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, 19 September 2010

Search engine marketing and social media: conversion is a matter of relevance

In order for your website or other online properties to be found online (inbound marketing), you still need a good search engine optimization strategy.

Defining relevant keywords for your business and, more than ever, for your target groups. Relevance is increasingly becoming important in search. What people find in search engine result pages must lead to online destinations that are relevant for their search queries.

Search engines already take this into account but in the end they remain quite ‘dumb’ and all too often well ranked search engine results still lead to irrelevant web pages and thus content.

You can easily optimize the SEO of your pages with search engine optimized content, the right link building strategies and applying all the rules of professional search engine marketing.

But what’s the use of ranking high in results if the value you provide on your website is low from a visitor viewpoint? Conversion starts with being found online but it happens after the click.

When the relevance is not there, there is no conversion and probably even a negative perception about your brand.

Search engine optimized content requires the help of a professional. SEO copywriters are not always cheap, but they can correctly optimize all your content so it's search engine friendly.

However, that is not enough anymore.

If you want your content to be shared via social media, bookmarked and result in optimal conversion, you need a partner that understands more than keywords and SEO.

He or she needs to be able to write with the needs of the readers in mind, knows how to write a call-to-action, understand what determines if your content will be shared on social media or bookmarked on social bookmarking sites and understands that content is part of a broader exercise where your web site, blog, emails, social media presences and whatever you do, are part of another conversion process.

Not that from content to click and online conversion. But that from lead to loyal customer by offering content as a way of lead nurturing. Content in the context of the customer buying journey.

SEM is part of a broader marketing strategy and that’s why many agencies are extending their offering with social media optimization, conversion strategies, web analytics, online copywriting and sometimes even marketing automation and lead management.

Where social media optimization fits in

The same goes for the skills of an online copywriter: he or she must acquire new skills. This type of online copywriting is something that, according to me, cannot be done in house but must be outsourced to a highly specialized expert, a conversion agency, an SEO firm that has an integrated approach or a communication agency that has that same integrated approach but also a customer-centric look on interactive marketing.

In the end, all that matters in marketing is the bottom-line and the value that is created for the business and the customer. And content is key in every micro-conversion, acquisition effort, lead nurturing step and word-of-mouth conversation. That's also where social media optimization fits in: not search is social but relevance.

Originally posted here: Search engine marketing and social: why SEO and search engine optimized content are not enough

Blogs are the websites of the social media world

Many businesses don't have a blog yet. Too bad since blogs are really social media hubs and more. But there is hope. Since blogs are almost a must for all businesses that want to do "something" with social media.
A little more than a decade ago many companies had no websites. And if they had one, it was often no more than some online brochure. Now, for most businesses their website is a critical part of their daily basis and a hub where various online and offline activities start and come together. In little over ten years the corporate site has become a crucial component of the marketing and communication strategy. Today companies face a new challenge: social media.

Actually, the challenge is not that new but the success of social media and the fact that people continuously want more control over the communication process and tap into their social networks force companies to use social media as well.Social media, including blogs, are so frequently used by people - and thus also by prospects, clients, suppliers, potential employees, competitors, journalists etc. – that you HAVE to follow what is happening in the social sphere and participate in it.

Blogs play a crucial part in this. A blog, as I have been saying for a long time, is a social media hub. In some cases social networks can also be social media hubs and even the corporate website offers various – underused - possibilities regarding social media marketing. But blogs are definitely the main social media hubs. They are the source of social interactions and facilitate dialogues.

Blogs are the online properties to which companies can link their social media presences and where dialogues with clients and prospects also effectively take place. Furthermore, blogs play a crucial role in search engine marketing and a brand’s reputation, amongst many others.

Businesses can blog in various ways. They can setup a separate blog which is more or less separate from the company (website) itself, they can leave the initiative for blogging to persons within the company who have something to say and create their own blog, etc.

But it is also absolutely advisable to have a blog that is setup within the website or connected to it and where different persons within the company can blog.

The benefits are tremendous: a simple integration with web analytics, a more ‘open’ and transparent image, search engine optimization and a rapid real-time interaction with people whereby relevant content is crucial.

