Original articles covering digital marketing and emerging media.

"Brands that partner with their customers
outperform the S&P 500." – C Space

Why brands love messaging apps

There’s one critical reason brands are gravitating towards messaging apps – it’s all about that base.

Messaging apps have a retention rate 6x that of other apps. This means users keep coming back to connect with their friends and an increasing number of brands that speak their language.

Through reaching a consistent base of users, messaging apps allow brands to do something that’s pretty tough — stay relevant. Whether it’s custom sticker packs, official accounts or commerce (an ongoing trend in Asia since 2013), brands see the potential of messaging apps as mobile platforms to boost loyalty, affinity and potentially sales.

Facebook announced their Messenger platform strategy just last week, as they played catch up to Asia’s thriving messaging app platforms like LINE’s “LIFE platform strategy” which includes “the creation of a $42 million fund to invest in companies that provide online-to-offline, e-commerce, payment, media, and entertainment services that can potentially be integrated into Line’s core app”, according to TechCrunch.

Snapchat recently introduced their strategy to boost retention rates through content. Their DISCOVER partners include custom content from National Geographic, Vice, Yahoo News, People, Daily Mail, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Food Network, and ESPN.

According to Snapchat, articles will feature “full screen photos and videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising,” This tasty bite-sized content is perfect for all those FOMO afflicted millennials and a likely path to monetization as they grow past 200 million users.

What’s lacking in messaging app marketing are metrics, solid case studies and targeting. These weakness won’t be there long. Messaging platforms are quickly proving themselves as solid ground for brands who crave better ways to engage with customers and build that all important base.

— Anthony Cospito, Managing Director, Popbox Digital

Lyft customers are nicer than Uber customers, what’s brand got to do with it?

Every Lyft driver I rode with mentioned it, “Lyft customers are much nicer than Uber customers.” They’re not sure why, but the attitudes are miles apart.

Most also drive for Uber so they would know, and regardless of city they say the same thing. What then, does it say about the brands themselves?

The drivers I spoke with in the NYC area and Boston describe Uber customers as being rude, demanding, and full of complaints. Is it Uber’s infamous surge pricing practices that put customers on the defensive? If so, should Uber tell its customers to “Uber-have?”

Drivers said Uber customers make them feel “like a second class citizen”, saying they are “angry and bossy”, and often leave “a mess of food and drinks.” One driver even mentioned an Uber customer who brought a huge dog into her tiny car, while another started polishing her nails — fumes on high.

Lyft customers go the other way. Drivers say most are “extremely considerate” and “pleasant to deal with.” One driver said she feels safer when customers are happier, “when there’s no stress in the air, we lower our chance of an accident.” A recent tweet by a Lyft driver goes a bit further:


But that’s the odd part, the service between Uber and Lyft is the same. Exactly the same. Same car, same driver. Same same. So why the difference in disposition?

Are Uber customers reflecting back on the brand they’ve come to know and be wary of? Mistrust has been known to put a damper on budding relationships. Perhaps it’s Lyft’s pink moustache of days gone by that inspires more smiles more than scowls. Or, maybe it’s how the brands approach new customers. The homepages of Uber and Lyft provided some direction.

Uber.com has rotating images at the top, most of which target new drivers — not riders. Lyft.com is all about the customer, and makes it easy to get a car with a dead simple form. Competitive brands like Gett are coming up fast with a solid product, growing market share and global ambitions.

In a sector where disruption is the norm, both Uber and Lyft need to keep their eyes on the road – and in the rear view mirror. Smart underdogs like Gett have a history of blowing past the status quo.

Bigger picture implications? Brands not 100% customer-obsessed (especially those in the competitive segment of transportation) should hit the brakes and get ready to make a u-turn.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Messaging app valuations might not be so overblown after all

With Snapchat raising a new round that would have it valued between $16-19 billion, it sounds like we’re once again approaching the irrational side of exuberance, but don’t count your bubbles before they burst.

messaging app valuations

Messaging apps are transforming into mobile versions of 90’s era portals with the added benefit of social, mobile, commerce and big data to boost. Every element of the value stack is active and full of profit potential. When you consider the monthly active user base (MAU) of the top messaging apps, they rival the telcos in scale. China Mobile and What’sApp for example both weigh in at 700 million customers.


That said, don’t be surprised when these messaging apps transform into robust platforms that serve a variety of needs and connect brands to consumers in entirely new ways.


Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Would you share your Fitbit data to save money?


Theoretically it makes complete sense. Sharing your health data should result in significant value back to you, but is the risk of sharing all your sweaty statistics worth it?

For anyone who owns a FitBit or similar wearable, having that additional layer of data about yourself is empowering. Who knew I was walking 5 miles a day on average? I also never would have known that as of yesterday I walked a total of 736 miles — the entire length of Italy — according to FitBit which sent me an Italy badge to celebrate the milestone.


Some 22 million fitness-tracking devices were sold in 2014, and 66 million sales are expected by 2018 “with about a third coming from corporate-wellness programs,” according to Bloomberg.

Employers are also getting in the game. Forbes recently published an article saying “More employers are opting to monitor data being generated by fitness trackers — to the extent they can see it on a dashboard — and are holding their insured staff to account with rewards as part of a growing number of so-called corporate-wellness programs.”

FitBit has an entire division dedicated to corporate wellness programs that integrate the device.

Not only is the model scalable, it’s proving itself. BP set a pretty impressive example with Cory Slagle, a 260-pound former football lineman.

Corey was given a choice by the oil company: either wear a fitness tracking bracelet and get healthy, or keep paying high premiums. Soon after, Cory wore his first wearable to start earning points toward cheaper health insurance.

Over the course of several months, Cory, 51, logged over 1 million steps. Fast forward 6 months and Cory has a new exercise plan, is eating green, dropped 10 pant sizes and lost 70 pounds.

His bank account gained $1,200.

— Anthony Cospito, Managing Director, Popbox Digital, Co-founder-Jet.me