Little Shop of Horrors

Just had an annoying page takeover on Stuff this morning telling me New World’s Little Shop promotion is back. I already knew. As a father of two young girls going two days without visiting the local supermarket is nigh unheard of!

My initial feeling of getting two little packets and a tick sheet from the shop assistant yesterday was “best keep this secret from my girls as long as possible”. The items received are currently sitting unopened on the fridge.

You see, as a parent, it’s bloody annoying! The kids go completely patho on the whole thing and it rapidly turns into a bore for those with the wallets.

I’m not alone here. After mentioning the launch to another parent her response was “Bugger. Just a pain.” And my wife’s response was similar.

When Little Shop initially launched I could absolutely see the genius in the promotion. It felt fresh and really did make my wife and I go to New World over Countdown or Pak n Save so we could help our kids achieve their goal of getting every item.

But it all ended rather quickly and the items disappeared under the couch and gradually wound their way to the bin.

As a promotional tactic it feels clever but as a brand marketing experience is it creating resentment from the people who actually do the shopping?

This morning Spark New Zealand launched. Here’s how I know…

Saw a full-page newspaper ad in the Dominion Post in the general news section.

Saw another full-page newspaper ad in the Dominion Post business section.

Scrolled past a promoted video on the launch on Facebook.

Scrolled past a couple of tweets referencing the launch.

Got punched in the face by an eyeblaster ad on the NZ Herald…and then again on Stuff. Tweeted how annoying that was.

Noticed Spark NZ at the top of my iPhone.

Saw the banner ad on Stuff again later, noticed the URL was sparknz.co.nz and wondered why. Decided to check spark.co.nz and I see they’ve got that URL so checked why the URL in the banner ad differed. Turns out sparknz.co.nz is simply an introductory site. Unsure why it’s so different from the actual site and why Spark think online banner clickers should have such a different experience from others? There’s no URL in either of the print ads so I checked the URLs for Telecom and Gen-I and both redirect to new sites. The former to Spark.co.nz.

All up a very clear launch…just didn’t need to use eyeblasters online. That felt very Telecom.

Notes from Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report

Earlier this week Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers published her 2014 Internet Trends report.

She’s been doing these reports for over a decade now and they’re a fantastic resource for business planners, digital strategists, developers, entrepreneurs and designers…in fact, pretty much anyone in the tech scene.

The report contains 164 slides so I thought I’d summerise my notes made while reading it…

  • Print ad media is overvalued. Digital and mobile media is where the eyeballs and advertising opportunities are.
  • There is a massive opportunity for mobile friendly education resources.
  • The ‘visual web’ is continuing to rise eg Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram.
  • Facebook is leading to people saying less to larger audiences while younger audiences are saying more to smaller groups through apps like Whatsapp and Viber.
  • ‘Re-imagining’ is the concept of the now. That is, people capturing data and UX and rethinking how basic things like booking a hotel (AirBNB) or hailing a cab (Uber) can be made better through mobile/web devices and tools.
  • Streaming is the future of TV…um…no surprise there.
  • The “Internet Trifecta” is content, community and commerce. That is, crowd source content and enable the community to share it, rate it, review it and curate it. Then build a commerce option from this information. Sounds simple enough…ahem…
  • Uploadable, sharable data and information is rising eg Pinterest, Github, Fitbit etc.
  • TV shows that are doing well are those that create a “fanbase” who comment, curate and create after the show has ended. Don’t just look for the audience who switch channels straight after the show. Second screeners on twitter particularly are golden.
  • And of course the “internet of things” is just growing.

I’m sure there are more nuggets of gold in Meeker’s report, but these were my takeaways.

Reddit and weep

I’ve just been reading about the form players from last weekend’s Super Rugby round. I got the link to the article from Reddit’s Rugby subreddit and found a new site I haven’t heard of before called getrealrugby.com. It turns out this site has buckets of information and useful international insights into one of my favourite spectator sports.

Without the link on Reddit I never would have found it.

In recent times Reddit has become one of the most assessable and simple ways to keep ahead or up to date with topics of interest online. It’s also the source for many listacles we see on the amazingly popular Buzzfeed and click bait filter sites like Twisted Sifter or Tastefully Offensive.

So why aren’t we seeing New Zealand news sites on Reddit? This is surely the key point of growth for young audiences and avid web users. All it would take is for one or two folks Stuff or the NZ Herald to start offering amusing comments about specific articles and posting them. If they’re good, the crowd will engage and like them.

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

A picture says a thousand retweets

Late last year twitter launched a service called twitter cards that enables a thumbnail image to appear alongside a standardised tweet from particular websites.

To enable this feature websites need to feature a wee snippet of code to the twitter link/icon on their site.

E-commerce services like Shopify are now offering it for sales items – which will be massive.

Another simple innovation that is likely to enable excellent qualified traffic generation and online sales leads.

Well worth checking out.

Black Caps winning on the field and on twitter

Of all sports I follow cricket really is tailor made for twitter.

On holiday at Christmas I found @BLACKCAPS tweeting regular test updates of wickets and milestones during the NZ/West Indies ODIs.

Better still I discovered this at the end of the day when I didn’t know the result of the test, which meant as I gradually scrolled up my twitter feed on my iPhone, my anticipation and excitement of what happens next really inflated.

I basically got a play-by-play summary of the test that I could control in a matter of minutes. Fantastic.

