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FWM Digital Bytes

Digital New | Fast Web Media BytesThe sun always shines on (Google) TV
The Internet-enabled TV market is looking like one to watch for 2012 and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has wasted no time in laying down a marker for his company by insisting that most TVs will be equipped with Google functionality by next summer. The search engine giant has been diversifying beyond their initial remit for years now with mixed success (Schmidt has even talked of self-driving ‘Google Cars’), but this is their first concerted attempt to get out of peoples’ computers and into their homes. Progress has been slow so far, with many stores reporting that returns of the product have outnumbered sales, but Schmidt is confident it won’t take long for that to change.

“By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded in it,” he said on stage at the Le Web conference in Paris. Schmidt is so confident because Google TV would be a televisual incarnation of the already established Android platform, but some at the conference were less convinced. One dissenting voice suggested that Apple still holds a significant lead over Google, a comment that received a somewhat frosty reception from Schmidt. “What kind of lead?” he replied. “Android is ahead of the iPhone now – by unit volume, with ICS features, prices are lower, with more vendors, more pricepoints – do I need to continue the list? It’s free.” He also dismissed claims that Apple’s app line-up is superior: “Six months from now, you’ll say the opposite. Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume. The volume is favoured by the open approach Google is taking. Whether you like ICS or not, you will want to develop for that platform, perhaps even first.”

Schmidt’s bullishness is understandable – although some could perceive it as misguided. As it’s built on the latest version of Android, Google TV will not only give it clear brand awareness, it will also allow developers to build apps for it as they do on phones and tablets, giving it a clear advantage over the competition. However, the smartphone market was comparatively new ground when Android was launched. The TV market has been around so long, and there are so many big players already involved, that Google is likely to face a tougher battle than Schmidt seems ready to acknowledge. On top of all that, there’s also Apple’s iTV, which is looking set to launch next year too.

Whatever does happen with Internet TV in 2012, one thing looks certain: the battle that’s raged between Apple and Google on our desktops and in the palm of our hands is now ready to move into our living rooms…

Facebook goes wild for Gowalla
Facebook this week confirmed the acquisition of location service Gowalla, though it revealed that it currently has no plans to use the company’s services on their site. Instead, the social network announced on Monday that it will simply absorb the Gowalla management team into its own structure. “While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time,” reads a statement issued by Facebook. Gowalla services will no longer exist and data on the site won’t be transferred to Facebook, but CEO Josh Williams added in a blog post: “About two months ago, my co-founder Scott [Raymonds] and I attended F8. We were blown away by Facebook’s new developments. A few weeks later Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together.” Gowalla has just two million users compared to Foursquare’s 10 million, so it’s unlikely the acquisition is designed to help Facebook seriously challenge the wildly popular location service. However, it does indicate that they’re looking to expand their location offering and that Facebook Places may be in a position to challenge Foursquare in the future.

Facebook’s Subscribe button expands
Unlike much of its functionality, the new Facebook Subscribe button has only been available on the site itself since its launch in September, but now all that’s about to change. Joanna Shields, Facebook VP and managing director of the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, revealed at Le Web in Paris that the button will be turned into a plug-in so it can be added directly onto external websites: “We will soon launch the Subscribe plugin, an extension of the Subscribe button, that publishers and other developers can add to their websites to make it easy for people to connect to reporters and public figures in one click.” There is no set launch date on the plug-in yet, but it could be a big move in the social sphere when it is rolled out. With this announcement, Facebook is making the subscribe functionality an almost direct copy of Twitter’s follow feature, and it’ll be interesting to see how the micro-blogging site responds to Facebook’s latest improvement. Like Apple v Google, this looks like a battle that’s going to run and run…

And finally…
The Fast Web Media camera has been out and about round MediaCity this week, taking snaps of the new complex and the surrounding area. You can see all the pictures on our Flickr page, but a few of our favourites are below…

FWM Digital Bytes

Digital news from FWMFriday, I’m in…the money
Black Friday is traditionally the biggest day of the year for retailers in America  and 2011 followed suit with many reporting a huge boost in sales. The only difference this year was the massive shift towards digital companies and products, with two online giants reporting record figures on – signficantly – tablets. Apple and Amazon both posted their best-ever days on sales of iPads and Kindles on Black Friday. Apple’s figures are particularly astonishing, with Forbes revealing that the company sold 15 iPads per hour in each store across America. Experts are predicting more than 13 million will be bought before the December quarter is over.

