The industry was slightly perplexed with Facebook’s unexpected purchase of virtual reality startup Oculus VR for $2 billion. It stands in stark contrast to other recent technology acquisitions, such as WhatsApp and Nest. There is no obvious marketing application, no instant access to an established user base, no hidden trove of patents. Instead, Facebook is finally using its riches to help realize Mark Zuckerberg’s idealized future in which people can “experience the impossible.” And they couldn’t have picked a better place to start.

So what are the implications of this bold purchase?

Facebook’s IPO afforded it the luxury to make bold acquisitions such as this one. But its new found position as a publicly-traded technology titan also brought its future under scrutiny. Facebook has acted with its purchase of WhatsApp and its failed bid for Snapchat. Those acquisitions collected headlines, but arguably lacked vision, and for some exposed some scrambling to quell concerns over its ability to maintain relevance within a fickle teenage demographic. The purchase of Oculus foreshadows a different Facebook, a more confident Facebook, one prepared to boldly move beyond its roots to deliver on Zuckerberg’s vision.

It isn’t clear where Facebook will go first with Oculus. Initial predictions range from monetized gaming to virtual reality “hangouts,” but both would require Facebook to develop well outside of its comfort zone. Indeed, it is folly to predict the future of Oculus, because its future does not lie in the hands of Facebook. Rather, it lies with a community of tens of thousands of developers and hardware startups who see its potential as a medium for their visions. Already, those visions are spectacular, e.g., simulated skydiving, tactile response and treadmills that let you physically walk in virtual worlds. Facebook are now a key part of this innovative sandbox.

In one sense, the closest parallel to the Oculus acquisition may not be a hardware startup like Nest, but instead an open community such as YouTube. In much the same way that Google receives credit for the innovation and content development which happens on YouTube, Facebook can grow its brand simply by fostering an environment that is conducive to innovation. As this community grows, Facebook gains access to more content, more data and ultimately more advertising revenue.

For advertisers, the Oculus ecosystem is a new frontier, and Facebook’s acquisition heralds the start of a gold rush. The easy thing to do is to sit back and wait until Facebook identifies the quickest paths to monetization. But realistically, traditional advertising opportunities on Oculus are years away. Forward-thinking companies should become the innovators, not wait for them. The possibilities for proprietary development are enormous: virtual showrooms, remote tours, customizable environments. Virtual reality is the most immersive experience available to developers today, and thanks to the vision of Oculus and the deep pockets of Facebook, consumers are finally ready to experience the impossible.

SO MONDAY

March 17, 2014

Asap54 app – the Shazam for shopping  

Have you ever admired someone’s outfit when they’ve walked past you on the street but you’ve been too shy to ask them where their clothes are from? Asap54 is now allowing you to scan someone’s outfit in order to buy the item through the app or something very similar. The app is powered by ‘visual recognition technology, a social community and a team of fashion experts to trace items’. This is great news for retailers and they should definitely make sure that they link up with app to ensure users can easily purchase their clothes.

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Facebook Premium Video Ads

Premium Video Ads are designed for advertisers who want to reach a large audience with high-quality sight, sound and motion. Each 15-second video ad will start playing without sound as it appears on screen and stop if people scroll past. If people tap the video, it will expand into a full-screen view and sound will start. People can expect to begin seeing these new ads over the next few months.

With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences.

Guardian Snakes & Ladders game educates you about the evolving history of the web

The Guardian has released a game of Snakes & Ladders to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the web. With every roll of the virtual dice, you can uncover an interesting titbit about how Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s creation has changed over the years. For those who want to go straight to the game, you can find it right here.

In addition to the board game, The Guardian interviewed Sir Tim Berners-Lee to find out what he thought about the increasing amount of influence exerted on the Internet by governments and corporations. In it, he calls for an online Magna Carta that would secure the rights of Internet users in each country. If you have any interest in online privacy and how it could evolve in the future, you can read; “An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web” here.

Mondelez partners with Facebook

mondelez fb

Mondelez has announced a ‘global strategic partnership’ with Facebook, amounting to a 52-country ad deal that includes the USA, UK, France, Brazil, India, Indonesia and the Gulf States. Mondelez’s VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Bonin Bough, commented:

“For the first time, we’ll be able to incorporate Facebook at the core of our media investment plans. This isn’t just about having a social-media strategy; it’s about digitizing our entire approach to communications”.

