Category Archives: marketing

Angry Birds as a Social Network Market

Earlier today my colleague Michele Willson and I ran the ANZCA PreConference Social, Casual, Mobile: Changing Games which went really well, bringing together 17 games scholars from Australia and Canada, including a fantastic keynote by Mia Consalvo and plenary by John Banks.

I also had the opportunity to present today, and the slides and audio from my talk are below:

And here’s the abstract if you’re interested:

The hugely successful franchise Angry Birds by Finnish company Rovio is synonymous with the new and growing market of app-based games played on smartphones and tablets. These are often referred to as ‘casual games’, highlighting their design which rewards short bursts of play, usually on mobile media devices, rather than the sustained attention and dedicated hardware required for larger PC or console games. Significantly, there is enormous competition within the mobile games, while the usually very low cost (free, or just one or two dollars) makes a huge ranges of choices available to the average consumer. Moreover, these choices are usually framed by just one standardised interface, such as the Google Play store for Android powered devices, or the Apple App store for iOS devices. Within this plethora of options, I will argue that in addition to being well designed and enjoyable to play, successful mobile games are consciously situated within a social network market.

The concepts of ‘social network markets’ reframes the creative industries not so much as the generators of intellectual property outputs, but as complex markets in which the circulation and value of media is as much about taste, recommendations and other networked social affordances (Potts, Cunningham, Hartley, & Ormerod, 2008). For mobile games, one of the most effective methods of reaching potential players, then, is through the social attentions and activity of other players. Rovio have been very deliberate in the wide-spread engagement with players across a range of social media platforms, promoting competitive play via Twitter and Facebook, highlighting user engagement such as showcasing Angry Birds themed cakes, and generally promoting fan engagement on many levels, encouraging the ‘spreadability’ of Angry Birds amongst social networks (Jenkins, Ford, & Green, 2013). In line with recognising the importance of engagement with the franchise, Rovio have also taken a very positive approach of unauthorised merchandising and knock-offs, especially in China and South-East Asia. In line with Montgomery and Potts’ (2008) argument that a weaker intellectual property approach will foster a more innovative creative industries in China, rather than attempting to litigate of lock down unauthorised material, Rovio have stated they see this as building awareness of Angry Birds and are working to harness this new, socially-driven market (Dredge, 2012). As Rovio now license everything from Angry Birds plush toys to theme parks, social network markets can be perpetuated even by unauthorised material, which builds awareness and interest in the official games and merchandising in the long run. Far from a standalone example, this paper argues that not only is Rovio consciously situating Angry Birds within a social network market model, but that such a model can drive other mobile games success in the future.

References

Dredge, S. (2012, January 30). Angry Birds boss: “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business.” The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2012/jan/30/angry-birds-music-midem

Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York and London: New York University Press.

Montgomery, L., & Potts, J. (2008). Does weaker copyright mean stronger creative industries? Some lessons from China. Creative Industries Journal, 1(3), 245–261. doi:10.1386/cij.1.3.245/1

Potts, J., Cunningham, S., Hartley, J., & Ormerod, P. (2008). Social network markets: a new definition of the creative industries. Journal of Cultural Economics, 32(3), 167–185. doi:10.1007/s10824-008-9066-y

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Facebook’s Graph Search, privacy and the social media contradiction

[Last week I wrote the article below for The Conversation. It’s reproduced here mainly for my records …]

 Facebook Jelly Belly

Initial responses to Facebook’s newly announced Graph Search (a name only a software engineer could love) appear to be split into two main camps:

Both responses are entirely valid.

So, what is Graph Search?

If Graph Search works as advertised, then it’s a technical marvel, allowing a huge array of complex searches using real questions, not just keywords.

Type in “Which females in my area, around my age, support the Fremantle Dockers and are single?” and suddenly Facebook becomes a very specific and useful dating service. But this nuanced, “natural language” searching also means that, for many users, it will be even easier to delve into the minute details that are seemingly hidden on your connections’ Timelines.

The discussion around the release of Graph Search highlights something more important – something that could be described as the “social media contradiction”.


 

‘Social’ media?