Company blogs also open up new doors to strengthen other channels and client aimed actions, even in more outbound activities such as e-mail marketing. And of course they are essential in inbound marketing: people are in need of relevant information they can interact with; using blogs you can provide this much faster and in a conversational way than on a website.

Just as today the website has become a marketing hub, blogs will for a long time be the hubs of social media marketing. Content plays a crucial role in this.

If you don’t have a blog yet, it’s really time to get started.

Inbound marketing: blogs are the websites of the social Web

Monday, 6 September 2010

IS TV DYING? what digital players can learn and what we need to do about it.

The death of TV is still not happening! This is confirmed once again in a large media consumption study run the media regulatory body in the UK called Ofcom. Although the data is on UK consumers, the study reflects the same learning that other countries are seeing in their markets.

However, I think the study does though clearly highlight some changes and new habits that have a huge implication on how marketers, advertising and people running online and digital campaigns and businesses need to think and act. In order to succeed they are critical.

In the business I am involved in running, it is clear that the traditional focus on high TV activity is no longer working as well. But does it mean that TV is not important? I don’t think it does, since people are watching a lot of it. But there are some very key factors.

Let em outline what I think was significant in the learning, and then the 3 key actions that I think we all need to take and focus on.

The 5 key things that stood out for me:

(1) People are still watching a lot of TV. In the UK it is just below 4 hours a day on average. However, they do not consume and watch it like they used to. Understanding this is fundamental at how one looks at the style and role of TV ads moving forwards.

(2) There is huge multi-tasking taking place, and the younger the consumer the more it happens. In fact younger people consume more hours of media than there are hours available. This is because they multi-task, consuming different things at once, such as watching TV while online or on their smart-phones interacting and engaging.

(3) The growth and use of online catch-up services and PVRs like TIVO in the USA and Sky+ in the Uk, has actually meant that people are watching more TV. This is because they can watch it when it is more convenient for them, and studies found that instead of dropping out of following a show or series if people missed an episode they now watch via PVR or online and keep with the series. In fact, it was found by Sky TV that people with Sky+ are watching more TV and being exposed to more ads. Of course many are watched on “fast forward”.

(4) Online companies are among the biggest advertisers on TV now. This clearly shows the power of large mass media for driving awareness and traffic.

(5) The above factor is likely to be accelerated by the fact that since people are now multi-taking more and likely to have their laptop, smart-phone, iPad and so on with them, if they see something that interests them in an ad they can immediately go to it, research it, sign up for it, buy it, download it right there and then. It means TV can get immediate response. Literally.

So what should we do about it as we think about creating ads for TV, or any media since people will be multi-tasking?

Your ads need to, more than ever:

(1) Get people to LOOK UP. You need to get them to stop multi-tasking and look at you, notice you, watch or listen to you.

(2) Get people to LEAN FORWARD. Get engaged and listen to what you are offering, telling or selling. If watching on fast forward on Sky+ you need them to slow down and watch and lean forward and listen.

(3) Get people TO ACT. Right away and right in the moment. Increasingly, you need to have a “call to action” and get people to respond. They may be connected and you can actually get them to do something. Don’t wait for them to act when they next go to the store, get them to act. This means you need to think through what you want them to do, and ensure you have the offers, the sites or the destinations ready and easy to access.

Exciting times, and exciting new ways to think about the role of TV and mass media. It is not dying, but to work you need to use it in a different way.

What do you think? Got any good examples? Drop me an email at gary@bembridge.co.uk or even better leave a comment on the blog posting and join the debate now.

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Saturday, 4 September 2010

My client doesn't get social media

Whoa! What do you mean they don’t “get it”? They must be mad! Are they insane? Are they still living in the 1990s? They don’t even have an iPhone?

Not everyone travels at the same pace.

Here’s a reality check from conversations and observations with clients who are “not getting it”.

Observation #1

We work in advertising (I use the term as a broad church that includes all our disciplines) and as such we do get it (well, not all – more on that at a later date perhaps). We get it because we have to be in it to win it. Because we are in a service industry where we need to be pro-active and better than the other guy. We have to experiment and get on board ahead of the curve. Because when we talk to our clients, we need to be knowledgeable and helpful so we can advise and guide them appropriately in our trusted advisor positions. That’s why clients pay us.

