Saturday, December 15, 2007

Great Advert

Haven't seen the ad in the UK, and it does use the UK only name for it.

Follow up from this one which I do remember seeing:

BBH continue to do good work. Shame they didn't feature a gorilla!

The Voucher Codes are Spreading

The Guardian seems to be finally picking up on a trend that has been expanding this Christmas.

Vouchers are really coming into their own as a form of luring customers to a store. It remains to be seen whether they are effective at really making the stores money, but I think there's definitely been a higher profile accorded to the stores which have put time and effort into pushing these discounts.

The problem with vouchers and discounts is that they product some problems further down the line. A shop's "hero" products are generally ones that are heavily in demand. These will sell out and make the retailer a tidy profit whether they discount them or not. With discount vouchers these products will disappear quickly and at a discount, whereas the products which are usually discounted towards the end of a season will still be there.

However some of the discount codes are structured in better ways - enforcing a minimum spend is one effective way of doing this. Although the retailer probably loses out in terms of margin, the minimum spend makes sure the revenue stays at a decent level.

Another argument for the voucher codes is that it attracts new customers, some of whom will hopefully become regular shoppers. This will always be true but some would question if a discounted sale is really the best way to begin a relationship with a consumer.

One problem we are experiencing on the internet is that some affiliates are exploiting these codes mercilessly. Retailers already pay their affiliates a commission from sales. If the customer also uses a voucher code the sales that are driven may actually become unprofitable. Even more problems arise if the merchant's tracking system doesn't allow you to know if the affiliate's sales used voucher codes.

Overall voucher codes are a good thing for the internet as it makes people spend more time online before shopping and puts an incentive into them doing a bit of research before going out into the streets. The question is whether the discounts do anything actually useful or valuable for the retailer. I don't think it does.

Picture stolen from ewar_woowar's photostream

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What You Can Fit in a Page These Days

Was having a quick think about what the next thing is likely to be. I think we're going to see lots of effort being put into making our lives easier. I think what we will see may get called 'RSS 2.0'.
The main thing is that we will see more things stripped of their context. One of the ideas behind 'Web 2.0' was that text can be separated into content and formatting. I think this year we will see this extended into websites. The basic idea behind a website is that you go there and get a service. Many content based sites are becoming familiar with the idea that they can still make money if they allow people to know what content is on their site before they go there.
This will be extended across all the other web services. Email, Social Networking and other things I can't think of right now will fit into the RSS model. I think someone (probably someone new) will come along this year with an RSS reader that is easy to use.
The problem with RSS as it exists at the moment is that it's complicated. Hopefully someone will find a way of making it simple. This will definitely help things along. One stat I would like to see is how many people are actually using RSS. It's not something that will come through the advertising we do, it's something the publishers need to start telling us.
Many of the new businesses getting funding at the moment are focused around the idea of altering webpages that already exist. This is particularly focused on facebook apps at the moment, but the open application platform will allow them to be extended across other sites. All of the major companies have now setup platforms from which portable applications can be delivered (facebook, Yahoo!, Google and Apple). Mozilla is also working on Prism, a browser which will make some webapps indistinguishable from normal applications. The web will creep further into people’s lives.
Basically by the end of this year there will be a program or web service which will exploit this. It will be able to tell you what appointments you have that day, what the headlines are across all the media you regularly read, who’s poked you on facebook, what your favourite band have done on Myspace and which of your TV shows is on tonight. This is all possible with existing technology right now, we just need someone to make this popular.
If the privacy debate doesn’t really happen we will be technically able to deliver adverts for beer to someone who is going to the pub tonight or shampoo to a girl who is staying in to wash her hair.
More sites will use the portability of aggregator sites to make new revenue streams, we should get used to things like the Sun’s deal with Brand Alley and all the major portals’ deals with Uswitch and Moneysupermaket. There isn’t going to be a place to hide from being sold to.
This is actually on the MoneySupermarket site, but made to look like you're still on the Telegraph
If you are genuinely interested in getting told about deals to do with what you want, advertisers aren’t going to wait for you to check your email – they will tap into your widgets on your desktop. The amount of integration possible between sites and programmes will mean that the line between spyware and legitimate advertising will blur. There will be some fun levels of targeting possible and we need to be ready to exploit it as soon as it comes out.
Should be fun playing around with all the new toys that come along. As always it'll be a good couple of months before anyone does anything with them!

Title Image shamelessly stolen from wonder wombat's photostream

Anchorman Fest

Went to a fantastic event last night. It was called the Anchormanfest. It was exactly what we wanted. People were dressed as appropriate characters from the film. There was also bowling. Scotch was also available which probably explains why my head hurts a little right now. It's impressive how much of an impact Anchorman has had on popular culture. It's kind of the 'life of brian' for our age. Although Blades of Glory came close to Anchorman I don't think it had the same level of effect. I know very few people who are still quoting those films. Anchorman lead me onto many other films from Ferrell and co. I think it could easily be used as the basis for a viral, if we could get clearance. Sent from my iPhone

Polar Sympathy

The polar bear does seem to be generating lots of sympathy at the moment, and this sympathy is being ruthlessly exploited.

It's a nice marketing ploy to get people to sponsor animals. Nice and fluffy and able to look amazingly cute. This works as a device to get people to donate money.

The ad above plays on all of this to get people to sponsor an animal. Great interactive way to get people to pick up on the message that climate change is making things worse for many animals across the globe. I do think Attenborough should get some credit for the original idea for this advert, but I doubt he'll get it!

The thing that gets me though is that the website doesn't explain how you adopt a polar bear. You pay at least £2.50 a month in order to "adopt" it. What does this mean?

In my own thoughts you can't own a wild animal. Once it is owned it is a domestic animal, though admittedly it doesn't automatically become tame. If you adopt it, does it stop being wild (and therefore an illegitimate target for the world wildlife fund)?

If it isn't adopted, how do you know which animal is being looked after for you? What do they do for it?

I think the gift pack is a good idea and I'm sure the donation will be useful to the WWF, but the advertising is slightly misleading because your money is not going to the specific cause that you would expect from the naming of the product.

Of course I am getting my information from a cursory inspection of their website, but this website should be their opportunity to show how much work goes into caring for each of the 'adoptees' and it doesn't.

Overall it's a great advert but I think they could have been more open about what the money is actually going towards.

Friday, November 30, 2007

amapedia home page

amapedia home page

Brilliant idea by Amazon.

They've setup their own version of Wikipedia that seems to revolve around the products within their site. They've cunningly put it on a fully separate domain from their shops.

The trick is that they now get two listings within Google. One for their shop and one for their 'nice' site explaining all about the book but not in a "selly" way.

Of course it has nice convenient links for you to go and buy it on Amazon no matter what you write in the copy.

It'll be interesting to see if any companies copy it. It'll be difficult to get the critical mass to push some content into it, but getting two places on the top page in Google is definitely worth it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Vouchers = Bad Christmas

Gap warns consumers over hoax email vouchers - Brand Republic News - Brand Republic

Brand Republic ran a stroy this morning about some fake vouchers which were floating out there in the online world.

There seems to be a growing surge of online vouchers floating around. In the last week I've had vouchers forwarded to me from GAP, Selfridges, Carnaby Street and Wagamamas. The many newspapers are mentioning people like Threshers.

I remember reading about couponing in a business book. It's all about identifying people who are willing to pay but are put off by high prices. Give them a relatively difficult but straightforward means of obtaining a discount and they'll buy. The effort these people go through then means that the free spending people who wanted the product at the higher price anyway still pay full price. Hey presto, everyone's happy.

The problem is when too many of the high spending people get a hold of the discount voucher. The internet makes it very easy for vouchers \ promotional codes to be spread around in areas where the retailer or producer doesn't necessarily want them to be. Before you know it a discount meant for friends and family appears all over town.

