Friday, December 18, 2015

Order an Uber from Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger's transition into a platform similar to WeChat continues with their new test that is allowing some people in the US to order an Uber directly from inside Messenger.

Introducing Transportation on Messenger from Facebook on Vimeo.

You don't even need to have the Uber app!

More here

Thursday, December 17, 2015

10 Trends for 2016

Carat Global has been producing trend reports for over 5 years, looking at new technologies that will become more important and relevant to clients.

The trends for 2016 are all growing in importance, and will all have implications for clients.

This year’s trends involve two big themes:

The rise of closed, competing ecosystems

The development of artificial intelligence and actionable measurement

I hope that you find the presentation useful and informative!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Krispy Kreme's Video Barcode

As part of Krispy Kreme's #dayofthedozens promotion (happening on 12th December), shoppers can get a dozen free donuts when they buy a dozen, by letting counter staff scan this barcode on their phones - made from an online video

Even though it's a video the pouring graze stays pretty static, so that it can be scanned at the till.

More here

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Book Review - Profit From Science by George Danner

People in the marketing industry quite often talk about 'the science' of what they do, but often if you start to dig and investigate a lot of 'the science' falls apart (sample sizes, method and so on).

George Danner's excellent book Profit from Science, published by Palgrave Macmillan addresses this by clearly showing how you can apply scientific method to modern business problems, for example through methods like data analytics, and remote collaboration.

It a very interesting and readable book and very inspiring for people wanting to become more disciplined and analytical in their work.

Danner starts by outlining the steps of scientific method - Observation, Research, Hypothesis, Prediction, Experimentation, Conclusion, and then shows how to match different techniques to the different problems.

Working on the principle that ‘data is the fuel for any scientific investigation’ (which I would heartily endorse), he looks at how to acquire data, and what to do with different sorts of data, and establishing a workflow for problem solving

This might sound dry (it's not) but the book then goes beyond the analytical techniques and looks at how you deliver your results to the best effect, including visualisation & the design of presentation materials, and also looks at such vital skills as how to be a good client and cultural resistance to the results of research (aka objection handling).

Finally, he looks at the sorts of things we should expect to be using in method and analysis in the future, including Siri, Nest, Watson, and Virtual reality and concludes that ‘It’s a great time to be alive’

It's all well set out and logically ordered, and while I'd recommend reading from start to finish, clear summaries at end of each chapter mean that you can dip back into it easily too.

This is a great addition to any media or business book shelf - you can buy it from Amazon here or download a sample chapter here

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Advertising to people with ad blockers

It is, of course, possible to target people who use ad blockers, as the Belgian agency Boondoggle has just shown.

For a while publishers have been putting 'please don't use an ad blocker' notices on their sites - for example this The Guardian's

Boondoggle persuaded 3 publishers of media new sites in Belgium to put a text recruitment ad for them on the site in the same way when it detected a visitor who was using an ad blocker.

The ad appeals to creatives who use ad blocker to come to work with them to create digital campaigns that are useful not annoying!

More here in the video

+ more details here

Monday, December 07, 2015

Ad blockers & explaining politely

Here is some interesting research from Nieman Lab - They asked a number of publishers about their experience with ad blocking on mobile and desktop, including two who are currently blocking content to people using ad blockers.

City AM, the UK free business newspaper, blocks content to anyone arriving on Firefox who uses an ad blocker.  As you can see from the screengrab, they explain politely and clearly why they are doing it:

"We are having trouble showing you adverts on this page, which may be a result of ad blocker software being installed on your device.

As City A.M. relies on advertising to fund its journalism, please disable any ad blockers from running on, then reload the page to see the rest of this content. More info here."

According to Nieman Lab:

"In the first month or so since City A.M. began showing users the message, the percentage of readers using adblockers on Firefox has dropped by a third, Ashplant said. And about one-quarter of users who see the adblocking message actually turn it off or whitelist.

City A.M. also hasn’t seen a noticeable change in its bounce rate because of the new message, Ashplant said. He reads that to mean that people who decide not to turn off their adblockers likely wouldn’t have stayed on the site beyond reading that one article.

“It almost feels like the people who feel that it’s worth having that value exchange, and it’s worth turning the adblocker off — because they do want to see the content and they do perceive that City A.M. has got content that’s worth turning the adblocker off for — they’re inclined to spend longer on the site,” he explained. “It’s almost as if they’ve made a conscious decision that it’s worth doing it, and then they go on to explore the site and click on more than one page.”"

It seems to me that if you have good, distinctive content, and an educated and considerate readership this is a good step to take.

