Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Do your brands operate in Asia? Get your new web address registered

Reading the Bangkok Post over breakfast this morning I note that ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) have announced that as on Friday (30th October 09) they should get approval for URL's to use non Latin alphabets (in their entirety, not just partially as is currently the case).

By mid 2010 it should therefore be possible for brands operating in Chinese, Arabic, Korean and Japanese languages to have relevant web addresses. This move is aimed at improving user experience, helping consumers reach sites more quickly across the huge parts of the world that use non-Latin based scripts and combined with restrictions on top level domain names being lifted (for example banks will be able to have .bank as a suffix etc rather than being restricted to .com, etc should save an estimated 60-100 billion keystrokes a day worldwide!

I'll be off to twiddle my thumbs with all that spare time saved. Meanwhile if you have brands operating in those markets I'd be off to register interest in the domains pretty quickly so that there's no cybersquatting issues.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The meerkat is marvellous but not just by coincidence

My fondness for Alexsandr Orlov, the star of Compare the Meerkat oops I mean Market's social success story is well evidenced (at least for my regular readers).  Snuffling around Slideshare this evening I found the presentation below which pulls the whole campaign together nicely for you. If you don't use Slideshare or Scribd as a research resource when you are looking for thought, fact or inspiration you should, not to mention considering the role these document sharing sites play when you have content to publish.

Friday, 23 October 2009

How to make (mobile) operating systems sound exciting..

Let's face it, the majority of people don't care what operating system their PC or mobile works on, as long as it works. Most don't know what the difference between a browser and a search engine is.

It's a so what thing. So trying to make people even think, let alone care about it is never going to be easy.

Microsoft finally released Vista replacement Windows 7 this week but whilst there's been some noise in the tech press about it, and I've seen point of sale materials in some stores I suspect to the masses it's gone largely unnoticed.  That might be an oversight though because apparently it's actually quite good!

I'll therefore award points to US network Verizon for this teaser piece about the Google Mobile operating system (known as Android) and a new Motorola phone that runs on it.

It's humorous, it pokes fun at the iPhone which is definitely the better known and deemed sexier mobile-lovers gadget of choice. It engages and stimulates curiousity, leading you to a site which invites onward engagement with a sign up opportunity.

Good stuff.

Trident (gum) bring you a Friday smile

Ok, so now I've spoiled it for you admittedly, but fairplay to Trident chewing gum for backing this fun video improv piece. No doubt it will make you smile for it is cheesier than a ripe brie, but disgusting habit as it is, gum's a very useful tool in your oral hygiene routine to help keep your smile in tip top form, so the association works (for me at least).

That said I am still not sure it's as good as one of the first of these flash mob / improv pieces I saw last year (from and for whom the fit is even better. I bring you Stansted airport a place that could definitely use some cheering up...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mobile in Japan: I feel an inferiority complex coming on

Today I've been digging around the Asian mobile scene in some detail. I was working in Tokyo quite frequently in 2004/5/6 and way back then it was galling to see how far ahead the Japanese were in mobile marketing and consumer adoption of it. But this presentation really shows how far behind we really are. Apple may have had 2 billion apps downloaded but the mobile economy is far further developed across Asia and has been for years. The iPhone goes on sale in China next week. Then we'll really see what happens to the app scene.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Layars of narrative from Japan

I'm heading for Asia next week to run a digital training course for a whole host of Asian territory partners which should be fun. This week has been all about getting my head around digital things with an Asian flavour. Along the way I've found a few fun things including this amusing narrative (series) to bring Layars to life. Enjoy!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Amazing Numbers

Globally, 113 billion searches were conducted in the month of July 2009.  Up 41% YoY.  Wow!

Europe accounted for the highest share of global searches at 32.1 percent, followed by Asia Pacific (30.8 percent). Us curious Europeans rack up an average 117 searches per person per month according to Comscore.

Meanwhile Nielsen reported today that average American spends 68 hours a month online.

Closer to home, 25% of UK 12-15 year olds watch TV content via UK TV broadcasters websites according to the interim findings of the OFCOM Children's Media Literacy report. 35% of 12-15's have web access in their bedroom too, (compared with 75% of them having a games console in their room!). 87% of them have their own mobile phone.

Gmail makes me smile

Last night I noticed a Gmail Labs alert, notifying me of a new feature, humorously called "got the wrong Bob"?  Basically it's designed to check that you are sending the message to the right person given that many of us share a first or surname with someone else amongst the contacts list.