The Kindle Fire, meanwhile, was not only the top-selling product on Amazon.com, but also two of America’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailers, Target and Best Buy. In a statement, the company explained that four times as many Kindle devices were bought this year as last Black Friday and many users bought multiple Kindles. Dave Limp, Vice President of Amazon Kindle said: “Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we’d already sold millions of the new Kindle family and Kindle Fire was the bestselling product across all of Amazon.com. Black Friday was the best ever for the Kindle family.”

Cyber Monday was a similarly big day, with customers spending an overall amount of over $1.25billion, according to comScore – making it the heaviest online spending day in history. This amount marked a 15 per cent increase on Cyber Monday 2010 and took the amount spent online during the holiday season so far to $15billion. “Cyber Monday was just the second billion dollar spending day on record, following on the heels of Cyber Monday 2010,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “While last year saw Cyber Monday rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year for the first time ever, it will be interesting to watch the next couple of weeks to see if any future individual days in 2011 manage to leapfrog this year’s highest day-to-date.”

The data makes for intriguing reading as physical shops continue to struggle during the global economic troubles and digital devices replace older counterparts. It’ll be interesting to see how both fare in the UK over our Black Friday, Boxing Day…

Odeon launch f-commerce platform
Odeon have become one of the biggest UK brands to fully put their weight behind f-commerce by launching a booking app. The Odeon Event Organiser allows users to browse films and screening times and buy their tickets direct from the Odeon Facebook page. The app is similar to the one launched by Vue Cinemas earlier in the year, though Odeon’s allows users to complete the transaction on Facebook, while Vue’s takes the user through to the chain’s website to complete the purchase. Marketing and sales director Luke Vetere said: “With a Facebook community in excess of 50,000, we wanted to create a simple mechanic which celebrates the social interactivity of the site and allows users and their friends to plan a trip to their cinema in three easy steps.” Users can also create Facebook events around the films they are planning to see and invite their friends. The app is expected to launch later this week.

Smartphones, tablets and time
The difference in the usages of smartphones and tablets has been revealed by the latest Orange Exposure study. The report is an annual investigation by TNS that looks into usages of mobile devices across the UK, France, Spain and Poland. It was discovered that mobile and tablets impact heavily on TV and desktop PC consumption, with mobile users revealing that their phones inspire them to watch more TV and use their PC more, and tablet owners using the devices themselves to watch TV on. The research also found that tablet users are 50 per cent more likely to purchase online than smartphone users. Bruce Hoang, Group Marketing Director, Orange Advertising Network, said: “This is the first time we have included tablet usage in the Orange Exposure report and the findings are quite stark in their description of how people are using devices. Clearly the one size fits all approach for digital content across TV, PC, smartphone and tablet does not work and this has significant implications for content producers and advertisers.”

The History of (Google) Search
Finally, Google are tooting their own horn by detailing the evolution of their search engine in video and infographic form. They’re informative pieces that not only look back but look forward at what search might become in the future. Writing on the company’s blog, Google Fellow Ben Gomes explains: “Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek. That means you don’t generally need to know about the latest search feature in order to take advantage of it— simply type into the box as usual and find the answers you’re looking for.”

Google aren’t the only ones who have been at the forefront of search though. Fast Web Media have been blazing our own trail for years, and were responsible for what we believe to be the world’s first ever TV search marketing advert. It aired in 2005 and can be seen below:


FWM Digital Bytes

Couch commerce on the rise
First there was eCommerce, then mCommerce, now there’s Couch Commerce, a new form of digital purchasing that could change the way we buy online. The term has been coined by eBay, which is launching a new ‘Watch with eBay’ tab in their iPad app. The tab will allow the user to view a selection of items based on what they are currently watching on the television. So if you like that suit in Mad Men or would quite fancy those shoes a contestant on the X-Factor’s wearing, you’d just have to load up the app and you’d find information on how you can snap them up.

