Friday, July 31, 2009

Profiling brands' twitter followers with twittersheep

Twittersheep is a site that lets you see the profile of your followers based on how they describe themselves in their bios.

Like everyone else I started by look at the profile of my own followers - I'm @DanCall - and saw that the dominant words were digital, media & social (see above). Pretty accurate, I'd guess; most of the people that follow me would be interested in those sorts of things.

This got me thinking that you could use it to profile the followers of brands on twitter.

Quick caveat - I'm not sure how many of the followers' profiles twittersheep scrapes through, but it seems unlikely that it is all of them. Bios are self-defined, so you can describe yourself in any way that you want. Also, according to stats, only 24% of twitter users have filled in their biographical details. For the sake of getting meaningful results I've ignored words like 'I'm', 'love', and 'like'. Interestingly most high follower accounts, like @aplusk or even @etsy don't really produce any coherent or interesting results.

You do get some interesting results though - here are the top 3 words for some major brands, chosen pretty much at random:

Ebay - online business marketing
Amazon - marketing online web

Pepsi - media music life
Coca Cola - life all happy
Innocent Drinks - marketing media design

Publishing / media
Bloomsbury Books - writer author book
Wired - marketing music media

Kodak - social media marketing

NakedPizza (based in New Orleans) - new marketing orleans

American Apparel - music fashion life

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arctic Monkeys web transmission tonight at 9pm

Interesting way to launch an album: To promote the new album Humbug the Arctic Monkeys will be performing live online (more than one song, I'm assuming) here at 9pm UK time.

Here's a trailer:

In a bit of good, old fashioned media planning - i.e. taking the content to where the audience is, not expecting them to come to you - you can also see the transmission on some major music sites - The Guardian music section, the NME, and DrownedInSound.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ray-Ban sponsor band sessions on BlackCabSessions

Black Cab Sessions is a site that films bands and singers in the back of a London taxi. Accousic, and in a single take. It's been going for a couple of years, and it's a great place to see unusual live versions of tracks by up and coming artists. I first wrote about it in March 2008.

This summer they've been out at some major festivals, and recorded some new acts. For example this film of Au Revour Simone at Secret Garden Party.

You'll notice that the artists look very cool in their Ray-Bans - provided as part of the sponsorship deal for the series. Nice and subtle!

Full disclosure - Carat, who I work for, is one of Ray-Ban's agencies.

The pulse of the planet

In recent leaked internal documents, published by Techcrunch, twitter stated that it's aim was to be 'the pulse of the planet'.

Today's redesign of the home page takes them towards this: clearly laid out with top trending topics for the hour, the day, and the week, with a great big search box - about four times as big as Google's - letting you search for anything else.

It looks very good, and importantly it's available for members and non-members alike. It's now easy to see the traffic figures climbing far higher, and also to see them monetising this in lots of ways (paid search, contextual links).

Oh - and they're recruiting. "We have a lot of work to do. We need your help"

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's happening at Ravenhill Hospital?

I've written about the BBC series Psychoville before, and as it reaches the end of its run (last episode this Thursday) I wanted to spend more time looking at the web presence that went with the series. I'm so pleased that the show has been so good - I think it's been easily the best TV I've seen this year.

The online element came in the form of emails with riddles to solve. Each week a new email question has appeared on the official site the day after the episode, which viewers have to try to answer by searching the web, turning up some ingenious microsites in the process. Each week the questions got harder.

Week 1 - Want your secret kept hidden? Then answer me this: Who was Robert’s co-star in “Whore White and the Seven Dicks”? Biggins Panto company would be a good place to start.

Week 2 - I still know what you did. To buy my silence for another week you must find out something about the rare commodity Oscar Lomax seeks: what is Snappy the Crocodile's serial number?

Week 3 - Want your secret kept secret for another week? Then answer me this: What’s the name of the Manchester hospital where Mr Jelly lost his hand? You may have to look into his past to find out.