Obviously the majority of retailers will put some crafty T&Cs on the voucher to ensure that they don't end up bankrupting themselves with this sort of offer. However the customer experience in this sort of situation will be quite bad. You've gotten the consumer's hopes up and then dashed them.

Branding considerations also need to come into play. It's nice to see your brand being sought after, but people shouldn't perceive your product as cheap or a bargain (unless you're talking about Tesco Basic). A brand's value is in two things: Amount of people who want it and the amount people will pay for it. Apple's trick is not just the fact that everyone wants their products, it's also the fact that they're willing to pay almost twice as much as the nearest competitor.

Most retailers are fully aware of the potential risks involved with giving out these voucher codes. The current vouchers available show the fact that retailers are a little more worried about Christmas than normal.

All shops have something to gain by saying that Christmas will be bad (helps lower expectations for their quarterly reporting and allows them to not look greedy over the christmas period) but they very rarely do anything about this pessimism until later in the season. This season people seem to be slashing all over the place before all the decorations have gone up.

Good thing is that if they're desparate now, they'll be more desparate later. Might be worth postponing the Christmas shop!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Threadless: No Longer Rootless

Threadless: From Clicks to Bricks

Threadless are opening a store. Can't think of many other situations where an online retailer has opened a real world shop...

I'm sure there are examples - I can imagine many family stores started life as an eBay shop. I just like the way the Article talking about this in Business Week made it sound really hard and difficult!
Web retailers are often unprepared for the costs of running a store, including rent, payroll, and utilities.
These sound suspicously similar to the bland pronouncements from the usual crew of consultants and 'experts' cooked up for this kind of article.

Do they seriously imagine that people won't realise they have to pay rent on a shop? That staff are free? That no-one will charge them for electricity?

While I know some people are a bit stupid you'd think by the time someone is successfully running an $11 million dollar business they might know how to pay rent.

The guy being quoted, Jim Okamura manages the Chicago office of a "Global Retail Consultancy". I bet he charges a good amount per hour. I wonder how much he would charge for that advice.

It's all based on his
Jim has 14 years of consulting experience focused on the retail industry, including strategic planning, branding, consumer behavior and multi-channel project work.

I imagine those 14 years have been well spent.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Value of Digital Citizenship

I am a firm believer in the existence of a Digital Community. I think that both people and companies who make their living on the internet owe something to the great beast that has spawned so much in the past ten or fifteen years.
Some of the things I do, of which this blog is the main thing, is contribute small amounts of content to the overall beast, in the hope that it will one day prove useful to somebody browsing on the internet. The vast majority of people on the internet are using it for benevolent purposes and I believe you have to trust in the good intent of that majority.
I saw an interesting idea today. If a website has been setup to defame your brand (example), it is possible to find ways to make that website disappear from Google.
The company who came up with the idea were strongly advising against this rather extreme tactic, but it got me thinking.
The problem is that most brands and brand managers want to control their brand on the internet. That doesn't work anymore. You make a brand and then release it to the public through advertising. Now it used to be that the only feedback people got about your brand was from their friends, the media and your adverts. Now there are many regularly visited places that can give people independent views of brands and companies.
This has spawned whole movements above and beyond those that used to plague nestle - the amount of effort to setup the movements has decreased hugely so the number of movements has increased. Mild hate campaigns can be setup with ease and spread quickly across a whole host of forums and social networks on the web.
In the face of this, many executives will ban any use of their brand, company or even logo in anything that could conceivably end up out of their direct control. This is silly. If you want people to actually take some time to build a relationship with your brand, you need to show them that you trust them. You need to give them the opportunity to complain. You need to be happy to show people that you are an open company.
Obviously you need to address the moaning, but that's the point. Letting the moaning happen is not a choice. Stopping the moaning is very difficult. Putting your prices up will never be a decision welcomed by your customers, but it's sometimes necessary. Explaining why the prices have gone up will help your cause. Explaining why powdered breast milk can sometimes be useful for parents will help.
Letting people make their own minds up is something that brave brands do because brave brands are confident that they have the best product. Trying to control the conversation is something that brands do when they have something to fear. If you have a problem ask for ideas from your customers. Show them that you listen.
Bit rambling. I think I've made my point, but I don't know what it was.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook didn't kill the internet!

Facebook's Big Ad Plan: If Users Like You, They'll Be Your Campaign - Advertising Age - Digital

AdAge report from the press conference where Facebook touted their new ideas.

Beyond the simple things (that Bebo have already been doing) around making sponsored profiles, Facebook are doing something that's actually interesting to marketers and to facebookers. The idea of being able to tell your friends when you've listed something on eBay should be quite useful - extending the reach of personal advertising of this kind.

The idea of Amazon reviews being posted onto facebook is useful too - this is a true use of an opensocial schema. The idea behind it seems to be that facebook should act as a node \ aggregator in the parsing of internet data about our friends. If facebook is notified that you have posted something to the internet (that you are willing to share), facebook will then inform your friends. Facebook sees it's role as combining Twitter, Blogger, MySpace, Amazon and eBay into a navigable interface.

Should be interesting to see how many people facebook can get to use this system. I think this will be of most interest to the smaller retailers who will get the chance to let people know that people shop there. IF you see that your friends are shopping somewhere, you will trust the shop more and therefore hopefully buy from them.

Might be an interesting way of growing some of the smaller players on the internet.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Old Guardian Stuff

Nice ad from the Guardian proving their ethical credentials (and also showing off their reasonably comprehensive archive).

I'm surprised there's little been done by the whole historical crowd to pull out and aggregate this data. I'm sure Google will get there at some point quite soon...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ad Tracking Rebellion

Uh - Oh!

The idea that advertisers can target people's behaviour on the internet has allowed many companies to become big. The size of the tracking has been increasing in recent months. There are rumours that facebook's new ad announcement on Tuesday will involve a large degree of tracking consumer's behaviour across other sites.

This will definitely rile the privacy advocates, who will be quite disturbed by the idea that facebook's database will be usable across the whole of the internet. The privacy controversy will deter some people from using facebook as much.

It should be interesting to see what evolves from this. Trust is an extremely important thing for social networks - we share a large amount of data with our social network providers. Although many people are willing to share the data with literally everyone, even more people want to limit the data sharing and control where it ends up. How many facebook profiles are shared with everyone?

I don't actually know what the data says but I'd bet that a good proportion are not shared.

I personally believe that facebook is going to come up with a funky way to advertise on their own site. If they do propose an external network model, we'll see some problems arising for many of the other companies that use almost any kind of behavioural targeting.

One quick look at the largest networks reveals many of them collecting large amounts of information on people using cookies. Tacoda (now owned by AOL), Blue Lithium (Yahoo), Adviva and many others will be exposed. Already around 8% of webusers employ some kind of cookie deletion software or some kind of cookie blocker. Increases in this will not make our job any more fun.

Google will remain smugly aloof (at least until they own Doubleclick!) as their model relies entirely on ads relevant to searches, not who the people are.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sony slowly getting there

Sony Gets It Right. The New PS3 Ad. « Agency Spy

Rather than focusing on a brand that is rather mysterious, Sony are finally shouting about the features of their box of tricks.

Still not sure they've quite beaten the gears of war ad that the Xbox 360 had earlier in the year - that one definitely did something different for me. I think the Gears of War ad was the first time I considered that the new generation of consoles were doing something other than having slightly better looking graphics.

Ultimately, the success of a console depends on getting good games. I don't think the console makers have done enough to produce exclusive games as of yet. Not having GTA IV exclusively will hurt Sony, and Helo 3 boosts the Xbox. Heavenly Sword looks rather generic beat em up and I am yet to see a game on the PS3 that I actually want to play.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prism - Start of Something New?

