Well that’s the way it used to be.
The announcement last week that YouTube has signed a deal with the Indian Premier League (IPL) for live coverage of their cricket games is surely an unequivocal signal that this is about to change.
The ownership of sports broadcast rights has been the central motive force for the growth of Sky over the past 20 years, and the combination of YouTube’s reach and Google’s ability to monetise through advertising, must be blowing a very cold wind down the corridors of subscription-funded sports channels.
According to Joe Leahy in the FT, this deal has been largely driven by a brief to increase Google’s market share in India, but bandwidth issues mean that live streaming on any scale is still in the future.
However, industry commentators generally agree that this is a good deal if the price is right (Google is still looking for a headline sponsor). What do you think?
P.S. I nearly titled this post “Google bowls a Googly”, but thought better of it ;-)
There’s been a lot of discussion in the agency world about Peperami’s (Unilever) move into Crowd Sourcing for its next advertising campaign, an init
iative announced in August this year with a prize pot of $10,000.
The brief was issued and entries gathered via Idea Bounty, a site that’s well worth investigating if you’ve not yet done so.
Opinion of Peperami’s motives were varied, from adulation for an inspired and radical innovation, to sceptics muttering about headline-grabbing, award-hunting, cynical, pointlessness etc. etc.
Well today the winners have been revealed, and guess what, they are ‘seasoned’ advertising industry professionals. Marketing Week has the story.
More intriguingly, Peperami’s Marketing Manager, Noam Buchalter, says that a large proportion of the entries came from “experienced creative professionals”.
Peperami has been so “overwhelmed with the level of entries” that they have increased the price to $15,000. Is this generous? Well the individual winners will doubtless be pleased, but the real story here seems to be the exclusion of the agencies who would traditionally have sat in-between client and creative ideation. Sat collecting substantial fees… (for valuable services rendered, natch!)
A shot across the bows for the network agency super-tankers? It’s starting to look that way.
Interesting developments this week from Proctor & Gamble and Mothercare, both of whom have, in different ways, taken steps to address the question of how to have vibrant online communities around their brand(s).
In Mothercare’s case, they have bought a ‘pregnancy and parentin g social media site’ called Gurgle. P&G have taken the build rather than buy route, working with an agency to create an ‘umbrella community site, aimed at savvy mummies’, called supersavvyme.com.
g social media site’ called Gurgle. P&G have taken the build rather than buy route, working with an agency to create an ‘umbrella community site, aimed at savvy mummies’, called supersavvyme.com.
Both potentially valid routes?
The nub of the problem for marketers in the social media world lies at the junction between the brand owners commercial interests and messaging, and the community’s ‘s
ocial activities’ - forums, discussions, blog posts etc. No-one minds a supermarket’s brand on a high-street fascia, but the same brand in the classroom (for example) is much less acceptable (“What did you learn in Easyjet Geography today, kids?”). It’s a question of context.
On this measure, P&G’s supersavvyme.com s
ite looks like a big fat FAIL. Why? Well let’s take a look at the Home & Garden channel, and its ‘The latest Tips’ (see right), where someone called Kate has posted five Tips on a range of topics such as herb growing made easy and the collection of rain water for your garden. So far so innocuous… but look at the Tip titled ’Clean the floor in one swipe’: ‘Don’t waste time lugging a bucket and mop upstairs – swipe floors clean in a hurry with hygienically disposable Flash Express Floor Wipes’. Crikey, hang on Kate, for a moment there I nearly thought you were a housewife, but let me guess, Flash… yes, it’s that same Flash that’s owned by… P&G.
Oh dear. Also, there’s very little content (i.e. no real community yet) but endless banners for P&G products. It’s hard to see how, other than through the relentless distribution of coupons, samples and special offers, P&G are going build the site to any significant scale. But being P&G, there will undoubtedly be both a plan and the funds to execute on it, so we’ll watch how the supersavvyme brand develops with interest. I suspect the underlying objective might well be datacapture for DM.
As for the Mothercare Gurgle acquisition, it’s much easier to see how the existing, vibrant, community on this site can be of value to the Mothercare mothership. And the commercial content and promotional offers on-site sit very comfortably alongside the forums, blogs etc. So if the price was right, then nice job!
We spend quite a lot of time at Harvest using and assessing monitoring tools such as Jodange, Radian6, SentimentMetrics, and other like them. Measuring ‘sentiment’ is a hot area for good reasons, as the ability to ‘listen’ to your consumers’ conversations can’t be ignored (is in fact more like a responsibility), and new applications to help us do this seem to be coming out with dizzying frequency.
