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Tech Trends Coming to a Winery near You

I remember the good old days for technology in the wine industry.  Ah, it was a simpler time, the halcyon days, when sales were steady and distractions were kept to a minimum—it must have been 2006. 

At the time, a wee bit over three years ago, there was just a simple focus on direct-to-consumer ecommerce. That focus quickly gave way to blogging mindshare before all hell broke loose with the birth of the Rosemary’s Baby of the wine Internet – social media—sometime mid-last year.

Flash forward (all of 12 months) to present day and it’s hard not to read a social media / wine article on a weekly (daily?) basis.

Generally speaking, I have misgivings about social media; not because I don’t think its effective – it is (for now at least—more on that in a moment).  Mostly I have trepidation because social media engagement is a long, hard slog (years, not months) in order to see tangible benefits. And, effectiveness measurement is still developing.  However, what I really fear is that before most wineries actually see results from an investment in social media (personnel, time or $$) there will be something new on the horizon that will distract, complicate and add additional complexity. 

There always is …

If Twitter and Facebook are the topics du jour, what’s going to be creating conversation and FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) in the next 18 months to three years?

In my professional life I work for a digital design firm – we design high-end “experience” based applications with motion graphics for the Web and elsewhere, mostly for advertising agencies and their clients, but directly with corporations, too.  We’ve done some good work – an online game for KFC, an application for Transition eyeglass lenses and a couple of very cool projects coming up this fall.

Because of this work we’re in tune with a number of emerging trends that impact the work that we do, and ultimately the solutions we deliver for clients. 

Without getting too poetic about the changes that are happening with user-based technology, I’ll simply say that we are currently in the midst of a migration whereby online isn’t just a component in the traditional marketing mix.  Instead, it’s migrating to be THE CORE of the marketing mix with offline activities to support it.

First, a quick table setting bit related to social media:

The real issue I have with social media is that in and of itself it’s not the end-all, be-all.  So a winery has 3500 fans on Facebook.  Big deal.  What do you do with those people after they are there?  The short and the long answer is that most wineries don’t do anything with them besides use it as a channel to complement their existing email blasts.

The real secret sauce is to use your presence online along with social media and take those people to an engagement hub for brand-building.  Most wineries, unfortunately, are still coming around to this way of thinking.  Most wineries (hell, most ALL companies) view their web site and their social media activities as two separate entities that are barely integrated together.


Based on 14 years of Internet experience and a daily monitoring of emerging trends here is what I think wineries and the wine industry needs to pay attention to in the next 18 to 36 months. 

Micro Sites

A micro site is an immersive, experience based web presence that can complement your traditional web site and act as a bridge destination for your social media engagement.  Many times, for large consumer brands, a micro site will be focused on a promotion or multiple promotions and will have a lot of interactive content to engage users—videos, games, etc.  A micro site is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink; it’s the glue that ties your online marketing efforts together.  If you want your social efforts to lead somebody somewhere, typically it’s a micro site where they can spend time with your brand.

An example I like is the Double Stuf Racing League.  Or, you can see the micro site we did for KFC along with a game we created.


It won’t be long before most wineries will employ or have a contracted relationship with content developers – development companies and people that can create content that can be deployed in a multi-channel format – on your web site, on YouTube and sent off to content aggregators like TubeMogul.

It just makes sense – wine is all about the story and engaging with customers on a visceral level.  Nothing does that better than video, and prices are coming down where production and quality don’t have to equal high cost.  A couple of good guys that I know personally are Bob at Chilmark Media, Dan at Artisan Media and Bret at B Napa.


Video, in Internet terms, isn’t exclusively just a camera shooting footage, either.  Flash technology is rapidly expanding in a number of different ways and affords animation, as well.

Of course, all of this content needs to be served up from somewhere and video content platforms let you manage and serve it up.


iPhone gets all the love now and there are scads and scads of iPhone wine applications out there, but the market is still very young.  Flash technology is converging to other mobile devices giving developers the ability to do touch screen and the motion sensitivity that affords game play.

I don’t think other phone manufacturers are going to roll over and give the iPhone the market.  ’10 should see a momentum shift back to other phone device manufacturers who still hold the bulk of the market share anyway.  This is a reasonable bet because Apple is going to shift their sights on Amazon’s Kindle in the near term.

