— blending the mix

January, 2008 Monthly archive

Thanks to robin for this one:

Fortunately, my card hasn’t been stolen…;-)

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These are my links for January 23rd through January 24th:

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Courtesy of Neville via Twitter (and here), I am intrigued to see an analysis of the blogging platforms used by the Top 100 Technorati blogs. There is clearly only one winner – WordPress. Of the Top 100 blogs:

* WordPress is used by 34%

* Movable Type is used by 16%

Phew…looks like I backed the right horse :-)

The image below gives you some idea of the diversity of platforms available to bloggers although what this doesn’t say is how many people are self-hosting their WordPress blogs and how many are using wordpress.com blogs.

Free blogs are one thing, self-hosting is quite another. One is as free as the air we breathe, the other is a touch more complicated to adopt.

Blogger is free so why doesn’t IT have the same penetration as WP in the list? My guess is that given the Top 100 platforms being high-volume, professional publications, they are likely to be self-hosted.

What would be more interesting is the split of WP, Blogger and MT over say the next 1000 – 2000 range. I think this would give a much more realistic view of the actual platform penetration amongst "normal" bloggers.

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So EA are to launch their first free online game with integrated ads.

But is this a sustainable business model? With games that make it big now costing several tens of millions (normally dollars), can a game contain so many ads and the advertiser achieve so much appropriate gamer engagement as to create value for each other?

TV learned very quickly that there is only so much you can cram into a small 1m 30sec ad break. As a result, there is only a finite level of revenue you can generate from any one show. Whilst technology (TiVo et al.) was a big driver for show sponsorship, this again shows that conventional ad revenue alone is not enough.

So how can games provide sufficient APPROPRIATE ad opportunities so as to ensure it does not a) interfere with the game itself and b) provide value to the advertiser?

I can totally see how product placement could work. Cans of drink and foodstuffs would be visible within domestic environments. Billboard ads would be nothing more than digitised versions of their printed big brothers when outside, but how many billboards exist in space? How can a fee-paying model be carried across so many different scenarios?

Is the target market for WW2 shoot-’em up Brothers in Arms likely to appreciate an in-game ad for deodorant? Don’t think so.

What about Halo? What earthly brands would fit into that environment…come with me on a journey…

Over the speaker: "Master Chief…this is a warning message brought to you in association with Ford Motors – Driving you to Halo and back. You are surrounded by aliens, why not use your Rentokill rocket launcher which kills so much more than weeds".


Marine: Master Chief, Sgt. Honda Civic has been hit in the shoulder. We have tried using standard military issue bandages to heal the wound but nothing beats the soothing effects of Elastoplast with its new thermal strip to keep injuries warm.

Master Chief: Soldiers, be brave, be men…be. Try the new fragrance by Tom Ford – Be Man.

Marine 2: But Master Chief, working in such difficult conditions does not call for an avantgarde, masculine, yet sensitive fragrance. You need Axe for men. Apparently it keeps you cool under all sorts of pressure.

OK, so this is just a bit of fun, but if nothing else, it makes one wonder how it is going to be possible to transfer over this ad-based model to all games.

This has got to be a niche market unless someone can shed some light on it for me?

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…make the biggest difference.

So, my 3 year old Dell latitude D510 is on its knees. It is old, battered and slow, so bring on the Macbook Pro…(fingers crossed)

Well anyway, I had cause to replace the keyboard yesterday and it suddenly occurred to me that this insignificant object has significantly enhanced my user-experience and level of satisfaction of this knackered old machine.

OK, so keyboards aren’t remarkable, but in just changing this one small element of the machine I am enjoying using the whole machine much more.

So what can I take from this? That the smallest things make big differences – very much along the lines of Hugh’s Global Microbrand and Seth’s Purple Cow thinking.

Small companies can make a big difference when they make things personal, making what they do much more engaging than any of the big boys. So how can you apply this little principle to your business?

My opinion? Engagement.

Consider what and where customers engage with you most. What are their frustrations? What do they enjoy? Do you have a system for letting customers tell you what they think?

Do you have live chat on your website for example? Why not include two live chat buttons, one male, one female? Or why not include a whole page of customer service chat icons to allow different ethnicities and ages to connect to you in a much more compelling way?

You have a call centre so why not use this to try and engage on a much more personal level with the many different types of customers you have? Even if you do not have a whole range of ethnic groups in your workplace, it is live chat so what you haven’t got can be hidden.

Alternatively, why not create regional customer service lines or email addresses? Locals feel that their delivery/service issues are being handled by someone who is at least in the same region as them, is close to them and can understand their frustrations (say, how the recent flooding has affected the customer service agent as well as the customer calling to wonder why their delivery is late due to flooding). You’d better make sure though that you can live up to this level of engagement :-)

Ok, so this is just one small aspect and you may not even have live chat, but think about customer engagement, think how you can meet your customers on their terms and you are already doing one thing better than people 100 times your size.