Be very clear about why you're doing it, and be polite, but firm.

I hear a lot about how people understand the value exchange in free content that is paid by ads (you look at the ads to get the free content), but in music for example there was a very long established and explicit value exchange (you pay money to buy a recording) that eroded very quickly.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Snapchat sponsored lenses for the Peanuts movie

Lots of fun - these apparently were available in the US for the opening weekend of the film.

It's pretty hard to measure what impact these would have on ticket sales, but they're going to spread the word about the film!

More here

Friday, November 20, 2015

Using Snapchat for location-targeting

There's a great example of location-based targeting in AdAge, showing how P&G used it to promote a special Star Wars edition of its CoverGirl cosmetics, only sold in Ultra stores in the US.

P&G created special filters for photos that could only be used near the stores, and was able to track sales by missing out some stores so that they could test (potentially) exposed and unexposed shoppers.  No results are published, but it's a great illustration of what can be done.

"Snapchat offered something else that made it attractive to P&G: geo-targeting. P&G was able to set up geofilters around a majority of the 868 Ulta stores across the country stocking the Star Wars line. When people went to post a photo or video to Snapchat within a certain proximity to the stores, they could place a branded overlay, or filter, atop the post so that anyone they shared it with through Snapchat would see the cosmetics line as well as CoverGirl's and Ulta's branding.


For the CoverGirl campaign, P&G received three statistics from Snapchat: 1) how many views its ads received 2) how many times people used the branded filter and 3) how many times people swiped over to see its branded filter when posting to Snapchat vs. the number of times people actually used it, which Mr. Rose described as akin to the ad's engagement rate.

In order to correlate those numbers with in-store sales, P&G had to isolate a few things. It limited its campaign to Snapchat only and didn't run those ads around every Ulta store in order to create a control group. And the campaign only featured two versions of the creative, one for each of the collection's two product lines. As a result, P&G was able to cross-reference sales between the stores it advertised and the ones it didn't and could drill down to see how many more sales of which of the collection's two product lines the geo-filtered stores generated, which could then be attributed to the Snapchat campaign."

I think that Snapchat is one of the most distinctive new channels to emerge in recent years - like Twitter and Instagram it's unlikely to be mistaken for anything else, and it has its dedicated fans.

Full story here

Brands using Twitter's ScratchReel

ScratchReel is a new image format only available on Twitter, which allows you to go more forward or rewind the video

Twitter showed it off here:

Sadly it doesn't work embedded into Blogger, but have a play with these ones -

Ford Italia



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie

Patti LaBelle is not marketing her own Sweet Potato Pie in Walmart, and apparently it's a smash hit, thanks in part to YouTube Vloggers like this guy.  Apparently they were selling at a rate of approx 1 a second over the last weekend.

(2m views in a week)

Full story here

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ona Tousun Côté Foot's 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Football Game

Ona Tousun Côté Foot, a football community created by Credit Agricole, the French financial cooperative, who is a sponsor of Euro 2016, has done a lovely little 'choose your own adventure' thing on Twitter, using football vines.

This is the first tweet - you reply with either #Pass or #Run

(Sadly the vines don't seem to work embedded - see it here)

I replied #Run and got this Tweet & vine back:

I then decided to #Dribble - I wasn't going to share the ball - but then got this Tweet and vine back:


What a fun little thing!  Clearly pretty easy to set up, but what a great idea.  If you get all the way through you get a chance to win Euro 2016 tickets.

Play it yourself by starting here

Friday, November 13, 2015

360-Degree Video Ads on Facebook

Just launched - these are fun!

This year, step out from behind the camera and join in the moments going on all around you. They're the memories that'll last a lifetime.
Posted by Ritz Crackers on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

"Facebook is starting to test 360-degree video ads with a handful of brands including AT&T, Samsung and Nestle, all of which can be seen below. Facebook officially introduced the virtual reality-lite video format on its desktop site and Android apps in September, and the social network is now bringing 360-degree videos -- and ads -- to Apple's iPhones and iPads.
In addition to the brands advertising 360-degree videos on Facebook, publishers including ABC News, BuzzFeed and Nickelodeon have begun posting all-angle videos to the social network, which can also be watched using Samsung's Gear VR virtual-reality headset.
And to attract more 360-degree videos to its service, Facebook has added a way for anyone operating a Facebook page to post 360-degree videos, including a way to edit the initial camera angle and vertical field of view before uploading the video. The company has also created a dedicated site for creators, publishers and brands to learn more about producing 360-degree videos."

