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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cashing in on Santa

Oh dear. I think this counts as tarnished treasure. An attempt to do a social trend Christmas piece with some dicey country and western lyrics and backing track.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Beatbox version of the Christmas story...

A contemporary twist on the Christmas story :-)

SEO clanger from Google

I'm not normally one for pointing fingers, and I know it's rude to make fun but  but I really can't help a wry smile at this clanger from Google.

Google are so good at preaching SEO best practice and its' importance to clients near and far,  that their failure to implement it on  Google Zeitgeist 2011, their global search terms round up 2011 was just too great to resist posting it.  The site itself is well worth going to have a play with, (scroll down and then go and play with the regional / market by market detail) , but in the meantime enjoy this feast of lorem ipsum before I tweet this post and they fix it. Sorry boys..... That's a clear #FAIL.

First a grab from a post I shared on an internal sharing network Yammer:


Then having checked the source code, I opted for a spider test result (via SEOBook)  just to prove I hadn't read the code (which I'll spare you) wrong. Nope, that will be no description or keywords and a lot of lorem ipsum interspersed amongst the text. Doh!

(Click to enlarge)
I guess even the great can have a distracted moment after a shandy too many at a Christmas lunch. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's silly season

Yes, Elf Yourself video 2011 ticked, I've written to Father Christmas, I've made an online advent calendar, and done my bit for the e-commerce stats. It's silly season once again.

Maybe it's because I'm off to Kitten Camp tonight, but this video a friend sent me just made me smile for bringing to life a universal truth - we all know the internet is really just fuelled by cat videos.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Meet Little Printer...

Busy day, too much to read, no signal on the train home.  That sounds like my life. 

Instapaper & Evernote are handy productivity tools, Flipboard is great if the wifi in the office works and I have time to update before I dash for the door but there's times when despite the array of digital devices at my disposal it would be handy to have some paper. Old school, I know.  I like to sit down have a cup of coffee and read papers from time to time!

So need established but even before I've written to Father Christmas, it seems that the smart team at BergCloud have come up with the solution - meet Little Printer.. an at home / on desk solution to offline content snacking... I'm all signed up for a pre-order alert.


Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.

I [heart] Twitter


I’ve had a Twitter account in various guises for nearly 4 years now. To begin with I signed up to explore and understand better the new shiny digital toy. The people to follow were few +/or mostly known to me personally at the outset.  

Several years later, Twitter has become an indispensable tool in my professional armoury, but I’m a geek and I live and breathe in the digital world. I’m not sure  it’s necessarily for everyone although I do believe that apps like Flipboard (for iPad) might make it more user-friendly in broader contexts.  

 So taking a step back, why am I still loving Twitter?

  • There are handy interfaces like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that turn the Twitter.com user experience into something useful and manageable. Without these I would probably have given up pretty quickly.
  • I am in control of who I follow – chosen by me, for me, to help me achieve what I want to (primarily in my case keeping up to date with what’s happening in the digital world). This is key – choosing my trusted sources of information carefully saves me time and means I have a manageable and largely relevant newstream to digest.

  • It’s a useful tool to share interesting things I find with those kind enough to follow me – presumably because they think I provide a useful filtering service. Twitter relationships tend to be assymmetrical  - I might follow someone interesting to me, but unlike Facebook or LinkedIn there’s no expectation or requirement for the symmetrical loop to be closed, so following and followers numbers don’t match. I’m not in it for the ego-boost, or celebrity like some, I’m not motivated by pure follower numbers nor any specific need to drive traffic to my blog, but that’s me. If you were running a corporate blog or other marketing activity it can be a valuable tool in the mix.

  •   I listen much more than I Tweet, and when I do it’s because I’ve found something worth sharing or I want to promote a blog article I’ve written, or very occasionally to vent frustrations at bad consumer experiences – inverse advocacy if you like, but it’s a powerful public voice if used sparingly. Resorting to Twitter has on more than one occasion meant I got problems resolved more quickly than being an invisible item in an emails awaiting response queue.  Businesses are slowly realising that the people’s public voice has large reach and clout and sticking heads in the sand isn’t going to help.

  •   I’m reasonably attentive to who is following me, because it helps me discern what to tweet, and keeps those who are clearly spam tweeters or on some bizarre quest for a large number of followers in their place.

  •    Twitter has become another comms  / messaging space for me too – I know which of my digerati mates are as Twitter addicted as I am, just like you know which of your friends use which IM account and so Twitter DMs (direct messages) are in my repertoire when I think about who I am wanting to say what to.

  • I’m more selective of which industry events I attend in person because in a time constrained world following the headlines via the tweeted soundbites from those in attendance is often a “good enough” experience.   Last week I made the most of the IAB UK’s video conference following the #iabvideo tag, this morning I am keeping an eye on Comscore EMEA’s video ad session - #VAS11. I enjoy participating in conferences I actually attend even more now that I have Twitter to hand – the banter amongst participants of different people’s takes on a presentation, the chance to find new people to follow, the “companion screen” if you like, to the presenters in front of you. You could argue it’s a distraction but I personally believe it adds value to the experience. That said it’s much more helpful if a conference organiser pre-defines the hashtag from the outset / in advance otherwise a large chunk of the audience are busy trying to suggest and find consensus on what to use not listening to the opening comments!! 
 Personal request though... would conference organisers please note that it’s  bordering on rudeness now to host something in a basement room with lousy 3g and not provide free wifi / the access code.

I get asked about Twitter and brands or Twitter and corporations a lot. I don’t believe there’s a one size fits all answer.   How a brand or an individual finds Twitter useful is very much a contextual / personal thing. 

“Thou shalt join Twitter” is a pretty useless corporate mandate unless you are prepared to spend some time training people on how it can add value to their professional +/or personal lives and give them some tips on where to start and what to do  / not to do.Make sure the decision makers understand it properly would be my advice. That way they will be prepared to deal with any issues that come up and need elevating. The last thing you’d want is Twitter being used naively by the un-informed and finding your business advantages shared with the world inadvertently or in contrast find productivity drops because everyone’s glued to Twitter all day.  It’s easy to get distracted. 

Know what your corporate policy is rule one!

