Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Dutch customer service research: e-mail still preferred contact channel

Trinicom, a Dutch vendor of Customer Interaction Management and web based self-service solutions, has announced the results of the edition 2009 of it’s customer service report.

One of the findings of the report is that the main functions that customers expect to find on a website are…an e-mail address and a telephone number. E-mail, the research, says, is still the most popular tool to ask questions to a company.

A fax number is the least important this year, last year the last place was for chatboxes. So there maybe is life for all kinds of live contact chat tools. But still: the traditional customer service channels are the most preferred.

When sending an e-mail to the customer service of a company, 54.5% of the respondents expect at least a notification that the mail has been received and in what timeframe it will be answered.

More on this link.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Social Media Strategic Framework

Our Chief Digital Officer, Steve Sponder (blog / Twitter), in collaboration with key luminaries from our agency (I grandly include myself in that) has created our Social Media Strategic Framework. Let me know your thoughts.

Here’s the thinking:

There are certainly no shortage of agencies offering social media tactics to brands although almost all of this activity is crude, forcing a conventional advertising approach into this new social media environment.

Social media has disrupted the conventional marketing model. People are one click away from the perfect job, the ideal product, a damming video diary or the 5 star review. Access to, and control over, this information results in different behaviour and attitudes. I believe social media is disrupting markets and the result will be more profound than the introduction of the Internet.

Brands need to adopt different mindsets, models, approaches and strategies to meet their commercial objectives. In order to help brands adapt to this change I have been working with my colleagues at Five by Five and Headstream to develop a Social Media Strategic Framework which we believe will enable brands to strategically navigate through, as opposed to just blindly rolling out the latest, must-have tactics.

Social Media Strategy Framework v1.0

Our Social Media Strategic Framework (SMSF) sets out a number of key areas for organsiations to consider:

1) Social Media Strategy – As organisations start to understand the far reaching implications of social media they quickly appreciate the need to define a social media strategy that mutually supports other strategies within the organisation.

2) Influencer Networks – Influencers will play different roles within different market-sectors, so the key here is to understand how to identify them, the role they play and how to engage with them.

3) Brand Outposts – Don’t just set-up a Twitter account because everyone’s doing it. Take a step back and think about how your outposts will support your social media strategy, who will run your outposts and where the content will come from?

4) Reputation Management – Arguably, real-time eavesdropping on what people are saying about your brand is one of the most immediate benefits of social media marketing although, conversely engaging in a negative conversation could escalate in a full blown crisis so again a clear separate strategy is required here.

5) Brands with something interesting, useful and/or relevant to say should be aiming to start conversations, using branded content as social currency. A distribution strategy will then ensure that engaging content has the best opportunity to kick-start a conversation.

In conclusion, the strategic intent should be for organisations to be an authentic part of the social media community and appropriate conversations, along the way there will be immediate, tangible results although like branding, social media is about the long-haul. It’s about systemically and consistently building the reputation of the brand where the pay-back is ultimately brand equity.

I hope you find our Social Media Strategic Framework interesting and that it builds on, and continues, the conversation.

More on SlideShare

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nr_gill@hotmail.com

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Twitter: the next big thing for your brand. Or not??

As a bit of an online junkie (some may even say whore), I love new tools and love new social networks like last.fm and facebook. I finally started to use Twitter a few months back, though I am still not really sure what it is all about and why it has become so hot.

To me it feels like a jumble of stuff and the more people you follow the more jumbled it gets. I thought it would be a good place to keep on top of news but find google news is better.

But one of the most interesting things that really made me ponder this whole topic last week, was a short interview and discussion on one of my most favourite podcasts (Media Guardian Podcast). On it they interviewed a 17 year old work intern they had who very bluntly said that Twitter is for celebrities who want to go on about "I am", and old people (by which she meant over 30) saying "look how young I am by using this".

It really made me think. The place to look for the next big thing is what teens and what this very online savvy generation is doing. By the time many of them get more mainstream, and your work mates start using them, it is time to think either:

(1) This tool is now past it's peak and past it's cutting edge. Our use of it may date us, may make us seem too establishment and behind the curve. OR

(2) This tool is now mainstream and time to embrace it!

Which option is right depends on your brand. So if you are a trendy young and cutting edge brand you probably need to be on what is scorching hot and new. More mainstream brands should look to the 2nd.

Either way you need to embrace these new tools and at least be trying...

visit my twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/garybembridge

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Interactive Twitter ad for Volkswagen: I like it!

