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Starbucks Digital Network Represents the Future of Digital Content Marketing.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Sunday, 10th October 2010
 
As I alluded to in my Think Mobile 2010 summary post, a highlight of the event was hearing Adam Brotman introduce the Starbucks Digital Network – a collection of content that will debut this fall in the US.

Built on partnerships

The initiative is built through a partnership with Yahoo! – but the real value to the user comes through partnerships that include:
  • iTunes
  • Foursquare
  • Wall Street Journal
  • New York Times
  • Zagat
  • Rodale (health publications)
Premium content for free

Through co-sponsorship, the site is able to offer premium content – such as the Wall Street Journal online – for free. The partnership with iTunes will allow Starbucks to make music recommendations and give away free samples.

This is a win/win/win deal for everyone involved. The users get free content, the companies get exposure, and Starbucks plays the role of content curator – building trust and brand value.

Becoming content curators

Starbucks feels their customers trust them as tastemakers, and want them to introduce new content. From their website:

The Starbucks Digital Network is inspired by Starbucks passion for elevating the third place experience to create a unique coffeehouse environment, its heritage of recommending music, books, films and other culturally relevant works to its customers.

That sounds a little too much like a press release, but the opportunities for other lifestyle businesses are clear. Whether that's through creating a soundtrack like the Opposite House in Beijing or creating a community of artists like the Roger Smith Hotel in New York is doing.

Optimized first for mobile devices

Over 50% of people accessing the Starbucks wifi network do so through a mobile phone  or tablet device. From GigaOM:

Brotman explained how the site will be built in HTML5, will respond to touch and swipes, and will be optimized first for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. This is a huge change from companies that traditionally optimize their web sites for Safari, Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer and expect users to view them on a PC or laptop.

Local focus

Having a local neighborhood focus is a key digital trend. Starbucks is doing this several ways.

Patch.com partnership. AOL's Patch.com provides hyper-local news created by a local editor. It's sort of like neighborhood gossip rag meets community discussion forum.

Foursquare partnership. Integration with Foursquare will provide the ability to check in on the landing page – without needing their mobile app. (Great if you only have your laptop)

MapMyRun & MapMyRide integration. These two services are incredibly useful if you're a runner or cyclist in an unfamiliar city. Brotman said many fitness groups meet up at their local Starbucks before heading out, so this is a prime opportunity to serve this community.

Why this is cool (and why it should matter to you)

Starbucks is at the leading edge of content-as-marketing innovation here. What if you followed this model to deliver premium information to your guests and customers?

Most establishments with a wireless internet network use some type of landing page for registration. The Starbucks Digital Network presents a whole new opportunity to engage with and serve your customers.

Who do you need to partner with to create and share content like this?

www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/starbucks-digital-network

About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 

www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com
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