teampembo

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Read with Google

Google have released the next step of their mission to make all information accessible at all times. This is to allow people to read books which have fallen out of copyright.
Amusingly, the hysteria unleashed by the media (including a quite silly woman on the Today programme this morning) missed Project Gutenberg, which has already been doing this for quite a while. Admittedly, they hadn't gone the extra mile to put it into PDF format, but that shouldn't really require many PhD people to sort out.

It's quite good timing for Sony, whose eagerly awaited eInk system, the Sony Reader is scheduled for release soon. Google have previously stated that they are not aiming to become direct retailers, and are therefore only providing links to retailers offering the books (although I'm surprised it doesn't already compare prices). I'm not totally convinced they will feel the same way about book downloads rather than book sales.

This would have the potential to actually make Google some money for one of their many half-realised services. We'll see what happens, but if there's one industry due for a shake-up it's the publishing industry.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Swedish Pirate Party presents their election manifesto at Torrentfreak

(via Boing Boing)

"Instead of being limited to a cultural canon decided from above, the youths of today has access to the music, theater and pictures of an entire world. This is something we should embrace, not something we should try to forbid. File sharing is good for society and its people."

Actually a surprisingly strong manifesto, detailing what they believe in and how they hope to help achieve it. Shame they stuck to the name of 'pirate party'.
There's bad feeling against our overly tight intellectual property laws. Could this be the beginning of coherent opposition to the over protection of patents and copyright? I would definitely support moves to push the lawyers back.

Waiting for the cash...

Interesting article in the Guardian on Friday which I read on the train back dwon from seeing my clients in Manchester.

States that marketing monies are starting to flow into online and that its slowly catching up with the number of eyevballs that the channel delivers to consumers. It gets to the point that online can be used to help clients work out the ROI required and which 'half of the money' is being wasted.

It concludes that Broadband is the key driver for this change as more homes c. 9.1m in the UK have access to the web via braodband...

Free legal MP3s? And pigs will fly!

London Underground wallpaper-newspaper Metro today reports that a new web service will allow free downloads of MP3s. The bizarrely named SpiralFrog will be fully supported by advertising.

If it works it would really be the greatest thing ever (yes, better than sliced bread and Sky+ combined), but call me cynical if I ask to see the business model first.

I bet there will be limits on downloads per user and probably other limitations not mentioned in the press-release-like article, else they'll get people setting up hacks to download everything without even viewing the ads.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Google expands into business software market - Yahoo! News

Interesting - Google are going to start trying to charge for their services instead of doing ad supported funding.
The Guardian found that people weren't willing to pay extra to get the content without ads (though many people seem willing to shell out for ad blockers...). I'd like to see figures on take-up of this service.
Especially because Google's mission statement with their adsense product is based on the idea that people will only see relevant, contextual advertising.
I would have expected that the main barrier to takeup of this service is the fact that the data will be hosted externally. It's all well and good to be using fancy free software, but what happens if Google loses your data? I'd bet a large amount of money that you sign away your rights to sue within the T&Cs. Some companies might have reservations about supplying Google with almost unlimited information about their company.
I can safely assume that i-level will not be sharing all our confidential files with Google anytime soon, and most companies want to have their data staying firmly under lock and key. The only way to acheive this is to use programmes that are stored locally on a user's computer, not on the internet.
Google should be able to break into the small business market with their web based services, but I would be surprised if any major corporation begins to use them. I wonder what percentage of money Microsoft makes from small businesses compared to the amount it makes from Corporate clients.
As Daniel said before, this may be a feint from Google to try and make Microsoft concentrate on releasing too many different products, but it might be able to hurt Microsoft right in the belly if it can capture a good amount of market share in this area.

AOL Search Leak

We need to get our hands on this data:

This edited list of searches by Florida AOL user 14162375 shows what intimate details are held by internet databases

March

marriage counseling 2006-03-19 17:50:31

spy on the wife 2006-03-19 17:52:47

spy on the wife 2006-03-19 17:52:47

spy on the wife 2006-03-19 17:52:47

spy on the wife 2006-03-19 17:52:47

spy on the wife 2006-03-19 17:58:58

spy recorders 2006-03-19 18:02:34

signs of cheating 2006-03-19 18:05:52

videos 2006-03-20 17:56:16

postal service stamps 2006-03-21 09:27:46

tracking cell phone numbers 2006-03-21 11:00:13

divorce 2006-03-23 14:10:27

divorce lawyers 2006-03-24 00:38:47

cheating wives 2006-03-24 06:07:00

cheating wives 2006-03-24 06:07:00

divorce lawyers 2006-03-24 13:10:32

saving a marriege 2006-03-24 13:42:04

saving a marriege 2006-03-24 15:02:24

saving a marriege 2006-03-24 15:02:24

saving a marriege 2006-03-24 15:20:13

fitness gyms 2006-03-24 16:32:50

womes wellness 2006-03-24 16:35:33

hypertension 2006-03-24 17:07:33

e-cards 2006-03-26 23:40:56

saving a marriage 2006-03-26 23:50:11

saving a marriage 2006-03-26 23:50:11

saving a marriage 2006-03-26 23:50:11

sexual techiques 2006-03-27 10:39:27

greenting cards 2006-03-27 12:45:53
"

Sunday, August 27, 2006

PlayStation 3 tackles world ills

Brilliant little piece of PR for the PS3. It's SO much btter than the XBox that it can also save lives. While you're playing!

