Groupon buys TV ad space, makes Digibrock think

11 01 2011

So Groupon has an excellent customer acquisition strategy. $10 (£6 for every friend referral) and an aggressive online marketing campaign. Plus, up till now they had great coverage with their affiliate marketing.

So why do they need to buy a pre-superbowl TV ad? Seems a tiny bit weird. Especially since it’s apparently the beginning of a whole larger campaign. Start-ups like Groupon challenge old school media companies for their business and then contradict their business model by saying that their marketing strategy needs TV?

At least, that’s what I thought until I realised that customer acquisition isn’t the only priority for start-ups like Groupon. When your business is all about marketing on behalf of other companies and delivering new customer leads to those businesses, sometimes their perceptions of powerful marketing is more important than what actually delivers new customers.

Wrong management information

20 12 2010

I think you’ll find, kind, purveyors of fine footware deals, that you shouldn’t make promises that you know you can’t keep!

All I want for Christmas, is shoooooooooooooooooes!

I wonder whether this campaign was signed off before the UK deteriorated into OMGSNOW chaos? Surely someone questioned it. Am I being a cynic or a realist? Are they trying to make me buy shoes to prove that this campaign is a big lie?

Am I just using this as an excuse to buy some shoes?

Check in / check out – Facebook Places & other location services

20 12 2010

This has now made me realise that some of my friends go to some really shockingly bad places and that my sister spends in inordinate amount of time checking into train stations. I still can’t get the point of this. I am not particularly bothered about where my friends are unless they are supposed to be meeting me and are actually somewhere else. I did have a moment of mild concern when a friend checked into a funeral parlour the other day but figured that as she was still posting to Facebook that she was still alive.

Google Places and Bing Places however, are excellent for local SEO and findability. We’ve been banging on about how everyone should be thinking about local SEO, getting local and thinking about how people will find their shops and services unless they focus on a local presence and it’s nice to see that the big players are reinforcing our opinions. They’re also adding various transactions to the Places functionality and you can now book tables (via OpenTable) or share plans on Facebook (this may not be the best idea always – especially not when planning surprise parties and cheating on partners …)

So, what would you use Facebook places for? Do you check in to various places regularly?

Mary Meeker’s awesome ‘Web in 2011’ presentation

30 11 2010

Came across this video (which has been knocking around the internet for a couple of weeks – how behind on my feeds am I???).

Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley goes through some excellent slides about the digital arena as they see it in 2011. Some of it warmed the cockles of my little digital heart. Revolution. Transformation. Excitement. Innovative disruption.

Understanding that advertising dollars follows eyes, and seeing that massive gap between the amount of investment into online advertising vs the amount of people it touches, I get a little shiver.

Is the gap there because internet advertising is cheaper, or because many people don’t yet believe in it’s power? And how do we close the gap – is it massive teams of telesales agents talking to small businesses and chipping away at their resistance to change? Bigger above the line campaigns? Case studies and stats that show small business the effectiveness of online advertising? Or is it simply a matter of time. Probably a little bit of everything – I could research this a bit but no time. TIME! So it will have to remain a speculative matter for the moment…

Public Enemy a Public Friend?

11 11 2010

Public Enemy’s fundraising initiative for their new album has paid off with $75K being available for the group’s recording the new album. The new album will follow previous album titled “How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul“. Who sold their soul exactly?

Fundraising has never been so easy with technology that facilitates donations and social media that publicises a fundraising effort to likeminded folks. The technology (Sellaband) is not a generic fundraising portal like so many others, but specifically one developed for muso’s who want (or are forced) to develop their music outside of the influence of a record label.

Sellaband’s been around since 2005, and while more than 30 artists have already raised their budgets, Public Enemy are the first ‘big name’ and so apparently worthy of a bit of media attention. Their goal was initially $200K but was dropped after a slow take-off, presumably the boys will have to drink a little less Krystal in the studio, and so it’s not quite the triumph that’s being lauded even if $75K is the most ever donated via this site.

I like the idea of freedom for creativity outside the ‘normal’ structures of the record label vs band relationship, but this feels a little off to me.

I don’t see ‘all power to the fans‘ as the news article on the Sellaband site says – they might get free merch but have no say in the creative process.

Plus, the tone of the media release feels off. It finishes with a flourish of ‘Time to party like a rockstar‘ but this conflicts with the donation aspect of the album – people aren’t paying for the excesses the music industry is famous for, they’re paying for the finished product. A little deeper Public Enemy’s past clashes with this new altruistic bent – what with owning an online music label themselves and making statements like ‘You don’t sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul. You have to give it to themas reported 3 short years ago.

Those are a couple of reasons why I’m suspicious. Feels more like a publicity stunt than anything else… Big ups to the 1 178 fans though. That’s an average of $63 a fan. I hope they get a return on their investment!

Social Media and getting smarter strategy

12 10 2010

Social media and citizen journalism have always been around – they’ve just taken different forms. Just because they’re mainstream now, doesn’t mean that the big players need to be scared of them. It’s not hard to put a decent social media strategy in place, the difficult part is actually carrying it through. Long term planning and the right people can make the biggest difference to it.

