Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ten Trends for 2018

Here is our trends presentation for 2018 - ten things to think about, including the convergence of ecommerce and retail, the rise of 'voice', the growth of shared digital experiences, the coming of the blockchain and more.

I'm conscious that I don't update this blog as much as I used to, or as much as I should.  Part of it is wondering what the focus should be, now that every campaign is digital, but I'll be trying a few new ideas in 2018.  Please keep following!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Crisis's Snow Day

Great timing from Crisis UK - this was tweeted just a few minutes after snow started landing in London (& colleagues started getting excited).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Apple's Smile Codes - Re-inventing the QR code

I spotted these codes at the Amazon UK Black Friday pop-up in Soho.  To buy products on display you need to open the Amazon app, click on the camera icon, then select smilecode scanner. 

Then fit the 'smile' logo into the rectangle in the phone viewer, and it will read the code.

This sort of engagement is commonplace in China, and has been a part of Singles Day for years. 

Can Amazon finally provide the impetus for QR codes to take off?

(NB - Pinterest is trying something similar in the US)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


It didn't take long for people to find a fun use for the new Apple animated emojis!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fanta: The 13th Floor

A fun 3 minute 360° film for Halloween.  Fanta is, of course, the colour of Halloween...

Best seen on mobile with a headset.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Tilly's Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt

Each new technology seems to throw up its own version of the scavenger hunt - people did it with Foursquare, with Snapchat filters, and now US retailer Tilly's is doing one with YouTuber Shonduras - find the different bits of AR around its stores, and win a discount code:

You can see some of the players here

More info here

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Dell's Spider-Man Game in Times Square

Play along with your phone at the poster side in Times Square, New York.

Great use of a gif in their tweet!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Augmented Reality Videos - Made with AR Kit

Last week marked the ten year anniversary for the iPhone, possibly the most important piece of technology created since the colour television (you can almost compare the mobiles that came before the iPhone to black and while TVs).

Apple continues to innovate, and the next iPhone is likely to be very special, with Augmented Reality at its heart, using Apple's new AR Kit developer technology.

A taster of what is coming can be seen on the AR Kit YouTube and Twitter accounts.

For example



& even

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pepsi's Let's Get Together ad users 3 mobile screens at once

This is great - a new Pepsi ad fro Ramadan asks you to put 3 phones next to each other on the table, then plays a film that includes all three screens - effectively making one giant screen.

Apparently this works when the ad is on both Facebook and YouTube.  It's the first time I've seen it done, but I'm sure it won't be the last.  (& we'll all be singing the song by the end of the month)

Full details here

Update - I've now heard how it is done - and it's actually pretty low-tech.

Here is a trailer -

There are three videos.  Friends have to select the right one, put their phones together, and press play simultaneously:

Left video

Middle video

Right video

(Note - only the 'Middle' video has sound)

The view counts are about 200,000 for each, which is some indication of popularity.

Oh - and here is a fan video of the three side by side - which has had over 250,000 views -

Monday, June 05, 2017

Chicken Connoisseur / Crep Connoisseur

So – The Chicken Connoisseur (Elijah Quashie) has started a new channel, Crep Connoisseur

(He always started his chicken shop reviews with a ‘crep check’)

No surprise that he’s starting with a pair of Nikes - He's only ever worn Nikes in his chicken shop reviews.

But – I don't think it's very good (yet)…  It lacks the charm and spark of his original series.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

'Will my kids learn to drive?' 'Will my kids learn to cook?'

I was listening to this podcast this morning - Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz interviewed about the future.

It's a brilliant listen - Andreessen is very smart, and very well-read - at one point citing CP Snow - and ably defending the tech industry, Silicon Valley, and engineering as a way to make our futures better.

At the end the interviewer asked if he thought his kids would learn to drive. Well he though, this six year old probably would, but his two year old.

I completely see why, with his inside knowledge on the development of self-driving cars, he might say this, but I think he's missing some vital points.

First, it will make a big difference whether you live in an urban or rural place. I think driving will be essential in rural areas for a long time to come.

Second, for everyday getting around you may not need a car, but what about for holidays, trips etc. I don't own a car - I live in Zone 2 in London, 3 minutes from a tube station - but I rent a car every year to go on a walking holiday.

Third, it doesn't matter if it's essential, you might just enjoy it. No one needs to learn to cook these days - there is ready to eat food in every shop, takeaway options, delivery and so on. But some people like cooking.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Plum Guide - Putting a Luxury Layer on Airbnb

A year ago or so I was in an art gallery, and a posh voice behind me said:

"The problem with Airbnb is that you're reliant on someone else's definition of a comfortable bed."

& that's the problem with Airbnb.  As much as I love it, there are often a few 'quirky' things about the places you stay; things that you don't want to write in the comments because it would be churlish, but you would mention to friends who were looking to stay there.

This is essentially the service The Plum Guide performs.  It finds the best of the properties on Airbnb and other rental sites, using 100 criteria to make sure that everything works, everything is clean and so on, and then offers you just these.

Yes, it's more expensive, but you get what you pay for.  Some of the properties look both stunning and interesting - have a look at Hackney for example.

I can imagine a similar 'luxury layer' on other parts of the sharing economy, and other parts of the DIY online experience.  Uber started off as the luxury layer with town cars, and went mass market, but there could be a business curating the best of other services.  For example Groupon was killed by flakey spas etc, who could not be checked by Groupon, but how about a luxury version that only offered the good stuff?  Or a luxury 'ZipCar' car-sharing scheme?

See more about The Plum Guide in this profile

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

CityMapper's Bus Service

CityMapper, the app that helps me get around London, is launching an experimental bus service for London, in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL).

It's a two day experiment, travelling in a loop between the City and Waterloo - see map - and while I won't be able to try it, I'm fascinated by it.

(It's also part of this new part of the 'online to offline' trend that has seen Deliveroo open commercial kitchens, Uber buy parking spaces, and of course online and app brands like Snapchat produce hardware).

It's based on data that they receive, and according to their blog post, they've noticed that current routes don't best serve how people want to travel.  (Remember this story from 2013, where mobile phone data led to a re-design of bus routes in the Ivory Coast).  CityMapper must have so much data on how their users travel, and could add real value here - their trial route is a new route,   (Possible caveat - it's not clear that CityMapper users are representative of the whole London travelling population).

It's going to be fascinating to see how this develops.  I'm also very impressed that TfL is open to new ideas.

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 -

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