Good call by whoever thought this up though, sounds like deeper integration than a PR agency could usually come up with. Bit controversial viewpoint - hope someone can prove me wrong!

Interesting though - Sony were reasonably careful to make the PS2 quite separate from a PC. This development shows that it will be able to load some third party programmes which will not necessarily be games. Since the PS3 is being sold at a subsidised price, will we see it expand into new functions? OpenOffice for the PS3 - they've already fitted it with a USB port so a keyboard shouldn't be too difficult.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Super-size Britain must curb junk food ads, say campaigners"

I find it interesting how the insidous power of advertising is supposed to corrupt normal healthy people into corpulent pigs mindlessly munching away at junk food. It is also interseting how the food snobbery movement is growing. Not content to ban the delicious Turkey Twizzler from the school canteen, the organic crusaders are now on their way to the supermarket.
Banning TV advertising about Junk Food would be good for our industry as the advertsiing money will have to go somewhere else. The internet would be perfect to receive the money instead, however we shouldn't want to win because of government intervention.
Over the last couple of decades there has been a movement towards providing cheap food for the masses. This was the whole point of the Common Agricultural Policy. Now that this movement has succeeded, the hippies want to move towards forcing people to only eat quality food.
The problem is that there isn't a really clear definition of 'junk food'. As any nutritionist will tell you, it's all about balanced diet. A diet of strictly cucumbers would hurt you almost as much as a diet of only McDonalds. So what constitutes Junk Food? High fat food? Would that mean adverts for Butter or Margarine would be banned?
Basically this will only create some artificial hoops for the junk food manufacturers to jump through. Limiting the fat to a certain amount and then inserting flavourings or 'regulators' would allow the manufacters to still create stodgy food. This would then frustrate the hippies and they'll make some kind of 'Junk Food Tsar' who will be charged with the impossible task of making people eat healthily.

In my opinion the answer is that they should harness the power of advertising to run adverts telling people to eat healthily. Maybe tax the junk food manufacturers to pay for healthy advertising. Link the size of the tax to the proportion of people eating healthily. This link should incentivise them to deliver more healthy people.
The fact that the companies will be involved in promoting healthy eating would then lead to new healthy food products as the companies see that they can promote products on the back of this forced advertising.
Overall though, I think we should tax hippies and give the money to Nestle.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Malcolm Murdoch passes!


Team Pembo would like to congratulate Malcolm Murdoch on passing his review. Mr Murdoch achieved a commendable result on Neil and Daniel's senior planner/buyer test and did particulalry well in answering those curve balls provided by Tim.

Who's next?

Media Guardian reports today that

Central TV reporter Joanne Malin apologised after accidentally blurting out that it was "pissing down" during a weather report.

Two viewers complained. Many more said they found it hilarious.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

David Brent Microsoft Videos


Brilliant Microsoft training videos featuring Ricky Gervais as David Brent has appeared on Google Video and You Tube. They were filmed in 2003 with the understanding that they would never be made public. Microsoft own the rights to the films and have denied all resposibility for the videos appearing online.

According to this week's Campaign p4, response to the videos have been generally positive, with Microsoft recieving rare praise from bloggers whom ordinairily deliver the abuse on the software giant. In which case this video content has helped to enhance the Microsoft brand.

Watch the videos they are great! And find out the key to Gilbo's success.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

UK leads the way for Digital switch on

Article that i've ripped from the BBC website on the ever growing number of homes in the Uk that will have digital TV. This must be a reielf for the Government and OFCOM as they prepare for the 'digital switch over' in 2010. What will the implications be for Digital agencies? The latest report that I have been party to stated that ipTV would only account for 6% of TV viewing time by 2010.


Digital TV will be watched in a greater percentage of homes in the UK than any other country by 2010, a report says. Around 95% of UK households will have digital TV, compared with 66% in the US and 50% in Germany, according to market analyst Datamonitor.

Freeview will overtake satellite as the most popular way to watch TV in the UK by 2008, the company says. The report also predicts that Europe will continue to lag behind the US in adopting high definition (HD) TV.

It blames lack of interest in HD on the fact that the improvement in picture quality is smaller in Europe compared with the US. However, HD broadcasts of this summer's football World Cup have sparked interest in the format amongst Europeans, the report's authors say.

The UK already has the world's highest level of digital TV viewers at almost 70%, broadcasting regulator Ofcom revealed earlier this year. The US is second with 55%, but no other European country has passed 50%.

Growth in digital services is expected to be fuelled by hi-tech developments such as TV on demand and personal video recorders. In the UK, most homes will have to switch to digital when the government turns off the traditional analogue television signal.

The Cumbrian town of Whitehaven will be first to lose its analogue signal in 2007, with the switchover process due to be completed by 2012.

The world gets smaller

The BBC continues to be cutting edge in the digital space in the UK. It is interesting to see that they are trying to encourage viewers to the home page to talk to peole that have just returned to their homes in Lebenon.

It's interesting to see the variety of the questions and the calm responses from the people of Lebenon.

You-tube helps to spread the democratisation of advertising

Branded channels are to be offered on YouTube for advertisers to promote their products to the You-Tube community

"YouTube’s efforts to make money out of its online audience by allowing advertisers to promote brands through customised “channels” and by encouraging users to create their own ads is a further sign that social networking sites are becoming powerful branding platforms." FT

YouTube have been exploring partnerships with the likes of Nike, and the uploads of video clips and shot ads. As with the example of Mentos and Coke experiment, users can also be seen as a means to push the brand. For the brand this means that they will have the opportunity to push their message through branded channels of YouTube as well as through the home-made videos by the user.

