gnuMob is an AR advertising rewards platform that engages users to claim geo-located NFTs.
gnuMob is an application that was designed and developed to add a new avenue for advertisers to reach consumers, modifying the traditional mobile advertising method of an advertiser paying an ad-provider for user's time. gnuMob asks advertisers to pay users for their time rather than paying an ad-provider for the user's time.
How might we disrupt traditional mobile advertising by funneling funds to the consumer directly, meanwhile meeting business needs and creating a gameified marketplace to do so?
gnuMob is attempting to re-valuate a user's individual time and identity. Instead of paying Google for a user's time, the advertiser will ultimately fund the user for their time.
The organization currently has a few foundational features ideated but needs a full app and web design targeting a release date of Q2 2021.
The product suite should include a data management web application, a data consumption mobile application, an API for handling data on the backend, and a game engine for providing real-time data to users actively participating.
In addition to a web and mobile app redesign, gnuMob will also need logos and branding.
Guiding and managing a technical development team, I designed and helped implement a full product suite consisting of an augmented-reality NFT rewards mobile application, a data management application for in-house and future-next business case use, web and marketing design campaigns, as well as managed, designed, and developed a brand package for gnuMob Inc. In addition to fulfilling the key objectives, I also co-wrote and developed go-to-market strategies, Executive Summaries, Pitch Decks, and narratives for future investors.
Role: UX/UI Manager
Tools: Adobe XD, Adobe Cloud, InVision, Mapbox, FlowMapp, Zeplin, Unity, Azure, Frontify
Timeline: 2 years (May 2019-May 2021)
💭 Ideation & Solution Hunting
🔬 Research & Synthesis
📔 Brand Development
🏗️ Architecture & UX Design
🎨 UI Design & Prototyping
🤝 Go-To-Marketing & Business Dev
💻 Testing & Handoff
When the founders of gnuMob first met with me, they had a rough outline of solutions they were exploring.
The team and I spent an iteration exploring problems within the advertising technology market. Due to my decade journeying in the marketing and advertising sphere, I was able to guide the conversation professionally.
After keying in on the problem statement in the market we were interested in, we decided to explore and hunt for solutions regarding the exploitation of mobile advertisers. Our solution was specific to the advertising rewards market and considered how gnuMob could find a way to give back time, maintain privacy and reward both business and ad viewers in an equal and egalitarian manner.
Once we developed this intention, I drafted a UX Design Playbook and proposed a timeline and strategy to help meet gnuMob's needs. We collaborated on how we would integrate their previously developed technology into a mobile and web solution for both B2C and B2B needs.
“If I could get money deposited in my bank, even if it’s not much, I’d be interested in doing more rewards apps.” - Interview Participant on Rewards Apps
After writing up a Playbook, I created and distributed a Project Brief to help guide communication throughout the next steps. I then wrote a Research Proposal and the subsequent guides to get started.
Our primary research goals were born out of ideation around our main interest of disrupting mobile advertising rewards and gig work.
- Firm up chosen industry problem statement
- Understand the market and assess design strategy in regards to our business goal
- Determine foundational wins and failures of competitors' product solutions within the intended industry
- Pinpoint demographic of target audience and psychographic information like values, interests and stories
- Develop a design strategy to meet the needs of advertising professionals
To consider all angles of approach and especially rule out any solutions that would not meet our intended goals, I conducted a full spectrum of research solutions to grasp the problem set, the market, and potential users of our future technology. The research included primary and secondary research, and I was inquisitive about advertising technology and market fit.
My primary goal is to ascertain a market need for the client's potential technology when conducting market and UX research. Evaluating if there is no problem for design to solve is imperative. Once that condition is established, I move on to assessing the market.
When evaluating gnuMob's problem statement, I studied four main verticals encountering the potential technology. These were the Gig Economy, Mobile Gaming, Augmented Advertising, and the potential Target Market.
I also conducted formal Market Research, SWOT Analysis, and Competitive Analysis. I then drafted a paper considering the merit of the data and let the evidence guide the primary research methods.
Summary of Market Research
(For unredacted full research paper, please inquire on Contact page.)
The market is poised for disruption. With technology on the brink of transcending economic and social conventions, mass media is rapidly shifting. Growth in the gig economy, and expanding accessibility for mobile gaming, is changing the landscape of the purpose of mobile applications. In many tech sectors, from social media to gaming, advertisers seek to evolve with the industry. Yet, in this digital advertising age that is widely seen as jaded and alienated from consumers, media buyers are having a hard time delivering trust and equity to users. This is leaving application companies to forgo advertising altogether or have to provide unique ways of integration or content strategy.
Incredibly, not getting any market share in digital advertising is dumbfounding considering industry figures. According to Guinness World Records, Pokémon Go revenue was the highest ever of any mobile game in its first month, at $207 million. With incredible revenue like this, there is great potential for strategic advertising and media buying. And with mobile display advertising rising almost $30 billion in the past decade, there's no doubt the importance to advertisers and companies wishing to partner with mobile games and applications.
Paired with a shift in how Augmented Reality, (an industry worth $3.5 billion,) is reshaping the workforce and gig-economy, mobile applications are an ever-evolving tool in delivering economic potential to anyone with the economic and physical ability to download applications and use them.
gnuMob is at a unique crossroads in delivering a product that not only engages users with a fun location-based AR game, but also provides as an intermediary between advertiser and user. Yes, people are skeptical. Yes, it can get out of hand. But if used for good and with a focus†on safety and community identity, gnuMob could navigate the waters of this lucrative and disruptive industry in their mission for media empowerment utilizing a location-based AR rewards platform.
