Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Spotify embraces Facebook Open Graph

Spotify have joined the Facebook Open Graph gang adding a heap of extra features and making sharing the music you like to listen to easier and altogether more sociable/shareable.

More on that later but for now watch this to see how it will work...

Monday, 26 April 2010

Social shopping from your sofa

I mentioned in my last post about Levi's adding social shopping to their site.  It looks like this....

I'm short of time before hopping on a plane, but just think of the implications. We all know trends are established quickly on the web, but imagine the power of the data for the company when they are getting direct steer from consumers on what's liked / not liked. For fashion stores with wide, quick turnover rangeslike Top Shop or Zara this kind of data can influence their buying / procurement strategies, effect ops, and of course give direction for comms & sales / price setting.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Facebook's garden walls demolished....

Uber busy week for me, but in the midst of it was the F8 Facebook Developer Conference, where amongst other things the key outcome was the unveiling of the Facebook Open Graph API.

Ignoring the techy stuff, what that means is that whereas up until now brands have had to come to Facebook if they wanted to make it easy for people to engage with them (because we were all hanging out there so much anyway), now, site owners can embed bits of Facebook functionality into their own sites. Facebook is no longer a walled garden.
This sort of functionality is going to make a massive difference to the dynamics of how our social graph (i.e our friends) shapeour wider web experience.

Here's an example from Levi's on how shopping from your sofa's just about to get a whole lot more sociable:

More to come from me on this topic, but I need to mull more!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Quote of the week

Those of you that know me well will know that not only am I passionate about all things digital, but also that I am highly evangelical, willing and motivated to convert others to the digital agenda.

It's not going to go away so you might as well embrace it.  Enthusiastic as I am, I do believe that the course of action suggested in this quote from the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) council meeting (reported in the FT below)  is going a little far...

“We’re not seeing headcount reduction, but they need to retrain [staff],” Mr Neale-May said. 
“In many cases, they have to do lobotomies because some of their marketers are still doing things the analogue way,” he added.


Writing briefs in the digital age

Variation on a theme of the last post, but well worth a peruse. Making marketing work in a digitally connectd world means thinking not just about what you want to say and where you want to say it but how you provide ways for people to engage and participate and then spin on the conversation.

Which brings me back to an interesting post I read recently about propagation planning briefs, which is an extension of the theme. These days we need to plan not just for the people we hope to reach directly but the people they go on to reach.

Particularly given the results of the first wave of research from the Facebook/Nielsen collaboration about the value of social endorsement over straight advertising in shifting brand metrics such as awareness and purchase intent.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Making Digital Creative work

I tripped over this presentation on my womblings around the interweb. It's not anything particularly new, but it's a good reinforcer and reminder of how you can make your digital activity work hardest for you. Worth a quick flick through for sure.

Remember on the web, the consumer is in control, they decide what they click on or don't, so be useful, relevant and / or entertaining.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Why businesses need Chief Culture Officers

Watch this video - interview with Grant McCracken from MIT. It might possibly be the most thought-stimulating 10 minutes or so you will have spent all week.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

iPad international launch put back

Apparently the iPad has been such a rip-roaring success in the US (500k units sold in the first week) that Apple's supply chain are having to eat humble apple pie. With demand exceding supply they announced today that they are pushing back the iPad's international launch / availability from the rumoured end of April to the end of May. More details including international pricing will be announced on May 10th.

Meanwhile UK newspaper The Guardian has had over 50k downloads for it's Eyewitness photography based iPad app, which is pretty interesting when you think the unit isn't even on sale in it's own market. Crudely that's 1 in 10 iPad owners having downloaded it. A big plug for it during last week's O/S 4 conference probably helped somewhat, and it's currently at #6 in the iPad app download charts.

And as I am talking numbers, I just saw a Tweet from TechCrunch announcing that there are now 105,779,710 registered Twitter users (not to be confused with active ones, not all of those users are active regularly / if at all). Twitter have also said that they are growing by 300k users a day too.

Interesting  numbers from a critical mass perspective given that Twitter are reportedly handling 600m search queries a day and have launched their equivalent of "paid search" this week known as "promoted tweets", which are currently sold on a CPT basis (cost per thousand for the non media luvvies amongst you) via TweetUp.  More on that another day.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Recruiting Brand Advocates : Part 1: Kellogg's Krave

Kellogg's have recently launched a new teen-target breakfast cereal called Krave, grain-based puffs full of hazelnutty chocolatey filling. One serving will give you 10% of your RDA of sugar in one hit. Your dentist and your waistline might not like it but who cares when you are 14....