For the tab to work users have to supply key information such as post/zip code, cable provider, channel and the program they are currently watching, meaning the process is far from instantaneous and could benefit from some streamlining. Whether users accustomed to ease of use would jump through such hoops is unclear, but eBay is confident that Couch Commerce has a strong future, and believes the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when smartphone and tablet users will be exposed to a huge amount of TV advertising while using their device, will bear out their theory on the strength of the link between TV and mobile browsing.

Steve Yankovich, vice president of eBay Mobile, explained: “Mobile shopping is mainstream now, and eBay expects this holiday to be the largest mobile shopping season ever. Shoppers are in the driver’s seat, with mobile technology putting the mall right in your pocket. We’re using our mobile and tablet innovations to empower people to shop and find the best deals – anytime, anywhere, any way they want – from the comfort of their couch or on the go.” Meanwhile, in a new study, eBay has also found that 86% of users are using their devices while watching TV and that a quarter of that number are browsing for content related to what they’re watching. So the future is certainly looking bright for e/m/Couch Commerce.

Buffy, the iPhone Slayer
It was only a matter of time, but now a Facebook Phone is apparently finally in the works. According to a report on AllThingsD, the social media giant is teaming up with HTC to build a phone – understood to be called ‘Buffy’ – that will run on a modified version of Android. It will be fully compatible with HTML5 and, of course, put Facebook at the centre of its functionality. Speaking to AllThingsD, a Facebook spokesperson refused to discuss specifics, but revealed that mobile remains key to the social network’s plans: “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.” Facebook says it has over 350 active mobile users, but in most cases it has little say into how Facebook works on phones.

Mobile’s on the move
The UK leads the way in terms of mobile social use according to new data released by comScore. The figures show that 35% of UK mobile users access social networking sites while on the go, putting them significantly ahead of Europe, whose average is just 23%. This is hardly surprising, as many commuters use Facebook and Twitter to read the news while on their way to work in the morning. What’s more interesting is that users are also engaging with brands. The report shows that 44% of users read posts by brands they’ve followed or liked, while 26% have used social networking to receive coupons or deals. Other significant details from the report reveal that around 39m European mobile users accessed Facebook from their device in September, while 8.6million mobile users logged on to Twitter. Both figures represent significant increases on last year. The full report can be read on comScore.

Online, the final frontier
Having spent years looking into space, NASA is now casting its eye to cyberspace. The US space agency has started an online recruitment drive that allows people to submit their application at the click of a mouse. Don’t go packing your spacesuit and learning Martian just yet though. While it’s easier to apply than its ever been before, the requirements haven’t changed at all, with successful applicants needing a degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or maths – and to know Russian – before getting anywhere near a spaceship. Speaking in the recruitment video, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells potential candidates, “We need you to help plan for this future of exploration. Join NASA. Get your application in now for the 2013 astronaut candidate class. Your spaceflight experience begins right now.” So, what are you waiting for? The stars await!

FWM Digital Bytes

Latest in digital newsGoogle dances to its own beat
Google has finally taken the plunge and launched its much-anticipated music service called – originally enough – ‘Google Music‘. The new store was officially unveiled in the US on the evening of Wednesday 16th November, with exclusives from The Rolling Stones and Coldplay among the perks. In terms of usability, the service offers downloads and streaming and, crucially for many, it allows you to synch your music collection across all Google devices. Social functionality has been built in as well, with users able to share their tastes via Google+, while there’s also an ‘Artists Hub’ that allows budding musicians to upload their work and build an artist page. The service therefore becomes something of a social network in itself, with users able to share new music and create and distribute their own.

Google Music will also be available on Android mobile devices and writing on the company’s Blog, Senior Vice President of Mobile, Andy Rubin, explained that usability is key: “Google Music helps you spend more time listening to your collection and less time managing it. We automatically sync your entire music library—both purchases and uploads—across all your devices so you don’t have to worry about cables, file transfers or running out of storage space. We’ll keep your playlists in tact, too, so your “Chill” playlist is always your “Chill” playlist, whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or phone.” Along with The Rolling Stones and Coldplay, Google Music also offers exclusive content from Busta Rhymes, Shakira, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Tiesto.

