Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen... But not necessarily in that order

At the recent I-COM conference in Barcelona there was a discussion of the concept of Engagement, and what it means in relation to advertising and media. At the conference there were up to 25 different definitions of it, so I thought I'd add another.

For me Vanilla Ice described it well, but he got the order wrong. Engaging digital ads make you Stop what you're doing, Listen to the message, and Collaborate, in terms of either getting involved by responding, or by forwarding or recommending it to a friend.

On a slightly more measurable level, and looking at delivery, measurement providers like comScore and Nielsen should allow you to see not just the average (mean) time spent per user on the site, but also the mode (most common time spent) and the median (mid point of all times spent) on the site.

This is because the mean is often skewed by extreme numbers (on MySpace, according to Nielsen many of the users visit for less than ten seconds, as they do not go past the login page), while a very small number will be on for more than 20 hours per month.

The average does take account of this, but but the mode and the media add extra dimensions.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"The greatest hoax ever played on the internet..."

I absolutely love this quote from Russell Beattie's blog:

"The greatest hoax ever played on the Internet is the idea that Google's growth was somehow "natural" or "viral", and that the strength of their search results alone is what propelled them to their insane 70% market share."

Whether you believe it or not (& I'm a hard core Google fan as a consumer - I always use Google for my personal searching, and clearly this blog is also adding to their page impressions), it's a fantastic piece of writing, continuing with:

"They're doing it again in mobile, and no one seems to be noticing. The first thing I thought of when I read that Google is getting 50x more search traffic from the iPhone than any other phone is "Wow, that default iPhone search deal they made with Apple is really paying off.""

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Viral Compendium 2008

Following on from last year's general trawl around the viral message boards, here are a selection of this year's shameless brand tie ins with Valentine's Day.

Last year we had seven, this year I can only find 5. Two reasons for this, I think. the first is that a lot of this stuff has gone onto Facebook - and I can't be bothered trawling Facebook for the different Valentine's apps and widgets. The second is that we're probably even busier this year than last year...

Marmite (on Kontraband)

Send a Valentine for T-Enterprise

Mr Splashy for Greenpeace

Across The Universe Psycedelic Valentine for the DVD Release

Shaun The Sheep postcards

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bicing in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona last week for the I-COM conference, and then for the weekend too.

One of the new things I noticed was the amazing proliferation of their 'Bicing' scheme. Bicing is a 'borrow a bike' scheme, as trialled and abandoned in many cities, but in Barcelona it seems to work very well.

The Bicing website (only in Spanish and Catalan) shows a now obligatory Google map of the many different spots to pick up and drop off the bikes, with a live count of how many available bikes there are in each spot.

One key difference between this and other schemes in other cities is that all users have a card and a pin, and are allocated a specific bike for the journey, so if the bikes go missing they know who to come after.

Wikipedia has a very good summary of the scheme:

"Currently the network consists of more than 200 stations to lend and return the more than 3000 bikes distributed throughout the system. The stations are situated through the inner-city with a distance of around 300 to 400 metres between each one, with many situated next to public transport stops to allow for intermodal use. The Metro Stations usually have signs pointing to the locations of nearest Bicing stations. The bikes can be lent from, and returned to, any station in the system, making it suitable for one way travel. Each station has between 15 and 30 parking slots to fix and lock the bicycle.

To lend a bike one simply swipes the contactless RFID-card at a service station to be personally identified by the system, which then unlocks a bike from the support frame. Bicycles can be used for the first 30 minutes with no extra cost, with subsequent half hour blocks (up to 2 hours) costing 0.30 Euros each. Use of a bicycle for more than 2 hours at a time is discouraged with a penalty rate of 3 Euros per hour, but also with the possibility of having your membership cancelled after a certain number of uses in excess of 2 hours. To return a bicycle one simply places the bike in a spare slot at a Bicing station, the bike is recognised automatically and is locked into place (as indicated by the small light at the slot turning red), so one does not need to swipe the RFID-card to return the bike."

Initially it was just for locals, who pay €30 per year to for the card needed to use the system, but now it is also available for tourists at €1 a week.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Here Comes Everybody

The comedian (& now chat show host) Craig Ferguson used to do this joke in his stand up act in the late 80s:

"People are trying to stop terrorism by searching people for guns when they go to the airport. This is completely wrong. They should have a big box of guns and as you go on everyone should be given their own gun. So then if a terrorist stands up during the flight and says 'take this plane to Tehran' EVERYONE else would just stand up and say 'F*** OFF - we're going to Majorca!'"

I was reminded of this while reading the new book Here Comes Everybody - The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky, which the nice people at Penguin sent me as an uncorrected proof copy.

In this book Shirky explains the way that people have been able to organise thanks to new technology. Technology did not create the desire to organise, it just made it much easier. In this they are harnessing the natural human desire to be helpful. The mass of collective action working in cooperation can change society.

For me the best chapters focus on Wikipedia and the open source movement behind Linus and Perl, and offer a really good explanation of why this works, when all logic would suggest that it would not. He also highlights the creative benefits from mass collaboration, particularly when the collaborators come from diverse backgrounds.

This is a very hopeful, inspiring and very readable book, and I'd urge you to get a copy when it is published in late February.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wicked Campers

I saw one of these on the streets of Covent Garden today, and luckily the concept and the website doesn't let the name or the visuals down.

Wicked Campers is an Australian company that hire out very funky looking camper vans, nicely graffitied, a bit like the Foxtons Minis, but without all the negative feelings that they invoke.

On the site they have sections for photos of the vans and photos of trips that customers have taken. Even better are the customers stories about the adventures they had in the vans, for example this account of a trip around Europe in a van. Really good stuff!
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