Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Spezify is a new-ish search engine that I've been playing with recently. (Alerted, like with lots of things, by the consistently brilliant

Spezify presents your search results as a jumble of pictures and text, and in doing so effectively creates a mood board for any subject.

Here are the results for a few brands:





Lily Allen


Monday, September 28, 2009

Analysing traffic with is the default URL shortener for twitter. Most links get shortened automatically to save on the 140 characters that you use, and increase the likelyhood of your tweet being re-tweeted.

Although plan to sell their analytics services, giving insight into the most popular links being passed around and so on, you can do it for yourself.

Here's a quick example, using this video of the Fox News presenter Glenn Beck being interviewed on CBS.

Take the url, in this case and add a + to the end so you get

Then you can see the pattern of traffic

The referring sites

& the geographic location of the people clicking on the link

(Link picked because it was the most popular one that I could find)

See also: an earlier post about

Spark Something - Space Hoppers for Sony Ericsson

Hopper Invasion is a new campaign for Sony Ericsson, letting people create and personalise their own online space hopper.

Facebook here, video here.

It reminds me a bit of last year's Orange Balloon Race, except doesn't really seem to be any point to it beyond creating the space hopper. You can save it as a screen saver, but so what..?

I saw this advertised on the tube this morning. The ad said 'search for Spark Something' - but they don't seem to be buying this as a search term, and they're not the top result for that phrase in Google. Hmmm.

Update - they are buying the term 'Spark Somthing' in Google now...

Update - 29th October - here's a clip of the online flashmob that happened with some of the hoppers earlier this week

Update - 6th November - live event in Berlin with 4,000 real hoppers

Friday, September 25, 2009

MTV Smokescreen - tracking 10 people trying to quit smoking

This campaign tracks 10 people across Europe, who are trying to stop smoking, trying different methods - acupuncture, hypnotherapy, cutting down, NRT, cold turkey, and e-Coaching.

Meet Rachel, who's using hypnotherapy (sorry - I can't reduce the size properly when I embed it).

The site has a section for each of the people, and will track them for four weeks, as part of a broader 'Help - for a life without tobacco' campaign.

I really like how the content fits in with MTV Europe; the reality style works well and it'll be interesting to see how the participants get on. I've never smoked, I'm glad to say, but I know from friends how hard it can be to quit.

Full disclosure - all client handling was done by Carat, my agency.

87 Cool Things using Google technology

A great presentation from Google, giving examples of cool things made by other people using Google technology, including YouTube.

A really good set - lots to see and explore.

(Would be nice if you could embed it as a smaller size though!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Hits Happen on YouTube

This is a classic example of a slow burning hit on YouTube.

This YouTube clip is a compilation of unintentionally hilarious moments from a director's commentary for the film Outlaw, featuring the director, Nick Love, and the star, Danny Dyer. In the commentary they reflect on the critical mauling that their film had ("I've never seen no stars before, the ****ing broadsheet ****s"), and claim that other great films (like Taxi Driver and Dirty Harry) were also initially reviewed poorly.

It's been doing the rounds for a few days on the forums, on twitter, and on the blogs, and has now hit 15,000 views, but 4 weeks after it was uploaded (19th August - 15th September) it had only had a few hundred views.

What happened?

According to YouTube analytics, these are the crucial tipping points (& views from the different sources)

Click to enlarge

15 Sep 2009
First referral from - - 275
First view from a mobile device - 298
First embedded on - - 349
Other/Viral - 1,290
16 Sep 2009
First referral from - - 243
First referral from - - 275
17 Sep 2009
First embedded on - - 2,185
21 Sep 2009
First referral from - - 379
First referral from - - 544
First embedded on - - 2,530

Essentially someone must have stumbled across the video, shared it on Facebook, then it was posted to the forums SomethingAwful and 4four, then HolyMoly, then That's Delightful (Graham Linehan's blog), then Popbitch. Twitter's not featured, but I know that it's been shared freqently there too, partly because I've done it myself...

...& here is the video in all it's glory. It's very funny, very much in the style of Derek & Clive, or even The Troggs Tapes - but contains very strong language from the start.

See also - How Hits Happen & How Hits Happen Pt 2

Jack Johnson twitter promotion

Nice, simple promotion for the Jack Johnson live album. The link and standard message takes up 116 characters - you get 24 for your own message.

Simply tweet a link from your twitter account to get a free download of a Jack Johnson track.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Digital Equals Measurable

I was at a media event last week when someone from the traditional media side (not my company, I should add) went into a big rant about 'what is digital?'