Week 4 - If you want my lips sealed for another week, then answer me this: Who was the name of Victor Perez's first victim? It's a murder mystery. [hint - Really hard, this one. David Sowerbutts may have the answer...]

Week 5 - If you want me to keep mum about your little secret for another week then you must tell when Freddy Fruitcake’s birthday is?

Week 6 - You have been very helpful but this is where we part ways. I’m preparing a special gathering for my friends in their old home and you are not invited. Do not attempt to follow me. [no clue as such, but the Ravenhill Hospital logo had appeared at the bottom of the page]

I'm so impressed with how well they've done this. The riddles have been really challenging at times, and have revealed about 10 different microsites rammed with extra material, plus YouTube channels and at least one Facebook page.

Update - 29th July - the case notes on each of the patients have how been uploaded:

Robert Greenspan "I decided to dress the little dwarf up as a spider today. Don't ask me why, it just made me laugh."
Joy Aston "Spent three hours talking with patient this afternoon using only the word 'Paul'. Broke her in the end."
David Sowerbutts "It's got a decent singing voice. Heard him in the bath singing 'I Dreamed A Dream' from Les Mis. I'm no Simon Cowell, but while I disagreed with his song choice I'd certainly put him through to Boot Camp."
Oscar Lomax "Specimen freaked out this morning when a repeat of Hancock's Half Hour came on the radio. Staged a dirty protest until radio was switched off. 'He betrayed him, betrayed Sid!' Have placed an order for the Hancock box-set. I feel another experiment coming on!"

Or as text
Brilliant stuff.

Update - 30th July - the CCTV cameras are now live. Make sure you listen to the audio. Sounds like a bit of a 'Murder on the Orient Express' thing is going on...

See also - Adam & Joe's Songwars

Friday, July 24, 2009

Red Carpet Fashion Awards

Great British fashion blog example, run by Catherine Kallon. She's hit on the very simple but very clever technique of showing celebs in their outfits next to the original catwalk photos, or multiple celebs all wearing the same outfit.

According to last night's Evening Standard the site gets 12,000 page impressions a day, which would mean she's making about £120 a day from it, assuming a (totally speculative) average cost per thousand ad rate of £10 (not per ad - there are multiple ads on the site), not to mention all of the fringe benefits of being seen as a fashion maven...

See also - Perez Hilton's record label

Twitter 101 & business case studies

Twitter have just produced this '101 Guide' for businesses on how to use the site. You can even download a set of slides to use to explainn what twitter is and how it works.

It includes 10 case studies of companies who have used it well, including Dell, JetBlue, Etsy, American Apparel, and Pepsi.

Here's an extract from the Etsy one:

"In Etsy’s experience, a company that constantly seeks to build community and, “voraciously” learn from its users will find that Twitter is, “amazing in the way it harnesses the collective brains of so many people.” For example, Anda recently tapped into the community to come up with helpful tips for craft fair season.

According to Anda, “The best Twitter experiences are when you ask a winning question and get hundreds of captivating replies. It's a super fast way to get info you'd spend hours searching for... and it's valuable info as well.” Besides sourcing tips and tricks, Anda uses Twitter to discover users’ favorite Etsy items, design blogs, and projects. She also uses it as a tool for impromptu surveys and feedback (including feedback on how she can make the Etsy Twitter feed more valuable to followers).

@Etsy has also realized that great content on Twitter has the opportunity to reach new users who were previously unaware of Etsy’s website. Anda often tweets about particularly unique and creative handmade items that Etsy sellers have listed. The coolest items are subsequently “retweeted” by @Etsy followers, exposing a broader audience to the handiwork of Etsy sellers."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zappos and the value of social

Zappos was bought by Amazon yesterday for $920m in Amazon stock. Not bad for a 10 year old company, and who thought that selling shoes online would actually work, let alone be such a goldmine. In fact I remember saying about 10 years ago - about the time of - that shoes were exactly the sorts of things that you wouldn't buy online.