Virgin free broadband

Virgin are getting in on the act with free broadband. Customers can sign up for the SIM-only pay monthly tariff, but the free broadband deal only runs until 31 October. The service will attract a large number of customers because there’s no fixed contract with Virgin Mobile SIM-only tariff, so as long as a customer continues to use them mobile phone service, they’ll get broadband free for 12 months.

MediaGuardian.co.uk | New media | Microsoft puts police link on Messenger

Yet more hysterical overreaction to a crime that's committed by a stunningly small number of people in proportion to the media coverage.

The fact that parents don't know and don't understand what their kids are doing on Myspace and Messenger means that they are slighttly paranoid about the potential consequences of what they get up to.

I'm sure putting a little 'call the police' button in the side of the messenger window will help catch a couple of 'groomers' but I'm not sure it's a healthy thing for Microsoft to have done. The problem is that little kids are, generally, little bastards. Hitting the fire alarm in school might now be replaced with accusing random strangers with grooming.

If there are high numbers of false positives, it could backfire for Microsoft as the perception grows that it is dangerous to let children use messenger.

Didn't anyone teach these kids not to talk to strangers?

Google Adds Streaming MP3 Player to Gmail

In a move which I think will make the anti-piracy police really really happy, Google is adding a streaming MP3 player to Gmail.

"When you receive an audio file as an email attachment, click the play button and Google will play the audio file for you in a popup window. MP3s are streamed using Google's Flash based video player."

The email system which was already criticised for being the perfect online storage space for illegal MP3s (and in fact has been hacked in the past to make it into a file swapping system) has now been made even more perfect for this.

I don't condone this.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good Quote

"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something. --Thomas H. Huxley"

Going to post on my blog for a while, until some other people start posting here!

mildswearwords.blogspot.com

Farecast - New US Vertical Search Engine

A new site has just launched in the US. They allow american consumers to have a handle on when to buy tickets. Since the introduction of flexible pricing models similar to that of Easyjet, US airlines have been varying the price you pay according to when you pay.
What consumers have noticed is that the airlines attempt to maximise their revenues by charging more at different times. The trick to getting the cheapest possible tickets is to time it right. If you book too early, airlines will sting you as they are still sitting comfortably at that point.
If you book too late, the airlines will get you again as your options run out. Getting that 'sweet spot' is notoriously difficult.

This site tries to give consumers information (it seems to be very careful not to guarantee it's recommendations) in order to make the right choice about waiting.
I wonder if this will be something people will pursue in the UK? Skyscanner seems to have the vertical travel flight market sewn up here. If a new site can come along and show the cost saving benefits, we could see a little fight between them!

RMX Direct: alternative ad networks battle for your blog

Quite interesting development.
At the moment ad networks perform internal auction models in order to deliver the best possible value to the site and to the network. This technology is why some of the larger networks have been able to enter into CpA deals. Optimisation takes place on the network's servers, with little or no input direct from the site.
The new system will allow sites to be a member of more than one network at the same time. This will allow all the networks to extend their reach, but at the price of making generic network activity more expensive. The question is whether this cost will be absorbed by networks or passed on to advertisers.
I suspect we will see networks offering adantages to sites that sign up to them on an exclusive basis. Content aggregation along the lines of the Washington post's blogrolls or the UK's newly launched messagespace will allow advertisers to find ways to speak to targeted audiences, while networks will allow broadcasting.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's in the living room of the future?

Video is coming from new sources, from DVDs, consoles, digital cameras and even mobile phones. We are now moving to a situation where televisions are no longer the central and only consumer entertainment object within the living room. What else is invading this space? What's going to be in front of our sofas?

Displays

There is ongoing competition between three different technologies for the mainstay of any digital living room, the display.

These are the Plasma screen, the LCD screen and the projector (and a resulting screen). Note the use of the words 'screen' or 'display' rather than television. There is a definite trend for televisions to be used as screens. The role of decoding television transmission is rapidly being delegated to distinct, separate boxes.
Tuning into external signals (television) is rapidly being delegated to boxes (Sky+, freeview, media centres). Internal signals such as DVDs have traditionally been delivered from external devices too.

Plasma Screens

To be brutally honest, the average consumer doesn't really know the difference between the two competing flat screen standards. Overall, plasma screen has one main advantage over LCD screens and that is price. On a 'price per square inch' basis, plasma wins at the moment. However, they have an ongoing (though slowly being solved) problem with 'screen burn'. This is a major issue as people start shifting towards media centres which will need to be able to surf on the Internet. Wanting to play computer games will also impose further limitations on the people who want to use their screen for games.
Power efficiency is not very good at all - Fujitsu are currently attempting to run some negative PR about the efficiency of the screens. They cannot achieve levels that can beat CRT, let alone beat the LCDs.
Image quality is supposed to be strongest on these screens, as they have the ability to get the strongest 'contrast ratios'. The contrast ratio tells you the difference between white pixels and black pixels. LCD screens tend to be around 500 whereas plasma screens will be around 3000. This leads to more impressive colours, if you believe the marketing blurbs...

