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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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IAB Mobile Forum

Last Wednesday I attended the IAB‘s mobile forum (presentations are uploaded here).

It was an illuminating afternoon, though mainly in terms of what I didn’t take away. Mobile is still nascent as a media platform, and the industry understanding of it is still at a fairly basic (in my opinion) level.

Most information on how people use mobile seems to be on potential behaviour rather than actual (though there were exceptions).   As such, the emphasis of the event was very much on inspiration rather than effectiveness or impact. In part because of the fragmented nature of mobile (different handsets, networks, operating systems, functionality etc), it is difficult to emerge with overarching advice on using mobile.

However, it is clear that it is a medium ripe for innovation. Nearly all of the speakers had case studies as illustrations on how mobile can be used in new and interesting ways. These include:

  • Fitness First cold-texting people with information on their local gym (once people had responded with their postcode)
  • Comic Relief raising £7.8m through people messaging in to pledge donations that would be added to their monthly bill
  • The ringtone from the Cadbury’s “eyebrows” advert was downloaded over 250,000 times in less than a month
  • Pizza Hut’s pizza-building application where you can shake to remove toppings, click to order it (including regional discounts) and play a game while you wait for it to arrive
  • Ikea augmented reality tool to superimpose furniture into your living room
  • An Ocado shopping app that requires a four digit pin rather than a username/password each time you want to purchase.

Despite not coming away stunned, there were some useful pieces of information that I picked up at the event.

  • Chris Boddice from O2 made the comparison of a mobile phone to a personal assistant or life manager – it can do everything from diary management to your shopping via being an alarm clock
  • Alex Kozloff from Orange made the point that in addition to being relevant and innovative, mobile marketing also needs to reassure. Trust is much more of an issue on your mobile (it has people’s lives on it, yet there is no anti-virus or anti-phishing software) and so consumers need to be reassured that your site/brand is trusted and that they aren’t going to be surreptitiously charged for anything. For people who pay for their data, zero-rating can be used whereby the advertiser foots the data charges to visit that site.
  • Justyn Lucas from yodel warned of advertisers getting blinded by technology, and that the role of mobile should be established before deciding on how to proceed. In fairness, integrated marketing is hardly a new piece of information, but it is worth re-iterating
  • Jonathan Abrahams from Admob revealed that they are now seeing more traffic from Andriod than they are from Windows Mobile. This reinforces the asymmetry of mobile use in that while iPhones and Google phones still have relatively small penetration, they are driving the use of the mobile internet
  • The IAB’s Jon Mew said that the user experience should be paramount when browsing – from their first ad effectiveness study (for KitKat), they noted that respondents were much more likely to remember the ad if they had enjoyed browsing the site. Furthermore, regular users of the site were more likely to notice the ads (this was contrary to my assumption that the novelty of mobile ads would cause stand-out, but this effect is no different to other media platforms)
  • Tim Hussain from BSkyB had some great tips on apps – which he argued should provide a richer more creative experience for your customer. He also alluded to the asymmetry of action – in 6 weeks more people were using the Sky EPG on the iphone than on the 300 other handsets it is available on AND the pc combined. He pointed out that the iPhone has a massive advantage in that, from our iPods, we are familiar with iTunes and the iTunes store and so the comprehension barrier has already been overcome.

Tim’s six tips for apps were

  1. Understand the target audience
  2. Ensure the app is different to a mobile website
  3. Make it a destination, not a driver
  4. It should either save time or kill time (I liked this point, even if it does overlook the other uses of an app, such as inspiration)
  5. The idea should be aligned with the brand
  6. The app should be integrated to the wider campaign

Additional statistics I picked up from the event were:

  • Gartner predict that by 2012, 70% of all phones will be smartphones
  • There is an average of 37 apps per iPhone in the UK
  • Orange research suggests that 87% of mobile media users (“anything that a message can be delivered through” – so including SMS) use it at home
  • 95% of us don’t switch our phones off
  • Yahoo! is bigger than Google in mobile search (though I think this will change as iPhone/Google phones etc take share away from the network portals)

Although I didn’t pick up as much new information or knowledge as I was anticipating, it was an event worth attending. I’d particularly recommend Tim’s presentation on apps  – it can be downloaded here.

As the industry develops and matures, it is inevitable that our understanding of consumer behaviour and marketing effectiveness will improve – from my various discussions with people in the space there is definitely a market opportunity to fulfill some of these needs. I’m confident that the study I’m about to embark upon will contribute to this.


Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/

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Links – 15th February 2009

Things I have read in the last week that I would recommend:

Henry Jenkins has begun serialising his white paper on spreadable media – If it Doesn’t Spread It’s Dead. Part 1 – on media viruses and memes – and Part 2 – on sticky and spreadable – are both fascinating

Andrew Scott argues that Google Latitude is a Trojan Horse into social networking with the ultimate aim of combining location with context/mood

Robin Grant provoked an interesting discussion around conversational marketing with his post Learning to Speak Human

On the Digital Design Blog, companies are told that actions speak louder than advertising, and therefore Brands should do

Ana Andjelic riffs on Kevin Kelly’s post on sharing and copying by pointing out the differences between economies of scale and economies of scope

Adriana Lukas re-iterates the distinction between advertising (information) and Advertising (disruption)

Sean Howard argues that the IAP2’s spectrum of public participation is backward. He believes that empowerment and trust need to come first; as an input, not a result

Clay Shirky on why micropayments won’t save publishers

Lovely Charts is a web application with an accurate description (though some might quibble that for basic users, the use of the singular would be more reflective)


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Links – 21st November 2008

My top 10 reads of the past week:

1. The Times published an absolutely fantastic article looking at neuroscience and how we can improve our brain performance. The writer pays short shrift to the DS Brain Training activities, for the sensible reason that this rewards recognition and repetition over learning. While we do not yet know a lot about our brain, the author exhorts us to work on improving oneself through a simple mantra: Pay Attention

2. On a neuroscience theme, Martin Lindstrom – author of Buyology – has an article on Advertising Age explaining why sponsorship of American Idol works for Coke but not Ford. Essentially, Ford has had trouble justifying its existence.

3. How intelligence can overcomplicate: Students trying to predict the stockmarket perform worse than a rat finding a piece of cheese. It is the conflict between striving for perfection (through modelling) or accepting a reasonable chance of success (Science Blogs)

4. Chris Anderson has conceded that the Long Tail argument is flawed, in that the number of aggregators providing the long tail of product options conform to powerlaws (think Google, Amazon or Netflix)

5. ETH Zurich have studied Youtube videos to try and work out what constitutes a successful upload. Their typology consists of viral, quality and junk videos – a more nuanced approach to my 4-video typology where viral constituted a single element (against reference, scheduled and topical) (Newteevee)

6. Engage Research and Global Market Insite have published a report saying that online surveys bore respondents. Quite. Unlike telephone or face to face interviews, online is restricted to the narrower range of those that opt-in. Therefore things need to be mixed up regularly in order to avoid a) burn-out and b) recognition of formats and patterns. (Brand Republic)

7. Fast Company has a profile of Sam Ewan – whom some people may refer to as a guerrilla marketing. I don’t particularly like the label, but I think the concept is fantastic – the levels of creativity in constructing a unique experience are limitless

8. A NY Times article looks at how industries change to survive e.g. one might predict the extinction of the bicycle with the advent of the automobile but that evidently wasn’t the case

9. Lifehacker tells us how to burn any type of video file to a playable video DVD

10. And finally, a triumvirate of brilliant little websites (OK I’m cheating in order to get a nice round figure of 10). Tag galaxy transposes Flickr searches to a galaxy of interrelated search items, the Charlian is a Charlie Brooker themed Guardian that came out of their hack day, and Let me Google that for you gives a visual display of searching to colleagues lazily shouting out a question when the answer is in front of them


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Links – 26th October 2008

A selected list of links below. The recent paucity of posts, along with this going out on a Sunday, should indicate that my recent schedule hasn’t been too forgiving.


Jeremiah Owyang on the 7 tenets of the connected analyst. There is a balance between utility, leadership and a commercial outlook

NBC has begun releasing its TAMIs – total audience measurement index across all platforms. It will be interesting to compare how different genres perform across the different media. Cross-media reach is the holy grail – this isn’t that as it takes no account of audience duplication, but it is a step in the right direction (TV Week)

10 reasons why newspapers won’t reinvent the news in the 21st century. Quite a pessimistic outlook. (Xark)

What great marketers do well – well worth reading (Wikibranding)

Thoughts on the semantic web and the future of advertising from the Web 3.0 Expo (Read Write Web)

Hugh MacLeod interviews Mark Earls – both extremely interesting and intelligent thought-leaders

10 Internet stats for sceptics – the This is Herd blog has been on fire in the last week. This is an extremely useful post that I will be referencing again and again.