The Dentsu Aegis Network was involved in negotiating the partnership, which includes 52 countries, including the UK, the US, France, Brazil, India, Indonesia and the Middle East.

Twitter rumoured to develop ‘click to call’ brand engagement tool

Twitter is reportedly looking to explore a direct response offering and is ‘testing a direct response button for sponsored tweets that will enable users to speak directly to brands’. Although there is no indication as to if and when this will be rolled out, this is a really exciting development for brands, as they can reach out to those who are venting their frustration on the social network and offer a friendly voice on the end of the phone, rather than tweeting back and forth. Brands should watch this space.

Wake Up & Smell The Bacon App

This is a novel idea from an FMCG brand whose main product is bacon. They have created a simple alarm clock app that sounds like their yummy bacon ad and also emits the bacon scent, giving their fans a ‘multi-sensory alarm experience’ based on bacon. This plays on their tag line of ‘Wake up and smell the bacon’ superbly. This is a great example for FMCG brands to think about using the capabilities of smartphones moving forward.

SOMO Interesting read- Interview with Steve Jobs in 1985 

Facebook is expanding its mobile advertising offering with a highly specific mobile app format.

Book Now. Facebook Mobile App Ads

Book Now. Facebook Mobile App Ads

It has been introduced to bolster the social network’s fast-growing mobile business and is a key revenue focus for the future. But how effective will they actually be? And how can clients use them to drive business value?

Mobile app ads, which allow companies to promote content within their mobile apps, will encourage users to remain active within the apps beyond the install.

The ad format will show in a user’s news feed and is a development on the app install ad, but instead of directing the user to the relevant app store, (to download), the new format will deep link to content within the app itself.

Previously, we would focus on one metric – cost per install. However, this only shows intent to download. And whilst the number of installs is vital for user acquisition in the infancy of a campaign the challenge then shifts on getting installed users to return and remain active within the app.

If a user has already downloaded the app then they are pre-qualified customers for the brand and more likely to be receptive to further advertising. From the user’s perspective the advertising is relevant to them as they have already signalled that they are interested from installing the app.

For clients, using Facebook’s mobile app ads increases the odds of a conversion and gives them the ability to directly link media spend on the platform to ROI – therefore driving business value.

Facebook’s new mobile app ads demonstrate the shift towards our clients wanting to track and attribute in-app purchases and user engagement metrics beyond the initial installation and these ‘mobile app ads’ help direct the user to the most relevant location within the app once installed.

This is vital to remove an extra stage in the consumer journey (which is often one of the main barriers for continued engagement with mobile and tablet apps) as well as allowing clients to flag a specific promotion or new update to the user.

For example, if a retail client combines its list of existing app downloaders from its own CRM database with Facebook’s custom audiences they can retarget lapsed customers by enticing them with a flash sale or the launch of a new product or range using the call to action, ‘shop now’.

Re-targeting users is nothing new in advertising and it is surprising that it has taken Facebook this long to integrate such a feature to help optimise the funnel beyond the install.

Currently there are limited calls to actions (7 in total) such as ‘book now’ or ‘watch video’, but hopefully more will be added in the future giving our clients more flexibility to entice their users back to their mobile apps.

This blog was first publsihed on the wallblog: http://wallblog.co.uk/2013/10/21/redefining-facebook-how-brands-should-use-facebook-ad-apps/#ixzz2iSMQVBA1

On the face of it the arrival of Instagram video means bye bye Vine – but, Twitter’s video platform isn’t bowing out just yet.

Within the first eight hours of launching video on Instagram, the community shared more than a year’s worth of footage.

The news makes the sector very interesting because it will not only excite users, whether they’re Vine devotees or Instagram addicts, but also give brands a potentially super-fast turnaround creative goldmine with a pre-built mass audience.

Vine has already attracted a solid user base. In fact, Vine posts are now shared more than Instagrams on Twitter despite the fact Vine has just 13 million registered users against Instagram’s 100 million active users.