Part of the success of Zappos is their non-advertising marketing model. They have claimed that on any given day approximately 75% of their orders come from repeat buyers, and they invest a lot in making sure that they are contactable whenever possible (24 hour call centre, with all staff having to start in the call centre).

One of the more salient ideas on how the business world is changing is that the brands that survive will be the ones whose customers tell the best stories (quote via Lynette Webb)

brands that win will be those whose consumers tell the best stories

Zappos fit into the world of social media so well because there are so many good stories for customers to tell - orders that arrive earlier than expected, free returns, and customer service reps who will even point you towards other vendors if Zappos don't stock the items themselves. Read this blog post by Stephen J Dubner, one of the authors of Freakonomics, which first made me aware of the phenomenon of Zappos. Add to this how well they've adopted tools like twitter, and even this lovely little map of goods bought from the site in real time - they've certainly used the online and social space very well.

One final story - after training, new staff get offered $2,000 in cash to leave the company. Management do this to ensure that people working there are not doing it for the money. Apparently 97% turn down the cash. Wonder how many other businesses could get away with that!

Want to see a good example of monetising social media? One word: Zappos.

Nintendo DS Treasure World

Very intriguing new game - players can use their Nintendo DS to try to find treasures via specially places wifi signals all around the world. You can even share or trade the treasures that you have collected through your wifi connection.

Much more here

Via Springwise

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nike Skateboarding

Nike are currently producing some brilliant stuff to promote their Skateboarding shoes. Check out this video of Paul Rodriguez:

& also this 20 minute film Debacle.

Via ThreeBillion

Pak De Polo

Pak De Polo, or Stop The Polo is a new promotion from VW in the Netherlands. A specially marked Polo is drving around the Nethrlands for a week. If you see it you can flag it down, and get in. The person who manages to travel the furthest before getting flagged down wins for that day. On the 24th of July the winners from each day will battle it out to find an ultimate winner.

Site visitors can put in their postcode to request that the car comes near to where they live, and then will get an alert when the car is getting close. Nicely done!

(There's a post with some more background and some of the the technical details here)

Monday, July 20, 2009

YouTube experiments with 3D videos

Example here:

You can change the 3D format too. Doesn't work that well embedded.

'How to' guide

Via Hessie Jones

Rockband Creators

Soon anyone will be able to create Rockband versions of their songs, and sell them to players of the game. Another (abeit small) digital revenue stream for musicians and artists. All sorts of weirdness will come out of this - mashups, strange new arrangements, Eastern European metal, Bluegrass...

Information about the beta programme here, and here (Thanks to Northern Monkey for the last one!)

Looking into the Past

Brilliant photo project created by Jason Powell, using his own photos and photos from the Library of Congress, and featured on It's a bit like Sleeveface for historical photos.

Looking Into the Past: King and Market, Leesburg, VA

See the full set here, and the group here. (Both link to Flickr)

Wired article:

Looking into the Past

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shareable Ads

Why can't ads be more social? This is a thought that came from the Yahoo 'Digital Memories' event at the Soho Hotel this morning. Laura Chaibi, Yahoo's heard of EU Research & Insight, presented some findings showing that in the digital age people were finding that they were remembering less and less, and finding ways of setting up prompts. Examples given included emailing yourself with reminders, setting reminders on mobile phones etc. From Laura's research, lots of people claim to find it harder to remember things than before, and are developing several work-arounds using digital.

She then led onto asking what needs to be done in online advertising to make ads saveable, or to develop some other work around to help people remember the ones that they want to. She showed mock ups of that might be possible - and indeed here's an example (that she didn't show) of a 'share me' function on a video ad:

There was also discussion of how this could work - add buttons to the bottom of ads to save, email, share via Facebook and so on. You could start an initiative through the IAB for publishers to adopt this, and even give the extra space at the bottom of an ad (say 10 pixels) for free as part of the ad booking.

However the thing that occurred to me (& I asked this as a question) was that it was more a case of saving the destination page, not the ad. I'm not that interested in what the ad was saying, or looked like - I'm more interested in the outcome of it.