I really don't see where the confusion comes in. 'Digital' isn't an abstract concept, like 'Girl Power'; it's pretty easy to define and visualise.

Are posters digital? Yes, if they're digital posters
Is mobile digital? Yes, almost all mobile is through digital networks these days
Is press digital? Yes, if it's online... & so on.

The main thing about 'digital' is that the content and data is transferred digitally, and this means that you can often collect it and count it. This is what I love about digital media - admittedly I'm a bit of a geek - we're constantly finding new and unusual ways of measuring actual data, not just surveying people. (& that's why Omniture, a digital measurement company was sold for $1.8bn last week.)

Some relatively random recent examples:

Video: Services like Visible Measures can track and aggregate the number of views of a video across all the major video platforms in the world - they were able to show that Thriller received 28m views across all sites in the week after Michael Jackson died.

Social Media: While the twitter user base is not demographically representative, the site provides lots of data that can be aggregated and analysed. At university we used to do content analysis on newspaper stories; content analysis on twitter can looks at hundreds of thousands of posts and return findings like 20% of tweets are related to brands or products, or 15% of tweets can be classified as 'porn spam'

Mobile: Mobile ad servers can show the direct response rates of mobile ads, and demonstrate that the average click rates on mobile ads are approximately half those of online ads. Of course the click is not the only reaction an ad is intended to create, but it does show that apps and content are likely to be more powerful communications devices with mobile, and luckily you can measure the popularity of different apps.

Finally, you can be very creative about what you measure, and get high-sample size results for the strangest things. The free dating site OkCupid did this last week with this study of the response rates to emails sent on their sites, based on the content of the emails.

"#1 – Be literate. Netspeak, bad grammar, and bad spelling are huge turn-offs. Our negative correlation list is a fool’s lexicon: ur, u, wat, wont, and so on. These all make a terrible first impression. In fact, if you count hit (and we do!) the worst 6 words you can use in a first message are all stupid slang.
Language like this is such a strong deal-breaker that correctly written but otherwise workaday words like don’t and won’t have nicely above average response rates (36% and 37%, respectively).

Interesting exceptions to the “no netspeak” rule are expressions of amusement. haha (45% reply rate) and lol (41%) both turned out to be quite good for the sender. This makes a certain sense: people like a sense of humor, and you need to be casual to convey genuine laughter. hehe was also a successful word, but much less so (33%).

Scientifically, this is because it’s a little evil sounding.
So, in short, it’s okay to laugh, but keep the rest of your message grammatical and punctuated."

& that's the thing about digital - so much is potentially measurable, and you can really start to have fun when you think about what to do with the data that you collect.

HBO Imagine

HBO Imagine is a brilliant new site from HBO, packed with short form video content, presented in a very engaging way.

Each item contains part of a bigger story; as they say on the site, the more you see, the more you know.

Try Ranson Call, Art Heist or Teddy Bear Chase to start off with

Click on the Zoom Out of Chart Your Progress buttons at the top to explore.

It'll drag you in!

(Bigger write-up here)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Axion Banner Concerts

Axion Banner Concerts was a very innovative campaign in Belgium for the youth bank Axion, part of Dexia.

The campaign streamed live gigs in banners, with the audience picking 25 bands who would play.

The banners to promote it look great - examples here and here - the mechanism of people climbing into banner spaces is very impactful.

Full info here, including these results:

"25 young bands got an exposure for their live-gig via 6.807.442 banner impressions on well know internet sites.

By providing an “embed”-option, we generated another 43.479 impressions via viral embeddings on fan pages and blogs. Some of these generated more than 20% clickthrough.

The campaign website attracted 44.845 unique visitors, 7.581 people voted for their favourite band (a majority voted by premium SMS instead of free web-vote"

Good work!

Thanks to Gianpaolo for the tip off!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

3 MiFi mobile wifi router

Last night I was lucky enough to be the guest of 3Mobile at an event to introduce bloggers to their new MiFi mobile wifi router.

It's basically a phone, without the voice capabilities. So - small and phone shaped, but with no screen or voice capability, but as soon as it has connected to 3G, using the same coverage as a standard 3G phone, it becomes a portable wifi router, allowing up to 5 devices (iPod Touches, PSPs, laptops etc) to connect to fast mobile broadband. No software to install, nothing to download - you can be on the internet within about a minute of turning it on.

We put it through its paces last night, and it was fast. YouTube videos loaded quickly, twitter was fine, as was Facebook (the non-light version), and other sites too.

