Tuesday, December 22, 2009

List of online reputation and community involvement examples

Earlier in the year I blogged about rewarding community involvement online and came up with this 2x2 matrix to help me categorise the millions of methods of rewards out in the ether.

I thought that the best way for me to keep the momentum going on this train of thought was to begin a list of examples from the web that showcase all the different methods communities are employing.

This list will be updated periodically as new examples come to light. Enjoy!

Legend: Location: Reward (How attained) Scale

Measurements of rewards are based on social sciences scaling using either individual attributes scaled as either Nominal, Ordinal, Interval or Ratio or as a composite measure such as an Index or Typology. (Please excuse me if I don't get some of these measures correct and do comment to help me improve!)

As a brief re-cap I am defining subjective as any kind of reward where human interaction is needed in some part of the process where objective rewards are based solely on a pre-determined formula.

Subjective Periodic

  • eBay: Power Seller (eBay awards power seller status based on a mixture of objective achievements and subjectively adhering to community policy) Index
  • Yelp: Review of the day (Be the reviewer of the day in a Yelp city) Nominal

Subjective Perpetual

  • Amazon: Badges (Get a 'real name' or 'The' badge if Amazon thinks you are popular enough) Nominal
  • Twitter: Verified (If you're a celebrity Twitter can verify you are the actual account holder) Nominal
  • Twitter: Translate (If you help Twitter as a translator you get Translator badge) Nominal
  • Wikpedia: Barnstars (Peers award barnstars for participation in Wikipedia community) Typology
  • Yelp: Elite (Annual badge awarded for influential people in a Yelp city) Nominal
  • Yelp: Compliments (The community awards users compliments on reviews, compliments shown in public) Typology / Ratio

Objective Periodic

  • Ad Age: Power 150 (Marketing blogs ranked by aggregate of measurements) Index
  • Amazon: Feedback (Rating of transaction out of five stars) Ordinal
  • Amazon: Badges (Be a top reviewer) Ratio
  • at15.com: Best-Buy youth community Points (Complete activities to earn point, points directed to charity donation quarterly) Ratio
  • eBay: Helpful Reviewer (Be one of the top reviewers in eBay) Ratio
  • Foursquare: Mayor (Become mayor of a venue by being the person that checks in the most) Ratio
  • Technorati: Authority (More links to your blog mean more authority, calculated and updates frequently) Index
  • World of Warcraft: Reputation (Earn reputation points through doing deeds for other, reputation fluctuates based on whether you do good or bad deeds) Index

Objective Perpetual

  • at15.com: Best-Buy youth community Icons (the more points you earn the 'blingier' your icon becomes) Ratio
  • Facebook (Translations app): Awards (earn icons for quantity and accuracy of translation submissions) Ratio / Typology
  • Foursquare: Badges (earn points and badges by completing tasks, eg four bars in one night, be the first to review a venue) Ratio
  • Sears: Badges (earn points in MySears to enter the "Friends" - "Chairmans" Circle) Ratio
  • Soundunwound: Records (number of edits gets you coloured record) Ratio
  • World of Warcraft: Experience / PvP Rewards (earn items through increased game play, items traded for honour and other experience points) Index
  • Virgin.com : Badges (Rise from groupie to roadie then rockstar) Ratio

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Can I say trans-informational?

In the old marketing text book that I used to read at University there was a great section on informational advertising and transformational advertising and I really took those two theories to heart.

It was pretty simple really, informational advertising was used in important decision making processes. It was to remove fear like medicinal advertising or explain complex expensive products (you know those car comparison ads that list how many cup-holders a car has?). Then there was transformational advertising used either to gratify the ego with a minor purchase decision like how a can of coke will get me a whole lotta chicks in bikinis, or to satisfy the ego with large purchases like how when I bough my new Macbook I just knew that I would become hip.

But what I'm experiencing nowadays is that there is definitely a middle ground. And I think this middle ground is growing with the growth of online communities and networks.

Let me explain. Transformation feeds the ego and gratifies the individual while information gives the individual the required understanding of the needs required to go from being without satisfaction to having satisfaction. What better way of getting in the clique than by joining a community of experts and conversing and learning from the experts on how to transform yourself.

It is these online communities and networks that I believe fill the middle ground between information and transformation. This is the trans-informational advertising. Get this space right, create a space for the expression of emotion and transfer of knowledge, feed it with the occasional talking point of content and the community will can self-sustaining.

Example: The 2010 Ford Mustang
The new 2010 Ford Mustang is in anybody's book a pretty big purchase. To sell one of these babies you need to latch onto a heap of emotion, give lots of sexy information about the power of the beast, and of course have a space where fans and potential buyers can salivate together about this animal.

Let's start with tansformation. This is a beast of a car and has no practical use on the speed regulated roads whatsoever. But it is sexy, fast and down right red-blooded Amrerican muscle. Tell me this doesn't transform you:

Now information. You want specs? I'll give you specs. Take those details and shove 'em up your imported piece of plastic. As much as information is there to remove the fear of purchasing an inferior product it can also be used to reinforce your decision for buying an over-specced rocket on four wheels.

And the middle ground. I love these videos, I think this car is awesome, I want to salivate with someone over the fact that I could get the top of the range model for under $50k Australian!!! (if you didn't take into account import taxes, and every other obvious barrier under the sun to getting one in Australia).

Ford services this middle ground with a very healthy Facebook fan page with over 350k fans and a very nice assortment of photos, videos and applications to play with and discuss intimate stories about abnormal love affairs with inanimate objects. Facebook, as you can see from this example is the perfect platform for servicing this new and exponentially growing marketing ground.

The trans-informational middle ground is one of the most promising developments happening in marketing today. The opportunity to combine emotional transformational wants and rational informational needs in a living community of enthusiasts, executed thoughtfully and in the community's interest, can only strengthen a brand in the eyes of its core market.

*For more awesome mustang photos I recommend the Mustang fan page.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

That reads like a Chinese t-shirt

I like getting to the nub of things, you could say I like returning to the basic ;-)

And in the spirit of returning to the basic I have decided to out those that write reports, emails, presentations, whatever, in deliberately excessive or academic terms. The act of dumping as many three and four syllable words as possible into a sentence however irrelevant or excessive (much like this sentence!) is unnecessary to say the least and obfuscatory to say the most! see!?

I will thus politely comment that "what you have written good sir/madam, reads like a Chinese t-shirt."

I hope that such an obtuse remark might actually make them think twice about how to clearly and concisely present their information to me.

(image care of xiaming)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The new division of marketing labour

The debate over marketing as an activity within an organisation is nothing new. In retail organisations it's a pretty simple model that product management and marketing fit snuggly together whereas operations/sales-force and customer service go together on their merry way spruiking the line they've been given from the former departments.

Service organisations can be a little more blurry between departments but the general principles still exist that one side manages the product and message and the other side manages the customer and company operations.

But the socialising of consumption and business is melting these generally held principles and we are now seeing a multi-coloured pool of muck on the floor and a metaphorical "watch out, slippery floor" sign has gone up around the whole marketing/customer-service model.

