Verizon May Have (Thankfully) Revolutionized Mobile Customer Service| By |Juan Martinez

Imagine the scenario: You’re using your banking application on your smartphone and notice several fraudulent charges. First, you search within the app to find customer support but you can’t seem to find a number. You close out the app, find the number on a web browser, make the call from your smartphone app, and then re-open the banking app. After an excruciatingly long hold time, you’re connected with a helpdesk service representative. He or she asks you to provide several items to verify your identity and your account authenticity. But then, he or she can’t see what’s happening on your app’s screen so you’re forced to describe what it is you’re seeing. After several back-and-forths, you’re both finally, mercifully, on the same page. Your fraudulent charges have been flagged and you’ll be issued a new credit card.

Most of us have been through this unbearable process. We’ve hoped for an easier way to connect with helpdesk professionals from within a smartphone app to ensure faster and more secure conversations. Thanks to Verizon Enterprise, a solution may now be on the way. With “Visual Interactive Calling,” Verizon Enterprise’s new product, when customers log into your app, they’re able to initiate calls from directly within the app via the Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) standard. The call will be routed from Verizon to your company’s call center, where an agent will be able to instantly access the caller’s name, location, and whatever customer relationship management (CRM) data you’ve tied into your own back-end helpdesk app. More importantly, the agent will be able to view the caller’s mobile device screen, and push content onto that screen to provide instantaneous and interactive support.

Here’s how the aforementioned scenario will play out now—if your bank starts using Visual Interactive Calling: You’re using your banking application on your smartphone and notice several fraudulent charges. You search within the app and find the Visual Interactive Calling button (in whatever manner your bank decides to label it within its app). You won’t need to close out the app, find the number on a web browser, or make the call from your smartphone app. Rather, the Visual Interactive Calling button will let you start a call from whatever page you’re on within the app.

You might still have to endure an excruciatingly long hold time, but you won’t have to verify your identity or your account authenticity because your mobile device and your banking app credentials will have already fed that information to Verizon via a secure, anonymized token. Your rep will be able to see exactly what you’re seeing on your app’s screen. Your rep will be able to push a page of your most recent charges onto your mobile device screen. He or she will be able to ask you to click on the fraudulent charges. You’ll tap each charge once, your fraudulent charges will be flagged, and you’ll be issued a new credit card.

Verizon Interactive Calling - Select Transactions

The Details on Visual Interactive Calling

Visual Interactive Calling is generally available to Verizon Enterprise and Verizon Voice-over-IP (VoIP) In-Bound Service customers. Verizon provides the software development kit (SDK) to its clients, which includes a set of application programming interfaces (APIs). Your company, if you have the development expertise required, can develop the functionality into your own Android and iOS apps, or you can work with Verizon’s professional services team to develop the Visual Interactive Calling functionality and process it into your app.

Because Verizon intends for the solution to be used by large enterprises, including financial services companies, it’s important to note that Verizon never has access to usernames or credentials. Customer data is sent to Verizon via the aforementioned anonymized token, which is then sent to your company’s call center where the information can be decrypted for service rep use.

As of today, the tool doesn’t offer any co-browsing elements, so agents can’t take over a device and solve problems manually. The function is also voice-only, which means that chat and video elements have not been built into the system. However, because the WebRTC standard does support these communications formats, Verizon said it is considering them for subsequent product releases.

Verizon Interactive Calling - Merchant Cards

Tom Smith, Senior Manager of Customer Experience Innovation at Verizon, said he envisions the tool being used by any industry that has a high volume of customer service interactions. According to Smith, airlines, banks, car rental companies, hotels, and even e-commerce retailers would stand to benefit from such an implementation.

“We want to help enterprises interface with customers more effectively and efficiently,” Smith said. “Customers want to interact with brands via mobile devices. We can turn voice calls into multimedia interactions. This gives our customers’ users an easy way to transition from mobile self-service to the contact center, and it lets agents share visual content to improve customer assistance.”

Although Smith declined to provide pricing details, he said Verizon clients would be charged a flat fee per transaction on top of the Verizon VoIP subscription rates.

