of someone actually engaging with the app. If a person who is addicted to brands and engages with brands, sharing, posting, etc. finds it a hassle to use your app you might need to rethink things.

Soft Launch

Some people hate soft launches. I can’t think why. They allow you time to debug with, generally, a more patient user. I’m not saying a less vocal user but certainly one that’s willing to perceiver with you.

Soft launches also allow you to test that your in-app analytics are working correctly and gives you time to make any last minute adjustments.

You could argue that beta testing is like a soft launch but you need to assume that once someone has got their pay cheque that the app will be removed from their phone and never looked at again.

Is Your Launch Messaging Clear Enough?

Assuming you’ve worked out all the kinks in the app and the UX is perfect you are now ready to launch.

Your big task is now to ensure that when someone sees your ads that they know exactly what to do, what the app does and how it will benefit them. I’m not saying that if you don’t do this that you campaign is unlikely to be successful at all. I’m saying that if you don’t do this your campaign won’t be as effective as it could be.

Blippar didn’t communicate what their app actually does. I took leap of faith and used my intuition and it didn’t work out. The experience caused me to write this blog post. Which could be perceived as good or bad.

The app isn’t user focused and indeed Blippar the business isn’t user focus. I came to this conclusion after looking at their website. The sites tone talks to potential brands first and has very little to say to the user.

My thought on this are: App’s don’t exist without users. Keeping the user happy will ensure that you have prime real estate for advertising partners in the future.

Going To Stick With Blippar?

Augmented reality advertising still interests me. I found the process of figuring out what it is that Blippar does then it failing to work very frustrating.

For the time being I will be uninstalling Blippar. If I were them I’d pull back in pushing to users until they’ve got a lot more brands on board or fix the technical problems they are having. Then I’d start talking to my users and build a community around the app. Not just push via their clients.

In saying that all of that. Blippar are certainly doing something right to get the clients and exposure they have had. Keep Going and Good luck Blippar!

p.s. This is a blog. Which means if you disagree (or agree) you can post below and tell me why. Unless it’s offensive or totally off topic I won’t be censoring comments.