LCD Screens

These screens are the most reliable and tend to last the longest, having a very low tendency to suffer from screen burn. LCD is the most price efficient for smaller screens, but they are having difficulty competing with the plasma screens on the larger sizes.
In terms of power efficiency, LCD screens win hands down. They are far more efficient than the average CRT (traditional TV screen) and manage to thrash the plasma screens.
Image quality is not as strong as the other two, however whether the quality is detectable without specialised equipment is a very good question. I strongly suspect that most people will not be willing to pay extra for the plasma screens.

Projectors

Some might consider a projector a bit of overkill for the average living room. Though a projector can be a more practical solution than a 42" television.
Projectors sit somewhere between LCD and Plasma in terms of picture quality, though they can be the best if you are willing to pay eye watering amounts of money.
Costs tend to vary hugely. If the consumer is not worried about having enough resolution to run HD content, they can get a decent sized projector without spending more than LCD screens.
Projectors will more than likely become a more specialised choice as they will not be a 'space saving solution'. Reliability issues can come into it as projectors can get through their horredously expensive bulbs on a very regular basis.

Video Delivery

PVR

Sky+ penetration is growing steadily and heavily. The popularity of the PVR product is very impressive, and does not seem to be something consumers are willing to give up. Sky report seeing their retention rates leap significantly with the introduction of their PVR service. The fact they are willing to subsidise the introduction of the PVR to UK households indicates we will see the majority of homes with this device by the end of the decade.
BARB estimate that PVR penetration will rise to 78% within the next ten years. This is particularly interesting as it predicts that time shifted viewing will still only consist of around 20% of TV watching by this point.
PVRs are very simple to install and extremely easy to use. These two factors are the most important in terms of mass consumer adoption. It is very difficult to see a way in which PVRs, or something very like them will not become the dominant method of watching television. Products are coming to market which combine DVD functions with PVRs, allowing people to have a one stop shop for their video needs.
HDTV will result in more expensive PVRs, but shouldn't produce any signifcant changes to these devices.

Media Centre

Although media centres are currently being touted as the future by Microsoft, the costs of the systems are prohibitive at the moment. Microsoft (and the hardware companies) are looking to people to invest an extra £1,000 in a 'home entertainment system'. Since this is being targeted at people who have already invested in a large screen, companies are looking for a certain class of consumers. Suspicions abound that these consumers will not be found in large numbers.
Media centres offer people the opportunity to combine their PC and therefore internet browsing with the television. This is an interesting proposal, as many research papers (including Touchpoints) have pointed out that many people watch TV while using their PCs for other tasks. Will Microsoft expect people to use more than one computer in their living rooms?
HDTV will be a necessity for the media centres, as many of their functions will not work well on normal, non-HDTV screens.

Consoles

Video doesn't have to be TV or films, it could also come from consoles. Video game usage among younger people is increasing, and the original 'gamer' generations have now reached the ages where they have serious amounts of spend behind them. Can the console makers convince consumers to spend large amounts of money on their products?
Already people are spending more on games than on cinema. A US study found that a significant proportion of men are spending more on gaming than on music. The average annual UK music spend is around £170. Will we see this being cut into to go towards games?
Both Microsoft and Sony have two strategies available. They can either look to incorporate their 'media centre' product into the new generation of computers emerging, or they can look to upgrade their consoles. The new generation of consoles have the capability to fulfil all the functions of a media centre, should their manufacturers choose to upgrade them.
The most likely scenario will be that the manufacturers will give the media centre another 18 months (until a while after Windows Vista has been launched) to see if they can make more money by selling the more expensive platforms. If this cannot be achieved, then they will move towards providing the necessary functionality on their proprietary platforms.
I suspect that we will see some kind of package come out for the consoles which will allow them to be used as 'digital hubs'. Sony are already pushing the PS3's ability to play the new blu-ray disks. Will they start enabling their PS3s to take TV signals and become PVRs? Will they give the PS3 a fully functional web browser?
Some of the answers are visible from Microsoft. They are trying to extend their 360 brand. Their online presence has recently rebranded to 'Windows Live', deliberately reminiscent of the XBox live. XBox live is one of Microsoft's few web successes (which wasn't bought) so it seems natural that they want to build on success. Plans to sell advertising on the XBox live system would also start their ability to fund an expansion of this service to cover a wider range of content.
Consoles offer the manufacturers a chance to roll back the development of the web and begin to offer 'walled garden internet'. Only allowing approved (or paying) partners within it. This content rich network would then be milked for all the advertising cash they could justify. If any of the three companies (Nintendo could get into this game too) can attract a good number of people to their network, we should see some interesting media opportunities.

Internet (IPTV)

IPTV is a serious proposition. Watching TV over the internet is something which can already happen (BBC's 'watch again' has been in testing for a long period of time). Internet delivery systems for film and video are under development from Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and other companies. Internet delivery requires large amounts of bandwidth to work effectively. Downloading large amounts of video content will result in large costs for the broadcaster and, potentially, for the consumer. Many consumers have deals with their ISPs that limit the total amount they are allowed to download a month. IPTV will be impossible to realise while these caps remain in place for the majority of consumers.
IPTV is a technology that covers a large range of possible solutions. There are current systems in place, being run by Homechoice, NTL and Telewest. Although they currently have a large amount of UK households with the service, details are currently sketchy as to usage.
The homechoice platform is of most interest, as it not only represents a live implementation of IPTV but also shows a possible server \ client implementation of the media centres. This means the homechoice servers (currently physically installed in the telephone exchanges) will be able to run web browsers for living rooms.
The fact that some of the services allow people to watch programmes whenever they want to makes them similar to PVRs. There are consistent rumours that the BBC will introduce a system similar to 'Listen Again' on an IPTV platform.
DVD playing will also be threatened by IPTV. A physical copy of films will no longer be necessary. Many consumers are now comfortable downloading their music. They will be able to download films. Currently, cable operators offer their users the opportunity to 'rent' movies which are then playable for the night through their platform. The rise of Netflix shows there is demand for easy and flexible film hires.