Digital v Print: The battle continues…
Digital titles could outnumber their print equivalents by 2013, new research conducted by Mintel and the Association of Publishing Agencies suggests, but physical publications are by no means dead just yet. Mintel and the APA sent out questionnaires to 28 content publishing companies, giving the survey a reach of 809 titles in total. This represents approximately 65 per cent of the total market, and the figures were then projected to represent 100 per cent of the market.

The research has flagged up a series of interesting points, with content marketing performing well despite continued economic struggles and print still proving the most popular way to distribute and consume content.
According to Mintel and the APA’s projected figures, that is due to change in the next couple of years though. A statement on the APA’s website reads: “Digital activity encompassing websites, e-zines, email, mobile applications and video now accounts for 37 per cent of the industry, an increase of 22 per cent since 2007 and 32 per cent since 2005. On the basis of these trends digital is expected to overtake print as a share of total by 2013. To reinforce this assertion website revenues have grown rapidly and are up 65 per cent and e-zines have risen by 165 per cent since the last report.” Possible bad news for print then, but the APA have asserted that print is far from dead: “Despite this rebalance of channels print is still very much viewed as an essential part of the content marketing mix moving forward.”

An infographic of the research’s findings can be seen on the APA’s website along with further facts and figures on the futures of print and digital publishing.

Read all about it – on Facebook
For many, Twitter’s ability to quickly break big news is one of the platform’s key benefits, but if a new survey is to be believed Facebook is quickly replacing its social counterpart in this field. According to data compiled by Lightspeed Research, 30% of 18-34 years olds use Facebook to keep up with current affairs and breaking news, while only 12 per cent of that age group use Twitter. TV is still by far and away the most popular resource for news, though 18-34 year olds use it less than any other age group. Newspapers and news websites are the second most used resource, while radio is third. Lightspeed surveyed 1000 people as part of their research and more results can be seen on their website.

FWM Digital Bytes

FWM BytesIn this week’s Bytes, Fast Web discuss how Siri, the iPhone 4S app, is causing a stirr and why the British public are cynical to brands on Facebook. But first, we discuss The Feed and the debate surrounding viral marketing.

I Can Haz Viral Marketing Capability?

A viral is a marketer’s dream – where the general public does the sharing and the leg work and you watch your product/brand gain notoriety at break neck speed and with exponential reach. But, as The Feed asked, “is it really the holy grail?” The debate focused around several questions:

· Is it contrived to construct a viral strategy when most virals happen naturally?

· Is the time invested in creating a viral seeding strategy worth it?

· Will all viral concepts go viral, and how do we know if it will or not?

· Is there a secret formula?

· Is it suitable for all businesses?

The Feed’s panel consisted of a variety of individuals well versed in the viral world –  Graeme Anthony, the man behind the viral CVIV; Geth Vaughan from the agency We Are Young, behind the viral app Learn Something New Every Day; Mike Wiggins, Head Of Noise at Neighbourhood; and chaired by Byron Evans of video production company Wallop Video.

Outlining their individual experiences and viral successes, the main questions that arose again and again were is there is a reliable equation for creating a successful viral? Or better yet, what is the definition of ‘viral’? Or, is our obsession with Lolcats and Rick Astley’s dulcet tones just a natural social phenomenon of our time?

Opinion in the ranks was divided, with some arguing that viral marketing can be orchestrated to a certain extent, whereas others held that there is no such thing as ‘viral marketing’; rather it is opportunistic branding of a natural phenomenon. Semantics aside, it was established that there are some consistent features that virals share – they are videos that connect on an emotional level and/or evoke a reaction from the viewer; whether it is Oxo’s Shepherd’s pie or a baby panda sneezing. This informative infographic by PushOn rams home the main points about how things go viral.

The number of agencies and brands capitalizing on these kinds of emotional connections can be seen in the rash of viral advertising that exists today (although earlier ad campaigns from pre-internet days that gained notoriety through word of mouth, such as the Nescafe Gold Blend story, could still be defined as ‘viral’). Dipping into well-known case studies along the way, such as Sony’s seagull viral, Hi-Tec’s liquid mountaineering and T-Mobile’s flashmob dance, it is apparent that they all have common features: novel content, excellent execution, and an appropriate platform.

