Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Linktastic on a Tuesday

Here’s the lowdown on some of the things I’ve been thinking about recently that I thought were worth sharing.


Tweeting bumblebees. Just brilliant. A great project encouraging bumblebees to nest to arrest their decline in our urban and country habitats and learn about bees – both individuals and groups. And one of the outputs is tweeting bumblebees. What’s not to like? Check it out and I defy you not to be charmed by the project. http://niksargent.com/bumblebee

A framework for thinking about mobile apps – it’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good starting point. The comments are worth a read too. http://cdixon.org/2012/05/21/four-use-cases-for-mobile-apps/

Music and the planet

Your favourite track may destroy the planet. Or the environmental impact of streaming digital music. I wonder if this is music industry propaganda or if it’s actually grounded in fact. Forgive my cynicism, but the music industry is well-known for pushing its misinformed propaganda and treating music fans with disdain. Interested to hear your comments and thoughts on this one. http://www.2degreesnetwork.com/groups/information-communication-technologies/resources/your-favourite-track-may-destroy-planet_2/

Data vs. Emotion – A Media 360 Thriller

There’s a new debate in town which will run and run and it’s big data vs. emotion. No longer will we need to discuss the hackneyed web vs. apps story. We have a new one! Seriously though, this article really got me thinking. Marketing is both art and science and shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, yet they seem to be. This article sums up the debate succinctly http://mediablogged.mediaweek.co.uk/2012/05/23/data-v-emotion-a-media360-thriller/ and by chance I stumbled on another related article on being data-informed rather than data-driven http://andrewchenblog.com/2012/05/29/know-the-difference-between-data-informed-and-versus-data-driven/ . I’m a creative soul at heart so I hope that emotion wins out, but sadly, I fear data will be the ultimate victor. I just hope that doesn’t mean we lose out on serendipity and emotion. And maybe, just maybe, this is our chance to reinvent marketing altogether and combine the best of both worlds. Or is that a utopian dream?

NFC Ticketing Trials

Stagecoach is staging NFC trials for bus ticketing in Cambridgeshire. It’s a 3-month pilot programme in conjunction with Everything Everywhere to look at the validity of contactless payments for tickets. If it works, they will look to roll out in 2013. My initial reaction was, but what happens when your battery dies, but I’m reliably informed that the NFC chip will still work, it’s just you won’t see your app being updated at the same time. And my second reaction is, but what about pickpockets? We’re always being told to keep our mobile phones safe on London Underground. If we’re whipping out our phones to access the tube, then everyone will know where our phones are. Both points are probably irrelevant, but there’s still some way to go with this. I love my Oyster card, but I never use contactless payments for anything else – even though I could if I wanted to and even though I’m usually an early adopter of these things. Also, according to Dean Bubley’s tweets from today’s Open Mobile conference, NFC on mobile is still too slow and too clunky for mass adoption and is a technology that’s never going to happen. I think Visa and MasterCard would beg to differ so let’s see.

The Growing Epidemic of Page Bloat

Don’t do it. That is all! [Read this article if you need to add fuel to the fire] http://gigaom.com/2012/05/23/the-growing-epidemic-of-page-bloat/

And now for something completely different

Five secret London spots http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2012/05/18/annie-mole-of-london-blog-going-underground-chooses-her-five-secret-london-spots/ as spotted by my friend Annie Mole.