Conclusion

The next major battleground for consumer electronics will be the living room. There are a number of different solutions to the wants and demands of the modern consumer. The television battleground will end with LCDs on the top, though there will never be a uniform technology again in the same way that CRT once ruled the roost. There is constant innovation within this field and we should expect to see new technologies being able to deliver visuals in the near future.
The method of receiving the signals is where the majority of uncertainty lies. IPTV has the potential to deliver the majority of people's video content, though it will be necessary to develop enough infastructure to deliver the required bandwidth. In the short term, however, the PVR will be the most used solution before the rise of IPTV.
Consoles represent an attractive route into the living room for the major players. Sony is definitely using the PS3 as an 'advance guard' into the living room. Once the PS3 has been bought, consumers will then have a need for a HDTV. Microsoft hope to keep their operating system at the heart of home users, and so will aim to start extending the possibilities of their console offering.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I wish this was BBC1's real ident

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Gizmodo Voice: Richard Baguley - Gizmodo

The new writer on Gizmodo is called Richard Baguley...


Our IT guy is reviewing gadgets for one of the biggest blogs in the world? Is there some kind of nominative determinism at work here?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bebo Ad-model

Bebo aims to modify its ad model to allow users to choose the 'type' of ads they want to recieve. Beboers can select themes and can be targeted with ads which interest them, which is pretty cool unless they are allowed to select 'no ads!' Ofcourse commercial sites would never consider this to be appropriate.

Furthermore, Beobo will accomodate advertising around its online video service.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Find Buried Treasure through Spam

Fantastic story

Involves Spam and buried treasure. Shows that we're not making enough money.

Pretty clever of the guy though - if someone's ever suing me for money, I'll buy a load of Gold and Platinum bars and bury them somewhere. Wonder if he's made one of those old school pirate maps? Or put the clue on one of those Geotagging sites?

Might make quite a good campaign idea...

Let click fraud happen says Google chairman

Eric Schmidt made the fairly good economic argument that click fraud is self correcting and the "perfect economic solution" is to "let it happen".

Lots of click fraud means less money for the advertiser from the clicks they get, causing the advertiser to pay less per click, reducing the incentive for click fraud.

(Which then means more money for the advertiser from the clicks they get, resulting in the advertiser paying more per click, increasing click fraud. But never mind that).

But apparently he was being hypothetical. So say Google anyway as they back track as fast as they can.

Football related

Really good piece of work from Canada(?)

Kronenbourg tends to make my head hurt rather than stopping my head from hurting. I think this is the wrong way around!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MediaPost Publications - Google Maps Adds Coupons - 08/15/2006

Google Maps Adds Coupons - 08/15/2006

You people might call them vouchers.

Malcolm's addition:
Interesting - I think the most important development in this system is that it replaces the need to have a website at all.

This substantially removes barriers to small businesses advertising within Google and should mean that Google recruits even smaller businesses to it's advertising programmes.
If they can get a good percentage takeup of the service, they've also found a way to incentivise usage of the Google Maps site. This will also provide revenue for the Google maps service and start to encourage Google to spend more time and money promoting it. Should be interesting to start using this once the service rolls out to the UK in however many years that takes!
Streetmap and Multimap are probably quaking in their boots...

Free Google Wifi goes live in San Francisco

As compensation for having to put up with a moron for a president (I am paraphrasing the press release here), Google has gone live with free wifi in Mountain View, at least as a soft launch.

Reports say it's working "better than advertised", good work for the company that doesn't do advertising.

The same report complains that Google aren't offering human customer support for the service. But without it Google have created a true meritocracy, where those with the skills to set up their connection are rewarded with free access. Ban handouts now!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Poirot to detect new generation online

They were good books. Leave them as books!

"Agatha Christie's classic plots translate beautifully onto mobile and internet platforms"

No they don't. They don't at all.

Look at the games charts at the moment (ELSPA). Do you see any murder mysteries there?
Computers have moved on from adventure games. This is mainly because they were rubbish. The biggest sellers and probably the best games are the ones that let you do what you want to do within a set environment.
You might find that there are murder mysteries within a game. For example, you could look at "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion" and call it a murder mystery. You'd be wrong though because it's a murder mystery where you can decide that you're bored with being a detective and go and fight demons with magic spells instead.
The whole point of Poirot, Marple et al was that it was a story. Stories are not interactive. They tell you what happens. Interactive games are all about you telling the system what happens and then seeing how the system responds.
Turning sports into games works well. Turning historical events into games also works well (what if situations). Stories into games don't work because you know what happens.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fix your computer - the US government says so!

DHS | Department of Homeland Security | DHS Recommends Security Patch to Protect Against a Vulnerability Found In Windows Operating Systems
Interesting little titbit - personal computers are now important enough to warrant a warning by the good ol' department of homeland security in the US.
Funny they should be taking an interest with this particular patch - as far as I was aware this is fixing general security issues, not any amazingly huge holes. Telling people to patch their computers on the same day they are preparing to ground planes and introduce stupidly stringent baggage restrictions is unusual.
Surely they have better things to look at...?