Most of the successful virals with global recognition are videos. It is a simple, effective and accessible medium that crosses language, age and cultural barriers, and the huge increase in the use of video online means that it is the best model for distribution when supported by social media sharing functionality. However, an appropriate channel is useless without the brilliant content at the heart of the viral. Everyone agreed that content is key; that’s what natural and orchestrated virals have in common – a brilliant and simple concept at its core. If you’re going to attempt to create a viral, pour love and devotion into it and don’t mess it up.

What are your thoughts? Can you orchestrate a viral?

Is Google in Sirious Trouble?

The iPhone 4S talking assistant app, Siri, has been making waves since its release back in October 2011. Although voice recognition technology is nothing new, Siri’s intuitive usability and confident functionality has seen it gain significant attention in the last few weeks. Bought by Apple back in 2010, Siri uses voice commands to carry out many different tasks and actions, like send texts, email, search, set reminders, get directions or just ask a question, and all topped off with a heavy dollop of wit as well. Siri’s use of natural language compared to rigid commands is what sets it apart from other voice recognition technology seen in other smart phones, such as Google’s Android Voice Actions. Highlighting its popularity is the fact that Siri is being used ten times as much as Apple had first anticipated.

Although Siri does have its limitations in terms of scope and accuracy in these early days, it is only its first incarnation on the iPhone, and it could still alter the way in which people search for information. The simplicity of Siri’s use of natural language and the fact that it can display a single accurate result has already led to the app being viewed as ‘game changing’ in the search world. Gary Morgenthaler, an early investor in Siri, declared that the simplicity of Siri and its responses pose a real threat to Google: “A million blue links from Google is worth far less than one correct answer from Siri”. The technology is still only in its infancy, but speculation has once again started to circulate that Siri may be the entry point for Apple to get into search engine marketing. Considering the continued proliferation of smart phones and the huge increase in mobile e-commerce and marketing, such a strategy from Apple could pose a real threat to Google, should users start to rely on Siri as their search engine of choice.

Branded Social Media Campaigns: Love or Hate?

NMA recently reported the results of a study, which claim that two thirds of the British public prefer not to engage with brands through social media channels. In an international survey conducted by the WPP-owned research group TNS, over 72,000 consumers were surveyed in 60 countries, with the UK standing out as the most cynical when it comes to engaging with brands through channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Increasingly, brands and businesses are becoming guilty of setting up Facebook pages and blogs in the wake of social media hype with little consideration of their strategy and intentions, leading to negative ramifications and “mountains of digital waste”. The chief development officer at TNS, Matthew Froggatt, summarizes that brands “are failing to understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified”.

The use of special deals, promotions and well integrated apps can enhance the user experience of the social media platform whilst fostering the relationship between the brand and the consumer. The most successful social media campaigns (and there’s a nice 2011 hall of fame here and a few tragically unsuccessful examples here) are often the ones that have identified how best to meaningfully connect with different types of social consumers.

Many successful campaigns can thrive off of offers and freebies – 61% of users in TNS’s study said that they had engaged with a brand online when offered a promotion or special offer – but careful consideration needs to be taken in deciding how to continue to motivate users to gain effective ROI, as bribing users to gain followers is a short-term method that may do little to turn users into consumers in the long-term. Furthermore, the over-saturation of social media channels by brands can turn consumers off, not just of the brands themselves but of the social media platforms in general, driving consumers away.

So, where do you draw the line with brand/user engagement? Do many people want to engage with toilet paper brands on Facebook? There are reports that HSBC is seeking to create its own social media platform to engage with customers, and it will be interesting to see how many users engage with a bespoke social media platform based on banking, particularly in the current economic climate. So, as brands continue to flock to Facebook, and keeping in mind the apparent hesitation of the British public, it will be interesting to see how UK consumers interact with Google Plus branded pages, which have now been rolled out internationally.


FWM Digital Bytes

Digital News from FWMIn this week’s FWM Bytes, we talk about the Hitwise report on the growth of online video and social media, smartphones and prosthetics, Netflix, and the YouTube Insult Generator.

The Dominance of Video and Social Media

Hitwise has recently released a report exploring the explosive growth of online video media in the past few years, highlighting that social media and entertainment are the two biggest (and still growing) categories online.

