Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"If the news is that important it will find me"

The rapid spread of the Michael Jackson news Over the last few days is the perfect illustration of the quote 'if the news is that important it will find me'. This was first uttered at a newspaper focus group in 2008, and it came from a teen who was explaining why he didn't buy newspapers. This chart by my friend Lynette Webb brilliantly illustrates it:

if the news is that important it will find me

I was in Germany when the news broke, watching the news channels on a hotel TV. The next morning the media had reports from all over the world, including the Glastonbury festival (where traditionally people were completely cut off from the outside world), all of whom found out the news within hours. People hearing it were passing it on by text, posting messages online and even starting to play Michael Jackson records at full volume, in order to let the world know.

A few other (media) thoughts:

The media obsession with twitter is out of proportion with it's reach. A few million people (probably 20m maximum) actively use twitter, compared to hundreds of millions who watch TV, read newspapers and so on, and yet in most of the news reports I heard twitter was mentioned before other media. Is it because many journalists use twitter? I think it probably is.

I've seen the search pattern charts (for example here), but has anyone got any stats on the number of texts sent? I'd also love to see the stats on breakfast TV viewing in Europe on Friday morning.

Michael Jackson songs dominated iTunes and Amazon in the days after, but not YouTube - why was this? You would have thougth the famous videos would have had millions of views. [Update 2nd July - Visible Measures is claiming that the Thriller video has been viewed 28m times in the last week.]

It's great that Ebay as well as the main ticketing agencies have offered refunds on the money spent on the concert tickets - Ebay did not need to do this, but it's great that they did.

Musical assets are very valuable in the digital age - depressingly, if predictably, shares in the record companies that had rights over the back catalogue all rose on the day after.

Psychoville ARG

I love the new alternate reality game for the BBC show Psychoville. Psychoville is a comedy horror series, written by and starring Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, two of the creators of The League of Gentlemen.

The game revolves around the email inbox on the official site, here. Each week an email asks you a question, the answer to which can be found by a few web searches. Along the way you come across some of the fake sites that they've set up to accompany the series, for example this one for Midget Gems, a company specialising in dwarf porn (my keyword referrals are going to be a bit strange from now on...). They've clearly done a lot of work on this, and it's great fun.

On a connected theme, the third part of Stephen Fry's The Dongle of Donald Trefusis has now come out on iTunes, and in that Fry has set a very involved riddle for people to solve. It's too involved to explain here, but for starters, The Chicken Chaser is Chico Marx, and Film 1 is A Day At The Races.

A far fuller analysis (& most of the answers) can be found here.

See also - Stephen Fry's Dongle, Part 2

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eventful - Group shopping for gigs

I've found another group shopping example.

Eventful is live music ticketing site that lets fans demand that bands come to their town. In this section of the site, fans can demand that an artist come to them, spread the word to get more to sign up to show that demand exists, and then let Eventful establish contact and start negotiations.

For example there are currently demanders wanting Morrissey to come to Altrincham, Buxton, Chester, Blackpool, Wigan, Manchester and Liverpool. Good luck with that; where it seems to work better is for up and coming bands - or better still with solo artists.

Julia Nunes, whose original songs and cover versions on ukelele have won her thousands of fans on YouTube (over 100,000 subscribers) links to Eventful from her site, and has just played some gigs in the UK. It's a great way for the generation of artists making it big through social media to organise real world events.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Groupon collective discounts

A few days ago I wrote about the Chinese phenomon of Tuangou - social shopping in groups. Another manifestation of this is Groupon, an American site that gives users discount deals as long as enough people sign up.

So for example you can get a $30 voucher for a bar for $15, as long as more than 40 people sign up to buy it. The site has buttons for you to share the deal with friends, taking it social. Each deal is for one day only.

At the moment some of the offers are pretty poor - Ghost Tour of San Francisco's Chinatown, anyone? - but it's a great idea. Bring it to the UK soon!

Thanks to Priyanka for the tip off!

See also - Ebay daily deals

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Brute - the new viral gaming phenomenon

My Brute is the new viral gaming phenomenon from Motion Twin. I found out about it while I was researching some niche trends in different regions around the world, and it's very intriguing.

It's an arena fighting game, where you control your own avatar. You need to fight other avatars to gain more attributes, climb levels and get more weapons. You can also recruit students to your Dojo, which also adds to your power. When you register your own fighter you get a unique URL for him (mine here).

