I like mosaic images, generally - the fact that if you look too hard you can't see the wood for the trees and only if you step back do you get the picture. I spotted this one on picocool (originally for Time magazine). Picocool is well worth a look - random bytes of culture, design and trivia that caught someone's eye, somewhere.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Cadbury's "Eyebrows" video once again demonstrates the rising power of online video. Since it was first uploaded in January on YouTube and other video sites, the company estimatest that it has been viewed over 4 million times - that kills the uptake of its famous drumming gorilla campaign.
Rapidly going viral, "Eyebrows" has alread been parodied and mashed up and is firmly becoming entrenched in throw away pop culture.
Further to my last post, where I mentioned the difficulties Facebook has faced in monetising its offer, yesterday Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg backed down on proposals to revise the Terms of Service, following strident protests by members.
The revised terms would have allowed the site to keep a record of users' details and updates even if they left the network, which raised privacy concerns.
Facebook continues to face the conundrum of how to offer advertisers the benefits of access to over 175 million consumers worldwide without raising the hackles of its members. Its recent foray into user polls may still be a sticking point. AT&T and CareerBuilder.com have experimented with polls on people's home pages and the service is something Zuckerberg is keen to expand.
Marketers can also use Facebook Lexicon to track the topics users are talking about (e.g. via public posts on the Wall).
I think Facebook is potentially a fantastic source of market research information. But Facebook users are characteristically militant and prone to protests when they feel advertisers, or the Facebook founder, infringe on their liberties. It is their site, after all.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I attended a conference in Sydney yesterday called The Digital Tipping Point: The Future of Branding and Social Media.
That we have reached a digital tipping point is abundantly clear. IBM has already proclaimed that there will be more change in the next 5 years than there has been in the past 50 years, thanks to digital technologies. User time spent on social media increased by 43% in 2008 compared to 2007 (Pew Internet and American Life Project). Facebook has over 220 million members worldwide. Niche interest based networks are rapidly proliferating.
The future of branding and social media, on the other hand, is less clear-cut - or at least, success is not evenly distributed. MySpace, for example, has had much more success in monetising its offer than Facebook. To some extent this is a reflection of the different uses of these sites, Facebook being about connecting with friends and MySpace about discovery and fame.
But, as a rule of thumb, social media are more successful at carrying brand messages if they were designed to do so from the offset. Otherwise, established communities tend to react against the introduction of commercial messages because it feels to users as if the space they have taken ownership of is being invaded by an uninvited third party.
A growing number of emerging sites are both consumer centric and fiercely commercial, leveraging the insight that consumers are happy to use and manipulate brands to their own ends, be it self-expression or getting support for their passions.
Venture capitalist Brian Garrett, MD of Crossout Ventures, pointed out some new players: Social Vibe, Loopd and Flipgloss. While they may not be delivering great numbers yet, in terms of consumer eyeballs, these new models show commercial promise.
With companies placing greater emphasis on meaningful CSR, e.g. Kraft's "Give 6 Meals to People in Need" campaign, Social Vibe helps people get brand sponsorship in suppport of their causes. Brands, such as Colgate, provide artwork which people post to their blogs or social media profiles in support of their cause. The more views the profile gets, the more money Colgate and Social Vibe donate.
Extreme sports social network Loopd lets brands "sponsor" members - through providing branded stickers and discounts. The budding skateboarder feels like a sponsored pro, while brands get free viral marketing and an e-commerce channel.
Flipgloss is an intriguing proposition. Noticing that most glossy magazines don't migrate online very well, the developers set out to create print advertorials specifically for the online space. Instead of using small images and crowding the web page with text, Flipgloss has big muthas of images - looking just as delicious as the cover of Vogue. It then uses overlays (hover your mouse over sections of the image and contextual information appears). By clicking on these overlays, people can access information on where to buy products, or even buy directly. Flipgloss is not just a site, it's a widget which people can post to their own profiles.
It's now much easier to get your brands on to social networks, thanks to Adknowledge, which describes itself as a social applications ad network. Marketers can thereby take advantage of the thousands of applications that have already been developed, such as video applications. HBO, Neutrogena, 3 and Coldplay have already done so.
Adknowledge's President is Brett Brewer, the Co-Founder of MySpace, who knows a thing or two about social media marketing.
Oh, and he predicted that by 2015, the last major metropolitan newspaper will fall.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I like this campaign. It's not an easy brief: Get twentysomethings engaged in work safety. But, with The Pain Factory, Worksafe Victoria and ninemsn have done a great job of making safety at work an engrossing topic.
A series of 9 videos, sourced from Funniest Home Videos, shows people getting smacked up through performing various risky or stupid activities. A smart feature is that 3 of the "sickest" videos are locked until users accrue enough points, by engaging with the site.
The use of a virtual host is effective. He has the right kind of attitude to appeal to the target audience. At one point he says something like: I don't know about you, but I'm not about to get myself messed up just for my job. Fair point.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The data we’re constantly creating is growing exponentially. But unless we can make sense of this data, as consumers and businesses, what use is it? Data visualisation enables us to tell stories with information.
Wordle and IBM’s Many Eyes help users analyse online text through representing the frequency of words in terms of letter size. Social news site Digg graphically represents conversations about various topics through DiggSwarm to monitor the buzz.
Microsoft's phenomenal Photosynth (now out of Beta) collates people’s digital photos to build a 3D model of locations around the world for anyone to explore. CNN created a Photosynth of the of the Inauguration of Barack Obama. They invited anyone to contribute simply by taking a digital photo and sending it to email@example.com. Photosynth software compiled the shots, creating a spectacular, hyper real reproduction of the scene.
Organisations collect vast amounts of research data, much of which is under-utilised. Visualisation tools can help them make better use of company data. Marketers can use word clouds to instantly get a snapshot of what consumers are saying about their brands. They can easily share data visualisations with other offices to collaborate more effectively.
Tracer, an Aegis proprietary tool, enables us to quickly spot trends and correlations in media and sales data over time. These can then be modeled.
I love playing around with visualisation tools, particularly as they have a social networking element. On Many Eyes, for example, users share and comment on others' visualisations, which generates new ideas.
The internet has, for some time, encouraged user creativity. Now, forced to respond to change, people are becoming even more adaptable. Boundaries are blurring between genres, with creative and technological skills increasingly in demand. As a result of mergers and redundancies, staff are retraining in parallel fields. Reduced workforces are performing cross-functional roles. This is likely to raise ingenuity in the future, with hybrid staff drawing on different, related skills to arrive at new solutions – rather like a human mashup.
Organisations need to consider to what extent they're welcoming hybrids to gear up for the future. Rather than just recruiting people who’ve always done the same role, consider “mashing up” your staff and harnessing new combinations of skills, such as TV production and strategy in marketing roles. As the adage goes: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.
The hybridisation trend extends to brands, which are flouting category conventions and pushing into new market spaces. PlayStation’s LittleBigPlanet is a hybrid online game and social network. Levis, P&G, Coca Cola and Starbucks all have their own music labels. Musicians Groove Armada just signed up with drinks firm Bacardi, rather than opting for a normal record label.