While it’s no secret that social media has become the dominant way in which we spend our time online, video is also swiftly becoming one of the biggest categories for UK internet visits. Approximately 3.4 billion hours a month are spent online in the UK (which equates to an epic 387,870.5 Earth years), of which 800 million are spent on social networks such as Facebook. With YouTube being the second biggest social network (as well as the second largest search engine), it may then come as no surprise that we are spending more and more time online watching videos – some 240 million hours per month, to be exact. Over 70% of video visits are to YouTube, making it now the third largest website in the UK after Google and Facebook.

Between September 2010 and September 2011, internet visits to online video sites grew by 36%, according to the Hitwise report, and some 86% of the UK internet population visits a video site at least once a month. With 48 hours of content uploaded every minute worldwide onto YouTube, you start to wonder, what kind of content are people watching aside from fail videos and amusing cat clips? The Hitwise report reveals that the entertainment category dominates video content, with the majority of search clicks looking for music clips (33%). TV is second, accounting for 17% of searches, which stands as testament to the increasing popularity in the UK of on-demand video sites such as BBC iPlayer. TV programs like X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent have branded channels that capitalise on this high number of searches for video content.

So what’s the conclusion of Hitwise’s impressive stats? Capitalise on video. The effective use of online videos can be used to drive traffic to your site and increase the amount of time users spend there. Well thought out video campaigns to raise brand awareness or promote a product or service can go viral and can be an extremely effective way of targeting your desired audience, as well as outreaching to new customers.

Prosthetic iArm

High-tech prosthetics are becoming increasingly common as technological advances across the board bring about new innovations. Last month, a Canadian documentary maker revealed his bionic eye that he could shoot films with. This month, it’s smart limbs. Trevor Prideaux, who was born without his left arm, has become the first person to have a prosthesis that has a smartphone embedded into the forearm. After realising the difficulty he was having in using smartphones to phone and text, he teamed up with Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre in Devon to create this bespoke limb. He first approached Apple to ask for a blank iPhone case to test out the initial phase but was rejected. Prideaux then turned to Nokia for help and now has a Nokia C7 that sits inside this ground-breaking limb, offering him greater ease of use.

Prideaux comments that this kind of technology could be of great use to a variety of individuals, which will no doubt inspire the creation of other similar prosthetic and bionic equipment: “This is a leap forward which has helped me out a lot and can also aid others.”

Netflix to Cross the Pond

Netflix, the US online TV and movie rental service, is set to launch in the UK and Ireland in 2012. After previously shelving plans to enter the European market several years ago, Netflix will now be nestling in amongst Amazon’s LoveFilm and Google’s YouTube to offer unlimited streaming of films and TV shows to UK audiences for the princely sum of £5 a month. The US-based company has been posturing in the media with large TV networks such as CBD and Fox after acquiring first viewing rights to popular dramas directly from distributors and producers. Having started off in 1997 by delivering rentals by post, the company will offer only its streaming service in the UK.

Netflix’s announcement comes in the wake of a mass exodus of subscribers in the US following a 60% price hike that came into effect in September. With over 800,000 paid subscribers leaving the company, its customer base has dropped to 23.79 million, as of September 2011. After a fairly unstable year and in such a highly competitive environment, it will be interesting to see how Netflix fares against an already well-established UK market.

Your Mother Was a Hamster and Your Father Smelt of Elderberries

Half the amusement (or despair) of YouTube can be found in reading the ridiculous comments that accompany videos. Trolls roam freely and there’s seemingly no subject that will be left untouched by pointless ranting and mindless abuse. But, with so many different subjects and such a colorful array of insults, web developer Adrian Holovaty has come up with the YouTube Insult Generator, a “search engine for insults” if you will… Have a play – some of the results are really quite amusing

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Latest in digital newsGoogle’s Keyword conundrum

If you use Google Analytics (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?) there’s big and not particularly good news for you on the Google blog. The search engine company has revealed that it will no longer offer comprehensive analytics on the organic keywords that users arrive at your site from. Instead, you’ll only get data from users who are not logged in to a Google service. The move, Google has said, comes out of a desire to protect its users’ privacy. Writing on the Google Analytics blog, Amy Chang explains: “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, particularly for signed in users, we believe that protecting these personalized search results is important. As part of that effort, today the Google Search team announced that SSL Search will become the default experience for signed in users on Google.com.”