Laurel Papworth has been championing the 'social business interactions belong in customer service' thing for a while, here's her category posts for customer service, so like I said it's nothing new.

BBH-Labs has also picked out some juicy points in its review of Razorfish's third annual digital brand experience report. Particularly BBH-Labs points out "... the silo walls between marketing & customer service teams in particular need breaking down; they are increasingly one and the same thing ..."

I know at my own job the business is only just defining its voice in an online world: is it customer service, news service, sales service; is it formal, informal; pro-active or reactive?

It's possible to even take this one step further and ask if it is even possible for a business to define its online personality, or is it the customers that define it for them? I think, just like a steamy first date, the relationship will be defined by the mimicry of interactions between the two.

All these philosophical questions aside I agree with both Laurel and BBH-Labs that the socialisation of business will ultimately draw marketing closer to customer service.

For a marketing manager that has paraded from advertising agency to sponsorship events and around the board table to have to grind away the hours with customer service and on the shop floor will be too much for some. Some businesses will refuse to change, refuse to engage with the customers. I believe that those that refuse to adapt to this new division of marketing labour will struggle to grow.

So I say to the marketing managers that are asking 'their agencies' to create a social media campaign for them, stop. It's not sustainable. You have to look within yourself and your brand, as the brand ambassador only you can create the social business your brand deserves. And it will include talking to customers yourself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

New ways of consuming and learning (through transmedia and a broadening education model)

If necessity is the mother on invention, then demand must surely be the foreplay.

Through a convergence of a number of ways of thinking I'm slowly putting together the story about how the future of learning and consuming will take place. Let me begin with a quote:

As more of our basic needs are met, we increasingly expect sophisticated experiences that are emotionally satisfying and meaningful. These experiences will not simply be products. They will be complex combinations of products, services, spaces, and information.

This is Tim Brown of IDEO in his June 2008 Harvard Business Review article on design thinking. The quote encompasses a lot of what I also view the future to be and the demand for this way of thinking is permeating our entire society.

Two examples to kick-off, what I believe will be a fair amount of future blogposts, are transmedia and the broadening of the education model.

Transmedia (here's the wikipedia entry) roughly is the creation and delivery of a story across multiple forms of media. Here's a nice and thorough history to get you started on cross/trans-media from transmedia creator and chronicler Christy Dena.

While from Christy's preso you'll see that transmedia story telling is nothing new, especially in the world of fiction and film production, I think that it is getting more and more common. We are not surprised to see a computer game released at the same time as the latest Marvel cinema release, we expect it. Or when District 9 was promoted at Comic-con in the US, it wasn't mind-blowing that a team of MNU trucks locked down San Diego and a series of pre-graffitid posters sprung up over night. This is just how we demand movies to be sold to us now.

Some might say its all about eye-balls, that if consumers are switching off the TV in favour of the Web then naturally the dollars will follow where the eye-balls go. And this is right, but at the same time there is another aspect to transmedia that we are demanding and its that of reciprocity and co-creation.

Reciprocity in that if I am going to follow a story across media (chase the rabbit down the hole as it were) then I'm going to want reward in return. Mindless consumption via the idiot-box is over, mindful consumption through multiple media now commands respect. In as much, free downloads now act as rewards for following story-lines, prizes via ARGs go to those who dig the deepest into a story and online games attached to stories act as town-squares where consumers consume together.

And consuming together brings me onto my next point about co-creation. That a story is filmed/written, edited and distributed was once a nice process that meant everyone could play their part, received a cheque and go home to bed. Unfortunately for producers it isn't that simple any more. Consumers are now talking back, they're asking for more, wanting to get involved even. Which is where co-creation is creeping in. We see this now with characters jumping from pre-recorded episodes to live and interactive Twitter accounts (see the current Girl Number 9 web-series).

And of course, this brings me to an article I spotted in today's The Age about beating boredom in the school classroom. The article recounts the experiences and parents and teachers where students are skipping school due to boredom and some of the tactics schools are implementing to confront this problem. Not surprisingly transmedia story telling and co-creation play a large part in turning the problem around:

At Balwyn, students in years 7 to 9 start a program by watching a DVD that acts as a springboard for activities that are integrated across their subjects ...

... Resolving conflict — a theme of the movie — would be discussed in tutorial groups, with each group creating a movie to be presented at the final school assembly.

In turn, year 8 students will film news broadcasts as part of their sustainability program and year 9 students will enter into a music video competition as part of their program.

At my own work, we've been trying to extend the experience of our annual CPA Congress and broaden learning opportunities through changing what's expected (like conferences and training seminars) to providing the new and un-expected (like Second Life conference sessions and made-for-YouTube histories of members experiences).

Transmedia storytelling and the broadening of the education model are to me just two observations of how demand for a more sophisticated and communal way of consumption are mutating the old model of thinking.

So to those who still see this as an experiment or something that 'those' people do not us, all I can say is that it's too late already. The lines of communication will continue to blur. Teachers, soon your students will talk directly to you textbook author and bypass your meagre thoughts. Movie producers, make sure you keep your writers on the payroll because the writing doesn't end when the movie studio commissions your movie. I want to talk to your characters, and I expect them to listen. Between how it was and how it is now is a pretty big pill to take and takes a hell of a lot of effort, but as Tim Brown said, "we increasingly expect sophisticated experiences that are emotionally satisfying and meaningful."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Continued rise of online video for work and play

From my posts you've probably realised that this year I've really fallen in love with online video and the various ways it can be used for business.

A couple of things have happened in the past few months that I think have strengthened my argument for an increased focus for online video for information dissemination and broader learning goals.

Firstly, Cisco, the behemoth that provides much of the infrastructure the Web lives on, has puts its money behind online video with the purchases of Flip Video maker, Pure Digital Technologies in March, and now video conferencing company, Tandberg, in October.

Supporting this strategy of pushing money and effort into online video collaboration is a report released by US Internet Network Management company, Sandvine, that online streaming video like YouTube and Hulu now accounts for up to 27 per cent of global Internet traffic. This is up from 13 per cent in 2008.

The Sandvine report has some great insights into the growth of "experience now" entertainment like streaming media and the decline of "experience later" applications such as peer-to-peer downloading.

In light of this trend and having the chance to big-note myself, here are some vox-pops videos that our team at work created for our annual CPA Congress event that takes place across Australia. As a team we filmed, edited and uploaded the videos to our YouTube channel and CPA Congress blog all within 48 hours of each event. I think it shows a really positive vibe for the conferences and is a really great promo for anyone considering going to other CPA Australia events or to CPA Congress next year.

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Has the real-time web killed TV programming?

Never has the television industry been more hap-hazard in its programming than right now.

We have seen it coming for a few years now and I suspect that, in Australia at least, we may have seen a watershed in the industry with the phoenix-like rise and Icarus-like fall of Hey-Hey it's Saturday, all within one week.

But to truly get a grip on how a show of such historic proportions can rise and fall in a single week we must back-track a couple of years. We're going to a time after live debates and the 'worm' but before the real-time Internet. Let's go to the late-late night time slots that were once inhabited by a motley band of money-bag grabbers that were the late-night quiz shows.