Found via Adverblog: Your tweet, your Volkswagen: a "rich media banner that profiles your tweets and gets back to you with the recommendation of the ideal Volkswagen for you."

Click on the screenshot below to try it out for yourself:

I'm not sure how this application can analyse my 5,000+ Tweets so fast, but it helped me discover that the VW Jetta is the perfect Volkswagen for me. According to an unverified Twitter source, there are 26,965 active Belgian twitterers. Compared to the 5,5 million online Belgians that's definitely a niche audience but still: very impressive and creative ad campaign.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Wedding Direct Marketing

Have a look at this case study of The People’s Award at the Festival of Media Awards: "Ha’Poalim Mortgage Bank identified weddings as a key moment in which to reach out to this potential target market. It [...] sent out dozens of representatives to weddings across the country to [take] advantage of the tradition of putting cash or cheques in envelopes into gift boxes, [by posting] a congratulations card, an Ikea gift voucher and an invitation to meet with the Ha’Poalim mortgage team to discuss the special mortgage package. [...] For eight weeks representatives targeted hundreds of weddings in the Tel Aviv area on Thursdays – the traditional day for weddings. Twenty-five percent of the couples approached called to set up a meeting, and many more came into bank branches. Ha’Poalim will be targeting weddings again in 2009."

I hate it when a super intrusive Direct Marketing campaign like this boasts such a high success rate. Think of it: these sales representatives crash wedding parties to anonymously put a commercial offer in the gift box? It's almost as evil as the sales people who roam the corridors in maternity hospitals to collect post addresses of young parents, so they can come over with their sales pitch later. I had that once when my son was born: she rang at the door one week after birth pretending to work for one of those maternity consultancy services. I almost killed her when I found out she talked herself into my house to sell me cleaning products.

Weddings, births, funerals are important events in people's lives, and most are forced make important buying decisions around these events. But is this really the right time to cross the border between personal and public life?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Podcast with BBC.com managing director, Kym Niblock

There was a fair bit of discussion at the Interact Congress yesterday that referenced the BBC's iPlayer platform. I thought you may be interested in the podcast I did with Kym Niblock, managing directior of BBC.com recently which covered innovations which majored on iPlayer, the challenges of an international site, social network opportunities, convergence and more.

Find out more with links to listen, download, subscribe and read transcripts here.

Other podcasts in the series here.

Posted by: Nicholas Gill | bluurb.wordpress.com

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nr_gill@hotmail.com

Makers and thinkers

Paul Isakson, the Director of Brand Planning of Minneapolis digital agency space150, used the Venn diagram above to illustrate the possible value an ad agency could add. In his blog post The Core Competencies of an Agency, he concludes: "I think the days of getting by on great service are done. If I were a client, I'd nix the retainers and pay for ideas and execution of those ideas. I'd hire people and agencies great at thinking and get them to give me their best ideas. Then, I'd find the best makers and get them to bring them to life. I wouldn't want to pay an agency to suck up to me with a bloated staff. Just bring me great ideas and if you can't make them, help me find someone who can."

I'm not sure if I agree. This strategy depends a lot on the skills and knowhow of the client. Maybe he's easily impressed by the "wow" ideas, but cannot assess if, e.g. it is technically feasible and scalable. Or picks a subcontractor who is unable to interpret the "wow" idea into a working web concept.
What do you think?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

What's stopping the URL landgrab on Facebook?

Remember the court cases that went on around brand protection and ownership for URLs? Is the same thing about to happen with Facebook? As of the wee small hours on June 13, you will no longer be a number. You can be a name. But you’ve got to get up early to make sure you get yours. Do we really need this? Of course we’ll all do it to preserve our own personal branding but I’m fucked if I’ll promote myself as NicholasGill423 just because all the other Nicholas Gill’s are better at getting up at 05.01 GMT than me. Frankly Twitter, blog and Linked In are better personal branding starters.

But the real question here is not about me or individuals. But brands. What’s stopping me grabbing all my clients and super star brand names and then charging them extortionate fees to buy it off me? It’s like the late 1990’s again and one that was always close to my heart as I worked on the brand then was Mr Nissan. Whose surname was actually Nissan and therefore had every right to the nissan.com URL. Lawsuits and millions of dollars later, Nissan realised they should have been nice to him rather than starting with a letter from their legal team but there we go. Shell have the same issue with one of their former employees. Deja vu with Facebook?

I’m sure in the c. 44,000 comments (!) there’s reference to this but I, for one, am not trawling it. c. 35,000 like it too so a good baromoter of getting the people’s vote.

All I can suggest is you get your online reputation management dudes geared up to wake from their slumber early on Saturday and get registering. Who knows what’ll be left for me.