More examples here

Friday, November 06, 2015

John Lewis - #ManOnTheMoon

As regular as clockwork, the new John Lewis Christmas ad has come out, the day after bonfire night

The message is 'show someone they're loved this Christmas', with Aurora singing Oasis' Half A World Away, which was also the theme tune to the TV show The Royle Family

It should be a very Merry Christmas for Noel Gallagher)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Oreo #Wonderfilled

Very entertaining videos





Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Zola, Jess and Jarrett too

I've debated over posting this.  It's not particularly relevant to this blog (to put it mildly) but it's a good illustration of why Twitter is sometimes the best party, the best fun.

It's a long, rambling tale of a Hooters' waitress's wild weekend in Florida, and all the far out scrapes that she gets into.  It's quite extraordinary - it would make a good film.  No dodgy pictures in it, but quite a lot of 'adult content from the outset and throughout', as they'd say in Geordie Shore.

Read it on Storify here:

(Or on Imgur here)

The Tweets have since been deleted, but Zola's account is still active.

It's remarkable for being one of the first things I've seen for a while to come from nowhere and go properly viral, without any sort of feature in the mainstream press - even BuzzFeed haven't mentioned it - because it refers to crimes (a lot) and some of the people must be (quite) easily identifiable.

(Update - Complex has now written about it, pasting in the entire story)

(Update - BuzzFeed now has it too - looking at Twitter's reaction to it)

(Update - The Daily Mail's report ties it to a reaction from the director of the film Selma)

However it's been trending on Twitter all day - Twitter seem to think that 'Zola' is trending because of the footballer, and so on.

It's also spawned lots of memes, for example


& casting debates

Update - Washington Post's account of the events, with court documents etc

(There are now lots of blog posts, Reddit discussions and more that I'm not going to link to - it goes to show that these days it's very hard not to leave a trail and a permanent record of what has happened)

Twitter's first TV ad

This will be shown on TV in the US to capitalise on the World Series, and focussing on Moments

I like it; it makes Twitter look like a party, which it is, if you understand how to use it.

More here

& this is their Tweet announcing it

Thursday, October 15, 2015

SPP - Earth 2045

Great work from SPP, a Swedish financial services company.

Above is the trailer - see the full experience (in English) by clicking the link below

The site shows a video of what the world will be like in 2045, with a good and bad scenario which you can switch between, a tiny bit like Honda’s Civic R film The Other Side from earlier this year

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Channel 4's reality show Hunted ends this week.  The point of the show, filmed in the summer, is to highlight the power of the surveillance society by challenging people go on the run for 28 days without being tracked down.

I've always been a big fan of 'on the run' books, like The Thirty Nine Steps, Rogue Male, and Ordinary Thunderstorms, and I really enjoyed this show too.  It's been fascinating to see what your digital footprint can say about you, for example:

The authorities (represented by the team of hunters in the show) can track cars on motorways through number plate recognition - but not, generally speaking, on other roads

A phone call gives your location away - and the contents of rext messages can be read too (in one case they tapped the phones of fugitives friends - I'd love to see the contracts that the contestants signed)

You can see lots from discarded devices - one thing the hunters do is searh the homes of the fugitives.  Any devices are taken and then hacked into, so that they can read messages and so on, and even clone devices once they know someone's number, so that they can can follow what is happening on the handset's accounts and apps in real time

Search history on sites like Trip Advisor can be deduced from regular emails - if you've been searching for information on Wales, TA will send you lots of Welsh picks in your next newsletter

I think it's going to be interesting to see how a second series works because future fugitives will be wise to these techniques.  My advice would be to use things like Snapchat where the messages are deleted after sending, and obviously to use as many non-digital channels, like writing letters to people, as possible.

It's also unclear how specific the rules are.  Almost all of the hunted have been charging around the country (they can't go abroad) so is this in the rules?  Surely it would be better to pick one very good hiding place (maybe in your own street) and stay there, incommunicado.

Note - not everyone likes it, and it has to be said that given that all the fugitives have a camera operator with them, there are other ways the hunters may be tracking them down.

Update - When it came down to it the final episode was a bit of a disappointment.  None of the 4 still on the run were captured, and they introduced a new element where as well as staying on the run they had to get to a secret rendezvous undetected.

It was interesting to see that when both groups of two met up at the end they knew each other (prosumably Channel 4 had held briefings with all the participants), and that, while the show had implied that they went on the run at different times, if they were ending at the same time they must have all started at the same time.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Twitter Moments

Twitter Moments is a new feature that lets you easily see more background to popular tweets by swiping left.