These pre-real-time-interwebz quiz shows, of which Quizmania and Midnight Zoo were poster-childs, relied on the interaction of at-home participants ringing in to try and solve puzzles to win money. Masses of calls would flood the TV shows with ample amounts of would-be contestants queuing to win.

The biggest insight TV stations gained from these shows was that the real-time nature of viewers calling in allowed TV show directors to know what was popular and what was un-popular AT HOME based on the levels of calls coming into the show. An example could be that the host of the quiz waves his arms around and yells out 'money, money, money', from this the person monitoring the caller dashboard sees a spike in calls to the show. The director then tells the host through an earpiece mic to wave his arms again and ta-da another spike in calls. Real-time TV production.

Fast forward to October 2009. The real-time Internet is in full swing. TV shows no longer rely on viewers calling in because the viewers are already swarming with conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and other social websites. Enter stage left, Daryl Somers and Hey-Hey it's Saturday the Reunion.

It's a gamble for Channel Nine, a live TV show in prime-time and we haven't seen this show in over a decade. But they had an ace up their sleeve. Real-time monitoring. Just as Quizmania and Midnight Zoo used real-time monitoring of phone calls to judge the shows success, so too would Hey-Hey use real-time monitoring of the social web to measure the performance of the show.

And it worked. The Facebook fan page was a-buzz, Twitter went off the hook and got a little-known TV show trending with the US big guns. Results were in, it was a hit again.

One week on, take-two. This time the producers were confident they knew the forumla. The host announced the Twitter hash-tags they would monitor and kept the audience updated with a Facebook fan tally. The real-time show and the real-time web were in synch.

Here comes the sun, the programming pot of gold, it was in their reach. But alas, Hey-Hey flew too close to the sun and the popular tale of Icarus was played out all over again for the world to watch. It was a curious choice of skits for the carefully planned return of this much loved show. A group of men doing Michael Jackson in Minstrel Show style. Unsurprisingly it didn't go off well. The show's big name guest didn't like it, the audience was a little awry and the response was probably closer to absolute zero than a scientist has ever seen.

Real-time show, real-time web: press play. I bet the producer monitoring the real-time sentiment graphs was already on the phone to a recruitment agency before the show was even over.

For a full report on the crash landing of Hey-Hey it's Saturday view the Crikey dishonour board. I suspect we will not see week three of the reunion.

The lesson learnt from this saga is, as we have known for a little while now, that TV lives and dies by the audience. Pre-social-web a TV station could sell ads for a whole season of a TV show. Then it was months at a time. Now, unfortunately TV programmers have the inglorious task of trying to program on a week-by-week basis and the sales team have the even worse job of trying to sell ads to a show that might not even exist in a week.

TV programming is dead.

I think marketers need to think hard about where they put their dollars, stop planning above-the-line spend annually, and generally agree that TV, once the bastion of marketing spend, is now a risky investment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The multiple personalities of Apple

I'm only a new convert to Apple. My MacBook Pro (my first) is only a couple of months old. I don't have an iPhone.

Apple is all colours and glitz; is joyful; is easy; one-click; two-finger scroll.

I love its usability, Apple instinctively knows how things are connected, that iPhoto and Flickr are a great match, that iMovie should upload to YouTube.

But then there are those updates that come through all the time. iTunes 9.0 is available (that'll be 90mb thanks), QuickTime has an updated (55mb, cheers), we took out all the printer drivers to make Snow Leopard lighter (great!) but if you want your printer driver back you can download the drivers (274mb, not great).

I also haven't had the best customer service when something came unstuck with my MacBook Pro. Apple stores and their licensed dealers seem to be stocked full of hipsters that don't have a lot of 'can I help you?' about them (having said that I have found one guy that is great, pity he can't solve all my problems).

Then comes the issue of Apple's secrecy. Sure, it might be great for that wow factor in new releases, but is it (allegedly) worth workers lives? For a publicly traded company questions are also being asked about corporate transparency.

For me it seems that the gulf between brand Apple and company Apple is too wide.

Is it possible that a brand can be separated from its company? Is this sustainable? I guess it has worked for Apple for the past decade or so, why shouldn't it continue?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goin' large from your organisation

Agencies will deride our poor camera work and lack of quality, but this little gem is letting our organisation go large in ways we've never been able to before.

What's in the box is one of the tools that is giving my organisation the opportunity to go out large no only to its members, but also as importantly, to the staff in the offices around the world.

Using a consumer level HD video camera we're now able to record messages from staff and members, stream events live to members in remote regions, and generally be on-call to record important moments in our organisation that otherwise might have been consigned to history.

Here's just a snapshot of what we've been able to achieve in four months:

+ Senior managers recorded a short bio of themselves for members
+ The organisation president recorded a welcome message for members as he was not able to attend an event
+ The CEO and senior managers recorded a warm-up video for a staff event happening overseas
+ A conference session was live-streamed from Perth into Second-Life

... and coming up

+ We'll be recording vox-pops of members attending our annual Congress
+ Live-streaming more conference sessions for regional members
+ And recording many more staff and member stories

Here's what's under the hood:

+ Canon HV30 HD video camera (we chose the HV30 as its firewire out-put allows us to use the camera for live-streaming, something flash memory HD cameras cannot do).
+ Firewire 800 cable
+ Rode VideoMic for awesome sound
+ Plenty of mini DV tapes
+ One really tough case for our travels

You can pick up all that plus a nice tripod for under $1500, that's about one days worth of video from an agency. The biggest cost for our organisation was a Macbook with FinalCut Express as we didn't have one previously, but I'm sure most other organisations have a Mac or two.

One of the greatest things about having a camera inside the organisation is that now for those spur of the moment opportunities we don't need to go to an agency and get a quote, book a time an manage the post-production. Our camera gives us the flexibility to be on-call and record the stories as we need. Sure there's a little additional blood and sweat in editing and encoding the files ourselves, but I'm loving learning a new skill.

As yet none of our Semi-Pro (alright, amateur!) productions have made it to our YouTube channel - all our productions have gone large inside the business. But I'm sure in time you'll be seeing our handy work in the big lights of YouTube. Really, now that you can pick up an HD camera for about $1000 and a studio quality microphone for $150, the (YouTube ready) quality takes care of itself and what we can concentrate on is being on call to capture the best stories we can.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Social media from outside the marketing department

It's been a little over 12 months since I left the marketing department at work. I'm now sitting in a small team that is curiously called Knowledge Exchange and essentially our role is to "help members connect with each other online and share experiences" (that's how I put it).

I've had a fantastic time in the role because it has given me the freedom to voraciously learn about everything that online collaboration/networking/sharing can offer. I've got my million-and-one accounts on every service possible; I'm talking to people I would never have met were it not for the Interwebz and all up I think I've had a bloody educational year.

But one of the biggest things that it has taught me is that doing this stuff just ain't natural to everyone. For the past four or five months I've been having regular catch-ups with my old marketing team to get them on-board as advocates for online collaboration.