Make sure everyone is clear on what’s appropriate or not, especially if you are asking people to sign up wearing a corporate rather than personal hat. Most people have a personal email account these days, and unless you are expecting people to tweet on behalf of the organisation it’s probably better to advise them to approach Twitter from a personal perspective (in my humble opinion). Everyone’s notion of what’s valuable to them will differ and if you are asking people to embrace something new, then it’ll be made a whole lot easier if they are given freedom to customise to their own interests, professional and personal – that way it’s more likely to become embraced and habitual rather than just another thing to check / another password to remember. We all have enough of those as it is.

Used well it can be a powerful marketing, business and insight tool, it’s a means to drive $ value to the business (think Dell Outlet stores), drive loyalty, distribute content to an audience who’ve said they’re interested in your news,  deliver customer service  and enhance (real time) learning . 

Fundamentally whether you manage a brand, a team or your own time, you need to be  clear about the purpose you are using Twitter for so you can leverage it effectively and  attribute time and resources appropriately.   Dive in. Have a go.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A short miscellany of interesting stats

Technorati recently published it's latest State of the Blogosphere report. 1st published in 2004, and conducted annually ever since it's provided an interesting way to monitor the changing digital landscape, and chart the rise of the professional and hobby blogger over time.   Well worth a read.

Then onto some stats and observations...

For a troubled economy, Spain is showing surprising enthusiasm and growth in the digital arena.

I recently came across  figures showing how huge the Spanish appetite was for online video and how fast that it is growing, (9% growth in videos viewed in 6 months). Then today I came across this Comscore round up of mobile ownership and activity across Europe and once again Spain's a serious player, kicking the French, Germans and Italians into touch.


I wonder whether high unemployment levels are driving people online for jobhunting, entertainment and distraction in these troubled times?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Evolving user interfaces & the internet of things

Of the many things in the digital sphere I am fascinated by, the evolving nature of the interfaces by which we interact with technology has to be up there in the top 3.

The internet of things / connected home is becoming less conceptual and more and more of a tangible reality even if it's just beginner baby steps for most people as they start to use energy monitors as fuel cost increases as much as eco-conscience drive mainstream adoption and behavioural change.

Moving beyond the baby steps, the connected home, cloud based data access, and device neutral data interfaces are becoming less of a mental stretch as today's tablet fans start embracing the notion of companion devices and will become increasingly demanding about hardware neutrality.   With the launch of Siri and Iris (Apple & Android personal digital assistants respectively), the spoken interface has joined touch on the critical mass of credibility table, if only for the innovators and early adopters at present.  With the mainstream undoubtedly following close behind bringing true scale now is the time to start thinking about what interface change means for the way that consumers can and/or could interact with your brand in the future.  This could also have a significant impact on your business architecture for staff : organisational relationships as much as business : consumer ones, as this recent Gartner trends piece highlighted.  I wouldn't be so bold as to consider myself an expert in new UIs (user interfaces) yet but I do believe that there needs to be a happy marriage between insight, extrapolation of existing behaviours, imagination and experimentation with new technologies and interface alternatives so that learnings can be developed. Context as much as attitude will no doubt influence our interface preferences, much as they already do today but with greater inter-changeability between them than is currently present. I wouldn't choose to write anything of  significant length using my iPad, because even with my small hands the keyboard is cramped and the angle on my neck to see over the keyboard is awkward and pain inducing, but the touch / swipe / pinch we've all become used to is intuitive for browsing in all manner of scenarios. I've used voice dialling on my phone for years as it's handy in the car, and voice search is handy on occasions, and yet I'm still an enormous fan of the notebook, post-it and pencil for quick scribbles, or doodles to evolve my thinking. At the minute our range of interface options are often device capability limited but this is a barrier that I expect to erode over the medium term future.

With hints of the Corning Glass futures piece I posted previously, the Microsoft Envision Lab have produced this piece. Whether you believe it'll ever happen or not is up to you but I remind you that Minority Report was released in 2002, and much of the technology that seemed far distant and sci-fi then is already a reality.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who says advertising doesn't work....

I've been writing an assortment of case studies over the last week or so, one of which is an update on Yeo Valley's 2010 category challenging work in pushing the boundaries of creative in the dairy / yellow fats sector.

As a consequence, not only have I revisited the fun rap from last year (now up to just over 2m views of the original brand upload), but also possibly been slightly over-exposed to this year's approach: the creation of the rather polished looking farmer (?) boy band "The Churned". Once more YeoValley have been brave enough to get someone in to write some clever lyrics which tell the story of their commitment to farming and their dedication to their "happy friesians" (I quote) and then evolve the high reach, high contextual relevancy but low frequency of TV spots in the X Factor tv show with smart use of YeoTube (pun intended) as a platform.


This year you can learn the dance moves with the choreography video or have a play with the karaoke version of the video embedded in the YeoValley Facebook page to create your own mash up if you are feeling that way inclined.

For the less creative or downright lazy you can always download the rather catchy adverti-song from iTunes. I did smile at the comment (we'll forgive their English) below the track listing about people rewinding live tv (see below). Rather brings back memories of the year 2000ish and all the people heralding the demise of TV advertising that TiVo would bring.  Strong creative always makes for good viewing and smart use of video platforms and SEO principles means brands can capture that interest 24/7/365.


My neighbouring digital partner in crime in the office might be a wee bit bored of me humming/ singing / whistling the Yeo Valley chorus on repeat, but frankly I think she should be very grateful that it's not those damn radio ads for webuyanycar or Harvester's rap about a chicken piri piri and a whole rack of ribs, both of which I have seen taking a recent slating amongst my friends on Facebook for being downright annoying and NOT frequency capped. (The latter being my bug bear as much as the tedious creative).  (I refuse to grant the satisfaction of an SEO building link to either of them). Memorable but perhaps not for the right reasons.

"Yeo Valley naturally"... however, that's a whole different carton of yoghurt ;-)   Nicely done. In low involvement categories a little insight can make a massive difference and I firmly believe fortune favours the brave.

Practising what I preach...