It's a good example of what Twitter is trying to do to make itself more accessible to new and returning users, and also an example of Twitter as a self-contained walled garden, keeping people within the service for longer, rather than just enabling them to find content elsewhere

Looking forward to seeing some creative uses of this!

See more here

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Coca Cola's #shareacoke emoji on Twitter

Twitter has created a 'clinking coke bottles' emoji for Coca Cola as part of an ad deal.  Every time someone uses the hashtag #shareacoke (not case specific) the emoji appears - a bit like the ones Twitter produces for the Olympics, the World Cup, and so on.

Oh - and it's popular!

No idea how much it cost, or if costs depend on how much it's used...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Facebook 360 Video examples

Facebook has started introducing '360' videos, that let you alter the angle, explore and so on.  Google is also doing it with YouTube, and once Oculus Rift and other devices start to come out expect a lot o more of them.

So far they're a bit clunky (argue this with me in 2 years time...) but they will get better.

Here are two examples -

Star Wars -

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience
Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.
Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

& Go Pro

GoPro Spherical: Sand Dune Jumping in VR with Ronnie Renner
Check out freeride legend Ronnie Renner FMX carving up the dunes in Idaho with full 360 view. For the most immersive experience, click and drag the camera.
Posted by GoPro on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

More info about 360 videos here

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

'Request your free catalogue online today'

Storage solutions company Big Dug is currently advertising on the underground in London.  On the ad it clearly says 'go online to order our catalogue'

Why would you order a catalogue if you were on their site anyway?  Surely it would be easier just to search on the site?

Well actually, no.  When I posted this on various channels people told me that lots of companies like this, especially in B2B, still have catalogues, because it's easier for people to show to colleagues, to refer to throughout the day and so on.

So while it seems that catalogues for consumer categories are becoming less popular - Littlewoods prints far fewer for example - but in some industries an online catalogue is not essential.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Star Wars uses landcape video on Instagram

Star Wars is (I think) the first user to use landscape video on Instagram (as opposed to square video).

A video posted by Star Wars (@starwars) on

It's part of Instagram's new (possibly controversial) support for full screen, portrait and landscape pictures.

More examples here

Instagram Video in Landscape - Examples from Instagram on Vimeo.

Follow that, Vine!

Monday, August 24, 2015

In praise of cheap content

Apropos of my post last week about the genius of BuzzFeed's cheap videos - Americans Watch Geordie Shore For The First Time and more - and how they wouldn't have been a great deal better if a lot of money were spent on them, comes this animated gif.

Yes, there's a place for expensive ads like the one John Lewis just produced, but there's always going to be a place for things like this too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

'Americans Watch Father Ted for the First Time'

Apparently BuzzFeed produces about 75 video clips a week.  It's clearly a bit of a scattergun approach, but it means that they produce things that will resonate with lots of different people in different ways, and also that they understand that with content there is a point of diminishing marginal returns in production cost.

(Diminishing marginal returns is an economics phrase that essentially means that after a certain point the amount by which you enjoy something, or something gets better, starts to decline at a certain point.  My economics teacher at school taught it by telling us to imagine eating chocolate bars - first one great, second one great, 3rd one great, 4th one - good, 5th one - you're starting to get a bit sick of eating chocolate, and so on)

It looks like BuzzFeed made this video pretty cheaply.  3 couples, one laptop, one camera, no script, some clips of the show probably free under 'fair usage' rules, and a bit of editing.  They could have used multiple cameras, a nicer set and so on, but it wouldn't have made it a great deal better.  The idea was great, it was well presented, didn't last too long, and has had over 600,000 views in a couple of days.  They just did it and got it out there.

They can also replicate it very cheaply with Mrs Brown's Boys, Only Fools & Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Phoenix Nights, Dick Emery...  (They've actually done one for Geordie Shore...)  Or show Brits lots of shows that didn't make it over here on a large channel.

(In fact they now have 114 videos called For the First Time including Moms Play Minecraft For The First Time, and Indians Try Baseball For The First Time)

I think BuzzFeed are going to do quite well at this whole viral video thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Realtor's Partnership with Airbnb

Realtor, the US estate agent, has partnered with Airbnb to let people try an area before they commit to buying there.

When you find a property on you can easily see nearby Airbnb properties that you could rent for a few nights to see if you like the area to live in.

Yes, it's a bit of a stunt (how many people actually do this?) but it's a good differentiator for Realator, and it emphasises that with Airbnb you are 'belonging' anywhere.