While it is true a person's need is the first step in deciding what and indeed if collaboration should be online, in these meetings we've decided to have a bit of a taste-test to learn about the fun things that live online. The team has tasted forums, blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube... the works. And in the end I think that the biggest learning I've had is that for most of these tools and platforms you simply can't explain the benefit - you have to experience the benefit.

And that's a bloody hard sell. The whole "trust me" line just doesn't cut the mustard when a member receives their 4th email for the month.

Deborah Schultz, partner at the emerging tech strategy consultancy Altimeter, also shows in her P&G digital hack night, the 'jump-in' mind-set of a digital native/convert is different from the 'planned' marketing mind-set. Marketing, as creative as it might sound to the outsider, is actually about tangible benefits and direct outputs - $1,000 input gives me 6% return gives me $20,000 sales. It's logical, it's tested, it works. Marketing reads the instructions, figures out how it works and then applies the correct procedures.

Sitting outside the marketing department has given me a new appreciation for the act of marketing, especially in this new world of 'experiences'. The digital native/convert has accepted that the world simply has too many experiences and opportunities to sit down and read the instructions. You simply gotta jump in and go for a ride. If you don't like it get out, get in the next one, try something else. You'll find the one that you get a benefit from soon enough. Try marketing that! And everybody's 'it' is different to the next.

The best I could say is get your story right and tell your story through the experiences that you market. And it doesn't all have to be digital. Red Bull is a great example of a company/brand that has a story to tell through the experiences it markets and I bet their marketing spend is 90% off-line.

So in a little over twelve months a curious thing has happened to me, my walls of data and measures that direct-marketing taught me have started to crumble. Instead I'm now talking about stories and experiences, about failing, collaborating, talking with people not at them.

... I think I have a long way to go to win over the marketing department but I'll keep working at it. Good luck to all you other digitals out there converting the analogue marketing departments of yesterday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Designed in Australia, Made in China, From Australian Fabric

This is what it says on the tag of Bonds underwear. And I'm still trying to figure out what Pacific Brands, the owner of Bonds, wants us to feel when we read this.

As far as I'm aware the only thing a manufacturer is required to state is the country of manufacture. So it would be that Pacific Brands, has made a conscious decision to tell the customer it's designed in Australia and uses Australian fabric.

To me, a cynical marketer, it says that, "we (Bonds) like to design our garments in Australia and Australian fabric is good quality so we'll use that, but as for manufacturing, well any old shmuck can do that so we'll get it cheap as chips in China."

Pacific Brands has a responsibility to its shareholders, I can't disagree there, but with all the devastating news of textile factories closing continuing, to have this written on the tag of Bonds clothing is a bit of a slap in the face to all the previously employed Australian workers. It says that labour cost savings is the only reason they're out of a job.

I see it happening more and more, brands trying to eek out any bit of Australian connection left in their multi-national businesses. I just wonder if the nationalism is wearing a little thin (sorry about the pun).

What do you think Pacific Brands is trying to say with this tag?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Imagine a subversive world delivered via augmented reality

This just blew my mind with the possibilities.

From the Digital Urban blog...

A new application from Metaio is taking the concept a step forward allowing users to leave tweets, messages, web pages and 3D models in a real space for other users to view or pick up when there are in the vicinity.

An example Digital Urban gives is the opportunity for augmented reality graffiti. Wow, the possibilities for a really subversive world hidden from reality, open only to those with the right key... wow.

Overcoming the dis-embodied brain

Recently a colleague has had to work from home for extended periods. Today's technology is amazing in that it is wholly possible to do this and still work productively. With remote access to work and email applications via Citrix, diversion of office phones to mobile phones, and the use or web based wikis, IM and twitter there is no impediment to seamless remote working.

But there is a down-side. It pyschological more than anything else. It's dis-embodiment.

After a period of working with my colleague in a remote manner, the image of my colleague is fading and being replaced with the direct image I see during our converasations - a conference phone, a computer screen. It's crazy, I know, but he is turning into a dis-embodied brain, a god floating in the ether.

But there is another way. It may be a little data intensive and some options are down-right mind-blowing in their cost, but there should be no restriction in today's technologically capable world from not have visual and audio connections in remote locations.

Here are just a few options organisations can and should consider for employees working remotely:

Online video calls
Google and Skype both offer free one-to-one video calls.

Virtual worlds
Not as silly as it sounds, virtual worlds are promising to deliver the next generation of remote conferencing and offer unlimited flexibility in communicating with life-like representations of colleagues. Workplace virtual world examples include Forterra, Rivers Run Red for Second Life and some organisations are even trialling PS3 Home as a virtual communications medium.

TelePresence is something that Cisco has championed and the innovations coming out of Cisco really do show where remote working is heading. Life-sized imagery broadcast over digital lines is pretty amazing.

And just to show you there is always something way out there. The video below show's the next next generation of teleconferencing - Princess Leia style - holography in the boardroom.

Home offices and SMEs are perfectly positioned to leverage free online video technologies such as Google video and Skype. Larger organisations should consider distributed telepresence. I say distributed because I believe that having a system locked down to office-to-office video calls misses an opportunity to link in staff at home, customers and suppliers that all have webcams that could link in.

These are our best options for really tangible and meaningful connections via remote locations, we should embrace visual connections as much as possible and shun the dis-embodied soul.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's baby steps for Sony with online content

Ok, ok. Last post I may have heaped praise on Sony for doing the right thing by Jill and Kevin on YouTube. Maybe it was a little premature.

Today I read in the Guardian Rhodri Marsden has had a take-down notice from Sony slapped on one of his videos. Turns out Sony doesn't like it when their artists are put up in a humorous light.

The video Rhodri describes highlights the somewhat bizarre ramblings of young up-and-comer Ray Gun. I can see why Sony would have slapped the take-down notice on the video if it doesn't show Ray Gun in a good light, but you can't blame Rhodri for trying.

If Sony are going to go ahead and profit off videos such as Jill and Kevin then they should be willing to let others that might be a little left-of-centre go online too. The very least that can be said is that by profiting off a select few user-generated videos Sony has given implicate permission to all online users to use Sony content whenever they want.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Changing of the guard for online content recognition

YouTube and Read Write Web have both commented this past day on Jill and Kevin's wedding dance and the subsequent news that Sony has actively profited from the 'improper use' of the Chris Brown song that Jill and Kevin danced to.

The YouTube post discusses how rights holders of content such as music can actively manage their content through YouTube's click-to-buy which has been live for a year or so. YouTube highlight's the direct correlation between the appearance of J&K's wedding dance and the Chris Brown's year-old song rocketing back up the iTunes and Amazon charts.

Read Write Web then goes on to highlight the change in tactic Sony has employed going from restricting use of their content in these User Generated (UGC) videos to identifying themselves as the content owner of the music and adding in a click-to-buy advertisement pointing people to either iTunes or Amazon to purchase the song.

I think it's a great move on Sony's behalf and the proof can be seen in the dollars rolling in. YouTube's ClaimID system that can automatically identify a song and notify a rights holder would really be an ace up their sleeve if all major and independent labels encouraged the method Sony has taken.