Sometimes it's good to take a step back from the day job(s) and apply all those principles one advocates at work to yourself.  Data visualisation is something I'm very interested in and believe we will see more and more of so I spend a lot of time exploring and thinking about how it can be harnessed as a concept. I recently had a play with the profile the visualize.me beta generated of my career history and decided that for all it's hover over interactivity, there was still room for improvement. The things a geek does for fun.

So I sat down and thought about how I could tell my cv story a different way. Having been around the block a few times now and worked in many different places across lots of different industries and countries I have a broad international marketing & communications skill base that is flexible and can be applied in many different ways. Whilst the non-linearity of the path causes the younger lesser-spotted recruiters to scratch their heads because I'm not much of one for box fitting, there was method in my madness along the way, and it is the capabilities acquired along that journey which captures the attention of those with rather more experience and imagination. 

These days I'm rather sworn to the digital cause, it's endless evolution keeps me on my toes and my curiosity constantly piqued, so taking the tools of my trade to task, what could I draw upon to turn all those words that no-one is ever going to read in a short-attention span world into something more visual? Something that tells a broad story at a glance? Well, here's the jpeg non-hyperlinked and very definitely beta version of what I've come up with so far... Food for thought. 

Sadly, there's no functionality within LinkedIn to share it, (at least with a basic account), beyond hyperlinking this post under the "my portfolio" section - a development opportunity for them perhaps.  As we all get more and more visual / multi-media about how we sell ourselves, then surely their platform needs to evolve and embrace that?



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Well observed piece on the perils of online purchase journeys

Watch, cringe & then go back and check you are not losing sales opportunities by making your consumer's lives more difficult than needs to be with arduous online check-out processes.

Then remember to check it works on mobile operating systems - ASOS recently reported an 800% growth year on year of purchases via mobile .

Many thanks to my brighton buddies at Breeze Marketing for spotting and sharing the video!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Imagining the future

What does the future of digital look like? It's a frequently asked question.

I spend a lot of time trying to explain to clients and colleagues who ask my opinion this that there is no such think as "the long term" in digital because there is no ceteris paribus, everything is changing all the time, faster than we can imagine. 

I think the better question is one of what needs (current or potential) do we think digital can be applied to to solve, or assist with, and what roles do our brands have to play within that scenario.  I like the fact that Pepsi are trying push their ability to grab first player advantage by investing in start-up ideas via their Pepsi10 programme. Not what you necessarily expect from a mainstream FMCG player. Others would do well to have such vision.

But back to predicting the future, that requires human insight, inspiration and imagination as well as technical capability, an idea expressed really neatly in this video from Visual Futurist Syd Mead . A must watch.



If that whets your appetite and you have some time to kill then this presentation on the digital heart is one of the best decks I've read in quite some time:


THE DIGITAL HEART.
View more presentations from MediaFront

Acute observations..

Via a friend's Facebook newsfeed this morning...

A click too far

I've come across several examples this week (already) of brands annoying me by putting up barriers to my engagement or participation with them. Frustrating. My original click may have been generated by work related curiosity, but ultimately it's my consumer hat that gets annoyed, so just think how bad it would be if I was a genuine consumer with consumer motivations. Working in the digital space means I have some awareness of the technical considerations that make for certain scenarios or brand imposed must-haves, but to Joe Bloggs consumer it's likely to leave you perplexed and frustrated.

So boo hiss to Eurostar on Facebook, I can't tell you what their Trainstorming initiative is about 'cos I couldn't be bothered to allow and then have to re-instate secure browsing to see it.

Why should I turn off secure browsing? That doesn't fill me with confidence

Shame too to Google/YouTube - I've been playing around with Livestreams as an opportunity this week, but was a little affronted to find that despite being logged in (notice top right), it wanted me to log in (again) to ask a question.

When I clicked, I noted that they  kindly(!?) offered to let Google manage my YouTube account.  Now clearly having clicked "I agree" to T&C's originally there's some degree of that inherent by my use of their platform but still....

I continue to see far too many participation ideas that really haven't understand the value exchange properly and want me to jump through (often unspecified) hoops to get something in return (often not clearly specified either), all of which makes for a lot of abandoned clickstreams.

Think people, think!

In a busy world I need to be reasonably sure that there's a fair trade off for my time and effort or I just won't bother at all.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Smart use of Corporate Social Responsibility link to UNICEF by Dulux paints

I really like this smart  "Own a colour" CSR link between Dulux paints and UNICEF, that suddenly started pinging around the web yesterday morning at a rapid rate.

Pick a colour, name it, describe it if you wish and for the privilege it costs you a donation to UNICEF from £1 upwards, all made nice and easy as for the lowest donations £1, £3, or £10 you can donate super simply by tapping in your mobile number and replying to the confirmation text. Easy peasy. 

Easy to participate, makes you as a participant feel good because of the charity angle and as a result Dulux will benefit from the warm fuzzy glow. Nice.  If only I saw more of these well designed examples that didn't make participation an arduous click journey rarely in return for anything worth the bother if you did actually persist and get all the way through.

I'd have given Dulux and Unicef extra points if they had managed to get their PPC search sorted though - I heard about the initiative via my Twitter feed and clicked that way, but going back to do some due diligence,  searching for "Dulux colours" or "Unicef"  alone didn't produce any site visibility above the fold, and I eventually found it yesterday via a search for Unicef Colours, albeit the news results today have improved natural visibility.

Monday, 19 September 2011

6 minutes worth spending on branded entertainment c/o Coca Cola

Call it AFP (ad funded programming) or BE (branded entertainment) as you wish, but here's a stunning piece of animation from Coca Cola as part of their Happification series. Take that as praise indeed from someone that's worked in the industry and knows a thing or two about quality production values. Maybe it's my inner industry nerd but I was rather disappointed not to find any credits on the end.  Nevertheless, nice storytelling, composition and animation and a pleasant way to spend 6 minutes of distraction, that will no doubt engender positive feelings towards the brand and I don't even like drinking the stuff!



AFP & BE are both terms which are increasingly being bandied around by clients and agencies at the moment, but there still seems to be far too much hot air and not enough commitments made.  There are many many marketers who frequently can't see beyond a 30" or 60" commercial, ignoring the talent of the many many uber creative little production companies out there (and some of the bigger ones too) that can make a lot of great content for very reasonable money considering it's value stretches way beyond the average wear-out life-cycle of product related advertising now that we live in a multi-media multi-platform long tail world.

