Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade App More Than a Trial Balloon

Interactive features draw growing mobile audience

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It's kind of surprising to learn that Macy's has created—for the second consecutive year—a dedicated mobile app for its Thanksgiving Day Parade instead of simply plugging features into its existing app. After all, wrangling up users requires creating awareness and getting consumers to download yet another app for a one-day event.

But as of Wednesday morning (Nov. 21), the parade app was ranked No. 25 in Apple's iTunes store for the Entertainment category.

"We had more than 40,000 downloads leading up to the parade [last year]," said Steve Rowe, chief revenue officer at MyCityWay, a New York-based tech company that facilitates the parade app's backend. According to Rowe, this year's download number should be significantly higher due to a new "Watch at Home on NBC" option. App users will also be able to watch via an exclusive live stream from traffic cameras in the route of the parade.

And the app has other bells and whistles that can be utilized by parade watchers, whether on the street or watching at home.

For instance, there is an augmented reality feature called "Elf-O-Matic" that lets users impose a personal photo onto one of the parade's balloons and then share the image via Facebook, Twitter and email. In addition, they can select a marching band or dance team—at the beginning of the parade—and then receive an alert when the performing group is on NBC in front of Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.