Imagine all the machinima creators, vloggers and other creative types out there being encouraged to take their pick of any song they wish instead of a limited amount of home-study productions. I think we'd see a whole new wave of UGC being unleashed onto our screens.

This is a real win for fair-use and share-alike on the web and I only hope it can extend further. If logos such as Facebook and YouTube could have a ClaimID type system attached you would no longer have to fret about whether some big-bad lawyer is going to serve a take-down notice on your site because of the improper use of a logo or content.

I can also see Internet radio having a great time with this. One click to purchase any song playing live online right now.

Maybe for artwork and design too? One click on an image to go to an online shop to purchase the original creator's work.

Text? Could it go too far? Should we all just freely use each other's work and share-alike?

Maybe this new tack from Sony poses more questions than it answers, but the fact that everybody seems to win from the deal makes it such an appealing option.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Livestrong and the STAGES exhibition


I am a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I am a big fan of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Livestrong. If every charitable foundation could have a Lance Armstrong in it we'd all be in a better place.

Here's what's great about the man and the foundation - their both driven; relentless; passionate; positive; creative; loved and loving. Basically they know what they want and they're going to get it.

Forget about the fact Lance is back in the Tour, That's just the dressing on top - the real reason Lance is in Europe is to promote Livestrong. In Paris during and after the race the STAGES art exhibition is on show (the video above describes Shepard Fairey's entry in the exhibition) and in August Lance and Livestrong will be in Dublin for a summit to further promote the foundations good work.

Lance's involvement in sport and in art shows everyone that can get involved in an honest and positive way. Nike's continued involvement with Livestrong and support of STAGES should be seen as a model for corporate partnerships and giving back to the community. The artists eagerness to be involved in this campaign also shows the amount of respect Lance has across industries, interests and cultures. Uniting sport and art has been one of the hallmarks of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's an odd marriage but through the single focus of fighting cancer Lance has drawn the best out of everyone involved and we're all the better for it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ratings and Reviews to build trust and reputation online

Building engagement online, especially building the engagement of community members from a low involvement level is a challenge. Increased engagement will follow the increase in the trust of members and content and in-turn member reputation will increase with increased positive engagement.

First, however, members need to be given an easily identifiable way of increasing the trust in content they give and take from a community and a fun and rewarding way of building their reputation in an online environment.

One of the most straight forward ways to create engagement online is giving members an option to rate and review content online. This activity which can be either recognised or anonymous allows others to build a scale of trust with the content based on the values of the community.

But wait, you thought it was simple, well, it's not that simple. Here's a list of things to think about if you want to go down the rate and review path:

Rating scales

What scale will you choose for your ratings? The following scales are methods of rating content and events, the list progresses from simple to sophisticated.

Favourite/Digg/Thumbs eg. Eventful, Digg, Marketing Magazine
This is not so much a scale as a popularity rating, here customers can see how many other people rate the event.

Smilies eg. Jango
On a scale of three smilies, a customer can "not like", "like" or "love" a specific song.

Single five star eg. Crikey
Quality is reviewed on a single five-star scale, generally sufficient for items with single measurement, eg news items are rated for quality of content.

Multiple five star
eg. eBay
Quality is rated over multiple criteria, average is generally shown in a summary five star. Used when customer decision is based on multiple criteria.

Classes eg. Wikipedia
Used in Wikipedia to classify the quality of an article, teams of people review articles and agree on a level of quality based on a set of common measurements.

Rating AND Commenting/Reviewing

As well as varying scales from which to rate, there is question of arbitrary ratings or subjective comments and reviews. Some websites link the two together while other keep the two separate, examples being:

Rate and comment/review separate: YouTube, Crikey

Rate and comment/review together: Amazon, JS-Kit Review applet

Who can rate?

This, again is a variable in many different rating schemes. Roughly following the same lines as scales, the more technical the content becomes the more selective the list of reviewers/raters become.

Anyone - Generally occurs in blogs and some news sites and generally on the favourite/thumbs scale. This level of interaction encourages high volume rating of non-technical items.

Registered members - Highly used in communities such as YouTube, raters are required to sign-in to rate therefore encouraging continued community membership and higher engagement.

Purchasers only - Used in many online e-commerce stores such as Amazon and eBay, this method is particularly relevant for events, whereby many of the rating criteria can only be completed by those that attended.

Team/Editor Review - Not as authoritative as peer reviewed, the team/editor review is a rating given by an assigned professional reviewing the content. Examples include Lonleyplant.com's author pick.

Peer Reviewed
- Articles are reviewed by an agreed group of peers. Knowledge and consensus combine to ensure an article is given an agreed rating by experts in the field.

So that's a start! Who would have thought such a simple thing as rating and reviewing could have so many variables?

Remember that this is just one side of the coin. This post looks at building trust and reputation in the content. This is based on the general assumption that you trust the community members that provide the ratings and reviews.

To get more of an understanding on the flip-side of the coin, building trust and reputation in community members, have a read of my post on rewarding community members online. This will help you understand ways you can allow community members to build up their status within a community.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The growing world of Augmented Reality

Disclaimer: I'm writing this blog post with no, repeat NO, technical understanding about how AR works, so keep that in mind.

Augmented Reality (or just AR) is picking up steam, largely i think off the back of new powerful mobile devices a la iPhone and the likes.

New AR applications are being released almost every week. They seem to be falling into two camps at the moment: Practical tools or gimiky advertising.

The gimiky advertising use of AR has built up steam and while some in advertising might lament the over-use of AR and the questionable tangible benefits, it is had to go past the "we're doing it because it's cool" arguement, because frankly, it is cool.

Here's a few examples of advertising uses of AR:

On the practical side of things, there are plenty more tangible benefits. By watching the clips below you'll see that assisting technical operations and overlaying information on points of interest are just some of the great ways AR can help bring real-time information to real world situations.

Here's a few examples of practical uses of AR:

The rumor mill has it that Apple will bring out AR support for the iPhone later this year - it'd be a hard one for Apple to pass by with the amount of applications possible.

You may be in the 'why isn't one reality enough?' camp or you might be in the 'bring it on' camp but the short of it is that mobile devices and demand for real-time information mean that reality and virtual reality are on a collision course and AR is how it is playing out.

Oh, and i'll leave the last word to a comment posted by mihaiviteazu5 on YouTube,":D idiot proof , the way of the future".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rewarding community involvement online

Community involvement in an online space can take many different forms. From forum communities to blogging communities; social networks; wikis and IRC. The commonality amongst many of the online communities is that people that associate themselves with the community can place themselves and others in an order within the community based on subjective or objective scales.

Subjectively, people might rank themselves or others within a community based on the number of followers or friends they might have. Others might place themselves on a scale based on the number of contributions they have given. Others still might rank people on a value scale whereby it is not the amount of content given to the community rather the quality of the content they provide.