Absolutely brilliant idea from the people at Mozilla (the company that makes Firefox). They've put together a cunning programme that will take individual websites and make them have their own window.

What's the point?

Basically it makes webapps better by removing the browser 'clutter' at the top which makes the whole thing look like a webpage. The plan is that you won't be able to tell the difference between using Google Docs and using MS Word or something like that.

When this is finished, expect to see it become an integral part of Google pack. It'll work with other software too, I'm sure Zoho will be all over it too. This Web 3.0 that everyone's talking about may actually be Desktop 2.0. Let's make a buzzword generator to cover it all off...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to promote a museum

Flickr: Victoria and Albert Museum

Really nice idea from the V&A.

Nice bit of interactivity and also encourages people to label their photos when they put them on flickr.

Would be interesting to see if anyone has gotten around to collecting stats on what they've been up to but I doubt that they have. Nice marketing idea that hasn't cost anyone much time or effort.

Will definitely post some pictures up there from next time I visit.

Child Copyright Violator

Inside the Mind of a 9 Year Old File-Sharer | TorrentFreak

Nice little interview with a junior filesharer. It is interesting thinking about all these kids who are growing up with very little concept of how to obey copyright law.

The key is that people are going to break the law if it's easy and pretty much consequence free. There's a whole host of software out there specifically designed to make it easy for you to cheat and to make it easy for you to hide what you're doing.

The quality of the IT work by the rights holder is pretty much abysmal so you can be sure that the nine year olds are going to be able to stay one step ahead of them (by using software written by other people). The studios do seem to be seeing the light in regard to this, but there is still some work to be done.

Ideally (for us!) the perfect solution will be a subscription to a free service that will randomly insert ads in between songs, or in the middle of videos. I think the majority of people will be comfortable downloading something that is convenient, easy to use and reliable in exchange for a couple of adverts.

Overall I think we can succeed in changing behaviour if we replace free with free. We won't if we replace free with pay options - Bittorrent won't disappear and will always be the default option for many people.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Facebook vs Myspace Round 95

Really good article going through the various methodologies used to compare traffic across lots of different sites.

Summary is that there's been a little controversy in the States where the standard measurement (Comscore) decided that Facebook had actually lost users and market share in the previous month. Obviosuly this didn't quite chime with the current levels of hype and hysteria around the product.

Something's going on!

It highlights the difficutly of getting good numbers from the larger websites. In the UK we have settled on measurement from ABCe, these numbers are slightly better than the majority of other numbers shown. However, there is still scope to game these numbers and the publishers have a huge incentive to do so. ABC numbers in the press world are often artificially boosted using a range of different methods.

Facebook is definitely not alone in finding huge discrepancies between the (genuine) numbers that they see and the (estimated) numbers that the panels produce. The problem is finding the genuine number. We as advertisers and agencies do not wish to make decisions based on numbers provided by salespeople. Publishers are rightly aggreived when decisions are based on numbers which do not represent their situation.

It's difficult to find a solution and it would be a mistake to think any other media has comprehensively solved this. The ABCe is a welcome development which will hopefully grow larger in time. I'm sure someone somewhere is working on something even better, but we'll have to settle for some kind of slow industry standard in the meantime.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheeky Monkeys

Was looking through to find out who was using radianrss to subscribe to this blog, and what the hell radianrss was.

Did a search on google and got this

Google obviously thought that I meant to search for radiators. What's interesting is that it threw up search ads for radiators. It would be interesting to know how many of our ads are appearing against terms which bore VERY little relation to the words that are being searched for. Seriously - radianrss is quite a different mess of characters from radiators...

It's a good way for them to inflate their revenues still further.

Analyse This

Google ratcheted the quality of their analytics product up by another notch this week.

They have now included two core features into their analytics engine - internal search and event tracking.

Internal Search
They are now able to track people's search behaviour on individual sites. This isn't the hugest new feature for the majority of users on this product. However, any internet retailer will find this hugely useful as it will show how easy the site is to navigate in 'last resort' terms.
I haven't seen any evidence to support my view that search is usually the last thing people use to navigate within a site, but I believe this to be the case with the majority of stores. Only a store with more than roughly fifty products should feel the need to push their search function. All other sites should consider their site design and find ways to guide customers to the right destination without needing them to explicitly tell you what they're after.
For those that do have large numbers of products, it gives an insight into products that are important to customers. It can give an idea about rapid changes in popularity of generic ranges of goods. Admittedly we already have access to which product pages people are looking at, but searches should do some of the categorisation for us.
It will also open up possibilities in terms of measuring the performance of the search pages - tweaks will now be more easy to appreciate.

Event Tracking
This feature would have made a real difference when we were working on Jellyfish. Basically it allows things to be tracked when they don't involve a new page being loaded. Jellyfish was a particular problem since the page only tracked as one URL as far as google analytics could see. Event tracking should mean that we will be able to look at the performance of flash and ajax parts of sites.
More visibility is crucial here and I'm surprised it's taken this long for Google to put in a fix to this problem. Web 2.0 is fast becoming obsolete in terms of jargon, to be replaced by web 3.0 - surely this will then be supplanted by web 3.1 and then maybe web 95?

Anyway, Google are showing us that they're going to continue putting effort into analytics. It will be interesting to see what they come up with once the acquisition of doubleclick is complete. Their tracking system will be really comprehensive then!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sony Gets Ready to Sell

As everyone knows, gamers are not spending as much time as marketers would like looking at adverts.

Sony seem to have picked up on this theme. In order to make themselves pick up on the potential profits, they are now hiring people to make this happen.

Seems strange that it's taken almost a year to get this sorted out. Large numbers of people already use their systems on a daily basis. Sony control the interface and are also heavily involved in the coding of many of the titles that are released. This means that they can ensure that the adverts are as loud and intrusive as Sony want it to be.

Users will obviously be rather annoyed if the advertising is overly intrusive, this will interfere with their experience. However, they'll probably accept the advertising if it gives them something tangible.

It will be interesting to see how they manage it. At the moment games advertising seems to focus on getting very unobtrusive ads across the game. I suspect Sony will be able to find ways to get bigger and better ads sneaking into the system. Loading screens could definitely use some expansion, and there are usually a good couple of screens within a game that spend a disproportionate amount of time in front of gamers' faces.

Some of the solutions even offer branded characters within the game, though I think this would be a difficult thing to dynamically insert into the code. I'll look forward to hearing from Sony.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Microsoft Health?

Ars are reporting that Microsoft are in the process of establishing a private system of health records that you can easily take between doctors. It's a really good idea. The NHS are currently spending £12Bn to do just this. Somebody should have told them!
There will be some slightly geeky people who will post a link to this repository from their facebook pages. This will be a little odd, but possible.

This product follows a long trend of people giving sites more and more personal information. There are already services within the US that will look after your bank account for you (Wesabe) and we all know how much info people put onto their facebook and myspace pages.

I read an interesting article (though unfortunately I can't remember where!) comparing web application providers with Banks. Basically you're asking them to store your information and the relationship is entirely founded on trust.

We're still not quite at the point where we can define what we expect from a company in terms of trust - we definitely don't want them to make the information publicly available, but people seem comfortable with some information going to advertisers. If you ask people if they want to share their information, they'll say no - but people are easily swayed by the offer of free services.

I think the evolution of the relationship between application providers and the public will end up hinging on the trust issue. We still haven't seen anyone mishandle privacy in any major way. It will be interesting to see what people's reaction to a mishap will be. Would we see something analogous to a bank run?

Let's wait and see what happens if google accidentally publishes the wrong thing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Free Trend Continues

Chris Anderson wrote a book about the ‘long tail’ last year (for those of you who haven’t heard that phrase please ask someone in search!).

