Why Google Play Desperately Needs Gift Cards

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It’s been very interesting to watch Google transform itself from a search/ad powerhouse to a device/media powerhouse, a lá Apple or Amazon — mainly because we’ve been able to watch and learn from Google’s missteps.

Look, I know you’re probably not launching a tablet device or an iTunes-esque media marketplace… I’m not either.

Still, there’s a lot we can learn from how Google is trying to edge its way deeper into the digital media marketplace. Earlier this year, the Android Market became Google Play.

Now, after the launch of the Nexus 7, Google Play is realizing that it desperately needs a gift card/wishlist feature… because they’re missing out on a bunch of free money.

That’s why they’re apparently working on a Google Play gift card (see Exhibit A, the photo to the right). Supposedly, a guy form New Jersey bought one of these elusive cards already…

It all comes down to what I call the “loading the bookshelf” phenomenon. Whenever someone buys a new e-reader, or tablet, what do they see? A big empty bookshelf with no media on it… This is where the strategy comes in.

In essence, there’s a big old media vacuum, and nobody likes a void. That’s why most people immediately download a huge library of ebooks and mp3s. They want some cool new media to browse through on the new device they’re so excited about. It’s basically a given…

These devices are often given as birthday gifts or Christmas presents, or purchased in the first few weeks after the new device is launched. That’s why it’s important to position yourself to benefit from the post-holiday or post-launch feeding frenzy.

Once again, timing is everything. If the launch coincides with the holiday season, like last year’s Kindle Fire launch, then you know that many tablet owners will receive gift cards. Thus, they’re immediately going to spend those credits on media for their new devices…

…unless gift cards and wishlists aren’t an option, which is a big tactical mistake.


About Josh Loposer

Josh is the managing editor of Digital Marketer, as well an aspiring novelist. Find out more about what Josh is working on on Facebook, Google, or on his website.
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