It was created in March this year and claims to have 1.7m players daily, and 70m Brutes created to date (players can create up to 8 each - but the game checks players IP address so you can't just create 7 students for your main player). This is far greater growth than twitter - but no one has yet created a page for it on Wikipedia. They recently created an app for the iPhone and iTouch (price €3.99 or $4.99)

Here's a guide to gameplay, and here's a video showing a typical fight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Japanese mobile content examples

Two great mobile examples detailed in the Cyber Media blog:

Comedy battle

"The service is called ‘S-1 Battle‘ and provides not only exclusive Japanese comedy (Monomane, Konto, Rakugo etc.) content from famous comedians, but let’s the users compare and rate these comedian’s performance. The site is made up like a K1-like battle ground. Every day, two comedians compete against each other. The champions of each month will battle at a live event at the end of the year. The total prize money for fighters in 2009 is 2.3 million dollars, the monthly champion will get $100.000 and all Softbank users have chances to win prices every month."

Manga eBooks for the iPhone

"The iPhone service offers over 22.000 ebooks, including about 16.000 mangas in a very wide range and from most famous Japanese publishers. The release dates and the purchase prices are exactly the same like the printed versions but some special online-only offers will be available soon."

This shows how much money there is in mobile content in Japan!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum is a 40 minute fan-made Lord of The Rings film, available online. It's a 'sidequel' to events in the book The Fellowship of The Ring - that is it encompasses events referred to in the book but not covered in the film of FOTR. More info here.

It looks very good. I'm not going to embed it from YouTube - it needs to be seen in a size more than 300 pixels wide. On YouTube it's nearly hit 1m views.

Viewing options here. IMDB page here.

In other user-generated news, check out these fan trailers for Spider-Man 4 - no story of cast details have been revealed yet, but fans are using these posters to tell film makers what they want. Via MovieMarketingMadness

See also - A guide to DIY film distribution

Friday, June 19, 2009

Neil Gaiman's The Day The Saucers Came

Excellent & innovative way of presenting a poem, using Infinite Canvas, a 'funky side project' from Microsoft LiveLabs.

Start here. Heartbreaking.

More projects here

Daily Mail poll Vs. twitter

Twitter users have had fun this Friday afternoon voting in this very inflamatory Daily Mail quiz:

The question posed is "Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue?"

So far the result is 92% 'Yes' (which I'm guessing isn't what the Mail wanted from such a loaded and leading question. I'm also guessing that the Mail will remove this from their site pretty soon [update - they did]).

Some have argued that this is actually good for the Mail because it sends lots of traffic to their site, but as far as I can see it's just providing a cast iron example of the Mail putting a bigoted slant on the news. The glee with which people have responded by passing the link on shows that it vindicates many people's prejudices about the Mail.

Well done to all of the twitter users like Graham Linehan (22,000 followers) who've been passing the poll link around.

See also - Cheers to Social Media

Thursday, June 18, 2009

VW interactive twitter ad

The first of - I'm sure - many banners to mine data from twitter. Click here to play with it or see the embedded version below.

Type in your twitter name, then it analyses your previous tweets to recommend the prefect VW for you. Apparently I need to buy a Passat. Or the GLI (make your mind up!)

Served through Eyeblaster.

See also - Twitter game for Terminator Salvation

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lipperhey SEO advice

Two of my friends have just launched a new site, Lipperhey, giving automated SEO advice and selling improvement reports, based on 35 criteria. You can download a sample report here.

If you run a site it's a good way of giving it an SEO audit, and for $75 getting advice on how to make it more friendly to search engines.

My site doesn't do too badly:
lipperhey badge

Give it a go here - great idea for a business!

Drake - breaking big without a major label

Great story in today's DigitalMusicNews on actor-turned-rapper Drake:

"Until recently, the typical game plan for rappers was to develop some buzz, get discovered by a major label, and blast some songs nationwide. But today's hip-hop artists are blasting that dream to bits, thanks to mixtapes, the internet, and a totally different set of economic rules.

One of the biggest songs on the airwaves is a catchy rap ballad called "Best I Ever Had" by newcomer Drake. According to data found on BigChampagne's BCDash, "Best" is currently ranked #2 on Mediabase's Urban chart and #3 on Hit-Rhythmic. That's quite impressive, especially given the lack of a major label push. Instead, this Canadian rapper has topped the charts based on internet buzz and guest appearances."

Read on here.