It costs between £70 and £100, depending on payment plans, and I expect that it'll do very well. It would be a perfect device for taking on holiday - I plan to test one in a remote cottage in a few weeks' time - and with IPod Touches now costing less than £150, the combination of the two (or even the MiFi and an Asus EEE) would be a pretty awesome travelling companion.

Thanks to the people at 3MobileBuzz for inviting me.

Ministry of Sound Interactive Mixtape Album

Available earlier this week, this new album by Ministry of Sound allows you to mix different tracks together before you buy the album, and comes in this widget.

The album you buy will be the 'standard'one, but this lets you hear the music and play with the different elements before you buy.

More background here

Nicely done!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Very clever!

Click to enlarge

Very clever piece of organic search placement by the record label Popover Corps.

Popover Corps is a site owned by the singer John Wesley Harding that re-issues deleted records:

"Popover Corps is dedicated to flipping through the used bins, combing the vaults and exhuming the eight-track graveyard to find the very finest in neglected music, then presenting it in pristine condition, repackaged and remastered, with insane amounts of bonus tracks, at brand new prices. Some will pretend they knew about it all along; some will plan tribute records; others will try to google it; but you only have to enjoy it."

The page I linked to at the top is the page for the album at the centre of the excellent new Nick Hornby novel - I'm not naming it because I don't want to spoil the joke by getting in the listings myself - if you find out the name of the fictional singer songwriter in the novel (or just look at the picture above), then the Popover Corps page comes up as the top result in Google.

Nick Hornby is listed as the A&R man, and the page has been live since at least February, I'm assuming that it's just their (very clever) little joke. In fact if you read the Blurt article it's pretty clear that it's something they've enjoyed cooking up. Great marketing too; anyone who likes the novel and searches for the artist, like I did, is also the sort of person who'd be interested in obscure re-issues. (Or are they? On detailed inspection most of the artists on Popover Corps seem to be fakes...)

On a related theme, if you've read the new Nick Hornby book then this post on the Nick Drake forum will probably amuse you...

Friday, September 11, 2009

How Hits Happen - pt 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post looking at how news stories reached the mainstream, by looking at two stories that got re-ignited through a combination of mainstream and social media.

Two more examples, this time from the world of publishing.

1 - The Stephen Fry Effect, from the BookHugger blog:

"This morning saw a veritable explosion in sales for one particular little book, originally released by Canongate in April. It’s now No 3 in the Amazon charts, rising by nearly 250,000% in the Movers & Shakers list. The book is Sum: 40 Tales from the Afterlives, and is a series of forty (very) short stories by a neuroscientist named David Eagleman. This surge in sales is the result of a single Tweet by one of the country’s most famous Twitterers, Stephen Fry, in which he writes: “You will not read a more dazzling book this year than David Eagleman’s Sum. If you read it and aren’t enchanted I will eat 40 hats”. This has been re-tweeted by hundreds of Fry’s followers, and the impact is clearly visible on sales. In fact, such has been the increased interest from retailers that a major reprint of the book has just been confirmed to meet demand."

This shows the impact that a prominent tweeter can have - one who has both a large following, and whose tastes and recommendations are respected. But it wouldn't happen if I tweeted the same message. & that's the thing with twitter - it's not a magic answer, it's a medium with more noise and clutter than any other.

(I remember years ago a figure in a British political scandal being named on an obscure forum, and the press saying 'the name is now available to the 10 million in Britian who have access to the internet'. Yes, potentially, but the internet isn't a TV channel with everyone watching the same thing. In fact TV isn't like that either).

2 - Mainstream media and timing, from another publishing blog, Scott Pack's Me And My Big Mouth:

In this Scott writes about how interest in one of the books he publishes, The Dolce Vita Diaries, had suddenly exploded:

"Then, more or less out of nowhere, things have gone mad. Cathy wrote a very honest and frank article for the Guardian in which she talked about their experiences and why they came back to London. It appeared on Wednesday and prompted a huge response online, mostly of the 'you silly middle-class tossers' variety but people were certainly talking about it. OK, so it was five months after publication but beggars can't be choosers. And then the phones went mental. We started getting requests from all over the place for further interviews. The Daily Mail, national and local radio, loads of people. All of a sudden Cathy's planned quiet weekend at home while Jason was away has become a series of phone interviews. Their story seems to have struck a chord and it looks like we will get more publicity in the coming week than we had ever hoped for first time round."

Again, this shows the importance of media with a large audience, but also of timing, and luck. The story was better a few months on, because the writers (of a 'chucking your job in to live abroad' book) had now returned to the UK. Plus, it was August, when people were coming back from their holidays and were more receptive to the story. (I also wonder with the Stephen Fry example whether people are very receptive to new books at this time of year; it seems to be the week that book shops have filled up with the big Christmas titles).

