Social TV is a personal interest of mine.  Although not blogged here, I have presented my thoughts on social TV and have been fortunate enough to work on projects for clients such as BBC (Strictly Come Dancing), UKTV Gold, Alibi, Dave and the successful Dynamo: Magician Impossible on Watch; to developing Call of Duty TV for Activision to support the promotion of Black Ops and MW3 using Facebook as the broadcasting platform.

The area of focus for this post is the consumption of the TV companion app, in particular Zeebox. The announcement today (09.01.12) that BSkyB have invested in the app is exciting for broadcasters and advertisers alike.  Not to mention for us - the marketer and end user.

From an innovation perspective, Zeebox as a companion app falls into the strategic evolution quadrant of the innovation framework.  It does not revolutionise per se, rather it takes advantage of already revolutionary technologies such as smart phones/tablets (iOS, Android) social networks (Twitter/Facebook), broadband, app stores (cloud technology), all of which contribute to the ecosystem of social TV.

Zeebox however, does have the opportunity to further disrupt marketing and the TV industry which I will briefly focus on further down.

To date, there are a plethora of TV companion apps out there that compete with Zeebox.  What sits in Zeebox’s favour is not just the investment from BSkyB (tapping into a 15 million user base is a clear advantage) but the pedigree of their founders (Anthony Rose, Designer of the iPlayer and Ernesto Schmitt founder of peoplesound).  Both of these guys have disrupted the music and television industry before, and are looking to do so again.

This coupled with ripe tech market conditions, should make Zeebox a success not just here in the UK, but I hope also in the US too.

One only has to analyse the 2012 trends from the many sources that exist, to understand that 2012 is apparently the year for smart phones, tablets, and apps to hit critical mass.

Where I personally think Zeebox has the potential to disrupt marketing is in the following areas (please refer to PONBE and the marketing comms framework for the following):

Owned/Borrowed Media

Agencies and broadcasters will look to partner with Zeebox to customise their show page (borrowed media) and simultaneously develop both owned and borrowed media (Facebook/Twitter) campaigns to compliment their show page on Zeebox.

One current example of a broadcaster opening up Zeebox’s API is E4’s Desperate Scousewives.  The show page (borrowed media) has been customised and owned media (E4 web content and bespoke content) has been incorporated.

Marketers should not regard Zeebox as THE destination, rather a platform where owned and borrowed media converge during broadcast, and engagement can be facilitated.

As with setting up any borrowed media property, it is imperative that a strategy and objectives are in place for using the platform as some shows will benefit from a 2 screen experience better than others.

Paid media

TV spend still dominates big brand budgets.  So there is no doubt that media agencies on behalf of broadcasters and brands will be looking to test budget on Zeebox ads.  The fact that you can measure engagement through the platform will help. But, more importantly, I’d be really interested to know if Zeebox themselves will sell ‘Zeetag’ social data directly to media companies and broadcasters?  This business model is already in place for similar companion apps in the US e.g. Social Guide, and there is a huge market for more intelligent social data by media companies that will compliment Neilsen, especially when it comes to television advertising and audience engagement.  Check out Bluefin labs in the US for more info on leading edge social TV data.

For me personally, the opportunity is for broadcasters and brands to work in partnership on paid media content that could use audio watermarking technology built into the Zeebox app during adverts.

Because the app also allows users to login via Facebook, social commerce via audio watermarked ads could easily be facilitated, and therefore social CRM can be executed.  Think of the UK show ‘Come Dine With Me’, which is a social TV favourite and Hardys Wine whom sponsor this show.  Not only is there an opportunity to serve up bespoke content via Zeebox using audio watermarking, but you can drive users through to Facebook to purchase custom wine bottles at a discount during that time window, therefore linking TV, to social commerce to social CRM which is all measurable!

Real-time marketing

The biggest opportunity for disruption lies with real-time marketing.  Brands (advertisers) have the opportunity to hi-jack conversations on Zeebox show pages by producing ads in real-time that are contextually relevant to the show’s content.