“Social” implies conversation and other communication which we are accustomed to thinking of as ephemeral – largely disappearing after the interaction is finished. Conversations in the street or telephone calls generally don’t persist once they’re done.

To Facebook and other social media service providers, it’s the media side of social media that matters. Media fills the databases – the most valuable part of Facebook to marketers (the actual customers of Facebook) – and this media has no expiration date.

Once entered, my relationship status, likes, photos, comments on friends’ photos, silly news stories I share and current location are all media elements which are in the Facebook database in perpetuity … unless I go to some pains to remove them.

Social media networks generally aren’t run by governments, and rarely by philanthropists. Most are for-profit corporations. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and most other online services have shareholders and are out to make a profit.

Different, but increasingly similar

Every time someone has a conversation on Facebook, or does a search on Google, that information gets stored in a database. Google and Facebook make their money by harnessing that enormous database and allowing advertisers to reach people making specific searches or discussing specific topics.

Graph Search makes the experience of Facebook more like the experience of Google. An effusive profile of the Graph Search team in Wired notes that the core software engineers have both defected from Google, including Lars Rasmussen who was one of the original creators of Google Maps (and the ill-fated Google Wave).

Notably, while Facebook is becoming more searchable, Google has been trying to gather more social information about its users by merging the privacy policies governing all of its products into one, and linking them all to the company’s social network, Google Plus.

These two online giants might have different origins, but they are looking increasingly alike.

‘Privacy aware’?

Be it Google or Facebook, privacy is a key issue in social media, and one which is at the heart of the social media contradiction. At any given moment, the design of a service like Facebook may make some information feel private, even when it’s technically not.

When Facebook shifted from profiles to Timelines, old conversations that were buried in the past were suddenly easy to find by scrolling back through the years. Graph Search takes that a step further, as anything in your history – any past conversations, any old photos or anything else shared on Facebook – will be searchable by others if your privacy settings allow it.

Limiting the visibility of a photo to “friends of friends” doesn’t just control who will see it initially on their newsfeed. It now controls who is able to search for that photo, in terms of location, caption, people tagged in it, or whatever other data exists about that photograph.

Facebook touts Graph Search as “privacy aware” but all that really means is the service will respect Facebook’s already complicated privacy options.


 

Be aware, act sensibly

As Facebook makes our data accessible in yet another unexpected way, it’s perhaps time to stop reacting to each change with outrage, and become aware of the ongoing social media contradiction.

Every online conversation we have, every photo we upload, every item we share goes into a database. Corporations will try to harness that database to make money. That doesn’t make Google or Facebook malicious, it just makes them a business.

The social media contradiction occurs when we imagine Facebook or Google to be a service, not a business. If we keep in mind anything shared will be stored forever, analysed, and harnessed to make money, then, like Facebook, we’ll be aware that social media is media, not just social.

As users, our business is to try and be aware of the privacy settings available on these services and take our options seriously. Facebook might change how their database is accessed and utilised, but if we’ve only shared something with our Facebook friends, they’re the only ones who can search for it.

Of course, if it’s not on Facebook at all, no-one can use Facebook to find it.

[This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article. ]

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Digital Culture Links: November 29th

Links for November 25th through November 29th:

  • Aussie viral video, ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, lives on [The Age]- “Australia’s fastest-spreading viral video, “Dumb Ways to Die”, has taken on a life of its own, inspiring more than 65 cover versions, 85 parodies and 170 re-posts on YouTube. The original clip, made to promote safety on Melbourne Metro Trains, has amassed more than 28 million views on YouTube since it was posted on November 14. Its creator, ad agency McCann Worldgroup Australia, said its “conservative” estimate was that the campaign had generated $50 million in “global-earned media value” so far, in addition to more than 700 press hits. A new parody clip by Seattle-based creative team Cinesaurus about the Curiosity Mars mission, dubbed “Cool Things to Find”, joins dozens of other parodies and covers including a classic rock version, a Russian cover … “It’s entered popular culture,” said John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup Australia.”
  • Google is publisher according to Australian court [David Banks | Law | guardian.co.uk] – “Google will have to be quicker to remove defamatory content, at least in Australia, after it lost a $200,000 libel action there. […] the tale of Australia’s most successful libel litigant may give Google and other search engines pause for thought. Milorad Trkulja, a music promoter, took action against Google over material online, which linked him with criminal figures in Melbourne. Trkulja has never been involved in any criminal activity, but was unfortunate enough to have been shot in a restaurant in 2004. His lawyers wrote to Google in October 2009 asking for the offending material, which included a number of images, to be removed, but received a reply saying that in line with Google’s policies on content removal he should contact the owners of the website concerned instead. Trkulja sued Google and the jury concluded that the search engine was the publisher of images of Trkjulja and related information which suggested he was involved in crime … “
  • The one-way street to digital lock-in [The Age] – A simple but very important reminder from Hayley Tsukayama that when you buy a mobile device, you’re not just buying a device – you’re committing to a cloud ecosystem and a provider of apps and content that you’ll be locked into for a long time, and probably can’t easily transfer between devices. iPhone apps won’t ever work on a Nexus tablet, nor will Google Play books end up being read on iPads any time soon.
  • PSY Passes Bieber; ‘Gangnam Style’ New Most-Viewed Video of All Time [YouTube Trends] – “Today, global sensation PSY and his wildly popular “Gangnam Style” music video surpassed Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as the most viewed music video (and overall video) of all time on YouTube. As of noon on Saturday (24 Nov 2012), the viewcounts stood at 805 million to 803 million.”
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Digital Culture Links: July 10th through July 19th

Links for July 10th through July 19th:

  • Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On [Techdirt] – Geography isn’t the only rationale behind imposing digital distance: “Last week, we wrote about Viacom’s really short-sighted decision to use its fans as hostages in a silly dispute with DirecTV over fees. To prevent any DirecTV customer from seeing any of its key shows, Viacom stopped streaming them online… for all customers, meaning that even those who had nothing to do with any of this couldn’t legally watch the shows they liked. As we noted, this would likely only serve to drive more people to find unauthorized versions…. Of course, one of Viacom’s most popular shows — and one of the key ones turned off from streaming — is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which had been on break last week anyway. However, it returned last night with a vengeance, and target number one: his corporate masters at Viacom for acting as if they were China in blocking the internet, and likely driving more fans to unauthorized streams.”
  • Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity [YouTube Blog] – YouTube launches a face-blurring tool within YouTube: “Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”
  • Shell social media oil spill a ‘coordinated online assassination’ [The Age] – Shell’s brand has been hijacked in what marketing experts say is a “social media oil spill” and a “coordinated online assassination of the Shell brand”. It’s a fake PR disaster that has snowballed into a very real one for Shell as web users are under the impression that it is an official company campaign. It started when an Arctic Ready website appeared online about two months ago that looked almost identical to the Arctic section on Shell’s own site. The site appeared to be an educational site about Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic – complete with “Angry Bergs” kids game – but invited people to create their own ads by adding their own marketing copy over supplied photographs of the Arctic. User-generated ads could then be shared on social media. … For all intents and purposes, it looks like a real Shell marketing idea that has spun out of control …
    But in reality … the Arctic Ready website, and the viral video, were created by activists Greenpeace and The Yes Men.”
  • Downloads: ‘It’s cheaper to pay a wage, fly to the US and back twice’ [SMH]- “Australians are paying 50 per cent more than American shoppers for downloaded music and games, as well as computer software and hardware, consumer watchdog Choice says. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into IT Pricing, Choice says Australians are on the wrong end of of international price discrimination by copyright holders. New research carried out by the group found price differences across a range of IT products including iTunes downloads, PC games, personal and business software, Wii console games and computer hardware. “In Australia you pay, on average, 52 per cent more than an American consumer will for the same 50 top iTunes songs,” says Choice head of campaigns, Matt Levey.”"A selection of 44 popular home and business software products were, on average, 34 per cent more expensive in Australia than the US.”
  • Council’s new social media policy – rethinking our networks [Marketing Summit 2012] – While these things are never perfect, the new Australia Council for the Arts Social Media Policy is well-written, mindful of the specificities of social media platforms and engagement (not risk!) centred. This policy will probably prove a useful template for corporations and organisations trying to figure out their own policies for social media use. Kudos to former Creative Commons stalwart Elliot Bledsoe for spearheading the new policy development.
  • Facebook scans chats and posts for criminal activity [Internet & Media - CNET News] – Facebook is intensively data-mining Facebook chat; the justification: “If [Facebook] detects suspicious behavior, it flags the content and determines if further steps, such as informing the police, are required. The new tidbit about the company’s monitoring system comes from a Reuters interview with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan. Here’s the lead-in to the Reuters story: “A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.” Facebook’s software focuses on conversations between members who have a loose relationship on the social network.”
  • Facebook set to unfriend anonymous snooping[The Independent]- I genuinely doubt this will be rolled out on Timelines; it’d reduce time spent on Facebook. Stalking – more advertising views, after all.”The end is nigh for anonymous stalking on the social media website Facebook. The website has announced that it is going to start letting users know who has viewed items on the social network, a change which is expected to cause the amount of online snooping to plummet. For now, the change to the Facebook website, which has more than 900m active users, applies to group pages, meaning users can see who has visited any group of which they are a member. But already there are suggestions that Facebook may unfurl the technology across the site, meaning the naughty-naughty-stalky-stalky generation may soon see their fingerprint-free snooping habits curtailed, or face the embarrassment of their ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend realising they were too curious to resist an online-curtain twitch.”
  • CV Dazzle: Camouflage From Computer Vision by Adam Harvey – “CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection. Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook (see CV Dazzle vs PhotoTagger by Face.com). [Via Jill]
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Digital Culture Links: August 10th 2011