More here

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Man from UNCLE's 'Invisible Ink' Instagram

This is a good, unofficial use of Instagram -

Warner Brothers UK has posted the picture below.  If you regram (hence sharing the pic to your own friends) with a certain filter you can see a hidden word in the background, and this could win you a Jorg Gray watch.

This what it looks like with the filter applied:

More here

Update - as one of my colleagues has pointed out, Ted Baker did something similar in March

Friday, August 14, 2015

Very's Shoppable YouTube Ad

A good example of a shoppable YouTube ad, and apparently the first time this has been done for a UK brand - a 4 minute film of Rizzle Kicks performing Summertime:

You can't actually click on the products in the video, but a steams opens (I'm guessing it's a 'card') on the right hand side after 15 seconds or so.

En case it doesn't work embedded you can see it here

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Old Spice's Choose Your Own Adventure Game on Instagram

A while ago Instagram started letting you click through to other accounts by tagging other users, and now people are starting to use this in creative ways, for example this Choose Your Own Adventure game from Old Spice.

(I've loved Choose Your Own Adventure books since I was a kid, including the later 'Dungeons & Dragons' infludenced ones like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (which according to Wikipedia sold *2 Million" copies...) so I'm the perfect target audience for this.  They were kind of the pre-cursor to video games, but clearly with far fewer options.  I suspect no one under the age of 30 would have any time for them)

Old Spice's version starts at this picture, and each choice you make (typically 2 options per picture) takes you to a new account for that choice with only one picture on it, and then you get more hoices and so on.

It's best played in Instagram, but now you can play on the web too.  Just click on a pic to see the options.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Google is showing popular times in its local listings

This is an excellent innovation from Google - its Local Search cards (mobile only, I think) now shows the most popular times for the day you are searching.  It's presumably quite easy to do, if Google can track historic visits), and give you some very practical information if you want to avoid busy times.

From Google's blog here is info on The Louvre

& from my phone, here is info on the British Museum

It only seems to be for very popular attractions at the moment - I tried a restaurant and Selfridges without finding a search card - but it's a great innovation.

More info here

Monday, July 13, 2015

MUJI To GO - A story told with products

Muji has created a story told through products.  It starts with people packing for a journey, then follows them to their destination, and then shows why they travelled.

Short clips exist on their website here and also on Instagram.

The complete film is here

Friday, July 10, 2015

Scan a Dorito

There are lots of brands who let you scan a code or a logo to win a prize or 'unlock content' like videos, but this is the first one I've seen where you scan the actual product.

Doritos are letting you scan a new 3D Bacon Ranch snack to watch exclusive videos on your phones.

As image recognition get better I expect we'll see more of these - it's easier to recognise a logo than a product, but now we may see a space to scanning biscuits, chocolate bars and more.

More here

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Publishers vs Ad Blockers

Ad blockers are big news.  It's said that anything from 15 to 39% of UK internet users use ad blockers, and since they're viewing pages with no ads on them, publishers are losing lots of money as a result.

Publishers can tell if someone is using an ad blocker, and some are starting to put up notices on the site asking people - with varying levels of politeness - to turn them off.

Lonely Planet (What makes me Grumpy?  It's that you use AdBlock - stop that!)


The Guardian (very polite, very 'Guardian', at the bottom of the page)

Wired - Banner at the top ('Do us a solid?  Me neither)

& also Channel 4 - which disables video playing for people with ad blockers

Washington Post - active from 10th September 2015

The Atlantic

Axel Springer's - asks people to turn off ad blocker, or pay to access the site

The Mirror and The Telegraph test a similar policy

The NYT is starting to test blocking the blockers

I think we may see more people adopting Channel 4's approach - but then if people can get what you have elsewhere people will just choose to visit a different site.

Seen any other good examples?  Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter - I'm @dancall

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Amazon's 1 Hour Delivery Comes to London

Available to Prime members only, for a £6.99 fee, and for orders of £20 and over only.  It always begs the question of how many things do you need that urgently, but these days we're more spontaneous, forgetful and impatient, so maybe the answer is 'lots of things'

More here

Monday, June 29, 2015

Beats 1 & Exclusive Content

Beats 1, Apple's free streaming radio service, launches tomorrow.  Here's a trailer for it:

This looks pretty good - people having fun in a radio studio, making stuff that you can't find anywhere else, a bit like all the best radio stations do, but this time globally.

The line-up of shows looks imaginative too - Zane Lowe, poached from the BBC, Dr Dre's Pharmacy, and even Elton John's Rocket Hour, a mix of old and new tunes.

