Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spotify promoting Batman: Arkham City

This was a concept I toyed with - but have been beaten too. Some savvy marketer has worked with Spotify's licensing team (seperate from their advertising team) to get the musical score to the computer game Batman: Arkham City on the What's New recommendations page. You can checkout the playlist with this Spotify playlist.

Is it any good? Well. I've listened to movie scores while I've worked before - can be useful to conjure up the right mood. In every case I'd seen the movie before and I just don't have the time to risk a Batman: Arkham City addiction so I've not yet played the game. Tried to listen through this score but gave up. However, as this the Halloween season I suspect more than a few people will clue up and use this recommendation to play music for a party this weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A punchd in the face for Groupon

Google eased access restrictions to Punchd. This is a QR code based loyalty system that’s entirely free to businesses up until they have more than 50 customers on it.

It’s not a voucher system. It’s loyalty. Rather than discounting in order to get disloyal customers in, loyalty systems reward customers for coming back again and again. In the past loyalty programs have been hard to manage as they require on-going paperwork whereas discount systems could be a one-off when budgets allow. Something like Punchd, though, changes that.

Once again I’m reminded of my conclusions from A4U this year. Voucher and even cashback sites are moving towards loyalty. Loyalty is a 2012 prediction for me.

I was also reminded of a local event up here in Edinburgh. Independently owned and business savvy tex-mex Illegal Jacks used Facebook to simply arrange a big discount day – on a Tuesday. This is within Facebook’s T&Cs as no one had to like anything; it was just a case of seeing what the interest levels were and if enough people indicated they were up for a Tuesday burrito then that was good.

Some loyal customer was inspired to make a cheesy ad. If you couldn’t see the obvious threat to Groupon then the name of the day “Group Off” makes it pretty clear. Also, it speaks to the loyalty of customers that anyone would be inspired to mock up an ad for their local eatery too.

Why pay Groupon a large chunk of the profits and perhaps not win a single new or loyal customer when you can do it for free via Facebook. Sure, Groupon guarantees money (providing they have the cash themselves) whereas the Facebook approach runs the risk of people saying they are interested and then not turning up. The risk/reward balance, to me, seems firmly in Facebook’s favour.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Volkswagen Canada and their impressive Beetle AR ad

I like the tagline here; "After all, the advertising should be as impressive as the car".

I think it's impressive advertising but I'm a geek who works in advertising. I'm longing to see AR take off, become mainstream and as that it'll help it become useful and open to a wider range of people.

The app is apparently at this address I was surprised when that redirected to iTunes. No Android app, really? The ad agency is Pixel Pusher and this will certainly get them some attention.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chris Poole on prismatic identity at Web 2.0 Summit

Moot, or Chris Poole to the media, is the founder of 4chan and Canvas. He's best known for being an advocate of privacy and anonymity for the web. However, in this short Web 2.0 speech Moot rather clarifies his position. He's an advocate of choice.

I love the concept of "prismatic identity" - and he's right. We do have different aspects to or identity. Sure; I'm a gamer and a digital marketing geek - you could target me with either gamer ads or digital marketing stuff, it'll work, I'll also tell you that it's best to talk to me about digital marketing when that's where my mind set is rather than allow some audience targeting ad exchange to inject ads for dodgy link tools into the gaming blogs I read. Understanding identity is important.

As customer loyalty becomes a red hot issue I think understanding identity will rise importance too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A4U Expo London the 2011 write up

I enjoyed my two days at A4U Expo this year. Affiliate marketing was worth about £5bn last year and will grow again this year. This is the “channel” that uses search, display and social within itself while pushing analytical insight.

For me, the two hot themes of the conference are Loyalty and Transparency.


Everyone wants everyone else to be more transparent in affiliate marketing.

I genuinely do want to see an industry standard for an API from the networks data warehouses and I’d love for that API to be nice and robust. It makes complete sense to me that networks can %100 justify technology fees and overrides with the development of such a useful asset.

However, I also appreciate that the networks do work hard to show the value they offer beyond tracking, reporting and payment and I appreciate being able to offer extra special analytical insight might be part of that and that’s why networks might not want to be a free-for-all data bucket.

