How DailyCandy provides a sweet mobile experience

Jul 21, 2011

Powerhouse media companies, including those born and bred on the web, do not always create mobile properties relevant to that medium. DailyCandy is a great example of a publisher that understands how audience behavior transforms when users are no longer confined behind a desktop and are out in the wild with their own devices. The […]

Powerhouse media companies, including those born and bred on the web, do not always create mobile properties relevant to that medium.

DailyCandy is a great example of a publisher that understands how audience behavior transforms when users are no longer confined behind a desktop and are out in the wild with their own devices. The company recently debuted the very well-received Swirl iOS app, which gives registers users flash sale notifications of designer clothing near their location.

Says Appolicious Advisor Kathryn Swartz in her review, “serious shopaholics can ensure that they never miss a sale start by activating the daily sale alert to send a push notification.”

DailyCandy also publishes a Stylish Alerts Android app and has a homescreen presence on BlackBerry devices.

In this edition of Meet the Makers, DailyCandy’s VP of Marketing Jim O’Brien talks about the company’s fresh approach to mobile media, how it creates on-the-go features that appeal to affluent members with high expectations, and why a “one size fits all” approach will never work in mobile.

Appolicious: Tell us about DailyCandy’s approach to mobile media and how you advance the brand to users on their smartphones.

Jim O’Brien: DailyCandy is committed to helping our subscribers live the sweet life, wherever they are. Our blend of national and local content, commerce, and community lends itself to mobile applications. Our audience is already highly engaged with their smartphones. We stay true to the brand by delivering useful and entertaining mobile experiences that live up to our subscribers’ high expectations and focusing on the features they use the most.

APPO: Last month you debuted the Swirl app around the shopping site with the same name. What inspired the decision to launch an app around that property?

JO: Consumers are increasingly shopping on their phones, as evidenced by PayPal’s recent forecast that it will generate $3 billion in mobile revenue this year. As a flash sale site devoted to making limited quantities of designer clothing available to our subscribers at savings up to 70%, Swirl has a lot to offer shoppers on mobile devices. Swirl members value nothing more highly than quick access to the sale so they can access the best selection of merchandise while it lasts, and the Swirl app ensures that they don’t miss out when they’re on the go.

APPO: How does your mobile web site complement Swirl, and the other apps and services you have on iOS and BlackBerry platforms?

JO: Our strategy is to be where our customers are. While we will tailor the experience for particular platforms that are popular with our audience, such as iOS, we recognize that there are plenty of other mobile users out there on other devices. We want them to have a great experience too. That’s why we launched an optimized site for Swirl around the same time as the iOS app.

APPO: On Android you have the Stylish Alerts app while on BlackBerries you invite users to access DailyCandy content on their home screens. What can you tell us about different behavior among users based on the mobile operating systems they use to access you?

JO: We see the highest usage from platforms that are closely aligned with a retail strategy. In the case of the Swirl app, we worked closely with Apple to optimize the experience for iOS, and we saw the benefit right away when the app was first highlighted by the App Store editors and then stayed in the spotlight because of high user demand and great reviews.

The Swirl app is also a fun application to use. The photography is very compelling, making it easy to browse visually, and that is having a positive impact on platforms that showcase images well, such as iPad.

APPO: Any plans to bring Stylish Alerts to iOS and Swirl to Android?

JO: We are definitely looking at iOS and Android platforms for future applications – they both have lots to offer. We are pleased with the latest overhaul of the Android marketplace because it will give us better ways to showcase our apps.

APPO: From a development standpoint, what are the unique opportunities and challenges that exist creating an app on iOS versus Android?

JO: Apple’s quality control and centralized process provides a clear path for developers in iOS. Android offers a flexible Java-oriented development environment, although you may need to support multiple versions of your app for different devices. Our goal is to take full advantage of the benefits of both platforms.

APPO: What about from a marketing standpoint?

JO: With iOS, we focus our efforts on delivering value to fans of a very specific set of devices, and we can tailor our communications around features this audience likes. Obviously, Android is a platform that is available from a broad array of device makers and carriers, which raises the potential for a variety of types of distribution deals. Amazon’s announcement that it is entering the tablet space is certainly an interesting development given its retail expertise.

APPO: Tell us about the three things that most keep you up at night related to the mobile media industry and why.

JO: First, customers expect a more relevant, personalized experience on mobile than they do on their desktop or laptop. At the same time, apps need to be intuitive and easy to use on the go. At DailyCandy, we challenge ourselves to live up to those expectations.

Second, a one size fits all approach won’t work in mobile, given different screen sizes, operating systems, and capabilities. The opportunity is to figure out which features add the most value to your customers in each environment or device.

Third, mobile advertising is rapidly changing, and media companies are still figuring out how to add value for advertisers and balance new revenue opportunities with a different set of user demands around customer experience than what everyone is used to on the Web in general.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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