December 3, 2013

My Google Squared Online course has finally come to an end. Our last module involved working in groups to create an infographic based around a particular theme. The challenge was to condense vast amounts of data into a beautifully designed and interesting infographic.

Check out ours by clicking here.

To add a bit of excitement to the module, Squared have tasked us with promoting it through social channels and the infographic that gets the most clicks wins. (wins what I have no idea, but obviously my competitive nature means I HAVE to win).

So if you like our infographic, please share it. It’s actually quite interesting. Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 people now use social networks? Yep, that’s right, and out of all the countries globally; the most socially engaged market is China.

85% of China’s social users having shared socially in the past month compared to 58% of Britons.

China not only has 95million users on Facebook (despite the social network officially being blocked) but WeChat which has driven social growth in this market was rebranded from Weixin to appeal to an international audience which has further fueled its growth.

Mobile penetration, internet access and social media active users in emerging markets across the Middle East and Africa are growing at record rates. Social media users in this region are some of the most active in the world. Global businesses wanting to engage with new customers should look to divert some of their online ad spend into these emerging markets. Capitalising now on the rapid mobile, internet, and social engagement growth in emerging markets presents great opportunities for digitally savvy brands to increase their global presence with a high ROI while costs are still low.

So Module 2, entitled ‘Think Commercial’ has come to an end. To sum the module up, it gave us an introduction to online business models, how to generate revenue, and how new technology can facilitate development of new models.

If you’re not aware, the squared methodology is that people don’t learn by being talked at, but they learn by thinking, doing and trying. We are given guidance and a framework, but ultimately it’s what we put into the experience of completing the assignments that will determine what we get out of it and how we develop as individuals.

The assignment for this module was to set up an online business – decide what it would be and how it would make money. This was a great project as it made us think about how we could utilise the online space and the potential it has for generating revenue.

The digital economy is an important sector for the UK’s economic recovery, and by leading in this field, Britain can shape what the future technology landscape will look like. A report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has shown that our digital economy is far healthier than official statistics would have us believe, comprising of almost 270,000 active companies in the UK. Digital companies’ revenues also grow faster and employ more people than non-digital ones; currently 11% of Brits now work in the digital sector, so understanding the potential of digital is key for being a future leader.

So back to the assignment. We used Google Hangouts to meet up in our teams. We all had a few days to come up with an idea. At first, I have to admit my reaction was, sorry what? You want us to come up with an idea, that’s, quote ‘going to make millions’ over the weekend. Great. I think I was fairly intimidated but once I took a deep breath and just wrote down every weird and unfeasible idea that came into my head I ended up with a top 3 to explore in further detail. After some initial research, I realised I wasn’t that interested in one of them so probably wouldn’t enjoy working on it and the other one would probably struggle to make much money, so I settled on ‘Jungo’.


We then got the chance to pitch each of our ideas to the group in the Hangout as well as upload a one pager business plan to the shared drive so that we could all look over them in more detail before voting on our preference. I was very excited to hear that my idea had been selected to progress with and with a near majority group vote it really gave me the confidence in my ability to be creative and voice my ideas to others.

So what exactly is Jungo? My insight was that children are programmed to play and play is nature’s learning engine, so why not create a platform that allows children to essentially play the game of life and achieve real learning’s and accomplishments whilst also allowing parents to understand their child’s progress in a more visual and valuable manner.

As a group we discussed the idea in detail and completed PEST and SWOT analysis to understand the competitive marketplace, the potential opportunities as well as threats as well as completing some qualitative research to understand what our customers would find most useful and what they thought was missing. This also helped us to formulate our target audience, which fed into our route to market. We organised our group through a project plan, volunteering for certain responsibilities to complete the assignment on time! It was a great group effort and I thoroughly enjoyed developing the idea. See our slideshare below for our final submission. P.S. Jungo is under IP, so don’t go stealing my million pound idea!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/ballard71/jungo-slide-share-v51″ title=”Jungo slide share v5.1″ target=”_blank”>Jungo slide share v5.1</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/ballard71″ target=”_blank”>ballard71</a></strong> </div>

I’ve just watched “Richard Eyre: Tips For Success”, the final video class before the end of Module 1 at #SquaredOnline.

He gave some great tips from listening out for what people are not saying to being opinionated in the workplace. But the one that resonated most strongly was taking risks and stop fearing failure. So, how can failure be looked at positively?

Failure makes us stronger, literally. I was a bit of a biology geek at school and the human body has lots of examples to highlight this.

For example, in order to build up immunity to a disease, we need to get ill first so that we can produce the correct antibodies. When we get over a cold, this is a visible sign that our immune system was able to eliminate the invader after learning about it. When we exercise vigorously our muscles break down damaging the tissue. That’s why athletes need a rest period to give the muscles time to heal and go through the anabolism process where the damaged fibers are repaired.

My favourite quote concerning the benefits of failure comes from JK Rowling when she delivered her Commencement Address at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you lived so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.” – JK Rowling

To know what will work, we must first understand what won’t and every time we fail, we narrow down the number of possible avenues to success. According to Richard Branson, someone anyone would describe as a successfully business man comments that, “failure is one of the secrets to success, since some of the best ideas arise from the ashes of a shuttered business” and it is how that person deals with failure that sets them apart, their ability to adapt.

So, if success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time why are we all so afraid of failure? I believe we are conditioned to fear failure. From a young age we have once chance to pass an exam, and failing can feel like the end of the world. But the reality is, that absence of failure equals to lack of risks taken. If we don’t step out of our comfort zone, embrace our fears then we will only ever have regrets.