This morning I have been tyre-kicking www.twitratr.com which looks at twitter data and categorises tweets using negative, neutral or positive keywords. Simple stuff - no-one could accuse Twitratr of over-complexity - providing a nice snapshot view for big brands (benchmarking territory this). However, dig into the detail, and holes start to appear… here’s a search for UK supermarket Sainsbury:
The top Positive mention has misinterpreted the word brave, and should really be Negative. In the Neutral column, the word horrid in the 4th tweet down clearly marks this as also Negative. Finally, looking at the Negative colum, the top tweet is nothing whatsoever to do with the supermarket…
Does this mean automated monitoring of this kind is inherently flawed? I don’t think so, just that you need a large enough data-set before forming theories or drawing conclusions. And you need to work to improve the rules / algorithms - changing the categorisation of horrid from neutral to negative is an easy fix…
It’s not just microblogging data streams that are being diced and sliced either. I discovered yesterday that online bank First Direct uses voice recognition to turn ALL the calls through their call centre into a data-stream that is anal
ysed by keyword. Their system then picks up on certain words to trigger responses (customer service measures of one kind or another). You can see how this data would also give First Direct early warning of problems with, for example, their website or mobile services. So if you’ve ever wondered what that recorded voice telling you that ‘Your call might be recorded for training purposes’ was really on about, you now know!
A few years ago voice recognition was widely talked about as life-changing technology, but for most of us this never happened. Even poster-child for the sector, wireless voice-to-text service Spinvox (Corporate tagline - ‘What we say and how we say it is a wonderful and powerful thing’. Quite.) is now embroiled in controversy after it emerged that some proportion of its ‘technogy’ is in fact a call centre in Pakistan.
A new two seater, hydrogen fuel cell powered city car was launched in central London today.
riversimple is the brain child -and love child too perhaps - of Hugo Spowers, who
has spent 10 years pursuing his inspiringly holistic vision for the future of personal transport. The riversimple team, whose first prototype we saw at the launch, has been supported for the past 3 years with funding and in other ways by the Piech family - the ‘other half’ of the Porche family dynasty. Sebastian Piech spoke at the launch, as did Hugo Spowers.
As Hugo says in the video I posted earlier today, “riversimple isn’t just about the technology”. Another ‘pillar’ of the company (and there are several) is non-Ownership - the cars will only ever be leased, not sold; “this is a business model that rewards longevity and low running costs, rather than obsolescence and high running costs”.
The riversimple website tells us that their purpose is nothing less than to ‘work systematically towards the elimination of the environmental impact of personal mobility’.
Such a lofty aim might seem quixotic, and riversimple themselves ask the question ‘Are we doing too much?’ in their launch materials. Indeed it could seem impractically radical to launch a car company that aspires to have others build its product using designs published online under open source licences. On the other hand, who would try to launch a conventional car company now, or for that matter at any point in the last 10 or 20 years?
Surely now, as the motor industry crumbles under the combined pressure of oversupply and what seems like a systemic failure to provide any genuine innovation (I don’t count ‘dual engine’ hybrids!) is the right time for fresh thinking and new ways of doing things. riversimple can provide both of these in abundance. What they are trying to do is profoundly disruptive: it is nothing less than a comprehensive reinvention of the existing structures of the motor industry - technical, financial and cultural.
What about the car itself? Is it a hairy-shirt, brown bread eco-warrior’s public statement?
Definitely not. In fact, there are details everywhere you look that will appeal to enthusiasts as well as the current Prius demographic. And not just the details; the stance is sporty - the wheels (each with its own motor) are placed right out in the corners of the car; the exposed carbon-fibre monocoque will draw in motor-racing fans (though it is there for reasons of lightness and strength, not aesthetics), and especially the doors, which open like a beetle’s wing cases.
In the West such considerations will play a part in purchase decisions, but riversimple’s car is conceived as a true world car - a competitor to the Tata Nano that has sustainability built into its DNA…
From my point of view, the riversimple car, and everything that it manifests (the radical thinking, idealism, creativity, technology) is exciting and desirable in a way that the supposed ‘halo’ cars of the existing manufacturers completely fail to be. The Aston Martin One-77 for example; £1m worth of old ideas, in a packaging concept that was relevant(ish) in 1960…
riversimple is looking for funding to take it to the next stage of its development. Surely the UK government should be putting money towards this kind of venture (and retraining auto industry workers), rather than propping up existing manufacturers and dealers with £2,000 subsidies granted on the condition you scrap a perfectly usable 10 year-old car!
