Targeting Twitter’s audience by the TV that they watch

The future, I sees it –

Back in September last year, I put together a few ideas about what evolutions we might see in the social media industry during 2013. Snappily entitled ‘2013 Social Media Predictions‘, one of the areas focused on was how Social TV and advertising would need to work closer together if they planned to meaningfully speak to their audiences across multiple different platforms.


“…Soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.”

Makes sense, right? Of course it does. So it came as no surprise at all to read that, thanks to the advent of Twitter’s new Ad API, the smart folk at TBG Digital have done just that.

Introducing Calendar Live, a new platform that  allows buyers to purchase Promoted Tweets in sync with television programmes. It’s that simple. While it’s true that marketers could kind of do this already, this new system makes it supremely easier and brings in additional features such as trend monitoring and more granular time-targeting.

Calendar Live

Bonus simplicity: it looks just like your TV guide – 

While this isn’t the kind of ad-based scheduling I was initially talking about, it is a step towards a more connected approach to social media ad-planning. Good work Twitter, and well done TBG. We’ve been looking at a number of solutions to manage our approach to social media and TV of late, and Calendar Live looks like it might actually have something useful to both brands and agencies alike.

Three final points:

  1. With similar fantastic work taking place right now in the form of Three’s #DancePonyDance, this kind of integration really is the at the forefront of where social media, and thus social TV, is headed during 2013.
  2. SXSW is on right now which, to me at least, means big news like this gets swept away under the mess of it all. Rule one: don’t launch during SXSW.
  3. I love it when I’m right.

2013 Social Media Predictions

Some trend analysis for your oculars…

Earlier this year I was tasked with doing some analysis that ended up not being used, so I’m printing them here. They’re not really Social Media predictions per se, more consumer/industry/technology focused trends.

Either way, have a read and let me know what you think in the comments –

— 2012/13 Technology Trends & Predictions —

The outsourcing of community management to emerging markets

The online/social-media-based customer care business is booming. Social network CMS platforms, such as Buddy Media, are being bought and sold quickly to larger and larger businesses and, as a result, more investment is going into building highly-powered software to monitor and measure the social media interface between brand and consumer. This is not news.

However, what is news is that brands will soon realise exactly how much they are spending in this area. First on their agencies, handling it for them. Then internally, when they start training up their existing customer care staff. Which, in turn, points to a time when brands (large and small) will soon outsource their social media customer care to indian / emerging market (read: cheap) ‘call’ centres. Easily equipped with 140 character long scripts, this new group will gladly speak in the authentic voice of the brand for a mere fraction of the price of the existing agency/care dept.

This will happen.


2screening + Advertising

This is an immediate + obvious choice. The growth of this particular area, as consumers become more and more accustomed to seeing hashtags on their TV screens (related to the content they’re viewing), means that advertising will soon follow suit.

Super targeting is one thing, but soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.

This trend will travel.

Hashtags will appear in store, and on shelves. A walk through a furniture store, for example, will soon see shop owners proudly display the amount of likes (or Pinterest shares) each sofa has gained over the past week – encouraging sales and driving further online/offline integration.

Finally, as we’ve seen with Xbox SmartGlass and Wii-U, 2screening will cross over into the gaming world. Unifying the under-the-TV box into one, core multimedia system. Zombie-U, from Ubisoft, has sections in the game where the player must ‘view’ the TV content through their second screen, highlighting previously unseen areas and bonuses.

Speaking of bonuses, this gaming innovation also will also make way for a hidden benefit: broader consumer acceptance of augmented reality.


4G networks spurring further innovation

The USA has had its version of 4G for a little under a year, while the UK has even yet to discuss licensing. Like the future, 4G is already here, it is just not evenly distributed. As mobile growth continues at an exponential rate across the globe, mobile networks will look to ‘leap frog’ in strong 2G markets where the jump to 4G will not only be immensely attractive to consumers but will also come with tax deductions from the local governments.

Again, we see emerging markets being a core area here, especially Russia, and Africa, where the large expanses mean that a single 4G tower can provide high speed downloads for the many who live nearby. Coverage isn’t an issue when each connected device can itself turn into a 10MB internet hotspot.

The end result being that previously unconnected nodes suddenly gain access to the worldwide web, allowing all kinds of new connections and data points to become accessible. Questions such as ‘What is the price of meat in the next village?’ or ‘What are the whereabouts of our town’s first aid packages?’ and ‘How’s uncle?’ will be answered quickly, confidently and, in some cases, visually – with video calling.


