Location, location, location

First off apologies – I’ve committed the cardinal sin of blogging and blogged off for the summer…!

I’ve been intrigued over the last month or so by the amount of discussion and developments around “where are you” or the tweeting (or facebooking) your exact location.

Towards the end of August twitter blogged about its latest API making it an option for users to tweet ther longitude and latitude so that individuals know exactly where each other is tweeting from. Whilst, as the article notes, it could be interesting when you look at following response to a location specific event, or even following opinion in the neighbourhood it also would offer an amazing opportunity for brands to view regional insight that previously could have been difficult to track. The problem is how insightful would it ever really be? And is it yet more “social buzz / networing / word of mouth / reputation management” clutter that actually isn’t much use at all!

Take as an example a general election scenario. The government, using those posters willing to share their location could use real time tracking to see issues and glean insight to help them tailor conversation messages. Likewise brands can begin to compare keywords against regions to look at uplift by region (against geographic opinion or even test campaign beds) as opposed to across the nation in general – again giving digital that edge over offline buzz – its all so measurable!

That said when I look at my twitter account   and the conversations I follow I dont know whether this could ever be valuable or what you could get. I sat in a meeting earlier today and pointed out to people that Twitter is a buzz word right now and not many brands are doing it well, simply jumping on the bandwagon (as they probably did with Facebook) because its the latest fad. Its perceived to be free therefore why shouldn’t they be “trying” to use it – regardless of the fact they have 10 followers and a mere 2 tweeters. I wondered how long it would take for agencies to start throwing in the importance of conversation tracking by region (despite the fact most haven’t worked out how to value track a total universe conversation in the first place).

The location thing seems inevitable for take off. The “youth” are self-obsessed with highlighting their every move and using networks to create their own PR campaigns for their “self”. Gypsii is also surely a tried and tested example of how powerful a location based network can be. Apparently compatible on 350 handset devices (a reach of approx 1 billion) users are able to search using mobile GPRS for things of interest, friends, and events local to them, at that point in time. Huge in Asia but not seeing mainstreamuptake in the UK (yet) the interesting point will be if Facebook and Twitter can get their location uptake substantial enough to make market entry difficult for Gypsii and its competitors (Brightkite, Plazes and Loopt).

It will be interesting to see how the location debate unfolds, how adoption spreads (and within which demographics) then, finally, what marketeers think they can do (or effect) with that data….


Facebook: The data possibilities continue..

It was with no surprise that I read the mass of press releases across the weekend and saw it announced that Facebook was planning on offering consumer insight on the back of its “150 million strong database” (Guardian.co.uk) -its been a long time coming! Since the commercialisation of the channel it was only a matter of time before the insight that was building the adsales guys cases (why you should reach your audience here) could be turned into a much more interesting tool: One that allows individuals to actual read about where people are going.

Currently we’re constantly faced with a Facebook conundrum. It’s important to play in the space – particularly when so many brands will see such a high propensity of their target audience whiling away their hours in the space BUT to what point is it accountable. Until recently we’d been stuck (in agency / client stand offs) to using fan pages (as these could be tracked) and struggled to make those in the marketing team not so familiar with the digital space to regard those interacting with the brand, away from the brand site, as important as those who visit their .com presence regardless of whether we can report back numbers or not. We’ve now moved out of fans and into the friend influencer category whereby data isn’t tracked but immediately the experience we can have with users and the experience they can have with us has increased dramatically seeing more affect in a 7 day period than previously we’d achieved across 3 months. Its with this relief that the potential for insight to be made availability that makes the numbers analyst in me excited and the creative proportion of my brain (admittedly smaller than the analyst!) groan.

Facebook has always dabbled in its potential to track and provide insight. Their new Lexicon shows quite clearly where the revenues could be coming from as the tool begins to model things like user Sentiment, Association and Demographic information on users posting about particular terms. The demo model they’ve produced merely hints at whats to come (you can’t yet input your own terms) but you can bet that unlike the current tracking tool you wont be able to simply type in your own terms and view how these things are tracking (although I’d be happily surprised if this isn’t the case!)


Interestingly the current Lexicon tool has very limited worth to a client (more a pictoral representation than anything of statistical value) but, based on the initial glance we’ve been given of the new version it has learnt from the likes of Google Anayltics and one of many of the reputation monitoring companies to be able to give agencies (and brands) the information they need to be able to listen and influence (if thats the objective).

It will be interesting to see how quickly facebook’s intention to sell data becomes a marketable product. It will also be interesting to see how much more complicated brands who are dabbling in the space suddenly find the fact that data availability suddently stops them offering the more experiential led tactics that aren’t as trackable.