- Good article on Wired
- ‘Talking ‘bout my hydrogeneration’ - AndyH of greenthing analyses why riversimple is a BHAG
- My photos of the launch on flickr
I’ve had an entertaining half-hour this morning playing around with the Augmented Reality (awful term, but it kind of does what the tin says) experience offered by GE of all people, marketing their Ecological credentials.
Here I am moving my sheet of paper around while GE’s windmills turn, and the sun shines on the screen and also seems (worryingly, given that it’s a hologram) to be reflecting off my head;
There’s no doubt that as a toy, there’s a good deal of ‘wow-factor’ around this technology - which as far as I can see consists of overlaying some flash animation onto a webcam stream, and ‘keying’ the animation to a visual reference which can be moved around by the user (in this case the key is a pdf downloadable from the GE site).
It’s interesting to see that the GE webpage for this project has a link to the open source code that’s been used to build the AR experience. Not what I would have expected from GE, but definitely a positive in my eyes, so their marketing programme is working to that extent.
Wikipedia’s entry on AR (I guess if it really takes off we’ll all move to the acronym) has a long list of applications, but only one under the heading ‘Advertising’ : “promoting a new product by providing impressive and interactive AR application on Internet”.
Hmm, very enlightening that. But seriously, there must be a huge number of potential applications for AR in creating engaging experiences in many different ways.
Will AR in some form become an everyday part of people’s online usage? In various forms it’s been around for a long time, but wider ownership of webcams and mobile phones with camera and video capability will allow much greater reach than previously. So perhaps 2010 will be the year of AR. Gaming and Porn seem the industries most likely to be able to monetise the business potential (am I allowed to say that?).
Update 11th June:
News on Brand Republic today of an AR campaign from Glasses Direct; nice idea, and appropriate to the product. Clearly I was wrong in my prediction for which business sectors would be next to market with AR apps…
Here’s a link to the Glasses Direct AR page. I tried downloading the app, but sadly could get no further than the error message below, so I can’t report on how well it works. A shame to launch the PR coverage in the circumstances; frankly, FAIL.
There’s an article in the Times today, reporting on Santander’s plans to ‘scrap’ some of its sub-brands in the UK -
Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley are all going, and their branches will be rebranded Santander.
The overall tone of the article strikes me as both a bit jingoistic - Spanish banking group scraps historic British banks - and also essentially conservative; it’s change, it must be bad.
The most interesting section of page for those who read the piece online is, to my way of thinking, the comments. So the readers of the Times’ print edition will miss out on the additional balance these bring to the story. A cross-section of these shows the range and tone;
…stop getting so hung up on all this “british”…what difference does it make? nationalism is horrible
…they should change their customer service not the name !!!
That’s another bit of national history that crumbles away
No problems. Vodafone has done the same with numerous phone companies all around the world, including Spain’s Airtel, and the world hasn’t stopped.
Doesn’t matter how old a name is it’s still got to mean something good or of value to a consumer. Abbey like County and Midland doesn’t have a value proposition for consumers and consumers will not miss the name/brand.
That will mean four branches of Santander in my local town centre. Guess what will happen next.
And so on… A few hours after the article was published online, there were nearly 30 comments, representing a broad spectrum of common sense views as well as a couple of shouty monomaniacs.
I don’t see social media commentators going on about the vibrant communities that have formed around the traditional newspapers’ online content, and a quick search of Twitter for the Santander / Bradford & Bingley story shows that there was little or no ‘trending’ other than media owners (Telegraph / Guardian etc.) distributing their articles, and a few retweets of these links.
For all the noise around Twitter, it’s still a minority game in the UK compared to online newspaper readership (leading newspapers - Guardian, Telegraph etc. have c. 25m unique visitors a month; Twitter has c. 1m UK users), and that’s something that those who are trying to integrate traditional PR and the emerging discipline of social media marketing need to take account of.
There’s lots of noise around Twitter today about Tweetdeck’s latest development in its functionality - an integration with Facebook’s status updates.
@Mashable has published good article, Facebook Integration Arrives on TweetDeck, which highlights some interesting aspects of this development; Tweetdeck is effectively becoming an IM client, for example.