Clients are busy people. They don’t always get free reign on the interweb like us agency folk and have many more corporate restrictions from an IT or legal perspective. Yes, some clients are still on IE6 (shudder!) so cannot experience web browser excitement like what we can. Yes, some clients are not allowed on Facebook so they’re not as intimate with the joys of Farmville et al. Yes, some clients don’t have iPhones because it’s an expensive bit of kit so may not be as familiar with apps that make lightsaber sounds. Yes, some clients aren’t allowed access to You Tube so can’t watch videos about cats all day. So we can’t assume they know WTF SXSW is, how hashtags work or even that Old Spice guy has hit their radar.

Implication: understand their situation and be a guiding light. They may not be as far down the line as you want or assume.

Observation #2

A lot of clients are versed in advertising, direct and digital (websites, online advertising, search). That’s their sphere of reference. That’s their job description. That’s their 9-5 (and way beyond). They are assessed and rewarded on old-fashioned things such as how their communications contribute to market share, sales, margin, propensity to purchase, ROI, loyalty. There is probably not a budget line for social media so something else has to be sacrificed to trial it. Something else that has an accountable budget that drives or protects market share, sales etc. All of this has to be approved further up the tree; and those people typically have less time or inclination to know about this stuff – back to Observation #1. Until we actually start talking in terms that prick their ears up and make a demonstrable impact on their business performance, terms such as “frands” (jeez, I think I may puke) will go straight to the round file and the poor buggers will be labeled as “another client who doesn’t get it.”

Implication: ground ideas in numbers rather than buzzwords to make social salient.

Observation #3

So what? I know my advertising drives consideration and sales, my DM and email drives targeted response, my search drives me insane as well as lots of conversion, my site helps people and drives to purchase. What does four gazillion tweets and twelvety blog hat tips mean? The so what factor should never be ignored. If I did nothing, would anything ever change? Do I really need a Twitbook?

Implication: deliver insight and implication, not facts and certainly not a shiny twitbook account before due planning and consideration.

Above all, be open, authentic and transparent. Much like we suggest how brands behave in the social space.

Originally posted on bluurb.wordpress.com

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Times Paywall and iPad app: what I like and what we can all learn from it

Much has been made by journalists and media commentators (mostly competitors of News International who own the title) of the move to charge for access to The Time's website, and to buy subscription to the iPad app to get the daily paper.

The data will finally tell us who was right, although early data suggests traffic on the site fell by three quarters (versus the 90% many projected). Also the charts I saw suggested that unique visitors to the competitive news sites was not up (meaning that the same set of people were looking at multiple sites versus a big unique set of people). Anyway, I thought it would be good to enter the discussion as a user and explain what I like and think about the move and the experiment - and what I think marketers and digital players can learn from it.

I have subscribed to the iPad Times news app (at £9.99 a month)

So here are the 5 things about the move so far that I like:

1: it focuses on the core target. In all the debate, the assumption has been that news is generic. It has not focused on the brand. It does not surprise me that the competitive sites have not seen a huge increase in unique users, as I suspect that many people - including me – would look at multiple sites covering news to see different points of view and coverage. But as a loyal Time reader off line, I ended up putting money where my loyalty lies.

When it comes to news there are brands and providers that users are loyal to and have affinities with. I love getting my TV news from Sky News, others from BBC. I love reading The Times. I buy and consume The Times as I like the editorial focus, style and screen. I like the familiarity. This is why people choose brands. The move is focusing on brand users and loyalists, at the expense potentially of volume, but they can focus on serving the needs of loyal users and try to get them to stay longer and spend more. Finding ways of adding value and keeping loyal users and repeat is a good marketing instinct and tactic. Volume and trial is easy to get, especially if it is FREE. But that is not what makes money and profit....

2: they are experimenting and learning. They have made a move, they are trying and experimenting. They are daring to go against the considered opinions and are constantly evolving the offer and actively asking for thoughts and input. This is what good innovation is about. I learnt recently that the best and most successful innovators are ones that keep doing things, trying changes, prototyping, testing live and constantly evolving. They have a belief (that good journalism costs) and are trying to make it work. I admire trying. More people win by trying than by sitting by and waiting for others to prove something.

