Our selection of some of the week’s most interesting digital marketing stories, including athletes on eBay and the power of coffee… Read more about each story by clicking on its title and join in the conversation with the comments box at the bottom!
Ally Manock, Head of Connect (Social Media, Online Media & SEO)
Missed out on tickets to the Olympics in 2012? Well, at least you’re not actually taking part and have missed out on sponsorship. James Ellington, a 26-year-old sprinter from Lewisham in South-East London, is in that position having suffered a number of injuries in the build up to the Games, and has lost out on sponsorship opportunities as a result.
He’s not going to let that stop him though. James has decided to embrace the digital world and auction himself on eBay with a reserve price of £30,000. He will wear a sponsor’s branded kit during training sessions in the build up to next year’s Olympic Games in return.
If I was rich, I’d sponsor him to wear an ‘Ally is faster than me’ t-shirt. Just because I could.
James Wheatley, Technical and Scoping Director
This week Starbucks has been hailing the success of its new mobile payments app having taken 26 million transactions in less than a year. That’s one in four payments! What is it with coffee emporiums that put them at the bleeding edge of technology and marketing? Why does buying a simple cup of coffee make normal people so susceptible the latest techno trickery?
Coffee houses have a long and industrious history of serving up social interaction with hot beverages. Hailed as the great social leveller, they have been frequented by businessmen, politicians, artists, scientists, engineers, authors et al, for hundreds of years, admittedly with less branding and free wi-fi. These days, coffee shops offer a menagerie of digital media: augmented reality animations, location-based mobile coupons, check-in competitions, happy hour social media campaigns, music downloads, digital content networks… all seemingly meeting with phenomenal success at every turn.
Coffee shops have embraced new technology more than any other consumer business, fully integrating it at every step of the customer journey. The shear level of pure techno craziness can make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a Douglas Adams novel. The interactions of people, digital technology and coffee is powering humanity into a caffeine-fuelled techno singularity with cups that sing Christmas carols and beg you to try the new Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino® Blended Crème. So check in, waggle your eWallet and relax; the future is here and it comes in a recycled cardboard cup.
Leah Kayles, Social Media Editor
Did you find yourself overwhelmed with the sudden and strong urge to spend lots of money on Amazon, eBay and ASOS this Monday? Well you’re not alone. The 5th of December 2011 was apparently Cyber Monday, in which we all went out (well, stayed in) and bought pressies and party clothes by the bucketload.
Even if you weren’t planning on getting click happy with your mouse on Monday, the hype and coverage, not to mention the numerous promotions and discounts on offer, may well have made you feel like you were missing out and encouraged you to dust off your credit card.
So is it all a PR construct designed to make us feel like we should shop because the papers are saying we will shop? Yes, probably. There’s even confusion over which Monday is the real Cyber Monday, with the last Monday in November heralded as such by some.
It worked though. Us Brits reportedly spent £19 million per hour on the day in question. That’s one hell of a lot of Twilight DVDs and sequinned hotpants (and they were just for my Dad).
Andrew Brown, Creative Director
Both the BBC and YouTube revealed new interfaces this week. For the BBC it’s mostly a home page overhaul that has a clear look towards reaching its current ‘four screens’ goals of creating digital experiences that work across web, mobile, tablet and connectedTV. The new home page is split into two convenient halves, facilitating portrait or landscape browsing, and features a nice graphical slidey-lefty-righty browser in the primary half. This doesn’t quite hit the mark as it doesn’t actually allow you to swipe on touch screens, but you can see where they’re going with the whole Flipboard / Pulse thing. It’s also a bit disappointing in terms of performance, with the CSS3 slickness not really being a patch on the sort of thing you’re used to Flash being able to achieve, but this is part of a movement currently frustrating a lot of Flash developers as brands like the beeb move away from Flash so that their content works on Apple devices.
YouTube is sticking with Flash for its player at the moment, but is also running an HTML5 trial (effectively beta testing with participating users) so expect it to go the same way. Meanwhile Google has been making its ‘stuff’ look prettier for a while now in an effort to unify the Google interface. Personally I’m quite happy with this. In terms of aesthetics the new YouTube looks like it has been dragged out of the 90s. Of course the most vocal YouTubers are the haters and the new interface has received lots of public criticism, but this tends to be the case whenever giants like Google or YouTube change anything.
The new design makes the surfing experience more connected, more social and more likely to facilitate people using YouTube as their primary video / TV interface. This fits with the news that numbers of TV sets in US households dropped this week for the first time in 20 years and the number of US households with no TV at all is at its highest level since 1975. So both the BBC and YouTube have got their eyes on the growth of the connected TV market, which could well have much more impact on the media landscape than anything the tablet market could do.
The other changes the YouTube makeover heralds are to Channels, which have been pretty dodgy for a while now. The new look makes them seem more self-contained, but it appears that visitors to channels are bounced out of them even more than before (e.g. when watching playlists) which I think is a step backwards, YouTube needs to be helping content makers create really sticky channel experiences.
In good news for content creators though, YouTube Analytics has replaced YouTube Insights giving you more detail on who’s watching your videos and where they’re being found.
Mark Kelly, Digital Solutions Director
This week Facebook bought location-based social platform Gowalla.
What’s interesting is that it appears not to have bought it for the user base (Facebook is kind of okay on numbers of users, even of its own location service, Places), but has bought it for the know-how of the code and user engagement teams.
Gowalla is an established location-based service but it is (or was) nowhere as big as rival Foursquare, with its 10,000,000 or so users. The Gowalla team joining Facebook could mean lots of new developments around location marketing within Facebook and the Gamification elements that Gowalla (and Foursquare) offer which Places doesn’t. Or, it may be more subtle and the Gowalla team may be used to improve user experience in general and perhaps on the new ‘timeline’ functionality.
So, good news for Facebook in its quest to engender more interactions, gain more data (and monetise that). But not good news for the small but loyal Gowalla user base (based on people I know who used it and didn’t jump ship, like me, a year ago) as the service will cease by the end of January.
Image credit: starbucks.co.uk