Usenet and Bulletin Boards were the start of social media using the internet, but really, what else would you call the classified ads in the paper? Or that huge noticeboard up at school telling about the Debating squad?

And we’ve had citizen journalism since printing presses could be rented out, what else would you call all those little self-published propaganda leaflets published during the war?

There will always be newspapers, there will always be blogging, the trick for big companies is to realise how to harness them for their purposes – whether that’s huge advertising campaigns or sending items to be reviewed by trusted bloggers. They have their pluses and minuses. It really means that your media planners need to be a bit smarter and planning and strategy needs to take into account what is actually deliverable. After all, if you’re going to ask bloggers to do things for you, you don’t want things like this to happen

Mobile app projects – so different to web projects

28 09 2010

My first mobile app project began about 6 weeks ago with user requirements definition, and immediately I was struck by the difference of working on a mobile app project rather than a standard web project. I mean sure, there are differences in the technology that are always going to make it slightly different – but I didn’t quite expect the project to work so differently for me as a project sponsor, usability champion and of course, OCD tester.

Smaller means sharper

First up, the definition process was different. From a design perspective, you have to be far more aware of the different ways that your tiny, quick words can be interpreted. You have to be more specific, and use layout to lend logic to your navigation rather than relying on words alone.

For example, a button called ‘Account Manager’ could mean ‘Manage my account details’ or ‘My Account Manager’s contact details’ or ‘Contact my Account Manager’. All of those options are simply too long for a mobile app where two extra words per button creates clutter. But by looking at your 6 options on your landing page (what’s the equivalent term for landing page on a mobile app anyone?) you can group them logically to reinforce that this option is actually the Account Manager’s contacts rather than an account details management function. Or, you can add another button that indicates functionality for the other possibility and so provide clarity by natural elimination logic.

With a web based project, you’ve got more options. Explanatory hovers, more space and flexibility to use more words, groupings and headings and navigation locations. There are some usability people that believe that you should design websites with the same kind of design principles as a mobile site, and think that the flexibility I talk about shouldn’t be there. But I’m not quite as strict as that – sure, I’m a Nazi about clarity, but an extra couple words in a title aren’t going to kill anyone.

Smaller means flatter

Instinctively, I feel that flatter, less hierarchical structures work better with Mobile apps. Bu I think the same is generally true with websites. The difference is that with a website, you have more than one place to enhance the flatness of your navigation, because you don’t just have your landing page – you’ve got places everywhere that you can put quicklinks in, and you can still have a clean, clutter-free site even if your landing page is a portal to almost all main places in your website.

The sky is not the limit

Websites need volumes of pages for SEO purposes. More pages, more specific URL’s, more links. But Mobile apps don’t, and volumes of pages means your users are going to get lost. So with our Mobile app, I found myself prioritising more strictly than ever before. I’m a massive fan of providing easy access to self-service options as a customer service efficiency, but the ease of navigating the app is more important than allowing someone to find the answer to the question ‘How to use the Mobile app’.  Other items also get culled, things that are firm business priorities under normal circumstances (driving newsletter sign-ups, RSS feeds and social media). As a project sponsor, you find yourself focusing on a very small insular goal, and that doesn’t come naturally to me as someone who constantly looks for opportunities to generate extra side-benefits from a project.

User testing needs better articulation

I’m not a technical person, but I seem to have a knack for talking to technical people in language they understand – often aided by using screenshots. But how do you do that with an iPhone app?

1. Think of something obvious

Take a photo of your phone with another camera? Too inefficient.

2. Turn away from your own brain and use other peoples

Search the internet for a solution. Advice from 2008 involves holding your ‘Home’ button down and then pressing the ‘Sleep’ button. New developments mean that this is now often set up for activating voice control, fail. Other options are to use code, the iPhone simulator, and X-Code – all of which are great for techies who’ve already got the simulator but not for your average user unless you’re investing a lot into your user testing rather than just using the cheap option which is to send the app to your friends and favourite customers and ask them to play.

I’ve lumped for simply using words, which means I have to be incredibly articulate about what I mean as opposed to taking a screenshot and circling something with the words ‘this is skew’. I’m okay with that but friends and customers might not have the same motivation…

I’m sure there are loads more differences. I’ve enjoyed working on this project quite simply because it’s different and challenges me to think about design more strictly, goals more specifically, and words or meanings more anally. It appeals to my OCD too, because it feels altogether more within my full control than a website that (if it’s of any size) is almost impossible to fully control at all times even if you invest in a ridiculous amount of people as OCD as I am…

Google Instant

9 09 2010

For all your instant searching needs, Google Instant will speed up searching – you don’t even need to type the entire word – just entering w will bring up local weather. NSFW does not work and it will still respect your safesearch controls.
You’ll need a Google Account and it looks like it doesn’t work from the iGoogle homepage.

This may send most SEO experts into a bit of a tail spin as I suspect it will have made quite a few changes to the search algorithm. Plus, it’s going to be hard to track whether your website is going to be appearing on the homepage when it may do for ‘dot dot’ but not for ‘dot’.