Posted by: Nicholas Gill | bluurb.wordpress.com

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nr_gill@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Ad Agency replaces website by YouTube channel

"This is our website." That's all the explanatory text that accompanies BooneOakley.com. The US-based full-service ad agency replaced it's website by a YouTube channel to showcase work for clients like HBO, MTV, MTV2, The One Show,
State Farm, Ruby Tuesday, CarMax & Bloom.

Smart thinking: they make could use of the in-video interactivity and the power of the YouTube comments community.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Currency replaced by kindness?

ABSOLUT vodka’s new campaign challenges us to look at the world differently: what would happen if we replaced cash with kindness. Spawned by the TV spot, this was taken experientially in various venues around London. At cinemas in Clapham and Islington, customers traded compliments and high-fives for free snacks and drinks, while others were surprised by a free coffee in exchange for a smile. More events followed such as free busking and free drinks in bars (where? where? where?)!

Conversation has been happening about what you would trade for currency on the ABSOLUT site and across their Twitter stream (#kindness) and images on Flickr.

Although the experiential activity was quite small and the conversations similar, I applaud ABSOLUT and their agencies for getting out there and doing it. Too often we get barriers put in place; part of our evolving digital landscape is about experimentation. Innovation doesn’t have case studies and predicting results is hard. It takes brave clients and agencies to leap. Well done to these guys for taking it.

Thanks to Jonathan @ We Are Social for sharing.

Posted by: Nicholas Gill | bluurb.wordpress.com

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nr_gill@hotmail.com

Kleenex' weeping willow

YouTube - The Tissue Tree: "Next to Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kleenex Silk Touch Tissue Tree is inspired by the work of the world famous 'wrapping' artist, Christo.

Swathed in over 1km of silk, the tree is laden with 700 blossoms that each dispense Kleenex Silk Touch tissues to passers by. Staff nearby are encouraging people to touch the silky soft tree and feel the difference of Kleenex Silk Touch for themselves."

I really like the creative concept behind this, and the fact that the structure invites people who pass by to take a tissue and deconstruct it. Other might argue that this is an example of the blurring lines between art and advertising. But would that be such a bad thing?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Facebook killed the blog

The other night my worst suspicions were confirmed: Facebook really killed the blog. Look for yourself what Google has to say on the subject when asking politely (top 5 search results):

"all my friends that used to blog no longer are. They're all posting one line statements of what they're doing on FB. So, there you have it. Video killed the radio star, and Facebook killed the blog. RIP."
Jonathan Hays, 14. april 2009 at his blog http://offlineinaustin.blogspot.com/2009/04/facebook-has-killed-blog.html

"I entirely blame facebook for my lack of blogging. I used to have random thoughts that would quickly evolve into short narratives, and since the advent of the facebook status update approximately 90% of these thoughts have manifested as 160-character updates instead of a full-blown story. I am going to try to do a better job of letting these ideas mature into well-thought-out blogs instead of little blurbs for my facebook friends."
Sara B, Portland , Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at http://www.saraknowsbest.com/2009/01/facebook-killed-blog-star.html

"I don’t see Facebook replacing blogs. The purpose for each is disparate. What I do see though is my blog readership dropping."
Anonymous blogger, 21. januar 2009 at http://blog.jamesfries.com/archive/2009/01/21/3727.aspx

"I'm sure you're aware of the new kid on the block - Facebook. Oh sure, its newer and its somewhat more interactive, and all my friends are there... it's all true. I've been having a great ol' time... But make no mistake, You - my blog - are my first love."
Kerry, Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at http://whatshappenindaddyo.blogspot.com/2007/05/facebook-killed-blog-star.html

"Facebook Killed the Blog ... but I'm sure I'm not the first one to say it. Obviously, I haven't blogged in awhile. A while. Quite a while..."
Lacey Crawford, 8. februar 2009 at http://www.laceycrawford.com/log.html


Technorati seems to have stopped producing graphs on the growth of the blogosphere, which they so proudly presented in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and up until 2007. No mention of "growth" in their 2008 report. No figures. No graphs.


Is it, as Jason Calacanis said when he officially retired from blogging almost a year ago: "I love blogs and always will. However, I’ve done my part and I’m looking to strip it down. I’m looking for something more acoustic, something more authentic and something more private. Blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me to it"

Or is it, that blogging is a far more lonely experience than the one offered by the social networks. That the social element of blogs (the blog-roll and the ability to post comments) is simply over-matched by Facebooks friends-list.