Links for August 6th 2011 through August 10th 2011:

  • Gamification is Bullshit [Ian Bogost] – Bogost gets straight to the point: “In his short treatise On Bullshit, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt gives us a useful theory of bullshit. We normally think of bullshit as a synonym—albeit a somewhat vulgar one—for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bullshit has nothing to do with truth. Rather, bullshit is used to conceal, to impress or to coerce. Unlike liars, bullshitters have no use for the truth. All that matters to them is hiding their ignorance or bringing about their own benefit. Gamification is bullshit. I’m not being flip or glib or provocative. I’m speaking philosophically. More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.”
  • London Police Use Flickr to Identify Looters [NYTimes.com] – “As rioting continues to roil the streets of London, local police forces are turning to the Web to help unmask those involved in the torching and looting. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police of London posted a set of photos on Flickr showing people they believed to be participants in the riots. Right now the images are primarily from the Croydon and West Norwood neighborhoods in south London, although the site says that more will be posted soon. With the initiative, called Operation Withern, the police are asking the public to identify anyone they recognize from photographs captured by CCTV surveillance cameras in areas where stores were looted. They say on the Flickr page that they hope to “bring to justice those who have committed violent and criminal acts.””
  • Real name sites are necessarily inadequate for free speech [Bernie Hogan] – Important take on real names: “Offline people say things appropriate to the group they are in. That doesn’t mean they are two-faced, insincere or liars. It means people are context aware. People observe walls, clocks, furniture, fashion and music. These things guide us as to the appropriate way of acting. The guy writing his novel at the bar on Friday night is out-of-place. The guy who shows up to work drunk on Monday morning has a problem. Offline people don’t have to worry about their real name, because their behavior is tied to the context and the impressions the foster in that context. In fact, I’ll say that even more strongly – if your speech is not confined to the context you are in – but available to a potentially unknowable audience – you are online. This is why real name sites are necessarily inadequate. They deny individuals the right to be context-specific. They turn the performance of impression management into the process of curation.”
  • How Blackberry, not Twitter, fuelled the fire under London’s riots [Tech Crunch] – All ‘social media caused it’ reports are exaggerated, but it is noteworthy that Blackberries are popular for communication in this context specificially because they are encrupted and not open: “Over the weekend parts of London descended into chaos as riots and looting spread after a protest organised around the yet unexplained shooting of a man by Police. Of course, there was huge amounts of chatter on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with the latter coming under enormous amounts of criticism from the UK press for fuelling the fire. But while Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public BlackBerry BBM messaging network has been the method of choice for organising it.”
  • Facebook’s Photo Archive Can Be Used for Face Recognition in Real Life – “Facebook has had its share of problems over face recognition — a feature that connects a photo of a person’s face with their Facebook profile, making it easier to tag people in photos — but researchers from Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University recently proved that Facebook’s vast photo archive can be used to identify people on the street, too. [...] They used publicly available data — photos from Facebook profiles of students — and then used face recognition technology to recognize these students as they look into a web camera. The results? Using a database of 25,000 photos taken from Facebook profiles, the authors’ face recognition software correctly identified 31 percent of the students after fewer than three (on average) quick comparisons. In another test, the authors took photos from 277,978 Facebook profiles and compared them to nearly 6,000 profiles from an unnamed dating Web site, managing to identify approximately 10 percent of the site’s members.”
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Digital Culture Links: July 12th 2011

