Social Network v. Webmail – People getting tired of e-mail deluge?

For some time now people have asked if people will get overwealmed by their e-mail. Personal messages, work documents, shopping confirmation, newsletters, promotions — they all are coming to a single mailbox and leaving us all glued to our inboxes trying desperately to manage the deluge of information like computer scientists or Dewey Decimal librarians with folders, tags, labels and the like.

An alternative is to imagine a segmentation of e-mail into different applications — Facebook for personal, work on the company system (most likely an installed e-mail client), purchases to a banking tool, news to RSS readers. They can all send notifications to a primary e-mail address, but by being specialised they offer more functionality to keep us all sane.

Hitwise Social Networks v Webmail - Jan 08

Consider the report just published by Hitwise about traffic figures from last year in the UK. Basically it calls out that social networks are getting more traffic in terms of % of total visits then webmail sites.

Of course there is more to do on Facebook then hotmail, but if hotmail is primarily used for talking to friends, it isn’t hard to envision it becoming the primary e-mail address and hotmail dropping off even more.

As people take to communicating more, it gets to be too much for an e-mail client — rapid fire chats are better managed in IM, general comments to the world in wall posts, group party invites through e-vites.

Computers are here to make our lives easier — specialisation of communication tools will be a great first step.

Some other great social networking stats from an FT article, Business Woo Social Network Figures, 15 Jan 2008:

  • 14,000 people signed a Facebook petition to bring back the Wispa bar for Cadbury’s
  • The Primark Appreciation Society has 100,000 members and receives gentle guidance from the retailer’s marketing team.
  •, a retailers site, has an electricians forum with over 300,000 messages on it.

And of course last years favourite also from Hitwise siting that Topshop and ASOS receive more referrals from MySpace then MSN Search and Yahoo Search combined.  The figure was 5% of their traffic at the time in March 2007.

Video Walls & Experiential Marketing

Throughout agencyland everyone is talking about what replaces the 30-second spot and standard print advertising to build awareness for brands, and for many marketers it is events and "experiential installations."

While it is difficult to reach 2 million people with a festival, Innocent managed to get 120,000 people to attend its 2006 event in Regents Park, and if you consider only 10:1 people seeing press articles, interacting with online sites or simply hearing about it through friends you are quickly 1.2 million without counting any media used to promote the event.

Clearly the goal is to leverage the event and maximize the buzz or amount people talk about them.

One great technique is to use technology and there are a host of great new tools being made available. Microsoft Surface has gotten a lot of attention but it is only the beginning. Microsoft Surfacei-bar interactive bar Consider what HP have done for the WSJ D5 conference or what the entrepreneurs at i-bar are proposing.

It doesn't take much extrapolation to see every festival, airport and trainstation having a line of interactive walls for people to play with — and in the process learn about a new product or service.

How will they work? Gesture computing and intuitive interfaces … we hope.


Take a look at Perceptive Pixels vision on YouTube below.

Network Quality Entertainment — Online?

It is hard not to intrinsically believe our entertainment will come across the web before too long — everyone is moving there from the BBC to ABC to Al Gore with Current TV.

The question everyone asks is will it be any good? As much as people have always loved their reality tv including the Gong Show, Candid Camera, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and Big Brother, we can’t be expected to live on YouTube alone.

We recognise it takes real talent to create “24” or “Spooks” — the question is will that talent work for online distribution? Or if you are real techno optimist, can digital tools make their work even better?

I’d of course say the answer is yes. And it is probably going to happen faster then we think. As the writers and studios are breaking down about who gets what online and Grey’s Anatomy goes into another week of re-runs, directors and producers are skipping both the union writers and the studios and using a social network to create a network quality series.

Check out Quarterlife. It is from the producers and directors of thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. It plays full screen. It is presented in 8 minute episodes. They have online distribution deals with MTV, MySpace Video and YouTube. And they are defining additional advertising deals directly for If they decide they don’t want to take their studio outsourcing quite that far, I’m sure VideoEgg would love to manage that for them.

So go home and plug a £200 computer into your TV and start revelling in the choices!

Here is an article from the Salt Lake Tribue on the same subject:

From the article:

This spreading of home entertainment options may mean the advertising and the profits will be spread thinner. Maybe that’s good. More people cash in. But it’ll also mean there will be fewer big-money studios to fund blockbuster films like ”The Lord of the Rings” and the coming ”Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” or high-end TV shows like ”Lost” and ”24.” Production values cost money.

We’re already seeing a start to all this on sites like YouTube,, Revision3 and the rest. And a big step was taken forward last week with ”Quarterlife,” a social Web site built around a near-network-quality series of eight-minute episodes from respected producer/directors Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.

”Quarterlife,” the Web series, started last week and tells the story of some mid-20s folks focusing their lives. It feels like a blend of ”My So-Called Life” and ”thirtysomething,” which makes some sense because Herskovitz and Zwick created both of those.