Now I’m sure many people do this in a rugby or soccer game but cricket’s slow flow and incremental achievements really work in this medium.

What differentiated the cricket tweets from a regular live scoreboard on Cric-info.com was the additional test comments passed through each test’s hashtag and the regular retweets of people’s comments by the @BLACKCAPS official tweeters. These all added a new dimension to a day’s cricket watching.

So well played New Zealand Cricket. Please keep it up so I (and your 49k followers) can keep in touch with a team that’s playing better than I’ve ever seen.

Social Media Snowballs in Sochi

Well before the Winter Olympics in Sochi began there’s been a broad range of bitterness towards the Russian hosts and particularly their President Vladimir Putin. Primarily Putin’s attitude, comments and actions around homosexuality are at the forefront on this resentment.

Putin’s views are ridiculous and from another era but I’ve been intrigued since the games started how social media actions and attitudes from the athletes are really started to seed wider news stories.

In the last few days we’ve watched Kiwi snowboarder Rebecca Torr follow up on a couple of cheeky tweets about meeting the Jamaican bobsled team and finding ‘friends’ on dating app Tinder in the Olympic Village.

Torr’s story (if that’s what you can call it) has been picked up by the UK’s Daily Mail and across multiple media channels. Now I’m sure it has nothing to do with her being very beautiful – but its kind of blown things a little off course when her job at the Games is to compete.

There’s also the story that’s followed US bobsledder Johnny Quinn who found himself locked in an Olympic village toilet when the lock jammed. His response to this situation was to kick and punch a hole in the door to get out, and then tweet a photo of it for us all to see.

Quinn’s motivation I guess was to prove how macho he is and highlight the failures of the Russian organisers who, it appears, can’t do a single thing right in these games. His story has gone completely global and it has nothing to do with his ability to bobsled.

Social media is once again highlighting the trivial elements of these Games and snowballing them into ‘real stories’. It’s also built up two profiles of athletes who are likely going to do very well out of potential sponsorship opportunities as a result of their 15 minutes of fame.

So perhaps, thanks to the snowball of social media, the winners of the Sochi games aren’t going to be fastest, highest or strongest rather just the loudest and goofiest.

Books…check. CDs…check. eReaders…check. Newspapers…?

Today Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for US$250 million.

Bezos obviously sees the value of a well-respected masthead as he gradually builds up content options and value for Amazon’s Kindle services.

Strong brand loyalty, simple automated payment processes through Kindle/Amazon, with useful hardware is a nice combination that Bezos obviously feels he’s building here.

His move is also a respite for many journalists as the newspaper industry sees its margins and core values being squeezed in every which way.

It’s the value of the newspaper’s brand that’s got me thinking about which newspaper brands are of real international value.

The Guardian is a personal favourite of mine and there’s the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. All very much established, well positioned and respected newspapers and brands.

So what have we got in New Zealand that stands up internationally? The NZ Herald and Stuff are the standout news services. And although Stuff is my local digital offering, the New Zealand Herald is a clear winner IMHO.

Stuff’s branding is one dimensional without an actual hard copy and its brand gets too fragmented across its many small regional mastheads. For international audiences I also think they would favour the NZ Herald too for the simple fact it has “New Zealand” in it’s masthead.

“Be the first, be the best, be different” is a long-running quote on successful Internet ventures. Bezos levered this formula with books and CDs…now we wait to see how different he’s going to make newspapers.

Say it all it all in your URL

Sharing news and content on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter is something I do very rarely these days. Instead, I have a couple of friends who I share content, articles, videos etc with. Usually this is through Skype chat or Messages. They’re not professional contacts, just people who enjoy a bit of humour or a new POV.

Today I stumbled on a terrific bit of TV featuring Russell Brand promoting his live show on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. (If you’ve got 8 minutes, I highly recommend viewing it!)

To share it I copied the link and flicked it on through Messages. In doing so I realised the URL does a great job of peaking curiosity.

http://gawker.com/russell-brand-destroys-msnbc-talk-show-host-for-treatin-513992493

“Russell Brand Destroys MSNBC Talk Show Host…” says it all.

This is a smart move by Gawker. It instantly simplifies what I need to do to share this content.

Youtube, who actually host the video, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ADJhErmJuoQ.

If I were to share this URL, I’d have to do an intro to friends to get them to click and view it. Not really hard, but avoidable.

With the Gawker link I can just say “Read this  <insert link>” to my friends and they will be able to see precisely what the article is about and, if they’re like me, kind of want to see how Brand destroys a US talk show host.

These little details make all the difference when you’re trying to up page impressions and should be something the likes of the NZ Herald have on their to do list.

Holding on to your friends

I’ve got a set of bookmarked websites I call ‘timefillers’. They’re sites that are regularly updated and contain gee whiz content that stirs up emotions. One of my timefiller sites is twistedsifter.com. It features a range of filtered image lists eg 10 best, 15 most etc that make you generally feel good. What I also like about twistedsifter.com is its cross promotion to other content lists with “if you liked this you’ll probably like…”

Now this is not new thinking. In fact it is very old. But doing this well, is still something too many corporate and gevernment sites seem to ignore. They invest in remarketing their websites once people have left their website, but have ignored the user just as they’re about to leave their site.This is surely a lost opportunity.

That particular moment of cross-promotion must be the best possible behavioural marketing offer websites can deliver. People are already on your site, they’ve shown you what they like, it’s up to you to now present additional content that they’ll like.