Ironically Yahoo has the power to own this space, as they bought Delicious a few years ago. Delicious is a social bookmarking site, and lets you save online pages to look at later. I'm a very enthusiastic user. I use it a lot for work and non-work things - for example this set of items is for things I might want to buy either for myself or for Christmas presents, and this set is things I want to either do, or look at at the weekend.

If Yahoo developed a lighter, easier to use version for ads it could be really popular. It would let people save ads or destinations, and the data that Yahoo would have access to would be fascinating - people who liked this ad or brand also like this one etc.

But if they don't... Ad-saving seems like an obvious feature for Google to add to Chrome.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Pingwire shows photos uploaded to twitpic, pretty much live. Can be NSFW (& even more so now people are writing about it. The twitter porn spammers will have a new thing to concentrate on.)

[Update - it seems to be broken, oeverwhelmed by the traffic, but tweetview still works, as does PicFog, which is also searchable]

If you like this, try also Flickrvision & Twittervision, both by David Troy

Monday, July 13, 2009

In B Flat

Very strange experimental project, by Darren Soloman. Multiple musicians playing an individual instrument in Bb. Play as many or as few videos as you want; they all work well together. Or here's a version that plays them all, starting at different points. (This guy's contribution makes it all sound a bit U2)

Very clever, very hypnotic. FAQ here

Via Lost At E Minor

Perez Hilton's record label

Perez Hilton has announced that he's founding a record label imprint, in collaboration with Warner Brothers. A very good example of both a blogger monetising his following and targeted audience, and also the music industry seeking new ways of working. 'Hilton' has always been very active in promoting & hyping new music on his site. See this link for a selection of artists he's raved about in the past.

Harry Potter rap

Brilliant bit of comedy from Dominic Frisby - rapping over the Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince trailer. Hilarious. (Contains spoilers).

Earlier - Lord of the Rings Rap, Terminator Salvation Rap

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Evory ads plumb the depths

There's a brilliant post by Jeff Atwood on Coding Horror about ads for the online game Evory. I'd vaguely been meaning investigate Evory as I kept seeing the ads online, but this is a far better story.

As Jeff recounts it, Evory have been making their ads more and more blatant, to appeal to their young male gamer demographics.

Here we go - ads in chronological order:

Read the full article here. Jeff has a screenshot of the last one in situ, to prove that it ran.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dave Carroll gets satisfaction from United Airlines

Very nice 'effectiveness of social media' story.

Dave Carroll, from the band Sons of Maxwell, had a guitar damaged in transit on a United Airlines flight about 15 months ago. Someone witnessed the baggage handlers throwing his $3,500 (packed up) guitar around, and when he got off the flight he found that the guitar was 'severely damaged'. He went through the proper channels, but United, while admitting that it happened, refused to compensate him.

He then announced that he was going to record 3 songs about it, make videos of each one, and put them up on YouTube.

The first video was uploaded on 6th July, and within 4 days has had 1.3m views. Dave has also been interviewed on the radio in the US, and a Google news search throws up nearly 400 results for the story. United have now been in touch eith him, and promised to put things right, and even use the video in training (see the tweet here).

[Update] Dave has since responded to their offer, again on YouTube: He's not completely happy with their response, and is still intending to post the other videos:

It shows the power of social media, but it also shows a potentially dangerous digital divide. Dave Carroll was able to acheive this because he had the necessary skills to make it happen. Recently one of my colleagues wanted to get in touch with Clearspring, the application seeding company, and was getting really frustrated with not being able to contact them through the 'normal' channels (i.e. emailing, phoning their office, and trying to get hold of someone who could help. This is their online contact page. He didn't have a name of a specific person to ask for). Within about 5 minutes of tweeting someone had got in touch with us.

Very impressive (thanks Clearspring!), but my point is this: Don't monitor social media instead of having a good phone structure and contact system. If someone without digital knowledge had had their luggage damaged (and clearly this happens a lot), the should still be able to get the same level of service as someone with access to a fast broadband connection. Don't make people get annoyed enough with you that they have to tweet that they are annoyed to see if you reply. Monitoring social media does not replace good internal procedures and systems!

