Monday, April 10, 2017

Uber, Deliveroo and physical spaces


Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo and others started off as marketplaces, connecting people who wanted services to people who could offer them, made possible (essentially) through the smartphone.

(Read Brad Stone's excellent book about Uber and Airbnb)

They operated through technology, in the same way that eBay and Etsy - also marketplaces - do.  No wasteful premises needed, just a simple connection between buyers and sellers.

Two stories last week show how this is changing.

First, it was announced that Deliveroo is opening some kitchen hubs that restaurants can share, so that they could offer delivery in places where they did not have, or could not afford to have, restaurants.

"European food delivery startup Deliveroo has today unveiled a new platform that enables restaurants of all sizes to open in new locations without committing to costly public premises.

With Deliveroo Editions, the London-headquartered company is putting its arsenal of delivery data to use through identifying customer demand and specific cuisine shortages in certain areas — it’s about spotting gaps in the market. Deliveroo then asks eateries, be they small independents or national chains, to sign up to its new kitchen-only delivery platform, though restaurants can also register their interest in being selected.

For restaurants looking to expand, this setup reduces the risk of setting up shop in expensive neighborhoods, with only the actual catering side of things to worry about. Deliveroo provides everything else in terms of infrastructure, including bespoke kitchens, local marketing support, software, and fleets of couriers."

A day or so later it was revealed that Uber is in talks to buy car parks near to airports in the UK, so that drivers have a space where they can wait (legally) for fares to request them.

"Uber is setting up dedicated car parking areas for its drivers close to Gatwick and City airports in London, steering away from rows with locals.

It's understood the ride-sharing startup will most likely lease space near the airports to offer drivers a location to wait for pick ups.

Uber drivers and other minicab drivers at Heathrow were last year provided with a waiting area with space for up to 800 cars in order to reduce congestion in surrounding areas."

I think this is the latest part of the 'online to offline' trend that we've seen over the past few years, including companies that started as pure tech companies, like Amazon, Google, Snapchat and others, producing physical devices, and opening up retail spaces.

I'm sure that one of the reasons Groupon lost its value and reputation was that it relied almost entirely on third parties for the experiences (it was impossible to vet all the fish pedicure places and day spas), and it makes sense for people to have far more control over the experience people have of their brand.
How long before Airbnb opens its own boutique hotel?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ten Trends from SXSW 2017



Not written by me this time, but by colleagues from Carat US.  Best seen expended as the fonts are quite small.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Citymapper's Trip Scores

Like many people in London and beyond, I love Citymapper.  It's a transport navigation app that just works, and has successfully demystified busses for me.


Over the alst week or so I've noticed that they are starting to give you scores for your trips - essentially points for completing them, with a tally of how many calories you've burned up, and how much you've saved compared to using a car.


I think it's great - and it will probably make me use it even more, even for smaller trips.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

NYT's VR & 360° Film for Lincoln in the Bardo

The NYT continues to innovate in VR and 360° video.

This example is a 10 minute film produced for the new novel Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders - which is getting lots of buzz, and is likely, I think, to pick up lots of awards and be a bestseller across the world.



What's also interesting is that this shows (in a way) where we are with VR.  It's being used for interesting projects, but this is something that is actually a play for voices with a few added effects.

Yes, there are lots of VR games and the PlayStation VR has done well at 1m units of so sold since the end of last year, but it's not mainstream or massively popular - yet.  We haven't yet had a Pokemon GO, a Chewbacca Mask Woman, or a 'Skype Interview Kids' moment for VR.

Also, a quick comment about this blog.  I'm conscious that I've been updating less than I used to, and I'm also conscious that the original purpose of this blog - to find interesting digital marketing examples - has pretty much disappeared.  I'm thinking of a couple of new directions for it; one, to look at media share price charts, and offer commentary on them (which I don't thing anyone else is doing), and two, to write about interesting new companies that I've come across.  Maybe I should try alternating both.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hijacked Highway - VR or AR?

