Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogging and paid inclusion

Over the weekend there's been a bit of a storm in the UK social media arena regarding companies paying bloggers to post videos on their sites.

The first came in this post from Katy Lindemann, highlighting the approaches made to bloggers by GoViral (a company that I've used), including some screengrabs of emails that they send out offering payment for inclusion.

The second came from this post by Jamie Goode, highlighting that some bloggers were being paid to post videos with content for Douwe Egberts, but not declaring the payment. In fact the post rather backfired on Goode, as in the comments he was called out about the funding of trips he'd made and events he'd been to; he subsequently declared quite a long list of companies and bodies that he'd received hospitality from.

My position is that most people have a reason for blogging. In industries like marketing it's comparable to academic publishing - you write to raise your profile, and not for money. I really enjoy writing my blogs, and I've always resisted putting ads on them, because I know how little I'd get from it. However I do welcome companies sending me information and videos, because I'm always on the lookout for material to use, however I have never been offered direct financial payment for posting anything. I've been sent gadgets to try, but these generally get collected a week or so later, and if I post about them I state that I've been asked to. I also openly promote work by my own agency, or made by my friends.

But the fact is that many see blogging as a sideline that they'd like to be paid for, or compensated for in some way. I see both sides of the picture because I've also seeded content. For example I once had this email from a blog owner that I'd sent a video to:

Thanks for contacting us, we would be happy to work you and help in promoting our content. Can you please provide me some more information about the campaign and how we benefit from promoting your content.

Or, more blatantly, this:

Love you guys. I have more than 1000 readers from around the world & you ask me to stick the video on my blog for free!
I simply love the nerve. You make 000,000s of dollars & you ask for free, love it!
Good luck with your video

They both clearly wanted paying, and in this case we didn't want to do it. I have nothing against using these sorts of services, if it is clearly stated that a payment or benefit occurred.

I used to work in PR (a long time ago), and while I found it brilliant that a good, well-timed story could be placed, for free, in major newspapers, there were other times when no one would cover a story at all, and you wished you could just pay the journalists to include it.

In digital media it's pretty much a myth that you can upload a video to YouTube and it will 'go viral' - 20 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube each minute, so it's incredibly unlikely to happen on its own. If a video has become popular, and it is promoting a brand in some way I'd estimate that a very high percentage have been promoted either by using a service like GoViral, or Unruly, paying for ads on YouTube, or on sites like BoreMe, at least in the initial stages to launch them.

It's just how it works - but clearly some people need to be more open about the payment that they receive.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inside Your Search

This explanation of how Google works is very, very good. & it's for Weetabix (UK)...

Marketing on Foursquare

Foursquare is a fun mobile service that's rising rapidly in popularity.

Essentially it's like a local guide, but with added interactivity and - um - fun. You join, then register your favourite places. Each time you visit one of those places you check in with your mobile, to say that you've been there. The person who checks in most often becomes the 'Mayor' of that place. So it's easy to become the Mayor of your own house, but harder to become the Mayor of a cool bar. It's easy, assuming you have a modern phone, and the fun, competitive element keeps people interested. It has potential to become very popular; just wait until lots of journalists start obsessing about it and suddenly it'll be all over the newspapers like twitter and iPhones.

My excuse for writing about it is that I've just seen the first piece of marketing to make use of it. (First spotted by me, that is. It's been going on in the US for a while now, as detailed by this article in the New York Times.)

Dose Espresso, a coffee bar near the Barbican in London, is giving away a free coffee tomorrow to anyone on Foursquare who checks in. & also free coffee for a week to the current Mayor.

(The offer to the Mayor came first, quickly followed by the wider offer)

I really like this (twitter seems to be spreading the word nicely for them), and I suspect that we'll soon be seeing lots more of it. Think about it (especially with the Mayor thing); if someone will go the the trouble to report that they like your business and try to be the most frequent customer, wouldn't you want to reward them?

The NYT article details a few other ways in which companies could integrate themselves into the game, including sponsored badges, and promotions across chains.

Update - here is another example, from the US

& here's one way to sign up your venue for Foursquare special offers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Teracent - creative optimisation company bought by Google

Two days ago the ever-busy Google confirmed that it will buy another company, Teracent.