Sure, 6 mins of high quality scripting, storboarding, composition and animation / post production won't come super cheap but divied up across a brand with a worldwide presence it's tantamount to peanuts.  I see so many times that company structures from a pre-digital mass age crippling opportunties. Such a shame.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Facebook London hack day

I spent yesterday at the first Facebook London Hack Day @ the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane.


It was a very interesting day from multiple perspectives but a huge shout out for a super seamless event to whoever organised it and the staff making it happen @ the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. Brilliantly done.


There were reportedly well over 400 agency folk from various disciplines in attendance which made for a buzzy atmosphere, not to mention the chance to catch up with a lot of familiar faces from around the industry, some whom I hadn't seen for yonks. Welcoming everyone with coffee and breakfast (or M&Ms for the most sugar-needy) was always going to start the day off well.

It was great to see the Facebook commitment to the event with a speaker line-up of senior Facebook staff, many having flown in from California.  I was quite surprised to see so many people around me taking notes of every word though. There are still clearly an awful amount of otherwise quite smart and sociable folk out there that can't quite make the mental leap between their own personal use / experience of Facebook and what works and moving that into a work headspace, evolving the shouting at, advertising, burst lead approach.  Worrying.

I did have to laugh a little at the hack brief which was all about getting commuters off the tube network during the Olympics. Almost to the word the same brief I worked on for the TfL pitch when the Congestion Charge came in nearly 10 years ago.  The barriers remain the same, the context is now madly different. 10 years ago there was no Facebook, no smartphones, no Oyster cards.  I am sure there were lots of great ideas generated, I just wonder whether LOCOG and TfL etc have the real ability or influence to implement them in the time available. We'll see what happens - the winning idea will be posted to the Facebook Studio showcase site in a few weeks time.

The closing keynote was delivered by Mark D'Arcy, 4 months in to his new role as Director of Global Creative Solutions.  For a man fresh off a 14 hour flight he did a fantastic job, delivering a tight presentation with a strong call to action to agencies to stop thinking about Facebook as the "condiment", the salt, sprinkled on other activity and think more about the power of social  at the heart of your brand activity. I'll leave you with a slide from his deck that nicely sums up an ethos I have been banging on about for years now.  The world is moving so fast you can't sit around waiting for someone to write the instruction book.


Dive in, fail fast and move on.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Food for the soul

Hurrah! I've found a few moments for lunch, and just watched a video for the first time in months. It's about seeing, design and I feel a whole lot better for spending 6 minutes of my life with it.  Thanks to Channel Intel.  I've been so ridiculously constantly chasing my tail at work for months now that time to nourish my curiosity and intellect has been distinctly lacking.  Now if only I could make TEDx London at the weekend. Ho Hum.

Monday, 12 September 2011

WWW World without web?

Smartphones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, laptops, the digital outdoor panel I saw someone interacting with at a bus stop at lunchtime... we're increasingly living in a realtime, always connected world.  This has merits and disadvantages for sure, one of the reasons I love sailing is because in the middle of the Channel there's no connectivity, no new ideas to constantly compete for my attention. It gives me time to think, time for the digital dust of the week to settle.

Technology is at it's best when it's invisible. Just making things easy or being useful. We've all been frustrated at some point when technology refuses to co-operate for some inexplicable reason and you've wanted to throw the whole damn machine out the window. The internet, or rather connectivity to it, in its many guises be they apps, mobile sites, search engines, video streaming sites, Skype (which even got a mention from the vicar at my cousin's wedding last weekend) has changed our lives, changed how we interact with people, changed how we arrange meeting up with people, changed how we figure out where places are. I could go on.  So far today, I've read countless emails across a multitude of devices and inboxes, ditto tweets, I've written two blog posts, interacted with an internal forum, contributed to a community I manage,  bought a shirt online, made a table reservation online, looked somewhere up on a map, commented on some posts from friends on Facebook, uploaded and shared the photos from said wedding, watched videos, and I'm listening to Spotify as I speak. All pretty run of the mill stuff in my daily life. The device has almost become irrelevant. I couldn't have achieved anywhere near all of  those things offline in the same amount of time.

So next time you get some annoying error message just stop and think about the many good things internet connectivity facilitates. Things you couldn't do 20 years ago.  I'm planning to start a presentation to my yacht club tomorrow with this great quote from a great book... "The Go-between" by LP Hartley.

"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there"

So true. We can't hide in the cupboard under the stairs and hope it's all going to go away. We have to learn to embrace the changes and take advantage of the things that are relevant to our lives. Everyone's picture will be different. And it doesn't matter. That's the genius of the beast.  Just imagine the world without the web... these Dutch guys deprived themselves of the internet for a week, this is their short report on the experience.  Would it match your views?


Watch this: [subtitled]

Mobile Mobile Mobile

My buddy @mobilista and I have been banging the mobile gong for many years now, so it's great to see that people are finally cottoning on to the power of mobile for consumers and marketers alike. I was fortunate enough to attend a round-table dinner with some of Google's mobile team last week and some of the stats they shared are staggering.  If you aren't taking mobile seriously yet, be it for content, advertising, or PPC, get on the case quick.  I see so many clients who are only just slowly waking up to the importance of on-site SEO let  alone ensuring their web presences are mobile operating system friendly, and they shake their heads when I tell them to upweight the priority they place on mobile. 

When whopping amounts of people are more and more using their mobile O/S devices (so smartphones & tablets) to access the web, having a site that doesn't render properly or worse still is an entire replica of huge heavy web-based sites, with no acknowledgement of different data requirements, navigation behaviours and preferences in a touch based context is barking mad.

What triggered that little rant? Well reading through the 3 month backlog of emails whilst I've been bouncing from one mad project to another I found this.... 


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

MOVE!

