Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Judging the Mobile Marketing Association Awards

I was a judge in the MMA awards this year. There were quite a few of us and just as well as there were very many entries.

It wouldn't be right to speculate over individual entries suffice to say we received submissions from big brands directly, from large agencies and small boutiques. It was a varied group.

The MMA awards are also global. One of the challenges I faced as a judge was being able to put the submission into global context. For example, designing a coupon system so that it could work with simple SMS and feature phones has a very different significance for a campaign in the UK than it does in India. The expectations of each of those campaigns would have been very different and therefore so are the success criteria.

I come from a background of being engaged in a lot of complicated multi-lingual Search campaigns. Words like "translation" are hardly used at bigmouthmedia in favour of words like "localisation". When you bring mobile marketing into the picture – has as certainly been the fashion this year – this fragmentation of audience intensifies. Localisation becomes flavoured with culture and technology. Localtech.

Social Gaming gets a BAFTA Boost

Photograph of giant BAFTA maskImage via WikipediaDisclaimer: GAME is a client.
Reason: I'm a geek. This is big news to me.

The GAME British Academy Video Game Awards - the BAFTAs - have created a new category to reward social media gamnig.

It's a good idea. More than half of Facebook's 500m users play social games. Doesn't that dwarf movies?

The GAME British Academy Video Game Awards take place on Wednesday the 16th of March and the London Hilton Park Lane. Dara O'Briain should be host for the night again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The evolution of the captcha

I'm generally not a fan of captcha. They always seem too hard to read and I worry I get them wrong a badly designed form will ask for all my data again. I'm a short-tempered blogger.

There may be some hope for the captcha though.

Case for captcha evolution: One

NuCaptcha Engage from Christopher Bailey on Vimeo.

Case for captcha evolution: Two

Your Megastores, R2-D2 and cutting affiliates out of TV campaigns

I'm a proper geek so when Currys and PC World sign Anthony Daniels to voice C-3PO and rebuild an R2-D2 for a fantastic Star Wars ad - I notice.

The ad promotes the site Your Megastores which is Star Wars themed and promotes both Currys and PC World.

Or does it?

I couldn't but help notice that Your Megastores links through to Currys pretty much all of the time. If I was the PC World brand manager, I'd be annoyed, I've been cut out.

It's not just PC World that might have cause to grumble. Both Currys and PC World have popular affiliate campaigns (especially in the run up to Christmas). Here are my Skimlinks for both: Currys is http://buyth.at/c4xuh and PC World is http://buyth.at/pa2ml. If you click you'll see the sort of tracking URL deployed by the site and which appears to be missing from the Your Megastores site to Currys.

So, what Currys and PC World are doing are taking a chunk of the brand awareness their TV campaign is producing and channeling that towards a third site, one that's outside the affiliate channel, and then directing it back to a single site. Affiliates earn no commission for linking to the YourMegastores.co.uk site.

Is this a good idea? It's a bit of a debate. I certainly don't think affiliates have the right to ride on the back of a big brand campaign - a well run affiliate campaign is one which empowers affiliates to generate the sales a brand wouldn't have otherwise have got.

However, the phrase [megastores] is an interesting one. It might well have been associated with the old Virgin megastores more than any other brand up until this year. As of the time of posting, PC World, Currys nor the YourMegastores.co.uk site rank on Google for the phrase [megastores] or even [yourmegastores]. Affiliates might have been to help the brands control the natural search space. Right now you could certainly argue that the fantastic advert isn't being that successful in funneling web traffic.

The ad's worth sharing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chartered Institute of Marketing and Affiliate Marketing

Last week I went down to Ipswich to present a short talk on affiliate marketing for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

It was a good day and I was pleasantly surprised by the keynote speaker. Graham Brown of the COI presentation wasn't just well delivered it showed me a COI thinking about marketing and delivery at a level I did not expect from them. I wouldn't grumble if they successfully began to claw back budgets.

I wanted to do the social thing and share my presentation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foursquare adds private locations

Ever wanted to have a private venue on Foursquare? I see lots of locations that should be private but people have created anyway. For example, you might see "James' house" as a location, or "My desk", and know that's really not a check-in venue suitable for everyone.

Foursquare will introduce private venues to cope with this. The feature isn't live yet but it's coming. To access it now, and pre-mark locations as private, all you need to do is use the web interface to edit the venue details.

Only your friends will be able to see the location. At least, that's the published intent.

State of Social 2010

Bigmouthmedia sponsored Econsultancy's Social Media and Online PR report again this year. The great thing about that is it gives us the chance to compare year on year trends in social media.

We don't get to give the report away for free. Mind you; if you'd taken part in it then you would have had a copy for free. Either way, you can download it from Econsultancy.

What bigmouthmedia can do is produce a summary / extra insight on the survey. That's exactly what we've done. We call it The State of Social 2010. If you're a client you can contact your account manager for a lovely, shiny, hard copy. You can also check out the State of Social (in a social way) via our Scribd account.

