Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wanting another generation

The popularity of Instagram, the photo sharing application that adds 'vintage' filters to each photo, is to me another indication of that today's connected generation also has a nostalgic want for a simpler life.

I won't theorise too deeply about this, but I do think that with world markets trembling, youth unemployment consistently increasing and the unfulfilled promises of university degrees there is a wanting for our memories of these times to be more rosy than they actually are.

Using applications like Instagram to remember today's ambivalence with sunbursts, overexposures and hazy blurs, this unfulfilled generation is in effect adding the layer of promise of the post-war 40/50s where these giant leaps in instant photographs were first seen.

The irony that it has taken technology developed in this generation to take today's memories back into a more promising generation has not been lost.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little things that count

A recent Ford Focus commercial grabbed my attention because 8 seconds into the ad there is an overt reference to Triple J.

In the scripting of this commercial any radio station could have been mentioned, but Triple J was chosen. Why?

Looking at the stats (part of the privilege of working at a market researcher) Triple J isn't the most listened to station by Ford Focus purchase intenders, but it is up there with Fox FM and Nova. I wonder what (or if) the decision making process was to choose this station in the TVC?

Here's the full ad:

Friday, October 14, 2011

The saddest Ad I've seen

This latest TVC for the iPad really hit me quite hard. Most examples shown are what I would consider a natural extension of technological communication and media interaction, but there was one snippet that made me really sad.

The kid learning to write on an iPad in what looks like a crayon style just hit home how removed our future generations will be from reality. If future generations will learn to write using an iPad then what understanding will they have of the crayon 'font' if they have never actually seen or used a crayon.

The gradual extinction of pen and paper and the rapid move to a digital world lived behind a glass tablet is one of the saddest things I've seen recently.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

US mobile phone usage - hyperconnected youth

There aren't many digital and media stats that make my jaw drop. Sure, Facebook's stats are staggering, but its walled garden business model has helped it create a near monopoly on family social networking.

Then along comes a Pew Internet study that shows that:

Young adults are the most avid texters by a wide margin. Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day—that works out to more than 3,200 texts per month—and the typical or median cell owner in this age group sends or receives 50 messages per day (or 1500 messages per month).

An average exchange of 109.5 text messages per day.

That made my jaw drop. Maybe because now that I'm 30 i'm considered a mobile senior citizen or maybe I just don't have many friends.

Consider the time it would take to receive then send that many messages and then add other social networking activities such as Facebook and Twitter. That is dedication to connection.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project contains plenty of informative research, have a good read.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Development continues in multi-touch

I was pointed towards an article about a mob called Visual Planet that has developed a thin film that is able to turn any screen into a multi-touch screen.

It's definitely an interesting concept (if it is affordable) that could possibly take large format multi-touch a little more mainstream than it currently is. Although I imagine the software and creative development is still fairly costly.

Amnesia have been keeping tabs on the development of multi-touch on their blog which is well worth a read. It goes to show that with the level of development in this space there must be some bright sparks that see that it has a mainstream future.

But my favourite multi-touch application is still Johnny Chung Lee's multi-touch Wii-remote hack. It goes to show with a little ingenuity and a lot of creativity anything is possible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Here's to Myer's online strategy - I hope it works.

Finally, some positive news out of Myer!!!

As an ex-Myer stock boy it has a small place in my heart and I want to see it succeed, and with the news today that it is pumping $9 million into a re-vamped eCommerce site I can now smile.

Presumably there will be tight integration with their MyerOne program which accounts for two-thirds of sales. It'd be great to buy online using my points and not have to carry around plastic gift cards.

Now, I must sound out a word of warning though. While they say that they will increase SKU availability on the site to 250,000 by November, I hope that these will be meaningful and new SKUs - not just the same old thing.

Myer needs to remember that an online store is not just like building another department store - an online store should be a global hub of products. A department store competes with its close physical competitors, an online store competes with its global competitors.

Myer, if you want your online store to take my hard earned, you'll need to offer me what I want - and what I want isn't currently one of your 250,000 SKUs.

For your book department - have a look at Book Depository because that's where the books I buy are. For clothing, check out Asos or Urban Outfitters. And for electronics, I'm afraid to say you're competing with a zillion online retailers that compete on rock-bottom price.

Unfortunately with the high Australian dollar it's probably not an ideal time to start a domestic online store. Hell, even with $40 shipping, overseas purchases are usually cheaper than domestic department stores. But you have to do it.