Nicholas Carr on Google and the Centripetal web – a very interesting notion. Google is moving from purely facilitating search, to providing unique content through its “First Click Free” method of moving around subscription firewalls.

Doc Searls’ elegant response to the borderline troll post on Wired where the author opined that Facebook, Flickr and Twitter had killed blogging. I don’t blog for fame and money. I blog to ruminate, to share and to learn. And will continue to do so.


Paul Graham writes a typically brilliant essay on… writing an essay

Vice has an interesting profile on a former large-scale heroin dealer

http://librivox.org/ is the place to go for user-created audio books of out-of-copyright works

17 interesting facts about doctors and patients (E-med Expert)

NY Mag has a great feature on Nate Silver – the statistical genius behind the brilliant Five Thirty Eight website

I can’t really single any particular post out for praise this week- they are all well worth reading and re-reading


Links – September 11th 2008

I ended up missing the link update last week, so I’ll split the two weeks up into two manageable (hopefully) chunks


An article in the New York Times argues that there is not yet a formula of success for online TV series (Will there ever be? It’s not like all broadcast shows are hits). While Claire Beale takes a closer look at Sony’s Coma. That was featured in the twelve web series I recommended, which can be found here

Excellent overview of Mortimer J. Adler’s “How to Read a Book”. According to this theory, there are four type of reading – elementary, inspectional, analytical and synoptical. Well worth having a proper read of (Copyblogger).

Nicholas Carr on the Omnigoogle – he is quickly becoming my favourite technology writer

User experience is the new account planning – another insightful and thoughtful post from Adrian Ho at Zeus Jones

A fascinating insight into how minute Google’s tinkering in its search results has become – yet the results from these tiny changes can be big (Googleblog)

Tom Fishburne has uploaded his brilliant Brand Camp cartoons to Flickr

Rhodri Marsden has written an excellent essay/speech on the futility of flogging music (Music Thinktank)


Help a Reporter – sign up to a mailing list, and contact the reporters looking for expert sources

Stitsh takes photos of people on the street, and links to where you can buy the clothes from

Youtube comment snob – remove those illiterate and offensive comments


danah boyd explains why, as a woman, she is offended by Sarah Palin’s nomination

Google results for <x> girls <y> cup (xkcd)

An extract of the News of the World’s Mahzer Mahmood’s Confessions of a Fake Sheikh. In it, he defends his subterfuge and set-ups (Greenslade)

An interesting look at Japan’s hi-tech toilets, featuring heating and spraying. There is a big debate over the best angle to spray at. (Telegraph)

What would Friendfeed look like in a zombie attack? – I only know the reputation of a few of the people featured, but it is pretty funny nonetheless (Inquistr)

Recommendations for the week day are the overview of Mortimer J. Adler’s “How to Read a Book”, Nicholas Carr on the Omnigoogle, User experience is the new account planning and Brand Camp cartoons


Links – 16th June 2008

Part 4 of 5:

Technology and social software links

Collection of presentations from the Web2.0 Expo (random($foo)) – a very comprehensive directory containing both videos and slides

10 things to hate about web2.0(Hugh McCloud)

Scaling a microblogging service(Hueniverse) – or How to fix Twitter

Chronology of brands hit by social media(Jeremiah Owyang)

The first Internet disconnection due to piracy is… The Finnish Government (Torrent Freak) – I can’t think of a better indictment of this law

ExpoTV matches users to product owners(Mashable)

Chris Brogan’s exhaustive collection of social media advice – for me, the personal branding section is the most interesting

Top Microbloggers(Technobabble2.0) – Another sterling piece of analysis from Jonny

How to make the most of Twitter(Guardian) – the long list of 3rd party applications shows the benefits of releasing the API

Reasons to have a vanity folder in RSS (Pro Blogger)

Can newspapers publish blog material without payment or notification to the author? (Comment is Free) – the Mail on Sunday published blog extracts without clearing them with the author

The state of the Facebook platform (20bits) – excellent write-up of the application economy

The Get Out Clause make their music video using CCTV (Daily Telegraph)

Emily Gould on the dangers of blogging(NY Times) – I believe she got flamed on this from both regular NYT readers and those that broke her on Gawker in the first place

History of failed musical platforms(The Register) – I still have a minidisc player somewhere. The only discs I ever bought were blank, to copy my CDs over

Reuters opens up its API and makes its news content available(Mashable) – though lawyers will be watching closely

Wikipedia to be published in physical form (Read Write Web) – but the contributors won’t get paid

We should think like a dandelion (Cory Doctorow)

Is UseNet going to be blocked from the Internet?(Web Monkey) – though I’ve been online for 12-13 years, I’ve never actually used UseNet before

Is Google making us stupid? (The Atlantic)

The importance of being an early adopter(Mashable)

Facebook and Myspace lose out to the niche social sites on CPM (Chris Anderson)

Scoble and La Gesse have a flame war over who “owns” comments and threads(lagesse)

Prediction of a Microsoft-Facebook union that will be detrimental to users(Robert Scoble)

In particular I would recommend Collection of presentations from the Web2.0 Expo, Chris Brogan’s exhaustive collection of social media advice, The state of the Facebook platform and Is Google making us stupid?