Interesting Wristbands

Adam Smith Institute Blog:
"Those who embrace free trade as an instrument of good can now express their support for poorer peoples by proclaiming an intention to buy their produce."

Quite good little wristband to show off your support for free trade. Note: This is for people who support the opposite of fair trade...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Google bombing

This technique exploits the Google search ranking by getting lots of sites to collude and use the same satirical/humorous and out-of-context anchor text when linking to a webpage. I'm sure this is old news to most people but it's still a nice, subtle and reasonably accessible way of making a political point.

For example, a restaurant fired a worker for blogging about it, and now look what turns up when you search for gastrointestinal dysentery.

And some other classics:

Worst president ever

Poodle

Ignorant bigots

And sadly relegated to second in the Google rankings; this needs to get back to number one!

Fuckwit

Co-op banks on ethical profit

Guardian Unlimited Business | | Furry sporrans turned down as Co-op banks on ethical profit

I definitely missed this story when it was first run. This is the kind of thing that the bank really needs to push.
No other bank will be able to tell consumers how much business it turned away for being unethical. All other major banks are run for shareholders and therefore can not go back to them and say they turned down business of this size due to ethical concerns.
£9.9m is a large amount of money - it wouldbe good to get the percentage of turnover that this is. Would be useful for any future campaigns...

The World According to The Affiliate!

At last I have a space on the "teampembo" blog it’s strange that the online world still at times does not fully understand what affiliate marketing is all about. The name to most conjours up images of a seedy underworld like that of "Sin City". "Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything" Well here I am infiltrating the "teampembo" blog to give you all something a little more than the sanitised digest of digital but giving you the real deal on what affiliates do and can do.

More Wikipedia Attention

MediaGuardian.co.uk | New media | Gary Younge reports on Wiki-mania, and WIkipedia vandalism:

My favourite internet thing continues to be lavished with attention. I might make an entry for myself one of these days...


Great quote:

"Tony Blair's page was once changed to describe one of his jobs as 'George Bush's bitch boy'"

The Sun Online: 6 Star Wars in 20 minutes

The Sun Online - News: 6 Star Wars in 20 minutes
I sometimes think some people obsess a bit too much about Star Wars. I can understand the X files or something a bit more - star wars was only about 8 or 9 hours worth of content.
That is not to say that I have obsessed over any TV show (apart from Buffy which was for entirely different reasons).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

McDonald's Talk

This is an online forum for McDonald's staff to have their say. Proves to be a good read.

"Yesss!!! I got a raise from $6.50 to $8! I'm so happy. And, I didn't even complete 500 hours. I had like 100. Well, pretty much, our store is REALLY desperate for people because everyone's quitting, so, the training wage people get a $1.50 raise. Does anyone's store do this?"

" was wondering, what is the "policy" on relationships between managers and crew? Not exactly romantic relationship, but like friendly as well. Because, a team leader there is like a good friend of mine, [even if I'm almost-16 and he's 22], and we hang out, and I think he was once telling me that "technically, managers aren't supposed to be hanging out with crew." That would kind of suck if it was true"

"is anyone else doing the pirates of the carrabian shit? have you won anything? know anyone who has? i have done like 40 codes and got nothing."

"you know you work at hell when....you actually get denied a job offer because a company is partners with MCD's."

http://community.livejournal.com/mcdonalds_talk/

Milk and Cereal

Milk and Cereal

MySpace enters the G-league

Rupert Murdoch has up the ante by teaming up with Google in a multi year search and advertising deal. MySpace is expecting to reach 100m registered users this week and adds 250,000 new users per day. A social networking site teaming up with a search portal of this size, suggests that we are introducing a new mode of domination within digital media, and thus partially destructing the traditional model of portal vs search. It would make a great movie, Rupert Murdoch could almost be Megatron.

Check out this well writen article on the FT
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/17e8e67e-2660-11db-afa1-0000779e2340.html

UK people spend 50 days on the web

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | British internet users spend 50 days a year surfing web

Sounds believable to me. Quite good bit of PR for the switching companies though!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Soulmates - Member Profile: cantabkaren

Soulmates - Member Profile: cantabkaren

They're starting to put ads of people on the homepage of the Guardian...


Was speaking to someone at the Guardian the other day and he said soulmates was becoming one of the most important areas in terms of profit.

Poor woman though - I wonder if she knows that thousands of people will be reading her profile today. Is that a good thing? What happens if she knows thousands of people read it but noone got in touch!?

R-A-J-A-R

RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research Limited. We were all so close! I believe that it was the first (A) that threw us, and the initials should in fact read RJAR.

Recent findings (Q2 August) reported that radio via digital television (DTV) or the Internet, has increased from 25.5 million adults last quarter (Q1, 2006) to 27.1 million adults (Q2, 2006) or 54.3%.

Listening via the Internet has increased by 9.6%, up from 20.8% (Q1, 2006) to 22.8% (Q2, 2006)

Listening via DTV has grown by 6.6%, up from 36.5% (Q1, 2006) to 38.9% (Q2, 2006)

7% of adults listen to radio via their mobile

1.9m use their mp3 player to listen to downloaded radio programme podcasts



Oh, and in today's Guardian (media section), the top 5 digital radio station were listed for Q2 (000s):

1. The Hits (1102)
2. Smash Hits (776)
3. BBC7 (668)
4. 5 Live (658)
6. Asian Network (444)

Digital radio certainly seems a valid route for the commercial stations to challenge the might of the BBC and ensure healthier competition.