3: they are using the tools to interact and engage. They have a very active Twitter feed that will contact you, feedback on queries and engage in a conversation. It is excellent and they will actively ask and push information. I feel like a person that is important to the brand, and not just one of a zillion of readers. I think this part of the mix is something that is really powerful and under-estimated in importance. They are making the loyal user feel part of the family and valued.

4: the iPad app is better than the paper, but familiar. It is a product improvement, it has added value and is not a substitute! The app is better than the website which is just like other websites. The iPad app is great. Has the occasional tech problems, but they work on it fast. It is – for me – key. The Times LOOKS BETTER on the iPad than on paper! It feels familiar and reads like the paper we are used to, but has added features and easy to navigate. For me the iPad app is much better than the site, as it feels like the product I like and consumer (but better) while the site looks like any news site. I think this is a missed opportunity.

Also one can access the paper earlier and easier than before as you can download it from about 4 or 5am. It also can be read offline, and for me who is away and out the country a lot means I can see and read my familiar product in “real time” not some day or more old thing.

Don't like
1: That for the £9.99 monthly fee, you don’t get access to the website online. You would need to pay again. Having one charge to access would be better.

I think the 4 things above are key, as they provide some guidance for us as we think about digital and online. Focus on the brand loyal? Experiment and learn, push boundaries just don’t copy? Ensure your offering a product improvement not just an alternative? Use tools to engage and interact?

I hope it succeeds as I am hooked to the app!

Leave a comment on the blog in comments or email me with thoughts: gary@bembridge.co.uk

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The New Integration

Right now, there’s a lot of talk out there about integration being dead. Almost as much talk as there is about social media, the death of the ad agency – and the Old Spice viral.

But I think it’s all nonsense. Find out why and discover some simple truths by reading this ‘New Integration’ thought leadership piece. It’s the first in a probably highly irregular series of thought stuff from us at DCH.

Like or dislike?

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Guerilla marketing used to be celebrated, now it can get you arrested

The World Cup 2010. Massive amounts of media dollars spent by a few big brands wanting to associate themselves with the beautiful game and getting some exclusive media rights to the tournament. For every other brand the challenge is to punk them without the need to be an official sponsor. Nike have pretty much done this already with their Write the Future campaign and despite the cool Adidas Originals Star Wars mash up, most of Adidas’ publicity has been about THAT ball.

And then there’s the official alcohol brand. Budweiser have spent gazillions to be FIFA’s drinking buddy and I’m still a little gobsmacked when I see some people in the crowd clutching a bottle. There’s a good reason it’s banned in stadiums over here, not entirely sure why it’s not over there. Anyway, I digress.

How do you ambush the Bud party, get yourself noticed and talked about?

1) Buy a load of tickets of an ex Wimbledon player who has somehow managed to get to the World Cup as a pundit – and subsequently been fired for his lack of ability to keep his ticket allocation to family and friends (and with the best headline so far from The Sun – tout of Africa). If only it was Mick McCarthy, is he the dullest man in the universe?

2) Hire a harem of hot, blonde, Dutch girls.

3) Dress them in matching orange mini-dresses and give them the match tickets to the Holland game.

4) Rely on TV camera crews to pick up on hot, blonde, Dutch girls in short dresses and let the lingering camera shots do the rest. Bonus points if the game is dull and therefore more crowd footage.

5) People will go “phwoooar, look at them! Why are they dressed all the same?” Google becomes your friend. Voila, everyone knows it’s for Dutch beer Bavaria. And they’ve done it before.

Hurrah! Job done. Girls in newspapers everywhere, brand gets noticed, Bud punk’d, less money spent. Everyone loves you.

Except in this case, FIFA and Bud didn’t like being punk’d. They got mad, they got the girls evicted (somewhat expected) and then the organisers arrested (most unexpected)! The world has gone mad. Sure they want to protect their investment but there was no overt branding on the dresses. No one really has a clue what Bavaria beer is still. This just makes Bud and FIFA look like dorks. Shame on them.

