May 31, 2009

Twitter means business

twitter_introReally interesting and in-depth (i.e. long) article in Time magazine talking about how Twitter is going to change American business. I guess only American business needs changing. Ten topics are explained in detail showing how Twitter can help any company increase sales or connect better with customers. These topics include:

Hyper-Local Marketing – “Since Twitter is still mostly a person-to-person service and not a business-to-business service, it is likely that the Twitter relationships will be with the owners of small shops. With access to customers’ Twitter addresses, these small-shop owners can send them news about special offerings, sales, new merchandise, store hours and events.”

Making Old-World Advertising Work – “Marketers using outdoor ads will have to give Twitter users an incentive to report that they have seen a billboard. A Twitter user who sees an ad for a Toyota (TM) Corolla could be encouraged to send a tweet to the local dealer in exchange for a pint of oil or a T shirt.”

Turning Wall Street on Its Head – “Twitter will become a huge platform for discussing stocks and other financial instruments and will probably replace message boards like the ones at Yahoo! Finance as the preferred method for discussing individual public companies. ”

Making Blogs Count – “Twitter will not only democratize content but also democratize the advertising that goes with content. Each tweet about a piece of content can be attached to a short phrase or sentence from a sponsoring marketer. ”

Further topics covered are New Ways to Get Consumer Data, Helping TV and Print, Expanding the Power of Micropayments, Changing Telecommunications, A New Way for the Government to Reach You & Charity Begins Online.

Personally I don’t think Twitter will keep the monopoly on micro blogging. Consider web mail. At first you had Hotmail (quickly bought out by Microsoft) but before long anyone could set up a webmail service. Blogging tools are also generic. Twitter will have to work hard to maintain their position as the preferred micro blogging service.

Check out the article here if you have a good attention span.

May 26, 2009

Finger painting

We’ve probably all seen people using the iPhone as a virtual canvas. Even David Hockney has got in on the act. Now the New Yorker is using an image painted with the iPhone app Brushes on its cover. Read the full story on Gizmodo.

They were going to write all the magazine articles on the iPhone too but they didn’t want to miss going to press by a year.

Check out the Brushes app here.

May 25, 2009

And another awards goes to…

logo50The award season keeps on giving and as usual we see the same projects being rewarded. The CLIOs are celebrating their 50th anniversary and my favourite recent project from Crispin Porter + Burger King took the grand prize. The Whopper Sacrifice is roasting all competition this year. Let’s see how it does in Cannes.

Golds went to the Fiat ECO Drive project and Sprint NOW among others. Check out the full list here although you can only see screen shots of the winners. See previous post on the One Show for links to some of these projects.

May 21, 2009

Be there or be Squared

Google Zeitgeist is an annual event which took place in Hertfordshire this week. Some of the most important people from the worlds of politics, engineering and technology came together to explore ways in which they could improve society. People attending included Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Richard Branson and Prince Charles who called the internet one of the “most important tools in history”.  Thanks to Al Gore for inventing it (he couldn’t be there unfortunately).

There was a big focus on the web being used for the power of good with Larry Page saying “I’m very optimistic about the things that can be fundamentally improved in the world through technology, it has the power to change things.” Such as his bank balance.

The British paper The Telegraph listed a few of the topics covered:

Disease tracking

Google believes it can track the spread of diseases, such as swine flu or even the common cold, by analysing search data. The Flu Trends website, operated by Google’s charitable division,, aggregates search information to estimate the levels of flu activity in cities across the US. Google claims it can identify patterns and trends of disease spread up to two weeks faster than traditional systems. The aim, says Google, is to provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza. Expect Google to play an increasingly significant role in public health, both through disease tracking and even potentially becoming a central repository for medical records: Google Health is already a popular product in America.

Home appliances

The idea of a “Google fridge” is perhaps not as implausible as it sounds. Google’s dominance of web search means that it is in a unique position to really drive efforts to build an “internet of things” – a world in which all objects, from books to food, are embedded with a data tag and linked to the web. In the wireless home of the future, “smart fridges” would be able to read these tags to know when milk is past its sell-by date, and when to order more food from the supermarket.

A “Google fridge” could also provide recipes at the touch of a button, deliver the latest special offers from supermarkets or local restaurants, and even serve up step-by-step videos showing how to make a soufflé. There might even be advertising revenue associated with some of that, so perhaps it’s not completely unlikely.

Self-driving cars

“Google has a broader mission than people might think,” says Eric Schmidt, the company’s chief executive. A mission that could, perhaps, even extend to cutting the number of deaths on the road? “If we really put our minds to it, I’m pretty sure we can reduce those deaths,” Page says. He touched on the topic of self-driving cars – vehicles embedded with complex navigation technology and spatial sensors that can plot the obstacles (and other traffic) around them. Many car makers are already experimenting with self-driving cars, but Google’s mapping and geo-tagging expertise could provide information that’s crucial to success.

The internet

Larry Page has often said that his first love is computers – developing new programs and software that enable computers to do more. He says that the next evolution will be in web browsers becoming more like operating systems; they will simply be the way in which we access computer-based services, from games and word-processing, and that all of those tools will live online, “in the cloud”. Expect Google to continue to build on the foundations it is laying with products such as Docs and web browser Chrome. As it seeks to create a new, web-based computing empire, and to improve its search powers, Google’s dominance may yet come to rival Microsoft’s.

The Times has been covering the event in their blog. Read a report here.

squaredOf course Google wanted to showcase new technology and one  hot topic right now is the buzz around a potentially rival search engine – Wolfram Alpha. Google presented Squared which is still being tested and offers interesting new ways of searching. Check out a video of it in action on this page.

See you at the even next year.

May 19, 2009

Lead your own tribe

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since 1984 this conference has brought together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. If you don’t know it already you should check out some of the videos where well-known speakers inspire and challenge our thinking. In this video “Seth Godin (pictured) argues that the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so”. 

Check it out >


May 18, 2009

One Show Interactive Winners


So the One Show Interactive winners were announced a couple of weeks ago (sorry for the delay reporting on it) and I think the best in show is really representative of how digital advertising/marketing has evolved over the last few years. Utility seems to be the driving force without losing the creativity that the web is known for. Fiat’s Eco Drive project from AKQA London involves connecting the car to the web in a fascinating way. A USB stick plugged into the dashboard collects data on your driving technique then when you plug it into your PC an online tool analyses how you drove and gives you tips on how to drive more economically. Check it out at

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was named agency of the year with seven total awards, including five gold for Doritos Hotel 626, Nintendo Wario Land Shake It, and the Sprint Now widget.

Banner advertising showed there is life in it yet with winners such as gold for Akestam Holst/Stockholm with their Playground Barometer.

I think my favourite from the whole show, winning a gold in the branded applications category, is the Whopper Sacrifice from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. With social networking being the over-hyped flavour of the moment I loved the twist of getting rid of a few friends for a burger. While the project is not online you can see a case study of it here.

Check out the full list of winner on this PDF. I think it is a shame that they didn’t provide links to all the projects. Think I’ll get an intern put it together for me. If you ask nicely I might share it.

May 16, 2009

Nokia Ideas Project

Check out some really interesting people like Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo, talking on the Nokia Ideas Project site about their vision of technology. He believes that “communications technology is leading us back to the kind of participation economy that existed before the industrial revolution in that a great product or service is no longer defined as something where the customer doesn’t have to do anything. A good service will be defined as one that draws customers in as participants”.

May 15, 2009

Beyond Advertising

The IBM Institute for Business Value produces a lot of interesting studies on a variety of subjects. This one from March called “Beyond advertising: Choosing a strategic path to the digital consumer” is particularly fascinating. To quote their summary “The distinctions are blurring between advertising and marketing, as new forms of communication marry the return on investment (ROI)-characteristics of marketing with emotional characteristics of traditional brand advertising – in short, the old ways cannot meet the challenges of today”. You can download it here.

May 14, 2009

Hack to the future

David Filo is an elusive guy. While his Yahoo! co-founder friend Jerry Yang went through the wringer as the public face of disgrace in recent times – we hear little of the other billionaire geek behind this once-mighty web property. But in fact, as this article in the Guardian shows, he has remained a champion of creativity and technical innovation within Yahoo! Appearing at the recent Open Hack Day in London he presided over a showcase of clever technological wizardry showing how there are still many new ways to creatively use data to surprise and wow us. One great example is Dan W who presented a mashup of and Oyster Card (travel pass) data that shows listening habits on the London Underground. Check out his project here.

While this might be too technical for some people to grasp (I’m one of them) what this kind of event does is challenge developers to push the boundaries of the web. Social networking would not be the phenomenon it is today without the hard work of people like these guys who do magical things with data then turn it into something simple for the masses. Hard to get your brain around some of these innovations but worth the effort to see the future potential.

May 12, 2009

New media – old values


In these times of downloadable, disposable instant gratification we are seeing a shift towards a desire for authenticity. Sales of vinyl records are increasing as people seek a return to times when life tasted real. Meanwhile, old brands are being reinvented for the 21st century while maintaining their true values. In a sign of the times Old Spice have just launched a new online store that taps into the brand heritage with a touch of humour. The best example of this trend is the relaunch of Umbro that builds on the traditional English tailoring that goes into their sports clothing. A temporary concept store in London helped kick off the campaign along with print and other media. But it is online where it really comes to life with a great website that tells the history and gets people interacting. The brand harnesses all the latest online marketing tools such as Twitter, YouTube and blogs. The “Tailored by England” concept helps the whole campaign hang together in a powerful way and allows Umbro to create a strong point of difference in a crowded sportswear market.