Not as good as Google Goggles, designed to make you do maths before you send emails when inebriated (and hopefully therefore make you think twice), but personally I'll probably find Wrong Bob more useful.  Last week a friend of mine nearly sent a colleague a silly email that should have been destined for me on the basis that my name starts with F and his surname starts with F and she obviously writes to us both regularly.  Luckily she spotted it before hitting send but surely that suggests a Lotus Notes / Outlook plug in opportunity??

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

What's Next (2009): The future of marketing

I've been doing a lot of thinking today about brands, and the role of advertising TO people versus engaging WITH them now and for the longer term. You can keep lighting sparklers and dipping your toes into the engagement space or you could go crazy, try something different, light a dirty big rocket and really make a difference in your longer term approach. Yes it might cost more than the sparklers. Yes the chain-lit sparklers maintain ongoing light levels and it might take a while longer for that rocket to reach altitude and explode. But...

It's easy to stick to what you think you know. ROI is usually measured over a short period of time. But what will be the difference over time between the brands that light more rockets now and make bold moves and the ones that just evolve from one sparkler to the next? Time will tell. I have my own theories.

Via the very smart Helge over at"Alt nytt er farlig" (translation: Everything new is dangerous). I found this great deck. Well worth spending 10 minutes perusing.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Digital Agency genius from Brazil

I just found this very fun / cool / nicely designed (all of the above) site from and agency called Ionz in Brazil. 

For those of you that don't read enough Portuguese to play with it properly, you land on a splash page, it asks you a series of questions and then pops you out a profile v the panel which you can also download.

 Simple, very engaging, quite insightful in a playful manner. All illustrating good understanding of what works in digital and reinforcing their positioning statement "we think digital". Love it.

Oh, and on second glance there's a little Union Jack  top right so it probably works in English too!

How balanced is your digital diet??

The fact that people are watching less tv and spending more time online is not going to be news to anyone, but I did like this notion from Wired about keeping a balance in your digital dabblings.

How would your digital diet stack up?

Worldwide Web. Or is it?

I've been meaning to post this for a few weeks now. 

I sent a friend of mine who works in Dubai links to a couple of YouTube videos that I thought she'd appreciate. One of them was Shakira's music video to her She-Wolf track.  Wrong, on so many levels, but still worth viewing.  The other was a fantastic parody of said video instead called He-Wolf. Still wrong, but truly incredible in terms of the attention to detail in taking off the initial piece, plus the amusing twist.  I'll spoil it for you if I say more, but you need to watch Shakira's version before you can truly appreciate the genius of the parody.

My friend was able to watch the first video but viewing of the second was blocked, which I thought was interesting from a cultural perspective and a good reminder to those of us in the west about cultural sensitivities elsewhere in the world. Dubai is a fascinating market and there's some amazing things going on in mobile there.  Why mobile? As a tool, it's highly personal (and discreet), and enables women (in particular) amazing freedoms that in other channels are constrained.

Here's the screen grab she sent me.  I liked the humour in the design.

Be useful, bask in the halo of positive sentiment

I just read about a FAB example of a brand using Twitter & social media to provide a really useful service,  not being overly heavy handed with the branding upfront  but  therefore being able to bask in the glow of "thank you useful brand for providing the service" .  So whilst you could mosey on over and follow that link I thought it merited a post from me too.  Good ideas deserve mentions :-)

So smiley faces and gold stars awarded to Lufthansa this morning for providing a very cool flight status automated Tweet service called MySkyStatus, which irrespective of the airline you are travelling with (apparently) will send out a Tweet on your behalf updating those following you of your progress in your journey.
(image via Mashable)

Clicking on the link takes you straight through to Lufthansa MySkyStatus page with a Google Map of the flight’s position. No more waiting around un-necessarily at Heathrow.

Flight trackers aren't new but personal ones are a great idea. Why wouldn't you? This one is super easy to set up and is useful.  Stop your Mum worrying about whether you got there safely.

Useful Social Media Case Study Round Up list

I'm not saying they are all good, and it's certainly heavily US-skewed, but it's a good starting point if you have the patience to sift through it and are short of inspiration.

For me, BlendTec, BrawnyMan and Compare the Meerkat are in my top 3.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Fairplay to AOL for showing they are listening

Listening to consumers.  Something that brands should be doing a lot more of than is readily evident most of the time.

No self-respecting PR department would dream of not having a press clippings service, so that they come in of a morning to a round up of where their company or brands have been mentioned in the (printed) press. Yet now that an awful lot more of the written word and opinion is online  it never ceases to amaze me that so many companies aren't employing proper buzz monitoring.