But good for Bavaria – they’re planning on more stunts with different colour dresses. Perhaps this World Cup will get interesting at last. Especially if Mick has been generous with his tickets.

Who wants to drink Bud with football anyway? I’d rather have a bevy of hot girls in orange dresses any day.

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Social media opportunities and threats

Resource, control, senior stakeholder support.

The key threats of social media as viewed by a selection of UK senior marketers in this IDM download. The disturbing thing is that these threats are easily overcome. Social is no longer a fad, the case studies are out there of the huge impact it can have to amplify a brand message, activate a community of fans or instigate change. Control is an irrational fear. Use the channels you can control, plan accordingly and get upfront buy in from those bad boys in legal. Resource. Pah. In these uncertain economic times there will be activities that don’t pay back (commercially or brand equity) that do have resource. That have secured approval because the business “gets it”. By that I mean it’s traditional, always been there. If BT can change their call centre structure to have a team dedicated to active listening (listening and then participating in the conversations that are happening) then any brand can adapt. The biggest issue is senior stakeholder support. As Justin Billingsley, the former Orange Marketing Director said at the IAB Engage Conference in 2008, the biggest obstacle he had to overcome in turning Orange into a digitally focussed enterprise was the 60 year old man in the boardroom – he didn’t get it. And more pointedly, didn’t want to get it. We can help them get it, provide the evidence, create the excitement and continue educating and inspiring. The threats can be overcome, the opportunities are endless.

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Why check-in anywhere else?

McDonald’s have just teamed up with Facebook to be the first brand to offer their new location-based service. While Foursquare stats are being touted aplenty of late with a million users and 40 million check ins, the numbers are dwarfed by the Facebook behemoth.

Facebook is HUGE. It’s ingrained in our culture, language and behaviours. Including more localised (and therefore highly relevant and timely) content will only make us more wedded to it. While we’re (marketeers and agencies) experimenting with the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook will just swat these guys like flies because of the scale, high activity rates of the installed user base and acceptance among brand marketers.

Why check-in anywhere else?

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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Online advertising and inbound marketing: it's all about people

In this social media day and age, we increasingly move from outbound to inbound marketing. There are differences between B2B and B2C businesses but B2B companies are catching up very fast in the inbound marketing space and inbound is growing year after year.

What is outbound marketing? In a nutshell: the campaigns and marketing activities are 'pushed' to the people and are often interruptive. What is inbound marketing? Well, the opposite.

Content marketing, SEO, blog marketing and social media marketing are forms of inbound marketing. Events, call center actions, direct mailings and TV ads are forms of outbound marketing.

Email marketing/advertising is difficult to categorize. It's a bit of both. After all, the recipient gives his permission. And at the same time there is an evolution towards a more conversational and valuable focus on the recipient. But, despite all this and the fact that email marketing has found a strong companion in social media, there is a broadcasting aspect as well.

When do display ads contribute to the brand experience?

Which leads me to the big question: what about display advertising? In a way, display ads allow people to find you. That's a bit inbound. They do have an impact on branding. But they are often intrusive. That's outbound. Can I add that they are also still very often without value for the people that should see them, being you and me?

However, it's not really about the formats. It's about what they contain: the story, the promise and the content.

Whatever the definition: if display ad campaigns don't engage the people that see them, use intrusive formats and are not set up in function of the needs and wants of people, in the formats and circumstances that are relevant and enabling people to get something out of them or what they promise, they fail.

Customer-centricity is key in everything we do. The same goes for display ads. If they simply are about pushing your products and services or about one-way branding, they are not perceived as valuable.

If they are used to offer something that your 'target group' seeks (fun, relevant content, a paper, interaction, etc.) they will lead to a positive brand experience.

Your brand is not what you want it to be. It's what people make it: the people in your company and the people in the influence sphere of your online brand.

Give your brand a face and value beyond the brand itself. Let go of your brand, and it will get stronger than ever. In display ads as well. The value is in reputation and thus the value you put into relationships. With people, as people.

Display ads should engage people and get them talking or taking action. No, this does not mean display ads are about clicks (alone). Engagement and interaction are also about word-of-mouth, interacting with the creatives themselves and being surprised, impressed and touched. Display ads can do that. If you dare to let go more of your brand.

