Introducing: LooTube

A few days ago, I wrote this post suggesting a feature for mobile-based video services, the overall idea being that the app might display different length content based upon the user’s location.

I cheekily surmised that perhaps content should be served depending the answer to the following question

“Hi, where are you? In bed, on the train or on the toilet?”

Terence Eden, one third of the brains behind awesome mobile web Twitter service, Dabr, commented on the post with, amongst other things –

“Hmmm… You’ve given me an idea for a weekend hack…”

Well, it’s the weekend, and Terence has finished hacking – LooTu.be has arrived!

While not the most tasteful of mobile web apps available today, LooTube is awesome as it answers the challenge I posed last week: why can’t mobile video be served in order of length (based upon your location)?

Amazing, nicely done Terence.

Give it a go yourself, next time you’re headed to the can – hit up http://lootu.be on your mobile and see what you fancy watching.

UPDATE:
Terence has posted too – ‘Context Specific Content Surfacing‘ 

 

An idea for iPlayer mobile

(or TED, or any video-based mobile app)

When I open the application, I want the app to gauge my time and serve me content accordingly. It could ask me ‘How much time do you have?’ but that’s boring. My thinking is you could get quite cheeky with the measurement –

First question: location. Based upon your answer to this, the app takes an educated guess as to the length of video you want to consume at this time.

Like so –

Thoughts

“Hi, where are you? In bed, on the train or on the toilet?”

In bed, you get everything; on the train, you get everything up to say…  30mins? – and on the toilet, well, you get content up to ten minutes. Obviously there’d be other (probably more user-defined) options available, but you get my point

I’ve mentioned this before (to the Beeb itself at one point) and I don’t know why this hasn’t been done or why content isn’t browse-able by length at all* in fact. I’ve got a 15 minute journey ahead of me so therefore I’d like to see all content that is 15mins or under in length. Simple.

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What is the behaviour of your mobile user?

 

*if it has, I haven’t seen it and well, I fully expect to get told about it within minutes of hitting publish….

Engagement Currency

We were talking about alternative [read: cheap] ways to build engagement recently. Something tangible, that you can see, feel or hold physically. Like stickers, for example, they’re easy and silly – but what kind? And also, what type of community would they address?

The English definition of ‘currency’ (outside of its obvious monetary connotations) is ‘The fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use‘. Keeping this in mind (and given the universal habit tagging of all things technologically vital and important), laptop stickers could therefore be construed as a currency of the blogging community

If that’s so, then why not make some of those? Good ones mind. Not just your logo on a white background.

Something interesting.
Something better.
Something that will spark a conversation.

A social object, if you will.

This thought process is not new, we used to talk about this kind of community currency back in my SpinVox days: what was it about a certain place or a group of people that would always get them talking and, better yet, what wouldn’t.

A recent video from Heineken was what got me thinking about this again (and what prompted the tweet above, too). Have a look, we’ll regroup on the other side –

Right. Let’s deconstruct this for a second. First off, as I asked the team at 1000heads last week; is this cool?

The general consensus was no, it isn’t. It’s a good video, yes. But using technology for technology’s sake is never a sound strategy for success and alas, that’s exactly what’s going on here.

“Why is this Heineken? Where is their connection?” were other recurring questions. You could argue that the new brand message of ‘open your world’ underpins this whole activity somehow, but you have to look quite hard to see it. And anyway, that much at least is besides the point.

Could this have been done better by taking a closer look at the reality of a festival currency?

Festival currency: what it isn’t

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Before we get into what and what does not work around QR codes, let’s first establish that I genuinely do buy the idea that they act as a conversation starter. That’s great in fact. Any excuse to start talking to a new person at large social events is welcome. Well done.

However, as anyone who’s ever been to a festival will tell you, the genuine currency of the modern day festival-goer is communication. To stay in touch, you need that most precious of camping-based premiums: mobile phone battery life.

There is a whole other blog post to come about how the success of the next generation mobile hardware manufacturer depends on this particular aspect of their devices (and breathe), but that’s not for today. Today is about realising that festival-goers aren’t going to spend precious battery life on QR code snapping, especially when it’s the only thing keeping them connected.

Heineken could learn from Orange here.

Back to those QR codes, hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box? OK, next question: hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box that you know about? See what I mean. Shocking.

QR codes are great, but there’s still such a large education piece to be done before anything like this creates any real traction [note: the video proudly points out that 5000 ‘U-Codes’ were printed, not how many were actually scanned].

Taking all of the above into account, it’s clear that the modern day festival goer needs to remain connected, visible and contactable.

Festival currency: what it could be

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Flags. This isn’t my idea, first off. Scroggles planted this particular seed when we were working with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation a few years back. At a festival, if the currency isn’t anything mobile-related (or at least, related to draining mobile power) what else is there?

FLAGS.