In these two cases you can see the effect of well presented messages reaching large audiences. These are the crucial elements, I think. Same as they ever were.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Derren Brown's Lottery Trick

Last night Derren Brown did a live TV trick in which he predicted the midweek lottery numbers. See how this trended on twitter both last night and this morning; figures are shown in percentages (anyone know how to get actual volumes?) & the higher spike last night is more a reflection of the fewer active UK tweeters.

It was very well done, and shows that:

a) Live TV events can be amazingly powerful, and TV is still an amazingly powerful medium for programme makers with great ideas

b) Derren Brown is such a skilled operator that his tricks can withstand the most immense YouTube scrutiny.

So far there have been over 1,000 comments on this version, uploaded to YouTube.

A programme revealing how he did it will be shown on Channel 4 on Friday - expect large audiences!

Update - 10th September - OK, it didn't take too long to work out how he did it. I'd still expect huge audiences for tonight's show though; the level of interest in the stunt has been amazing.

(How did he do it? Discounting the idea that he could predict the numbers, I suspect that there was something going on largely out of shot, that will be revealed on the second camera on Friday. If you're interested in stage magic, you must read Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer; it'll make you think in a whole new way.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Symbol Quest game for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol

To promote the new book The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's publishers Knopf Doubleday have come up with this entertaining game.

Drag the symbol relevant to the question into the box. 3 wrong answers and you're out.

Typical question: The 'S' in Mozart's "DS"

It's pretty tricky (even using Google images), and hence very addictive!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

HP You on You

You on You is a global HP competition running on YouTube to promote their new personalised laptops.

The aim of the competition is for people to make videos introducing themselves, but not featuring their faces. As such it's a bit 'film school week 1 project', but the quality of the entries is sensational.

First have a look at the intro video, then have a look at a couple of entries.

Entries are now closed. HP are doing weekly vote-offs, then will announce the winners.

Like the Oxo competition it's a great example of encouraging relatively controlled user generated content.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Cash from Chaos

To mark the 200th post on my stats blog, here's my first post aggregating some of the best of the stats. These are my ten favourite examples of money being made, often in imaginative ways, in the new digital world.

There are lots examples of brands, companies and sectors suffering as a result of the power of the internet; these are examples showing that real money is being made, often using new business models.


Xbox 360 users buy 3.8m music tracks a month

After being featured in a YouTube user-made video, Chris Brown’s song Forever went to No. 4 in the iTunes chart and No. 3 on Amazon’s MP3 chart

Social commerce

The ‘causes’ app in Facebook has raised $10m in 2 years

Dell has generated an estimated $3m from its twitter accounts

Virtual goods

Chinese site QQ generated an estimated $500m from virtual goods sales in 2008

12% of Americans bought virtual goods in the past 12 months


The iPhone app store generates an estimated $2.4 billion dollars per year

A typical iPhone has $80 worth of apps loaded onto it; only 7% have no paid apps

Brand assets

The Tony Hawk brand is worth over $1bn, largely generated through digital means

& finally...

The website LOLcats was sold for $2m in 2008, two years after the website was created

Why charging for online newspaper content won't work

This is the best argument against newspapers charging for content that I've seen so far - the numbers simply don't stack up:

To paraphrase Peter Preston, taking data from Nielsen in the US:

Only 1/3 of American internet users visit a newspaper site in a typical month.
Six of the top 10 US news sites aren't newspaper sites, they're from portals like Yahoo, or TV stations like CNN
The average visitor to individual newspaper sites don't spend long on them - for example 9 minutes 9 seconds for the New York Times, 3 minutes 11 seconds for the Miami Herald, and 5 minutes 45 seconds for the Washington Times.
For those sorts of patterns people aren't going to be willing to pay.

Peter Preston doesn't have access to the UK figures, but I do.

From comScore's UK panel, July 2009:
Daily Mail - 4.1 million visitors, making an average of 2.6 visits per month, and spending 13.6 minutes in total per month
The Guardian - 4.0m visitors, making an average of 2 visits a month, and spending an average of 5.8 minutes
The Sun - 3.9m visitors, 3.1 visits, 19.3 minutes
The Telegraph - 3.6m visitors, 1.9 visits, 5.4 minutes
The Times - 2.4m visitors, 2.2 visits, 6.4 minutes
The Mirror - 2.1m visitors, 1.9 visits, 3.7 minutes
The Independent - 1.5m visitors, 1.6 visits, 3.4 minutes
News of the World - 1m visitors, 1.6 visits, 9.2 minutes

From this you can see that people spend much less time with online versions of newspapers than with the printed versions. People read online newspapers in different ways, going to a specific story and reading that rather than reading lots of content in a local way. (You can in fact make more of a case for loyalty and time spent with the News International titles - The Sun, The Times, News of the World - than the others, but in all cases time spent is low compared to print versions.)

