27 June, 2008
More than 42 million programmes have been accessed via the BBC's iPlayer since its launch on Christmas Day 2007, and in March viewing figures were up 25 percent on the previous month. iPlayer's popularity was further confirmed with its recent launch on Nintendo's Wii games console. Phil Fearnley, director, HUGE Entertainment explains more.
This overwhelming success has resulted in video-on-demand (VOD) both coming to the public's attention and being hailed as ‘the next big thing’. As a result, there has been a rush of interested parties - from media platforms to content owners - wanting to jump on the VOD bandwagon.
As an on-demand digital entertainment specialist, HUGE Entertainment, believes that there is now a massive opportunity for content owners to create their own offerings to distribute via PC, TV and mobile. However, we also argue that many of these players do not have the know-how to make a real success of their proposition.
Here, we offer our advice on getting it right when it comes to VOD.
1. Consumers don't care about technology
The majority of people aren't interested in how something works, they just want to know that it does. So don't bombard consumers with a complex feat of engineering – just make sure that your offering is easy to use.
2. Make it pretty
Following on from point one, you need to ensure the consumer's experience is a good one to encourage them to pay for content, either via a subscription service or pay-per-view. This means that, as well as being easy to navigate, the user interface needs to be visually enticing.
3. Be a retailer
VOD players need to think like high street retailers in terms of what content is provided, where it is displayed and how it is promoted. To encourage consumers to return, there always has to be something new and fresh available, at the same time as older material being easily accessible.
4. Don't make lists
Access to content should not take the form of endless lists that consumers need to scroll through to find what they want. Referencing the retailer analogy above, shops don't line up products in alphabetical order – neither should VOD operators.
5. Is it free?
To encourage a long-term relationship with consumers be clear about what content is free and what they must pay to access.
6. Get viral
VOD is still a very new concept. Many people have not yet experienced it, and it is complex to explain briefly. Significant amounts have been spent on advertising to promote services, but results to date have been mixed. Instead VOD players should focus on word-of-mouth endorsement, confident in the knowledge that, if they have put the points above into place, once consumers do try the service they will use it.
7. Brave new advertising world
VOD offers opportunities for new advertising models that are a world away from the low engagement, 'interruption marketing' of today's TV arena. You need to maximise these and be ready to generate new revenue from day one. How can you tailor your offerings for specific audiences? How can you interact with users to better engage with them? Do your homework and be prepared.
8. No constants
These are still very early days. Viewer behaviour is changing rapidly, and will continue to do so. You need to monitor what is happening and ensure that you stay one step ahead in order to remain appealing to consumers and relevant for advertisers.
9. Beware of sharks
Global technology companies are investing significant sums to establish content delivery devices for the home and terrestrial TV channels are also spending large amounts on VOD applications. Everyone is vying for a direct relationship with the subscriber. If a deal with a third party looks too good to be true, it probably is – and will be likely to remove you one step too far from your customers, which in turn can be detrimental to advertising potential.
10. You only get one chance
VOD is a killer application – people like it and are already demonstrating their appetite for using it. But you only get one chance to make a lasting impact on peoples’ perceptions – your launch is therefore critical, so get it right.
26 June, 2008
Daniel Farey-Jones Brand Republic
Brands will be able to register their own names as domain names in place of dotcom under a radical plan to shake up the world of top level domain names, which could also see the introduction of cities such as NYC as domains, if new rules are today approved today in Paris by industry body Icann.
The changes are also expected to pave the way for the introduction of suffixes such as .xxx, which will be highly prized by the online adult entertainment industry.
Cities like New York and London could also get their own domains with New York taking NYC and Lon for London.
The meeting in Paris will consider whether to throw open the current limited pool of top-level domain names, such as .gov and .fr, to any combination of letters and numbers which any organisation may register (within certain guidelines).
The second proposal on the table today is whether to allow domains using characters from non-English languages.
The changes could herald in a new generation of names such as Coca-Cola buying .coke, and of course the sex industry scrambling for .sex.
Icann said that registering a top-level domain would cost between $100,000 and $500,000. Applications would be accepted from around April 2009 and the first new sites would go live later in the year.
It will apply guidelines for the applications to make sure the names are not offensive and do not break intellectual property rights.
The resale values of domain names have grown in tandem with the internet's importance to business. Sex.com broke sales barriers when it was sold for £6m in 2005 and in February this year Cruises.co.uk set the UK record at £560,000.
Paul Twomey, president and chief executive of Icann, said: "This is the biggest change to the way people find each other on the internet since its inception."