Teracent is a specialist ad serving company that automatically optimises different creative treatments to ensure that campaign performance increases as time goes on. Different creatives are rotated to continually assess which ones perform best - the ones that do get more exposure.

It's hardly a new concept (I remember selling this for Bluestreak years ago, using a 'winner stays on' pool game analogy), but let's see how interesting this becomes when it's combined with both Doubleclick's online reach and AdMob's mobile reach.

Creative optimisation is still very powerful if done correctly, and doesn't involve any of the potential data issues that you see with behavioural targeting.

Here's a case study, linked to by Teracent, showing how this worked on a CPO (CPA) campaign for Mercedes.

Online As It Happens - Nokia lets you create your own widget

I love this new site for Nokia (Full disclosure - it was created by Farfar, which is part of Isobar)

The site lets you create your own visualisation widget, using practically any online feed that you can find.

Select the sort of widget you want to make (comparison, measure or display), then your data source, specific things you are looking for, and then a way of visualising.

So for example this is my widget comparing Furnished and Unfurnished properties in London listed for rent on the site Gumtree. You can see from this that far more furnished properties are offered for rent than unfurnished.

Here's and example of a 'measure' widget - the number of times Nokia is mentioned on Engadget's mobile section

& here's one for 'display' - the bands most chosen on

Make your own here! There's a competition to create the best.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Play Asteroids and more on

The re-launched includes several arcade games from the 1970s and 1980s that you can play for free, including Asteroids, Battlezone and Lunar Lander. One player and two player versions available.

Good way to build traffic.

Have fun!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Paranormal Activity uses Eventful to find an audience.

Eventful is a music site that I wrote about a few months ago. Essentially it's group buying for fans - fans can demand that an artist comes to their town; if enough fans sign up then the artist comes. The site has social tools like widgets that people can embed into their social network pages, to try to motivate friends to join their cause.

Universal Pictures have been the first to tap into this to promote a movie. As this article details they set up an account for Paranormal Activity, then said that they'd release the film in the top 10 cities in the Us demanding it. Demand rose, so they then said that they'd release it nationwide if they god 1 million demands. Which they did - see picture.

The film has now made over $100m in the US in revenues.

I love this because it shows people using things for purposes other than what they were intended for. Yet why not use a live music site to promote a film? Often the audiences will be very similar. (Small caveat - I'm taking all of this at face value - it is actually possible that this is all part of the hype for the film.)

Another brilliant example of this is that Everton now use the game Football Manager as part of their scouting network - Football Manager keeps up to date information on thousands of footballers to make the game realistic; Everton pay them a fee to use this to research up and coming talent.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pixel Art competition for Green & Black

Nice promo by Green and Black using multicoloured packaging to let people create virtual pictures. (Effectively pixel art - you have 14 x 50 spaces to play with).

Peter Blake has done this one (which you can win) -

But I think I prefer this -

Get creating here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The History of the Internet in a Nutshell

A very useful guide to the past 40 years of the internet, with landmarks for each year. (including '1998 - Internet-based file-sharing gets its roots', pictured)

It's too short, clearly, but it's a very useful primer.

Orange Friendometer

This is genius - test yourself on declared information about your friends on social networks.

You can play based on friends in Facebook, twitter or MySpace. The questions take the form of a multiple choice between 4 different friends. You have answer things like:

- 'who has the largest photo album',
- 'who is 32?'

Plus identify photos, guess who is a fan of certain things, etc. It's great.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Trailer

Very clever & engaging trailer for the new game - see it here.

Doesn't embed, which should give you a clue as to what might happen...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Come get Rihanna live on

Rhianna will be playing live on on the 16th November to promote her new album Rated R - find out more in the widget below. (Widget content launches in a new window).

Will be interesting to see how many streams she gets - U2 had 10m when they streamed live on YouTube, while Foo Fighters had 400,000 when they did it on Facebook and the iPhone.

Full disclosure - my company works for Nokia (but I have no involvement with this particular project).

Put This On - new mens style blog & video series

Put This On is a great new men's style blog and video series, available on YouTube, Vimeo and through iTunes.