Which makes it all the nicer to find examples of companies that are paying attention.  Two such examples fell in my lap today.

Earlier in the summer I had a big rant about AOL holding my email account and my contacts hostage after 13 years of loyalty to them.  All points I made wittingly and stand by based on the information I had at the time.  Today, a very nice chap called David from AOL rang up, explained that my blog post had come to their attention, he had looked into the correspondance that I had had, and wanted to apologise that I had been mis-informed by their client service operator and could actually terminate my dial-up agreement but keep my .com AOL email address that I've had since 1996.

Unfortunately for AOL, I have duly spent 3 months migrating over to my previously under-used Gmail account, so their timing was a little off, given the time I've invested in doing the transition. David was awfully nice about it, and sorted my dial-up termination there and then (it was on my jobslist for this weekend). And I can still keep my AOL accounts in case there are still odd things I subscribed to using that address that I've missed. He then emailed me to confirm everything we discussed, to apologise once more for the confusion that had arisen and to confirm that the customer service teams had been updated on proper process.

What was a very negative situation has been turned around into a more positive one.  Which is exactly why brands should be listening. It doesn't need to be difficult. It doesn't have to take a lot of effort to turn a situation around.

Whilst I am not about to re-migrate everything back again, my opinion of AOL has been redeemed somewhat and now I have a nice example of a brand that does listen to share with friends, colleagues and the future participants of the digital training courses I run.

We'll also award Comscore (US based digital measurement giant) points for listening today. Within 5 minutes of me sending out a tweet regarding an email I had received from their competitor, Nielsen, about the proposed UK digital planning system, and mentioning them within the message, they were following me on Twitter.

Shame Nielsen haven't managed to respond to 2 emails I have sent to them since they updated their blog monitoring website BlogPulse a few weeks back, asking why the Blogpulse stats section which I used to follow almost daily had stopped working / being updated.  Nul points for their listening skills then, which I find rather ironic given that they offer buzz monitoring as a service.  Doh.

Nielsen are in good company though as T-Mobile have yet to notice my rant a month ago about their appalling customer service despite me linking the article directly to their Twitter account, and shouting about their failure in a wide range of digital channels at my disposal. Fail yet again.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

...I use the expression loosely as I'm about to talk about Starbucks. As I've mentioned before, having lived in Italy I am a blatant coffee snob, and Starbucks isn't coffee that I would in any way go out of my way for.

But, they do play a role, and they are also doing a good job in the digital space.  So full marks awarded to them for initiative and using paid for digital spaces to drive brand engagement and offline sales. I've just spotted this ad on Facebook.


It re-inforces fairtrade =  associations of social conscience for Starbucks.

It gives something away = people love free things, BUT

It's conditional "with purchase" = drive sales

It's appropriate to it's context...

It asks you to RSVP = interaction/ involvement.

No idea how long the ad's been up but almost 31k people have said yes already.  (UPDATE: 1hour later, post Friday lunchtime and it's now at 36k) Even if a small percentage of those people actually remember and do claim their muffin, the additional foot fall, sales, reminder of the Starbucks experience are all more than likely to easily offset the cost of those free muffins.

Altering behaviour by adding fun

I saw this fun video content piece earlier in the week but haven't had time to share (and in fairness the first version I saw was only in Swedish) but now I've found a version with English supers.

I'm going to spoil it for you by telling you that it's brought to you by Volkswagen, but would still urge you to spare a few moments to watch it, (then watch this other release in the same series) and then think about the implications.

What could your brand do or facilitate to make people's lives more interesting / easier / fun?  In turn providing that service will most probably make them feel positively towards your brand.

The film ends pointing you to a website "" which in turn urges you to sign up, teasing the notion of more fun to come.

So of course I did. Fun is good. I am also currently pondering on buying a VW. It can but help build VW in my consideration set. Points awarded for smart use of content to open a conversation between a consumer and a brand. What they do next is the interesting thing.

I'm still waiting to hear any more about my Sony Ericsson Space Hopper's adventures, which was a few weeks ago now.  Not so smart after all perhaps. Were I not working in the marketing space and/or having the memory of an elephant, chances are I'd have forgotten all about that.  Opportunity missed.

E-crm. It's like dating.

Securing a first date is only step one.  Assuming it went well, not ringing for several weeks afterwards is not a very smart if you were vaguely interested and were keen to go out again. You'll be dismissed , written off as useless, or find that someone else jumped into the void.  In marketing terms that could well be one of your competitors jumping in and building a relationship with a consumer that might have been yours. Which means the cost in time/ effort (and money in brand terms) of getting that first date nailed down is kinda wasted. Doh.  Have a contact strategy. Aim for relationship.