Media Monkey: New Conspiracy Theory

Media Monkey: New Conspiracy Theory
Previous post on my own blog about the 'conspiracy'...

Reuters drops photographer over 'doctored' image

MediaGuardian.co.uk | Press&publishing | Reuters drops photographer over 'doctored' image

Blog power!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 7, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 7, 2006
He may be retiring, but it's still interesting to hear Bill Gates' tips on how to be more productive. I bet if you work it out, he's probably the most productive person who's ever lived!

By happy coincidence (for him), all the productivity tips seem to involve Microsoft products...

Lost?

Check out this blog by an American girl called Rachel Blake as she backpacks round Europe.

Seems rather scenic but on closer inspection the site hides a lot of research she's done about an organisation called the Hanso Foundation, which seems to have dark secrets behind its philanthropic front.

Rachel writes that "in order to keep the Hanso squad from hacking me and taking my evidence down, I had to hide my clips on a bunch of corporate websites".

It's actually an elaborate bit of viral marketing for the TV show Lost.

And with Rachel blogging on Blogspot, posting videos on You Tube, uploading documents to Yahoo, and 'hacking' into the Monster.com and Jeep sites to post information, I think its all been really well done.

Shocking ad?


Here's a controversial advert for the new white Playstation Portable, which will no doubt generate tonnes of free publicity for Sony around watercoolers, in newspapers and on blogs (oh look! I'm part of the problem).

Does it make a difference that this advert is on alternative billboards?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Amazon.com: Reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz: Gourmet Food

Amazon.com: Reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz: Gourmet Food
A fun example of consumer generated content going crazy.

I don't know how this cascade started, but for some reason 385 different people have written amusing reviews for this product (which is a gallon of milk).

I didn't see one saying that drinking milk on a hot day was a bad choice, but I'm sure someone would have.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

IAB Debate: Are Creative Agencies Moving with the Times?

Went to an IAB run debate last night sponsored by the Guardian.

The theme of the debate was whether creative agencies are developing with the changing consumer landscape.

Although the obvious response would be to look at the old dinosaurs represented by agencies such as JWT, Grey &c, the debate was whether digital agencies were losing their grip on the future.

It seems strange to me that agencies need to ask themselves this sort of question. Digital creative agencies are leading a sector of the industry that grew a breathtaking 65% last year and is on course to grow even more this year.

However, there were some good points raised on both sides.

The introduction and chairing was run by Kieron Matthews, the head of marketing at the IAB. I was genuinely impressed by his knowledge of the industry.

The side arguing that creative agencies had, in fact, moved with the times was represented by three relative heavyweights.

They Are Moving With The Times

Steven Filler (Guardian Head of Digital Advertising and Sponsorship) outlined his thoughts:
He has been impressed with the quality of the advertising coming through when compared with the last couple of years. Surprisingly, he sees that media owners and digital creative agencies need to work closer together.
There is a convincing argument that media owners and creative agencies can work well together. Media owners know about the technical possibilities of the media space and the creative agencies know what they can do with those technical possibilities. The fact that the creative agencies are less well equipped to negotiate these deals was ignored...
He moaned that media agencies weren't moving forward - they wouldn't give the Guardian enough money for their funky new ideas. He said media owners are the people 'closest to the customer.' Therefore they could be more involved in the creative process.

Flo Heiss (Creative Partner at Dare)
According to Flo, the industry is definitely in the process of evolving. His agency, Dare, is currently restucturing to get rid of the creative department. Digital and interactive creative requires a merging of both ideas and technical. He would like to see 'digital agency' replaced with the name 'interactive agency' to show that the industry isn't just about the internet.
The important point is that digital agencies are now moving beyond the business models used in old traditional agencies.

Becky Power (Head of Art at Modem Media)
She wanted to emphasise that the digital creative agencies are not arrogant like the old traditional agencies (there was a large amount of hate towards the traditional agencies). Digital agencies are 'miles ahead of the traditional agencies' but complained that 'media agencies are not moving forward'. She also had a quick moan that at all agency meetings digital agencies aren't treated as equals. Some people had the cheek to lump them into the same box as DM agencies.
Luckily digital agencies aren't at all arrogant. Digital agencies are 'always pushing the limits' even while these 'limits are always changing'. They are able to do this because the Digital agencies are the people 'closest to the customer.'


They Aren't Moving With The Times
Laura Jordan Bambach (Head of Art, Glue)
The overall image that Laura painted was that the industry's problems stemmed from the 'lean years'. The main focus of the problem is that digital agencies used to be desparate for moneny and desparate for attention. This lead to a combination of undercharging and overdelivery, leading to a devaluation of digital services and attrition of margins.
She sees a host of people 'talking big and acting small'. This then leads to a credibility gap with some clients, this could be a problem for the whole industry.

Laurent Ezekiel (Client Services Director, Wheel)
Argued that the problem was in the charging model. He charges his clients based mainly on hours. This is unrealistic and holds down margins - it makes it difficult for Wheel to show or extract the true value of the work they create.
He thought there was a bit too much complacency and emphasised the need for digital agencies to be stronger with their clients. He bemoaned the fact that very little creative planning goes on within the creative agencies - there's a feeling that this could be a service that would be valued by clients.
He also berated the creative output of some of his compeititor agencies, moaning that some of the creative out there could be described as 'average at best'.