Objectively, a community might decide to craft the behaviour of its users by providing rewards for users that undertake specific actions. These rewards are clearly defined and people can associate themselves with other reward holders within a community objectively. Community members can also clearly identify eachother and their relative position within a community based on the objective rewards or status symbols received by eachother.

To best understand the variety of rewards and recognition available to members of online communities I have divided the rewards into four distinct categories as illustrated below.

You can see in the chart that the scales of subjective versus objective relate to "who" provides the reward: is it the community owners/moderators (eg reviewer of the month) or the community members themselves (eg Barnstars). To better define the rewards for the community it is probably wise to outline how rewards, if subjective, are chosen.

The periodic versus perpetual scale can benefit community owners in defining how and how often members engage in the community. YouTube, a community that can be somewhat fickle and transient, uses periodic/objective rewards to encourage YouTube-ers to continue to engage consistently weekly and monthly. Likewise, Amazon and eBay encourage consistent participation with their periodic ranking of the most proliferent reviewers. Again, like above, if you rank members over a periodic time-frame it is best to outline how this ranking is conducted and over what timeframes.

This scale has come from researching online and trying to understand the millions of inherent behaviours we all share. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to define and measure rewards and recognition in online communities. Post me a comment and let me know any other great examples of rewarding communities online.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Billboard relevance

In my continuing fascination of the somewhat un-loved billboard I am really appreciating the Triple M footy billboards at the moment.

Not so much for creative, rather for its execution. In the series of billboards a different commentator is featured depending on the location of the billboard in the city.

Danny Frawley, pictured above, is featured in a billboard in Moorabbin near the home ground of his old club, St.Kilda. James Brayshaw is featured on a billboard near the Bolte Bridge in Kensington near the North Melbourne home ground where he is president. I suspect Shane Crawford and Jason Dunstall would be prominent in the eastern suburbs near Hawthorn.

Appealing to local allegiances in AFL is just one more way to use the benefits that a local billboard can offer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The set-up of a mixed-reality event

So, I've been a bad blogger an not posted in a month. Tut tut. It's not to say I haven't been doing anything interesting!

Check out the photo above. This is the set-up of a live stream that I conducted in Second Life. Well, as this picture is taken at home, it not a live 'live stream' but a 'repeat' live stream. Let me explain...

On May 12 I was at the CPA Week conference in Perth where I had a similar set-up at the back of a hall where a keynote presentation was taking place. Two Macs; one video camera, audio hook-up to sound desk; internet connection. Away we went!

Computer one. Audio link from presenter's lapel mic into DV camera. DV camera on tripod hooked up to computer with firewire cable. Live video feed into Quicktime Broadcaster. Feed sent to Quicktime streaming host, Netromedia.

Computer two. Second Life running with live feed into media texture on stage screen. Mac linked to plasma screen on stage.

The result?

A keynote presentation, once only available to those in the room, was now beamed into a theatre Second Life where CPA Australia members from all across the globe could log in and view the live presentation. The outcome of having the stream beamed back into the real life theatre was that those in the real life could see how other members were engaging in the presentation AND the members in SL, wherever they were, could pose questions to the presenter during question time in real-time.

It kinda does the head in trying to comprehend the whole mixed-reality phenomena, as trying to explain even after I have done it hard enough.

Now back to the 'not-quite-live' aspect of the photo above. As well as stream the event live I recorded the video feed to mini-DV tape and the set-up above was me re-playing the video for members that could not attend the live event. By playing the tape through the DV camera I could utilise the live-stream functionality of Broadcaster and Netromedia to replicate the live-feed at a more convenient time for other members.

The only question I have remaining is, is it possible to to the video feed 'out' and the Second Life stream 'in' on the one computer? I guess it's a question of grunt.

Seeing it live is perhaps the only way to truly grasp the potential for events in the future. The blending of realities is a fascinating future and one that has many possibilities.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kleenmaid's foray into YouTube

Kleenmaid Appliances, an Australia whitegoods retailer went into voluntary administration on April 9 with an estimated debt of $73 million.

To provide Kleenmaid customers with an update on what this meant, the directors, Bradley Young and Andrew Young, took the unusual step of broadcasting a message via YouTube.

View it here. I have linked rather than embedded it because embedding permissions have been turned off.

As well, comments and response videos have also been turned off. What this says to me is that Kleenmaid had the best intentions for using YouTube as an engaging medium in what must be quite a stressful time. But the stress may have been too much, by turning off all forms of two-way communication this has meant people have circumvented this non-communication by other means.

Here are the examples to be found on YouTube today:

Yes, YouTube is full of weird and wonderful people, but like any other new media/social media platform, an inherent part of its purpose is to facilitate two-way communication. As seen in this example, people will call you out when you "don't play by the rules". And yes, going into voluntary administration must be stressful enough without having to respond to all the people of the interwebs. But if you choose YouTube as a form of communication then you should obey the etiquette and its reason for being.

Take for example GE. GE is a global manufacturing and financial services organisation that no doubt angers many people for various reasons. However, though its communications arm it has bitten the bullet and agreed to allow customers, shareholders and the public to comment on everything from its products to its financial performance through its GE Reports website and YouTube channel.

The worst that can happen is that you get a bad comment which, if defamatory, you can moderate. The best that can happen is that you can control the debate via responding to comments and centralising the debate.

Savvy businesses are realising that YouTube and two-way communications platforms are providing a whole new level of engagement with their customers and shareholders. By using these platforms to craft and moderate the debate much of the fire that comes out at retail outlets or shareholder meetings can be abated.

And on a final note out of all the saga of Kleenmaid and its stuttering foray into YouTube, here is my pick for the winner. Amos, a Kleenmaid technician from Adelaide that has had the foresight to respond to one of the negative Kleenmaid spoofs. Well done!

Friday, April 17, 2009

livestreaming around the world baby!

The below Windows Media Player and code is from a trial live stream I conducted. We live streamed from a notebook to my blog using Netromedia. Much coolness. Should you ever need to live stream yourself into your blog.

standby="Loading Microsoft Windows Media Player components..." type="application/x-oleobject"
width="382" height="306">

src="http://wms141.netromedia.net/cpatest" showcontrols="false" width="382" height="306"
filename="http://wms141.netromedia.net/cpatest" animationatstart="true" transparentatstart="true"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to choose the delivery format and channel for your news and information

These past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about online media. Actually, more like learning and online media.

I'm going to take it back a step and start on a tangent with long-players and short-players, the old dames of the music industry. You might remember the initials, LP, EP, SP; they denoted the length of the music.

That's where I'm taking my cue from when, now in the 21st Century, I think about not so much music, but news and learning media. You can break down news and learning (learning being podcasts, lectures, etc) media into the LP, EP, SP definitions by time, so that a 40min lecture is an LP; a 20min podcast is an EP; and a 5min news clip is an SP.

The LP,EP,SP analogy can be seen as blocks of concentration too. I might only have time for a short news clip or I might be on a train ride and have time for a whole lecture.

Back in the ol' 45 era you didn't have much of an option for media. You had the transistor for the news or the record player for the LP. The Internet has changed all that. using an iPhone as an example the one device can deliver you short-play and long-play audio and video.