Or is it, that blogging is to fragmented, you have to sign up to a thousand different rss-feeds to be kept up to date with your networks activities, whereas Facebook offers you one-stop-updating?

Digital becoming Number One!

Breaking news: Internet number ONE advertising mediagroup in Denmark

Internet beat both daily newspaper, tv and radio as advertising medium in Denmark in 2008. With revenues of euro 392,7 million, Internet cut out a 21 percent-slice of the total Danish adspend-pie of euro 1,9 billion.
Daily newspapers accounted for 19 percent, weekly local and regional newspapers for 18 percent, TV for 17 percent, weekly for 13 percent. Outdoor, Radio and Cinema accounts for 4, 2 and 1 percent.
These are the key conclusions from the Reklameforbrugsundersøgelsen 2008, the official Danish adspend statistics. You’ll be able to find the figures at Dansk oplagskontrols website, when they eventually are uploaded.
The euro 392,7 billion internet advertising revenues are parted into Display advertising (euro 123,3 mio), Search (euro 105,8 mio), Classifieds (euro 144,6 mio) and Permission marketing (euro 18,3 million). This breakdown is availble in the newly released FDIM ad ex study 2008 (summary in English at page 22).

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Why Joining us at Interact 2009

Opportunities and Challenges are knocking on the doors of the Digital Industry. The actual economical recession is forcing people to rethink their business models and their business practices. Traditional media having embraced massively the digital platforms are confronted to find new ways to fund the eco-system. Consumers are engaging as never before, brands are shaped by them and audiences are shifting towards social media.
Making marketing more relevant and performance based seems achievable within digital platforms as techniques are becoming more sophisticated bringing the right message to the right people at the right time and on the right place, but the regulator is worried!
All of these items will be discussed during IAB Europe’s 3rd Interact edition in Brussels on June 10-11-12 : don’t miss the most important event of 2009 meeting with some of the leader’s of the Converged Digital Industry :
- 4 unique Panel debates talking how to survive the crisis with major captain’s of our industry questioned by senior chairman
- 4 powerful opinions from some Key-note speakers representing major players of the industry : Google, Orange, Lbi and Microsoft
- 1 roundtable with Madelin talking about the e-privacy debate and behavioural advertising
- 1 Mia (audience measurement) worksession providing feedback from a worldwide survey
- the AdEx Benchmark Europe report explaining 2008 in depth
- the Global Summit, an i-Com session and a Global Brand Think Tank
- many useful and practical Industry workshops
- a Research showcase to understand Social Media
- and more importantly a lot of moments to network with some 250 Executive people from the industry coming from all over the world.
Look forward seeing you there : Alain Heureux – President and Ceo of IAB Europe, the voice of the digital industry at National and

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Long Tail, Short Tail, chaired by Michael Nutley from NMA

For delegates looking for inspiration for making money from online content, Editor-in-Chief of New Media Age, Michael Nutley, will chair the panel ‘Long Tail, Short Tail: Making content pay’ talking with Banner, Netlog, AdLink, Nokia and Axel Springer!
Any question you would like to address towards Michael and his guests?

Spendings are shifting, chaired by Guy Phillipson from IAB UK

Guy Phillipson, CEO of IAB UK will chair the first panel on ‘Spending Shifts’, where L’Oreal, Orange, Group M, Google, Nugg.Ad, Nielsen and SAP debate how advertising spend is moving into the online sphere and the changes this will bring. How will continued innovations in formats and creative executions contribute to the shift to digital advertising? Screen Digest kick off the session with the results of an advertiser survey.

Integration wins it all, chaired by Simon Waldman from The Guardian

Simon Waldman, Director of Digital at The Guardian chairs the first panel entitled ‘Making Integration Win’. He is joined by senior executives from Microsoft, Yahoo!, Turner International/CNN, Platform A and Alcatel-Lucent who will explore how innovations in bringing online into the traditional media mix can help advertisers and their agencies get the most from their budgets.
Any question you would like to address already towards Simon and his panel?

Interact is back in Town!

Dear all, we're back with our 3rd edition happening in Brussels on June 10-11-12! 3 intensive days combining industry workshops, regulatory roundtables, AdEx 2008 figures, social media showcase and a full congress day with some great captains and leaders from our Digital industry talking about the crisis, about innovation and about many other topics. Don't miss the event gathering some 400 professionals from all over the world as colleagues from China, Russia, US, Latin-America will join us. I will post some debate topics we'll be using for our 4 main panels asking for some comments and reactions from you I might use when briefing our 4 chairman. Visit our website http://www.interactcongress.eu/