I have had a quick play with TweetDeck v0.24b, and I think I like having the FB status updates alongside my various Twitter groups. My time on FB (already much reduced by the rise of Twitter) will probably take another downward step…
People who are displaying their Twitter stream directly into Facebook (like Roberto Hortal (@rhortal) from MORE TH>N, whom I’m connected to on both Twitter and Facebook, might well reconsider how their updates are displayed to avoid duplication as below (the subject of Robert’s tweet/status update is quite appropriate).
When the going gets… Well things are more than tough for many, and the business re-engineering that the inexorable rise of digital has brought to many or most business sectors is often being hastened by the recession.
In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen the latest bout in the long-running feud between
the aged (but beautifully preserved) L’Orea
l (in the Euro corner, representing the old guard, nee 1909) squaring up to the fresh-faced preppy (in the US corner, born 1995) that is eBay, in London’s High Court.
A few hours later, the UK awoke this morning to the news that YouTube has “pulled thousands of music videos from its website after failing to agree terms with the UK’s main songwriters’ collection society”.
These two spats, though different in the way they are being fought out, have a lot in common. In both instances, the ‘traditional’ owners of IP see their brands or content being monetised by others to build huge businesses, with little of none of the commercial benefits coming to the rights owner.
L’Oreal has won a couple of cases against eBay in the French courts, and there’s little doubt these skirmishes will continue to flare up around the world for years to come. But the eBay / Google / YouTube etc. genii are out of their bottles now, and there’s no way of putting them back in.
There are implications for private individuals’ use of copyrighted material swimming around here also, so perh
aps I shouldn’t have ‘borrowed’ the logos that add a dash of colour (though not legitimacy…) to this post.
I’m not an IP lawyer (did you spot that?), but I predict there will be some shifts in the law to take account of the new digital landscape - some liberalisations (borrow my brand if you want, but respect it, and if you make some money, make a contribution); but perhaps, conversely, some increased controls (making it harder for producers of counterfeit luxury goods brands to operate).
The devil has the best tunes, and the satirist is more entertaining (or should be, if they want to keep working) than the politicians and public figures whose excesses and inadaquecies they expose.
For brands, the same rules apply, and there are in reality few big brands who can afford to be consistently incisive, witty, scabrous or entertaining, without running foul of their customers, own internal legal department or ‘brand police’.
I was reminded of this theme - a constant challenge for marketing people everywhere - while scanning my Twittter feed this morning.
UK celebrity chef, and all-round good egg (organic natch!) Jamie Oliver has got up on this Monday morning and taken time to talk to his 21,141 followers thus:
“Good weekend everyone?”
In contrast, here’s a sample tweet from @RichardMadeley:
“Okay. One. More. Time!!! ‘Aga-doo-doo-doo, I’ve got three nipples on my chest. Aga-doo-doo-doo, they poke many holes in my vest.’”
The difference in output couldn’t be more stark! The underlying reason is of course that one is satire (I wonder if the real Richard Madeley reads ‘Uncle Dick’, I bet he does), the other a real ‘brand’ with all that implies.
Enough from me, I must go back to dreaming up edgy viral campaigns for insurance companies.
I bought two cups of coffee on
my way to work this morning. The first at a stall in a provincial railway station. My usual black Americano (why is it called that, Wikipedia doesn’t know?) cost me £1.50, and the brew served-up was watery and insipid. English coffee of the old school. I didn’t finish it.
Matters improved though, as an hour later I was cycling away from the Monmouth Coffee Company in Covent Garden, my hand tightly clasped around a wonderfully flavoursome and punchy cup of coffee made from beans sourced (since the 1970s) “from single farms, estates and cooperatives around the coffee growing world”, with my pocket lighter to the tune of a more than reasonable £1.00p.
Not far from Monmouth Street, across Cambridge Circus and down Old Compton Street is long-established Soho institution, a glorious remnant of
the ‘little Italy’ history of Soho, I. Camisa. This family-run delicatessen will sell you the very best Parma ham you’ll find in England (let me know if you think I’m wrong about this, please). And guess what? It’s cheaper then you’ll find anywhere in the provinces or in fact in a supermarket or deli in the rest of London.
What do these two retailers have in common, that allows them to keep quality up and price down so outstandingly?
- Product turnover : a lot of coffee and Parma Ham is sold every day. Volume of sales allows prices to be kept down, and a ham that’s used quickly will taste better…
- Independence : institutional investors are not demanding their pounds of flesh (ham or whatever).