State of Social 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meet Firstborn: the Video

I'm sure somewhere in the world Firstborn are a competitor so - maybe - I shouldn't be blogging this. This is a cool vid, though, so I will.

Actually, it reminds me of a few years back when a Brighton based competitor was using "Bigmouthmedia aren't big enough to cope with your search campaign" as a pitch tactic. Crazy! But real.

My suggested solution at the time was simply to grab a video camera and do a tour of our offices. We didn't need to linger on people, do interviews, invest on production; just needed to show the size of the operation.

We didn't get around to doing it. We merged with Global Media instead.

I would have been mega pleased if we'd produced a video like this. The beauty of Firstborn's reel is that it's supposed to be a "meet the team" reel. That's the excuse for playing it. In reality, however, it's a show reel. It speaks volume for their creative skills (and their sense of humour; love it).

The unLottery follow up

This is just a very quick post. I wanted to follow up and prove just how tempting fresh and potentially profitable "new keywords" are. This blog has nothing to do with the lottery - in SEO terms; no relevancy.

However, I'm currently ranking for [unlottery]. Twice. It took about 10 minutes and that includes content creation time.

Mind you; that result isn't half as impressive as this one.

What will likely happen, of course, is that as/when/if the phrase [unlottery] becomes more popular, more relevant blogs and sites will pick up the phrase and use it. GeoSweep's actually affiliates are sure to use it. This post will fade into history.

The unLottery. Yup; unLottery!

I can't help myself. Whenever I see anyone clever enough to "invent" a new keyword (in this case unlottery) I always have to go see what the search results look like.

In this case, GeoSweep have made sure they're there by bidding on the term. There's always the natural [unlottery] search results to think about, though.

The unlottery PPC creative also raises the thorny issue of hyphens. The phrase "unlottery" tends to be used by GeoSweep on their site and their offline marketing. The creative uses "un-lottery".

In truth, not only is it good practise to bid on both, its not unheard of for brand phrase like this to run into spelling requirement restrictions from Google's automated quality control.

There's also the issue of the negative search result. A title suggesting that "unlottery" is related to "scam" in some way. There's no GeoSweep connection that I can see (not that I looked hard). It's likely that the problem will fade naturally as other sites begin to rank for the phrase anyway.

So, right now, the SEO field is open for people who want to back GeoSweep and try and rank for [unlottery]. Blogs and sites who do this are better than enough people will pick up the term and start searching for [unlottery]. I think GeoSweep have coined something nice here. I think some people will search for the phrase.

It helps that GeoSweep are doing some pretty bold offline marketing too. There's a blimp floating around the Holborn skies of London.

So - there's the good chances of ranking for "unlottery" in the results and a good chance that people will be searching for it. So what? How do you make any money.

The good news here is that there will be a GeoSweep affiliate program. This means if you can send traffic to GeoSweep and that traffic become players on the unlottery you'll earn some cash.

What exactly is an unlottery, anyway?

GeoSweep's unlottery is a game based on location. Ah, now, there's a popular word from marketing circles these days. I believe GeoSweep's unlottery works like this; pick a location and if that location matches one of the locations picked during the day then you win.

I've a location+review style domain name that I keep on dreaming into turning into a location optimised blog. GeoSweep's unlottery would be excellent fro that. Beside every review I could put a GeoSweep link, based on that location, to the unlottery through the affiliate channel.

If you're a Foursquare competitor and if GeoSweep's affiliate program works well with mobile then the opportunities look very plump indeed!

Here's my unlottery prediction; the keyword [unlottery] will go from not competitive to very competitive in short order. It's one to watch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Affiliate Marketing Infographic

Phew! It's been a bit of a busy affiliate week for me. Bigmouthmedia opened up an affiliate survey, we had the team out at A4UExpo and I've been down to Ipswich to talk to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (East of England) about affiliate marketing.

We managed to sort through the affiliate survey responses in time to release the results for this busy affiliate week - I had some of them in my presentation - and, of course, found the time to whisk up a quick affiliate infographic.

You don't often see affiliate infographics so I wanted to share.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Consumers now in control so brands like First Direct now keen to spotlight customer services

It’s a funny old world. There is a lot of talk about cuts. Many purchases are being made by people counting their pennies. However, we now also live in a social media world and someone who’s upset with the service they’ve had are now in a position to complain very loudly indeed. We can’t but help notice these complaints as they ripple through our social networks.

What’s the result? The result is that brands like First Direct – and I can think of others – are understandably very keen to point out when they’ve a tried and trusted customer care program in place. Other brands are looking to CRM in advance of – or part of – their social media campaign.

This was a key point made by Håkan Thyr, the partnership director at consumer review company Baazarvoice, at our recent summit. Skip ahead a minute to cut straight to Håkan’s soundbyte in the summary video below or watch his entire presentation here .