Target Market Research
The target audience is one that bridges the divide of both mobile rewards and gig economy and can access Location Based AR platforms.
- They have a fluctuating economic situation
- They are relatively young
- They may need the money, but they value the fun they are having more
- Identity, success and failure are important to gig workers
- Many give up on gig apps within the first couple months
- In some emerging economies, there is still skepticism about digital media
- There's an economic buy-in due to expensive technology
Navigation of findings in this research will be paramount for the final design
- Fun is at the top of the minds of the users
- Safety and accessibility is key in advocation for the user experience
- Dissent and wariness about the ethics of the gig-economy and location-based mobile games is an ongoing conversation
- Community and work identity are at the heart of user needs when it comes to gig-economy working for them
- gnuMob needs to quickly gain brand equity and reputation in the market to compete effectively
- First to the market with particular solution
- Mission is to disrupt already alienated and dying industries
- Proprietary web application paired with mobile AR gaming app (diversification of product suite)
- Incorporates B2B into revenue and process, not focusing on users for revenue
- Ability to grow the team considerably with existing strategy or ideas in place
- Brand Power: No market share, reputation or formal presence on the market
- No formal connections to advertisers, media buyers and revenue production pieces on the web application side of the equation
- Unknown variables e.g. customer retention, accessibility focus
- AR location-based gaming, although relatively new, is a tried and true way to develop social response and bring excitement to interactive and event-based mobile gaming
- Positioning to siphon audience from existing competitors
- Underserved market for similar applications
- The users targeted have a fluctuating economic situation and therefore more apt to utilize gamified task applications
- Safety concerns with location-based AR games
- Underserved and emerging economies may have mobile data and connectivity concerns
- AR Mobile gaming is a relatively undeveloped area and would need to spend user time to educate and teach users about the application, flows and purpose
- Dissent from some activist voices about gig economy work
- AR gaming could have been seen as a fad during Pokemon Go and bleed (40m) users and subsequently advertisers over time
Questions accrued from SWOT
How will other verticals be impacted by gnuMob?
Industries like Rewards Apps and Task-Based Apps are prime for disruption, how can design be leveraged with this consideration?
How will users view the convergence of a gamified task app that provides rewards and the overall philosophy of gnuMob?
After initial Market Research, the evaluation of the problem statement within the market, and the placement inside of the considered verticals, I created a Competitive Battlecard to help analyze the potential market solutions and position gnuMob within the mix.
Main Finding: Because of the lack of diversification in the rewards app industry, it would seem that alternative uses or a unique offering on the market would stir the pot in one way or another. Some competitors like SeekXR know this and are pivoting their AR business towards this market
Other findings include:
- Most startups favoring the servicing and creating for advertisers, not users
- In all verticals, user data is being bought and sold as a main business model
- Task-based gig economy applications or the most part seem boxed out by large scale organizations like Ikea's Task-Rabbit solution or Craigslist
- Some competitors like SeekXR know this and are pivoting their AR business towards this market
- There are many AR and mobile gaming offerings on the market now and for the most part a pretty equally competitive vertical, but task-based gig economy applications on the fringes for the most part seem boxed out by large scale organizations
We had four formal user interviews and one expert interview utilizing Skype, and one informal interview in person. All participants were in the age range of 25-34. They were selected randomly from a pool of 30+ interested participants. All user interviews were Denver-based participants. All users were tech-savvy and have played advertising reward games and used in-app purchases.
“I just went to a concert that I paid for with Craigslist money.”
“I only do focus groups and surveys because a lot of the gigs are labor or just really sketchy.”
“‘I’m just not motivated to go through a multi-step process.”
“I’ll play Pokemon if I’m getting paid, I’ll talk to you about paper towels if I’m getting paid, I’ll do whatever, within some boundaries, if I’m getting paid for it.
“If there was a gig paying enough to where it would make sense to buy a plane ticket and go there I’d definitely do it.”
Notable Trends were:
- Participants are selective in app and platform due to being misled or scammed
- Each user has short-term goals that tie them with longterm relationships, whether that’s friends, family or their community in general
- Each participant was extremely self-reliant and self assured of choices within gig work or rewards
- Each non-labor participant expressed frustration with lack of gig opportunities and rewards apps
- There are a lot of creepy and dangerous gigs
• Autonomy, independence, adventure, travel, communication, transparency, fun and happiness
• They voiced respect and advocation for “the hustle”
• Divided value between labor/non labor on ambition vs. fairness
• Progress toward a short-term financial goal
• Achieve financial stability
• Not be limited in independence and travel by current financial solution
• Feel empowered by attaining money without a superior or FTE
I conducted an interview with a Senior Media Buyer at a top-ranked Digital Advertising firm to understand the user's within the business case. The expert explained their role and how digital advertising works at an agency level, specifically when it comes to mobile gaming, in-app advertising and media buying for clients. They also had wide experience as an in-house advertiser and recommended that gnuMob utilize tertiary advertisers for the beta version of the application.
"Overall, it comes down to does that app have high penetration against the audience I'm trying to reach with minimal waste. "
The expert stressed the importance of penetration against a target audience and the use of data to prove the necessity of the potential web application to business case users. They also mentioned it's extremely hard to get advertisers in-house or even agency to utilize self-service advertising platforms like Facebook or Twitter, due to the lack of interest in learning a new platform.
"The problem is, that it's just more time for people like me having to learn a new platform. A brand new platform that doesn't have the reach of some other apps with a larger user base, and without customer service, it would be hard. Unless you're so hot and they are dying to get the inventory, it might even be a deterrent."