His next book takes the idea further, from small logistic costs to minimal logistical costs. In other words, what happens when there is no distribution cost and how certain things which we currently pay for (and value) could possibly turn into something free.

His initial predictions are coming true already - Radiohead are releasing their new album in exchange for a 'fair price donation'.
Newspapers are currently fighting among themselves to pull down the subscriber 'walls' within their sites. Good article here

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Decent Advert from ITV

ITV seem to be trying to make people notice their programmes a bit more.

I like their latest outing - caught it on the front page of the Guardian:

It's quite rare to see people being brave with online advertising. There seems to be tendency for clients to sit behind the creatives with a whip shouting "More Flashing! More Text! Why doesn't it say 'click here!'" Glad to see someone's experimenting to see if intrigue can drive some interest to the site.

Obviously it has been tried before, but there's a good whack of investment behind it - homepage of the Guardian is not cheap.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gordon Brown's Favourite Phrases

Although Swivel is one of my favourite sites at the moment (currently being overwhelmed by the Economist's daily chart news story), Many Eyes from IBM supplies some fantastic options for analysing text content. Unfortunately it does not yet offer embedding.

Have a look at the two pages I created analysing the text of Gordon's Speech:

First a normal tag cloud

Secondly a text analysis that shows the way certain words were used.

Quite useful way to get to the heart of a long speech. Could be useful for a presentation - turning a long argument into bite sized slides?

Monday, September 24, 2007

DoubleClick Launches Site-Side Mobile Ad Management, Advertiser Version in Development DoubleClick Launches Site-Side Mobile Ad Management, Ad

Here we go...

Finally we're seeing the big boys start to take mobile seriously. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I've been using Opera's mobile browser in recent weeks and I've been hugely impressed. It converts normal pages (not flash) into pages that are digestible on the mobile. They've also made a good interface that allows the pages to be navigated easily.

There is a slowly rousing argument that there should be no need to develop more than one site for any major media owner - the phone should be able to translate the site's content into a readable format. The problem at the moment is that there's very little in it for the sites - what do they gain from allowing people to read their content, for free, with ads being automatically stripped out.

Hopefully doubleclick's solution will allow sites to begin receiving money for the effort they put into developing their mobile sites. There is more and more content being accessed on the move. Google have put a good amount of effort into helping with local navigation. All the networks have good quality portals with sports results, simple news and travel information.

At some point soon there will be GPS systems which will also be reasonably usable browsers - this should allow passengers to find internet enabled content around their destinations and current locations. Mobile internet isn't necessarily limited to phones, there is plenty of room for location aware uses. Laptops being used with identified and registered hotspots will allow sites to begin to deliver customised content.

My own opinion is that the level of customisation available will not be fully taken up by the vast majority of advertisers in the beginning. Too much customisation will scare and alienate consumers, while the amount of effort and technological development required will put the majority off the investments needed.

However, DoubleClick, Google and their competitors will hopefully take much of the work out of delivering adverts on these platforms.

We'll see what happens!

Hours of Thought

Originally uploaded by mild_swearwords
Saw this in the tube the other day. Think it's in Holloway Tube.

Fantastically targeted product, placement and creative.

I'd be surprised if much thought was put into the advert to be honest, but they didn't need to. The story pretty much writes the advert. They've just taken the back of the book and put it into the poster.

Then, to add to the brilliance of the poster, they've added a competition to win some shoes. Simply awesome.

I suspect this has been made directly by the client, and well done them!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Old School PR fails to attract people to website

Some idiot from seems to be trying to get some free publicity for their website. They had the original idea of running a survey to find out people's attitudes to things on the internet.

This had the wonderful effect of finding out that people don't like popup ads. Very surprising. Somehow (I suspect a fancy lunch was involved) the survey managed to find its way into the Guardian as an aside within their business section.

They were very lucky and the article included the name of the site. This was then let down by the fact that their rubbish site has had no search optimisation whatsoever. Therefore it was difficult to find, and the site's listing on google just gives T&Cs.

I think more people would be able to find them if they did a bit of advertising. This might annoy the sort of person who will fill in an online survey, but at least it will be remembered.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Generic PR

It seems strange that a small project the size of Jellyfish can end up having such a range of people commenting on it.

To be completely fair to natmags, it was a small concern. They have a total staff of around 1,500 in the UK. Eight of them were directly involved in the launch and continuation of the Jellyfish project.

This has generated a decent amount of inquiry from people interested in the magazine industry.

The immediate verdict seems to be that the email delivery system was suspect, due to unconfirmed rumours across the industry.

I think, as someone who was there, I can safely say that there were a number of different reasons and pinning it down to one reason is more than slightly artificial.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to market a site. Jellyfish had healthy strategy and implementation across the entirety of the project but did not manage to gain enough traction with the target audience.

The main lesson is that the web is all about unique content which is refreshed often. Jellyfish did not fit either of those two criteria and so died reasonably quickly.

Does anybody have an example of a non-daily web publication working well? (Apart from Popbitch...)?

Yahoo acquires online collaboration suite Zimbra

Interesting move from Yahoo!

The net will be abuzz with news how Yahoo! is trying to get into the whole web 3.0 desktop \ web app delivery nonsense.

Basically Yahoo! is trying to stay within touching distance of Google. To be fair, Zimbra's application suite was more than slightly better than Google's, with the presentation app in particular stronger by far than anything else I've seen on the market.

We do have to remember that Yahoo! is still struggling in a variety of different ways, not least their inability to extract a decent value out of the inventory they are currently selling. For some reason they are concentrating on competing with networks to offer extremely cheap inventory whereas they should be leaving the networks to scrap over remnant inventory and spending their time selling their more upscale stuff.

I've still never had a salesperson try to sell me any of Yahoo!'s genuinely innovative sites - flickr, and the like. Yahoo! has proved adept at purchasing companies but it has yet to prove itself with the most important phase - the exploitation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The slow decline of Lycos

For anyone who was wondering why Lycos has been slowly declining in performance in recent years.

It used to be that and imdb were just sidetracks for Lycos' UK sales offering. They now seem to account for more than three quarters of Lycos' traffic. Although Lycos is beginning to focus a little more on providing content, it is starting to struggle.

My own opinion is that portals will become less relevant in the future. As more offline content providers begin to move online, people will seek out better content from them. Once people know where they can receive the news \ information they want, the only portal they need to visit will be their search engine.

The growth among portals is relatively static at the moment. This graph shows where they are:
MSN, Yahoo!, AOL, Orange, and Tiscali

Microsoft did something to messenger in January that I think has something to do with the spike in traffic. It also did some suspicious things to their daily visits.

I think that within a year we'll begin to see the larger portals start to show signs of decline. You can't be all things to all people, and the social networks will replace the portals as the homepage of choice.

Are we Geeky Enough?

Had an extended discussion last night with some people from my agency about Geekines.

Are we, as an agency, geeky enough. Considering that we specialise in digital media, there seems to be far too little gadget worship and far too little interest expressed in some of the things many people are wasting their lives doing. This is definitely not an agency specific problem.
Media owners seem to focus on giving us entertainment that wouldn't be out of place for Lawyers or general people. Obviously everyone wants to watch Wimbledon or something but only one media owner ever offered us a night out at NAMCO (which was awesome).
There is a general lack of blog reading, rss usership and other proven signs of geekiness. While I understand that our industry needs to understand all sides of the spectrum of digital usage, it does worry me that some people do not know what digg is. Our sales people sometimes genuinely have no concept of why their users are spending large amounts of time with their sites. The people selling me a particularly engaging music service did not and do not have their own accounts.
We need to find a way to find people in the industry rediscover the joy of experiencing a new product, regardless of whether it's any use. Gadgets and web services are always good, no matter how pointless. Twitter may be incomprehensible to most of us, but very few people have tried it.
As digital media planners, we're being beaten by some of the offline account planners. They're no longer just saying 'lets put up a myspace profile' they're actually spending time in the digital environment. If we don't put some effort in they'll be the ones guiding the advertising and therefore the money.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Mail Grows On

I have completely missed the rise and rise of the Daily Mail. Since they did their relatively soft launch about a year ago, they've seen a steady rise in their UK traffic figures.