The other posts in this series of updates are:

Friday: Marketing links

Saturday: Trivia, and Interesting/thoughtful articles

Sunday: Interesting websites, and useful tips

Tuesday: Miscellaneous random links


Will Google AdWords on TV change the market?

google tv
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/dadalo/

Google has announced that it has taken its new TV Ads programme out of beta. Go see it for yourself here.

In theory, TV Ads is designed to democratize TV advertising in the same way that AdWords changed the online display market.

I’ll be following this with great interest over the coming months. Could it successfully change the TV ad buying market? While early days, I am sceptical. TV advertising is an inherently complex beast. At the moment, the system is severely limited, and I’m wondering whether it can evolve to incorporate the nuances of the TV advertising market.

There are several (fairly incoherent, I’m afraid) questions that are buzzing around my head at the moment regarding both the programme and the marketplace.

Questions regarding the programme, and Google itself

  1. It is currently only available on the Dish Satellite network, a fairly small broadcast company. It makes more sense to dip the toe in the water first, but it is inherently limiting to the campaign. If it is a success, would larger broadcasters follow?
  2. Unlikely, because mainstream companies won’t allow Google to hold information on their technology or customers. Can a compromise be reached on data ownership?
  3. Speaking of compromise, could this endeavour dilute Google’s brand? AdWords makes a big thing out of contextual placement and targeting. TV Ads doesn’t offer any form of behavioural targeting. Will Google roll targeting out once they have accumulated enough set-top data?
  4. On a targeting theme, advertisers can only specify (quite broad) dayparts at the moment. How long before they can purchase specific programme slots or audiences?
  5. Finally, the Ad Creation software looks a bit suspicious. I quote, “It’s difficult to suggest a standard price – you might expect to spend anywhere between $100 and $1000 for your ad”. I have no idea what sort of creative agencies are signed up (not very expensive ones, by the look of it), but it shouldn’t be a production line. Is airing a bad ad better than airing no ad at all?

Questions regarding the marketplace

  1. It is obviously a new model. Can an open auction replace agencies? Personally, I don’t think so. In many ways, agency opacity can be beneficial. How often do agencies pay list price for spots? Deals, favours and mutual back-scratching are par for the course. This flexibility works for both parties in the long term
  2. Another strength of agencies is their size. They drive down price, and can switch inventory between clients when one runs into a problem. The open auction offers a different level of protection. No contract (other than T&C’s) and daily editing means advertisers can pull out at the last moment if problems are reached. If an advertiser pulls out, where does that leave the TV company? Last minute shuffling to avoid dead air space?
  3. A final aspect of agencies to remember is their multimedia expertise. Campaigns can be TV-only, but they don’t have to be. Rarely do brands advertise purely on TV and no-where else. So, if an advertiser is having to go elsewhere for their press or online advertising, would it not be better to give TV to the same buyer? Particularly if the TV spots are the focal point of the campaign
  4. And this is probable because TV is the mass medium. It has scale. It can reach more people at a quicker rate than other media. Is it really the right medium for budget operators? Yes, digital fragmentation means there are hundreds of niche satellite channels. But these are all national channels. While the Intertet makes national selling easy, it is often best to start small in a region and work your way up. Will a national niche campaign be too inefficient?
  5. And finally, is democracy always a good thing? TV companies have the prerogative to refuse to air ads. Google makes it clear that all ads need to conform to editorial guidelines, but I’d be interested to see how this is enforced or upheld. Will they be able to prevent ads contravening guidelines – whether through politics or “taste and decency” slipping through the net? And more worringly, could we soon be seeing spam ads on TV? I wouldn’t rule it out, and this is not going to impress the channel operators or programme makers

Time will hopefully provide the answers to these ramblings.

I’d be very interested to hear other people’s views on this. Do you think this venture will be successful? What potential pitfalls do you see on the horizon?