Everyone knows that teens are hyper-connected, living their lives online, avid sharers and creators of content be it a constant stream of Facebook status updates or videos and photos cataloguing their lives.  The Kellogg's marketing team have therefore very smartly tapped into this with an attempt to harness this very natural behaviour to good effect and broaden influential peer to peer reach for the brand.

How?  By creating the Choc Exchange.  Run across the Krave website and a brand page on Facebook, inter-connected via Facebook Connect.

The mechanic?

1) Create a currency  (choc chunks) earned via brand advocacy in social spaces and participation in brand activities.

2) Create a range of time-limited appealing prizes that you can bid for using your choc chunks
(there's currently a very groovy micro Muvi camcorder up for auction, but I've seen gig tickets and all sorts over the last week or so)

3) Further incentivise you to recruit your mates as additional advocates by facilitating sharing, pooling or donation of chunks.  Nothing worse than being outbid cos you are a few chunks short when your mate can spare a few hundred......
Completing different tasks gains you different number of points.  I'd love to know who came up with the figures and how though.  Completing a photo task will gain you 9867 chunks.  Attempting to recruit a friend on Facebook will earn you 1854 chunks and if they accept you'll get an additional 3894. Nice round numbers. Not. Maybe it's a GCSE Maths improvement exercise at the same time.  As I write this the Muvi camcorder has a highest bid of 51164 chunks against it. Some ball park maths equates that to using a sign up bonus of 1400 chunks, plus another one for staying in the programme for another week (free points per week for staying on board, smart thinking again), completing a photo task, and recruiting 7 of your mates on Facebook and you are more or less there!

Currently the fan base on Fasebook stands at 42,348.  Good or bad?

As with many of these things, hard to say yay or nay to that, I've not seen any additional specific traffic driving activity on Facebook, but I'm out of target audience demographic by just a smudge(!).  It feels like a pretty robust number to me, and because their ongoing interaction with the brand means the message is being spread around Facebook (and beyond) and it earns points, and points mean prizes, that feels like a brand:consumer win win to me. Brand mentions and messages being diffused by the consumer for little over and above the norm effort, in return for the chance to win some cool stuff.  Smart: Creating OTT (Opportunities to talk), your consumers are your new GRP's.  A few gadgets and tickets, and some social media admin time are going to cost the marketing budget a lot less than lots of traditional media spend.

Nice to see the website and Facebook working hard together to drive traffic for the sampling campaign too:  you can check if / when the sampling team are coming to a place near you, and if you go, get one, take part and then tag yourself in a photo taken at the sampling event you are already more chunks in credit.

There's also been TV advertising with a drive to site URL on the end, and there's clearly been some sort of MSN (probably display ad) activity (which I missed, but which also makes a huge amount of sense given the number of teens that use MSN IM avidly and log in every day) because the Krave team were tweeting about it.

We'll award them some marks for search - they have bought Krave as a paid search term but no gold stars as they didn't think beyond the obvious...

Search for chocolate cereal and Nestle's Shreddies Facebook page wins on paid search and Nestle Nesquick or Kellogg's own Frosties beat them to natural results.  I'd like to think that was a Kellogg's portfolio management decision but I'd bet £5 it wasn't. There are still far too many clients who've got their head around category management instore but not in digital spaces.

Overall on the surface it seems like a well thought out and well executed campaign derived from some smart insight about the behaviour of the target audience.  Good stuff. Nice to see.  I wiill keep my eyes peeled for any results releases and will be interested to see whether they've been smart enough to plan beyond the launch phase, when the auctions finish mid-May.  Having rustled up that many fans it would be sense-less not to have an ongoing communications strategy to continue to engage with them.

Top of my current smart ongoing conversation strategies are Walkers Crisps who have done a good job (IMHO) leveraging the significant momentum gained during the "Do us a flavour" campaign last year, and are building that at the minute with an amplification of the flavour-voting idea to include 15 new limited edition flavours, but more on that another day.

Post script:
Friday 16th April: Just saw this Krave polling ad on Facebook's home page. Not sure how long it's been running but they seem to have added another 3k fans since Wednesday. I love the polling ads, makes it hard to resist clicking when someone asks you a question.  Hot air ballooning is the current vote leader.

Publishers: How not to serve ads...

One of my colleagues just flagged this clanger to me:

The London Weekly have been caught this morning trying to serve MPU ad copy into a space rather too small. Oooops. If I was Jet 2 I wouldn't be very happy paying for those impressions, especially as the links are broken too.