It's kind of like the BBC's 6 Music but for a younger, more hip hop audience.  It feels a bit like when new TV stations launched in the 90s - for example British Satellite Broadcasting, which had lots of experimental shows, that pretty much no one could see.

But this time anyone with an iOS device can theoretically listen, so it's going to be really interesting to see how it develops.  Remember that the Beats 1 radio service is the free product to lure people in to subscribe to the streaming service.

I've occasionally wondered why there isn't a successful music version of Netflix - making its own premium content, completely paid for - and I think the reason is that we attach more value to content we watch rather than listen to.

Beats 1 seems to be taking the 'premium, rare content' idea and really pushing it.  Tidal is also doing the same thing, but radio shows seems like a better way to do it than occasional exclusive tracks that will immediately get pirated.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Haribo Minions

Apropos of nothing this is quite inspired...

See also - The HariboMinions

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Personalised Promoted Tweets

It seems that you can personalise Promoted Tweets, and Coke is the first brand to do it.

It's a great way to promote the new set of personalised Coca Cola bottles.  There is, obviously, lots of scope for getting this wrong - machines can interpret two words as a first name and surname - but I haven't seen any examples of this going wrong.

More here

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Apple Music - The History of Sound

Apple has produced this lovely ad to promote the launch of Apple Music.

I think the battle between Apple and Spotify (& Google and others) for music streaming will be very interesting.

Apple is striking its own path - no free level, and curated radio, appealing to the more creative and richer end of the market.  I think their idea of curation is very interesting, hiring Zane Lowe and others from the BBC, and letting them make shows and pick music.

Spotify, on the other hand, is all about big data, and trying to use your past choices and the context you're in (time of day, location) to suggest music to you.  Google will I'm sure do similar things when they properly launch their YouTube music offering.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Ten Years of YouTube - an A-Z

YouTube has produced this to mark their tenth birthday.

Some are obvious - A is for Animals, G is for Gangnam - but M is for Memes, R is for React, and X for Xperiments.

& well done to Old Spice on being the 'O'!

PS - there's something quite magical 1 minute 36 seconds in.

Plus - There's a game to play here - test your knowledge of classic videos

Friday, May 29, 2015

Vertical Video

One of the most unlikely trends over the past couple of years has been the rise of vertical video - that is, video shot to be viewed vertically, rather than horizontally.

It's come about through the smartphone being overwhelmingly the main method of taking both photos and videos, and people being more comfortable holding the phone as they would normally rather than turn to to shoot in landscape mode.

This chart, from Mary Meeker's most recent Internet Trends presentation shows the rise of time spent with screens that are generally viewed vertically.

At first vertical videos looked a bit ridiculous - and they still do on YouTube.  But with lots of ways of viewing vertically, most notably Snapchat and Periscope vertical video has now found its place.  Snapchat is now persuading brands to make vertical video - users are watching 2bn videos a day - and I'm sure someone will enter a vertical movie to Sundance before too long.  (There have already been episodes of TV shows filmed on phones).

Horizontal video is generally professionally produced, with high production values, and often made for big screens - anything from film blockbusters down to music videos, to TV, to videos you made on traditional digital cameras

Vertical video is generally amateur, user-generated content, and produced exclusively for mobile and on mobiles.

Each has its natural expectations associated with the form, but within this there's scope for expectations to be confounded.

(Instagram and Vine get around this by being square formats, of course)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Food pictures, and unintended consequences

I take food pics.  You take food pics.  Lots of us take food pics.  I'm such a food pic geek that when I order at some places I ask them to 'make me a photogenic one'...

(I even know a cake company who directs you to their Instagram page when you want to order something from them)

So as a pretty logical, and a good example of 'thinking 6 moves ahead' that Chili's restaurant in the US should tweak its menu items and change ingredients so that the food looks more photogenic.

"Chili’s recently committed to making its food more “shareable.” No, they’re not further increasing the size of their portions. Rather, they’re spending millions to make their food look more photogenic.

Nearly a million dollars for an egg wash to give its buns a photogenic glaze, that “glistens,” to use an adjective from Wyman Roberts, CEO of Chili’s' parent company, Brinker International. A new way of stacking ribs to look better in photos. Sexy stainless steel baskets to fetchingly hold its fries."

You can see some examples on Chili's Instagram account here

I love this example.  I love the ridiculousness but also the logic of it.  But mostly I love how it's rooted in a mass experience, because this is how smartphones have changed the world - fundamentally, but in lots of unintended ways

Watching Paint Dry on Periscope

Every agency that has a DIY or paint client must be kicking themselves - Glidden Paint used Periscope to let people 'watch paint dry' over several hours, complete with a competition to win free paint

They've archived it on YouTube - it looks like it took an hour for each coat to dry:

Brilliant in it's simplicity, and presumably very easy and cheap to do...  I'm not saying that it will have sold much paint, but I'd never heard of Gliddens before now.