Review, Respond, Record, Redirect

This idea comes from this excellent presentation from Adam Brown of Coca Cola on how they view social media:

From chart 12:
what the social media community is talking about with strong, coordinated monitoring programs. Take ideas for community participation and video vignettes from them
to the comments, posts and other chatter with accurate information on the Company and our initiatives with full transparency and disclosure and an approachable style
short video vignettes that respond to the conversation with “purposeful entertainment” that educates and informs in an entertaining fashion that isn’t too slick
Online community members to the videos and other social media content, using both search engine optimization/marketing as well as online conversation “cross-pollenization” to improve search rankings and assist others in discovering the relevant content

See also - "I was selling the idea that social media was free..."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

So many albums released, so few buyers

As a short follow up to my review of Chris Anderson's Free earlier this week, here is a quote from an article in today's DigitalMusicNews:

"At the recent A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) annual gathering in New York, some scary numbers were floating around. According to Nielsen Soundscan, a total of 105,000, new full-length albums were released in 2008, a fourfold gain from the earlier 2000s. And of that pot, just 6,000 releases sold 1,000 units or more in the first year.
Across the pond, similar information emerged. During a DIY discussion at Musexpo Europe in London last week, industry consultant Keith Jopling noted that over 30,000 albums are released every year in the United Kingdom, a 30 percent gain since 2000. Other markets are undoubtedly experiencing similar booms, based on the ability of any artist to create cheaply, upload instantly, and build fanbases directly."

That figure of only 6,000 selling more than 1,000 in the first year (presumably they only count the first year) is extraordinary.

The same issue of DigitalMusicNews also reports: "US-based album sales during the first half were down 14.7 percent year-over-year, across all formats - CD, LP, digital album download, etc. The tally for the first 26 weeks was 174.5 million units."

Alan McGee's line about the digitalisation of music is that it means that people who make music will be the people who want to express themselves, rather than the ones who are trying to make money is vindicated in this. Music always was a hobby to most, but now even more so.

Beck sings Velvet Underground

This is a really good way for a musician to engage with fans, even when he has no new music or shows.

Beck has been recording tracks from the Velvet Underground and Nico album with friends, in order, and uploading videos to his site. The whole album was recorded in a day, with minimal rehearsal, and one track is uploaded each week. So far three songs - Sunday Morning, I'm Waiting For The Man, and Femme Fatale.

Record Club: Velvet Underground & Nico "Femme Fatale" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo

Also on his site, this conversation between Beck and Tom Waits, and Planned Obsolescence, a weekly mixtape.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Killed Ideas

I've been sent a new book, Killed Ideas Volume 1, to review, by the good people at Blurb.

Killed Ideas is a collection of ad and design ideas that never made it through the approval process. In some cases it's obvious why - many of the product ideas are a bit '30 second slot on Dragons Den' - but some of the ad ideas are quite neat. It's curated by Steve Hall at Adrants.

You can see them online at the site here (but sadly you can't deep link to individual ideas).

Have a look at the Garage Sale Application (map a driving route so that you go past any garage sales).

Or there's the Nike Fight Song Challenge, which tried to get American Football Fans to take part in a mass conference call. Each set of fans would call a different number during half time, then turn their phones onto the loudest setting as the recording at the other end played their team song. I'd like to see that!

Google Ad Planner

Google Ad Planner relaunched recently, and has become a lot more 'interesting' (read 'useful').

Ad Planner is Google's tool for advertisers that lets you see details on different web sites that you might want to advertise on (number of users, demographics etc) and also see top sites for specific demographics. I could play with it all day.

For example their top sites in the UK are:

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -

Quiz time: Look at the list closely - what's missing? That's right - Google, YouTube, Blogger, and in fact all Google properties. They let you look at the stats for other sites, but not their own, That is *such* a Google thing to do, as they demonstrated when they updated Google Trends last year.