IKEA has already shown the success in 2011 of iterative, real time ads as part of their 2011 365 campaign.  Let’s see what brands will do this year to further develop on this marketing activity.

Whilst the above examples are not an exhaustive list, I could have delved into the buzzwords of storytelling and dare I say it ‘transmedia’ (shit it’s typed now).  The creative possibilities for tinkering with the platform are endless, and coupled with positive network effects (tipping the app into Sky’s user base), 2012 could be a good year for Zeebox.

{ 67 comments }

Following on from the the many articles written about the UK riots and social media’s involvement, I felt compelled to share an article about my understanding of the cause and effect that lead to the UK riots.

Looking back I hope that anyone searching for information about social media in association with the UK riots will read the text below and thus have a better understanding of events proceeding.  Yes, social media was used during the riots both for good and bad, but to lay the blame at technology and Generation Y is incredibly short sighted and to not understand the wider context.

>>

WE are all being told by the political classes and select media that the rioting in the UK we have seen is mindless criminal activity– opportunistic stealing.

But what should WE expect – what example is being set by the politicians and public figures.

The riots started in Tottenham, scene of a most brutal riot during the recession of the 1980s during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

For the past thirty years we have been governed by the children of Margaret Thatcher – she was Tony Blair’s hero – she and Tony Blair are David Cameron’s heroes.

Remember Margaret Thatcher’s quote “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. -people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves.”

And so that is what they have been doing ever since – looking after themselves.

We have bankers who have taken taxpayers money – OUR money and plunged the world into the worst financial crisis in the last eighty years. No political party has felt the need to challenge them or make them pay. These bankers are still being allowed to pay themselves fat bonuses out of OUR money, but the austerity measures with government spending cuts are targeted at US.

We have one individual banker, Sir Fred Goodwin, who as Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland presided over the largest annual loss in UK corporate history. And yet he walked away with a pension of £703,000 per annum  paid by a nationalised bank, funded by US, the taxpayers. One year of his pension represents more than a lifetime of benefit payments for three people – yet it is the benefit claimants being targeted by the politicians as “scroungers”. So they have to be reclassified because WE are told by politicians that the government cannot afford to pay them.

We have politicians, who appear to be in politics for what they can get out of OUR money, paying their mortgages, paying their partners, buying private items, with the expenses that have been stolen from US, the taxpayers.

We have the forces of democracy itself that have been hijacked by a megalomaniac media organisation. Successive governments  have pandered to its demands and defended the rights of big business above the rights of US.

Even the rule of law has been hijacked by this same organisation with a revolving door between its offices and Scotland Yard.

We have had successive governments who have spent billions of OUR taxes on supposedly protecting the democratic rights and welfare of individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya but argue that the government cannot afford OUR welfare nor the resources of OUR police force to protect US.

As a result of successive government’s policy over the past thirty years we have the greatest social inequality in Europe – yet this current government is ignoring this and insisting on a crackdown on US through the welfare system and government induced unemployment whilst at the same time ignoring the tax avoidance schemes of their paymasters, the big corporations and non-domiciled high earners.

And don’t forget we now have Government Ministers and a Mayor of London who are no strangers to damaging property for their own amusement. Remember that as students, David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson were all members of the Bullingdon Club – proud of its reputation for trashing restaurants. Of course when well-to-do young students do this it can be called a “right of passage” or “student high jinks” but when WE indulge in this behaviour, it is called “criminal.”

When WE see all these suited gentlemen walking away with so much of OUR money. Or politicians buying private items out of OUR taxes or Government Ministers and Mayors who have trashed restaurants while they were receiving Student Grants paid out of OUR taxes then surely a pair of trainers from JD Sports is small beer by comparison.

Politicians of all parties should stop treating these riots as just mindless criminal activity and address the wider underlying problems of OUR poverty, OUR unemployment and OUR frustration with their lack of interest in US.

But, in the meantime WE should not forget “We are all in this together” as part of David Cameron’s “Big Society” and WE should set an example to THEM and therefore ‘Hug A Hoodie.’