Just remember - you're competing with the world. eCommerce means speed to market - if it's available in the US/Europe then you need it to be on your store too. eCommerce means variety - brands/sizes/colours.

Basically what I'm saying if you want to be an online department store in the modern day then you have picked a shit of a fight with a retail market that is fragmenting at light-speed. You want to be everything to everyone? I wish you the best.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In a down-turn focus on the optimistic of us

While there is doom and gloom on the economic horizon with debt crises in the USA and job losses in Australia, one thing I've heard talked about from a marketing viewpoint is that in times like this you should focus on the optimistic people in the economy.

The people that feel safe in their job and positive about the future will continue to spend. This is reflected in the chart above from Gallup. It shows that in the USA those earning above $90k per annum have actually increased their year-on-year spending to July 2011.

Similarly in Australia look at your research and find your optimistic customers and focus your efforts on them. You will be able to put some money towards stemming losses from pessimistic customers (possibly through discounting) but focus the majority of your effort on optimistic customers, possibly by direct marketing to high-value customers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

QR Codes and merging print and digital media

The guys over at Marketing Magazine asked the question whether QR codes will ever take off in Australia and I think they will, in-fact they may have already. Just this week four catalogues in my letterbox had QR codes linking print media to its digital cousin.
  1. Woolworths promoting more recipes online
  2. Mitre 10 promoting DIY videos online
  3. Bunnings, similarly with DIY videos, but also with store locators
  4. Bras 'n Things with a store locator QR code
Without stats I can't say whether this has taken off or whether it's just the marketing department trying out new things. It does make me happy, though, that there seems to be a concerted effort to provide a more connected experience between the brand and the customer.

Finally, a question that I have had bubbling away for a while is, 'have we already surpassed qr codes?'.

Taking a logistical tool and turning it into a marketing key to the digital world was a great idea and it has been one that, overseas at least, has had great commercial success. But with the advent of Google Goggles and augmented reality (AR), where applications can now 'read' real-world objects, have 2D barcodes become obsolescent?

Google Goggles still has a long way to go before it is accurate enough to surpass QR code readers, and with no accepted standards in AR, I think that QR codes will have a healthy life yet in Australia. But we have already seen the future and for marketing at-least I think it is one without 2D barcodes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Photo credit: Ian Joyce

I love the Tour de France. The teamwork required to complete a race of over 3,000km is astounding. Mark Cavendish has summed it up perfectly:

"I crossed the finish line first, and I've done that 19 times now," he said, "but that's because there's only one person who can cross the finish line first. I did 200 metres today in a 200‑kilometre stage. Two of my team‑mates rode for 190 of those kilometres and the rest took over and delivered me to the line. So although it's my name on the list, it's for the team."

Read more about his stage win.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beach balls, LEDs, live music, creators projects

Can't believe it's taken me this long to discover the Vice/Intel Creators Project.

Creative and inventive minds together, a great combination. Looking forward to watching more videos like this one:

Installation using real-time data feed

This is really mesmerizing stuff, I think if I was at this museum I could sit still for a few hours and watch this installation.

Make Magazine has featured a video of this installation that takes real-time data from one of the remote oceanic buoys and uses it to create this simulation.

The way the poles snake up and down, it really does look like waves but at the same time if you dressed the poles up a bit you could be fooled to think it was a snake or even Falkor.

tele-present water from david bowen on Vimeo.

If you want to dig a little deeper, you can surf the worlds oceanic buoys at the NOAA.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Luna Park My Experience - social networking, RFID and NFC

For a long time now I've been fascinated by the Internet of Things (a long post to come) and one concept that has just come to life is happening at Luna Park in Sydney.

Through the use of RFID and NFC customers can interact both IRL and virtually with their experiences on all the rides.

It's spot-on as far as delivering a richer experience for the demanding youth market and plays to show-of-to-my-network mentality that can been seen in hyper-connected kids.

On the flip-side to the individuals experience is of course the combined experiences each ride provides. I can imagine that a future iteration of My Experience will be the story as told by the ride - the Internet of the ride.

Great work Luna Park.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

OLED sphere for data visualisation

From Tokyo Tek...

The gigantic globe features 10,362 OLED panels which cover an aluminum sphere hanging 18 meters from the floor. The 6 meter orb is an upgrade to a previous model which featured regular LED panels. This spanking new OLED version features a resolution about 10 times greater than LED, more than 10 million pixels!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is Google Search on the right path?

Just a question I had to get out there onto the webs. I ask this because the emphasis Google Search's Panda release places on original content to rank seems to me out of step with placing emphasis on the *best* content.

