Monday, November 21, 2011

Integrated Marketing Campaigns

For everything people have been saying about John Lewis' new TV ad, it's interesting seeing what's live for digital advertising at the moment:

Not quite as interesting!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Six ways you can support the Guardian | Info |

Seems slightly desperate, but it's a good idea.

------ from, via Google Reader
Subscribe to the Guardian and Observer before the end of this month and pay only £5 per week for our seven-day package – a saving of 45% on the cover price

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Install Google&;#39;s Note in Reader Bookmarklet in iPad&;#39;s Safari

Great - this does work!

------ from, via Google Reader
If you want to install in your iPad's Safari a Google's Note in Reader bookmarklet, just in case you really need to share something from your mobile browse

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How the Cable/Willetts market in higher education ended up inflating fees

Some nice quotes to remember

------ from Left Foot Forward, via Google Reader

Remember all that lovely spin about how higher education tuition fees of more than £6,000 a year would be rare?

“Mr Willetts gave warning that universities should only charge maximum fees only in ‘exceptional circumstances’.” – The Daily Telegraph, February 21st 2011

“People keep citing £9,000. You know, £9,000 should be the exception not the rule. If you want to go through the £6,000 barrier you are going to have to jump through a lot of hoops.” – The Independent, December 5th 2010

“Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (LD): ’One of the worries out there is that all universities might end up being allowed to charge £9,000. What assurance – what rules, what guarantees-can my Right Hon. Friend give that “exceptional” will mean “exceptional”, and that £6,000 will be the limit for most universities in the country?’

“Vince Cable: ’That is a highly pertinent question in the light of the experience of the last government, who had a two-tier system. There was a migration of all universities to the top of the range. They operated, in effect, like a cartel, and that must be stopped.’” – Hansard, December 9th 2011

Well, it’s all turned out rather differently.


As the BBC reported this morning:

More than a third of England’s universities have had their plans to charge £9,000 for every course officially approved. Some 58% will be allowed to charge £9,000 for at least some courses in 2012, said the fees watchdog the Office for Fair Access.

One major reason why is that universities fear students will price as shorthand for quality, so resulting in universities actually competing to raise prices. As Left Foot Forward reported recently, the Vice Chancellor of De Montford University, Professor Dominic Shellard, told his student newspaper that DMU will charge £9,000 next year because:

“…whether we like it or not there’s a correlation between what you charge and people’s perception of quality. We’re quite ambitious as an institution, we want to go well beyond this notion that we’re a post-92 institution. It was a reflection of our ambition.”

We are fast heading towards a two-tier higher education sector where potential employers will ask applicants “did you go to a £9K university?”; strangely, senior Liberal Democrats said they changed thier minds on tuition fees due to the need to reduce the deficit.

Yet, with government paying fees up front and institutions competing to drive prices upwards, we have a recipe for increasing government debt, at least in the short term.

Watch these kids play Star Wars on a giant touch screen


------ from Boing Boing, via Google Reader

It's probably the level of concentration required, but these kids do not look nearly as excited about what they are doing as I think they should.

For the last two years, University of Illinois at Chicago graduate student Arthur Nishimoto has been working on this incredible-looking video game based around a multi-touch interface. According to the YouTube page, the game:

... explores how a real-time interactive strategy game that would typically rely on complex keyboard commands and mouse interactions be transferred into a multi-user, multi-touch environment. Originally designed for use with TacTile, a 52-inch multi-touch LCD tabletop display, "Fleet Commander" game play has been ported to
EVL's 20-foot wide multi-touch LCD wall, Cyber-Commons. "Fleet Commander" uses Processing, an open source programming language.

There's more about the game's development at Nishimoto's website. Also: In before the Orson Scott Card jokes!

Video Link

Via and Carl Wirth

Used bike ad is slightly militant


------ from Boing Boing, via Google Reader

"Anyone buying this bike for a "fixie conversion" will be shot."

(Via Kent Peterson)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google working on a marketplace for advertisers to buy and sell your data

This might be fun. If we can get some gold standard demographic data being fed in, things could get much more interesting.

------ from VentureBeat, via Google Reader

MoneyGoogle is working to create an online exchange where digital marketers can buy, sell and trade data on individuals, according to an Ad Age report.

Google deflected many questions we had about the service with a single, short statement.

“We’re working on a few initiatives with partners to improve the way that users, advertisers and publishers manage third party data, but there’s no single product or timetable,” according to a spokesperson.