Think about it.

20120110-125607.jpg

Print your own message on a [Heineken-branded] flag and suddenly you have something that you can wave to find your friends, stand near or under as a meeting point and ultimately, personalise as much as you like within your own artistic boundaries.

No messing about with esoteric QR codes, no imposing your brand onto that super-valuable phone battery; just simple, visible and useful branding.

Flags, as currency for festival goers.
Laptop stickers, as currency for bloggers.

There’s more here. I’m sure of it.

What’s your engagement currency?

 

 

[Big thanks to both James Mayes and Gia Cavalli in the construction of this post]

The Social Media Rollercoaster

Round we go...Summer is coming and – between the torrential downpours – the sun will be shining once again.

Last weekend, while queueing up* for Adventure Island‘s RAGE rollercoaster on Southend Seafront, I began wondering how theme parks could use social media and further engender positive word of mouth.

And, it was after reading Joe’s post earlier this week around the Social Season Ticket, did I then decide to put my thoughts down on paper – so to speak.

To my mind, theme parks and attractions have a fantastic opportunity when it comes to social media. Standing in line amongst the other would-be screamers, my brain started buzzing. So much so, I made notes –

‘Wouldn’t it be cool if each main attraction at a major theme park had its own Twitter account broadcasting not only for ‘on brand’ messaging [ie: ‘Boo!’ for the haunted house] but also – and much more importantly – up to date queue time information. As a guide for the more socially-savvy guest, this service could prove invaluable.’

This is not an untouched area in this industry. Back in February, Alton Towers announced they were a launch partner for Facebook Deals here in the UK. According to their site:

“On Friday 18th February 2011, the Alton Towers Theme Park opened a day earlier than planned for the Half Term holiday, offering exclusive use for anyone who checked in with Facebook Deals on that day. Guests were able to enter the Theme Park with up to three friends, completely free. 100 lucky people will also claimed a hotel stay on the night of 18 February 2011, completely free!”

Very swish.

As with any industry, it really does depend on how much time and money theme parks want to invest in making this a success; is it a case of a simple Facebook promotion [Like ‘Thorpe Park’ on Facebook and get 10% off your ticket entry] or do you want to go the whole hog and have Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare integrated across every branded touch point [including your entrance ticket].

My advice?

As ever, choose an objective and stick to it

  • Want to increase footfall?
    Great, run an online ticket promotion
  • Want to sell more gifts + toys?
    Offer Foursquare deals at specific stores across the park
  • Want to help control traffic around the park?
    Introduce ride-only Twitter accounts which tweet when the queues reach over an hour

One last idea from me –

Why don’t theme park ride photographs post straight to Facebook?

This is such an obvious and quick win. Photos get uploaded to Facebook, guests like the page and then are able to tag themselves post-visit. Ultimately, sharing branded experiences with their Facebook friends using branded photos.

It’s certainly better than forking out £8.00 for an old school photograph that you’ll probably get crumpled up on the way home…

All of that aside; as an avid theme park fan myself, if Twitter was used as an information service for each ride? I’d be there like a shot.

 

*Yes. This is how my brain works even on my day off

The web is watching you (well, me)

The web, it seems, is getting smarter.

If you’ve been traversing the interwebs in the same manner as I have these past few months then you may remember these smart little ads from Google, informing us that ad space will work harder.

They’re not wrong. It is.

A few weeks ago I had to travel up to Grantham to speak to one of our clients, MARS, about how to build social into one of their newest (and most exciting) ventures. To get there, it’s a short tube ride from our global headquarters in Piccadilly, up to Kings Cross, from there a train ride to Grantham, whereupon a 30min cab ride awaits to cart you to the the MARS PetCare HQ in Waltham.

Obviously, when making any public transport-based travel plans, militant scheduling is required. TheTrainline.com is useful in this instance as it covers every overground train schedule in the country. Note; all I did was check the times of the trains. My browser knows this, Google knows this and so therefore, the ad that Channel 4’s adspace chooses to serve me when I want to read about the British Comedy Awards knows also.

Contextual web-based advertising. It’s a wonderful thing. The mind races through a thousand thought processes;

Wow, that’s awesome. I should screengrab that for the blog. Contextual advertising, nice. Wait a minute, are they allowed to do that? Hmm, maybe I said they could do that when I ticked some random box.. maybe, just through visiting their site, I’ve already agreed to let them follow me around the web.. is this cookie based? It must be.. What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

And how can it be used?

This last thought in particular is one we’re going to be coming back to over the next few months here at 1000heads. Over the past year or so we’ve been doing a lot of work on conversation metrics, purchase journey mapping and ultimately, the real value that word of mouth can bring to any business, globally.

Combined, these three content streams can provide some very real data about how consumers like you and I go about our daily decision making processes; in the first instance it really is quite scary… but in the second, once all the data is locked down and independently verified – for brands at least – it can be very, very useful indeed.