Bonus round: [App] Eco-systems within [app] eco-systems

Foursquare apps within apps. Spotify apps within apps. Facebook apps within apps.

Eco-systems are IN and they’re only going to evolve. Internet fridges are a joke, but linked up technology, software and – dare I say it – the Internet of Things really aren’t that far away.


Your thoughts are welcome –

About those velvet ropes

A post about Google Wave.

Back at the turn of the year, Peter Kim launched his ‘social media predictions for 2009‘. The paper, downloadable in PDF format, featured forward thinking insights from such social web luminaries as Jason Falls, Charlene Li and one of my favourite players in this space, Chris Brogan.

The predictions themselves make for interesting reading and I would (even now), recommend going back and taking a look if you have the opportunity. To cut to the chase though, it was the thoughts from Mr Brogan that stood out the most for me, mainly around his notion of the ‘velvet-rope social network’.

“I believe we’ll have more focused velvet-rope social networks in 2009 where the tools and the goals match verticals instead of the general commons of Facebook.”

Nicely put. At the time I remember agreeing with the idea, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the execution. Chris himself has returned to the subject a number of times on his own blog (often with examples). However, the reason this particular thought came back to me recently was in large part, thanks to Google Wave.

Google Wave is currently in private beta and the invites only started pouring out into the web just under a fortnight ago. With them came the promise of a new dawn in co-working, a new way of true collaboration on a global scale…  A brand new vision of the future.

Except that so far, based on at least 99% of my own experiences at least, no one has found any real use for it.

Well that is until I realised exactly what it is.


Google Wave is, to my mind at least, one of Brogan’s new velvet roped social networks.

You open your Wave (this is your network) and invite in whoever you like to join you (as long as they are on Wave). This is, of course absolutely by invitation only. One inside you can chat, share and exchange.. basically do anything you would do normally just within the comfort of the Wave.

As Brogan said: “…the tools and the goals match verticals…”

But there’s more.

The answer? They’re both velvet-rope social networks. Why? Allow me to explain.

Not soon after I started thinking about Google Wave, I realised that another service from the big G shares the same commonalities as the velvet-rope social network: Google Reader.

Google Reader is not too dissimilar. The sharing functionality ‘baked in’ to the UI of the RSS service allows me to one-click push the stories that I’m reading out to my buddies on Google Talk (Google’s Instant Messenger service, aka ‘GTalk’). These stories then appear in my contact’s own Greader – sometimes with an added note from me – and that, is my choice.

I like sharing. I also like, occasionally picking and choosing with whom I share.

Is this the way forward?

Maybe. The point is, Google Reader is cool. I like it. I like sharing stories with my friends and I like them sharing with me. It’s closed (to a point) and I know who I’m sharing with.

Google Wave, while being no replacement for email or IM, is actually really quite useful for actually doing some work. Of the 36 ‘waves’ I have going on at the moment; one is for a specific project, a handful of massive group chats – the IM equivalent of an MMORPG (eesh), – and the rest are along the lines of ‘Is this thing on?’, ‘testing’ and my own favourite, ‘is this actually the future?’

It’s closed, for now. If you have an invite, find the people you want to work with and start a new collaborative project.

Treat it right, and you’ll yield results.
Don’t, and you’ll never see the benefit.

Thanks for stopping by.

Additional reading: “What problems does Google Wave solve?” (via Renate Nyborg)

Seven, Eight and Nine

“It’s good to talk”

As promised in my last post, this next one is a bit of a biggie. Sitting comfortably?
Then I’ll begin…

Towards the end of last year, around the start of December in fact, I found myself having a conversation with fellow Mobile Industry Review contributor, Jonathan Jensen. He and I were discussing that as we move into 2009, brands should be placing a certain level of importance on engaging with their consumers on an increasingly more conversational level.

The exact words that struck such a chord with Jonathan were as follows:

‘2007: Content was King. 2008: Context is King. In 2009? Conversation will be King.’

At that point however, I had to dash off to do a presentation for SpinVox and never got the chance to elaborate on that thought any further.