The Google waves are a little choppy

So I've had Google Wave to play with for a week now.  Sadly a week when I've been stupid busy and had pretty limited time to play. But as every day goes by and I find that more of the people I invited are receiving their invites and coming out to play the more fun I have with it, and the more I learn about the features.

There's a lot of learning and discovery to do yet, but I love the ease of formatting and editing conversations, the notion of document collaboration, being able to go back to previous "blips" and edit, cross out, amend, highlight, rather than just having to tack stuff on the end which means for better context and flow.

I like the ease with which you can effortlessly (i.e without doing anything at all) toggle between IM and Email in the same conversation depending on which of your conversation participants are online when you are. It's really pushing the notion of time and expectation of response within a new communications context. 

The playback feature comes into it's own when you invite someone else to join a conversation later on, allowing them to easily understand what happened in what order and who said what.

I'm still having a few problems with some of the embedded gadgets as the platform is pretty unstable at times (but that's beta for you) but fair play for having a smart and humorous approach to reporting problems when it does fall over.

There are also nice little design touches like a wavey animated status bar when the Wave syncs.

To be continued, meanwhile watch this, it's a bit techy but it makes sense

YouTube modifies logo today...

to yell about getting 1 billion views per day (albeit last time I looked at some numbers it's actually greater than that most days). 

Apparently the average (US) consumer watches  9.7 hours of online video content a month, and the average video is 3.7 minutes long.  The last figures I saw earlier in the summer also quoted that there are 20 HOURS of content uploaded to YouTube per MINUTE! 

So twaddle to all those people that don't believe that users are participating or generating content.  How can your brand harness people's interest in getting involved?

For the second year running Doritos (in the US) are running a UGC themed competition  called "crash the superbowl" for the chance to win $5m and create the ad used for their prestigious and highly competitive SuperBowl spots.  Interesting because I saw a similar execution for Hula Hoops (owned by a different company) who are running a UGC video competition at the minute too.  Have a look - there's a lot of people genuinely prepared to put in some serious effort and creating good material.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Meerkat magic continues

I'm risking repetition I know, but I really can't help but celebrate the genius that is the Aleksandr Orlov / Compare the Meerkate/market campaign. I am continuously cheered by my relationship with Aleksandr, and did indeed compare the market recently when renewing my car insurance, almost certainly as a result of the campaign as I didn't even bother to consider any other market aggregators.

Via his tweets, and Facebook status updates he's been teasing new content/tv ad to come for a week or so now, culminating in him sending  out these links 30 minutes ago:


The link take you to this this entertaining interview with media partner Metro (free newspaper) and does a great job at illustrating the involvement consumers have with the campaign, as the questions are taking from real tweet questions people have asked Aleksandr (and to which he frequently responds).

Interestingly, at almost the same time I got an email with this link to the new TV ad before it breaks on air. Smart, smart, smart: using a combination of channels for language and context appropriate content..

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Ride that Wave

Yeah!  I got a Google Wave invite.

Dammit that I am stupid stupid busy today and have no time to play with my long awaited new toy. Grrr.  Can't wait to get stuck in later. V exciting.

iSnack 2.0: Who thought that was a good product name idea then??

I'm firmly in the hate camp on Marmite, and I can't say Vegemite (declared superior by the Anitpodeans) appeals either but that's not going to stop me adding to the ridicule aimed at Kraft Foods for naming their new Vegemite and cream cheese spread concoction iSnack 2.0.

Err, what?

Apparently it was suggested by a consumer, fair enough, but I can't believe that it was the only suggestion.  There's lots of great creative and brilliant digital work being done in Australia so I know that the Aussies are a creative bunch.  I am just struggling to believe that the Kraft marketing team were daft enough to think naming anything you put on toast " 2.0" was a good idea.  Toast is a large feature of my OFFLINE world. It's thankfully not connected to anything other than marmalade, peanut butter, jam or honey in my world.

However after lots of consumer protest Kraft have already climbed down and said they'll have another go at naming it and the 500k jars already on sale are no doubt going to be collectors items sold on eBay before too long.

There's plenty of ridicule and mash ups going around the web on the subject this week, so here's a few to share.

That good old Hitler scene re-mix strikes again....

I think Vitamin Water's recent Facebook campaign to get consumers to suggest new flavours, and buzz monitoring to assess popularity was a rather better strategy at applying digital to product marketing.