As Google might say – ‘WATCH THIS SPACE’ for more on this… in the meantime, tickets to Grantham are only £9.

Who knew?

Come on, someone just do it already #1

This might turn into a semi-regular feature.
Hence the number. We’ll see.

On with the post.

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These adverts – from UK-based electronics retailer, Dixons – have been springing up all around London lately. Take a look:

Read all that? Good. Right then.

Is it just me or is there a MASSIVE opportunity here for a competitor to come along and have some fun with this?

Alright the ads are actually quite well done. Providing a playful spin on the words ‘the last place you want to go’ as well as taking a cheeky swipe at some of the more… stuffier… of London’s largest department stores, these billboards do raise a smile.

But still. If I was a keen-eyed ad man I might be tempted, with the right client, of course (someone like ebay maybe?) to go away, knock up some good-sized stickers and then in one night, do one big hit on them all.

Guerrilla style.

You see what I mean? Bam.

So come on, someone just do it already!

And that was going to be it from me but, when I researched the ads some more it turned out that not everyone is a fan of this new campaign.

Nigel Paine writes:

“Then there are the nasty Dixons Ads on the tube at the moment. They tell you to spend your time learning about your product from well-trained (threfore ponsy) shop assistants in well-known stores like Harrods, Peter Jones and John Lewis and then buy at Dixons on line. Why do I not find this amusing?

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Firstly because of the snobbery, and secondly that Dixon’s shop assistants are the diametric opposite of knowledgable and helpful, and a terrible glimpse at what shopping might become if Dixons had its way. Thirdly the idea of checking out the store first and talking about what you want, and then checking out online vendors to get the best price happens all the time.

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Better not bite the hand that feeds you!”

He makes a good point.

The value of the online shopping market is growing year on year while that of the high street is steadily declining. And while you have to applaud Dixons for attempting to drive traffic to their online store, I for one can’t help thinking that there is a slight danger of them shooting themselves in the foot:

Time will tell.  After all, similar things have happened before.

Thanks for reading.

A Hero’s Quest: Launching a TV channel in 2009

Back in the Spring, I attended a launch party for a new free-to-air digital channel called Quest TV.

Unfortunately, due to some last minute complications, the launch was inexplicably delayed and is now scheduled to go live tomorrow instead.

What follows it the post I wrote on May 22nd. Most of the points still stand so I have no qualms about dusting it off and finally publishing.

Your thoughts and comments, as always, are welcome.

Enjoy.

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Hero Quest was one of my favourite board games when i was a kid. Yeah you had your Monopoly and your Cluedo, but when it came to getting your Wizard on (and if D&D was too complicated) then Hero Quest was the way to go…

Last night folks, I attended the launch party for Quest TV.

With previews of programs such as Heli-loggers, Rescue Me and the old school Mission Impossible, the whole package was delivered in a jaunty, rather tongue-in-cheek but seriously amusing way.

However, because of the trek down to London from my office in Marlow however, I was late and arrived just as they were showing the channel’s idents. These I thought were quite clever and the scope to expand on them is definitely there, but we’ll come back to this one later.

As the evening went on I was introduced to a couple of representatives from Discovery – the television company behind Quest TV, and we spoke about how/why the social media outreach had been done specifically for this Quest TV’s launch. Aside from the low-cost aspect (and subsequent potential ROI), they insisted it was mainly stemmed from their desire to try something different.

A courageous move for sure and one that should be applauded. What with there being no real case studies to point to (regarding successes/failures with new ‘old media’ channel launches), they have carte blanche to pretty much do as they please. New TV Channels are a rarity here in the UK, so it’ll be interesting to see how they move this forward; it was noted at the time that the worst thing they could possibly do right now, would be to reach out… and then walk away.

Social media isn’t a channel, it’s the nonsense term applied to all things conversational and online, (these days I’ve taken to calling it ‘the web’), however – sticking to that principal – the web isn’t just another channel either. It opens up a world of interactivity and engagement which has never been seen before, especially in the world of ‘old/traditional’ media.

The idents that I touched upon earlier, are a great example of how the web could be used to further their brand.

Here’s a selection of the ones they had on show last night:

Not bad at all.

I can totally see an online campaign which involves viewers at home producing their own Quest TV idents. The ones shown above are short, fun and relatively easy to make. Why not further the conversation by reaching out to your own ‘users’ to help build the Quest TV brand?

Or, maybe ask viewers if they are on some kind of quest themselves. I’m reminded of the Britglyph project which famously had a mad Scotsman take part by placing his own rock in the rain in the middle of the night.
Hilarious, but awesome.

If that was online, what kind of scope do we have with TV?

Like I said the channel launches tomorrow and it seems Quest have already dipped their toes in, let’s see if they’re ready for a swim.