This is a great example - but surely it's Augmented Reality (real objects transformed) rather than Virtual Reality (a completely different world)

Sodimac Hijacked Highway from Alvaro Soto Becerra on Vimeo.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Snickers' 'Pause' Game on YouTube

A fun use of technology - and strangely the second Snickers video that's caught my eye this week.

Pause the video when you the Snickers bar is near the driver to feed him (and make him less angry).



PS - the 'comma' and the 'full stop' keys will move the video forward and back one frame at a time...


Friday, January 27, 2017

Live TV Ads

As live video becomes more and more popular on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, live ads are starting to come to TV.

The UK has had a few examples already, including one for Assassin's Creed on Channel 4, but now we're told that Snickers will be doing a live ad during the Super Bowl, starring Adam Driver.

The way it's worded suggests that it may be just 'recorded live' (i.e. not actually live) and then broadcast, but let's hope it is genuinely live.  After all, how much could go wrong in just 30 seconds..?



More here

Update - here is the live ad -




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Crowdsourcing a Roadmap

I'm surrised this has taken so long to happen, but over Christmas Airbnb, and then Twitter, asked its users what new features they should be developing, essentially crowdsourcing their development roadmap.

Brian Chesky from Airbnb posted this on Christmas Day -


& has had over 2,000 suggestions -



(I love 'Mars')



A simple tweet generated lots of free ideas, and also gave the fans a feeling that they were contributing.

Jack Dorsey also did this for Twitter (and Square),


Jack also had lots of feedback, and responded -



To be honest, these must have been things that Jack had heard every time he spoke to users, but it may be that some, like the ability to edit (maybe just in the first 2 minutes) will now be given much more focus.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ten Trends for 2017

It's time for my annual trends presentation.

This year it seemed to me that lots of what was happening and about to happen were comebacks - things that had been heralded a few years ago, but were finally hitting the mainstream, the most obvious being Augmented Reality, but also Live Video (remember webcams?), Web TV and more, which can all be said to have followed the Gartner Hype Cycle, and are now getting to the 'mainstream' stage.

& in the spirit of accountability, I also look at what happened to last year's trends.  enjoy!





Monday, December 12, 2016

Uber Surge Pricing and the 'Low Battery' Urban Myth


I love tracking urban myths.  When I was a school I did a history project about myths in wartime (Germans eat babies, etc) and I love finding new ones.  The main thing is that they are stories that people at the time want to believe.  There's quite a lot of academic literature about urban myths because they tell us a lot about current fears and concerns ('I did a favour for a middle eastern man and he told me to stay out of London this Friday').

Here's one in the making.

A few months ago Uber revealed that their app can see the user's battery level, and as a result they could see some interesting data.  For example, they could see that if someone was on less than 15% battery, they were more likley to request a car even if it was surge pricing, the point being that they had to get home - their phone might have died. by the time prices fell.

This has since turned into a myth that 'if you have a low battery Uber will give you surge pricing' (essentially turning the story on its head).  Yes, they could theoretically do it, but they've never said that they do it.  What this arguably says about Uber is that people see them as smart, but devious.

I'm looking forward to tracking this over the next few years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lucozade's Live Fitness Classes

There's a whole genre of communications events around bus shelters - Duracell, Coke, Pepsi, Adobe,Walmart and others  - and now Lucazade has pulled this one off, using live video streamed into the advertising screen:



Very well done!  We're going to see lots more of these.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lots of Content

Amazon has just released some ads for the Echo Dot - the $50 version of the Echo - 100 ads in fact.



They're pretty good, and it's a good strategy to produce lots of cheap things (as long as they put across a strong overall message) than one expensive thing, if your audience is likely to be exposed to lots of media.



At 10 seconds, you can also see them getting lots of views on Facebook - you don't get that much time to get bored and scroll past (assuming you start watching in the first place).



You could almost call this a 'Fast Show' approach - once you have a strong message (or punchline) you can keep repeating with small variations.


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