SPR–yet another TLA. Is this one useful?

spr mda logoLike we need another three-letter-acronym, but there we have it, a new one – SPR which stands for Single Point Reporting. In layman’s terms, that means if you’re being bullied online in any way, you can report it via a single button on your device. According to the email I received a couple of days ago, the MDA (Mobile Data Association), the Police and the Home Office have been looking at improving internet crime reporting for a couple of years, and they’re now looking to get wider feedback on the concept and put it into implementation. I have my doubts about it. I can’t help feeling that there is a vested interest from the parties involved rather than thinking about it from the perspective of the average internet user. But maybe that’s the cynic in me. Maybe this really is something that will improve crime reporting. I must admit, I’d prefer to find ways to reduce crime in the first place and maybe the ease of which it can be reported will make that happen. It should also be noted that online and mobile security is most definitely not my field of expertise so I’m passing the information on in case any of you fancy getting involved and feel it’s worthwhile pursuing. Details below:

For the last 2 years, MDA Chairman, Mike Hawkes, has been involved with the Police and Home Office in researching ways to improve (mobile) internet crime reporting.

Mike is a security specialist and the work he has been doing in this field has led to the development of an initial API to the police systems to enable single click transfer of all data required to progress and secure a prosecution from information held on a mobile handset.

It quickly became apparent that this work had implications across the whole communications domain and, as a result, MDA is seeking to widen the engagement of interested parties to all involved in internet and communications with the objective of establishing the Single Point Reporting (SPR) of data from whatever source, via a free open standard API meeting the security services' requirements.

With the express backing of West Yorkshire Police and the Metropolitan Police, as well as backing from Lord Harris, the Nominet Trust, and the Home Office, work is now advanced to the point where funding is being discussed by the police and Home Office to move the project forwards.

MDA has established web pages on its site to attract the wider industry and we are now actively recruiting our core teams and the support of the major players within mobile and elsewhere and planning a launch meeting in early July to set out the detailed workstreams and milestones.

The website landing page, together with links to the forms encouraging organisations to register interest, can be found at http://www.themda.org/initiatives/spr.php. If you have views on this subject and wish to be involved, please register your interest at http://www.themda.org/initiatives/spr.php.

FT.com and its latest thinking about mobile

ft logoI attended a very interesting event this morning where Rob Grimshaw, MD FT.com, shared some details of their current mobile and technology strategies. I’ve known the FT.com mobile team for many years and they’ve always been ahead of the game when it comes to new formats and paying for content. (I’ve always kept a close eye on them as advising media owners is a large part of the consulting work I do.) Some argue that it’s because they have a niche that they’re successful. Others think that it’s because they deal with financial information specifically. it could be said that their audience is particularly tech-savvy having a higher than average income and fond of their new gadgets. I’m sure that some or all of those will play their part. Rob was asked about why other newspapers are trailing behind when it comes to technology and he felt it was as much to do with confidence and culture change rather than anything to do with technology. Maybe that’s easy for him to say since they have a long heritage in offering digital services and so have probably been through that culture change some time ago. That said, the confidence is a different matter. Rob cited The New York Times as a paywall success story as it now has more digital subscribers than print ones in just 12 months. Not bad going. I guess the point is that if your customers wouldn’t pay for your content, maybe it’s not good enough anyway. Or the flipside of that is if your content is good, then your customers will pay for it. Glass half-empty vs. glass half-full.

Grimshaw tell us other newspapers may be struggling as it’s more to do with confidence in your offering and thinking about culture change rather than technology change. There was a lot to take in, but since it was partly a press event, there were some journalists there who took more notes than I did. Well worth a read.

There were a couple of other points that I found particularly pertinent. Firstly, it was recently reported by New Media Age that FT.com reckons 60% of its revenues will come from mobile by 2020 and Rob confirmed this figure at the session. This is probably just as well since it’s expected that print newspapers will be irrelevant in the UK by 2019 [links to a pdf]. Rob also went on to say that he wasn’t sure how much of a business they would have in print circulation in 10 or 20 years time (cost vs. reward being the issue alongside declining overall print readership in news generally). If that’s the case, then I wonder if that figure is too conservative. Friend and colleague, Russell Buckley, certainly seems to think so and I have to agree with him. His article explaining why its too low is well worth a read.