What I mean is; back in the ring tone & wallpaper days of 2005-7 (does anyone below the age of 16 actually use those services anymore?), everywhere you went the mystic phrase was uttered; ‘content is king’

The content in this instance is the aforementioned downloadable premium additions to your handset. During my job at Mobizines (and subsequently Mippin), we were still seeing presentation after presentation and report after report, all supporting (or at least purporting to) this concept – as late as this time last year in fact.

And we lapped it up.

2007 came and went, and sharing was set to be the theme for 2008 (that was my prediction anyway) and you could argue that this was proven to be correct in a number of ways.

In the future, people will look back and say that Facebook was instrumental in introducing Social Media to the masses. It unified communications on a consumer level and gradually allowed people to begin sharing.

Of course, the ‘Content is King’ mantra did not just disappear with the twilight of the year. The legacy lived on, rearing its ugly head once again, this time in the form of Facebook Applications. With only a few exceptions, this first swathe of applications; including Werewolves, Ninjas, Sheep Throwing and more, were soon replaced with some contextual goodness.

The adverts soon followed suit; “Your friend ‘x’ likes this, so you will like it too…”

It’s hardly a trusted referral from a non-branded, independent entity, but it’s not far off.

We’ll come back to this point later as, before we look at trusted referrals, we need to return to content for a moment – and how that lineage spreads into Social Media.

Facebook for example, gives you contextual content from your friends. If you give any content just a smidgen of context, suddenly you’ll find you have the potential for engagement. Facebook, by turning content over to its users, allowed context to become king – almost overnight.

Context gives content meaning, and is at the centre of any Location Based Service actually ever becoming successful. Context also adds to the ambient awareness that Facebook has brought upon us all. Knowing where my friends are and what they are doing is not only easy to implement, but also fantastically simple to engage with. Comment on this, write on that, post it here – Facebook makes it so easy. Some people choose to have a constant stream of ‘noise’ flowing through them at all times, but it’s the content from your friends that is important. That is the context.

As I said in Helsinki;

“YOU are the stream, everything else is just the channel you use to publish your content…”

So that’s the consumers sorted. What about advertising?
For that, I’m going to use another quote;

“A trusted referral from a non-branded independent entity is more powerful than any amount of advertising, marketing or PR.”

– Blake Chandlee, MD Facebook Europe.

For me, this can be simply illustrated as follows: You and I are in a pub, posters surround us for Beer X, but everyone around us is drinking Beer Y.
I ask you which one you’d prefer and you say; “I’ll have what you’re having”.

When you use the same example, but add in the context of Facebook, you find that it becomes;
“Your friend likes this, so you should too.”

Alas, the latter is missing context. The pub example outlined above works because both you and I are there together, and we’re there to drink together, (two words: social objects).

The addition of an advertiser – in this case on Facebook – does not work, as there is no human context involved. It has attempted to do what I like to call ‘content wrapping’ – making an advert that has no relevance to me appear meaningful.

There is a massive difference between “I’ve done this, so you must do it too” and “I’ve done this, I loved it and here’s why you’d love it too”. It is the equivalent of me talking to you as an individual, instead of an advertiser using my profile picture to endorse its brand.

You get my meaning…

In 2008, people and brands began to realise that without context, content is rendered meaningless. Now in 2009, the tide is turning and advertisers are beginning to understand that old school games of ‘scattergun marketing’ just don’t work anymore.

This is nothing new, nor is it by any stretch of the imagination, rocket science. I’ve talked about this before numerous times. However, to give this piece context (see – it is important), I need to re-iterate a couple of things.

In 2008 – the year of sharing – context was most definitely king. Any person’s homepage on Facebook (that most people look at daily) was, and still is, very smart. It displays interesting content created by people you know (which immediately provides context), which was specifically created for you.
If that’s not targeted advertising, I don’t know what is.

Funnily, you know what else it is?


But enough of that. Let’s look forward. To 2009. To the year of CONVERSATION.

At this point it should be noted that these opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences & knowledge of this particular space, in this particular part of the world.
In other markets, I am well aware that content is still reigning king and that context is quietly plotting its imminent downfall.

In the same way traditional marketing and advertising methods are being scrapped in favour of more intelligent niche or hyper-targeted practices, in this coming year brands will realise the benefit of engaging with their consumer on a more conversational level

Don’t get me wrong, some are doing it already, there are MANY forward-thinking brands out there doing just that.

Last year, when I wrote about being human, I talked about how the guys that will do well in this coming year will the ones that want to have genuine conversations with their consumers.

And I stand by it.