Comscore shows the region they're currently in:
Sun, Guardian, Times, Telegraph, and Daily Mail

Of course the wonderful work our team did on the Sun has paid dividends in terms of driving traffic to the Sun - it's now receiving the most traffic of any news site in the UK.

The real surprise is the Mail though, when we look at relative growth rates, the Mail is just about growing faster than the Sun. They are only three percent below the rate the Sun's been seeing.

Some makes sense as the core audience for the Mail is only coming online at the moment. However, this is unlikely to be the only reason for the drive. I suspect there has been some in-paper advertising going on, but it would definitely be interesting to find out some more info.

One of the obvious areas of growth for them has been their daily visitors:

Sun, Guardian, Times, Telegraph, and Daily Mail

Many of the papers use their daily stats as a key metric - they relate it directly to their daily circulation. On this measure, the Mail actually beats the Times and the Telegraph at the moment (their visitors are obviously coming back on more days than their competitors).

The Sun absolutely cleans up on this one at the moment, which gives a graph I suspect we'll use in the next awards entry! I won't put it into Swivel, but they're approaching double the Guardian's number.

Overall I think we're going to see the Mail attempting to wield a little more influence in the coming months. As much as I hate to say it, but I think we're going to have to spend some money with the Mail...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Adverganza in the US came up with an interesting point yesterday. Why don't we sell ourselves as an industry more?

The ONS had to point out the disproportionate contribution us advertising and marketing bods made to the UK economy. We, as an industry, lead the world in terms of adapting to the changing face of media and advertising.

At the same time, our government seems to lead the world in making up new things were not allowed to advertise and new times that we're not allowed to do it in. Advertising pays for people (and children) to experience culture and information that they would have to otherwise pay for. At it's best it is a force for equality and change - letting people know about things which they would otherwise be unaware.

We always have special things to point to, but I think there are a couple we should be proud of:
Organic food - scientific crap but still a source of greenery unequalled so far
Ending animal testing - protesters get so far but once the body shop got going everyone else followed
Jamie's School Dinners - a TV ad campaign \ PR stunt ended up making the government change policy
Drink Driving - another case for advertising proving able to change people's opinions
M&S - advertising gave people a reason to revisit the shop, saving a british institution

Obviously we're not perfect at all points, but we have shown that we can act responsibly - the ASA is a good case study. In the end we are all rational actors and have huge amounts at stake to ensure that our brands and our agencies have long term futures. We are not about to put all that at risk for the sake of short term gain.

Monday, August 27, 2007

the fruits of imagination: Online research under fire

This article tells us about how internet research is not to be trusted.

The methodologies involved in all forms of marketing research always make me a little bit worried - there's very little hard measurement.

You might run back to the client with a graph showing a 20% uplift in purchase propensity. This sometimes can mean that after seeing your ad three more people out of twenty ticked the 'very likely to' box rather than the 'quite likely to'.

What does that actually mean?!

Marketing research numbers have always been more than slightly dodgy and a similar problem exists throughout the research community - we will only ever get a certain type of person to respond to the research. We need to be careful that we don't end up tailoring all our ad output to the tiny part of the population who will respond to the questionnaire.

What could be interesting is if focus groups also picked up cookie ids from DART \ Atlas. This might then allow us to do focus groups with the knowledge of what ads they've been exposed to on the internet.

Not sure how easy it would be to get hold of this data, but it would definitely be interesting.

Overall I think the way people see a brand shouldn't be reduced to numbers that can be compared with other brands. Brand recall and unprompted awareness are silly metrics to be using.

I think the way people see different companies and brands varies depending on the kind of relationship. For example, Zara and BP are completely different and the idea that any metric could be shared between them is a little bit hopeful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Street

Just an amusing photo I found showing my street on Sunday. The beautifully placed stain is nothing to do with me!
Parkhurst road isn't too bad at all once you see past the prison at the end of the road. There are a couple of decent pubs in the area and it's not too far from anywhere. It's relatively rare that there is any dried vomit at all. To be fair, I think I saw more dried vomit in Cambridge than I ever have since. We'll see what Bethnal Green is like later on in the year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jellyfish Magazine R.I.P.

Really gutted that Jellyfish has been stopped. Although I can't remotely blame the people making the decision for deciding that the investment had grown too risky, I do feel that this is an idea that will work.

The difficulties involved in trying to make this sort of site work were eventually insurmountable. We'll all be looking on with eager eyes at what Monkey Magazine report on their ABCe number this month - the 'word on the street' is that the site is going to have seen a significant drop.

As is always the case with websites, they don't spread easily - I feel that if we'd put this website in front of enough people, it would have taken off like wildfire. It's the first project I've been involved in that hasn't been a success and although I feel I made a positive contribution overall, I suspect it will always be a frustrating experience. I think I put a lot into this project, a good weekend or two of my time was poured into this project.

One day I think I'd like to give the publishing \ media owner side a go. Although they continually take pretty large risks, there is a heady atmosphere involved in working for these organisations. The sheer amount of belief and determination of the staff on Jellyfish will stay with me for a long term.

I hope I get the chance to be involved in another project like this - I only got involved at the halfway point. I think we could have been slightly more useful from the beginning.

For those that read it, I hope it will be remembered fondly. For those that didn't, I hope you feel that you missed out.

Myspace is getting desparate

Logged onto Myspace for the first time in a while just now and saw this interstitial. Hope it's going to go OK - Courtney's just about to leave to see what she can do for these guys. I think they're starting to realise they need to up their game slightly.
I'm surprised that Myspace still don't seem to have taken the time to make customising people's profiles easier. You'd have thought that this could be a winner over facebook, if the customisation was straightforward (and nice looking!).
We'll see how they manage. July's numbers should be out soon and I suspect we'll see facebook really starting to eat into them in the UK.

Stuck for an Idea?

Cunning little viral from the states.

Just a spinning idea wheel, but I think it's been well put together. Definitely going to give this a play next time I have to make up a strategy!

(Found through Agencyspy)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Google subsidises MySpace

As part of being a company that's listed on the stock exchange, Google has to report to its investors on the potential risks to the company. In their most recent filing, they provide the usual detail on the financial risks involved in running their search engines.
Obviously there are potential problems around killer competitors emerging or people turning completely away from Google branding. The most interesting paragraph, surprisingly, is the following:
Payments to certain of our Google Network members have exceeded the related fees we receive from our advertisers.

We are obligated under certain agreements to make non-cancelable guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to Google Network members based on their achieving defined performance terms, such as number of search queries or advertisements displayed. In these agreements, we promise to make these minimum payments to the Google Network member for a pre-negotiated period of time. At June 30, 2007, our aggregate outstanding non-cancelable guaranteed minimum revenue share commitments totaled $1.66 billion through 2011 compared to $1.17 billion at December 31, 2006. It is difficult to forecast with certainty the fees that we will earn under agreements with guarantees, and sometimes the fees we earn fall short of the guaranteed minimum payment amounts.
In August last year, Google were celebrating a deal with MySpace that provided $900m worth of advertising to them. They've also signed major deals with eBay, AOL and some other large sites globally.

In their enthusiasm for getting these exclusive deals, it does look like they've overpaid. It definitely implies that they were working to some assumptions that must have been extremely wrong. Signing deals for over $1 billion that don't make you money looks a little silly.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Brain as a sex organ

Interesting theory that the brain evolved as a sex organ. Although the methodology in the experiment doesn't look very robust, it does come up with some good results.