I'm predicting that the newspapers will never fully take up the charging model, instead they will encourage people to join loyalty schemes where people pay for benefits (cheaper phone calls, preferential access to events, cheaper car insurance, daily deals, wine clubs etc) rather than specifically pay for online newspapers. They'll also have to allow casual surfers, so that the benefit that newspapers see from the link economy will remain.

See also - this recent partnership between Sky and the 02:

"U.K. digital satellite broadcaster Sky has signed a five-year deal with AEG to become a brand partner for the O2 entertainment complex in London, which will include a customer reward program for VIP access to events at the venue and TV rights."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dunny Hunt QR code game in New York

Kidrobot, the designer toys store, is attempting to get QR codes to work in the US through it's new 'Dunny Hunt' scavenger hunt game, to promote a new series of Dunny toys.

QR codes are 2D barcodes, readable by camera phones, and are hugely popular in Japan, where over 60% of mobile phone owners claim to have used them.

They have never really taken off in the West - for example The Pet Shop Boys used one in October 2007, and The Sun in December 2007, but they seem to have failed to capture the public's imagination. One company told us that they were going to start appearing on estate agents boards in the UK, but so far nothing. The biggest problem is that most phones don't have a QR reader, and more advanced phones like the iPhone and those using Android can now identify pictures rather than just bar codes, which has far more potential.

Kidrobot could be the sort of brand to make it work though, and their scavenger hunt instructions contain links to an iPhone reader (BeeTagg) and readers for other devices.

The map shows locations of current codes; their twitter feed gives updates.

View Dunny Hunt '09 NYC in a larger map

Two days into the competition they've got nearly 400 players, according to their leaderboard - let's see how this one develops.

Original story via WirelessWatchJapan

Virtual paintballing for Vodafone HTC Magic in the Netherlands

Very neat use of the image recognition capability of the Android HTC Magic.

Full disclosure - this was created by Marvellous, part of the Isobar network.

More info here

Controlled user generated content for The Oxo Factor

Many brands are very cautious of user generated content, however much they realise that they should encourage it. They want people to talk about them, but they want to control what they say. There are lots of good examples of positive homages to brands, but also lots really knocking them.

One way to deal with this is to have a competition following a strict script.

A good current example of this comes from Oxo in the UK, with their Oxo Factor promotion, timed to tie in with the TV show The X Factor.

Oxo want people to make an 'Oxo Family' style film with their own family members, but to control what what gets produced they've posted a short script that the action has to follow, but which is loose enough to allow lots of creative flair and variation.

Here's the script:

Our advert begins in the kitchen of a normal British family's home. Mum is chopping some dinner ingredients on the side while the kids…(Be creative here. What could the kids be doing to make your advert fun?)

LITTLE GIRL:What's for dinner?

MUM:Spag Bol / Beef Fajitas / Chilli con Carne / Shepherd's Pie.(Choose which of the four dishes you want to feature in your Advert.)

With that, Dad comes in from outside.

DAD:Cor, it's raining cats and dogs out there.
(There might be a way to show that it's raining cats and dogs that would make your ad funnier.)He gives Mum a kiss, before getting an Oxo cube out of a box on the side. He sprinkles it into the pan of food.

LITTLE BOY:What are you doing Dad?

DAD:I'm giving dinner "the Oxo Factor". A little sprinkling with this will give your Mum's Spag Bol / Beef Fajitas / Chilli con Carne / Shepherd's Pie loads of flavour.

Time passes and we see Mum put the plates of food on the table. Everyone's excited apart from the lad, who's sprinkling an Oxo cube on his sister's head while she's not looking. Mum spies his behaviour.

MUM:James, what are you doing?!

LITTLE BOY:Keeley's well boring. I'm just trying to give her The Oxo Factor…
They all laugh riotously at the pesky kid.We see a close up of one member of the family holding a box of Oxo cubes. Somewhere on the screen we see (this could be written on a piece of paper, on a T-Shirt, on your forehead, anywhere that gets attention.)

Here are three examples of what people have done with it:

Looks like it's inspiring people!
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