”Quarterlife” was headed for the Web long before the writers strike, just as the digital video has been exploding on its own for a couple years. And the technological changes driving all that exploding have been coming and increasing at a seemingly insane pace. A digital world is our future, for entertainment and everything.

As for the strike, you can see why writers care so much about money from digital delivery – that’s where everything will eventually go. That’s also the reason the studios care so much – that’s where their money will come from.

Measurable Digital Outdoor

Richard Wheaton from Neo@Ogilvy here in London talks about heading to a world where “all media is served.” It is a great idea and really highlights why we all must get our technical skills up to take advantage of it. My analogy is thinking of managing marketing like a search campaign instead of a classic TV plan.

Digital Outdoor is the first of the big traditional formats to change. Currently it is mostly video, but the signs aren’t dumb players and the scope for technical creativity is great. Here in London, Viacom’s plan is to put 2,000 digital sites as part of “a single digital advertising network.”

Add what has just been reported in Newsweek about using eye tracking technology for outdoor measurement.  My comment was referencing outdoor ads that can be served by daypart or react to current sports events.   Where Jenna Crombie took it is even better and really Minority Report — outdoor poster sites that measure if you look at them.

Aside from making Outdoor a more measurable medium, it also immediately opens up the possibility of billboards — or really some form of digital 4 sheets to use the jargon — reacting to when someone stops in a ticketing hall and decides to pay attention.

How much fun would that be?  That would be amazing.

Shocking but true … always strange to see yourself presenting. Found this that my friends at marketing here at Ogilvy taped and posted.

Ogilvy London Verge Event

Ogilvy Verge This past week we ran our digital thought leadership conference, Verge, and I hosted the third section of the day, Engage.

It was a great full day and amazing how a little controversy and case studies go together well. Bob Garfield appropriately stressed the degree of change happening in the industry and credit to Ogilvy and particularly Ogilvy Advertising for asking him to speak.

We say all the time that if you want to get someone's attention, host a debate. It is good to see we are walking the talk.

At anyrate, here's my opening remarks which were slightly less inspired but fun to give.





Listen, Experiment and Engage.


As the anchor team of the day we're going to now shift our focus to Engage. How to take seriously engaging with our customers using digital channels. How to embrace the new world of Interactive Marketing. How to stop worrying about the potential impacts the Internet MAY have on our business, and instead talk about some companies that have made real decisions that change how they DO business.


It is interesting; having worked in interactive since 1995, there has been an expression that has been bandied around since the early days: "Do they get it?" I've never really liked the expression because it reminds me of a teenager talking about a complex social situation. "She just doesn't get it." Or it sounds as if understanding the impact of digital media were like understanding some of the more esoteric Turner Prize entries. It's a white room with a light turning on and off. "Don't you get it?"


"Getting digital" actually comes from the early days when the basics — using the Yahoo directory, buying a book online, having a digital camera — represented bizaar evangelical activity. The thought that someone would prefer to check their bank balance online or would prefer to learn about a new business application through e-mail was shocking. People would say "oh, those people. They're geeks."


Today we are all "geeks" — and it's a very real compliment. It is the reason we are here today. The question is no longer "if" digital channels will impact our business, it is "how" and what we should we do about it.





We are here because real businesses are making real profits through digital channels and real businesses are using interactive marketing to influence their customers.


In the US, retail web sales were $136 billion in 2006. What is interesting is that 41% of this is done by traditional retail chains. (Internet Retailer, Top 500 e-Retailers, 2007). Back in 1997 we did some work for the Gap and we had a big celebration when the ecommerce site did as much sales as one Manhatten store. Today The Gap does 5% of all its sales online – and that represents about 300 stores. Traditional retailers are engaged.


Here in the UK, Alliance & Lester has reported in its annual report that over 38% of their new sales on its 4 core retail banking products come over the Internet (2006, Annual report). It isn't a surprise that in 2004 they were spending over £10m on internet advertising and nearly half of all online advertising is for financial services. These are very direct marketing organisations. They measure and evaluate. They are working online because it works.


At Lego, they recognised the internet is a good way to reach its customers and has encouraged its best customers to participate in product development because they can do that cost effectively now. They run the LEGO Factory which allows customers to design, share and buy their own models. They've created product community sites where people can show off ideas and participate in promotions. They even have Lego Engineering, an online community dedicated solely to educators teaching engineering through Lego. Over 1.2 million people visit this site monthly and spend on average 18 minutes. Lego sees the benefits.


Without giving away what our speakers will be covering, I can say the simple theme that drives good interactive marketing is quite simple. It is commitment.


Having a digital agenda doesn't mean you personally understand the difference between java and .Net — it is simply that you recognise digital channels are important, and you don't let them drop off the agenda.








Our first speaker is from a company that has proven again and again how much they understand digital marketing. The BBC. Unless you've had the bad luck to have been living under a small rock in rural France, you've seen what the BBC has done leveraging their content on digital channels. They have embraced the web, mobile, iTV and Freeview, as well as YouTube, MySpace, MySpace News, MySpace TV, and the list goes on. Sam Smith is Head of Future Media Audiences and, amongst other things, has been nominated for an award from the Marketing Research Society for her paper on "Fragvergence."