There is a MySpace page for Drake, but apparently the only only official site is Drake Ringers, which sells ringtones based on the music.

Whatever you think of tracks like Best I Ever Had, he's certainly (no doubt unwittingly) following The Manual's advice that the lyrics should be what every girl wants her boyfriend to tell them...

See also - We Are Hunted - a chart based on online buzz

Mobile Augmented Reality concept demo

This is very cool - an augmented reality game using a mobile device.

"The phone provides a window into a 3d town overrun with zombies. Point the camera at our special game map to mix virtual and real world content. Civilians are trapped in the town, and must escape before the zombies eat them! From your vantage point in a helicopter overhead, you must shoot the zombies to clear the path for the civilians to get out. Watch out though as the zombies will fight back, throwing bloody organs to bring down your copter. Move the phone quickly to dodge them. You can also use Skittles as tangible inputs to the game, placing one on the board and shooting it to trigger an explosion."

What I particularly like is the use of the Skittles to represent bombs - different colour Skittles have different effects in the game. My seven year old nephew would totally freak out over this (& what's the betting he'll be playing somethig even more amazing before he's ten?).

Buried in the comments (2nd comment) is the admission "Right now it’s just a concept demonstration, but I’d love to take this (and similar games) into production; unfortunately, there’s no commercial device that can run such stuff yet. So, nothing will happen in that regard till there’s Tegra-based devices (or something similarly powerful) available to run it. And, of course, it would have to be financially viable."

I'm sure these issues can be solved...

See also - Augmented reality for Topps baseball cards

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Labour's Mr 10% widget

New widget at the Labour site to publicise the Conservative's proposed 10% public spending cuts. Almost the polar opposite of the 'where's the money coming from, mate?' jibes that the Conservatives used to level at Labour in the 1980s.

Not exactly the most dynamic widget I've ever seen, but it draws on the idea of fact checking that proved very important in last year's US election.

This earlier attempt, Webcabinet, a parody of a Shadow Cabinet web chat (seemingly mixing up MSN IM with twitter) is just appallingly bad. Who signed this off?

See also - Sorry from Gordon - a viral site by the Tories

Identity Theft protection using Google Alerts

I heard this on the radio last night. Apparently when people steal your identity to sell online, they post the details to various forums. This data will include your name and your postcode.

So - set up a Google Alert (use the 'comprehensive' setting) for your surname and your full postcode, to get alerted if someone is using your identity. Google's spiders trawl a lot of forums, and may well pick up these details.

Clearly it's not a good idea to post up your full postcode or address online - make sure you don't do it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ebay daily deals

New (I think) from Ebay in the UK - daily deals from big name sellers, with big percentage discounts and free postage. A new deal each day at 10am UK time.

Sadly this won't embed properly (unless you know otherwise), so I just have to link to it. However it will work on rss, so just add the URL http://deals.ebay.co.uk/ to your iGoogle page, and watch out for the good bargains.

This emulates both Woot, who have been doing something simialr for several years, and also operate the 'once it's gone, it's gone' principle, amazon, who offer free postage beyond a certain point, and also Grays Online, an auction house in Australia who deal direct with the public - i.e. you are buying direct from them, not some random seller in the middle of nowhere with a suspiciously good positive rating.

Cheers to Social Media

Great presentation summing up an experiment in using social media to promote the Wandsworth Common Beer Festival in March 2009. (I attended this, but was unaware of the social media element; I got an email from my mate Steve).
From their results (chart 11)
- Social Media should be a part of any marketing and promotional campaign
- Social Media + Search = more traffic, more results
- The ROI will be positive. This is a cheap and easy way to get results
- Be active and review your activity daily, then refine and repeat. Then review, refine & repeat again

See also - Two great local business twitter case studies & Memo to social media gurus

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stephen Fry's Dongle, Part 2

Last month I wrote about the launch of Stephen Fry's new audio serial, The Dongle of Donald Trefusis. The second episode is now out (search on iTunes), and it's excellent.

What's especially interesting is that at two points in the episode Stephen Fry directs you to look at pictures on his site (one of which I reproduce below) - painting 1 and painting 2. There's also a reference to Donald Trefusis twittering from beyond the grave. Try to find the twitter account - it's not that hard... (I love Stephen's 'Trefusis' voice, by the way!).

I really think that over the twelve episodes (release dates here) this will turn into something very special.