More here


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Simple Infographics

A nice simple infographic used by Sky Sports in a promoted tweet

Monday, May 18, 2015

Teasing Taylor Swift's Bad Blood video on Instagram

One of the main trends in 'content' is that people want so much of it.  It's no longer enough for brands to put out occasional ads, pictures and videos, if people like them, people are hungry for lots of things to keep them amused.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in music and celebrity.  One example of this is how Taylor Swift teased her recent Bad Blood video, which was finally released at last night's Billboard Music Awards and to Vevo.

The video is a high production value number, with Taylor as a superhero, Catastrophe, with appearances from the guest star on the song, Kendrick Lamar, plus lots of other celebrities like Lena Dunham, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne and more,

During the two week lead up to the release, pics of the guest start were teased on Taylor Swift's Instagram, each getting around 1 million likes.

It's important to do a series of pics on Instagram, as all content is shown as it appears, like Twitter, rather than through an algorithm, like Facebook, so it's easy to miss stuff.  By posting about 20 times, it increases the chances that each of the 30m followers will see at least one or two.

The stars also posted the pics on their own Instagram - for example Cara here

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kit Kat's YouTube Voice Search

This summer KitKat is being temporarily re-branded as YouTube Break supposedly to celebrate the joint anniversaries of YouTube's tenth birthday, and KitKat's 80th.

What's especially interesting about this partnership is that it includes a voice search element - if you say the words 'KitKat YouTube my break' on an Android phone, then it takes you to a specially curated selection of 4 tending videos from YouTube.

It almost feels like the 'AOL Keyword' footers that used to appear on posters over ten years ago, but it's a very clever thing for YouTube to be able to sell to clients!

Full details here

Friday, May 01, 2015

Favourite Podcasts

Lots of people are getting into podcasts, thanks to Serial, and I've been asked a few times for recommendations, so here is a list of my favourites:


Radio 4 Media Show - very good wekly magazine programme, with lots of interviews with very senior people

The Media Podcast - Spun out of The Guardian's Media Podcast, this is a pretty good fortnightly listen, using a round table discussion format, covering all media

KCRW's The Spinoff - A fortnightly discussion programme about the business of US TV.  now better (I think) than The Business, the film show it spun off from

The Bottom Line - BBC show about business - one topic discussed each week, e.g. 'gold' or 'queueing', with media and tech topics covered quite regularly

Monocle's The Stack - All about magazine publishing, from a very 'Monocle' perspective

Private Eye's Page 94 - A fortnightly look at stories in the magazine.  It's just 4 episodes young, but seems to be finding its feet well


a16z - Tech news from the VC firm - the ones with Benedict Evans talking about mobile are especially good

ReplyAll - A weekly show all about quirky internet stuff - e.g. Marnie the Dog who has over 1m followers on Instagram, and the 'LarryShippers' One Direction conspiracy theorists

Exponent - A weekly discussion of Ben Thompson's Stratechery blog posts about tech issues.  Takes a while to get into (or rather it did for me) but very informative and entertaining


Studio Audience - Weekly London-based art & design news as a discussion between the staff at the It's Nice That studio.  Often very funny

Kermode & Mayo's film reviews - A weekly show of film reviews and interviews.  It might take a while to get used to them, and it's long, but it's a good way to keep up with what's out

Front Row - Daily BBC arts programme - Almost all major releases in films, TV, books and music are covered - fast fwd to the things you're interested in.

Blokey Banter (you've got to be in the mood for these)

There seem to be lots of podcasts devoted to blokes chatting to other blokes (usually blokes).  among my favourites are:

The Nerdist - An American weekly - with recent editions featuring Adam Buxton, Nick Frost (always an amazing interviewee), and Benedict Cumberbatch

WTF - LA comedian Marc Maron interviews (mostly) other comedians.  Again the Nick Frost one is excellent, and also look out for the ones with Louis CK, Mike Judge and Chrissie Hinde

Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - British, weekly for series of ten or so, interviewed in front of an audience.  Some great ones include the ones with Stephen Fry, Steve Coogan, Rufus Hound, Russell Brand and Sue Perkins

Ones I wished I liked

Freakonomics - Good, but the endless background music makes it too hard for me to listen to

Stuff You Should Know - Wish it was weekly rather than daily, and scripted, rather than a loose discussion.  I could love it as much as Reply All (see above), if it was like that

TED Radio Hour - Good in parts, but I'd prefer to be able to just have the audio of the original TED Talks

What am I missing?  Please suggest others to me in the comments or via Twitter (I'm @dancall) 

#DoritosRoulette on Periscope

Periscope, Twitter's live streaming app, is getting quite a lot of use from brands, but Doritos new Roulette game is the most creative so far.