Former DoubleClick executive and current Google VP Neal Mohan echoed that statement.

“If our vision is a comprehensive one, it needs to contemplate data in addition to ad inventory,” Mohan told AdAge.

A person familiar with DoubleClick’s internal workings told VentureBeat that an imminent product launch is not in the works. At this point, Google still has much to do before it can introduce one or many products that can deliver this type of service to marketers.

The move could help Google re-establish itself as a powerful and innovative force in advertising. But it also could gain scrutiny from privacy advocates that are nervous about such a large scale of user data being traded.

The exchange, which AdAge claims is known internally as “DDP,” will connect marketers in such a way that they can sell wide swaths or small fragments of audience data to each other. It will also work with Google’s DoubleClick server to help online publishers sell their data just as they would sell ad space. The exchange will compete directly with companies that already sell user data like Targus Info, Claritas and Catalina Marketing.

The report notes that data providers plan to strip out identifiable information when they sell user data, but because Google will be connecting companies at such a large scale, the project will likely receive a close look from privacy advocates.

Berin Szoka, president of tech policy think tank TechFreedom, said the concept of this data marketplace is a great idea for helping ad-supported publishers. But he notes Google would do well to implement the product with strong privacy controls.

“Google has the potential to do this in a very privacy friendly way,” Szoka said. “The company has already built considerable transparency into how ads are served. Extending that framework to how data is exchanged could be a big win for privacy, especially if such a market facilitates enforcement of existing self-regulatory commitments. Doing this correctly is the best way for Google to prevent further government involvement.”

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

Monday, July 11, 2011

How digital detectives deciphered Stuxnet, the most menacing malware in history

LOTS of detail about the Stuxnet virus. Brilliant to see Wired and Ars working together!

------ from, via Google Reader
It was January 2010 when investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency realized something was off at the uranium enrichment plant outside Natanz in central Iran. Months earlier, someone had silently unleashed a sophisticated and destructive digital worm that had been slithering its way through computers in Iran—to sabotage the country's uranium enrichment program and prevent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from building a nuclear weapon.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Update: NOTW Redux? News International Registers 'SunOnSunday' Domains

Well done that 'cyber squatter'. Not sure what the value of paying people to buy a domain is anymore.
Can see that they may be buying these domain names to prevent spoofs of their site rather than because they want to launch a separate paper on the Sunday. Would it even need to have a different name?

------ from paidContent:UK, via Google Reader

The Sun&;#39;s

Update: So now the mystery has been solved. Some time late today, the ownerships of the domain names and flipped to News International, having originally be registered to unnamed parties. The domain and are still registered to unnamed parties. In a meeting with News of the World staff today, Brooks reportedly discussed the future Sun on Sunday by name.

Meanwhile, subscribers to the, which was put behind a paywall last year, were emailed today detailing that this Sunday would be the final edition of the paper. Access to the site “will be open to the public for free for our final edition on Sunday 10th July.” Those subscribers with outstanding credit will get a refund.

Original post: Yesterday, amid the shocking news that News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). would be shutting down its prized Sunday UK newspaper News of the World amid phone hacking allegations, some commentators started to gather around another fact: the domain names and had been registered only days ago. So was that part of parent News International’s tactic to resuscitate its Sunday publishing operation before losing its audience—the biggest of all the UK Sunday papers—to competitors? Some believe not.

A teardown of the registration, courtesy of the Online Journalism Blog, points to some reasons to think that this is just the work of your average, opportunistic cyber squatter:

The registrations. The pages describing ownerships of the .com domain and the domain are registered to different companies (.com to Webfusion Ltd in Leeds, and Mediaspring, also in Leeds). But both were filed on the same day, July 5, 2011, and both list as the referral URL. The OJB post notes that News International usually uses CSC to register its domain names, rather than a site like 123-reg that is geared to small businesses and individuals.

—Then these is the issue of details on these companies. The domain, for example, is listed to a “UK individual”. It would “be odd for big corporation to withhold info on whois record”, the OJB notes. And it could be considered “Whois abuse” if it was found that a major corporation was masking as an individual in registering a name. (Although if the current allegations are to be believed, hiding facts is possibly not something unfamiliar in these parts.)

We have contacted Webfusion in Leeds to see if it can clarify why the name is listed to it and will update this post as we learn more.

Does the above mean that guesses about News International making a new Sunday tabloid (and therefore lessening the pain of needing to can NOTW) are entirely wrong? Not exactly. Extending a six-day publication to a seven-day schedule had been something News International was already mulling before this scandal broke this week, and may well end up doing—regardless of what name gets used.