Don't miss out!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pencil Rebel

Pencil Rebel is an absolutely gorgeous game produced by Grzegorz Kozakiewicz at Model No.1. Visually it looks amazing, and when you see the making-of video, or read into how they made it, you can that it's all based on handmade models that they've photographed and then animated. The production process reminds me a lot of Wallace & Gromit.

Making of Pencil Rebel 2 - Documentary from Pencil Rebel on Vimeo.

You play Bert. The aim of the game is to find items in different rooms, and then free Dr Esculap from captivity. Some bits are easy (translation - I could work them out), some are hard (translation - I couldn't. Just couldn't work out the combination to open the fridge). This is a brilliant piece of work, and deserves all of the awards that it has won.

Kids will love it, as will parents. It's the perfect illustration of the idea that games can be just as good for kids as books.

Oh - and Model No.1 have also made this amazing website for Vivid Display, which also deserves your attention

Via Metafilter

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

3D Ad for Orange

Love this 3D ad execution for Orange's Spot The Bull competition (in association with its Glastonbury sponsorship). Served by Flashtalking

See it here

See also - Doubleclick's Rich Media Examples

Amscreen Digital POS Screens

Amscreen is a UK company specialising in installing and maintaining digital screens in shops, hospitals and other places where people congregate. Or as they put it themselves: "Versatile Close Proximity Digital Signage"

Case studies available at the site - this is very much the local end of digital outdoor advertising.

For example for Boots:

Objectives Boots contracted Amscreen healthcare to run a twelve week advertising campaign on three screens in the new Walk In Centre to demonstrate an uplift in over the counter prescription sales at the Boots Kingston Pharmacy in Milton Keynes. The advert on the screens had to target patients and visitors in the waiting rooms, raising awareness of the late night Boots prescription service.
The Amscreen Healthcare Network
The initial campaign utilised three screens (of the 120 available) on one site. The Milton Keynes Walk In Centre was chosen specifically because it is open for at least 14 hours a day to provide emergency primary care. The campaign broadcast for 3 months starting in July through to September 07.
Positive Results
Key results were provided by Boots and included a total of 288 responses from the campaign during a 10 week period, of which 210 prescription sales were as a direct result of the on screen content.

UK TV viewers may be interested to know that this is the company that the winner of this year's Apprentice will be working for.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Carl's Jr YouTube sponsorship

According to news reports, Carl's Jr, the American fast food chain, has done a very unusual media buy across YouTube. Instead of buying ads on the channel it has issued a brief to some existing YouTube stars to make a commercial for the brand intheir own styles. The videos get hosted on the stars' own pages, and on this special channel. The stars get paid based on how many views their videos get.

There are 9 YouTube stars contributing so far. For example Dave Days

& SMP Films

& HotForWords

Great idea - and as AdWeek point out one used already by Sanyo - see this video paid for and promoting Sanyo video cameras.

I think that this kind of 'long tail product placement' will only grow, and also become a useful form of funding of YouTube and other social media players.

As a more small-scale example (even more long tail), check out what this Dutch coffee company is doing: Any students incorporating one of their slides into a presentation (& providing photographic or video proof) will get a voucher for €21 worth of coffee. (Via Nick Burcher)

Rapha's Short films from the road

Lovely set of videos made by the Rapha Continental cycling team as they ride around the US. Great, low-key work. More at their road journal.

Mathias, WV from RAPHA on Vimeo.

The Continental team have been getting a fair amount of buzz in the cycling blogs from this.

More on Rapha and their premium cycling clothing at their main site, rapha.cc

See also - David Lynch Interview Project

Friday, June 05, 2009

The company that gets twitter wins search

Two brilliant quotes on twitter and search from Steve Broback. Essential:

"If you want to offer the best Web search engine, you need to buy Twitter.
The bottom line is that whoever acquires Twitter will in essence take possession of an army of millions (soon to be tens of millions) of humans who are actively, accurately, and enthusiastically meta-tagging pages. In the arena of human-augmented search, Mahalo is a useful wheelbarrow, while Twitter is a fleet of 747 cargo planes. The search engine that integrates Twitter data properly will likely become recognized as the “best” search engine out there."

[& later in the same post]

"Consider what happens if Twitter data is incorporated into Google, Yahoo, or LiveSearch. Any tweet that contains a link effectively serves as a citation as well as a meta-tag for a page. This tag can be weighted for relevance by any number of factors (location, time, retweets, followership, etc.) I’m not saying it can’t be gamed, but I am saying it’s difficult to do.
Many bloggers are already talking about how search.twitter.com is the now the first place they now go to get the information they want. Many others have read this writing on the wall as well."