Making up our panel we have 3 additonal speakers that will take you through a quick 10 minute case study. To start we have Rufus Olins, Managing Director of Haymarket Brand Media. Haymarket is of course best known for its wonderful online site, Brand Republic, but also for a stable of top quality industry magazines such as Campaign, Revolution, Marketing and Marketing Direct. Rufus knows publishing — he has been at Haymarket for over 8 years, at one time he was a senior journalist at The Sunday Times and was voted best business magazine editor of the year by two of his industry's associations.

Our next speaker is Clive Peoples Head of Customer Communications for Clive has been a speaker at numerous industry events and recently was quoted for the correlation of the impact our mixed summer weather has had on airline sales. He will be speaking on the importance of user-generated content in his business.

Finally Aaron Coldiron the Senior Marketing Manager for Microsoft Vista is dedicated to managing Vista's early adopters — a critical segment for a software product. He has worked at Disney and studied in the UK as a University student. He will speak on a why Microsoft committed to an online / offline 360 campaign, Vanishing Point, as a central part of the launch of Windows Vista.




Sam —

–The BBC has clearly committed to delivering great content even if the distribution is fragmented. The same challenge exists for 360 advertising campaigns. Do your production meetings address the different channels up front, or do you find you are editing and reformationg existing content for different channels?

–Given all of the media choices, how do you decide where to focus?

Rufus —

–Shifting your business from one of primarily weekly publications to constant publishing and community management is a significant shift. What prompted you and Haymarket to make the investment and commit to digital channels?

Clive —

–Back in the early days of ecommerce, we used to talk about having as simple a shopping process as possible to keep down the customers time on site. Do you find you have to make a case for User Generated Content internally? How do you measure the business impact?

Aaron —

–I understand as part of the campaign you gave away Ferrari's to your top technology bloggers. Is this a good representation how seriously Microsoft takes its digital customers?

–As a complex, multi-channel project, Vanish Point could not have been measured on reach and frequency. How did you measure the impact of the campaign?

Anglo-centric Blog List

Sorry for the delay in following up the post — been on holiday chasing big waves off Vlieland and Terscheling.

George calls out that the majority of the Japanese sites are actually over ranked because of spam links. Be interesting to investigate.

But even with more people speaking English in India then in the United States, this list from Technorati still looks suspect:
1. Engadget
2. Boing Boing
3. Gizmodo
4. Techcrunch
5. Huffington Post
6. Lifehacker
7. Ars Technica
8. Daily Kos
9. PostSecret
10. Mashable

This list reminds me of the phsycographic profiles we did of the “average internet user” back in 1997 – techy, skewing male, gadget-centric and, of course, English-only.

Technorati and BlogPulse shouldn’t be so far apart and I’m sure there has been an analysis of their research methodologies. Peseus WebSurveyor has a posting that is quite a bit dated but does show that if we want to measure “conversations” alongside “brand tracking” and “hard metrics” we have some work to do.

Internationalisation of the Web, part II

Came across an interesting page this morning:

BlogPulse Top Blogs

In the top 10 most linked to blogs, the top 8 are all Japanese. Bring on Google Translate and Babelfish, the conversation of the Internet is shifting from English.

Unfortunately just as their is a difference between Translation and Localisation, simply translating the pages doesn’t exactly tell you what’s going on.


Dynamic Advertising

Great to see dynamic advertising getting more attention.

Scott Karp on Publishing 2.0 has a set of great posts including one that covers David Kenny’s profile in the New York Times.

What I question is the need for offshore adaption work when we are talking about a world where all media is digital and thus all media is served. As Digitas’ own GM example shows, the changes are generally a headline or product shot — not full production of a new ad.

The key point here is that you don’t need to do 4000 variants of an add if you have a 4000 types of people to talk to — that’s how variants are managed in the traditional DM world. Today if you make one ad and choose 4 backgrounds based on geography, create 10 headlines based on the customers intentions (say recent online behaviour), 10 product offers based on current producer ownership and 10 calls to action type of buyer, you have 4000 “different ads.” But it is really only one ad with a copy deck and image library. This logic has been used on websites for years built with dynamic content to get a more relevant experience and the cost isn’t in creating the sets of 10 copy lines, it is the strategy and tonality of the overall communication, and getting the systems to a place where we can do this.

Great piece of PR by Digitas and Publicis nonetheless.

Financial Services Advertising Online

If you ever questioned whether people use online tools in their financial services decisions, here is quite an impressive data point:  Financial Services are the biggest advertisers according to Neilsen NetRatings.

NetRatings Impressions by Industry Jul 07

While it is a pretty conclusive statistic at 39% of all impressions and twice the next industry, it would be interesting to see if the figure isn’t increased because financial services are heavy users of pay per lead or affiliate advertising programmes.  These provide a big multiple of impressions for each dollar spent.  It is interesting to note that all of the top are likely to have a good amount of affiliate deals and barter deals.