The growth of Vine may be influenced by the deep integration it has with the social network as a Twitter-owned app, whereas Instagram images no longer auto-expand.

But I also think the limits placed upon Vine users towards brevity makes Vine much more creatively challenging.

Whereas Instagram has built a video-sharing product for the masses.

The generous 15-second video allows plenty of time to shoot, therefore not forcing the creator to think outside the box to tell their story succinctly.

instagram-video-brands

Instagram, unlike Vine, will let users erase the last clip they shot in a series, meaning less thought needs to go into lighting and exposure as they’re filming it because bad takes can simply be deleted.

While Instagram’s mass market appeal may drive Vine’s niche, it will force users to become more creative and pioneering with their Vines.

A challenge that will no doubt be of interest to the Vine aficionado but much less so to the marketers and creative agencies looking to get their advertising messages across.

I can’t help wonder why you’d go for a 6-second second one shot option when you have 15 seconds of editable space. Here’s a nice example from Burberry, showing a 15 second glimpse behind the scenes of the Burberry Prorsum Menswear Spring/Summer 2014 show.

But, as always, competition drives innovation. A new tech product launch, cleverly put out the same time as the Instagram news, from Unruly Media may give Vine an edge over its Instagram rival.

The company has launched the industry’s first end-to-end social video product set that allows brands to amplify, optimise and analyse the success of their Vine campaigns across the social web.

Unruly COO and co-founder, Sarah Wood, said: “Brand marketers who are serious about their content marketing strategy understand that there’s more to social video success than a YouTube view count. The social video ecosystem is developing rapidly to meet changing consumer habits and brands can now embrace a multitude of platforms across a fragmented media landscape to reach and engage their audiences wherever they’re discovering and sharing videos.”

What it also means is that while there may not be as many seconds of video for your idea, there is now a host of ways to measure the success of your campaign and how to improve on it next time out – something that is not offered on Instagram so far.

If Vine can begin to capitalise on this it may gain the impetus it needs to edge ahead of its Facebook-owned rival.

SO MONDAY

June 10, 2013

‘Points’ The World’s Most Advanced Street Sign

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Points is a connected object in the shape of a standard street sign. The sign is socially connected, allowing it to tap into open API’s and social networks to transcribe what’s happening in the world, and bring the information and directions it finds, right to you via its 16,000 LED’s across 3 directional arms. Pretty cool. Check out the video here.

An Update on Facebook Ads

Facebook have announced an ongoing effort to simplify their advertising offerings. Facebook plans to streamline the number of ad units from 27 to fewer than half of that while mapping all of their ads to business objectives, such as online conversions, app installs, likes etc. To find out more about how Facebook plan to implement these changes, read their blog post here.

See it with Samsung S4

Want people to check out your new product? And stay engaged for 60minutes? Watch here to see a great promotional stunt from Samsung in Zurich.

Vine posts are now shared more than Instagrams on Twitter

Six second video clips from the Vine app — which launched in late January — are already shared more on Twitter than posts from two-year old Instagram (according to insights from Twitter-certified analytics partner Topsy). It’s an interesting trend, considering the fact that Vine has a much smaller user base than Instagram — it has just 13-million registered users against Instagram’s 100-million active users.

The growth of Vine may be influenced by the deep integration it has with the social network as a Twitter-owned app, whereas Instagram images no longer auto-expand, instead only appear as a link sending the user to Instagram’s own sites once clicked. Not exactly the most user-friendly experience.

Smartphone collects coupon from TV using NFC

NFC technology has a new development from a company that specialises in transferring mobile information using NFC (near field communication) which could really open up opportunities for retailers. They have created a Dynamic NFC-screen which is able to communicate through different devices (TVs, desktops, etc) ‘to provide consumers with product information, coupons or navigation through advertisements and presentations’.  This could allow mobile users to simply hold their phone in front of their TV screens and downloads coupons or access extra content. If this technology did catch on, it would be extraordinary to see how many users downloaded coupons from their desktop directly into their Google wallet or Apple passbook and see how many redemptions were made. It has been reported that ‘European telecom giants Orange France and Avenir Telecommunications’ have bought into this service so it could become available soon.

