Living in a digital world

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Great interactive ad and Facebook app promotes Dylan album

This is one of the best interactive online ad campaigns I’ve seen since ‘ave a word’ for Mini, in terms of its connection with the target market and viral potential.

Launched to promote the Bob Dylan compilation album coming-out next month, it utilises one of the most iconic images of Dylan there is – by enabling you to personalise the cue cards the man himself drops in the Subterranean Homesick Blues sequence from Don’t Look Back, the documentary of his 1965 UK tour.

For Dylan fans of all ages this movie sequence brings back fond memories of the man and his music, no doubt proving a highly effective prompt to re-live them through this compilation release.

Not only is there a microsite where you can enter the ten words or phrases you want on the cards, but the same functionality has also been built into a Facebook app in the best example of Facebook advertising I’ve yet seen.

September 23, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

stephen fry on digital interfaces

Please forgive my iPhone obsessiveness and yet another iPhone related post.

I have just read a fantastic blog from Stephen Fry about smartphones and the iPhone, this section caught my eye, and for me, sums up what we should be striving for when we are creating digital work at this agency (my bolding):

“Design matters
By design here, I mean GUI and OS as much as outer case design. Let’s go back to houses. The sixties taught us, surely, that architectural design, commercial and domestic, is not an extra. The office you work in every day, the house you live in every day, they are more than the sum of their functions. We know that sick building syndrome is real, and we know what an insult to the human spirit were some of the monstrosities constructed in past decades. An office with strip lighting, drab carpets, vile partitions and dull furniture and fittings is unacceptable these days, as much perhaps because of the poor productivity it engenders as the assault on dignity it represents. Well, computers and SmartPhones are no less environments: to say “well my WinMob device does all that your iPhone can do” is like saying my Barratt home has got the same number of bedrooms as your Georgian watermill, it’s got a kitchen too, and a bathroom.” … I accept that price is an issue here; if budget is a consideration then you’ll have to forgive me, I’m writing from the privileged position of being able to indulge my taste for these objects. But who can deny that design really matters? Or that good design need not be more expensive? We spend our lives inside the virtual environment of digital platforms – why should a faceless, graceless, styleless nerd or a greedy hog of a corporate twat deny us simplicity, beauty, grace, fun, sexiness, delight, imagination and creative energy in our digital lives? And why should Apple be the only company that sees that? Why don’t the other bastards GET IT??

September 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iPhone – 3G, GPRS, EDGE, blah blah blah

There’s been a lot of moaning across the blogosphere for the past few days about the lack of 3G on the European iPhone.

The lack of 3G on the iPhone doesn’t matter and here’s why:

1. Honestly, how often do you use the mobile internet on your current 3G phone? thought so…hardly ever. It’s just too painful to use the web on most current phones. The interface is awkward, the screen is too small and it takes ages to type in urls and searchs.

2. EDGE (the standard on the iPhone) is about 2/3rds the speed of most 3G phones. Hardly a massive speed disadvantage.

3. Crucially, i’ve found that the browsing experience on my iPhone feels quicker than my old 3G phone. I put this down to the ease of use and the fact that most current Nokias’ have a woefully underpowerd CPU – the time it takes the Nokia to render web pages removes the slender advantage that 3G has.

4. The iPhone won’t download flash, so you don’t have to worry about it downloading huge animations that suck up your bandwidth.

5. WIFI is everywhere, the iPhone will connect to high speed wifi when it can, this means fast access at every coffee shop, airport, train station (and trains), thousands of pubs and from your next door neighbour who hasn’t secured his connection.

So, quit moaning about the lack of 3G and enjoy…

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Building websites with the iPhone in mind

iphone

For the last couple of days we’ve been lucky enough to play with an iPhone. It’s awesome, far and away the simplest and easiest to use phone I’ve ever had – it more than lives up to the hype.

In my opinion the most compelling feature is the integrated, (almost) fully fledged browser, it’s the first mobile device I’ve ever used that can make browsing the web practical and useful rather than frustrating and awkward (Samsung – I mean you).

We don’t know for sure but it seems likely that the iPhone and iPod Touch (which has the same browser and wifi but no phone) will become a fairly important web browsing platform.

With that in mind here are a few tips for optimising your site for the iPhone:

1. Check your webstats to see how many people are accessing your site using the iPhone or iPod Touch. If your stats are set up correctly it will be able to tell how many visitors are using these devices to view your site.

2. At the moment the browser doesn’t support Flash. We expect this to change but if you have functionality, content or advertising that exclusively relies on Flash your visitors won’t be able to use it.

3. The screen resolution is low – 320×248 compared with a standard PC desktop of 1024×768.This means that small elements such as buttons and dropdowns (especially if they are grouped close together) can be hard to use unless you zoom in. Images aren’t so much of a problem as they are automatically scaled to fit the screen size.

4. Both Facebook and Digg have created iPhone versions of their sites. If your site layout is handled in CSS this shouldn’t be too difficult to do and is worth considering if your stats show enough visitors are visiting using iPhone. The Facebook version is currently the best implemented site on iPhone, it looks and feels like a native phone application.

5. On regular sites, iPhone lets the user easily zoom into content that is organised in columns. Google News is laid out in this way and works well.