It's the title of this lovely movie that's well worth a few moments of your time and of the activity that has dominated a lot of my life this year so far.  I know it will all be worth it in the end. It's a word that suggests laziness and encouragement and by contrast energy and motivation. Must get back to blogging. I miss having time to ponder and muse and then write about it.  I've been in Moscow for much of the last two weeks, and with a strong home grown digital scene there's a few gems I tripped over that I need to share that are useful and interesting even without any ability to understand Cyrillic. Which is just as well as I for one didn't make much progress on that.


MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Charting the rise of the Internet of Things

I've been following the Internet of Things for a few years now, the wireless home/city with more and more connected devices talking to each other is almost a tangible reality rather than some sci-fi future.

The number of devices connected to the web, sharing data, enabling new behaviours and capabilities is growing at a rapid rate.  So if you haven't watched the video from the IBM Internet of Things project, do so here, and then click to make this nice infographic from Cisco,(who also have a rather nifty data projection graphing tool),  big enough to read properly!

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A plotted history of Facebook (so far)

This just struck me as something useful to refer back to so I'm going to post it so I can find it later. Which could prompt me off on a course about information aggregation / sharing / remembering which of the many places it might have been catalogued in depending on my mood at the time, but luckily I'm desparately trying to cull my 80+ tabs in Firefox down to something more manageable so time is short. Much to read.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Oh I wish that this was real...


Many thanks to my Godmother for sending me this in response to a general whinge about far too much time crunching data on a very unreliable and slow pc. I'm getting closer and closer to refusing to work on anything other than a mac with a quad core processor.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Data to blow your mind....

It is not new news that there is almost ungraspable amounts of data pinging around the world, and data is growing at an amazing rate.  Those rather knowledgeable bods at Cisco have come up with a lovely infographic, from which this is just a part so you can get your head around the relativity of scale of data metrics.  Kinda makes the fact that my work inbox has just been downgraded to a max 1gb even more of a joke....


Digital GOLD: The simplest ideas are often the best

 This is pure genius:  For those of us that spend hours a day stuck behind a keyboard, often out of sight of nature, then you need to bookmark this RIGHT NOW:


Challenge your ADD, a condition that makes us jumpy and impatient, and (here's that link again - click, you know you want to) take two minutes to just pause and think.  Hands off that keyboard!

So simple.  Made my day.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Google make search more personal...

Have a play with the rather fun "What do you love" variant of the search engine.  Nice touch using the heart for the "search" button. 

Doesn't say much about either the algorithms they've applied to this exercise though if the results that come up for sailing products are nil though...., either that or possibly the search engine optimisation of the products pages of the sailing technical gear experts like Musto and Henri Lloyd need some serious work!

Click to enlarge

Friday, 24 June 2011

Being useful - a content framework

I did rather like this content framework from the Jess3 crowd.  The fact they started the path to purchase with "bored at work" tickled me.  If only I had chance for that.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stat-attack: Multi-device web access stats from around the world

Comscore published today their latest figures on which platforms and devices are dominating the portable technology space, and I am sure this will come in useful sometime soon for some presentation or another, so I thought I'd share:

(click to enlarge)

Mapping the social world by participation levels

There's no shortage of maps and infographics around social networking kicking around the web, what's big where, how big etc etc but I do rather like this one from my chums over at Global Web Index which takes a view of the world more from a Forrester technographic ladder perspective:

(Click to enlarge)



Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Your mobile's your new wallet (or soon will be)

Cash. It's heavy, it's dirty (money is well known to harbour all manner of germs), it disappears far too fast, and having to go to get some more means making an effort that many of us could live without.

Many years ago someone gave me one of those fun-but-random books on made up words that should really exist.  One of the more memorable ones was "coinophony" the  noise made by jangling coins in your pocket. Some see it as a satisfying boredom-busting activity, others as downright annoying noise, but perhaps it's a word that will cease to be relevant at all with NFC (Near Field Communication) becoming an increasing reality.



I can already swipe my Barclays Connect card against readers in certain retail outlets for small purchases, but mobile handsets that have the same swipe and pay functionality have been all over all the big tech shows this year and will be in the hands of consumers over the coming months.  There's is already a live in market test going on in Poland.  With new phones having the technology built in and more investment in infrastructure from retailers we will no doubt see the days numbered of the phone, keys, wallet check before leaving the house.   

We're already seeing that consumers' search habits change between a desktop and a handheld mobile device;  what they are searching for, when, and how quickly they make a decision or increasingly opt to purchase there and then is different. Imagine in a joined up, connected world with your phone-that's-now-also-your-wallet never far from your hand, the opportunities to convert interest into purchase in a shorter, smoother journey.

Here's a nice video from Google that makes the point.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

In 60 seconds in digital lot of things happen...


Impulse Saving: Banking genius from Westpac NZ

Maybe it's moving house that's making me count pennies particularly carefully at the minute, but in possibly the most genius example I have seen recently of harnessing the power of technology to deliver positive behavioural change in consumers, I offer you Westpac New Zealand's Impulse Saver app.  Shame the nice explanation on the site is all in Flash and takes an age to load, isn't skippable etc, but persevere or if not watch the not so groovy version below.

It is designed to help you save the $ you might fritter away on snacks, coffee and magazines and make that money work harder for you.  Harnessing the fact that more and more people have smart phones, and the fact that they are always likely to be close to hand  / wallet whilst you are in the queue at the newsagent.  Making saving EASIER and accountable is all part of a broader trend of how technology, mobile, and better consumer access to data via visualisation is coming together to make our lives smarter.  I have no doubt that Facebook's recent acquisition of the Daytum team, themselves behind the fabulous Feltron Report was no co-incidence.



Having recently had several run-ins with various banks and credit card providers whilst trying to do something as simple as change my address (net result, 3 cards / accounts closed, because it was all too hard / they insisted despite numerous rounds of ID security, and multiple "can I speak to your manager" elevations,  I had to go to a branch....) I am all in favour of simpler, smarter banking.  This is 2011 Santander, Barclays, Barclaycard, Nationwide, as particular villains. Take note!

Trivial Treasure

Thanks to a little bit of crowdsourcing from the teams I work with, what started off with me sharing a random but humorous Tumblr I tripped over somehow somewhere, a flurry of random finds from the interweb flooded my way. Given that in the whirlwind my life has been over the last few months the posts have been a little few and far between, I thought I'd share them just for fun, please hang your PC hats by the door first:

Tumblr for men....