A special shout-out has to go to Helen Southgate and Affiliate Window who put together a particularly transparent (impressively so) presentation on Sky’s affiliate stats. Sadly, it’s missing vital SEO data but if we push that aside for now we’ve got some valuable data for comparison and understanding.

Something has to move on transparency otherwise next year’s A4U will roll around and we’ll find ourselves watching presentations in which networks, affiliates and networks present each other’s data only to discover that the co-owners of that data had no idea it was even available.


As you might expect there was much discussion around the value that affiliates such as voucher or cashback sites offered. Even from these quarters I picked up the suggestions that even powerhouses like Vouchercloud and Quidco were moving towards more of a loyalty model.

It was said again and again that loyalty would be a focus of attention for many brands going forwards. This is not just in areas like mobile, broadband, banking, etc where the brands have to fight to retain customers as new customers are scarce but also in wider retail, hospitality and travel areas too.

The challenge is that people are increasingly viewing brands as commodities – companies offer pretty much the same thing. People also understand that most companies are in it to make money not to offer the best service they could possibly do so. This problem has been fuelled by brands teaching people to expect discounts.

I think this is where we’ll see the blending of what we might currently call “social” with what we call “affiliate”. The new model will reward people for staying loyal rather than offering a discount for an one off purchase.

The video wasn’t shown at A4U but I was reminded of Hyper Island’s David Erixon’s views on value as it appeared on YouTube as the expo started.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Affiliates prefer usability to cash

Bigmouthmedia has just published some of the insights from our second survey of UK affiliates. There was an iPad 2 up for grabs and the survey received plenty of responses.

The design of the survey was to let us ask useful questions about the here and now in order to better inform our affiliate management but some questions do allow for a “last year / this year” comparison. In particular, I found the comparison of what affiliates wanted the most from last year to this to be useful.

Each year affiliates could have asked for more cash – higher commission – as their number one request. Once again the affiliate community has rejected that in favour of working with brand sites that are better at converting traffic to sales.

It makes sense; a site may double its commission from 3% to 6% but that makes no difference if only a tiny number of visitors to the site actually become customers.

Bigmouthmedia's 2011 Affiliate Survey

By the way; what do you think of the panda? :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Google Translate is now 14 types of awesome

It's all too easy to be impressed by technology these days. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think it's important to be able to take a step back, consider what you've just seen and release - that was awesome.

Here's an example; Google Translate with Conversation Mode (for Android). It's almost Star Trek like in its technology and yet, if you have the right phone, you can have it today.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is this the first Google Motorola ad?

I've not seen any ads for Motorola on UK TV or rising to my attention on the internet since Google bought Motorola Mobility. That raises the question: is this the first Google Motorola ad?

If it is... what do you make of it? A clear message? Reasons to buy? That stuff.

Dr Pepper 10 bans women and net savvy men

The latest drink from Dr Pepper isn't for women. It's only 10 calories but those are some manly calories. I think this is the first Dr Pepper social media campaign since they had to apologise for a rogue social media agency and 2 girls - 1 cup.

Now, as much as I love Coca-Cola, I'm not a fan of Dr Pepper. What's the worst that could happen? I might swallow some.

Their latest social media campaign highlights that women are banned. Their Facebook page blocks women.

Here's the thing - I'm blocked too.

Perhaps Dr Pepper sense's I'm not a fan, suspects I'm a troll and is blocking me from their page. Or it could be that they're another one a string of brands to release Facebook pages that don't work under HTTPS. I, like many (I hope), tell Facebook only to operate under HTTPS.

Perhaps Dr Pepper 10 isn't for digital savvy men either?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Does the PR industry need to claim its ground?

I subscribe to a host of PR blogs - oddly, they're almost always written by men - even though we're told that women are generally more influential in social media.

One of the blogs I particularly like is that of Speed's Steven Waddington. He has the excellent habit of sharing his presentations and he's very good at putting presentations together. His "The Future of Social Media" is another one that's worth reading. I didn't hear him speak. I think, though, he's suggesting that the PR industry needs to claim Social Media from other agency types - and there's a slide on the growth on SEO.

SEO was a wasted chance for PR agencies. If the typical PR agency with the typical PR person had any strong affinity for the web 10 years ago then SEO would have been owned by PR. The evolution of SEO tales us even more in the direction of "online lobbying" for both human consideration and algorithmic re-evaluation than ever before. Hindsight, however, is a wonderful thing.