As part of their #DoritosRoulette campaign (some chips are hotter than others), they are running a live game on Periscope at various times, as well as on Twitter, with winners being announced on Vine.  The game on Periscope involves a spinning roulette wheel - I haven't managed to find any archived videos yet.

"For the live game show on Periscope, all users must do is tune in on the app to automatically become eligible to be a contestant on the game. There will be a Roulette wheel, which the game show host will spin, leaving contestants to win prizes based on where the wheel lands."

Monday, April 20, 2015

'We Put A Chip In It' - Relatively pointless IoT devices & ideas

We Put A Chip In It is a great collection (Tumblr) of (pretty) pointless IoT ideas like Smart Socks, Smart Beakers, Smart Yoga Mats, Smart Suitcases, Smart Cooking Pans and more.

Sadly lots of the links seem to be broken on the site - presumably the companies linked to didn't like being there, but there are lots that do work.

I'm not saying that all these things are necessarily bad ideas, but like the smart fridge and smart kettle just because you can make something 'smart' doesn't mean that there's necessarily a real need for it, or a big demand for it.

Also - the Tumblr discussed on Metafilter

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A return to walled gardens

Back in the last century we laughed at walled gardens, saying they were the bad old past, and how the web, with search and openness would kill them off.

The original walled gardens, like AOL,com saved you from the dangers and confusion of the world wide web by offering a carefully curated selection of content, like news, travel, sport, shopping and more.  However search engines like Google made it easy to find the best content in each area, and people realised that the web wasn't all that dangerous, and they'd rather choose their own content from everything out there, rather than what AOL or the other portals thought they'd want to see.

Now walled gardens, or things like them, seem to be back in fashion, particularly on mobile, where a pre-determined content, with no need for fast connectivity to move to a new place, can be a good idea.  It also works well in-app, because the app is tailored to your device more efficiently than a web experience, particularly with Apple.

The often-used stat that apps make up 86% of time spent online reinforces this - if you're spending time with apps, it's easier to stay within the app rather than to move onto the wider web, so apps are trying to drag content into their property rather than to send people off elsewhere.  (Years ago portals (briefly) didn't like search because it took people away from the site.  In the desktop world Google used to boast about how little time people spent on Google).

Here are some examples of the new walled gardens -

Snapchat's Discover area, with content pre-loaded by professional content providers seems to be working well for them, and ads that appear in the content generate revenue for both the content creator (like MTV) and Snapchat.

Twitter's cards, with extra content like the summary to a story, a video or a voting link being kept within Twitter.

Child-friendly Apps like YouTube Kids, and Vine for Kids - again we mocked AOL for being so child-friendly in the 2000s, but it makes a lot of sense, and many apps are naturally self-contained.

Finally, Facebook can be seen as 'the new AOL' (something people have been saying for at least 5 years) especially with the recent rumour that it was suggesting some news companies stories to be hosted in Facebook.  Again, it cuts down on navigating time, and a recent survey suggests that a lot of people don't think they are on the internet when they're on Facebook...  As with the Snapchat model, the content creator would share ad revenue with the host.

"Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next several months, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, although others may be added since discussions are continuing. The Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal, one person said.
To make the proposal more appealing to publishers, Facebook has discussed ways for publishers to make money from advertising that would run alongside the content."

Finally, it's the idea of a closed system, or a simpler system, that some users seem to like.  The ultimate manifestation of this is Amazon's 'commerce' button - a physical button that is being tested in the US that lets Prime users re-order items like washing tablets by just pressing a button that can be stuck to the washing machine.  Or another example - the 'Netflix' button now appearing on physical TV remotes for smart TVs, making it easier for people to watch Netflix.

If walled gardens are now back in fashion, what else from the early days of the web is likely to return?

Update - Chris Dixon of Andreesen Horowitz on Open vs Closed systems (He thinks open will ultimately win)

EasyJet's Low Fare Finder

A great bit of user-friendly data visualisation.

See easily the current cheapest price for a flight by month, and then, when you click on a month, by day.

Apologies if it's been around for ages, but it's new to me!
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