Goats on stuff...

Kim Jong looking at things...

Stickers on the Central Line... 

Dear Photograph...

A fun variation on the myriad of entertaining Flickr groups around what's in my (man/hand/tool) bag :

What would you take from the burning house...  (very insightful and curious selection of what people value)

And with Father's Day fast approaching:

Dads are the original hipsters...

So with that in mind, this one's for you Dad.   [Here with fabulous flares and my little bro]. You rock :-)






Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Another trends video

But at least this one doesn't have that Right Here Right Now by Fat Boy Slim soundtrack! So 1999.


Digital Life: Today & Tomorrow from Neo Labels on Vimeo.

Or if the Lion King soundtrack was your thing, try this one, trends with a safari theme -  ;-)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mobile Commerce

I liked this infographic from Microsoft Tag, which starts to look at the purchase journey when the smartphone empowered consumer can shop whenever they like.

mobile ecommerce shopper revolution

View the Mobile eCommerce Infographic post at Microsoft Tag.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Nice Affiliate model from the National Trust (& RNLI)

I do like brands that are being USEFUL on Facebook/Twitter. Using the platform to inform and benefit fans and followers, not just chasing fan numbers for the sake of relatively meaningless reach.

So thumbs up to the National Trust for flagging their affiliate deal with LOVEFILM.

I now know that by doing something I was thinking of doing anyway, in a certain way I previously hadn't even thought about could benefit a cause I care about?  But I do now. Irrespective of whether I act now, or get around to it later, it's on my radar.  That's just made being a NT fan on Facebook and allowing their posts to interrupt my increasingly brand cluttered newsfeed worthwhile. I'll save the rant on ongoing engagement and why it's important for another day.

There's lots of affiliate models around (I help your business, you help mine), but can I be bothered to log in via the British Airways or Virgin Atlantic sites everytime I want to be something relatively low value online? No. I don't care enough about the points, I have to make too many extra clicks, remember more passwords etc, and I need so many points to get anything meaningful anyway  it's just too much extra effort.  Yet to help a cause I care about like preserving our history in this case or the RNLI, who have an affiliate deal with Amazon, I will make an effort.  Especially when it's clearly signposted on their site, and in fact I've made it easier still by adding a shortcut to my browser bar.


A small gesture with an extra click means I can help make a difference over and above the membership fees I pay anyway just by adjusting my behaviour slightly. Augmented benefit to me (warm fuzzy feelings about making a small difference), augmented benefit to the cause (cash). Win.Win.

Value exchange. It's a very personal thing.  I still see too many brands that haven't really got their heads around what motivates their fans and followers and continue just to shout product benefits at them. But dig a little deeper, tailor your approach, and your brand health measures should pay dividends.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Things you wish you'd written

I get paid to read, to think, and to stretch and challenge other people's thinking.  It's an infinite task, and sometimes juggling the projects needing working on, and still finding the time to structure your thinking once so that it can be tweaked and shared later gets out of balance.

So here's a deck that does a fab job of wrapping up lots of the things I preach and believe in one place, falling firmly under the category of things I wish I had had time to write. There's a lot of us singing from the same song sheet around the world, a lot of people thinking about how we make the changing world of communications work harder for our brand owning clients. A lot of it is common sense when you actually step back and think about it, but with client behaviour often entrenched in long term habits and historical thinking, the more of us that shout about the need for change and help create practical ways to approach it the better.  So many thanks to Farrah Bostic for the hard work on behalf of a lot of other great minds around the web.



Wednesday, 18 May 2011

From the horse's mouth...

I am really really hoping that a) this is genuine and b) it's continued for a while, because this is consumer insight gold.  And even if a+b turn out not to be true my morning has been improved no end by finding this Tweetfeed  highlighting the things this guy's Dad is using Google for:  I recommend clicking over and scrolling a while. I love the honesty.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

May the 4th be with you

Yes, it's international Star Wars day, the Jedi jokes are flowing around social networks, but hats off to Volkswagen for showing their sense of humour and capitalising on their Super Bowl TV ad with this fun and timely ad on Facebook this morning:


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Pepsi Refresh vending kiosks to add gift capability

Nice idea from the Pepsi Refresh project, so far only (US) text enabled, but extrapolate the possibility to properly web connected / socially connected units and imagine the potential.

Short term it's probably best not to dwell on or scrutinise the data capture / privacy angles but Apple have provided more than enough food for that fire this week.


Interestingly, whilst running a quick search for the URL of the Pepsi Refresh project to embed in this post I noticed (dynamic) image results being triggered on the right hand side of the results, changing as you overed over different links. That pleases me inner nerd and feeds my inner curiosity. Better go and do some snooping on Google algorithm changes.


A miscellany of digital treasure

My lovely friend Dan over at Aegis produces a fabulous quarterly round up which so nicely encapsulates the large pile of things I have on my "must get around to posting about but haven't had a moment to do so" list that I'm just going to embed it and say enjoy.

Thanks Dan!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Beautiful Results from Collaboration, Technology and Crowdsourcing

My friend Mat's just prompted me to post this.  I have so many things I want to post about, it's just time that's lacking, and just embedding a video is a wee bit lazy, but suffice to say that this is a lovely example of when crowdsourcing and collaboration faciliated by technology can bring about beautiful results.

Just watch.  Or better still, push back your chair, plug in your headphones, close your eyes and enjoy a few minutes of calm. You'll feel better for it.  Trust me.




Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Meerkat does it again...

Following on from the campaign to find a twin town for his home town of Meerkovo earlier in the year (won by Market Harborough in Leicestershire, (oops sorry Meerkat Harborough), last week Aleksandr Orlov launched his quest to find a (salaried!) Ambassador for Meerkovo.

Now's he's sent a tweet flagging that he's realised that LinkedIn is a great site for recruitment and so he's joined, check out his profile here.

I can't but help smiling at how spot on these guys are time and time again.




Monday, 11 April 2011

Just watch this...

