Monday, October 29, 2012

Social media– some recent linkage

Sharing some links and some thinking about social media from the last week or two.

The biggest sites in social publishing – seems like the Huffington Post is ahead of the game by miles

Pinterest is hot. I’ve just started playing around with it. I can see why it’s appealing to women. The shareability, the visuals, the ease of use – all make it a lovely site to play with. I’m currently using it as a digital scrapbook – Delicious on steroids if you like. And as a crafter, I’m really loving the access to a wide range of ideas and projects that I can both admire from afar, but also actually be able to do myself. So it becomes a source book of inspiration in much the same way as I used to subscribe to Essentials and Prima in the early days for their patterns so I’d always have something to inspire me when it came to sewing. Anyway, where you should be sitting up and taking notice, is that Pinterest had 18.7m users back in March of which 80% were women. And a picture really does paint a thousand words. Read more here

In other news, there’s been hot debate about the new promoted posts over at Facebook. There has been an outcry. I’m not sure why. The model has been working for mobile social networks such as Peperonity and Flirtomatic from day one. So I don’t get that side of the uproar. The side of the uproar I do get is the fact that Facebook may well be holding page admins hostage to their own fans. You’d think by liking a page that you’d get to see the stuff that was posted on their in your feed. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. I haven’t been monitoring it *that* closely for my Facebook pages for my blog, Swedish Beers and Heroes of the Mobile Fringe and Mobile Monday Shoreditch. And it’s hard to know how many of your likers are online at any one time to see something you post anyway. But the numbers are down and by paying, you guarantee that your post will be seen by x. For me, it’s not a lot of money to promote the odd item and is probably worth it for events and special one-offs. But it’s essentially a tax on being popular. The more popular you are, the more it’s going to cost. Seems a bit unfair but have a read of this article on Dangerous Minds and see what you think.

One of the things I’d like them to change back is the ability to message people who have said they’re coming to your event – especially when there are changes or when you’re running a new event. But I guess that’s one to tackle for another day!

The Guardian Tech Weekly Podcast–I’m in it!

In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited in to The Guardian’s offices to join Alex Krotoski, Jemima Kiss, Martha Lane Fox (yes, *the* Martha Lane Fox) and Suw Charman-Anderson to discuss why the tech industries need more women and what we can do about it. This was part of Ada Lovelace Day on 16 October.

We clearly didn’t have long enough to chat and we didn’t have all the answers for sure. But hopefully there are some gems in there that makes it worthwhile listening to. This is a recurring theme. We know that where there is a gender balance on high performing teams – they do better than single-sex high performing teams. Boards who have female directors have more profit. This isn’t rocket science. So have a listen and let’s do something about it.

Click here for the links to download or listen

New York Times–a look at their business model

Many of you know that I work with media owners as a consultant to help them navigate their way around the new mobile and social environment. As such, I like to keep up to date with key insights and information which is why I enjoy reading the Monday Note. Today’s Monday Note article about the New York Times was particularly pertinent and reiterated to me a few key points.

  • Advertising revenues are dropping. It’s a case of ever-diminishing returns – whether that’s print or digital. For the NY Times, ad revenues are down –9% across the board, print is down –11% and digital ad revenue is down by –2.2% (for the second quarter in a row).
  • Costs are not decreasing. Increased people costs coupled with increased cost of printing
  • Circulation is up - hurrah – by 7% on last year. This is mainly due to the rise in digital subscribers – double hurrah! This sounds like good news, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately not. Circulation figures do not offset the the loss in advertising revenues. Jim Follo, CFO, says on their business model ‘When advertising revenue goes down, 90% of the decrease translates into a margin loss, but circulation revenue gains generate additional costs’. Oh dear.

I don’t know if at some point those figures change and the circulation model does eventually offset the advertising losses. The article suggests that the paywall strategy is a work in progress and that growth abroad, particularly in China, may yield results.

I wonder if we’re not being brave enough in our thinking. I wonder if it’s time to reinvent advertising altogether. Mobile advertising is huge and growing. Yes, we know that, but since there is limited screen real estate. That means there’s a limit to how many ads can be served and the old metrics just don’t wash and actually, the formats and metrics feel a bit tired. And I have seen nothing around measuring the serendipity of advertising – i.e. the ad that wasn’t targeted for you but was relevant in that moment as you needed to buy someone a gift or had a very specific, unexpected need that wouldn’t fit your big data profile.