For comparison, here are the top 10 sites according to comScore.

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -

See also - Google Trends - the big catch

Innovative video ad format

Here - video appears both in the player, but also in the page background. Click on the link to see it in action, as my screenshot doesn't really do it justice. Doesn't work in Chrome, sadly.

By MassMotionVideo

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

“This is what Free does: It turns billion-dollar industries into million-dollar industries”

Chris Anderson’s book Free, all about how the digital world is fundamentally changing economics. In the pre-publicity for the book I’d assumed that Anderson’s line would be all “Free is great, la la la”, but actually, as the quote above shows (from page 131), it’s a very considered book on what is happening to the world of business in the light of digitalisation.

It’s all about how with digital media the marginal cost of things based on ‘bits’ (cost of duplication & delivery) is nearly zero, whereas with traditional media, including newspapers the average costs are still high, and are harder to offset. Obviously digital businesses still have to pay fixed costs - cost of creation, fixed costs like rents etc – but to reduce the average costs based on these companies need to increase their user base, so pursue aggressive expansion models.

The great thing is that Anderson speaks from experience (he’s Editor-in-Chief of Wired), so is affected in everyday life by what is happening, and is not whole-heartedly a cheerleader. For example he acknowledges that many businesses have not found revenues let alone profits yet, and that YouTube is massively subsidised by Google.

Another major theme is the availability of so much free content in the form of willing amateur bloggers and so on. To be fair this isn’t a new phenomenon – it always existed in academic publishing, and letters pages to specialist magazines (look at an issue of Salmon and Trout if you don’t believe me), but digital technology makes this so much easier and more popular.

He also addresses critics in the book, taking arguments made by other commentators (e.g. Paul Ellis, Andrew Keen, Sheryl Crow (yes, that one) and Hank Williams (no, not that one)), and carefully showing how they are wrong. He’s even giving the book away free online, for a limited period here.

I also attended a (free) event for the book in London last week, where Anderson was supported on a panel by thelondonpaper (losses of £12.9m in 2008) and Spotify (revenue of 14p per user per month), which sums up the difficulties in Free – it’s really hard to make much money out of it. While the book does suggest strategies for moving to free, it offers it more as a modern economic necessity, rather than a foolproof business plan.

I’m also really interested in business models like BandZoogle, which offer a paid version of free (in their case paid for sites for bands fed up with the free MySpace offering), and I think that this may be worthy of more investigation for entrepreneurs – find something which is free and annoying or time consuming, and start a paid version.

Buy the book!

PS - I feel sorry for musicians though. Over the past 40 years we’ve seen lots of musicians (OK, the tiny minority) become very well paid, to such a degree that in the 70s it seemed like even the bass player could buy a castle somewhere and develop an active interest in motorsport, but it now looks like song-writers and musicians are increasingly looking at a low-pay future.

When Anderson talks about musicians giving music away, but making money from selling merchandise and having fun, I’m reminded of all the stories of the great Mississippi blues players, who lived out their old age in poverty, or the great, seminal reggae stars who you can find in similar poverty in Jamaica (apparently when he was researching the book Bass Culture writer Lloyd Bradley found that he could find many of his heroes listed in the phone book), and feeling very bitter about their exploitation. I fear that this is likely to the future for many of the people currently using the ‘free’ methods of promotion and distribution in the book – unless they turn their online expertise into another opportunity, and start working in social media…

PPS - Ironically, the Free live event was partly sponsored by MediaWeek, who have just rescinded my free controlled subscription, and want me to pay to receive their magazine.

See also - my review of Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

Monday, July 06, 2009

The U2 mobile album on Blackberry

The 'U2 mobile album' was teased today on the Blackberry site - head over there to see the (not embeddable) trailer.

It looks likely that this will be some kind of free live album to download for free, but just for Blackberry owners, and with some kind of interactivity. Stay tuned!