In the UK, one in five use mobile payments

recent survey of UK internet users aged 16 – 65 reveal that ‘more than two-fifths of UK smartphone users already use mobile banking’ with mobile payments becoming an area of interest for smartphone users. Mobile payment technology is constantly developing and growing, and perhaps this year it will take off so brands should be m-commerce ready and really think about how they will include mobile payments into the user journey.

‘The demographic breakdown of mobile payment users showed a skew toward men and especially those in the 16-to-34 age group. Twenty-three percent of male internet users reported using mobile payments vs. 18% of females. And a substantial 41% of 16- to 24-year-olds and 35% of 25- to 34-year-olds also said they made mobile payments. Overall, mobile payments reached one out of five surveyed internet users in the UK.’

Evian’s Baby & Me app

Continuing the Baby &Me theme after Evian’s YouTube went viral in April, the brand have created an app that allows users to reveal what their ‘inner baby’ looks like. The app is available on FacebookAndroid and iOS across all devices. Users upload their photo and the app will focus on the ‘most prominent features of the face and clothing’ to virtually ‘reveal inner-babies’. The brand has harnessed the theme after the viral to allow users to be a part of it and personalise their experience.

SO MOnday

May 6, 2013

Littlewoods monetises Facebook with Isobar’s SeeItShop

Littlewoods has claimed to be the first retailer to monetise Facebook, using Isobar’s e-commerce tool for Facebook, SeeItShop, to launch its Myleene Klass swimwear range.

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Retailers can monetise through Facebook fans by showcasing collections of products within a single post, allowing Facebook users to browse through brand collections, share individual items, share SeeItShopIt with friends and go directly through to purchase. Littlewoods has said it plans continue to use SeeItShop to bring ten new collections to its Facebook fan base throughout May and June.

British retailer’s partner with PayPal for mobile wallet

PayPal has partnered with 20 of the top British retailers to integrate their new electronic wallet, which will enable customers to pay directly from their smartphone, instead of having to pay with cash or card. It follows the trends set by the likes of Starbucks and Pizza Express, who allow their customers to pay for goods on their Smartphones before they even enter the premises (for instance, ordering a coffee and skipping the queue, or booking a table on the way to the restaurant).  PayPal is ensuring that the mobile wallet will be compatible with 90% of UK retailers.  It will be interesting to see if this will bring a change in British consumer behaviour, by making it accessible in the majority of high street stores and restaurants.

Auto Trader closes print to continue its Digital first strategy

Auto Trader is due to release its last print issue next month after 36 years due to a drop in print sales. Trader Media Group will continue with its digital first strategy and build on its mobile success. Mobile traffic has grown by 67% and tablet traffic has increased by 130% year on year. ‘Auto Trader website traffic has also grown 13 per cent year on year, generating 11m monthly unique visitors’. On the 28thJune the last print issue will be released – Auto Trader are running a competition for users to generate their own front cover for the last printed edition, choosing a car from their favourite decade. Watch this space.

Facebook to Unveil Video Advertising

Facebook is set to unveil video advertising in newsfeeds from July, with the videos playing automatically without sound, providing users with the option of activating audio at which point the video will restart from the beginning.

The move by the social networking site is a bid to tap into the vast budgets that marketers spend on television that tower over online ad spending. It is also an attempt to capitalise on the rapid growth of online video advertising as global brands follow users from the TV to the internet. To put it into context, based on the initial inventory available on Facebook, the new online video ads could generate up to $1.5m of new revenues a day, compared to the first three months of this year, in which Facebook generated revenues of $1.46bn. It will be interesting to see how the new video ads affect user experience. Read more here.

Facebook-hoax

Instagram’s ‘Photos of You’

Instagram has launched the ability to tag people in photos. You can tag people or brands in your Instagram photoss, attaching a username to a face. When someone tags you in a photo, you’ll get a notification in the app and the picture will automatically show up in your “Photos of You” section inside Instagram. If you’re wary of photos being shared within the Instagram community, you can adjust your privacy settings accordingly and set the feature to not show pictures automatically, but instead require approval for each tag that pops up, you promiscuous party animal, you.

Apple releases list of Top 25 app downloads

Apple has recently released its top 25 paid for iPhone apps where interestingly, mobile games dominate. How many do you regularly use?