Expect to see a fresh crop of wine applications for other phone platforms. Wine seems to be one of the subject matter areas behind porn and tech news that is quickly adopted by those entrepreneurial.  And, expect to see wineries get into creating their own applications.  iPhone wine applications right now are largely the province of companies outside of wineries proper. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is essentially the ability to have a 3D information presentation using either your phone cam or a Web cam.  It’s very slick and one of my pet fascinations these days.  It can be used in two different ways.  For a mobile device like an iPhone it can present real-time information based on real time intelligence.  See this link, as well.


In other applications it’s a “gee whiz” marketing gimmick that people love to play with.  See this link for Papa John’s (at a micro site, ahem)

Digital Signage

Digital signage and carbon accountants are the only two growth areas I know of in this economy.  Digital signage, in particular, is growing significantly in retail applications. It’s useful as a marketing tool at retail and will be equally useful for wineries who want to re-purpose the content they have created at their micro site and with their content producers.  To boot, you can also integrate mobile marketing programs with digital signage for end-to-end marketing.

Most digital signage companies are creating a wireless delivery mechanisms so you can manage the content from your computer and not have to go through the hassle of hardwiring flat panel displays (in a tasting room, for example).

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Another area that bears watching is the ability for Flash content development and delivery on TV’s.  At this point, I’m not sure how this, specifically, is going to play out, but I think it’s safe to say that the sophistication through which user-generated content will be developed is going to rapidly increase with Adobe Flash technology at the center of it touching the web, mobile, and TV delivery.

These are exciting times, indeed.  But, progress doesn’t stop for anybody.  Even as we’re feeling overwhelmed with the pace of technological adaption, we haven’t seen anything yet.  In three years time, we’ll be playing yet another entirely different ballgame and we’ll look back at ’09 as quiet, halcyon days.  I don’t think there is anything a winery can do to specifically plan for these developments.  Most wineries will naturally evolve to a micro site and content development and be forced into looking at mobile, digital signage and augmented reality from a competitive standpoint.  However, if I had to offer any one take-away it would for for every winery to go back and register all possible domain name extensions for their URL.  Barring definitive progress, you at least want the enabling domains for when the time is right.


Posted in, Wine: A Business Doing Pleasure. Permalink | Comments (9) |


On 08/03, Dr. Horowitz wrote:

It is going to be exciting to see how the Internet changes the wine game.

I agree the the Internet is going to be the main form of marketing communications in the future, which is why I’m focusing on it as much as possible with my intro to marketing students:

I look forward to sharing your post with students next month!

On 08/04, Paul Mabray wrote:

The Internet will change the wine industry.  The key is adoption (we are already behind in adopting tech). The next few years are an amazing time to be involved in the intersection of wine and technology. I know I am excited.

On 08/05, Dylan wrote:

The winners will be those who are able to realize that the online experience is meant to enhance the offline experience. Regardless of the innovations and flashy new tricks that will emerge on the horizon, they must make sense for the brand and moreover its connection to the customer. If that technology cannot be used effectively in a way to seamlessly bridge the connection between offline and online,  you might as well be taking a step backwards while tossing away your resources. I know it’s so basic and I’m preaching to the choir, but above all else, anything you do should “add value to the customer’s life.” Finding that value and creating it is the fun part.

On 08/05, larry schaffer wrote:

Great comprehensive article - and one that applies to many industries, of course, not just the wine industry.

You make some great points about the current state of social media with most wineries - they do ‘the usual things’ and capture potential customrs . . . then what? Most don’t know how to leverage what they have - and it’s very sad.

It will be interesting to see if you are correct in that video interaction will be one of the keys for the future of social media and wines . . . not certain about this, but I guess we’ll see . . .

Thanks again!


On 08/06, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

A terrific post, and I think this is so because you are talking about the intricate details of the Internet and its potential uses from an analytical rather than the point of view of a huckster.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little technology helps or hurts the wine industry—or any industry—there will always be loud hucksters selling their wares without much regard beyond the “what’s in it for me” mentality. And, there will always be takers, because they are trying to run their business, don’t have the time or money to learn all about the new technology, and many of them don’t understand the nature and aim of marketing and branding.

Having said all that, my real problem with “social media” is that it is misnamed wink

On 08/22, Lens wrote:

Thank you for the explanation.

On 04/08, igor wrote:

Useful information, i need to show it to my brother, he looking for information about it

On 05/17, TN Pas Cher wrote:

eir business, don’t have the time or money to learn all about the new technology, and man

On 11/20, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

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