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In-App Advertising is Growing, but Around What Trends?| By |Ted Bauer

The in-app advertising market has changed quickly in just the past 12-18 months. Consider: Q1 2017 was a record-breaking quarter for app stores, with 15% download growth year-to-year. All told, there were 25 billion downloads in Q1 of this year. Consumer spending on and within apps was $15 billion in Q1 2017, representing 45% year-to-year growth.

That part continues to prove what most marketers know already: experiences and customers are increasingly moving to mobile, with more to come — gross app revenue might surpass $102 billion by 2020.

As the app ecosystem has seen growth, though, the role of in-app advertising has changed. For a long time, app developers favored a “pay once and play” model, where users weren’t prompted with in-app advertising purchase options. Increasingly, as more free-to-download apps enter the market, the brand side needs new revenue generation models. That’s become more about in-app advertising and in-app goods and services. It’s now about 72% of all total mobile ad spend.

This makes sense: comScore research has shown mobile users spend 88% of time in-app, which far outpaces the amount of time spent in mobile browsers.

Some trends to consider in the in-app advertising space:

Programmatic vs. Header Bidding

Programmatic advertising — somewhat complicated overall, but essentially the process of using computers and algorithms to determine ad buys, as opposed to RFPs and human beings — is on the rise within in-app, although it has a competitor in header bidding. Here’s how it works in browsers:

This can be moderately confusing to the marketing side, but here’s one take from a Managing Director at Applift on why header bidding could be detrimental to the rise of programmatic advertising:

Header bidding allows publishers to offer inventory on multiple exchanges rather than filtering demand through a single stream. Most DSPs are connected to most of the leading exchanges. If a DSP registers the same inventory from four different exchanges, it is going to bid the same price across all four, potentially increasing its price.

Programmatic advertising is “hot” in mobile and desktop right now. Header bidding could change that while increasing prices.


Likely not a surprise that video would be a trend in any mobile area for 2017. Look at the growth of mobile video ads:



This is a good time to mention the “Vendor Carnival” problem, though. There are lots of different vendors and options around in-app advertising and in-app video advertising. Because they all offer slightly different solutions, advertisers can struggle to find the right combination to analyze a complete mobile journey for their targets. (This is, of course, why you need to vet any mobile partners significantly, especially as mobile continues to see huge growth.)

Video has been proven over time to deliver higher-value customers to businesses. Most effective marketing involves analyzing channel performance and reducing spend on channels with less performance; as a result, more companies are navigating to in-app video advertising as a potential for positive ROI. That growth in video will only continue in 2017.


A Bad Santa 2 ad in the Fandango app.


Chatbots have been on the rise for a few years, and you’ll continually see them in 2017 and beyond. The major reason is that baking a purchase process into messaging typically yields positive results for brand-customer relationship, in large part because of the ease of process.

In fact, Huffington Post recently argued that 2017 will be the beginning of “a farewell to ads,” which sounds crazy on the surface: an average marketing department dedicates 48% of its budgeting to ad spend. At the same time, though, 75% of consumers would rather reference a website than deal with a direct salesperson, and we all know adoption numbers on messaging platforms are huge. If people are (1) already on their phone, (2) already on a messaging platform, and (3) can buy directly through there as a form of in-app advertising, this “farewell to ads” does make some sense. It doesn’t mean ads will disappear completely — it means chatbots will take a much more prominent role in promoting products and services.

The Bottom Line On In-App Advertising

It’s likely to continue to grow as a driver of total app revenue, which will exceed $100 billion in three years. As mobile-first becomes normative in other parts of the world, in-app advertising will continue to expand its reach and potential for mobile marketers.

What’s more, despite misconceptions about cookies (mobile is a cookie-less channel, and cookies were a gold standard of tracking users for years on desktop), there are increasingly ways for in-app advertising to deliver user data and audience targeting back to the advertisers. As that functionality continues to evolve in 2017 and beyond, we’ll likely see even more adoption of in-app advertising.

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