I believe a good example of consumers in control of a brand is Gap. Just look at what happened to their attempt to change logo. The new logo lasted a matter of days. The old logo, the brand identity that people preferred is back.

An article at Econsultancy raised an interesting point, though:

At more than 1,000 responses, an interesting fact emerged: only 17% of those polled even knew that Gap had posted a new logo. What's more: 43% of those polled indicated that a new logo wouldn't influence a buying decision; far fewer -- 29% -- claimed that a new logo would have such an influence

We know what they say about stats though.

Is the key point then that the publicly shared thoughts of a few were enough to effect the brand. Could they effect the brand perception of the many. If Gap had refused to change their logo, had they resisted the crowd mentality, would they now being accused of not listening?

It’s not surprising that First Direct are looking to push the customer care line and use it as part of a social media outreach. The brand, after all, already made the news by making it easy to see what Twitter’s sentiment was about them at any given time.

The new strategy is to send “Buddies” out onto the streets of London and help people. Sure; it’s set up but it raises awareness. It means even in an economic climate where we’re braced for cuts and changes that neither companies nor people wish to demote all choices to simple price comparison. Companies now have to be helpful in order to be competitive.

Here’s a quick video of some of the First Direct buddies in action.

Monday, October 11, 2010

GetGlue soars as the check-ins exceed 10 million

I'm a fan of GetGlue. In just a matter of days it became the software I'd use to work out what book to read next. Software because I use it mainly as an Android App but it's a pretty slick web site too.

CEO Alex Iskold posted some impressive checkin stats today. They hit over 10 million check-ins and ratings in September. Just look at that ramp up.

GetGlue has the attention of some impressive names too. Play.com, for example, (disclaimer; client) is integrated with GetGlue so you can socially browse, like or discuss DVDs as you consider your next purchase.

The screen grab below shows what the Caprica: The Feature Length Pilot looks like, at the bottom of the page, with GetGlue installed.

You don't actually need to install anything to use GetGlue. I find it incredibly helpful for social media research though.

Microsoft to close in-game ad company Massive Inc?

I hope this is a rumour that turns out not to be true but MediaWeek are reporting Microsoft are looking to shutter Massive Inc.

I'm a gamer and a digital marketer. It's easy for me to see why in-game ads not only work but are totally cool. Back in 2006, when Microsoft bought Massive, everthing seemed to be going really well. The company was worth about $300 million and had loads of oppertunties lined up.

In fact, just this month Hasbro UK started a campaign with Massive Inc to promote NERF guns in games like Splinter Cell.

As it happens Microsoft may have turned out to be their own competitor in this space. It's far easier to get going with simple banner like ads in the Xbox Live interface and you can be sure of the context in which gamers see them. Advertisers tend to prefer this.

In addition Xbox Live ad revenue doesn't need to be split between Microsoft and the game publishers.

I don't think this news is good for the game publishers though. Whereas they can still broker bespoke in-game deals themselves - even if they're static product placement-like ads - sure it makes sense that if a game features a billboard (a racing game were the cars zoom past ads just as they do in real life (making the game realistic)) to hook that billboard up to an ad marketplace and see who'll pay you the most for it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Bottom Line - "New Marketing"

Evan Davis, British economist, journalist and ...Image via WikipediaI do like the BBC program Bottom Line. You get CxO level people talking shop. Really valuable insights.

This week we've got a session on New media. New media seems to include search - is that really "new" any more?

On the program we've got Alex Cheatle, the CEO of Ten Group, Jasmine Montgomery, co-founder of Seven Brands and Robin Wight the president of Engine.

In the show Jasmine Montgomery suggests brands haven't worked out how to monetise new media like Facebook. I can think of quite a few brands who do very well - but perhaps they're the exception that prove the rule.

Poor old Evan Davis hadn't seen the Old Spice ad. There you go; we found someone who's not fed up of it yet :)

I was also impressed at how Engine Group's Robin Wight had a simple case of Samsung blogger outreach impress the other contributors as an example of clever, cutting edge, new media.

You can watch the program on iPlayer here if you're in the right geographies.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Can the iPhone overcome the picture plateau?

Flickr keeps tracks on the cameras used to take the pictures hosted on its site. It's a great way to see what the popular tech is in any given month.

It comes as no surprise to see that Apple has done really well. The standout success story is the iPhone 3G which has had about 120 times more uploads the iPhone 4. That's 28,176,526 compared to 240, 429 at the time of posting.

Compare that to HTC - one of the leaders in the Android market. The Dream/G1 is the leader with 486,383 uploads and in fact all of the top 6 easily beat the iPhone 4. The HTC Desire has 349, 543 uploads.

The Evo 4G beats the iPhone 4 for uploads. Is that a surprise?

The usage graphs also show an interesting picture. The amount of uploads from the iPhone 3G are dropping - not surprising given the age of the phone and the iPhone 4 is increasing.

The shape of the growth doesn't match the spiky growth of the HTC devices.