1. Angry Birds
2. Fruit Ninja
3. Doodle Jump
4. Cut the Rope
5. Angry Birds Seasons
6. WhatsApp
7. Camera+
8. Words With Friends
9. Tiny Wings
10. Angry Birds Space
11. Pocket God
12. Plants vs. Zombies
13. The Game of Life
14. The Omoron Test
15. Where’s My Water?
16. Draw Something (Premium)
17. Monopoly
18. Angry Birds Star Wars
19. MotionX GPS Drive
20. Skee-Ball
21. Scrabble
22. Uno
23. Minecraft – Pocket Edition
24. Color Splash
25. The Sims 3

SO MOnday

April 29, 2013

Hashtag Killer

Water is life has developed a smart integrated campaign to guilt people into donating money to solve real world, life threatening problems rather than complaining about our trivial #firstworldproblems.

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Water is Life successfully attempted to ‘reverse-trend’ the hashtag, by ending it rather than promoting it. By gathering #firstworldproblems tweets and getting individuals in Haiti to recite them, the charity creates a powerful realisation at how insensitive this hashtag is. To further resonate this, the charity sent personalised video responses from those in Haiti to each tweeter using the #firstworldproblems hashtags to apologise for their problem, for example, “Hi, I’m sorry your son didn’t get a toy in his McDonald’s Happy Meal’.

Water is life were able to change the conversation, instead of complaining about #firstworldproblems, people began using the hashtag as a vehicle for getting donations. Watch the hashtag killer case study video below.

Using Gamification to help Cancer Patients

HopeLab has relaunched its ‘games for health’, which help kids deal with having cancer. More than five years in the making, Re-Mission 2 consists of six free-to-play online mini-games that combine fun and cancer education. The game allows kids to go inside the body to defeat cancer with weapons like chemotherapy, antibiotics, and the body’s immune cells. The action has direct parallels to real-world cancer treatments, and it tells patients that one of the big reasons that kids don’t survive cancer is because they don’t stick to their treatments.

iTunes 10th Birthday

On 28 April 2003, Steve Jobs revealed iTunes, the revolutionary digital music store offering 79p song downloads. Read more here. Since then we’ve seen a whole host of music offering services, from Spotify, Nokia Music and the latest Twitter Music. 

Tribeca Film Festival uses Vine

Tribeca Film Festival challenged people to create six-second films using Twitter’s Vine app. After narrowing the field of 400 submissions to 40 earlier this month, judges for this #6SecFilms contest announced the winners this weekend. Entries had to have a beginning, middle and end. The contest was divided into four categories: auteur, animate, genre and series. Click here to see the winners.

Twitter introduces #keyword targeting for advertisers

Twitter has announced that it will be rolling out keyword targeting as a part of its ad platform, in a bid to allow advertisers far higher rates of engagement. Through running geotargeted campaigns using keywords, advertisers will be able to target ads based on what Twitter users are saying in their tweets. Read more from the Twitter blog here.

Tumblr releases ads on Mobile app

Last week, Tumblr released promoted posts firstly on mobile and then desktop.  For the first time in six years, ads will be in the same format as Tumblr posts, occasionally appearing in your feed as you scroll through.  

The first advertisers who have tried Tumblr’s ads are Warners Bros, ABC Entertainment, ABC Family, GE and Pepsi. Warner Bros has used the platform to release teasers for two of their films ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Hangover Part III’, seeing thousands of reposts. ‘The decision to roll out ads in the mobile stream underscores just how quickly the mobile ad market is growing’.

Burn your number after a questionable date

A new app on the appstore offers users the ability to have a disposable number – if you have ever needed a phone number for a day, a week or a month for contacting someone, but you don’t want them to have a record of your number forever, this is the app for you.

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This app generates a number for you in 30 seconds that you can give out without ‘the fear of having your real phone number compromised’. When you no longer have a need for the number, you can simply ‘burn’ the number on the app. And so you will never be contacted on that number again. Perfect for if you go on a blind date and they don’t turn out to be the ‘perfect match’.

Fun for Monday. The Evian Babys are back. Watch the TVC below which has had nearly 41m views on YouTube in a 10day period. Impressive.