The news of the domain name registration and speculation over what that meant had gone a bit media-viral by last night, with groups like CBS (NYSE: CBS) News, the BBC and even BSkyB’s Sky News (partly owned by News Corp, which is trying now to gain full control of the broadcaster) noting the domain and/or referring to News International’s plans to launch another UK Sunday tabloid.


Friday, July 08, 2011

David Cameron apologises, but for the wrong thing

Very good points here.

------ from Bagehot's notebook, via Google Reader

TWO DAVID Camerons held a press conference this morning in Downing Street. The first was assured and compelling, and pulled off the difficult task of jumping ahead of the news cycle and setting the agenda for what comes next in the ever-widening scandal involving tabloid phone-hacking and the alleged bribery of policemen.

This Mr Cameron did a whole series of smart things. He admitted that leading politicians had spent several years ignoring the signs of widespread misconduct within the British press because they were anxious to have the support of big press and media outlets. He included himself in that camp, and apologised. He promised that in the future relations with leading proprietors, editors and journalists would have to become less cosy if public trust was going to be regained. And he came close to cutting his ties of friendship and loyalty with Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of News International and former editor of the News of the World, the Sunday tabloid at the centre of the storm which is to be closed this weekend for good. In his own Falstaff-Prince Hal moment, this new, less cosy prime minister noted press reports that Mrs Brooks had offered her resignation (though some at NI deny this), and said:

…as I have said, it’s not right for a Prime Minister to start picking and choosing who should and shouldn’t run media organisations. But it has been reported that she offered her resignation over this. And in this situation, I would have taken it

He announced that there would be a public inquiry chaired by a judge and taking evidence from witnesses on oath. He said it would address three questions. Why did a first police investigation into phone-hacking, conducted in 2006, fail so abysmally? What exactly was going on at the News of the World? And thirdly, what was going on at other newspapers? Independent police investigators would also probe allegations of bribe-taking by police officers, he said.

He announced a second inquiry into a completely new, independent system of press regulation, moving away from the current system of self-regulation. He declared, correctly, that the current Press Complaints Commission had been "absent" during this greatest of scandals. A committee of the great and the good seems to loom.

Then, alas, there was a second David Cameron on display today. Tense, tetchy, defensive and red-faced, he offered a wholly inadequate explanation of why he had hired as his press chief Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World arrested this morning to be questioned about what he knew about phone-hacking on his watch and the alleged corruption of police officers.

Again and again, Mr Cameron returned to the same formula, saying that he had given Mr Coulson a second chance, but that regrettably that second chance had not worked out. He suggested that Mr Coulson had done the decent thing by resigning from the News of the World in 2007 after the jailing of that tabloid's royal correspondent and a private investigator for phone hacking. Mr Cameron had sought assurances and received assurances that despite that resignation, Mr Coulson knew nothing about the wrongdoing in his newsroom. The prime minister revealed that he had commissioned a private company to run a background check on Mr Coulson.

Alas, he said repeatedly, it had not worked out, though—and Mr Cameron kept stressing this, as though frustrated that we hacks could not see the importance of this point—"no one has ever raised serious concerns about how he did his job for me."

This was a wretched defence. Worryingly, if Mr Cameron's tetchiness was at all sincere, he cannot yet see this. Mr Cameron has a big problem, relating to his decision to hire Andy Coulson in 2007, as his director of communications in opposition. He has a truly huge problem relating to his decision to take Mr Coulson with him into government in 2010 as Downing Street director of communications, after the Guardian and other papers had already raised serious allegations about Mr Coulson, notably in 2009.

Talking about giving Mr Coulson a second chance, and how he paid the price once by resigning in 2007, does not help at all. Mr Cameron is not a probation officer, worrying about the rehabilitation of offenders. His responsibility, when hiring Mr Coulson, was less to probe Mr Coulson's past troubles than to assess the present-day suspicion that Mr Coulson is a liar. The problem is that all working journalists with experience of any daily newsroom (including me), simply never, ever believed Mr Coulson's defence that he did not know how his own newspaper was landing some of its juiciest scoops. It was not just an implausible explanation, it was an insult to the intelligence.

Half the political editors and reporters in the room this morning knew of people who had warned Mr Cameron and his closest aides that hiring Mr Coulson was a grave error. Some of those in the room had probably passed on such warnings themselves. That explains the sense of real frustration on the side of the press: this clever man at the podium was defending a nonsensical argument.