6. If a user connects through the phone network it uses a relatively slow connection (roughly twice as fast as dial up) so make sure your page sizes (and emails, but we’ll talk about this in another post) aren’t too heavy.

7. If you have telephone numbers, email address or directions you can use tags in your code to allow a user to access the phone, email and maps functionality on their phone. For instance using the “tel:” tag on a phone number will let users tap on the phone number to call you directly.

I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to access the web on the phone even at home when i have a computer to hand. If i need a piece of info quickly, but don’t want to wait for the PC to boot up, open a browser etc I’ll use the iPhone. If you have a site that people access to get small bites of info quickly (weather, transport etc) the iPhone may become an important platform.

For more in depth and technical recommendations have a read of the developer guidelines.

September 14, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

User generated content – the engagement spectrum

 

 “User-generated content” as a buzzword has the feel of a concept that the world collectively discovered at some point in 2004. But as with all such things, the reality was a much more gradual process, and UGC itself covers a spectrum of engagement possibilities. We can get a better feel for the evolution of the trend by considering the path it took to reach the riotous proliferation we see today.

A good starting point for the engagement spectrum is the most recent report on Social Technographics by Forrester Research. They categorise user participation levels into five relatively self-explanatory segments, arranged roughly by decreasing engagement: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners and finally Spectators. In practice, of course, there can be profound differences within each of these categories; there’s a big jump between uploading cameraphone videos of drunken antics, for example, and spending countless personal hours attempting to produce a polished short film.

A rule of thumb for social networks states that 90% of users will be merely observers, 9% contributors, and just 1% truly active participators. This suggests an intuitive picture of the situation for UGC in general: the classic long-tail curve. A small percentage of the population is passionately engaged with the business of generating content; a slightly larger group participates somewhat less often or less deeply; and the long tail itself consists of the thousands upon millions of users simply rating videos on YouTube or noting whether reviews on Amazon are useful or not.

Three simple conceptual data-points illustrate how the trend has evolved.

Using those under the age of 25 as a crude proxy for ‘the future’, and those over 25 as some representation of ‘the present’, the results of Forrester’s Social Technographics research suggest that the long tail is becoming fatter over time, while retaining its basic shape. More and more users are participating more and more often, and at ever higher levels of engagement.

The third data point lies in the distant past. As has been noted,

“User generated content has been around for 25 years, it’s the publishing and distribution that’s changing.”

In the earliest days of open-source, before it even had a name, small groups of hackers passionate about computing would work unpaid (the key difference between UGC and regular work – at least for now) to create applications that met their needs, sharing their work – and the means to improve it further – with anyone that wanted it.

Thus the earliest form of the (digital) UGC curve took the form of a narrow cliff, representing profoundly deep engagement by a small number of users, and an entirely flat tail. As the barriers to making significant contributions are reduced, and more opportunities to make small contributions are provided, the cliff has eroded to create today’s shallow curve.

Looking at it this way, it’s clear that UGC is not so much about running user-created ad competitions; it’s much more to do with making it easier for consumers to move up the participation ladder.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facebook changes approach to app measurement

topfriends.jpg

At the end of last month Facebook announced a major change in the way it measures and ranks applications – shifting from a simplistic approach based solely on the total number of installations to one it claims is based on ‘user engagement’.

In its announcement on the Facebook developers blog, ‘engagement’ is defined as “the number of users who touch your application every day (measured from midnight to midnight each day)” – with ‘touch’ being based on the summation of four key touch points: Canvas Page Views; Link Clicks in FBML; Mock-Ajax Form Submission; and Click-to-Play Flash.

This measurement is now displayed alongside each app in the application directory as the number of ‘Daily Active Users’ together with a percentage showing what proportion of that app’s total number of installations that represents – and app rankings are now based on either Most Active Users or Most Active App.

Right now, the app with the Most Active Users is Top Friends – with 2,773,134 active within the last day, representing 18% of the apps total number of installations (as shown in the screengrab above).

This is undoubtedly a real step forward for anyone interested in the marketing potential of Facebook apps – in particular because it enables the clear differentiation of fad apps from those with lasting user appeal. For example, you can compare Top Friends’ current 18% active rating with that of the recently popular app Food Fight which scores just 2% active over the last day. Pretty clear which is a fad app there.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mini Clubman – cool video animations

 Mini Clubman

 Very nicely produced video and animation on the new Mini Clubman site. Keep clicking take the other road.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Cloverfield”

'cloverfield'

1-18-08.com “cloverfield”

People who have seen the transformers film may have already seen this trailer for an up coming film by JJ Abrams, one of the guys behind the hugely successful series, Lost.

Trailer

The web address neatly links to the release date of the film and the content of the website is very minimal only showing photos taken from the party featured in the trailer. New photos are being added to the site frequently and you can interact and move the photos around to see previous ones. After a little playing around I found that it was possible to flip over the photographs revealing messages. I imagine these will build up closer to the date revealing more about the film. Many people have already started blogging about their theories and findings. Let’s hope the hype and build up lasts another 6 months.

Lost featured similar linked websites for the cast, Charlie’s band Driveshaft and the airline which crashed on the island, Oceanic Air, which featured secret areas many users blogged about cracking.

Other useful info if you’re interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloverfield

September 1, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

   

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