The trouble is that this abundance of choice from the one device means that the content publishers need to think carefully about the manner in which they deliver their content. Delivering the right content but through the wrong channel might mean that your content never gets seen. Likewise delivering the right content in the right channel but in the wrong format could also be disastrous.

Just to give an example of the variety of channels for delivering your content here is a small selection:

SP media
Short bites of information, high volume and frequency.
  • YouTube
  • Yahoo! Video
  • Vimeo
  • Wikipedia's list of video services

    EP media
    mid-length media, once-a-week volume as example
  • The Podcast Network
  • Podcast.com
  • The BBC World Service

    LP media
    Full length lectures, keynote presentations, etc.
  • iTunes University
  • YouTube Edu
  • Academic Earth

    That's just the tip of the iceberg my friends. Take your pick. It's a consumer's market out there.

    So when you're a content publisher where do you start? How do you pick the winner for the content you want to put out there to the world? I'm still learning myself, but what I have learnt is that there are a few key factors that will determine your choice:

    Choose the length of your content delivery based on a consumer's appetite for knowledge of the topic.

    Audio or video, choose based on what's required. There's nothing more frustrating than an podcast that refers to images or slides, similarly, a video of a guy standing behind a podium is pretty dull.

    News topics require constant periodic updates while specialist topics can have infrequent updates.

    Streaming or download
    You must accept that LP media will frequently be consumed over a number of sittings, therefore you should allow for downloading of this media, while SP media can be seen as disposable media and therefore streaming only is fine.

    Delivery channel
    This is totally subjective, but to me YouTube is a SP delivery channel, as it is streaming only I will only choose to watch SP media via YouTube. Whereas something like iTunes and iTunes University is an EP/LP delivery channel as it is a download channel.

    The consumer is spoilt for choice, the information age has truly arrived, as a publisher your voice is fighting amongst the cacophony of the whole world. Choose your format and channel wiseley!
  • Monday, March 30, 2009

    The big balloon, you can't avoid it

    Draught balloon

    Spotted over Caulfield race course this morning, the Carlton Draught big balloon is out and about again.

    Conveniently, there is two weeks left to register for the latest Carlton Draught competition, Drop the Bomb.

    Maybe it has been in town for the Grand Prix/AFL launch, maybe it is in the air to promote the latest competition. Either way, the hot air balloon is a great way to get attention.

    I remember in 2006, the Australian F1 GP launched a hot air balloon in the shape of an F1 car to gain attention during the Commonwealth Games. The hot air balloon is possibly one of the best tools in the ambush marketing tool-box.

    What-ever the balloon is doing in the sky, it's always a fun sight (well, the world's largest beer at 8am in the morning may not be the *greatest* sight).

    As an events promotional tool for sheer attention grabbing, it beats dancing girls, celebrity autograph signing, stunt cars, and all other manner of events promotions. It's big and it's there and you cannot avoid it!

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Billboard usage (or lack thereof) in Melbourne CBD

    Elizabeth Street billboard

    As you can see above, this is a billboard for Will Smith's Seven Pounds film. It advertises, "In cinemas January 8". Why is this billboard still up?

    As my previous post shows, billboards are still being used quite creatively, even in this market. But then again, in the belt-tightened economy groceries (an alcohol) are still doing well. Maybe beer is the exception to the general outdoor advertising trend.

    Maybe outdoor advertising is feeling the pinch. You'd think a billboard near the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets would be a snap to sell.

    But I have also noticed that the office tower at Melbourne Central is advertising three whole floors for rent. I don't think I've ever seen an vacancy advertisement on a building as popular as that.

    Maybe the doomsayers are right, things will certainly be interesting in the CBD over the next 12 months.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Cascade gives a billboard back to nature


    For the first time ever, a cross promotion with AlexofMelbourne, my poor second blog-child. I have been very tardy in updating my adventures in Melbourne, so in sorry attempt to give it some love I am giving it air-time in Love Number Two.

    Here is a great billboard at St.Kilda Junction. Strangely, it was being erected on Friday evening.

    This Cascade Green billboard had been erected a number of times in 2008 but this one in St.Kilda Junction is the biggest I have seen yet. Billboards, ever such a restrictive medium, rarely get loving such as this, so when they do it is refreshing to see and certainly catches the eye.

    Let's just hope Melbourne gets some more rain over the coming weeks as I guess water restrictions will prevent Cascade from watering the plants!

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    A General Motors exec's view on the auto industry and advertising

    With my shiny new RSS feed to the print edition of Advertising Age via ProQuest, I came across an interview with Bob Lutz (subscription reqd), retiring executive vice chairman-global product development.

    In the interview Bob state's a few telling points - telling because I think it shows that some organisations just don't get it, from products to promotion. Here are the key out-takes from the article:

    The entire industry is almost in intensive care, and we are going to be burdened with very, very, very severe fueleconomy mandates from an administration that believes all we have to do is show a little goodwill and we can easily achieve 43 miles to the gallon. Whereas, in fact, technologically, nobody knows how to do that.

    Back in the old days, you had ABC, CBS and NBC. If you took three spots on the "Dinah Shore Show," you had a Chevrolet commercial at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end, and you knew that about 25 million Americans saw those three Chevy commercials. Today, with hundreds of channels, you don't know where to go anymore. I can go a whole month and not see a GM commercial on TV because I am not watching the channels we advertise on. I tend to watch the channels like American Film Classics or something where I am bombarded with ads for medication.

    But by and large, the industrial companies definitely no longer have the budgets to where they can rely on advertising. So you see a lot of very effective viral advertising. ... If you do an extremely entertaining commercial to where people will copy it and pass it on, it comes a chain of progression, and that is a very good way to get the message out.

    So what we see from Bob Lutz is even at the very head of the organisation, there is no answer, no ideas, no inspiration. Not on the products side of things and not on the promotion side of things.

    Let's now mosey on over to the "Social Media" side of GM's business. By any company standard these people should be the real innovators. And it looks promising, GM has covered its bases: A wiki, blogs, YouTube, Twitter. Well done, you're engaging with the people!

    Let's take a look at how GM is engaging ...

    Generations of GM Wiki is an historical account based on facts ... it is not a discussion forum.

    The GMnext wiki

    For centuries, Utopians have dreamed of letting the old world burn and building a fresh new world just over the horizon. In the case of the auto industry, which holds a key to solving the global energy puzzle, such dreams are a dangerous diversion from the hard work at hand.

    GM Fastlane blog

    @GMblogs you guys are killing Saturn just as it was starting to get interesting. I.e., becoming Opel/Vauxhall North America
    4:01 AM Feb 20th from TweetDeck in reply to GMblogs

    @buffalopundit if the spin-off happens Saturn will essentially get to cut the cord and go back to it's roots
    4:15 AM Feb 20th from TweetDeck in reply to buffalopundit

    GMblogs on Twitter

    Hmmm... me-thinks GM has a nasty case of corporate communications cough, you know, that nasty bug that infects good ideas with yes-men touting the company line.