I like the fact that women aren't willing to risk anything to be heroic and I particularly like the way charity is portrayed.

I'll have to get working on a bit more conspicuous spending...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Londonist: Could This Be The Most Alarmist Standard Headline Ever?

Nice shot. Definitely could have done with some fleeing - had a hole in my shoe yesterday and got home with some very soggy feet indeed. Did win a pub quiz though so it wasn't all bad!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Meeting my hero

There's very few times that you get to kneel down next to your hero. I got the chance today. And got a great book too!
Well worth a quick walk!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Really clever advert

Actually it might not be the cleverest advert in the world, but I do think it is quite cunning.

No idea who the company is nor what they do. To be honest, I don't really care that much as their product isn't something I'm able to buy. Good to know what they're doing though!

Found through Big Secret Pizza Party

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A World Without Advertising

I was talking with someone today, talking about ad blockers. These are programs that block the advertising that appears on pages.

The argument was that ads annoy users, therefore they will block them. I was coming back with my usual point about the fact that people are willing to block adverts using free ad blockers. However, they are very unwilling to pay a regular price for blocking the adverts.

Walmo was also talking about how people understand how adverts fit into areas where they feel they are getting content for free, but that they don't expect to get advertising in 'their' space such as Myspace or facebook.

Thought I'd do the maths behind it, to see how much advertising pays for each user.

If we assume that there are three tiers of sites: Quality (e.g. Guardian \ Economist \ Hemscott etc), Entertainment (Sun \ Handbag \ BoingBoing) and Social (Google \ Facebook \ Yahoo! Mail).

We'd be willing to pay more for the quality sites because we feel they're giving us something of value. I think people would be unwilling to pay for things like Google or Facebook because they're seen as piggybacking on other people's content. If they had no choice at all, they definitely would as they're all pretty much a necessity for using the internet in the way we currently do.

If we assume that Quality sites are able (at the moment) to acheive a yield of around £8 per thousand pages - that's 0.8p for every page you view. If you compare this to a newspaper, with around 100 stories on average, that's 80p so quite valid in terms of pricing.

We'd expect entertainment sites to be cheaper. Let's say a yield of around £4 per thousand pages - that's 0.4p for every page. You'd expect an entertainment paper to be shorter than a newspaper, so that's the equivalent of around 20p for a paper.

Social sites fill our sights with adverts. I'd guess the ad yield for these sites (apart from Google) to be around £0.75 per thousand pages - if they're lucky!

Looking at Comscore, the average user sees around 3,500 pages a month. Assuming you look at 65% social, 25% entertainment and 10% quality pages.

This works out to a nice and round £8 a month additional money to pay for the content people look at. The problem is that this then needs to be distributed fairly and equitably between the sites. People need security to know that evil criminals aren't stealing their accounts. Any business doing this sort of deal would open themselves to all sorts of complications. They'd probably charge an additional 25%, taking the charge to a nice round £10.

Now I don't think that's a huge sum to ask people to pay for - if advertising is such a problem ask people if they're willing to pay £10 a month to not see it. If they are then maybe you've got a business idea.

I think sites would be much more interested in solutions that would stop them having to bow to the pressures they get from people like me. Unfortunately it would also involve me losing my job. I wouldn't like that!!

Ultimately as an industry we need to ensure that we don't annoy enough people to the point that £10 a month seems worth paying to get rid of our 'works of art'. I think we should be able to cope.

PS In comparison, the IAB estimate current online ad expenditure to be in the region of £2billion. This, when divided by current internet users of 31 million, gives £64 a year and therefore £5.37. This is slightly different. However, the IAB use PwC to guess their numbers, so I'm going to trust mine because I've put more rigour in than just employing some bean counters to ring round a couple of big media owners and ask them how much they made this year.

(Picture mercilessly stolen from trangress)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bye Bye Blair

One of the (few) advantages of working in Victoria is that it's relatively close to Westminster. That's why there's never much tube traffic on a Monday as the civil servants take advantage of flexi-time...

Therefore, when I read the itinerary of Blair's final day, I realised it was more than possible to wander up to Downing Street to see the final moments in person. A short walk and I was outside the center of power.

There was a definite mood that this was an 'event'. Ugly protesters tried to disturb the solemnity of the occasion. They were by no means only protesting the war, there was a wide range of causes displaying their badly made placards. Strangely enough, people still seem to blame Blair personally for the war in Iraq. Do they really think he could have stopped the war?

The event, for the general public, was made much more difficult by the police. They pushed everyone a LONG way back from the gates of Downing Street, under the pretext that they had to swing the gates back. They pushed us back about fifteen meters from the entrance of Downing St, which was much further than made sense from the opening.

It's a shame that security considerations now mean that such distance must be kept from 'important' people. Hopefully at some point we will try and have a little trust that the public won't try and kill famous people too often!

Anyway, the police stopped me from having a good view. But I managed to be among the few people cheering and applauding Blair as he finished his ten years in office. He gave a little wave from his car. I can imagine that he's got the BEST feeling in the entire world this morning. Nothing at all to worry about for a couple of days.

Well done Tony Blair. He will be missed (at least by me)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Small bars, many people

Went to Lab bar again last night. Seem to have been going there more often recently, I think more people have discovered it, though it's been there for a couple of years.

I don't know if it's me getting older but it seemed overly crowded last night. If you're going to have a very trendy bar that becomes popular, I think you should look at restricting the number of people going in to it!
Unfortunately this results in places like Mahikis and Pangea which then become magnets for socialite types who want to show everyone how 'important' they are.

Personally, I believe in hunting down new and funky places - this helps to keep things simple. It also avoids too much crowding.
I suspect I'm going to experience more bar crowding when I start working in Soho, but hopefully it'll also give me the chance to find the new trendy bars before they get too busy.
Also, I'll be quite close to the Sanderson which doesn't seem to get too crowded (the wince-inducing prices scare most people away!!)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google Moves a Step Closer to World Domination

Sometimes Google comes up with something extremely surprising. In fact this does seem to happen more often than with almost any other company in the entire world.

This week's surprise is Google Gears. It sounds pretty innocuous - it will allow web apps to work when you're offline. The first app is very exciting, it lets people use Google Reader when they're offline. I think this is fantastic and will make my next couple of train trips far more interesting as I can read my feeds rather than the newspaper.

However, the important development is that we will be able to use Google Docs offline (I assume). We will be able to use Google Writer instead of Word, Google Spreadsheets instead of Excel and the forthcoming Google Presentations instead of Powerpoint.
At the moment, Google's offerings are not as good as Microsoft's, but they're free while Microsoft's cost a large amount of money.

We'll see if this does make a huge difference to people's usage of Google services, but I can see it being beneficial. The only problem is that Google will now become a software supplier. I think there'll be a couple of people using this Google Gears product to hack into people's computers at some point - it does seem to give people rather a large amount of access to their computers.

It does look like it will be possible to accomplish almost everything on a computer without leaving Google's own sites. Probably not a good thing!!

