Amazon Hooks Up with Facebook For Gift Card Giving

Just in time for the holidays! The ability to spend even more time on Facebook! Amazon would like you to know that you can now send Amazon gift cards directly to your Facebook friends instead of having to use that pesky old email. Neat, huh?

To make sure everyone gets the picture, they’re even running a special Give 5, Get 5 promotion. Give five $1 mp3 gift certificates to five Facebook friends and the first 100,000 users will get a $5 Amazon gift certificate in return.

It’s a pretty smart way to get the masses to do your marketing for you. Five dollars is an amount most people won’t think twice about throwing away and since you’re required to send it to five people (you can’t send $5 to one person), Amazon has assured themselves a wide reach.

Mobile Apps and Browser Use Continue to Rise

For the three month average period ending in September, 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices.

That’s a quote from the latest mobile survey conducted by comScore. The study also showed a slow but steady rise in content usage on phones and that’s good news for marketers.

Browser usage went up 2.2% and application downloads were up 2.5%. These numbers still represent less than half of all mobile subscribers but a lot of the difference probably lies in the fact that only 58.7 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones.

23.2% of mobile subscribers say they use their phone to access social networking sites and that’s up 1.8%. Playing games and listening to music also increased but by less than 1%.

Redefining Friends vs Followers

If you search the word “friend” in Google images, you’ll get lots of cute cartoons hugging each other but you also get Facebook logos. Facebook has become so synonymous with the word friend that Webster may have to change the definition in the dictionary.

Think about it. How many people on your Facebook are actually your friends? Friends in the offline sense of the word? Probably not that many. In my case, I’ve had human-to-human contact with less than half the people on my list. Another quarter are people I know virtually well and the others are folks who have popped on for a variety of odd reasons. I don’t think I’m typical. I think the typical user has an even lower human contact ratio because Facebook has become a competition. He who dies with the most friends wins.

Mobile Coupons Stalled at the Gate

The latest eMarketer graphic shows that 85% of mobile phone users have never used a mobile coupon. That’s not where we thought we’d be by now. With the wide spread of Smartphones and the rise in mobile marketing, cell phone coupons should be a given but something has stalled the concept at the gate.

Even Cellfire, who’s main purpose was to promote the use of mobile coupons now leans heavily on their club card coupon technology with no sign of a cell phone on their front page.

So what happened?

One problem is the technology. As smart as we, and our phones, are, downloading mobile coupons isn’t as seamless as it should be. My one attempt at using a mobile coupon was for a discount at my local car care center. The coupon showed up on my phone a week after the work was done.

You’ve Got a Clean Design! AOL Gets a Facelift

AOL has joined the ranks of many aging divas – she got herself a facelift in hopes of looking young and stylish.

The new design which launched today, still has way more content than one person needs on the front page, but it’s cleaner than ever before. They’ve done away with the heavy color header bars and they’ve pushed down the menu on the left so the first thing you see is content.

They’ve also done a better job of integrating local news and social media feeds. In the “Classic” design, (seen here on the left) they looked like embedded widgets, but now they’re a part of the page. Sort of. The social media feeds come in via AOL’s Lifestream page which they hope you’ll use instead of HootSuite or TweetDeck to monitor your accounts.

Twitter Promoted Ads Show in HootSuite Timeline

Look what I found on HootSuite this morning.

It’s funny because I went there to get some information about the new Promoted Tweets program and lo and behold — I got one.

As of this morning, Twitter has begun inserting Promoted Tweets into the timeline of HootSuite users only. When I visit my Twitter home page directly, the ad is nowhere to be seen.

According to the Twitter Blog, the ads are targeted, only appearing in the timelines they deem relevant based on who you follow and what you talk about. Since I talk about movies and TV a lot, and I follow several studios, this particular Tweet makes sense and I don’t mind it. But I don’t think everyone is going to be as tolerant as I am about these ads. Depending on the frequency and how closely you follow your account, these could become annoying and fast.

Advertising Creep Takes Hold of Chicago Airport

When it comes to advertising, there’s nothing like a captive audience, like, for example, the people stuck in the security queue at the airport, or the person in the public bathroom stall. They can’t go anywhere, use a fast forward button or turn down the sound, so why not hit them with advertising!

The city of Chicago is doing just that. The Chicago Sun Times says that O’Hare airport will soon be plastered with ads on everything from the bathroom mirrors, to the escalator handrails, to the bins you put your shoes in when going through the metal detector. It’s part of the new “municipal marketing” plan and could bring in $750,000 in revenue next year.

To keep people from balking at idea of being force-fed advertising, airport officials say that the ads actually serve a dual-purpose.