Links for July 5th 2011 through July 12th 2011:

  • China’s first ‘virtual property’ insurance launched for online gaming sector [Global Times] – “A Chinese insurance company has unveiled a new type of “virtual property” insurance that might be the first of its kind in the world. The new service, tailored for online game players, was jointly launched by Sunshine Insurance Group Corporation and online game operator and manufacturer Gamebar. The two companies agreed to create the virtual property insurance amid an increasing number of disputes between online game operators and their customers, often related to the loss or theft of players’ “virtual property” such as “land” and “currency.” Over 300 million people engage in online gaming in China, and these players sometimes become involved in arguments with game operators due to the loss of property.” [Via]
  • First lesson of viral video: No monkey business [Online Video News] – “Apes with assault rifles are just a bad idea: That’s the lesson 20th Century Fox wanted to convey with a viral video it published on YouTube last week. The video shows a group of soldiers from an unidentified African country having some fun with a chimpanzee. Then one of the soldiers hands the ape an AK-47, and the animal takes aim at the soldiers. The clip is a viral video ad for the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie, complete with a semi-authentic and amateurish look and some subtle branding that identifies it as content of the “20th Century Fox Research Library.” And so far it has been a success, if you only measure view counts: The video has attracted more than 4.5 million views since being published last Wednesday. But a look at the YouTube comment section tells a different story: A substantial number of commenters take the opportunity to drop the n-word, compare black people to monkeys or publish other kinds of racial slurs.”
  • Fifty Million [Matt Mullenweg] – On July 11, 2001, Worpress “passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.” That’s a lot! :)
  • Smartphone Adoption and Usage – 11 July 2011 [Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project] – “In its first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, the Pew Internet Project finds that one third of American adults – 35% – own smartphones. The Project’s May survey found that 83% of US adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults. [...] Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.” [Full Report PDF]
  • Apple App Store: 15 Billion Downloads & Counting [Mashable] – “Apple’s App Store has generated 15 billion downloads since its launch in July 2008, Apple has announced. The App Store now offers more than 425,000 apps, 100,000 of which are created specifically for Apple’s tablet, the iPad. Apple has paid developers more than $2.5 billion to date. Given Apple’s 30/70 revenue split with app developers, that means Apple itself has netted more than $1 billion directly from app sales. In January 2010, the App Store surpassed 3 billion downloads, and in January 2011, Apple announced that the App Store surpassed 10 billion downloads. It took Apple’s App Store only six months to jump from 10 billion to 15 billion downloads.”
  • Zynga Launches PrivacyVille, a Gamified Version of Its Privacy Policies [Inside Social Games] – Gamification of Zynga’s privacy policy! “As Zynga edges closer to its initial public offering, the social game developer seems concerned with educating the masses both on social game revenue models and on the actual fine print of social game privacy policies. Today, the company announces PrivacyVille, an interactive walkthrough of its privacy policies that rewards participants with zPoints to spend in gift network RewardVille. The experience can be clicked through in about two minutes, with each structure on the CityVille-like map representing a different component of Zynga’s privacy policy. The tutorial text seems to stress to readers that Zynga will collect players’ information from Facebook and from mobile devices and share it with third-party service providers, the legal system in the case of a court ordered disclosure, and with other players in cases where a player’s icon displays a link back to their Facebook account.”
  • Natalie Tran: Down Under’s Top YouTuber Considers Her Next Move [Forbes] – Quick profile of Natalie Tran, the person behind Australia’s most subscribed to YouTube channel (communitychannel): “Around the world, young adults like Natalie Tran are facing a key moment in their lives: they’ve been graduated from university and are examining the success and failures of their academic years to decide which direction to take their careers. It’s just that most of those students have not built an international fan-base at this point. Tran, 23, has. The Sydney, Australia resident recently received her Digital Media degree from the University of New South Wales. I hope she got at least one high mark for this fact: Tran is Australia’s most-subscribed-to YouTuber. Over the past five years, her “communitychannel” has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and her videos have garnered nearly 400 million upload views. Reasons: Smart, funny, quirky, beautiful. Why complicate matters?”
  • Google Realtime goes dark after Twitter agreement expires [VentureBeat] – “Google has taken its powerful Realtime search product offline after a 2009 agreement to display up-to-the-minute Twitter results expired. The shutdown of Realtime comes just as Google is in the process of rolling out Google+, its new social networking initiative that competes with Twitter. Google said it planned to relaunch Realtime search after retooling it and adding in Google+ results. “Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2,” Google told Search Engine Land. “While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google. Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.””
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The Old Spice Super Fan and Insanely Clever Marketing (Updated)