I've done this debate a lot. Yes; social media is all about conversations and PR agencies like to do the conversation thing. "Conversation" oversimplification though.

Social media - the type that brands need - is a broad and complex area. All sorts of specialists are needed. Just look at the role of "earned, owned and paid media" in social media. Paid media is used to spark interest and point attention at worthy owned media.

For example, you might use a Twitter or Facebook advert to direct people to your latest viral candidate video; that's using paid media to point out some of your owned media asset. You might also (as I hope you would) look to leverage your relationship with authority makers, key influencers and online champions by giving them a sneak peak at the same video and encouraging them to blog about it as well.

In this example we're not even digging deep into the creative and technical processes of creating the video. We're not looking at the CRM issues that come with any social media campaign. We've not talked about giving the video to affiliates in case they want to use it or whether to share the .mov file so they can overlay YouTube annotations with affiliate links and promote their own copies. We're not even discussing the best page to embed the video on and direct people too (hmm, YouTube or your page?). It certainly is easy to say a successful social media campaign draws on a wide range of skill sets.

Here's the thing; if your agency has all those skill sets in-house then you're no longer a PR agency and you're not an SEO agency either. Your agency is something else, something new.

So, does the PR agency need to claim its ground? I don't think so. I think all agencies need to recognise that the ground has moved and that all agency models need to adapt or risk making the mistake PR did ten years ago.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The ASA's digital hall of shame gets its first entrants

The ASA and CAP have been governing a wider range of digital marketing activites this year and yet their list of "non-complying digital advertisers" has been blank.

Yes, there have been investigations into digital marketing activities - I think the very first was a website that claimed a unicorn badge could repel head lice.

There was a change yesterday. The ASA added four companies into the hall of shame/list of rebels. The four rebels are:
  • Vistaprint - for excluding VAT from their headline prices. Vistaprint does not need to include VAT if most of their customers avoid or recover VAT, however, the ASA is still waiting for Vistaprint to demonstrate this is the case.
  • Samantha Pearce - for claiming that Reiki can heal a wide range of health issues. I suspect this may be controversial.
  • Life Healthcare - for a website that sells a cream that is supposed to tackle a range of pain issues. The ASA is worried that the statements may be viewed as 'medical claims for unauthorised products'.
  • Allan Sweeney International Reiki Healing & Training Centre - once again, for suggestions that Reiki and other alternative treatments can be used to treat a wide range of medical issues.

There's clearly a trend there; three medical issues and two of which are reiki related.

I suspect this will become fairly big news in the alternative and complimentary health care circles (and I appreciate they're different things).

The rest of us will have to sit and wait to see whether being published on the list of non-complying digital advertisers encourages any of the four to change position.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Dear game developers; marketing isn't evil

Brian Baglow works in the game industry as a marketing and PR man. Last month he gave a presentation to a room full of Scottish game developers and it's worth a watch. Okay; it's full of NSFW swearing but this is a Scottish gaming sessions so it's only natural.

The first section is titled "Developers: stop being shit" and that outlines one of his key points. We're moving through an era when it was really quite hard to publish a game; everything was locked up with big publishers and console builders. Its now far easier to make games and put them in the hands of people who want to play them without this drama - but, somehow, oppertunities are being missed. Developers seem unwilling to promote their games; they argue that good games don't need hype. Some feel that marketing may well be eeeevil!

Baglow disagrees.

I'm glad he made the point that marketing does not need to be expensive and that game developers can do marketing themselves. In his rundown of what "marketing is..." I get the feeling he might be light on digital, ironically, but he certainly makes the point about marketing being social.

Rethinking Education - thoughts for agency creatives

This video has been doing the rounds. In fact, at the time of posting it is inches away from over 5.5m views. That's incredibly impressive.

This video has had more views than popstars, lolcats and people getting hit in the face with food. Why is that impressive? It's over 10 minutes long and it's an lecture on the education system.

The talk was given by Sir Ken Robinson who is as well known for this thoughts on education as he is on creativity. Anyone in L&D in agency land or, indeed, anyone in the creative aspects of agency's services (which include modern SEO and social media) should see this. I imagine most of you have already.