If Mr Cameron had not hired Mr Coulson, this whole sordid saga would be mostly about the past, and acts that took place under a different government. By hiring Mr Coulson, this saga is squarely about Mr Cameron's judgement.

Here is why this all matters, and why it is not going away.

1. Mr Cameron was peppered with questions today about what he knew and when did he know it. He was asked if he knew that the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had warned his aides about specific, serious allegations involving Mr Coulson that had yet to emerge. He was asked if he had been warned or knew of the existence of emails apparently showing that payments were made to corrupt policemen by the News of the World. He told us he did not know about those emails, and more broadly told us he wasn't given any "specific, actionable information" about Andy Coulson and wrongdoing.

Such questions are only going to increase in number. Mr Cameron is going to need a good, reassuring answer for every single one of them.

2. Mr Cameron's image as a decent, honourable man, his personal brand as the ultimate guarantor that this is a new, moderate Conservative Party, is on the line now.

The most revealing moment of the entire press conference for me came when Mr Cameron was asked a question about whether this was a moment of reputational damage to compare with Tony Blair and the Iraq war. In answering that this situation was not like the Iraq crisis at all, Mr Cameron—off his own bat—said it was also nonsense to compare it with money for tobacco advertising.

That was a reference to a smaller, earlier scandal involving Tony Blair and Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula 1 boss. That affair blew up very early in Mr Blair's time in office (Mr Ecclestone had given a donation to the Labour Party in 1997, and months later, the new Labour government proposed giving Formula 1 a lucrative exemption from a ban on tobacco advertising. Though there was no suggestion of impropriety by Mr Ecclestone, there was a big fuss, and in the end, the donation was repaid). At that time, Mr Blair used his post-election honeymoon aura to downplay the allegations of favours being bought, saying that voters knew he was a "pretty straight sort of guy". Later, as public distrust of Mr Blair grew, the moment would come to be seen as a symbol of the disenchantments that lay ahead.

Was the Ecclestone reference a slip of the tongue? Or a revelation about what is seething within Mr Cameron's brain, as he grapples with the first big threat to his own image, so central to his project of detoxifying the Tories? Is Mr Cameron worrying that this is the moment people start to question the idea that he is a pretty straight sort of guy?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Anti-PowerPoint Party


------ from Google Reader
The Swiss Anti-PowerPoint Party has been founded to ban the use of PowerPoint: "According to the APPP, the use of presentation software costs the Swiss economy 2.1 billion Swiss francs (US$2.5 billion) annually, while across the whole of Europe, presentation software causes an economic loss of €110 billion (US$160 billion). APPP bases its calculations on unverified assumptions about the number of employees attending presentations each week, and supposes that 85 percent of those employees see no purpose in the presentations." The party's founder has -- not coincidentally -- written a book about PowerPoint's evils (he recommends flip-charts instead). (via /.)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Zynga’s board earned millions in 2010, IPO reveals

Gosh. They've done quite well!

------ from VentureBeat, via Google Reader

Owen Van NattaMassively popular social gaming company Zynga today filed for a $1 billion IPO along with some staggering numbers, including that the company had already earned $90 million in profit in 2011. The filing also revealed what sort of compensation the executive board earned in 2010.

The biggest highlight regarding pay on the sheet is that Executive VP Owen Van Natta, a Myspace veteran, earned an enormous $43 million in 2010. Most of his pay came from stock and option awards, but he’s surely not complaining.

CEO and founder Mark Pincus only earned around $520,000, but that number is misleading as Pincus sold $110 million in shares last year and owns 16% of the company.

Another major number on the board belonged to Steven Chiang, co-president of games, who racked up nearly $29 million in total compensation. Then there’s CFO David Wehner, who earned around $18 million.

The eye-popping chart is below:

zynga compensation

San Francisco-based Zynga generates its revenues from its Facebook-based games like FarmVille, CityVille, and Empires and Allies. Each successive game has become a hit and users happily purchase items inside otherwise free games, generating tons of cash.

We’ll be exploring the most disruptive game technologies and business models at our third annual GamesBeat 2011conference, on July 12-13 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It will focus on the disruptive trends in the mobile games market. GamesBeat is co-located with our MobileBeat 2011conference this year. To register, click on this link. Sponsors can message us at Our sponsors include Qualcomm, Flurry, Greystripe, Nexage, Tapjoy, Fun Mobility, TriNet, Zong, Spil Games and WildTangent.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat