Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Shopping on Instagram

I've been telling people for ages that we'll soon be able to buy directly from Instagram, and today they announced an initial trial in the US.

The friction involved in shopping from social platforms has always seemed a bit artificial - why can't it be as easy as on Amazon?  Now Instagram is making it much easier, letting people shop within the app by putting in payment and delivery details

This video shows how it will work: 

Monday, January 07, 2019

The Bandersnatch Stunt at Old Street Station

This is probably the most analogue thing that I have written about on this blog, but it's a great example of creating something physical designed to go viral.

Netflix has taken over one of the pop-up shops in the tunnels under Old Street roundabout, near the entrance to Old Street tube station, to create a fake shop, Tuckers Newsagent and Games, named after Tuckersoft, the video games company in the Bandersnatch 'choose your own adventure' episode.

(Apparently there is one in Birmingham too).

The store doesn't open (as far as I know) but people have been peering through the windows and taking photos and sharing them on social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram.

They've had a lot of fun kitting out the store, including lots of posters for fake video games, and even fake VHS tapes for some of the other Black Mirror episodes, including San Junipero and Nosedive.

There is also a big billboard for Bandersnatch in the tunnels, but obviously this is getting far more attention.  According to the site of pop-up shop hire company Appear Here, the shop would cost something like £250 a day to hire - so if they have taken it out for twelve days or so (for set-up, take down etc) it would have only cost £3,000, a very effective media cost given the amount of buzz that it has created!

I thought that the show itself was good, but not great.  It was lots of fun at the beginning, but then it descended a bit too much into horror for me (yes, I have seen all the other Black Mirror episodes, so I did know what to expect...).  But I loved the 80s references, including John Menzies, and the 'Hobbit' game, plus the re-created WHSmiths store that he buys music in, and I loved the jokes with the format, like the 'Fuck Yeah' choice when he is in the doctor's office.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ten Trends for 2019

Each year I write a trends report, trying to predict what the most important themes of the next year will be.  This year the underlying theme is the increasing speed of connectivity through 4G (& soon 5G), and how this is making services richer, d

Friday, September 14, 2018

New Balance uses AI at NYFW

A fun use of Artificial Intelligence.

New Blance set cameras up to record people walking down a street in New York for several days.  Then, during New York Fashion Week, then used the learning from the weeks of observation to identify people who stood out from the crowd - and rewarded them a free pair of shoes.

I suspect that there may have been human intervention in this (many people in New York can stand out for all sorts of reasons), but it's a great idea.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

Trinny Woodall on Instagram

A colleague alerted me to 'the resurgence of Trinny' on Instagram.  Trinny Woodall, one of the presenters of iconic 90s fashion show What Not To Wear, is now presenting her own mini shows on her own Instagram channel.

In the clips she goes into stores - with their permission - and does some quick demonstrations of how to wear different looks.

In this one she brings her friend Chloe, to show how a dress would look on a larger size model.

This is very similar to what the Chinese site ShopShops is doing.  In their version their influencers go into stores, demo the products, and also allow people to shop along.

I'm sure Trinny (& many others) will be doing this soon in the UK.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Chompers - An Alexa podcast to brush your teeth to

Chompers is one of the best things I've yet heard of the the Amazon Echo.  It's a daily (ish) podcast that lasts less than 5 minutes, and is designed to encourage 3-7 year olds to brush their teeth for 3 minutes or so.

It's perfect for the Alexa because kids or adults just need to say "Alexa - start Chompers" for it to start; no one wants to be touching buttons or their phone screen when they're about to brush their teeth.

More here, inc some episodes to listen to.

Monday, July 02, 2018

White Castle's Chicken Rings on Facebook Live

This is an example of a brand using Facebook Live Video -

US burger chain White Castle created a fake shopping show on Facebook to promote its Chicken rings, joking that you could use them as earrings etc, with live interaction from fans watching.

More here

Friday, June 29, 2018

Teads Augmented Reality Mobile Ad for Ray Ban

Teads showed off this new ad format at Cannes this year.

It's essentially like a Snapchat lens, but it works on the mobile web, and it's available across some of Teads' partner sites.

It activates your camera, and then - hey presto - you're wearing a pair of Ray Ban's.

They say that it's the first time it's been done as a web-based ad format.  I've seen a few other versions, for example from Vyking, but they work within apps.

More here

Friday, June 22, 2018

4 Great ideas - June 2018

Image source

Here's another series that I'm experimenting with on this blog.

Now that almost everything is digital, the idea of 'digital examples' is a bit redundant.  But since I still get quite a lot of traffic to the blog it would be a shame not to keep writing it.

Every month or so I'm going to try to list some great ideas that I've come across recently, and hopefully explain why I think they're so great. 

There's a danger it might turn into Springwise, but that's not what I'm trying to do.  They probably won't be ideas from new companies, but instead ideas from existing companies, great ideas for books and so on.  Ideas that I wish I'd had, perhaps.

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things - a book by Raj Patel and Jason Moore.  I haven't bought this yet, but it's a great idea for a book.  Often history forgets the commonplace, and it's the inventions that make things cheap that arguably make the biggest impact on consumers.  One example is the chicken nugget, which has made a big impact on diets and agriculture. 

Travis Kalanick's new company City Storage Systems.  The company, which Travis invested in and as part of the deal became the new CEO of, turns old retail space into something that better suits the new economy.  We have about as much retail space as we had before eCommerce, which means that there are lots of empty shops.  It's a great idea to find new uses for these - for example kitchens for food delivery services, or entertainment venues like VR arcades.  I can see this being really successful.

Paid newsletters.  I write newsletters, and read lots of newsletters.  In fact I have to be really strict with myself and unsubscribe from the ones I don't read regularly, or I find them clogging up my mailbox and hiding messages that I really need to read.  One great idea around newsletters that that I can really see taking off comes from the Dutch start-up Revue, which gives newsletter authors the ability to charge their readers.  I don't think it's something that I could do - but I can see lots of niche newsletters charging small amounts in the future.  Similarly, it's a great idea for Facebook to offer Group (read 'forum') owners the option to put in a subscription system, so that they can charge for access to useful communities.  Again, I can see this becoming commonplace, and it would also serve as a good way to keep disruptive people out.

Domino's PlacesDomino's is allowing people to order pizzas to places that don't have proper postal addresses, for example beaches or park benches.  A great idea, because sometimes you just fancy an impromptu picnic.  I'd imagine that there was some objection when the idea was floated - you must get more prank calls and hoaxes to random locations - but since it's done through their app, and they can see an identity and payment details, it's much less risky than when people just ring up. 

Until next time - here's to great ideas!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Deals in Media & Tech - April and May 2018

Another look at recent strategic M&A deals:  I think that these provide a good indication of the future direction of both the large tech companies, and also society.

Mobility - 

This is one of the areas that seems to be moving fastest, both with improvements in autonomous driving (also an AI problem), and new ways to move around cities.

Bikes are the flavour of the month, with at least 3 new dockless schemes now in operation in London, for example, and the new that Uber has bought electric bike company Jumpmay buy the company behind Citi Bike and Ford GoBike, and will be incorporating bikes into its apps in some cities.  In Asia Meituan Dianping has bought MoBike for a staggering $3.4bn making it one of the two biggest Chinese bike sharing companies.  Bikes are clearly going to be very central to how we get around cities in the next few years!

Payments - 

Lots going on - There is a trend towards vertical integration, with Square buying both Weebly, the site that lets people create their own websites, and Zesty, the food delivery app.  Food delivery is growing fast, and this gives Square a stake in the market, while the purchase of Weebly is a good way to meet new companies setting up a commerce platform for the first time.

Elsewhere, Paypal has bought iZettle, the 'European answer to Square' which gives them access to lots of small merchants, including market traders, and also Jetlore, an AI-driven marketing company.  Paypal has so much data on payments, so buying a company that specialises in analysing it seems like a good move.

Food - 

Pet food - Nestle Purina has bought a majority stake in Tails.com, a direct to consumer pet nutrition company that sells food personalised to the pet.  In a way it's a bit like Unilever's purchase of Dollar Shave Club, because Tails.com must have lots of knowledge about owners, digital innovation, and selling directly.  Pet food is a massive market - in the UK, for example there are more dogs than babies - and this deal makes lots of sense.

Technology - 

Saving the biggest deal til last, Microsoft has paid $7.5bn for GitHub, the 'library for software' site.  In a way it's a hard deal to work out - GitHub had taken lots of investment, but never really made much money as it's fundamentally a free service for developers.  However it puts Microsoft at the heart of the developer community for the first time in years, and gives them access to a comminity that they want to encourage to develop for all their new platforms.  Lots of intangible benefits here.

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