Matt Dyke (Planning Director, Tribal DDB)
By far the most impressive speaker at the event.
He used the analogy of a frog, which was brave. According to urban legend, frogs can be boiled alive without noticing. If the temperature is raised gradually over time, the frog will not notice until its enymes are slowly denatured and the cell membranes slowly rupture. Sounds unlikely.
In his view, digital creative agencies are being boiled alive by a number of different sources:
  • Traditional agencies beginning to tool up digital capabilities
  • Consumer generated content - how can content that costs money compete?
  • Online clients who already know what they're doing (e.g. Apple, Amazon, eBay)
  • Suicide - ineffectual remuneration models, wage inflation...

Alessandra Lariu (Senior Creative, Agency Republic)
She also thought we should begin calling Digital agencies 'interactive agencies.' Her main gripe seemed to be about gender imbalance within agencies. Although the creative teams are moving towards gender parity, she moaned that they were having difficulties finding a good number of female programmers and techies.


The things everyone agreed on:
  • Remuneration model needs some work. This is something Campaign has been banging on about for the overall industry, so it would be interesting to see if a digital agency can solve this
  • Recruitment of females. I agree that more women would be nice.
  • Overdelivery - there's still a feeling that digital agencies are overly keen to deliver and be seen to deliver
  • Education of clients - they want budgets that would allow them to do all the cool things they keep on dreaming up. It seemed that the problem was from both sides, the client doesn't give them much money. This is then followed by them not pushing ideas that would exceed the client's budget for digital.
  • Media agencies - there was an ongoing moan that overall digital ad spend had increased, but revenue for digital creative agencies not risen in line with it. There was also the feeling that too many media agencies just 'give them a schedule, it's not a full partnership'
  • Offline can be called ATL. It was quite sad to see a whole room of digital creative people not even questioning this whole ATL nonsense. They're offline agencies, not above the line agencies. Separate it out into online \ offline and brand \ direct.
Overall, it was interesting to see what kind of self important people are in the creative agencies. When the questions were opened out onto the floor, it was fun to listen to people talk for talkings sake.

Luckily there was free beer otherwise this would have been a dissapointing night.

Nacho Libre

This new Jack Black film, Nacho Libre is being pushed via a series of wrestling games on Nickelodeon. In addition, all press ads are advertising a free ringtone when text 61661. In fact you get 2 and they are great. TO hear the Mexican Priest wail, you are directed to their mobile website where you can also see trailers and get ringtones for other United Internationa Pictures films. I've only checked out promos about Nacho, as I have godly faith that this Mexican Priest - Wrestling movie will be the best thing I will ever see; nothing else will provide such a true reflection of war and religion. Word.

http://www.nacholibre.com/

Yell vs Yellowikis

Teenager faces action over listings website

She started it as a hobby - a listings website that was inspired by Wikipedia and Craigslist. But 15-year-old Rosa Blaus' initiative appeared to have backfired yesterday when she learned her website had infuriated the company behind Yellow Pages.
The teenager, who set up the Yellowikis site with her father Paul Youlden, has been accused of attempting to pass it off as a legitimate arm of the telephone directory. Yell, which owns the Yellow Pages brand in the UK, this week confirmed that it was taking legal action to force Miss Blaus to hand over the Yellowikis name and the site's contents.

Yellowikis plans to fight the action, claiming that it is not trading off its rival. "Even if we win, it's likely to cost us thousands of pounds," said Mr Youlden. "Although we have asked the users of the site to help, it's difficult to know how much support we'd get from them."
Yell claims that Miss Blaus' site is infringing trademark rights with its name, logo and business directory. The Yellowikis site allows any company to add and edit its own listings, unlike Yellow Pages, which has closed listings paid for by the advertisers. Although the Yellowikis site is based in Britain, only around 175 of its 5,000 listings are for businesses in the UK. But because the service is hosted on the mainland, Yell claims it is a violation of its trademark rights.
"Yell takes its brand and intellectual property seriously," a spokesman said. "Like any prudent brand owner, it seeks to protect it."
Many users of the site have pledged small donations to the legal fund, and it has also garnered support from a high-profile backer, Jimmy Wales, founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia. "We have offered Yellowikis financial help if they need it," he said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1835233,00.html#article_continue

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sorry I'm late, I missed my train watching TV.

TFL: "Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Victoria, Kings Cross, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations are likely to be among the first in the capital to be installed with new digital advertising screens."

This seems to go along the line of thinking that anything can be made better by putting a screen in it. This is of course flawed because anything can actually be made better by putting a clock in it. Unless it already has a clock in it, or indeed is a clock, in which case I can't help you.

Blogs and Businesses

Adam Smith Institute Blog

Interesting piece about the way some businesses respond to blogging

Media Week Editor shares his opinion

We had Philip Smith the editor of Media Week in to talk to the agency yesterday. Philip was once the editor of Revolution, the mnthly online magazine. He is knowledgable about the Internet and the growing digital space. He thinks that ipTv will evolve as we all do... after all YouTube is now attracts more eyeballs than MySpace. He came up with an interesting suggestion about someone developing an aggregator for ipTV... it sounds like a winner... I think that we should look to get an ipTV aggregator website built and sell if for a fortune to Rupert M...!!

It was interesting to here Philips views on corporate blogs. His view is that some, if not most brands should do a blog. Cillit Bang is a classic example of how not to do a Blog or involve a PR agency who are nieve about the digital space. I think its an area open for digital agencies to exploit but its just how and when?