It's aimed at men who still dress the same way as they did when they were teenagers (no shortage of them around), and while it's a bit American it's also pretty universal, I would have thought.

It's also just crying out to be sponsored - while it has had only 900 views on YouTube in 4 days the quality is amazingly high.

& in related men's style news, Sunspel have a new site.

Download Lego Christmas designs

Great idea from Lego - lots of Christmas things to make from standard pieces, using downloadable instructions.

More released on the 19th and 26th of November.

They did a similar thing at Easter - love it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Engaging Ebay Banner Ads

Really engaging banner ads for Ebay by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

There are also other versions, including Fashion Show and Music Player

See also - Axion Banner Concerts

Digital ads on the underground for Air New Zealand

I love these new ads for Air New Zealand currently showing on the London Underground, and first spotted by my colleagues at Hyperspace.

Each ad focusses on one of the cabin crew, doing something spontaneous. Digital outdoor is a strange medium in that it can sometimes be a portrait shaped video screen, but these ads use the medium perfectly.

See the video of the ads in situ (no sound).

(NB - Air New Zealand also did the 'bodypainted safety video' a few months ago).

Monday, November 02, 2009

How hits happen on twitter

I've always been interested in how hits happen - how some ideas get spread around and some don't. This post is a look at some rules for how hits happen on twitter, using data from an analysis of the Jan Moir twitter storm two weeks ago (well covered by The Guardian here).

I used the tracking tool Radian6 to look at the total number of tweets on the day the story broke, then focussed on those that had the hashtag #janmoir. (There were 8,630 tweets about the story, and 3,063 using the hashtag; Radian6 will only let me download 5000 tweets, so I've had to focus on the hashtag).

I've then analysed this data, to produce some guidelines on how to create a hit on twitter (assuming that the content is worth sharing). I've written a longer version, and have tables, which I'll share if you email me (DM me your email address @dancall on twitter), but it seemed a bit long to post here.

Here are my guidelines for creating a hit on twitter:

1 - Give people something to support or easily identify. A hashtag acts like a banner on a political demo - it gives people something to rally behind

2 - Provide a link to what the you want them to share. works well, and as all links to the same page aggegate for tracking you can then monitor the number of clicks. In this case it was 70,000 in a day.

3 - Be direct. If you want people to re-tweet it ask them to, as Scott Pack, did here:

4 - Be respected. Contrary to a lot of the reporting, twitter hits can start with people with comparatively few followers, but their followers know and respect them so the combined reach of messages can grow quickly. In fact in this case the average number of followers of people using the hashtag did not rise above 500 until after 1pm, 5 hours after the first tweet. (The big spike at 6pm was Richard Bacon, the only person with over 1 million followers who used the hashtag).

5 - Be funny. In all of the analysis I've done, the second most re-tweeted person was someone with less then 500 followers, who tweeted "This is not just the Daily Mail getting kicked in the nuts... This is M&S kicking the Daily Mail in the nuts #JanMoir" when M&S demanded that their ads be removed from the page.
(The most re-tweeted person was the one who posted a link to the article as a Google document so that it wouldn't increase the Daily Mail's page views.

Other interesting points -

- Twitter is harder to influence than traditional media, particularly the press. The new film Starsuckers shows that it's comparatively easy to get fake stories into the newspapers as there are comparatively few 'gatekeepers' (people who decide what goes in) and they don't always check sources; with twitter fake stories get shot down pretty quickly.

- It doesn't take than many tweets to get to be the top trending topic. JanMoir was the top trending topic on Friday morning with less than 200 posts an hour.

See also - my other 'How Hits Happen' posts

JCDS (UK) Ltd TV Advertising Solution No.1

I don't think that this is ever likely to be used by Blackberry...

Created by Jimmy Cauty, formerly of the KLF.

Website here - more pranking to follow, I'm sure...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

JoshWard84 for T-Mobile

Josh is the star of the new T-Mobile ads, and is attempting to put together a band through MySpace. It's part of the 'what would you do if you had free text messages for life' campaign.

See his MySpace page here, his twitter here and his YouTube channel here.

See also - Ford sponsors Ben Griffith on MySpace

Update - Josh's song has now been released
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