{ 12 comments }

This is a post I have been meaning to write for a while.  What has prompted me to pull my finger out is that I have increasingly found myself screaming WTF?! all too often and becoming quite frustrated with the lack of good planning when it comes to campaigns and communications, particularly when Facebook is selected as a core part of the campaign.  Let me explain…

I recently went away on a holiday with my pals.  There were 5 of us.  All of us have smart phones.  3 of us are on Facebook.  I use Facebook frequently.  My other two friends use Facebook just to check photos and status updates.  The two non-Facebookers: 1 has recently stopped using Facebook as he has migrated to Twitter and the other has no social profiles at all.  He is a Dr, 29 years of age, clever guy, owns an iPhone, an iPad and is very tech savvy but chooses not to ‘engage’ via social networks.  He shows a surprising interest in what I’m currently working on (my other friends at this point have now have slipped into a coma).  His main question was “will I miss out by not being on Facebook, in the future”.  Now, this question interested me as I was reminded of a comment made at a Facebook conference I attended a few weeks back.  According to the Facebook spokesperson, in 5 years time Facebook hopes to be present on every website, via Facebook connect or Like buttons that you can embed alongside page elements.  So curiously I asked my friend “what makes you say that?”
“Well, I’ve noticed within the last few weeks, TV ads and billboards do not include the website address anymore, they point people to Facebook for more info, and I do not use Facebook, so will I miss out?”  Bingo!

When it comes to campaigns, it is vital that all marketing communications clearly display how to get in touch, find out more info, and/or make a purchase via telephone, website and now Twitter or Facebook.
8 years ago when I was developing print ads, radio ads, etc… a time when broadband adoption was increasing and more people were using the net, I never, ever, considered removing the call centre number and only include the web address to purchase.  I can hear my director now screaming “it’s commercial suicide” and quite rightly so, as the majority of our sales were done via telephone rather than the net.  We were a broadband provider, so the majority of customers who were purchasing did not have a broadband connection yet, and many did not even have immediate access to an Internet connection (sometimes not even dial-up!), so telephone was the easiest way to get the sale.  We even had an excellent call centre team and support forums (yes, believe it or social media was used before Twitter) for both prospective and existing customers when they engaged with us.

Which brings me back to my main point…  I’m now going to refer to a recent campaign in the UK that would have cost millions in above the line spend, that shall remain nameless, and in my opinion has taken one step forward in social media but now two steps back with Facebook.  They have provided me with a WTF? moment and they are not the only ones.

The brand’s recent ad features some very well known celebrities, and as brand ambassadors they appeal perfectly to the target audience of 16-35.  At the end of the ad the call to action is to ‘Search Facebook’ for the product.  No website address, just the Facebook search term.  Now, we all get that in the UK there are 30 million users on Facebook (realistically the product’s target audience is a fraction of this), and I’m sure you’ve shared the socialnomicsvideo and had a little wee over the stats, but here’s the rub.  In order to get involved with the product’s Facebook page you need to like the page first, which to me immediately puts up a barrier, especially when as a prospective customer all you want is to find out more info.  I don’t have to add Amazon.com as a bookmark before I can search for books, so why should I become a fan of a page immediately?  Equally, if arriving via Facebook mobile app on iPhone, you cannot see the flashy landing tab which you can experience via PC/Laptop, and furthermore the wall posts are random (I’ll come to that later).
If you decide you want to be a fan, you then are presented with info about an exclusive download.  If you want this piece of content you have to enter your e-mail, again why did I become a fan? The exclusive content is a great piece of social currency, but surely the main message should be about the awesome product, it’s price, at the same time providing exciting on-topic discussions about the product, allowing the customer to get involved in the conversation.

Because the brand in question decided to exclude non Facebook users, they should have ensured that they are maximising the potential of those customers who do use Facebook, and ultimately convert these fans into customers.  But, unfortunately you cannot get the price or specs of the product within Facebook.
Upon closer inspection, there’s a product info tab where I’m immediately presented with the cool TV ad.  But, I’ve already seen the ad, I just want to know what the cost is, and maybe have a chat with the brand or with someone who owns one?  Finally, I find the product portfolio lower down on the tab and decide that I want to get more info, so I click on the button, suddenly I’m then directed to the product website for more info!!!!  Now, I might be stating the obvious, but you selected Facebook as the primary destination where I’ll be able to find everything I need, I gave you a Facebook like for this, not to be taken out of the environment and be directed to your site?