Again, your brand is not what you want it to be, so don’t try to “position” yourself via a display ad, in fact forget positioning completely (sorry, Al Ries and Jack Trout, but it is what it is). Your brand is what you get when you involve people, in all layers of the ecosystem that determines the value of your online brand.

Feel free to comment here or on Twitter.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Socialised brands can be contagious, social media is just stuff.

Social media strategy.

There’s something inherently wrong about that, no? Why create a bespoke strategy for this? Or worse, mistake “being on Twitter” as a strategy. Social media is becoming a bit like a collection of stuff; half a pound of Facebook here, a dash of blogging there and a slice of Twitter on top as a garnish. Oh and a bit of that FourSquare malarkey to make me look cool. To the extent where the phrase “social media” is becoming a bit of a hindrance rather than a help because people use it to default to executional elements such as having a Twitface.

Where social media is really interesting is it being an enabler to our business and brand strategy. Yes, I am going to use that word integrated because the social media world doesn’t just exist in marketing, it transcends the entire business. Which is why social media should probably be killed as a term. It suggests a marketing only existence. And the endless isolation of social media from other comms and its positioning by social media people as the saviour of everything is why it’s viewed by many senior marketers as a bit of fairy dust and not something that can fundamentally make a tangible difference to their strategy and their business objectives. You don’t just do a TV ad without understanding the business and brand challenges so why are we so eager to suggest getting on MyFace is right for your brand without understanding these challenges?

Change the focus to how social can enable your brand by using the space in the right way, being cohesive with all your other activities and allowing deeper engagement, amplification and reciprocation of your strategy.

Socialised brands can be contagious. Social media is just stuff.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010


I have just launched a new Podcast Series called "Digital Marketing Unleashed" which aims to provide both practical and inspirational advice and tips about creating, measuring and driving a digital marketing strategy based on my experience as a client.

You can subscribe for free via iTunes by clicking here:
Digital Marketing Unleashed Podcast

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Friday, 16 April 2010

should we be less #fail smug

The start of this year has brought us some memorable social media fails: Eurostar, #cashgordon and Nestle to name but a few. And how we relish kicking them when they’re down. Because:
They don’t know how to do it.
They don’t get it.
They’re arrogant.
They’re douches.
We would NEVER do that.

If you want a wonderful description of #cashgordon then have a read of this from the good folk at Made by Many. I particularly like the point that yes, the interweb will try and punk you. Because it can.

But aren’t we also getting a bit up our own arses on this? What if one of our own campaigns suffered a monumental fuck up? We are fallible. Yes, hard to believe I know. But it could happen. Would we take so much joy in our own #fail?

In the case of Nestle, the real issue was seemingly missed – especially on Twitter – by our own blinkered views. Although I’m in no way a hippy – I flaunted Earth hour this year by watching a Top Gear repeat with the lights on, phones charging, dishwasher on and many appliances on stand by – the poor gorillas and forest destruction got side-lined by our own glee at Nestle fucking up a Facebook response. I’m aware Nestle also has a long running war with NGOs after many an issue so anything they did was bound to wreak havoc regardless.

But all this smugness has another impact. Clients who are still reticent about entering into the social space are typically concerned about reputation or the notion of control. And this is still the majority no matter our own rhetoric on social media being HUGE. The #fail culture does little to overcome these barriers and we will be left with only the brave forging ahead which inhibits the growth and maturation of this exciting and game-changing space.

Perhaps if we were less concerned with our own reputations we would be sharing more #success rather than focussing on the #fail?

Image source.

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Apple iPad: who will use and what for? All is now clear!

Apple iPad, originally uploaded by iLounge.

There is no doubt that Apple managed to create huge noise and discussion in the run up to, the actual announcement and the launch day of the iPad in the USA (a week ago as I write this). There has been monstrous amounts of coverage, comment and discussion.

One of the most common threads and themes through the whole process is around What the hell is the device for and Who the hell would want one.