The other interesting point was about Google+. It’s often dismissed as a desperate attempt by Google to join the Social Media Revolution. But maybe it has legs? Social Media is as important as mobile to FT.com and often comes hand in hand. FT.com amassed 500,000 followers on their G+ page in just six months and currently standing at over 860,000 at the time of writing. This compares very favourably with their current Facebook Page following of 325,000 and FT.com’s Twitter followers numbering 668,000 over a longer period of time. Is this simply down to the power of the suggested user functionality on G+ or are G+ members avid newsreaders? I don’t know. It’s worth further investigation I guess.

And finally, on technology and platforms and tablets… HTML5 is at the core of the company’s products. By building in HTML5, it means that for both Android and Windows 8, 90% of the code is written so making the native app isn’t so arduous. There was also a big thumbs for Windows 8 by Rob. He feels that the tablet space is still in its infancy and that there is scope for there to be 2 or 3 strong players in the sector. Although Apple currently has this sewn up with the iPad, Rob thinks the Windows 8 launch towards the end of the year will be very interesting. This is because Microsoft has put thought into the relationship between the tablet and the desktop and built that into the design and UI. I must admit, I have a tablet with Windows 8 installed on it and I like it. It feels more grown up than the iPad somehow, and certainly you can have more clout when it comes to memory and speed as there will be more choice with specs. And actually, more consumer choice is a good thing overall. One device does not fit all no matter what the Apple fan boyz and girlz say.

A lot more was covered in the session – APIs, internet TV, new advertising formats and more - which, happily for you dear reader, two journalists attending wrote up. Links below for you.



Insight into UK Children by the stories they write

500words-bannerThere’s a new study about UK children’s language from the OUP and it’s very interesting too. It’s clear that technology is playing a key part when you see how children are referring to technology in their writing. Here’s an example:

‘The analysis, of 74,000 story entries in a BBC Radio 2 competition, also reveals the impact of technology. The research finds that of nearly 300 instances of the word "blackberry", almost half referred to phones. Technology was also an integral part of plots in the stories, with characters "Googling" for answers rather than looking in books and using apps rather than rabbit holes or magical wardrobes to enter fantasy worlds.’

The study makes for a fascinating read and confirms that children are still imaginative and still inspired to write, read and tell stories. I wonder how many of them are now reading on a digital screen – be that a phone, a tablet, an eBook reader or a laptop?

There’s some background to the competition on the OUP website http://www.oup.com/oxed/children/500words-competition/ . The full competition website is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/2012/ where you can read or listen to the winning stories (there are plenty to choose from and you could do worse than load these up on your kindle) and you can also download a PDF with the findings from the research. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/evans/bbc500words_oupfindings.pdf

Via http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/28/blackberry-cupcakes-study-uk-childrens-language?CMP=twt_gu

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Swedish Beers–The Jubilee Edition, London

4860763915_84e93a2cf1_oFollowing a successful first event in San Francisco, we're ready to hit London Town once again and with it being a time of celebration what with the Jubilee and the Olympics ‘n all, Jenny and I thought it was about time we had another shindig.

It's the usual format - no presentations, no formalities, no sales pitches, no ties - just friendly people chatting about mobile over a beer or three. We're at our usual haunt of the Nordic Bar on Newman Street in London and the doors will be open from 6.30pm onwards.

Of course, we couldn’t run the party without a little help from our friends…

logo_large millennialOur lead sponsor this time around is Millennial Media. And if you haven't met them already, they're specialists in premium mobile advertising and have a mobile advertising and data platform. They're a super-friendly bunch and are very knowledgeable too. And as lead sponsor (again! We’re very grateful), they'll have the most beer tokens ;) Look out for Gavin, Stephen and the rest of the team. http://millennialmedia.com/

hi_res_tvguide_logo_CMYK[1]They'll be ably supported by...