Equally, I’m hearing anecdotally, that young people are tuning ads out and actively ignoring them. This begs the question of how are they going to find out about new brands (for the young in the UK are hugely brand savvy), new trends, new music, new whatever if they’re limited to their social streams? And what does that mean for marketing in general? Does advertising still work anyway? And in a perfect world, what would advertising and marketing look like in say, 2030? We are lucky to be living in an age that can invent its own future. So why isn’t advertising being reinvented?

Will it be down to context, location and big data? AR, QR, rich media formats, is that enough? Can you even remember an advert you saw in the last day, week, month? Will discovery of new stuff be reliant on a few key trendsetters in our circles being given ‘perks’ and freebies via the likes of PeerIndex, Klout and its ilk and then they talk about those things in their social stream (admittedly early days for these services but you can see where they’re going)? Are innovations like kiip, qriously and LoopMe enough? If we are questioning the future of newspapers and media in general, shouldn’t we also be questioning the future of advertising too?

References and resources:

The Monday Note: The New York Times Shifting Model

LoopMe Launch

Mobile Marketing Magazine Issue 11. Off Deck (last page): Helen Keegan calls for mobile advertising to reinvent itself

Newspaper Extinction Timeline (PDF). This shows the death of newspapers in their current format by country. It’s a sobering infographic

Newspaper Death Watch blog

Thursday, October 25, 2012

To pink or not to pink it, that is the question

What a furore I have seen this week in the tech press about Fujitsu’s latest ultrabook launched in Japan. It has been designed by female engineers at Fujitsu in Japan and is aimed at the female market in Japan. It is an elegantly designed piece of kit with smooth lines and some feminine details that, no doubt, will appeal to some. And actually, the pink one is a very pale pink and some people like pink things so why not?

So what’s the fuss about? Well, the Western media, particularly female journalists, have taken offence to the advertising video and the press release which they feel is patronising. It probably is. The apps the laptop comes with have been derided as one of them is an astrology app. For that target market, that app may be entirely appropriate – I don’t know the market well enough to judge. I know I would find the scrapbook app useful – not for shopping for shoes, but for keeping track of craft projects I might like to do, articles I want to read again and recipes I want to keep. And maybe they did get the tone wrong, but I have no problem at all with bringing elegant design into computing. I’d like to see more of it. We use these things day in day out and to have something that is more pleasurable to use because it appeals to your aesthetic sensibilities is great. If you like a bit of bling, why not show that in your choice of laptop or how you choose to decorate your laptop?

But what price does that come at? Are women being ripped off? Well, it looks like we are in this instance. I’ve had a cursory glance at the specs of the new Floral Kiss and the Fujitsu Lifebook UH Series laptops to see how they compare. The Lifebook spec seems to be very similar (perhaps someone more familiar with laptop specs would like to comment?), and it also looks to be a stylish piece of kit. And it works out about £200 or so cheaper than its equivalent Floral Kiss model. Now I haven’t seen either model in the flesh so it’s hard to compare the quality and the workmanship, but I’m pretty sure that they will be of a similar high standard. These are, after all, premium products.

I don’t know how the launch has gone down in Japan. I suspect there are many women there who are up in arms about it too. Equally, I expect there’s a whole bunch of women, probably young women, who think it’s lovely and would like to own and use one. The real point here isn’t that they’ve chosen to make a laptop with a feminine design, and I can even live with the patronising tone of the marketing video and press release if it’s priced fairly and we’re not being taxed for being stupid women. Therein lies the real rub. Adding a crystal to the adapter lead is not worth two hundred quid to me…

On the other hand, I’m really interested to learn more about the female engineers who worked on the product and how and why they designed it like they did. I wonder what their vision was and if it was delivered?

Further References:

Original press release

Floral Kiss Facebook Page

Belinda Parmar’s article at HuffPo

CNet article

Even the Daily Mail is critical

The Mary Sue doesn’t like it much and some of the comments are interesting

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Heroes of Mobile Day: London Edition 17 Oct

Following on from the great success that was Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival in Barcelona earlier this year, we’ve decided to do some smaller scale events starting in London to keep the buzz going and help build up to the main event in Barcelona next February.