Nike Success

There are lots of great examples of how failure has led to success such as the notable inventions of post it notes and penicillin that both came about by accidents in the lab or how Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire life (The Vigne Rouge to a friend) but now they are priceless.

So to increase the probability of your future success, make mistakes, reflect on them and try again with a different tactic.

Now all of the above may seem that it relates to an individual’s life but the take outs can easily be applied to anything. For example, let’s take my clients digital campaigns. The great thing about digital media is that it is accountable. We can understand why a campaign is failing by looking at the metrics and then optimise it to increase performance. We can test out copy, ad formats and different creative to see which get the highest CTR. We can seek immediate feedback in real-time.

The same applies to social media campaigns. A great example of this was When the network problem that affected thousands of O2, GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile customers first broke out, O2 did not immediately respond. And they began to receive A LOT of criticism. O2 adapted their strategy and began responding to every tweet that was being sent in, giving customers an apology, a status update, and a suggestion as to what action to take – all within the 140 character limit. They even replied to posts containing foul language, responding with on-brand witty messages that not only made light of the disastrous situation but started to create buzz in the Twitter-sphere. Complaints shifted to praise, for those on the O2 CRM team who added a bit of humour and personality to their tweets.

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” C. S. Lewis

The best brands tell stories. Bringing these stories to life, the ‘craft’ of being a storyteller is timeless, but how stories are told, heard and shared is changing with advances in new technologies in today’s digital world.

We’re evolving from storytelling to story sharing, and we’re on our way to story making”.

Online video has become integral to the internet experience. As YouTube discovered long ago, there seems to be an insatiable hunger for online video and now YouTube is the number two search engine in the world. Recently, with the launch of Vine and Instagram video, previous video consumers and curators can now easily become creators themselves.

Our first assignment for Google SquaredOnline was to engage with video as a platform and have a go at understanding what is needed to make a good online video, by showing your fellow Squares who you are via a short video. See my submission below:

So what did I learn? This task took a lot more thought & time than I originally estimated.

Firstly, deciding to do all the filming whilst I was at a wedding in Scotland on the beach, staying at a campsite with no electricity was my first hurdle. After finding a power source at a local hotel (good half an hour drive away!) I took to the beach with a fully charged camera and my smartphone. Between both devices I had enough power to capture what I thought would be enough footage.

Secondly, I thought I’d edit it when I got home, instead of utilising a 5 hour train journey back to London. Error. (My excuse.. I was tired from a weekend of wedding fun and the rocking sensation of the train makes it impossible not to fall asleep).

Thirdly, editing took a while. I decided to use iMovie, and although I have used it once before to create a video on parallel parking for an application for an internship, there is so much you can do that it can be hard not to get absorbed by all the features.

When editing, I realised that it was pretty difficult to hear me on the windy Scottish beach! I fiddled with the audio settings but decided that it would be safer to have what I was saying scrolling along the bottom of the video. If I’d had more time I would have thought more logically about ‘set location’, weather conditions and maybe I’d have ‘rapped’ a little louder!

All in all, I’m quite impressed with my final edit and the fact that I submitted it before the deadline. It may be slightly cringe worthy, but then seeing people embarrass themselves is everyone’s guilty pleasure, so I’m pretty confident this video is going to go viral 😉

Next week I will be embarking on a 6 month postgrad course called ‘Squared’. Squared is a digital marketing qualification for tomorrow’s connected leaders, developed by Google in partnership with the IPA (the professional body for advertising, media and marketing communications agencies in the UK).

 “Squared exists to empower today’s and tomorrow’s leaders to drive the industry [r]evolution


Looking forward in time, or prospecting is a quintessentially human behaviour. And that’s why humans have evolved culturally. According to Daniel Gilbert (author of Stumbling on Happiness), “the human being is the only animal that thinks about the future;” we aren’t just instinctive but we apply knowledge gained from past experience to ensure we are always a few steps ahead.

I hope that by completing the Google Squared course, it will arm me with the skills and knowledge to handle the changes that are rapidly evolving the media industry and apply them to my job as a comms planner and strategist to keep my client’s media plans innovative and fresh.

Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are currently the four companies that dominate the digital landscape and between them, are shaping its future.


It’s difficult to comprehend the amount of data these organisations are amassing on their users, constantly learning about our personal preferences so that it can use not only explicit data but implicit data to provide us with information that’s contextually relevant. By integrating data from many sources, e.g. location, device-specific, Gmail, social, knowledge graph and so on, Google is continuously fine-tuning our search experience to one that is highly targeted.

Implicit Search

“My vision when we started Google fifteen years ago was that eventually you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all. You would just have information come to you as you needed it,” sounds unnerving, but Sergey Brin’s vision isn’t far from reality. There’s a great post from Tom Albrighton, entitled 2084, A look at the future through Google Glass which, on a first read seems like a dystopian vision but in reflection is technically feasible (given sufficient computing power).


As Sergey Brin’s vision becomes reality, SEO will be an indispensable skill for any digital marketer. Increasing the visibility of your clients’ content and getting it in front of prospective customers will be a tougher challenge as we move into the future.

I am really excited to start on Google’s Squared course, not only to enhance my knowledge in digital marketing to understand the myriad of opportunities for my clients, but also the unique opportunity to work collaboratively with a variety of people across the industry.