You probably remember last year’s amazing Old Spice social media campaign (details here and here) in which the man from the ads started replying to people’s comments on YouTube. It was incredibly well put together and the most endearing and genuine use of social media for marketing to date. In a really clever move, after announcing that newly crafted ads were coming soon, the marketing team decided the best way to share the first new ad would be to give the link to just one fan and let them decide how/when/if to share it.  Here’s Isaiah Mustafa in his Old Spice Guy persona looking for his Super Fan:

 

And here’s the just announced winning reply, a very endearing parody from teenager Chris Gatewood (@chrisscross):

Having a teenage winner is a slick move, since it really targets the aging Old Spice brand at a youthful demographic. It’s also a little risky, but acknowledging the importance and power of Old Spice’s fans (fans of the videos, and thus fans of the brand, even if not yet prominent users) is important and will endear the brand even further. The risk, and probably reward, comes in giving Chris Gatewood the only link to the new Old Spice advertisement, which a lot of people are waiting to see. If Chris uses this opportunity, it’ll certainly drive traffic to his twitter page and elsewhere.  For the Old Spice folks, it really empowers one fan and encourages others to see Old Spice once again as truly interacting with their fans/consumers rather than just talking at them (as 90% of online brands tend to do).

Now, it’s certainly true that the largest single audience will be when the Old Spice ad plays during the US Superbowl (which is the peak ratings event in the US, and also where their most expensive ads usually debut), but reaching out to the online fans first is still a clever move.  Here’s the hilariously kitsch video of the Old Spice Man calling Chris to tell him he’s going to posses the only link to the new Old Spice video in the entire universe for the next three days:

And if you want to see the new Old Spice ad … I guess you’ll have to follow Chris Gatewood on Twitter and wait for him to share a link. :)

Update: Chris has shared the link, so here’s the brand new Old Spice ad “Scent Vacation”:

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Digital Culture Links: February 1st 2011

Links for January 28th 2011 through February 1st 2011:

  • Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store [NYTimes.com] – Apple’s Walled Garden App Store is building even Bigger Walls: “Apple is further tightening its control of the App Store. The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store. Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store. Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon. That may now change.”
  • Intel warns of $1bn cost of chip fix [Technology | The Guardian] – Ouch! “The chipmaker Intel has halted shipments of its new Sandy Bridge processors and says it will have to spend a total of $1bn (£600m) fixing a fault, delaying hundreds of new PC models for up to three months and potentially stifling growth in the personal computer market. Launched early in January, the Sandy Bridge chip combines standard processing and graphics units on a single die. But Intel said today it had found flaws in a support chip, called Cougar Point, which would have led to failures over time in connections to hard drives and DVDs. The fault will upset production on more than 500 computer models that were to have used the processors. That in turn will hit the PC industry, which has already been suffering from slowing growth in the US and other regions last year. It could also open the door to Intel’s longstanding rival, AMD, which has a similar processor, named Fusion. After the news AMD shares jumped by 5% in early trading in New York, while Intel shares slid by 1.5%”
  • Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web [NYTimes.com] – “In another era, China’s leaders might have been content to let discussion of the protests in Egypt float around among private citizens, then fizzle out. But challenges in recent years to authoritarian governments around the globe and violent uprisings in parts of China itself have made Chinese officials increasingly wary of leaving such talk unchecked, especially on the Internet, the medium some officials see as central to fanning the flames of unrest. [...] two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. The use of “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Censoring the Internet is not the only approach. The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications…”
  • Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions [NYTimes.com] – “About a year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Ms. Gardner said in an interview on Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.””
  • Google unveils Web-free ‘tweeting’ in Egypt move [AFP] – “Google, in response to the Internet blockade in Egypt, said Monday that it had created a way to post messages to microblogging service Twitter by making telephone calls. Google worked with Twitter and freshly acquired SayNow, a startup specializing in social online voice platforms, to make it possible for anyone to “tweet” by leaving a message at any of three telephone numbers. “Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” Google product manager Abdel-Karim Mardini and SayNow co-founder Ujjwal Singh said in a blog post. “Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service — the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection,” they said.”
  • Man jailed over anti-semitic video [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A 39-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to three years’ jail for posting an anti-semitic video on the internet. Brendon Lee O’Connell is the first person in Western Australia to be convicted under the state’s racial vilification laws. A jury found him guilty last week of six offences. O’Connell posted a video on YouTube showing him insulting a young Jewish man in 2009. The video also showed O’Connell standing in front of the Perth Bell Tower telling Jews their days were numbered.”
  • Facebook launches mobile deals [BBC News] – In a very clear challenge to FourSquare: “Facebook is launching a service that lets British users earn discounts from high street businesses. Users who visit participating shops can log in from their mobile phones to receive rewards. Companies, meanwhile can use Facebook Deals as a virtual loyalty card or coupon system. The social network has already lined up promotions with several businesses including Starbucks, Debenhams and mobile network O2. The service ties into Facebook Places, an add-on for mobile phones that launched in 2010 as a way for users to share their location with friends. Users who login to Places via the dedicated Facebook app for the iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android system can update their whereabouts – or “check in” – whenever they visit a variety of shops, restaurants and other venues. With Deals, users will not just be able to tell other people their location, but can also take advantage of any special offers that the retailer has.”
  • Android overtakes Symbian in smartphone sales [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google’s Android overtook the long-time market leader, Nokia’s Symbian, as the world’s most popular smartphone platform in the fourth quarter, according to the research firm Canalys. In total, 32.9m phones running Android were sold to retailers and mobile networks in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with Symbian’s total sales of 31m in the quarter, the researcher said. In a press release, Canalys noted that Nokia had however retained its lead as the single biggest smartphone vendor, with a 30.6% share of phones shipped. The rise of Android to the top of the smartphone sales chart indicates the popularity of the free operating system with vendors, which do not have to pay a licence fee to use it on their phones.”
  • Angry Birds Go Hollywood [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the cellphone game that has turned into a cultural phenomenon with 75 million downloads and counting, is lending its wings to a 20th Century Fox movie. To promote the April 15 release of “Rio,” an animated film starring two rare macaws, Fox and Rovio, the small Finnish company behind Angry Birds, said on Friday that Rovio would release Angry Birds Rio. The special edition of the game – the original Angry Birds are kidnapped and taken to Rio – will be made available in March. The announcement was made at an only-in-Hollywood press event on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. As a quartet of Brazilian bongo drummers pounded away on their instruments and reporters guzzled drinks made with Brazilian rum, Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, broke the news.”
  • Amazon Kindle e-book downloads outsell paperbacks [BBC News] – “Amazon has announced that in the US it sold more e-books for its Kindle device than it sold paperback books in the last three months of 2010. [...] Amazon announced that in the US since the start of the year it had sold 115 e-book downloads for every 100 paperback books, even excluding its downloads of free books. But it stressed that sales of paperback books were also growing. “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. “So this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.” It has not said how many of its Kindle devices it has sold, but did say that they had overtaken the final book in the Harry Potter series to become the top-selling item in Amazon’s history.”
  • Egypt cuts off internet access [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week. “According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks. “What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.”"
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“I’m on a horse … cow.”