There has been a lot of debate about people saying they do not see how it would replace what they have already (PC/ laptop/ smartphone/ blackberry etc) and it was surely just an oversized iPhone. Some more kindly said Apple geeks would buy it, and as there were a lot of those it would be a nice little side earner for the company.

I have watched the debate with interest, and then saw 2 comments that were “AHA” moments for me. 2 things that made it all clear.

The first comment was: “the iPad is a content consumption device, not a content creation device”
The second was: “the iPad is perfect for your mother”

It all made such sense to me, and of course the 2 thoughts are related, although I did come across them in different articles and comments.

Let me explain why I saw these as so profound and clear:

Anyone who has an iPhone knows the quality of images and look at stuff viewed on it is stunning. It is a great device to use, even for someone like me who struggles t use a laptop without a mouse! It is though damn hard to type and work on traditional content generation (be it documents, presentations etc). The iPad will not really overcome that, but will be big, beautiful and clear for consuming content like books, websites, video, applications, playing games and so on.

And so to the next point. People like my mother have no interest in creating content. They want to consume it, view it and at most tap out a simple email. They also do not want to have to have a desk for a PC or laptop, have it out or around, boosting it up and logging on. The iPad would be perfect. Easy to have in a drawer or in her bag. Easy to sit down with a coffee and consume.

Time will tell, but it seems to me that the iPad is a device to consume media by people who don’t want all the content creation capability a PC has.

Me I want it because I love gadgets. But at least I now know why I want it and how I will use it....

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

INTERACTION. TRANSACTION. RESEARCH. ENTERTAINMENT. The 4 key things to think about when it coems to digital?

This is an article I wrote in August 2003 to help people think about the internet and digital. It is mazing how valid and accurate it still is today....

The Internet and its use as a marketing tool can strike fear and trepidation in the hearts of marketers – or simply be dismissed by them.

The industry itself did not – and has not – helped at all. Firstly it sent everyone down the wrong path by focusing on the use of the Internet in particular as a direct response tool, where clickthrough is king. And more recently, the debate is over how big your ads should be.

Let’s get back to basics: here’s a simple approach to consider as you think about if, how and when to use new digital media and channels like the internet to build your brand or company. This straightforward way of looking at new digital media and channels is based on consumer insight – which should always be the basis of marketing initiatives.

A consumer has four main uses of digital media. Let’s look at each in turn – their roles, applications and the opportunities they present:

1. Interaction

People mostly go online to interact – with email being the most popular tool. Instant messaging, community sites (e.g. iVillage for women) and chat facilities are not far behind – and are growing fast.


The implication of this is that your consumers are online, ready to interact, chat and engage with you in as close to real time as possible. Are you set up and able to take advantage of this?

2. Transactions

This doesn’t just mean shopping – although online retail is the area that gets the publicity. The real powerhouses are things like online banking (faster and more convenient than queuing at your high street branch) and most importantly, peer-to-peer activities. These are where consumers transact in goods (eBay), information (dooyoo) or money (PayPal) with each other.

eBay, the online auction site is the master at this and is not only the most-visited site in the UK, but is also the most profitable online business.


Consumers love peer-to-peer activities and online services that enable and facilitate these make money. Is there a role your company or brand can play in this arena?

Another hook is to enable consumers to manage their relationship online with you by giving them access to their information and data – think personal address books and diaries attached to email facilities.

3. Research and education

The starting point for many people on the Internet is search engines. Google, Yahoo and MSN search tools are among the most-visited group of sites. Sites that consumers associate with education, research and learning are second in popularity only to online transaction sites.


You need to ensure your sites or products are listed well and high up in search engines by making use of search engine optimisation and listings.

Can your site build in more educational content or services?

4. Entertainment

When thinking about digital media for entertainment, many people tend to think of the much-publicised music swapping and downloading. But the powerhouses of e-entertainment remains the big three portals: AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

These are the three most-visited sites globally and provide the gateway to news, business information, entertainment news, features and downloads – and much more.

Specialised target market portals like Babycentre.co.uk (new and expectant mothers) or Gay.com perform extremely well with their niche audiences.

Big money though is being made in the areas of vice, gaming, gambling and ‘adult’ entertainment.