Icann, which stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has been preparing for the changes for several years.
25 June, 2008
Government ad campaigns on climate will fail to work unless they stop using 'miserable, gloomy and bleak' imagery, according to a report.
The report, by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, claims that government campaigns should instead start encouraging more people to take positive action.
It claims that harnessing commercial-style advertising and marketing techniques would make a powerful impact on changing the behaviour of individuals in response to the threat of climate change.
Called 'Selling Sustainability - Seven Lessons from Advertising and Marketing to Sell Low Carbon Living', the report argues that while UK policy has responded to some degree to the threat of climate change, the government has not yet fully embraced the importance of mass behaviour change to respond to it.
Despite increasing efforts to engage the public on climate change and link it to their individual behaviour, there is little evidence of significant behaviour change to reduce emissions.
The main findings of the report show that as well as avoiding being miserable, campaigns should emphasise that taking action on climate change is normal.
The research, which looked into the effectiveness of advertising on individual behaviour, also suggests that campaigns should recognise the importance of fairness -- everyone needs to be seen to be doing their bit including government and industry.
Nesta said that campaigns should be personally relevant relating to "our" environment not "the" environment and should use insight from commercial ads to engage emotional responses.
Nesta cites Honda's TV ad "Hate something - change something" as a good example of an effective campaign.
One example of current gloomy government environmental advertising is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' 'Act On CO2' TV ad campaign, which shows people going about their daily lives leaving visible black carbon footprints.
The report also recommends identifying the potential benefits for individuals by taking action as the basis for a social marketing campaign, citing consumer research that shows millions of people desire a lower-stress, less consumption-oriented lifestyle.
The Nesta report reveals a set of core principles which it strongly recommends should be used for any future campaigns called "The 7Cs". Ads should be clear, compelling, connected, creative, configured, consistent and confident.
Jonathan Kestenbaum, Nesta CEO, said: "The report shows that it's not enough to simply make people aware of climate change issues. To have a mass impact, campaigns must engage people in a compelling way and persuade them to change their behaviour."
Nesta commissioned the British Market Research Bureau to conduct the research.
23 June, 2008
Download the report at http://www.nfpsynergy.net/freereports/freereportsandarticles/
20 June, 2008
The report, ‘Branded Social Networking Pages: Best Practices for Successfully Engaging Users’, finds that half of advertiser-branded social networking pages in Europe have fewer than 1,000 friends.
Even as some marketers spend hundreds of thousands of Euros for pages on MySpace and other social networks, the average branded social networking page has only 6,494 friends.
Despite social marketing's potential to engage users, many advertisers build branded social networking pages that broadcast content rather than inviting users to interact.
Most advertisers use their social networking pages as they would typical online marketing microsites rather than harnessing the benefits and capabilities of the platform to foster consumer engagement.
JupiterResearch has suggested a number of tactics brands can use to make their social marketing more effective:
Marketers should promote their pages with paid adverts rather than relying on viral marketing to get the message out. The vast majority of marketers attempting to generate viral buzz don't succeed in getting users to pass along their messages.
Advertisers need to engage users on the page. Even simple forms of engagement, such as contests, on average doubled the number of friends acquired by each branded page.
Marketers must appeal to social networkers' love of multimedia to get noticed. Social Networkers are twice as likely to visit a branded page focused on media content than a branded page focused on products.
"Most advertisers simply don't know how to market properly within social networks," said Nate Elliott, Research Director at JupiterResearch and lead author of the report. "Too many marketers create dull, non-interactive pages inside social networks and wait for a viral marketing effect to bring users to their door. But our research clearly shows that ongoing promotion and advertising, as well as the use of even relatively simple forms of engagement, are vital to the success of branded social networking pages."
"As online advertisers make increasingly large investments in social marketing and Web 2.0, it's vital that they get the most for their money," said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch. "By following the examples of what's worked for other marketers and listening to what consumers want-such as original and entertaining multimedia content-advertisers can greatly improve the effectiveness of their social marketing efforts."
The complete findings of the report are immediately available to JupiterResearch clients online at http://www.jupiterresearch.com/
18 June, 2008
Sue Fidler says charities need to get the maximum value from email marketing.
Email is the cheapest and fastest form of marketing most of us can afford. It arrives almost immediately, gets read within 24 hours, costs 1p per message and doesn't take expensive design and print agencies to produce. On top of that, we get instant reporting: we know who has opened, clicked and responded to our messages.
So it is disturbing to see the number of charities that still don't ask for email as a standard part of every data-capture contact with donors, campaigners, supporters and clients.