Unless you’ve been buried under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the amazing successful Old Spice viral video marketing campaign (I’ve mentioned it here, and here). Since the original videos became popular, there have been a lot of parodies, but the recent “Smell Like a Monster” parody video from Sesame Street is just brilliant, so here you go:

PS If you really don’t get why that’s funny, re-watch it after you’ve check out the original ad:

(Which has now clocked over 20 million views on YouTube!) [Via Peter Black]

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Digital Culture Links: October 4th 2010

Links for September 30th 2010 through October 4th 2010:

  • The Short Lifespan of a Tweet: Retweets Only Happen Within the First Hour [Read Write Web] – Interesting stats on the lifespan of a tweet: “For some, Twitter is a social network and for others it is just a broadcast medium. Judging from the latest data from social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos, for the majority of users, Twitter is indeed mostly a broadcast medium. After analyzing over 1.2 billion tweets, the Sysomos team found that only 29% of tweets actually produce a reaction – that is, a reply or a retweet. According to Sysomos, just 6% of all tweets are retweeted and these retweets have a very short lifespan. Virtually all retweets happen within the first hour after the original tweet. If you are looking to get retweeted and nobody picks your tweet up within the first hour, chances are that nobody ever will. Only 1.63% of all retweets happen in the second hour and a minuscule 0.94% in the third hour. The same is true for @replies, too; 97% of all replies happen within the first hour.”
  • MP in strife over Overland Facebook slur [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A Victorian Liberal MP has used Facebook to attack the state’s Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland. Upper House backbencher Bernie Finn yesterday wrote he was “dreaming of when Victoria will have a real police officer as Chief Commissioner”. The post labelled Mr Overland and his predecessor, Christine Nixon, as “political appointees” who have “proven themselves incompetent in the areas of law enforcement and community protection”. Asked by a Facebook follower when Victoria might have a “real copper running the show”, Mr Finn replies: “after November 27…”, which is the date of Victoria’s looming state election.”
  • Can companies ignore social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? [BBC News] – Beware or harness? “Once upon a time companies could afford to be rude. Unhappy customers would grumble to a few friends, withdraw their custom, but there was little else they could do. Today, they still tell their friends, but they do it online, using social media websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Take the Canadian folk singer, Dave Carroll. After nine months of complaining he had had enough. United Airlines baggage handlers had damaged his $3,500 guitar, but the airline refused to pay compensation and its customer service agents were less than courteous. So he made a music video about the experience and on 6 July 2009 posted it on YouTube. Within three days it had been watched half a million times; by mid-August it had reached five million. United had a massive public relations crisis at its hands, not least as thousands of other unhappy customers now came forward to vent their frustration. These days one witty Tweet, one clever blog post, one devastating video …”
  • Twitter Now Getting More Traffic Than MySpace [Mashable] – “Twitter’s number of monthly unique visitors finally surpassed that of MySpace in August. Though it ranked third among social networking sites, Twitter ranked #50 in the list of top 50 properties overall. The numbers were crunched by the marketing research firm comScore. Twitter’s (Twitter) lead over MySpace (MySpace) was marginal — 96 million versus 95 million — but the trend over time paints a prettier picture of the microblogging service. Between August 2009 and August 2010, Twitter grew 76% while MySpace dropped 17%.”
  • U.S. single digital music sales flat this year: Nielsen [Reuters] – I wonder how this compares to the rise of micropayments for App purchases? “The rapid rise of single digital music sales has stalled in the United States, the world’s biggest and most important market, with sales in the first half of 2010 flat compared with a year before. According to research group Nielsen, digital sales for single track downloads were flat in the U.S. market after a 13 percent increase from 2008 to 2009 and 28 percent growth from 2007 to 2008. When combined with the growth in digital album sales, overall digital music sales were up over 5 percent in the U.S. Major music companies such as Vivendi’s Universal Music and EMI have pinned their hopes on boosting legal digital sales to counter online piracy and the collapse in CD sales.”
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