Summing up the last month or two

A slightly trimmed version of yesterday's Dilbert comic strip, of which I am a big fan.  This about sums up the reasons why I've not even hit double figures in my blog posts over the last two months. Rubbish. So many interesting things going on, lots of thinking, just no time for writing.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Check In and Chow Down

I am loving the thinking behind this German dog food sampling activity via FourSquare / Outdoor! Nice way of driving habit and trial. After all, puppy training is all about habit formation: reward good behaviour and do it consistently and repeatedly!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday irreverence

No excuses, this won't win any prizes for being a thoughtful or insightful post, but it made me smile.

My colleague Julia sent me this copy & image she'd found and loving a good bit of mashing and mischief  as I do, it appealed to me at the end of a mad week.

In the not too distant future, YouTube, Twitter & Facebook will merge to form one giant, idiotic,super time wasting website called... 


Monday, 14 March 2011

Putting things in perspective

It's the 14th March, and the first time I've posted this month. Shocking. So much going on, so little time. My reading list is stacking up, I've barely caught up on last month's Mobile Congress, let alone last week's SXSW, so many things I have good intention of writing posts about.

It's so easy to feel caught up in the never ending stream of data and information around us, we all have to develop our own protocols and process for coping or keeping up in our own way.  But iPad 2 launch last Friday or not, everything slips into real perspective when you look at the terrible events surrounding the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan last Friday. I am incredibly thankful that all my friends in Japan have got in touch and reassured me they are ok, even if some have some pretty incredible stories to tell. It should be "sakura" season in Japan, a time for spring celebration and cherry blossom picnics, but with more aftershocks expected and lots of very "now" issues to contend with the Japanese will have little time for that sadly.  My thoughts are with them all a lot.

Watch this scary and amazing video of the tsunami flood waters rushing through a town. Don't just do what so many of us do so often and just watch the first 30 seconds. 6 minutes of your life are few in the grand scheme, and it will put everything else in your day in perspective.

Check out this series of before and after earthquake pictures too.  

You can make a donation to the relief effort via the British Red Cross, via Facebook Causes  and via an assortment of other methods including iTunes too.

Google have set up a Japanese earthquake and tsunami crisis resource aggregator too.




Sunday, 20 February 2011

The challenges of design

Bad design costs the same as good design, so why oh why do so many people insist on the bad type??  In fact if anything bad design costs more because of the number of revisions often involved in getting from the good type to the horribly compromised approved version.

Many many years ago I took a cheap £3 standard two armed corkscrew and £27 Alessi "Anna" corkscrew to a product development meeting to try and ram into the heads of the dullard American design team I was working with the difference. The material product and tooling cost was slightly greater for the latter of course,  but the retail selling price differential and the product margin was far greater.

I so often see the same issues repeating themselves, people lacking vision, or understanding of design principles, or even just the importance of taking time to get the brief right in the beginning.  Fail to achieve that and you end up with a design dogs dinner or a user experience that sends people clicking elsewhere faster than you can say bad navigation.  Not to mention the designer wanting to shoot themselves over scope creep and client meddling.

All of which was prompted by my friend Fran sending me this link to The Oatmeal (click here to read the entire cartoon story, it'll only take a tick and if you work in anything remotely creative you'll smile and nod knowingly).




Thursday, 17 February 2011

Far beyond the looking glass

When Lewis Caroll wrote children's classic Through the Looking Glass, circa 1871, I very much doubt his imagination could stretch anywhere near as far as the possibilities that glass surfaces can take us today and will take us in the future.  There's always lots of talk in thedigital and tech worlds about multi-screen devices and platform agnostic content, Smart-TV's that are web connected, tablet this, touchscreen that (it is the Mobile World Congress this week after all)  but component manufacturers' vital role in the innovation chain often get overlooked.

Fair play therefore to Corning (a glass manufacturer) for publishing this nice (if a tad long) video showcasing the role of glass in our ever increasingly digitally connected future. Can't help but make those shareholder meetings more interesting.



Well worth reading this interesting interview yesterday with the super smart Helge Tenno on the connected future too.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Save the trees one PDF at a time: Digital Treasure

My friend Mark just flagged up this brilliant idea from the World Wild Life Fund.

Download the software to give you the option to save your documents as a WWF rather than a PDF - essentially the same format except the former is nicely branded, giving you an eco-prod into good behaviour every time you see it, AND means the print menu is disabled so you can't waste trees and energy on printing out stuff un-necessarily.


Yes, technically you can enable this setting in Adobe already, yes, there will still always be people that want to print documents, and just occasionally there are documents that really do need reviewing on paper but in a world of e-readers, tablets, netbooks and laptops, the excuses are getting fewer and fewer.

I think this is a brilliant example of someone having a BIG idea and using technology to facilitate it.

Super smart. I hope it catches on.



Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Elasticity of distance and discounting

The fact that people will shop around and will make a degree of effort if a potential saving is perceived to be significant is hardly surprising. What is interesting though, is this attempt by JiWire (found via Techcrunch) to start to quantify the model  particularly in this era of Groupon type social buying models, Facebook Deals / Foursquare offers and smartphone based price comparison services. Location based services are here to stay and it will be interesting to see how they are developed and exploited.






Friday, 28 January 2011

100 years in technology - the IBM way..

100 years of corporate reinvention is pretty damn impressive stuff when you think about it, and this video showcases some pretty amazing leaps in technology.

A lot has changed just in my lifetime alone:

First cassette player. 1980

First camera - with 110 film: 1981

First computer I owned. 1984.
(It was an Amstrad with a new fangled disk drive). Wrong choice by my Dad as it turns out in a VHS v Betamax way but... I could still programme simple ping pong games. Got our first VHS that year too.

First cd playing stereo I owned... 1990

It feels like I've had a mobile phone forever, but I was an early adopter having one in 1993.

APS (wide format) 35mm camera: 1997

First digital camera? Bought that in 2003.

Next... A whopping 252kb USB memory stick - bought in Tokyo in 2004.

First (and only) DVD player: 2005  (I do still have a working if rarely used video!)

First & only TV I  have ever bought was an LCD flatscreen in 2005. Rarely turned on either.

First netbook: EeePC in 2008

First smartphone: 2009

First tablet, yes, the iPad 2010

I wonder what will be next on that list?