- Expertise : walk into either shop and you know you’re dealing with real experts, who (literally!) live and breath their work.
- They are in it for the long term.
OK, that’s enough about food, but I do have a parallell to draw with what we do at Harvest Digital and for agency services in general.
At a meeting yesterday with an agency bigwig, we were told to get our “outsource value proposition” sorted out. To translate, he meant we should look at using cheap executional resource from overseas (for design /coding / whatever), packaged and sold-on to our clients as a way of saving them money.
He might well be right. We have looked at this area periodically, have worked this way on a few projects; but so far, we’re not convinced that quality of service can be maintained at the same time as reducing costs.
And anyway, is out of town necessarily cheaper? Not if you’re buying coffee it isn’t.
I’m slightly sorry to be adding to the tsunami of comments and articles concerning Twitter’s onward march, but I cannot contain myself, so great is my excitement about what’s going on out there.
An article by David Pogue (@pogue) in the New York Times this week headlined “Twitter? It’s What You Make It” tells us that a large number of the features that define Twitter have been created by its users. ‘Tweeps’ (don’t know
about you but I’m starting to find the cute’n’cuddly Twitter language rather cringe-making) invented RT (re-tweet), they invented the #hashtag to flag search terms and they even invented the term ‘tweets’. So Twitter really IS what the user ‘community’ have made it, and will continue to evolve and mutate according to some pretty Darwinian principles (as supported by 26% of US citizens).
But what really got me going this week was the conjunction of Pogue’s insight with a brilliant post by Tiphereth Gloria (@tiphereth) about the AMC TV show Mad Men (a drama set in the advertising agency heyday of ‘60’s Madison Avenue). I had seen some coverage of Mad Men’s promotion via Twitter, but what Tiphereth has uncovered is much more intereresting. It seems that what the marketing community thought was clever ‘social media optimisation’ was in fact nothing more
or less than fans of the show Doing it for Themselves. So what was AMC’s reaction? They contacted Twitter and had the accounts closed down. A traditional brand-owner’s natural reaction I guess. But pretty soon they realised the error of this course of action, and retracted. Read the full and fascinating story here.
What’s going on here: what do these events tell us? It seems obvious to me - more obvious than ever - that the ground between ‘corporation’ and ‘consumer’ is undergoing a profound shift. Not all businesses will be revolutionised by these changes, but a significant number will, and many new companies are already prospering within the new paradigm. All in all, I have a fluttery excited feeling in the pit of my stomach, and a sense of “holy cow, it’s really happening’.
What a time it is to be working in a communications business. Lucky us!
The always pithy Ian Jindal has a post today where he expresses his amazement at illiterate copy in a recruitment ad;
Ian has removed names to protect the innocent, but I’m not going to be so polite with my own recent example of shoddy, should-know-better grammatical standards. Here’s an email I received a few days ago from Waitrose, of all people…
“We all could probably eat healthier.“ Ouch!
Attended a meeting yesterday at the Guardian’s knockout new offices, ‘Kings Place’, in up-
and-coming north King’s Cross: a flagship for regeneration, and a quite stunning piece of working architecture. The centre of the building is a soaring public atrium, with a cafe and tables, and this bringing the outside in seemed to me to have a significantly beneficial effect on the space, bringing life to the corporate office atmosphere.
After the meeting we were shown round the building, and one particular meeting room - which had an arrangement of low sofas in a continuous large square – reminded me of the sort of North African cafe where men sit around to smoke and talk.
So I remarked: “This room looks as if it should have some hookahs in the middle”. Which harmless aside was greeted with a stunned silence.
It took me a little while to realise what I’d done, but I think the shock and embarassement passed off OK in the end. In all honesty I couldn’t have picked a more inappropriate newspaper office for a howler like that if I’d tried (well perhaps Spare Rib in its heyday): if I’d been at the Telegraph someone would probably have agreed with me.
Techie’s house catches fire, so naturally he tweets about it. Twitter world is alight (sorry) with excitement. http://twurl.nl/d20i7k
Initially I was in two minds as to whether there’s any significance in this story; it seemed like a case of “Wow! Something real actually happened!”.
On reflection, I’m going to put my natural scepticism outside with the frost and the remains of Monday’s snow to cool off, while I consider whether Twitter really does have lessons to teach us about how technology can re-engineer society and communities. (Proper WOW!, that.)