I rather think they put this leaderboard in the wrong place too... Maybe they got it for "half price"!?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Nifty Word Cloud Generator tool

Found this fab word cloud tool called Tagxedo via an Italian digi blog I read.

Have a play, it's very versatile: use your own words or scrape a site using a URL, and then twiddle and tweak the variables until you have the image you want. Then choose how you want to save it and in what format (Jpeg, PNG, large file, small file, tumbnail etc). Great. For the shapes and the saving feature I'll give it extra points over Wordle.

Here's one I made earlier. 

Apple launches iAd

Last Thursday Steve Jobs announced a whole raft of new things Apple, a new operating system (OS 4) for iPhone and iPod touch and most notably the launch of Apple's own ad hosting and serving process, giving brands / developers greater freedom to monetise apps by easily building richer ads into them. Ads that go beyond our usual definition levels of interaction and engagement.

Here's a video (9 minutes long) that demonstrates Apple's approach. If you are short of time, skip forward to about 4 minutes in, but I'd recommend sparing the 9 minutes if you can. Steve Jobs makes lots of the points I've been making for ages, people use mobile devices differently, so you need to provide content in different ways, and understand that people will access it in different ways too.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Pick your Meerkat

Some Friday fun from my favourite furry friend, Aleksandr Orlov of Compare the Meerkat.  He's had a busy few weeks releasing releasing various things (more later) to keep the campaign momentum going.

Today,  I got this Facebook announcement (and a similar one on Twitter too), announcing something of a site refresh for the site (not to be confused of course with

Now you really can have some more fun picking different meerkats in different scenarios / against different criteria:

So here's my small yoga meerkat in Sydney :-)

And now you really do (at last!) get to compare the meerkats

Have a play....

And if you don't fancy that, then you could try the latest Meerchat podcast (not as good as the last one with the Hof, but...), or play around with the official or the unofficial iPhone apps.  Interestingly I found this unofficial one some time before the official one came out .

I suspect that the team noticed that an enterprising fan had dedicated time and energy to creating a credible and on-brand app, and thought they'd better do an official one with a few bells and whistles.

Or failing which, my final offering is his second 60second movie trailer: The Battle of Fearlessness.  I like the ad pieces but it's all the other interactive bits, the responses he makes to the tweets and comments that are for me what makes this campaign.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Nice iPad Mock up tool

I love the interweb, and the fabulously speedy and creative people that make it such a fun space to work and play.

Here's a very nifty little tool that neatly mocks up how your website will look on an iPad. You can even rotate it to make it work landscape and portrait.  Nice.

NB, if you are one of the sinners with a site built primarily in Flash, as the iPad doesn't support Flash you'll have to disable your Flash plugin  to get a more true mock up. Might even make the point visually enough to get someone to think about the need for some site re-work!

I've got an iPad for that....but I'm not giving up on paperbacks yet

Yes,  although I saw Stephen Fry's "unbox-ing" videos on YouTube last week, the iPad reached the excited clammy clutches of the US consumer on Saturday. It's only the WIFI version for now, 3g will come later but....

Apple reports that they sold 50k iPads in the first 2 hours, and 300k on the first day.

There were over a million iPad app downloads from amongst the 3k apps available (circa 75% of those available are paid for apps, ranging in price significantly and many with special launch prices attached), and 250k books were downloaded.

iBook titles vary in price from $9.99 to $14.99, at which point I really do wonder other than for show off value why you wouldn't just pick up a paperback.  Arguably you can do more with the iPad than a book, choosing instead to watch or listen to content but it's a question of how much gadgetry we need to lug around? I've already seen some articles on jackets with a built in over-size pocket for the iPad!

For me personally, space and weight counts in terms of what I carry around daily. I've been patiently awaiting the paperback version of the 3rd installment in this brilliant Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy, because it weighs less and takes up less space than the hardback.

I'm far from opposed to e-books. I've been happily reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn via the iBook precursor 59p-for-20-titles app on my iPod Touch for a while now. It's perfect for rush hour reading on the Tube; small, easy to hold device, nice page turning animation, and small pages / small amount of text per page isn't a problem when you are on short journeys and constantly being jostled about.