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These are my links for January 12th through January 21st:

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Perspective 1 – The Writers

Visit youtube these days and you are highly likely to come across a rogue’s gallery of really popular videos.

They are people you wouldn’t look twice at in the street – your Average Joe’s – but these Average Joe’s just happen to have written some of the funniest things on TV and Cinema and are taking these talents online on their own.

Heard of Jason Ross or Matt Selman or even Bob Kushell?

They work on The Daily Show, The Simpsons and The Simpsons/Malcolm in the Middle respectively. These are funny people. (don’t take my word for it, watch the vids!)

Their ability to make really funny content with none of the fluff of fake-tan-laden chat-shows demonstrates that with the web, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or how old you are – if you’re funny, you’re funny.

I absolutely admire the writer’s stance (more on that to follow), because it is allowing the people with the REAL talent to show who is the monkey and who is the organ grinder and it’s not the slimy, white-toothed host or big-busted talent-less actress either.

Does anybody know who the Evolution of Dance guy is? No? Me neither, but his original no-frills stage show has netted him 72,109,974 views.

The long and short of this first part of the post is this: the web now provides the tools to make anyone a star. The writer’s stance demonstrates this. it can also make a company look ridiculous if it doesn’t have an awareness of the power of this medium.

Perspective 2 – The Film Industry

I can see one, disastrous thing happening as a result of this strike and the winner won’t be the writers, it will be the studios. Bottom of the pile will be us – the consumer.

Here’s how I see it panning-out: The Movie and TV studios decide to settle. The writer’s get paid what they want, the studios pay what they want to pay. The only thing is that in order to settle the dispute quickly, NOBODY has realised how they are going to pay for it.

The studios aren’t going to absorb the costs, the writers aren’t going to give anything away. Advertiser’s aren’t going to pay more for the same ad space, so where is it going to land? In our laps.

And I reckon the could well use HD/Blu-Ray to do it. An emerging technology with a relatively unknown price-point is an ideal place to hide the increase.

OK, so this kind of argument is along the lines of the Team America F.A.G. (big corporations and all that!) so someone tell me WHERE is the money coming from?

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I got wind of this yesterday evening whilst in a sub-notebook Mac and UMPC frenzy and was utterly surprised at just how innovative it was:

When Bill said this week that touch was the future for Microsoft (but didn’t Ballmer say online advertising was the future?!) he probably underestimated just how far things have come since Samsung first launched the Q1.

To quote the origami blog:

Origami Picture Password allows you to login by tapping on a sequence of points on a picture; this not only makes it easier to login on a UMPC but also personalizes the login experience. You can choose your own picture and select points that mean something to you. It’s fun and secure.

Cute AND secure – very Apple!

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These are my links for January 9th through January 10th:

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I think I am going to create a new category called "missing a trick", I seem to be posting a lot of stuff there are the moment, but I am not sure if I will be quite so up my arse in 2008 as I was in 2007 😉

The problem

I have noticed on Facebook that despite creating social ads (depending on which side of the fence you sit), they do not seem to have adjusted their left-hand banner sizes to suit. See the picture below:

As a marketer, I look at the left-hand banner and think "professional, looks fairly good, fits the allocated space and has a fairly visible call-to-action".

I look on the right-hand side (of the above image) and ok, the "Sony Vaio for £23.45" is a dodgy-looking offer but it looks like a cheap, classified ad. There is a significant amount of white space that makes me think the advertiser is not capable of creating a professional-looking ad on the left – so why should I buy from them?

Social ads only allow for a 110px x 80px ad so does that mean that as Facebook users we end up paying more than the big brands for less ad space?

OK, you may rightly argue that the ad is centred vertically to the banner, but how shoddy does THAT look?

The solution

I see it being two-fold:

a) Provide a two-tier social ad system.

The current social ads remain as-is. Small, functional and low-budget.

The second-tier allows social ad users the opportunity to play with the "big-boys" and create a full-sized banner.

b) Allow social ads to integrate with other social ads.

Say I am promoting a sun-tan salon. Using the social ad system, why could I not share costs with another ASSOCIATED social advertiser who say, sells swimwear, moisturiser, holidays or whatever else is associated with sun-tan salons!

The keyword ad system already allows this kind of search so why not apply it to finding business partners too?

To avoid the inevitable "I paid, they got the click" argument, the partner who did not get the click receives a small % of commission from the partner who did.

Let’s say the partners split the cost of the 10p per click 50/50. The clicked-on partner pays the non-clicked partner .05p per click received (based on a recommended amount relative to the value paid of the click).

Because the clicked-on ad has a higher chance of earning sales revenue from their own website, the fee paid to the non-clicked partner is minimal compared to what they could receive in terms of sales or email sign-up etc.

OK, so it may be a mad-cap scheme full of holes and the current ad system is already pants, so why ad complexity that is simply not up to the job anyway, but more than anything – this allows the community to connect with itself to make money for itself using Facebook.

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