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

To participate or not to participate that is the question

Brands are beginning to realise that shouting at people via advertising is going to be less and less effective (in many cases). Oh dear, dilemma. It hurts to change the habits of a lifetime! For agencies too, hence the link to Amelia's very cool post on the future of advertising.  The smart bunnies out there have realised or been advised that they need to start curating or facilitating culturally or contextually relevant experiences that deliver advocacy and an always-on trail of hopefully positive left-behind user generated content about that experience. Super.In reality that all means that I'm seeing the next client bandwagons rolling towards me at a pace.

Social media? Pah, we did that last year.

If only I could draw.   I can't,  so words will have to do.

Participation. Content production.

It's not new thinking, but they are becoming the new buzzwords as the client requests roll in more and more frequently. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. BUT before everyone gets over-excited, it's worth taking a step back and thinking about what motivates consumers to participate, what's the value exchange, and where does your brand fit in the grand scheme of a consumer's busy daily life?

If the value exchange is right, they'll take part, if it's not, they won't or will do so to a lesser degree. Take me personally as a case study:  I got involved with the Orange WinterWarmer Twitter fun over the last few days (see earlier posts), - new case study material was enough to make me take part actively. It wasn't because I am a huge brand advocate of Orange. Far from in fact,  based on a previous experience. The effort involved in participating & recording what happened was easily outweighed by the value and benefit of an interesting story to tell my past and future delegates.

I have a much better opinion of Eurostar, who did actually eventually listen & respond to a problem I had with them last year, yet despite being willing to re-post their latest "lamest excuse" participation based initiative on Facebook (which I have), there's no way I have enough motivation or time to actually get involved.  Making a video in the day and half time limit is just an ask too far relative to my perception of the chances of me winning some Eurostar tickets. (Not that I think the idea behind it is necessarily a bad one).


So with that relative scale of involvement levels in mind, before you go rushing off brainstorming content ideas against that just-in brief,  I would urge you to read a great post from the talented gang at Made by Many, because I've been teaching and preaching this stuff for ages and as they've nicely written it up its inefficient to re-invent sliced bread.

Once you've done that go and read this interesting post from BBH labs (that links to another one worth reading too) on the subject of collaborative consumption.

Then, as I'm aggregating useful and interesting things to read, sit down with a cup of tea and read Wired's recent piece on social commerce.

After which, move on from cups of tea to something stronger and put the pieces together in your head before you even start to tackle another comms planning brief.  I bet the output will be different.

Good, stimulating, thinky stuff!

Friday UPDATE: Well it's 4 hours before the competition closes, there's 12 videos contributed. So following the wisdom of an article I read recently about picking the seemingly less attractive options, chances are you stand a higher chance of winning because  there's likely to be fewer entrants you can do pretty well. Had I had the time to make the video and could galvanise all my various networks to vote my chances of winning would actually be reasonable. The most voted for currently has 1.6k votes.  As ever with these things, if you can get someone sociable and influential to enter and then garner their own networks to leverage then your message gets spun out without you as a brand doing much at all. It's a formula I've seen time and time again now, - think Walkers do us a flavour or the best job in the world campaign by Queensland Tourism. It's simple and it works.



Winter warmer Twitter fun with Orange (part ii)

It would have been rude not to have taken advantage of the live case study opportunity presented by the Orange WinterWarmers activity, so with a little willing help from my colleague Richard, we thought we'd play the game and see what happened:



So we did.... and sometime late afternoon they did indeed turn up in their Winter Warmer branded van


 to give Rich his toasty scarf and a hot chocolate

(Picture kindly taken by my mate @somerandomnerd) who we'd tried to hint might also like a hot chocolate via a subsequent tweet at Orange, but they obviously weren't quite set up for making the most of bigger tactical opportunities to surprise and delight, given that we'd made it clear we were all in the same building).  I think this was a missed  trick. Whilst obviously the principle of sharing and referral made sense, and it wasn't a given that the referee and the recipient were in the same place, following the tweet feed as (what felt like a lot of adland offices started playing), there was a clear opportunity to reach a broader audience with (maybe smaller) surprises, and or potentially thank the referee too.  Yes, it's nice to be altruistic, and in my case, I've now got a brand story to tell delegates but it's even nicer to get recognition for it. All these things are about value exchange: If I do this, what do I get back?

Tweets bubbled along & built throughout the morning

 but took a sudden jump mid afternoon  when  OK magazine with it's 98k followers picked the story up (by which time I think the van route was already reasonably established judging by the confirmation tweets and van location broadcast tweets)...

Which pushed #winterwarmer into the trending list for a while...


And saw tweets hit 50+ / hour which feels pretty respectable given the activity was extremely localised to a tight area of central/eastern London.

Rich, being a very polite well mannered chap, sent an appropriate thank you tweet, as did I, both of which were retweeted by the @Orangethefeed (that's what's called user generated content amplification in the trade!). Incidentally, that's something which Facebook announced yesterday they will be offering a paid for model to enhance.


There were still lots of people requesting winterwarmers as I left the office at 7pm, as RTs got picked up and pushed onwards, yet the @Orangethefeed hadn't sent a tweet since 16.52, which seemed like a bit of a shame on the expectations management front. They started again at 0825 this morning and if via RT rather than pro-actively, are at least being clearer about roughly where they will be in Birmingham today...
My take being that actually they could make better use of  @OrangetheFeed as a comms hub.

That said, Rich got a very lovely woolly scarf in exchange for humouring me and a few tweets. Orange now have 2 blog posts from me alone and I spotted a few others being posted in thanks, plus the pictures of happy recipients tweeted and retweeted so that's  the "show and tell the client look this user generated stuff works"  box ticked. As they're in Birmingham today, and Manchester and Brighton later this week there's also time to finesse and improve the activation learning as they go.

I obviously don't know what the objectives were, but brand interaction, tick, generate buzz, tick, cost of a few scarves and some hot chocolate, a hit squad and a rented van with decals, relative to people touched & conversations generated?:  Probably pretty efficient on ROI relative to the cost of a print campaign or similar, and a heck more human and engaging.

Fun stuff. I enjoyed it, and  I am enjoying watching Birmingham playing today.