Let's hope Ask's information revolution actually happens.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rise of Facebook

I've been to a couple of different parties in the past few weeks where everyone is talking about Facebook. It's quite interesting seeing its evolution from an equivalent of FriendsReunited to a genuinely useful tool that people are using to organise their lives.
I was planning to meet up with someone this weekend and was sent a Facebook event rather than an email or a phone call to sort out the details. Allen and Overy recently suffered an internal revolt when their IT department decided to block the Facebook's website. There was a swift backpedal and the lawyers are back to manically facebooking each other.
The thing that confuses me is why this didn't happen with Myspace or Bebo. They both emerged (in the UK) around a year to a year and a half ago. They swiftly took over many people's lives and had them organising their lives around the websites. However, these sites didn't win over my social circle so I always felt a little left out.
Whole books have been written on network effects and how things like social networks can evolve. I can't be bothered to think about why they succeeded. Instead I'll draw a couple of pretty graphs.
This one shows the growth of Facebook against those of its competitors.
Myspace, Bebo, Piczo, and Facebook
As you can seem Facebook is doing a good job of catching up, but it's still a huge distance behind Myspace and Bebo. It'll take them a good six - nine months of current growth. Worrying for Piczo is the fact that they've actually lost audience in the last month. Things are not going to go well for them if they can't fix that soon.
A quick look at the younger people shows Piczo in even more trouble:
Social Networking: 15-24 yr olds
Facebook has already overtaken Piczo and is halfway towards catching Myspace and Bebo.

A good thing to notice on this graph is that Bebo and Myspace are neck and neck for the umber one social networking spot. This should be noticed by all the brands competing with each other to see who can spend the most on Myspace - there's a couple of different places to spend that money...

The 'hidden' rise of Bebo and Piczo shows the importance of having good measuring tools in the internet - you can't see what other people are doing online. A website is usually less exciting than the last episode of 24 and so gets talked about less. The current measurement systems still leave large amounts to be desired.

We'll see what Google or Tacoda will offer us when they get round to sharing the piles of data they are sitting on - I suspect there'll be some interesting nuggets within them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What I do for a living

It's always uncomfortable when someone tries to boil down effectively what you do. I was at a house party the other day and everyone seemed to be telling me that their job was very important and involved 'strategy' and other managerial sounding words.
I could go for the generic explanation of what I do. It would involve words like 'strategy', 'clients', 'direction' and many other buzz words. I could probably put the '2.0' suffix onto any of them to make myself sound even more grand.
Explaining my job to people who don't work in the industry is always difficult because it hasn't existed for a very long time and the definitions of what we do haven't really filtered down to most other people. Most people probably don't really care about what it is that I do.
They might notice the adverts on their screens while they're surfing the internet, but they probably don't appreciate the time and effort put into making them move their mouse to hit the 'close' button.
My favourite explanations are below:

"I make the Internet free"

Obviously this isn't entirely true, but it does have more than a couple of grains of truth. Adverts from my company appear in front of almost every person who goes online in the UK. I don't think many of those people paid the sites which provided the free content they were looking at.
There's a huge number of online services beyond news which are funded by the advertising we place - social networking, webmail, RSS readers, search engines...
Without the ads we place most people wouldn't be able to find a single useful things on the web. We'd be stuck with the BBC's website and whatever people are willing to write and pay to host.
We're capitalism's friendly face and probably the people who've allowed some of the most life changing technology into your world.

"I make rich men richer"

I think anyone who isn't a doctor or self-employed does this for a living. In my case, I work for a company which is owned by a group of people who I see on occasion. They are all men and I have seen figures which show exactly how much richer I've made them.
Even civil servants help by making the whole system work and therefore maintaining the framework which allows these rich people to get richer. I don't mind because one day I hope to join their number. However, there's a huge number of people who also have a similar plan...

"I get poor people to buy things they don't need with money they don't have"

Unfortunately one of the problems with advertising is that the most susceptible people to it are the poor. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, people who were rich make themselves poor by buying all the things advertising tells them to. Secondly, poor people are easier to sell hope to. Give them a loan and they'll find many things to spend it on.
As many a social worker will tell you, it isn't usually spent on things they actually need. More often than non it'll be things that the telly told them they wanted.
Luckily, most poor people haven't invested in getting themselves the internet so most of the things we sell are for slightly more upmarket consumers.

Ultimately, I really enjoy my job and I think one of the things that would make a job less interesting is being able to explain it. I think the thing I can take away is that every now and then I get to do something new. Something no-one else has done before and something other people will copy at some point relatively soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Originally uploaded by mild_swearwords.
Went to Legoland yesterday.

Among the many worldwide scenes that they have recreated in Lego, this picture of Downing Street seems to have been updated by someone sneaky!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Extremely bad news today with one of my favourite people in the entire world deciding to resign.

Just turned on newsnight and seen an interesting debate with two utterly defeated people discussing his 'legacy'. Charles Kennedy and Michael Howard attempting to criticise what Blair achieved in office.

Maybe he did bad things but I have extreme doubts that any of the opposition leaders would have had the ability to do things better or even particularly differently.

Seriously - can anyone honestly imagine Michael Howard or Charles Kennedy actually sitting in Downing Street?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Someone's Opinion on my Industry

(image from digitalgrace)

Amused by one of the comments towards the end of this gentle moan at advertising:


May 7, 2007 10:31 AM

"I'm with Salfordian on this one.

In our society advertising and marketing is the "elephant in the room" that no-one speaks ill of. This monster rapaciously soaks up enormous piles of money, resources and skills in order to fart out a thirty-second add showing yet another shiny silver car morphing up an empty, snaky mountain road. Who cares - brand image is an entirely specious fabrication.

Let's gather up our own flaming brands and storm the citadels of the advertising agencies. We should take no more.

These self-aggrandising leeches of society award themselves preposterous wages, stinking bonuses and regularly preen themselves in champagne award ceremonies. Smear them in the products they push and stick them on a pyre, I say.

Roy, when are we as a society going to properly remunerate social workers, carers (you know the list!) etc with wages commensurate with the value of their work?"

It seems strange the amount of invective generated by putting adverts in front of people. Especially when they're probably exactly the same people who would kick up a fuss if the media they consumed suddenly cost money...
I think the media needs to be a little more honest with their consumers. I did like a service that the Guardian offered a while ago - you paid money and the site came with no adverts at all. This scheme had to be dropped because less than 50 people took it up (the Guardian was then being read by over 9 million people).
People like moaning more than paying.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Gillette Fusion War on Terror

Beautiful skit by Stephen Colbert. Love the idea of sponsoring the War on Terror.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Originally uploaded by mild_swearwords.
Went to Hospitality at Herbal last night - fantastic atmosphere and music.

Cyantific played a great cheese fest.

Blu Marten then destroyed the place with some fantastic music that navigated the border between music and noise in just the way I like. I was happy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rejected Petition


I'm sorry to inform you that your petition has been rejected.

Your petition was classed as being in the following categories:

* Party political material

* Intended to be humorous, or has no point about government

If you wish to edit and resubmit your petition, please follow
the following link:

You have four weeks in which to do this, after which your
petition will appear in the list of rejected petitions.

Your petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'Give Will
Ferrell an honourary Knighthood, and make the viewing of
Anchorman compulsory for all schoolchildren.'

Many people in the UK have recognised a need for young people
to have a role model.

We, the undersigned, believe Will Ferrell to represent all that
is good about life in general. His attitude to life and acting
exemplify productivity, hard work and people skills.

Anchorman has gained international recognition for portraying
equal opportunities in the workplace. We believe that if more
people in Britain used the values and attitudes Ferrell
displayed in his role as Ron Burgandy, the UK would be a better

Although he has not yet loaned the labour party any cash, we
are sure some of his earnings from 'Blades of Glory' could be
diverted to a suitable account.

-- the ePetitions team

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Sometimes it's possible to get very bored of queues. Airports seem very happy with the idea of making people wait. There's loads me people just standing around patiently waiting. Workers stand around patiently not doing anything. I'm not patient so I fidget. This makes me look unusual so I get searched. Fun.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The 'Information Revolution'

I was on the tube this morning and I noticed an ad for the 'information revolution'. Wasn't entirely sure what it was, nor who it was for.

This intrigued me, so I remembered the URL on the advert and had a look at the site when I got home. It annoyed me as I don't like letting those creative types know how successful they were at their cunning cross media approach. In my opinion, I'm only interested in it because I'm a geek.