    Oh, but i did find something that was interesting and did want to make me listen. It was an obscure GM produced video that has received a whopping 718 views in just a little over ... a year and a half!

    Dr. Lars Peter Thiesen, GM Europe, manager, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Development, actually sounds like an engaging, well spoken, and informative man, interested in the work he is doing.

    So my big question to GM, Bob Lutz, GM bloggers and wiki editors: Why do I have to suffer the pain of Detroit's bemoaning corporate communicators when I could be reading the inspiring words of people like Dr. Lars Peter Thiesen? Where is the Dr. Lars blog?

    Bob Lutz, on your way out, maybe make a recommendation to cut a couple of million from the corporate communications division, get your employees to blog about the great work they are doing (they'll do it for free!) and put that saved money back into worthy R&D.

    BTW I did actually learn something useful from the GM Wiki! GM made electric cars as far back as 1912. Makes me wonder what happened for 100 years ...

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    The difference between shopping in the real world and online

    So I've just come back from lunch and a few revelations came to me on my walk around town.

    1. The Internet has changed shopping forever. OK, we've known this one for years and years. But it was only today that I actually got depressed about it. I looked at all these great shops with their pretty displays and thought, "I could go online and fine ten times as much of anything you could possibly stock in your little store." The poor shop-owners don't have a chance, there is no-way a bricks and mortar store can ever compete on range. Ever.

    The depressing thing was that I like to touch and feel things, the texture, the look... yes I admit it, I like the SMELL of books. You can't get this online. This is the only thing the little stores have over the Internet. They have reality. Real people. Real customer service. All I can say is: little shops, customer service is the ONLY thing you have over the Internet - so used it well.

    2. The key is in engagement. Walking down the the street I also passed a large number of pamphleteers. You know the people with a little A5 photo-copy selling you something or telling you about the next rally organised by the socialist left.

    Most of the pamphleteers had it all wrong. Chatting to their buddies, casting a strange glare, handing you a pamphlet as if it were a controlled narcotic. It's not a hard thing, it does take a little technique, but shock-horror it's not hard. Smile, be open, say hello, say what you're giving the passer-by.

    Conclusion? The traditional shop must evolve. Utilise your best asset - customer service. Leverage the Internet for what you cannot provide - range - affiliates, distribution agreements. And for the online retailers? Take a lesson from the humble street pamphleteer. If your usability is poor, or you don't have an open and welcoming appearance, then people might pass you by. Say hello, put a face to your store, utilise your best asset - range. Take lessons from the real world on the things you can't offer - personal customer service, just because you're online, doesn't mean you can leave the customer in the wilderness.

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Taking window dressing to the next level

    Big ups to Olivia Solon from Right Brain, Left Brain and her post on the above Coraline ambient media.

    It's this kind of imagination that keeps on inspiring me. While the video touts the five technologies it uses, that's just the sales pitch, it is really the execution of them all that makes it an amazing campaign.

    Plus it puts Augmented Reality to use in a fun and engaging way!

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    International business news - #002

    In this installment of International business news, we look at the world in 2020 as envisaged at the World Economic Forum; hear Rupert Murdoch defend free markets and easy cash; watch Al Gore promote the global fight against Climate Change and; find out who in Asia will come to be the dominant power.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Why not?

    Why not? on TwitPic

    We're living in an age where we don't need to be limited by boundaries, we have the ability to define how we act, what we do and how we do it. It's not about having the biggest, the best, the most expensive. We are now happy to play with the vintage edition, we want to see how far we can push to previous model. The standard edition is good enough, it mightn't flash and spin, but it looks great because it's how you like it. Fun is about how you use it and who you use it with, it's not how shiny it is or who says it's cool.

    Have fun with with your friends, and take life as it comes. Find your spice of life.

    And most importantly, don't ask why, ask why not!

    Who say's so? Lance says so!

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    When content and advertising collide - head on

    So it's official then, AMP is "nothing special". I've had this YouTube advertisement bugging my browser for the past week or so and never really paid much attention to it. Maybe because it is outside my F-shaped pattern of reading but more likely because I'm not interested in financial products.

    Now that I have taken a better look at the advertisement I notice that, in fact, it allows ratings. I guess the question is then, is this sponsored content or is it advertising?

    The fact that it is sitting in a traditional advertising right-hand column suggests that it is an advertisement, and when following the link you get to AMP's YouTube channel which is, for all intents and purposes, advertising AMP with informative content.

    But, the fact that it allows ratings would suggest that it is more closely related to content, because heaven help the advertising industry if we could publicly rate every advertisement we see! So what is this picture sitting in my browser? Content or advertisement? If it is an advertisement as it would seem should we ask to be able to rate all advertisements online? Imagine that!

    Conclusion? AMP's YouTube channel is a great attempt at advertising through content, but by having ratings in the advertisement portion of the campaign leaves it open to vandalism (by competitors?) that will lead to a negative impact on consumer perception.


    On a side note I see that AMP has had its YouTube account since 2005. Looks like some foresight on someone's behalf as no doubt 'AMP' would be a popular account to have!

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Far Eastern Economic Review, 09 Jan 2009. Pages 58 - 59

    What I'm reading:

    Far Eastern Economic Review
    09 Jan 2009

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    International business news - #001

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    More baby steps for Ad Agencies in the new-world

    So yet another social media campaign is launched and shot down in flames within seconds of take-off. If it's not the UBank launchpad fizzer, or the agency-by-stealth undercover Guitar Hero video, then it's another agency built campaign that missed the final social-checklist question of: are we being legit with our customers?

    This time we have Tourism Queensland's, "The Best Job in the World," a chance to be a caretaker on a Great Barrier Reef Island. Great concept, pretty good execution, but as always, one tiny flaw has earned a stern tut-tut from media old and new.

    This time, as in the past examples, we again have advertising agency staff in the actual campaign without disclaimer or declaration. The ire of it all is that because they are posing in their own campaign they portray a skewed view of what the project has aimed to achieve.

    I agree that undeclared 'planted' user generated content takes away from the spirit of social media campaigns, and I think that agencies that fall on this ground should be reminded about the spirit of the game. The spirit being, if you truly want to create such campaigns you must be ready to accept lame with the great, the creative with the boring, as long as there are no offensive or derogatory comments being made.

    Mumbrella, has been on the inside of this case for a few days now and has some further insights from the parties involved. From these articles it is possible to see that innocent mistakes on a global scale do get noticed.

    One thought on why these things seem to be happening is that much of the 'social media' activity is coming out of ad agencies still. Being two steps removed from the customer creates a little fog which can sometimes lead you to think a 'little' mistake doesn't mean much. I think it'll take time until Australia brings social media into daily marketing team activities. Using Zappos as the classic example, by having the 'social' part of your marketing inside the business, I think you can have a better understanding of exactly how to be 'social' with your customer.


    In other news...

    Catching up on new years proceedings, I see that Julian Cole has posted that UBank have some new online videos. Looks like they must have cost a bomb, but it's your bank fees paying, so what do they care? So, good to see they're still in the game, a different take, but as above, it's still baby steps for the Australian digital space.