And this is my WTF?? moment.  Why did the brand not include the web url on their ads alongside their Facebook page url, as ultimately, this is where you end up to actually find more info and pricing?  Surely when planning the campaign, and the decision was made that all customers are to be directed to Facebook, someone might have stuck their hand up and said “this is quite a long user journey, which we hope to convert to sales, I’m worried it will not deliver?!”  Little wonder some Financial Directors are questioning the value of Facebook, especially when selected as the main customer touch point using millions of pounds of media spend.

In short, I personally feel there is definitely a need for better planning and user experience when it comes to social media, and especially if using Facebook as the primary destination as your call to action.  We have in the past meticulously planned user journeys for landing pages on sites/micro sites directing prospective and existing customers to content via campaign creative, so why would you not plan user journeys and content schedules for Facebook?

Furthermore, we need to plan how to continuously engage fans when they arrive, with on topic content that will engage and convert.  I totally get that in 5 years time Facebook could possibly dominate the web, and that the need for a healthy fan base/community is important.  But, we have not reached that point just yet.

{ 8 comments }

The webinar from Facebook on sponsored stories today was very straightforward, and primarily targeted at a media buying audience.

For more information and case studies please visit:
www.facebook.com/sponsoredstories
www.facebook.com/marketing

Background
Businesses are organising their marketing around people, looking for moments that people are talking about a product or service.  Word of mouth is effective but is not predictable or scalable.

With sponsored stories you can capture the stories people are talking about in the news feed.  People trust their friend’s stories and thus with sponsored stories, businesses can now do Word of Mouth marketing on scale.
Adding sponsored stories in conjunction with your ad campaign you can see what your friends like surface these social interactions and tap into their friends.

The 4 types of sponsored stories

Page likes

Application interactions

Place check-ins

Page posts (brand can feature this story by friends).

How to purchase sponsored stories

They can be booked through Facebook sales representative.

Or…

Use the ‘Advertise on Facebook’ wizard.

Very simple….

Key information

Sponsored stories should ultimately be used in conjunction with social ads.

Social ads remain the best way to put across a brand message to Facebook users.  Sponsored stories allow you to surface all the friends of a person by boosting their social activity.  Essentially they are a message from your friend rather than an advertising message.

Pricing
Sponsored stories follow the same price structure as Facebook ads.
It is an auction system, based on cost per clicks and cost per impressions.

Display
With regard to page stories, these are only visible by fans, which is one reason brands should couple sponsored stories with ads.

Up to 5 sponsored stories can show simultaneously, subject to the auctioning.  Sponsored stories will always be positioned above ads as this content is the most relevant from your friends.

Sponsored stories do not require any editing.  With regard to page posts, it will just show the latest post and will cut off long text so you have to be mindful of the character length

Reporting
Sponsored stories metrics will be reported exactly the same way as ads.

{ 5 comments }

Yury Lifshits and Yahoo Labs have recently released their Facebook Like Log Study and it is well worth a look into what news stories consumers engage with.

The study is an analysis of how Facebook users interacted with 100,000+ articles across some of the leading online media outposts.

Understanding content popularity; more specifically what content motivates your consumers to engage with, is an essential part of content strategy.  This study helps to illustrate the importance of demand analytics, as well as social media optimization.

Key take outs from the study are: placing more marketing effort behind the most popular stories.  Analysing and using specific words/phrases for your content e.g. news/blog posts.

There is nothing revolutionary in the study in terms of recommendations, but it is very interesting to see what methodology has been applied to the data to produce this study.

My favourite take out is “for every 1000 visits to a news story, there are 5 to 20 likes and tweets.  Next time you want to guess pageviews of your competitors, multiply their like counts by 100.”

{ 5 comments }