Will this simply become another example of the constraint of data availability begining to put creativity and user experience back in shackles…

Twitter…. The next big thing?!

Twitter this and Twitter that…

It came to my attention a few months ago and I signed up, had a poke around but couldn’t really see how this would take off – seemed like a rip off to facebook status updates…

Now it seems that its growing in popularity as “Micro-blogging” looks set to send the UK twittering. I’d argue that at present the twitters are still in the early adopter stage (within the UK) and it will be a few months yet before friends are packing up their facebook updates and focusing on twittering to their hearts content but, by the looks of it, it could happen.


The figures look good and this article looking at user numbers (released in Dec 2008) paints a robust picture.

Let’s think about the UK market. Twitter is still not on the radar for many. In week ending 17/01 Twitter was the 291st visited website in the UK. (Hitwise Intelligence, 09) – definately nothing for Facebook to be worrying about yet.

Yet how is it useful? I looked into some Twitter user stats and found the top poster doing 920 updates. On investigating this user was simply spamming users. Another Top 10 Twitter (in terms of usage) according to Tweetrush is On Time who (yep you guessed it!) sends a tweet update to its followers ever 2 – 3 minutes telling them the time. Is this of value or is this simply spam?

Going into it with a bit more detail the slightly more useful hitwise findings found that:

Twitter is becoming an important source of Internet traffic for many sites, and the amount of traffic it sends to other websites has increased 30-fold over the last 12 months.

Sites are using their tweets to sucessfully generate top of mind reminders to their consumers – serving as a prompt to visit. I haven’t found a huge amount of brands doing this to their advantage although Innocent Drinks and their twitter shows some nice examples of users using the tweet to give feedback on products and the ease of response Innocent then have to give the users feedback.

As with anything the adoption by brands is unlikely to hit until the consumer mass take up the technology yet getting in early and helping set the model for success will stand any brand in a position to gain followers quickly (as commerical noise is less minimal) but, as with anything, playing in the social space requires a strategy that is mindful of the environment and has clear objectives as to what the presence is set out to achiece – briefs of “I need to be on Twitter as it’s popular” look set to hit inboxes of digital agencies everywhere by end of Summer this year – triggering waves of panics as reasons for being there are totally overlooked in favour of self-indulgent positings.

As celebs (and brands) use it and discuss the platform openly adoption is likely to tip relatively quickly. Hitwise have even updated their report to include the impact of Jonathan Ross / Stephen Fry’s discussion on Twitter to show how it positively affected traffic.

Looking at the daily data from last week, it seems that the exposure granted by Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry discussing Twitter on TV (Saturday 24th increase, the day after Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) had a slightly bigger impact on the site’s UK usage than Obama’s inauguration (Jan 20th).


Still curious? Check out Britney Spears, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross – all twittering away (with varying degrees of success!)


Aleksandr OrlovHad to post when this campaign landed in my facebook inviting me to become a fan of Alexandr Orlov – a meerkat.

The campaign spearheaded by the aggregate guys behind compare the market.com has a clear appeal for a younger audience and a nice standout amongst the other brands that rely on their daytime TV slots and repetitive techniques to get brand recall (not that I’m knocking the possible effectiveness of that!).

My encounter with the campaign started with total unawareness and a simple invite to become a fan of the furry friend and, thanks to tongue in cheek copy that is totally blatant from the beginning you can only feel warm towards the campaigns meerkat star. The marketers behind it have respected that lulling users into a relationship with a meerkat (should any marketer actually believe this is sensible) and then revealing it as a ploy to purchase car insurance is sure to have a negative affect on relationship power so its obvious, its predictable but its actually pretty clever!

It is for honour of my family and meerkats all over the world that I make comparethemeerkat.com.

However, recently, this great ambition has been made look foolish by people looking for a cheap deal on their car insurance. People who are looking for comparethemarket.com

The campaign clicks through to a fully functioning site that, despite the gigantic cross promotion of comparethemarket.com (even on landing on the site it double checks you don’t want to go there instead) continues to take you through to a site that fully functions as a meerkat comparison site! In particularly I’m loving the FAQ section:

  • Can I save up to £300 on my car insurance with you?
  • No, is true comparethemarket.com could save you up to £300 on car insurance*, but I am not anything to do with that. I am comparethemeerkat.com. Meerkat.

The clear links that have been pulled through with the site, the social app (facebook and Twitter) as well as the TVads (that I’ve not seen as yet) show an integration and brave move by the brand that relies on the success of the meerkat to bring success to the comparethemarket brand.

I for one previously saw the brand as an aggregate sitewith very little personality and, for now I may temporarily move from being confused.com to giving the meerkat a little bit more attention than I did before!