TVGuide.co.uk - they do what it says on the tin and offer a UK TV guide on your computer or mobile device. And it’s the one I use most of all as it’s user-friendly and comprehensive. Lila, Mo and the team will be on hand to tell you more about what's new with them and to talk TV apps with you. http://tvguide.co.uk/

inspiring interns logo[3]Inspiring Interns - they're a recruitment company specialising in helping companies recruit interns and helping set-up and manage intern programmes. They also have years of experience in the world of mobile and are possibly the loveliest recruitment people out there. Yes, I'm biased, their founder, Ben, is a close friend of mine! Look out for Ben, Benedict, Sam, Charlie for beer tokens. http://inspiringinterns.com/

SwiftKey-bowSwiftkey - Want to type faster on your Android device? Swiftkey is the answer. They won a GSMA award in February and a Webby Award this week so they must be on to something. Joe, Rhod and the team will be on hand to show you how it all works and how many keystrokes you can save yourself. http://swiftkey.net/

If you’re interested in joining these lovely companies as a fellow sponsor, please get in touch with Helen by email.

So to recap:

What - Swedish Beers Mobile Networking
When - 30 May 2012 from 6.30pm
Where - Nordic Bar, Newman Street, London. Nearest tubes are Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street.

RSVP - (optional) over at Facebook and please bring a business card with you to get your first beer token.

So spread the word, pray for a dry evening so we can use the outside area and come on down for a fun evening with friends old and new. You don’t have to be a mobile expert to join us. All welcome with a passing interest in mobile technology.

Helen, Jenny and the Swedish Beers crew

**********Keep in touch***********

Email: Just add your email address to the Feedblitz box at the top left and you’ll get our blog posts (and therefore event notices) to your inbox.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Brand Perfect hits San Francisco–a round-up

brand perfect logoI was fortunate enough to be a facilitator for last week’s Brand Perfect event in San Francisco. I’ve worked in mobile marketing for 12 years now, but I still enjoy hearing about case studies and examples from other parts of the world. It’s also very useful to understand the differences (and similarities) of creating and running mobile marketing and media initiatives in different parts of the world. And there was a good crowd there to explore all of that.

The event was organised by Monotype Imaging. Not necessarily a familiar name to the mobile industry but perhaps it should be. They have several mobile solutions for network operators, handset manufacturers, creative agencies and app developers. Worth a look, with flexible pricing structures and solutions.

Anyway, I digress. The day involved a selection of keynotes looking at design, what’s happening in the mobile sector, the challenges of running mobile services, some insight into what’s possible and a look at the role of typography. In the afternoon, we divided up into groups to work on an actual brief from the University of San Francisco. This gave us a chance to put some of the learning from the morning into action – to think about design in a wider sense beyond look and feel, to distil the brief into the most important points and to focus on those and to think creatively in cross-disciplinary teams to come up with a solution. It was a fun thing to do and something I enjoyed being part of.

I’ve done a storify of the day collating some of the best tweets, resources, pictures and video clips. There are further videos to come – they’re in editing at the moment. And I’m hoping some of the presentations will make their way online too. I’ll add the links as and when that happens. In the meantime, have a look at the storify and the flickr photos below.

Personal lessons learned and some reflections on the day:

  • It’s still early days for mobile marketing and media and there is still much to experiment with
  • We need to do more experimenting. We have a great opportunity to reinvent marketing and advertising with this medium. It would be tragic to miss out on that.
  • There’s a knowledge gap with brands, marketing people, retailers, media owners and traditional agency types. Developer relations programs from handset manufacturers et al tend to focus almost exclusively on programmers and the technical end of the spectrum. These are not always the decision makers and they are also not necessarily the ones coming up with the creative ideas. Developer relations needs to adapt and extend to other communities of interest.
  • We need to forge better relationships between designers, developers, brands and commercial teams. We cannot work in silos when it comes to mobile initiatives as these touch too many parts of the business. There is a translation process that needs to happen and we need to learn and benefit from understanding the differences and being able to play to each others strengths. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
  • It’s very easy to get hung up on ‘mobile’ being just about the web, apps and banner ads. There’s so much more to it and we do need to remember that. There’s another level of data and tracking available with mobile usage and additional features and capabilities that are simply not possible from a standard laptop.
  • The mobile phone is the primary digital access point for a great swathe of customers and growing. Are we really taking this into consideration when designing products and services.
  • Mobile services are not one-offs – they need longer term support and management for them to succeed.
  • Be useful, relevant or entertaining. Customer service is a winner. We are dealing with people here ultimately. Let’s humanise the experience rather than reducing it to ones and zeros.