MIR: Dump S60 on your N95 and install the Facebook OS instead?

Foreword by Ewan Macleod: Maybe it’s the 24 hour sound of money being well and truly spunked up the wall as you walk through the casinos or the plastic nature of Las Vegas that gets to you after one or two days — whatever the catalyst, James Whatley has found himself undergoing several epiphanies this week, most notably when it comes to S60, Facebook and phone user interfaces. Hit it, James…


– – –

Before you all call “April Fool”, this idea came around when I was invited along by Debi Jones of Mobile Jones to attend a roundtable discussion hosted by Airwide and entitled:

Web 2.0 comes to Handsets – New Issues and Upside for Monetizing the Mobile Web

It started with a brief overview from Steve Bratt, CEO of the W3C about Web 2.0 and the similarities with the Mobile industry etc… And then we broke out into four separate groups to each discuss particular questions.

Our table had the not so easy task of answering the following:

“What are the three capabilities consumers will want in the future and what can the mobile industry do to help enable this?”

So, aside from the obvious “Consumers have NO IDEA what they want!” rant I could’ve launched into, I was sitting there with a few folk chucking around such themes as personalized UI, location-based services and, my personal favourite, passive contextual awareness, (I’ll come back to this one at a later date).

Chatting away, sharing ideas, brain working overload… I had an epiphany:

Scrap S60, give me facebook!’

The people at the table looked at me a little dumbfounded and I went onto explain it further…

“Rip out the standard UI in this handset (waving N95) put in facebook!”

The comments came thick and fast:

“Well, I like MySpace. Can’t I have a MySpace phone?”

“Didn’t Helio do that already?”

“Yeah. But you customize the UI couldn’t you? Give users that choice…”

“Ok. Give users the choice to customize their UI…”

“Blah blah blah…”

And that was cool and ok, it answered one of the three things we had to find and stuff… However, I think this is something that bears further thought.

What is Facebook?

By its own definition it is a Social Tool.

(Not a Social Network – You and your friends are the Network, not facebook – remember that one kids).

What is a mobile phone?

Also a Social Tool.

So my question is this: Why not converge the two?

I’ve spoken about facebook in the past and how the users can be segmented in different ways etc. But fundamentally, at the most basic level, facebook is when you think about it an extremely active contacts/address book, right?


Pour that into a handset and what do you get?

I’ll show you:

Your Contacts? Sync’d with facebook Friends.
But not only do I get numbers I also get pictures, updates, status etc.

Your Calendar? Sync’d with facebook Events.
But you get more detail, who’s coming etc (all linked across the different apps etc)

Your Games? Scrabulous anyone?!

What about SMS/Email/MMS? You’ve all sent a facebook message before right?

Your Camera? No change here. Oh, aside from photos being stored to your facebook gallery.

And Fun apps? If you read this blog I’m going to assume you’ve installed an app onto your phone before. You may well have even installed an app on your facebook too… see the link?

Don’t forget the Internet? Ahh… Here’s the killer see.

Facebook currently has no internet per se. No search. No Google box etc… That would be your link off and out of the facebook garden as it were. But hey, you never know with fb – they may well have Search on their roadmap.

Thinking about mobile search, searching the handset, like the current desktop search on the N95 or ‘Finder’ on any MacBook, would be like facebook!

Searching for “mobile geeks” and i’d be shown the event, the group and also any and all of the contacts in my address book that are part of said party.

What about my favourite app, Jaiku? Build it in.

Status updates on facebook? The mini-feed? That becomes your life-stream right there.

It could work.

Think about it.

The number one thing that people hate about changing handsets is relearning the UI: “Aww man, I’m still getting used to it” etc…

What if the UI was the same?
What if you knew how to use the UI before you took the thing out of the box because it’s the same UI that you use every day on Facebook?
And all that’s before we even begin to talk about the trusted relationship that the consumer already has with facebook as a brand…

Ok, so – taking a breath – maybe the web UI is not built to work on a phone. Maybe having a “facebook phone” would be almost as bad as Helio’s “MySpace Phone”.

But why not have the facebook engine running underneath a very basic UI. With all the information embedded and layered underneath each contact or event or picture, creating context sensitive content…Makes sense huh?

I guess what I’m getting at is the ideas and principles behind the semantic web, on your mobile.

It doesn’t have to be facebook. It could be anything. Just join the dots.

What do you think?