With that in mind, we have three discussion panel sessions happening at Mozilla HQ on St Martin’s Lane on Wednesday 17th October. All being well, these will be live webcast, but if you’re in London, you can join the audience as well and participate in a bit of networking at the same time. Each session will run for about 45 minutes with some time for refreshments before and after. You’re welcome to come to one, two or all three sessions, as you wish. They’re free to attend but we are limited in space as we want to keep the atmosphere intimate and to encourage discussion and questions from the audience.

State of the Mobile Nation

This session is sponsored by our friends at Hotwire PR and chaired by Russell Buckley. The discussion will be a review of where we are and where we’re going in the mobile industry and what that might mean for your business. More details and RSVP here. Doors open at 09.30 for a 10.00 start.

Mobile Advertising Will Eat Itself

This session will also be chaired by Russell Buckley and look at the latest innovations (or not) in the world of mobile advertising. More details and RSVP here. Doors open at 11.00 for a prompt 11.15 start.


(Mobile) Money Makes the World Go Around

This session will be chaired by Tim Green and will take a look at the world of mobile money, from payments to mobile wallets to the future (if any) for NFC and more. Details and RSVP here. Doors open at 12.30 for a prompt 13:15 start.

We will be finished by around 14:00 but you’re welcome to stay for further networking and refreshments. There is free Wi-Fi at Mozilla Space London and you’re welcome to stay to do some work if you wish.

About our sponsors

Hotwire is an integrated PR and communications agency. Founded in 2000, the agency spans a number of industries including telecoms, media, marketing, consumer, technology, financial services and cleantech. Quickly becoming a global offering, Hotwire has offices in the UK, across Europe, Australia and the US. Suffice to say, the team are passionate about all things mobile and will be on hand to chew the fat with you.

firefox logoMozilla Spaces are open working environments where Mozillians can hack,code, design, research, create, engage and contribute to building a brighter future for the web and they are hosting this session. You may be familiar with Mozilla's brilliant Firefox browser for desktop and mobile and more recently, they announced their Firefox OS for mobile. 

And there’s more… Swedish Beers is 11 years young and we’re celebrating!

To round off the day, we’ll be celebrating Swedish Beers’ 11th Birthday Party at The Nordic Bar from 18.30 with our friends from Millennial Media, LoopMe Media, Yuilop and Inspiring Interns. Again, free to attend. No formalities, no presentations, just good company, good chat and some free drinks (beer, wine and soft drinks a-plenty courtesy of our sponsors). More details here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

It was twenty years ago today

Well, almost. It’ll be twenty years ago on 3rd December since the first text message was sent over the Vodafone network and a new era of communication and data dawned or should that be ‘spawned’? It took some time for SMS to break through to the mainstream, but when it did, it seemed to happen pretty fast. Now it seems a bit old hat as I find myself reverting to email, twitter, facebook and IM to connect with friends, family and colleagues. As for calling, well, I barely need that function on my phone any more. We’ve all been part of this change and it has been hardly noticeable as we migrate from one service to another. And with these changes, you’d think that incumbents like Skype and BBM had the sector sewn up. But if Skype’s future isn’t as clear cut as we may have thought, that means there’s still wiggle room and there’s still scope for new services to emerge and I’m interested to see how and when these take off.

yuilop_logoSo the newest kid on the block is yuilop who happen to be based in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities in the world. My friend Phil has gone to work for them and I challenged him on why he’d chosen to go and work for a start-up in, what I thought, was a market hard to penetrate and with little (obvious) sources of revenue for all the above reasons. And why would you go for yuilop and not, say, Whatsapp (which seems to be almost ubiquitous now and a real threat to the once dominant BBM)?