My understanding of the update is that it rewards websites that create good regular original content and penalises static sites, sites that re-purpose others content or sites that re-purpose content across their site.

My fear is that websites (many small business websites for example) that do a perfectly good job of saying what they're about and have products or content that perfectly answers the need some might have, but don't update their content regularly, may be penalised.

I'm a big fan of Google from way-back and many of their innovative products have changed the way the web works, but I just wonder that if you tinker with the recipe too much it might all become a mess.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Company awards to customer rewards

Gamification. There I said that over-hyped superficial term, maybe it'll get me up the Google rankings just by having it in this post. Yes, individual gratification has its place in society but I think that the bulldozing of games into the workplace might be a bit of a square peg in a round hole.

For the workplace I prefer to think about old-school awards, the one's that you really needed to put in sustained effort to really be the best in your field. Some of the best rewards that you can achieve are ones that recognise group effort and company wide strategies that have been at work for months if not years.

I'm going way-back -- pre-digital -- to bring your the original awards individuals and businesses aspire to. Some of these are not here any more, some have always been around and always will be and other you might not even think are rewards - but to some people within some companies they're the best rewards they can aspire to.

Tech industry awards
The technology industry, with its service based pricing models and inherently intangible products relies heavily on peer recognition to convince potential buyers what they're buying is not just "vaporware". Check out Atlassian software and iiNet for two companies that proudly display their peer recognised achievements.

Financial services awards
Another intangible service industry where awards can create the recognition brands require to give consumers peace-of-mind when selecting between multiple features and variables across a crowded market-place.

Some examples of financial services peer reviewed awards
Travel and tourism
Travel and tourism has its share of peer recognised awards. The leading air travel industry awards are Skytrax, the service that monitors airlines and airports. The travel industry has also probably seen one of the greatest effects of the democratisation of rewards and recognition now that everyone that stays in a hotel can rate and review their stay. The leading consumer travel review site, Trip Advisor, has created their annual Traveler's Choice awards to take advantage of democratised recognition.

Consumer products

More tangible consumer products can generally sell themselves well with in-store display models and good salespeople. That's not to say that they don't need to be stacked up against each other, after all many consumer products can be just as mystifying as intagingle products. This is where Canstar has seen a gap in the market and developed its Canstar Blue ratings website differentiating from its financial products ratings.

For consumer products it is not only about the average Joe rating the performance of the latest product. Sometimes consumers want the satisfaction that a product has been peer reviewed too. For consumer products we can see this recognition come through in the various design awards given to exceptional products. Two such awards to be given to products include the Australian International Design Awards and the Good Design Award.

Engineers get a Guernsey too
Recognition can come in many forms. True, consumer choice awards can be seen as the ultimate recognition by those that end up buying the product, but then so can dollars in the till. An engineer might take heart to know in a small way they put into the customer satisfaction award, but just as likely the engineer would like to hang their hat on a 5 star water or energy efficiency rating. These energy ratings are also an important part of the consumer buying decision and therefore may be the highest recognition that an engineer would like to achieve.

The ultimate B2B peer recognised love-fest
And while they may be some of the most widely watched televised events in the world, entertainment industry awards like the Oscars are ultimately a B2B awards ceremony with peers of the industry voting on their counterparts. Us movie-goers might only be interested in Best Picture but as an industry and a team pulling together over long hours in often miserable conditions the award for Best Best Boy or Best Set Design will be just as highly placed as the Best Actor award.
So while individual recognition might be the hot thing in social media circles and while it might be bulldozing its way into the workplace, don't forget that some of the most rewarding recognition can come from peer recognised awards that require a whole-of-business approach to achieve.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mobile email

In November 2010, 70.1 million mobile users (30% of all mobile subscribers) accessed email on their mobile devices, an increase of 36% from the previous year. Daily usage of email showed an even greater increase, growing 40% as 43.5 million users turned to their mobile devices for email.
These figures (US data) quoted in a Marketing Charts article show that while social networking (poor Google Wave, not you) may eventually lead to the obsolescence of email, for the time being email is morphing as its users engage with it differently.

The concurrent rise of smart phones and mobile workforces has seen email morph into not only desktop media, but also mobile media. And publishers are realising this too. While I've only seen a small number of examples, I think there is a growing trend to provide email newlsletter subscribers with mobile friendly email formatting.

Just like those that have locked down work email clients that need to 'view on the web', the option to 'view on your mobile' is creeping into a number of email headers. Here are two examples:

Have you thought about creating a mobile friendly version of your marketing emails?