I may yet eat my words, but for now I'm not convinced about the iPad for reading because:
  • if I am commuting, chances are I am already carrying my laptop +/or iPod + smartphone, another screen just adds un-necessary weight = shoulder ache
  • I have yet to be convinced that you'd be able to see the screen lying on the beach in dazzling sunshine, and would you want to expose your $500 toy to sand and sunscreen anyway / go for a swim without worrying someone'd nick it?
  • unless you take the example of the young Japanese girls who put their phones in ZipLoc bags so they can text in the bath, I can't see reading in the bath on an iPad being ideal either - the screen would probably steam up, the touch interface probably wouldn't work through the ZipLoc, and having dropped books in before, I'd be worrying about dropping it which would hardly be relaxing.
I see the iPad primarily as a "coffee table", sofa surfing device, and you only have to take the subliminal clues out of all the marketing to see the reinforcement of that.  Steve Job's original demonstration of it, saw him sitting in a chair, the ads, all show people kicked back with their feet up.

Perfect for quick searches because you saw an ad whilst watching TV, or you couldn't remember the name of that film that had so and so in, great for grab and have a go gaming, fine for a quick Facebook status update but not so easy to upload pics from your camera to, no good for video-Skype  (or chatroulette if that's your thing) as there's no webcam. Nor to surf any websites built in Flash.Won't work.

This might be a game changing device in terms of the increasing role of connectivity in our lives and more specifically our homes, but for me it remains a sexy looking, nice to use, handy home entertainment device. For now at least.  That's no bad thing at all, greater connectivity is a force we can't fight, it's happened, it's happening in more ways everyday, but the iPad,  it's just something else to add to the already significant collection of gadgets littering our living rooms, and one that duplicates functionality you are already likely to have to hand in the form of a phone or a laptop or digital photoframe.

Admittedly, coming from the Apple stable I am sure the user experience will change perceptions and expectations of computing, making it more intuitive, user-friendly and experiential than the keyboard and mouse world we've been used to.  That's a good thing. In a world where most of us have more than enough "stuff" providing brand experiences is going to be a big part of the marketing mix going forward and devices like the iPad with it's multi-touch interface, movement sensor etc will undoubtedly play a role in pushing the boundaries. Just as rhe BBC iPlayer dragged lots of older people into the VOD market by creating an easy user-experience, the iPad may push boundaries further. After all, even a 2 year old got the hang of it pretty quickly. Watch this...

As a home-centric toy I see the WIFI variant as valid as the 3g variant (who wants slow 3g entertainment out of home?), but unless someone wants to buy me one to play with, I'm in no hurry. Let's see if the 2nd generation iPad's include a webcam and some USB / SD slots. Then if my netbook dies I might think about it.

UK release dates TBC but there's speculation around the end of April. We'll see.

Meanwhile, you've got to give prizes to BlendTec for their speedy turnaround on a Will an iPad blend video, that's already racked up well over a million views since Saturday.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Making the Muppets relevant again

I love the Muppets.  I used to watch the TV show on Saturday afternoons when I was little.

I've been watching their utterly brilliant version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody on days when I've needed cheering up ever since it was released at the end of last year.

So only natural to extend my love for the crazy characters to following them on Twitter. Which is how I learned about the release of this version of Ben E King's Stand By Me, which whilst not as good as Boh Rap, is by no means a bad way to spend a minute and a half before a Bank Holiday.

Happy Easter.


I tripped over this fab animation short featuring more logos than you can shake a stick at a few weeks ago but only just around to sharing it.  Makes some subtle but great points about how brands are just part of our daily lives, and that in the course of an average day we might have brief encounters with more brands than we care to realise.

Logorama from Marc Altshuler - Human Music on Vimeo.

But just remember that when planning digital activity for your brand that it's that brand-rich context the consumer naturally lives in.  Whatever you create is going to have to be damn good for them to want to engage with you any more than fleetingly. Be useful. Be relevant. Don't patronise them with product benefits.

 As per my last post on April Foolery, think about what little gestures / associations you can harness that shows your brand in a positive light based on context and insight. Light touches can work just as well as huge full blown big campaigns in providing a brand nudge in a consumer's life.

April Fool

April Foolery in the UK is a tradition.  You have until mid day on the 1st April to carry out practical jokes and generally try to mislead people with things  almost credible. I spent most of this morning in a meeting so luckily didn't get exposed to too much tomfoolery,  but did like the olde scratch & sniff / smellovision idea wheeled out by restaurant recommendation / booking site Top Table.

Combine touchscreen technology and Follicular Online Olefactory Logic and you get:  FOOL!

Here's the email they sent out

And here's the page they sent you to:

Nice use of contextual humour and a simple concept / content to be relevant to your consumers and encourage goodwill towards your brand. Simple really.