U2 have always been at the forefront of brand partnerships, from tour sponsorships to the special iPod.

See also - the free Coldplay live album

Sour's 'Hibi no Neiro' music video

This is extraordinary:

Via my friend Simon

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"I was selling in the idea that social media is free, until the community manager headcount came in."

Brilliant line from David Armano's article in the Harvard Business Review, quoting Brian Wallace from Blackberry.

He goes on to discuss the different considerations that companies need to make when entering the social sphere, including Seeding, Feeding and Weeding.

This is the whole point - this stuff is not 'free'. People look at viral videos on YouTube, or blogs, or tweets, and they assume that because there is (generally) no media payment, then it's free. But it's not - it takes a lot of hard work and man hours; this stuff is generally very labour intensive (& I speak as someone who's had to go into a YouTube account every day to remove offensive - really offensive - spam from the comments of a very popular video that I seeded.)

When I read pieces in the media about Dell making $3m in revenue from their twitter account over two years I think:

1 - That's great, really great - it's a new revenue stream that they've identified, and it's great that they've shared the data.
2 - It's revenue, not profit, and to quote Ruth Badger (!) 'revenue is vanity, profit is sanity'.
3 - What was the real ROI of this, when you take into account the man hours etc? Because you can bet your life that companies like that have multiple conference calls each week (each day?) assessing the ROI of every bit of paid media that they're using, constantly monitoring each site, placement, creative group and so on. Oh, and by the way, some banners do still work very well.

This is why social media should be part of the overall media mix, and judged accordingly. Similarly activity should be designed and structured in such a way as to be able to assess the effectiveness as fully as possible.

& that's why I love this presentation so much!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The new grey whistle test

I post quite a lot about music; I think that the changes happening in music production and distribution, not to mention the business models are remarkable, and fascinating to document.

The lastest mini trend I've seen (in the spirit of '2 bands that sound similar can be called a movement'), is using digital technology to analyse the music itself. Users upload a track, and then get feedback, based on either a technology or crowdsourcing approach.

On one hand you have companies like Playa, which uses algorithms to analyse the music, compare it to other successful songs and try to predict whether it will be a hit:

"We use artificial intelligence applications as well as other methods to analyze the underlying mathematical patterns in music. Our technology does something called spectral deconvolution which is a fancy way of saying that we can isolate and separate many musical events that occur in a song. Some of these events are patterns in melody, harmony, chord progression, brilliance, fullness of sound, beat, tempo, rhythm, octave, and pitch. We then compare the patterns in new music (yours for example) to patterns in hit songs. By doing this combined with other mathematical calculations we’ve been able to develop a highly accurate and scientific tool."

On the other hand you have companies like SoundOut (part of SliceThePie) which takes the crowdsourcing approach, getting lots of people to provide unbiased opinions on the music. They then provide reports and verbatims from their reviewers (sample report here), and charts like this:

Very clever, but slightly depressing. Real life A&Rs generally have very low hit rates, so these services could be as reliable as a team of real people. As Jeff Fenster, senior vice president of A&R for Island/Def Jam Records puts if on the Uplaya site:

"It’s a fascinating tool, and smart companies will use this as ancillary information"

See also - Drake - Breaking big without a major label

(By the way, the title to this post comes from a old tin pan alley expression. Apparently, in the golden age of song writing in tin pan alley: "When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greys [doormen in grey suits] . The ones they could remember and could whistle having heard it just once or twice had passed the old grey whistle test")

YouTube click-to-action in-video links

When YouTube launched annotations a year ago I thought that it was great, but a shame that you could only click through to another video.

Now YouTube has revampled their offering to allow advertisers to link directly from a video to a website. This is great for eCommerce advertisers!

See an example here - from the World Water Day charity appeal, clicking through to here. According to Techcrunch this generated $10,000 in donations in a single day.

The feature was tested on Non-Profit organisations before being extended to commercial advertisers. Like other Google Annotations features it does not work on embedded videos.

See also - Samsung game using YouTube Annotations
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