Whereas many have now added email to their donation forms, many still don't have email sign-up forms on their websites. Some have it on the web donation forms but not the paper ones. Many don't have it on petitions and sponsorship forms or include it in their telephone scripts.
Given the increasing pressure to raise the return on investment and maintain our income streams with less expenditure, and the pressure to become more environmentally friendly, email must be high on the list of cost-effective ways we can communicate.
Staff who say "it won't suit our donors; they aren't the right age" are ignoring the growth of the Saga social network and the fact that anyone who has retired from an office in the past 10 years will have used a PC - and the fact that these people are affluent professionals with disposable income.
Without in any way ignoring the potential importance of Facebook and Bebo for mass communication, or the trend among 15 to 21-year-olds for finding it "too slow", email is the most modern and up-to-date communication method available. Email addresses are valuable assets.
- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.
Hannah Jordan, Third Sector Online
Nelson Mandela's charitable organisations are launching a global text message fundraising campaign to mark his 90th birthday.
The former South African president's HIV and Aids charity, 46664, has set up a premium SMS service in more than 20 countries, allowing people to text happy birthday messages to Mandela.
Each sender receives a thank-you text in return and a unique PIN, giving them access to a specially designed happybirthdaymandela.com website, where they can see their message displayed.Well-wishers will be charged a set fee plus their country's standard network rate.
All profits will be shared with a number of Mandela's other organisations, including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust.The campaign coincides with Mandela's 90th birthday concert on 27 June and runs until his official birthday on 18 July.
Leading charities in the UK are turning to social media websites to connect with new audiences, according to an industry roundtable held today (17 June), creating a “booming” digital environment that is being likened to the dotcom explosion.
The importance of networking sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook emerged during a panel discussion involving leading names within the sector, hosted by digital agency Enable Interactive.
Bertie Bosrédon (pictured), head of new media at Breast Cancer Care, explained how the organisation had significantly invested in new media innovations over the past two and half years.
Part of the process included empowering editors to learn podcasting and video skills, with a view to creating compelling new content, which can then be distributed through the charities' own website as well the likes of iTunes and YouTube.
“It is important we listen to the needs of our audience,” said Bosrédon, using the beleaguered music industry as an example of what can happen to a sector that does not adapt quickly enough online [worldwide music sales hit their lowest level since 1985 this week according to the IFPI].
“Charities need to accept the fact that people will redistribute their content, so let’s empower them to do it and make it easier,” he said.
Dorothea Arndt, new media manager at British Red Cross, agreed that social media sites were now a key tool in reaching and engaging with potential supporters, but said the organisation tried to outsource skills to external agencies wherever possible, instead of developing them in-house.
For an organisation with 30,000 volunteers, 3,000 staff and a turnover of £40 million, outsourcing was said to make more sense logistically. The actual cost to create a Bebo page was said to be minimal, although Arndt said real-time moderators were necessary when dealing with particularly sensitive issues, like its HIV awareness campaign.
“We had some 200,000 profile views but one out of 20 posts were incredibly discriminating so we had to pre-moderate. It is a testament to Bebo that we were able to do that with them,” she said.
Meanwhile Rob Purdie, a project consultant who specialises in work for not-for-profit organisations, noted that Oxfam has had “considerable success” with social forums without moderating them, adding “communities often tend to moderate themselves quite well”.
The growing role of social media and other online activity was also recognised by Matt Connolly, strategy director of Enable. “For the first time we are noticing digital being embraced early on in campaigns, instead of just a nice bolt on,” he said.
“There has been a definite shift in budgets towards digital.”
As budgets and fundraising activities are squeezed by depressed financial markets, charities are said to be looking towards digital communications for better accountability and return on investment (ROI).
All registered charities in the UK can apply for Google grants, reminded Bosrédon, who also advised those within the sector to stop working in silos and start to innovate across different parts of the business.
Purdie pointed to ‘open source’ systems like Druple that allow charities to adapt and develop shared resources such as content management systems as a good way of removing many of the costs to entry.
Arndt stressed the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), commenting: “If you have a small charity, you have a duty of care to invest in search engine optimisation. Yes, it takes time, we’ve spent more than 18 months working on it, but it has already enabled us to punch well above our weight.”
Towards the end of the session Connolly said: “The digital world is booming for us, like the dotcom years all over again. We are seeing all this money being poured into digital.”
16 June, 2008
A former Hays employee who left the recruitment firm to set up a rival company has been ordered to hand over business contacts he made on business-oriented social networking site LinkedIn.