Yuilop seems to have greater ambitions than Whatsapp or BBM and calls itself a ‘social communication app’. It allows free rich media messaging (so audio, pictures, video – what the operators may have described as MMS once upon a time), free yuilop to yuilop voice calls (all via mobile) and on top of that, you can message your friends who are not on yuilop via standard SMS or voice. This means you can get in touch with your friend who has an old Nokia handset without app capability and still message or talk to them. The latter has some significant cost to it, but they don’t charge customers for this at the moment, but instead require them to get Energy by getting your friends to sign up and by engaging in consumer offers. The free calls and messages angle is always popular in youth markets and they’re savvy when it comes to taking advantage of them.

The ad-funded telco offering is not new. We saw it with Blyk back in the day, and more recently with Ovivo Mobile. But it’s a tough one. Will the maths stack up or, like one commenter on Yuilop’s Google Play page, should you just let the customers buy credit if they want to? I’ve been wary of wholly ad-funded services for digital services. The danger is that you attract the freeloaders who suck you dry and find every loophole in the system. They’re also the customers who will never ever respond to an advert. Or even if they did, they don’t have the money to spend anyway. The customers you’re trying to attract can probably afford to pay. It’s a dilemma. That’s not to say new business models shouldn’t be tried. They absolutely should. And our digital lives are changing and moving so fast, exponentially even, that anything could happen and the innovators and the businesses nimble enough to try something new are the ones who will win out in the end.

So is there room for something like Yuilop? Yes, I think there probably is. They’ve had very fast growth in the last 6 months with over 30,000 Google Play ratings which is just a proportion of the overall number of downloads, it’s clear that this one is doing something right. If they can get the balance right between consumer insight and marketing offers, then they’re on to something. Add in a dollop of big data when they get to 250,000 customers to do interesting targeting beyond age, gender, location and device, and we might start to see some interesting results for advertisers and customers alike. Will they catch up with the likes of Viber, Whatsapp, Kakao, Line, Skype and more? Time will tell.

Phil from yuilop will be in the UK on 17th October and you can meet him to talk about the opportunities with yuilop in Spain and the UK at Swedish Beers.

Find Yuilop online at, on Facebook and Twitter. Download the app for free. Currently compatible with Android and iOS.


Want to know more about what exponential actually means? Well, I could explain it, but I’ll leave it to friend and colleague, Russell Buckley, to do that in this short video.

Is mobile couponing finally hitting the mainstream?

zagmeIt seems like a lifetime ago since I had my first exposure to mobile couponing back in 2000 at ZagMe. Yes, it’s some twelve years ago since I helped invent location based sms couponing with fellow mobilist, Russell Buckley. I’ve seen many coupon projects come and go and I’ve seen many location based services come and go, but finally, we appear to be at the point where this thing is hitting the mainstream. And yet again, we have Apple to thank for it.

May of you will know that I do not worship at the altar of Apple but there’s no denying that they have changed our mobile world forever. And may well be changing the world of mobile couponing forever too with the introduction of Passbook. This is an app that helps you keep track of your mobile coupons, tickets and gift cards. With the added bonus of being location-aware (optional), it can nudge you when you’re near an outlet where you can use said coupons if that company’s app has that feature included. I don’t have a working iPhone so I haven’t tested this myself, but from the description here, it still sounds a bit clunky. But I have no doubt that the clunks will be evened out pretty quickly as there’s more take-up and developers work out how to get the best from the service.

This is first to market in the US, but the UK is catching up. We’re not as coupon obsessed in the UK as the US (where they have a TV show dedicated to the topic), but we do still like a bargain – Groupon and its ilk have been a success here and SalesGossip is also gaining traction. Meanwhile, Harvester has teamed up with Eagle Eye and Millennial Media to be the first UK company to use Passbook for their couponing.

Helen Worrall, Marketing Manager, Harvester said: “We are excited to be amongst the first in line to use this new way to distribute mobile vouchers to Apple Passbook users, offering our customers a better and more convenient experience. Not only does it provide us with a new way of engaging the iOS 6 iPhone users, but the benefit having one central point to digitally distribute and redeem vouchers in real-time means we have more control and visibility over our marketing campaign performance.”

I’m interested to see how this one plays out (you can try out the campaign for yourself if you go to from your iPhone) and I will be watching to see how the campaign fares as well as keeping an eye out as to how other retailers take on the challenge of digital couponing beyond the iPhone.

Dare I say it? Is this the year of mobile couponing?