The event will be heading to London in the next few months and further cities around the globe. More info at http://www.brandperfect-tour.com/

Brand Perfect Tour's San Francisco set

Created with flickr slideshow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Swedish Beers On Tour in San Francisco, 16 May 2012

sfo viewNot content with holding parties in London and Barcelona for just shy of 11 years, we thought we'd give the West Coast a shot of our Swedish Beers cheer since a few of the gang are in town, including me, Helen Keegan - aka technokitten and chief organiser of Swedish Beers. We’re very excited to hold our inaugural event in such a beautiful city and one where the mobile scene is so active and fast-moving. The mixer will be our usual style - no PowerPoint, no speeches, no formalities, just good people, good chat and good drinks courtesy of our sponsors. And if you’re wondering what the photo is, it’s of the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the living room of the apartment where I’m staying on this trip!

What: Swedish Beers Mobile Networking
When: Wednesday 16th May 2012 – 6.00pm until we run out of steam
Where: 620 Jones: Jones adjoins one of San Francisco’s stunning historic landmark buildings, built in 1929, just three blocks west of Union Square. Look for the towering blue-steel gates just to the right of the Gaylord Suites at 620 Jones. You can’t miss ‘em. 620 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. There’s a link to the Google map here.

RSVP: You will be asked for your business card on arrival in exchange for a beer token and then you need to find the sponsors to get more free beer tokens. And it would help us if you wouldn’t mind RSVP’ing on Facebook please so we can get a handle on numbers as it’s our first time here. All welcome. No charge for entry.

About our lovely sponsors:

Somo_logo_15mm_Blue_RGBOur first sponsor are Swedish Beers regulars, the lovely team from Somo. With offices in London, New York, Singapore, LA and San Francisco, Somo is really going places. Expert in all aspects of mobile marketing - be that engagement campaigns, branded apps, creation and management of mobile services, mobile advertising or performance marketing - they can handle it. The founder, Carl Uminski, is in San Francisco at the moment with some of his team so they'll be on hand to share the Swedish Beers vibe with you and will have a few free beer tokens to hand out. http://somoglobal.com/ @somoglobal

strikead logoNext up is StrikeAd - the world's first demand side platform for mobile advertising. Their West Coast team will be on hand to chew the fat about mobile advertising and how using StrikeAd Fusion makes your life that bit easier when it comes to planning and buying mobile media. Garrett and his colleagues will be on hand to explain all and to hand out beer tokens. http://strikead.com/ @strikead

PrintMojiva is also joining our merry throng this time around. Mojiva makes your job easier by developing unique, cutting-edge mobile advertising campaigns and monetization strategies for agencies, brand advertisers and publishers around the world and provides a monthly reach of over 1 billion unique devices worldwide, with 270 million of those devices coming from the US. Not bad going, I'd say. Join Brian and his colleagues to find out more. http://mojiva.com @mojiva

If you'd like to join these sponsors and be part of our inaugural event in San Francisco, please get in touch with Helen - swedishbeers@gmail.com

Thank you also to Mario Tapia from GetJar and Mobile Monday Silicon Valley for supporting the event.

See you on 16 May in San Francisco and 30 May in London.


Helen and the Swedish Beers Crew

**********Keep in touch***********
Email: Just add your email address to the Feedblitz box at the top and you’ll get my blog posts (and therefore event notices) to your inbox.
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