Read the whole post.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tiger Woods' Par 5

A new site to promote the game Tiger Woods' PGA Tour 10. Click on the ball to hit it.

Have a play - it's not what you expect.

By Freestyle, for EA Sports.

Full disclosure - Freestyle is part of Isobar.

Prototype Experience

Great personalised ad / microsite for the game Prototype. You need to log in to the site using Facebook Connect, then it lifts pictures and preferences out of your Facebook account to create your own 'experience'.

Personalised ads have come a long way since this one!

Group purchase in China

A colleague recently sent me this example from China - group purchase (tuangou) organised through social networks, or (in some respects 'shopping flashmobs').

What happens is detailed here - an organiser posts details of a car that he would like to buy, with necessary specs, and a link to a group on a site like QQ. Others who are interested join the group, and then the group leader, when he has assessed the level of demand, starts negotiation with car dealerships. When the time to buy arrives, the group members all meet for the first time, picking up their cars.

But, as Sam Flemming relates, this is just the beginning:

"Through the group purchase process, group members become familiar with each other, and, as they are all owners of the same kind of car, they tend to interact even more than normal netizens. Many group purchase group members continue to visit their QQ group, sharing their experiences with their new cars. Group members will often organize together again to purchase accessories and upgrades, or meet for offline activities. Once the group purchase is over, the group leader’s leadership position and influence continues on. When group members encounter problems with their cars, they often out of habit seek out the group leader, and future group purchases and offline activities are often organized by the group leader."

It can go wrong - see this video here (in Chinese) of a sort of riot at a Ford dealership.

More info at Wikipedia, including attempts to do this in the West - and it seems that there is a Facebook app , and a company in the US trying to get this going

MobileRoadie - iPhone Apps for bands

Similar to Bandzoogle and Bandcamp, MobileRoadie is a simple-to-use resource for bands, in this case allowing them to set up an iPhone app.

Apps can contain music, videos, tour dates, a fan wall and more. It seems relatively expensive at $399 set up and $29 per month, but it's a good way for bands to get noticed (until everyone does it, of course).

Is anyone offering such a packaged deal for companies? Or even mobile versions of sites? Remember, only 0.2% of websites have a mobile version.

See also my posts on Bandzoogle and Bandcamp.

Via the ever-reliable Springwise

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Embeddable books

This is a new one for me - an embeddable widget for a book.

Click on the widget to explore - you can expand it to full screen - but essentially this is a full copy of the book More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea, by Tom Reynolds, about life as an ambulance worker in London (and a sequel to Blood Sweat and Tea).

Like NightJack, it's pretty harrowing but very good. According to Scott Pack, the book's publisher, they are making the electronic version free to anyone who wants it, under Creative Commons licence. Enjoy.

See also - My post on NightJack

Quirky - crowdsourced products

Quirky is a new site and business venture that crowdsources and sells products.

It works a bit like this:

Site users suggest ideas, others vote on them. It costs $99 to suggest an idea.
The community then give feedback on the best ideas, suggest a name, and design a logo.
The product then goes up for sale on the site. The person with the orioginal idea and all those that took part in the product development get a cut of the revenues.

The first product is the Sling Back (universal wire retractor - pictured). Future products will be a Tofu Press, and an Ouch Pouch (more jazzily designed sling for people who have a broken arm).

I like this a lot; there is a lot of potential to come up with unusual, 'quirky' products - even though the current set sound like things you'd see on Dragons' Den.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Beatles Rockband

Coming on 09.09.09. Includes multiple venues re-created. I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that this will be huge.

Very cool instruments!

(Bags not be Ringo)

David Lynch Interview Project

The first part of David Lynch's interview project is now online. Interview with ordinary Americans, many with extraordinary stories to tell. Sadly not embeddable.

"Jess was our first interview. We found him sitting by the side of the road during the middle of the day. He told us that he was waiting for his trailer to be repaired so that he could go live alone in the desert."

Over the next year the series will trace a path across America in interviews. Looks very good. (But make them embeddable!)


If you like these, I'd recommend Bright Shiny Morning - James Frey's novel about a collection of people living in Los Angeles. Very gripping, and very good.

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See also - Short Films
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