The site purports to be telling people about the dangers of relying on only one information source. It features interviews with 'real people' and some unsourced facts about the peril we are exposing ourselves to.

Although they don't explicitly say it, they are arguing that you shouldn't just use Google to do your searches - you should diversify.

I strongly suspect that this site is a cunning attempt by Yahoo! or Ask to subvert people into changing their searching habits. The site doesn't have any adservers tracking activities on the site, and there is nothing overtly associated with any brand.

The only clue that something is weird is the search box in the bottom right of the site.Seems unusual to put them in alphabetical order...

I ran a WHOIS on the URL (a technique for finding who owns the website) and found it registered to a little company called Profero. One of my best friends, Lydia, works there and therefore I know that it's a digital advertising agency.

A quick look at their client list shows that they have both Yahoo! and Ask. I'm not sure this is the kind of thing that Yahoo would be willing to sign off - they're a bit overly corporate and this seems quite brave. Therefore I think it's Ask Jeeves looking to change people's behaviour.

It is a good site, but I think it falls just short of where it needs to be. There's no controversy, there needs to be more emphasis on the bad things that could happen if we all used Google.

Getting in trouble with the legal department is difficult, but it does need to make some statements that show it's some kind of movement rather than a corporate site. Maybe make up a term about 'information pollution' or some catchy name for a homogenous infrastructure.

Might keep an eye on it to see what happens!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I wandered lonely as a bus

I had the unfortunate luck to fall asleep on the way home tonight. It reminded me me how far away some parts me London are. I went through places like Wood Field, palmer's green and other bits of Enfield... It was a worrying reminder that Enfield is a good half hour drive away from real civilisation. Sleep at your peril!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

PS3 takes on Second Life

Fantastic move by Sony \ Playstation.

I love the idea of having a 'virtual space' for PS3 users. Hope it will result in some funky new things, both for players and for evil corporate people like me.

I can imagine this morphing into some kind of virtual ad space. I think the key will be to resist being overtly commercial. We had a presentation from Bebo the other day who said it was important to be seen 'as part of the community'.

Personally I think the important thing is to show members that the advertising is giving something to them.

Advertising is expected on a free platform - the majority of people understand that someone has to pay for the service. The key is to get the balance between awareness and annoyance. Ads need to be positive, and be a reward for getting the consumer to do something.

I love the idea on this service that certain things will be unlockable. obviously the initial rush will be to extract money (kids are willing to pay for mobile backgrounds, why not virtual T-Shirts?). However, I think the best thing will come from earned rewards. What if people who have completed a certain game then get some kind of obvious identifier?

World of Warcraft shows the lengths some people are willing to go to show off their 'prowess' at playing games. The home space for the PS3 users could easily morph into that. Competitions could be run, with the winner getting a large statue in one of the communal areas (sponsored?).

If Sony can recruit a good team capable of running this area effectively, it could easily become a very strong community. It could even end up representing something very valuable for Sony?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spotplex - Next Big Thing?

Really interesting site I just found out about from the regularly excellent Data Mining blog.

This site has the potential to give us some numbers on the 'blogosphere.'
At the moment, the only effective measurement on blogs is through Technorati and Nielsen's Buzzmetrics. Spotplex is offering the ability to measure actual readers (or at least page impressions).

It'll be interesting to see how well this service does. It has the potential to compete with both digg and google analytics. While it is doing this, it will enable us good ol' advertisers to work out how many people are reading these blog things, and give us some fantastic graphs to show what people are actually looking at.

Can't wait till this gets integrated with Swivel!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Quite amusing little thing showing the power of a little marketing.

An 'exceptional' piano player called Joyce Hatto was well known for her quality of playing. Can't see any mention of her live performances here, but she had a good number of piano CD releases.

Unfortunately when people put these into their PCs, the computers would think they'd put a CD of someone else into their disc drive.

Turns out her recordings were suspicously similar to those of other artists.

Lesson is - if you're going to copy something, change the length of the CDs, the computers can't catch you then!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fantastic Pictures

Really impressive little doodle from some American guy. Usual hippy terror story with lots of stuff against all the silly things Americans do (and us smug Europeans too!)

Really like the one of the mountain view made up of SUV logos.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My brain

Just got one of those brain training games. This is the result me giving it a go while very drunk... It does come out slightly better when I'm sober!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Videos

Web 2.0 Explodes, Mind-Expanding Video Shows Who's Teaching Who - Gizmodo

I don't know who it was who made this video, some professor of something made up.

However, I have now seen this video appear on Information Aesthetics, Boing Boing, Slashdot, "Talent Imitates, Genius Steals", Lifehacker, Telegraph technology, Pocket Lint and Slashdot.

I'm not sure how valuable the video is, but it's definitely shown the power of blogging. Despite all this publicity, it's only received 150,000 views (t time of writing).

Digital Ethnography sounds slightly made up. I do hope there's not too many gullible students paying good money to study trends in youtube and what happens on world of warcraft.

Basically, KSU seems to have come up with a cunning way to make money. I don't know what you can do with this degree they've made up, but I know I'd be extremely reluctant to employ someone who'd spent £10,000 on a degree that looks very questionable in value.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Anti Hippy Movies

You know video on demand has come of age when Wal-Mart starts offering it.

In their characteristically brash manner, they've managed to annoy geeks everywhere by supporting neither Firefox nor Mac users.

Pricing is supposed to be the same level as DVDs. However, they haven't offered the option to burn the movies to a (TV watchable) disc. Which means it won't be that useful to people here in the UK.

I would be that there's also some kind of protector thing to stop us watching them. It does strike me that the $20 download fee is less than the current cinema price in central london.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Google's "Masterplan"

Nice little video by what looks like some design students. Really reminds me of the graphic design which was part of the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. Their concern centres on the privacy issues around Google.

This blog is written on Google software, they can see what I search for (personalised search), what I read (Google Reader and Google News), and even what files I look at (Google Desktop). This will translate into a very detailed picture of me.

Google's performance shows that the majority of people are willing to accept services in exchange for a loss of privacy. It is quite impressive how much information Google currently has on me, but I am quite comfortable with that. There have been no examples of Google abusing privacy so far (that I am aware of).

As with all web services, Google are acutely aware that their competition are only one click away. If you even think that there's a small possibility that Google could do something that would make your life worse, you're going to go to the competition. Hopefully Google will keep that in mind when they're being tempted to abuse their data.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Search Engine Share

I was reading something about the most recent Microsoft results, which managed to point out that Microsoft has lost market share in the last year, despite their well publicised launch of search services. This was an American article, so I thought I'd have a quick peek at how they've been doing.

If we look at the current performance in terms of unique users, they're not doing too badly. This is based on the Windows live search page, and compares their growth vs Google and Yahoo. The scale is relative to the average over 2006 - couldn't get Swivel to index it relative to the beginning.
Unique User Growth in 2006 (Relative Scale)

When you look at the absolute numbers, the performance isn't too bad either:
Search Engine Reach of UK Internet Users

However, once you look at this by page impressions (or number of visits), you see that Microsoft have completely failed to make any sort of dent into Google. It's quite scary when you look at it. Google is in green at the top, MSN and Yahoo are lurking at the bottom.
Yahoo vs. Google vs. MSN

The differentials in the share of page impressions swing to hit them even harder once you look at revenue. My own experience is that Google sends through people who are slightly more likely to buy. This means we are willing to pay slightly more for their adverts.
This extra margin means that Google are making around ten times more than their nearest competitor. This is a mark that would usually attract the interest of a regulator in any other industry. However, this dominance has been achieved by having a better product.
We'll have to wait and see what Yahoo! manages to do with their new system, 'Panama', which will be launching in the UK later this year. They'll need some good luck too.