Mark Ions allegedly used his LinkedIn network to approach clients for his own rival agency called Exclusive Human Resources, which he set up three weeks before resigning from Hays last year.
LinkedIn, which has over 20m users worldwide, is widely used by recruitment firms seeking job candidates.
Ions, who worked for Hays for six and a half years, told the High Court in London that he had been a member of LinkedIn for over a year, with the encouragement of Hays.
Hays alleged that Ions breached his contract of employment by using the confidential information about clients and contacts for his own venture.
Ions' solicitor argued that once Ions' LinkedIn invitees accepted his invitation to become "connections", the information became available on his network and was therefore not confidential, but publicly available, at least to his other connections.
However, Justice Richards dismissed that argument and said that even if Ions uploaded the email addresses onto the site with Hays' authority, it is "difficult to imagine that the authority was not limited to using them in the performance of his duties as an employee of Hays."
Ions was ordered to disclose his LinkedIn business contacts requested by Hays and all emails sent to or received by his LinkedIn account from Hays' computer network. He was also ordered to disclose all documents, including invoices and emails that showed any use by him of the LinkedIn contacts and any business obtained from them.
10 June, 2008
The British Red Cross has launched an online brochure to promote its health and safety training courses in a bid to reduce environmental waste.
The service, called iBrochure, also offers advice on first aid legislation in the workplace. Regulations say that businesses of all sizes, including the self-employed, must provide proper first aid if an employee becomes ill or injured at work.
However, there is no rule for how many first aid-trained staff a business should have. The Red Cross says this causes confusion. The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act, introduced last July, makes it possible to prosecute employers where bad health and safety management has had fatal consequences. The Red Cross says employers are concerned about staying up to date with the changes.
The homepage of the iBrochure is updated regularly.
09 June, 2008
Entertainment sites are also demanding an increasing amount of users' time reporting an 8% rise to 6.8 billion minutes over the month. The use of search sites also increased 13% in April to 1.3 billion minutes.
The increase in time spent on these sites has led to a drop in the use of communications and content sites.Nielsen says the amount of minutes Britons spent on communications sites, such as internet phone and instant messaging portals, fell by 10% year-on-year to 6 billion minutes, although e-mail as a category saw an increase from 1.8 billion minutes a year ago to 1.9 billion minutes in April.
Meanwhile, time spent on content sites, including traditional news and gaming, is down by 3% to 8.4 billion minutes.
Nielsen adds that on average Britons spent 4% more time online this April than they did over the same month last year.
06 June, 2008
Jenny Hoffbrand, Precision Marketing
The students from the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic have filed the complaint with Canada’s Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. They have accused Facebook of 22 violations of Canadian privacy law.
The Federal Privacy Commissioner now has a year to make a ruling on whether Facebook’s policy is unlawful.
04 June, 2008
Sue Fidler offers some tips on how to integrate a website and a database.
At a conference run by the Institute of Fundraising's IT special interest group last month, the hot topic was website and database integration. This topic causes a great deal of stress, partly because so few of us are doing it successfully.
Most, if not all, websites are able to integrate database forms. It makes life easier if the website and database are written in the same language groups (such as Microsoft or open source); but even if they aren't, integration is still possible.
Whether you need full database integration depends on what you want. If you want to record a simple preference, postcode, area or other personal data, then a simple database and cookie system on the website will work. A good example of this is the BBC Weather site, which knows where you live and brings up a forecast accordingly. Charities could be doing more of this.
However, if you want full supporter or client self-management, history, preferences and choices, then you need a database that will integrate with the website. This can be done by means of the web and database feeding each other data via something like XML, but this usually means replicating data storage and functionality. A better solution is a database that can produce and publish forms for capturing data and then publish data back to the site.
If you are thinking of buying a new database, you need to investigate seriously the web capability of the systems you are considering. Your database investment should last you more than five years. During that time, you will want to develop your website, and the database must provide the functionality you need in a flexible and attractive way.
- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.
02 June, 2008
Greenpeace has launched a Facebook application to encourage people who attend the Glastonbury music festival to be more environmentally friendly.
The application, called the Greener Glastonbury Giveaway, features a cartoon image of a rainy and muddy Glastonbury scene that gradually improves according to how many friends the user encourages to sign up to the campaign.
Greenpeace is offering six pairs of festival tickets to the people who sign up the most friends. The application promotes Greenpeace’s involvement in Glastonbury’s Leave No Trace campaign, which encourages festival-goers to reuse and recycle the materials they use. It was developed by web design agency Rechord.