Forget the idea of building a portal yourself. Too many have burned piles of money trying to compete with the big players. Instead focus on having a presence and relationship with those portals where your target customers are going already.

Focus on the four main areas of digital media and channels that the consumer operates in: interaction, transactions, research and entertainment. Look at each in turn and see what the implications and opportunities are for your brand, product or company.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Digital Fundamentals for the Nervous and the Uncertain: your thoughts?

I have been invited to do a talk at the Richmond Events Digital Marketing Briefing Conference in London in March.

The topic and description is:

Digital Fundamentals for the Nervous and the Uncertain

Gary Bembridge, Vice President at Johnson & Johnson Beauty Care, and award-winning travel www.tipsfortravellers.com, and marketing blogger www.garybembridge.com , will be presenting some of the fundamentals of building a digital strategy based on personal learning and experiences.

Based on his experience from both professional and personal, he will provide insights, tips and advice to the group and share what he has learnt so far (sometimes the hard way!). It will also be a great opportunity to ask those digital questions you've always wanted, but never had the nerve to!

I am currently crafting the talk and tips for the one hour session.
Here is the taster so far, and any thoughts are welcome...
  1.  4 things work really well online.
  2. Love it. Live it. Do it
  3. From the top. Expecting is not enough. Be in or be out.
  4. Be where they are. Build and they will not come. Take the mountain to them
  5. Think: Learn forwards versus sit back. Think about the 3 screens:
  6. Create a Fan base (not a database)
  7. Give them what they want. Think like a consumer, stay thinking like that when you walk in the office
  8. Know what’s out there
  9. Use the principles of communication
  10. Don’t try and predict the future, make it.
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Visit my blog and add thoughts on the above: click here

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

New Media Cruise / Podcamp@Sea - from NYC - June 28th - July 3rd

The Idea

A different kind of cruise is being planned for this June. This is a cruise for people more interested in bit rates than bingo, and more interested in RSS than the midnight buffet. The idea is to create a floating unconference on new media. I have had a chance to do a themed based tech cruise and found that it was much more enjoyable and interesting than a regular cruise vacation (shuffle board is not my game). We will spend the time in port exploring but when the ship is at sea we will have sessions of interest to the attendees on new media and social media.

This is a 5 day cruise to keep the costs low with no additional fee for the conference as long as you register through me. By registering together as a group, the ship should provide the necessary meeting space with no additional charge. Also we will sit as a group rotating people through different tables to make it easier to meet people.

What is an Unconference
To keep the costs low it is my intention to do this as an unconference where the people attending will decide what sessions we will have rather than paying for speakers to attend. I would like to provide a place where novices and experts alike can learn something. I have created a discussion in the Amateur Traveler boards called “What do you want to learn?

The Cruise
The plans for the New Media Cruise have solidified and we have reserved cabins for cruise leaving New York City on June 28th and returning on July 3rd with stops in Halifax and Saint Johns.

Who are we?
I am the host of the Amateur Traveler, The Bible Study Podcast and a co-host on This Week in Travel podcast. All together I have published more than 400 podcast episodes (both audio and video).

I am working with Lorene Romero of the Home Based Travel podcast to pull this off because she is a cruise travel expert and knows how to coordinate this with the cruise company and how to help people book their travel, excursions, etc.

For full and fair disclosure Lorene and I will make money on the commissions to help pay for our time working on this, but frankly Lorene thinks I am a little crazy for not having a registration fee to pay for miscellaneous expenses.

How much will this cost?
The taxes and fees came in a bit higher than I expected (always make sure to check these when you book a cruise because often the advertised price does not include them).

Final costs are:
Inside Cabin $420 base price, taxes and port charges $198.77 = $618.77 per person
Outside cabin $480 base price, taxes and port charges $198.77 = $678.77 per person
Balcony $650 base price, taxes and port chagres $198.77 = $848.77 per person
Also plan on $10 per person per day for tips

How do I book the cruise?
Email newmediacruise@AmateurTraveler.com with your contact info and cabin selection. If you do contact them please mention that you heard about it via Gary Bembridge (TipsForTravellers Blog)

How can I help?
Please spread the word to the podcasters and new media producers that you know. The more people who come the more fun this will be.