Though this isn’t the sweeping change it may seem (Google will continue to provide data for users who are not logged in), it means that around 10% of organic traffic will be unaccounted for. It also suggests that further changes may well be down the line – if organic searches can be modified, might Google be tempted to change other metrics? If it remains the only significant change Google make to their service, it’s a cunning one. Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO and by restricting the data users can see, Google could well be subtly attempting to drive more users to their paid service, Adwords. PPC data will remain unaltered and therefore more tempting. A cynical reading of situation perhaps, but not one without merit, we think. Whether it will succeed or fail though is something even Google can’t control.

Tweets up as Chime.in launches
The company that owns Twitter apps Echofan and UberSocial has launched a social network of their own in the shape of Chime.in. UberMedia rolled the new platform out quietly this week and have described it as an ‘interest network’ that blends the best of Reddit and Facebook to allow users to post content based on specific headings and interests. The ability to comment on and like posts is also available and advert functionality will be ready for use from next year. Early take up has been slow and if the platform is going to truly rival Twitter, it’s going to have to speed up pretty soon, because the micro-blogging site this week revealed that they now have over 100 million active users. Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo also revealed that the site experiences a staggering amount of daily use: “We had 30% of our monthly active users login in every day at the beginning of the year. Now it’s over 50%.” Costollo added that nearly 250 million tweets are posted every day and that the company is valued at around $8billion. Chime.in, over to you…

Do want!
Online auction site eBay is the latest company to partner with Facebook as the launch of the “social verbs” that the company discussed at last month’s F8 conference edge closer to launch. At the event, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will no longer feature just a ‘Like’ button, but also a ‘Want’ and an ‘Own’ button for products, making Facebook an even more enticing platform to business and marketers. eBay are the first to get on board with the possibilities, and the site and its 180 major clients will be able to use the new buttons when they’re up. Spokesperson Johnna Hoff told ClickZ News: “Once the new ‘Want’ and ‘Own’ buttons do go live in Magento retailers’ shopping experiences, customers who click them can expect to see the activity show up in their Facebook activity. Their friends will then be able to see the items they want, or even already own, and can check out the items for themselves.”

Putting the globe on the map
Finally, NASA and Japan have launched a free online map that will act as the world’s most complete track of the planet’s topographic features. The map has been created from images taken aboard NASA’ Terra spacecraft and gives users what NASA’s Mike Abrams calls the “highest-resolution global topography data available”. The map will cover 99% of the Earth’s landmass and spans from 83 degress north latitude to 83 degrees south.

FWM Digital Bytes

FWM BytesSocial Media to break $10bn barrier in 2011

With such large numbers of people involved with social media sites such as Facebook, it perhaps comes as no surprise that online revenue from social media is set to reach $10 billion in 2011 according to Gartner.  This figure is up 41% from 2010 and is set to rise again to a staggering $290 billion by 2015. The majority of this figure is from advertising, but social gaming also constitutes a significant portion. Facebook UK revenue alone is tipped to hit a high of £180m in 2011, according to Enders Analysis. The advent of the Facebook store earlier this year with Asos will also start to slowly contribute to this figure, which brings to mind the question of f-commerce and the impact of social media on the psyche of the online buying process.

However, this number does pale when you compare this to Google’s advertising revenue for 2011, which is £32.2 billion – accounting for 97% of its total revenue.


Manchester City has signed a deal with YouTube which allows the English Premier League club to have its own branded channel with rights-owned and club-created content. This deal is the first of its kind between YouTube and a football club, with other Premier League teams sure to follow. City has embraced digital media in the last few years, featuring innovative moves such as using AR apps and QR codes, in addition to live streaming of open training sessions on Facebook. Richard Ayers, Head of Digital at Manchester City spoke of their plans to become part of the YouTube community:

“Our goal is to deliver a market leading experience for fans in terms of online video.  That means delivering the great content we make to where the audience is – i.e. on YouTube. This deal is the first move in laying the foundations of our syndication strategy and is part of a series of deals to expand our online capabilities.”

The channel will predominantly feature behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and insights – match footage won’t be available due to licencing restrictions.

Advertorials Heating up Facebook ROI

Bauer Media (owner of titles including Heat magazine) have announced that they are going to be building dedicated paid-for advertorials into its major titles on Facebook pages.

In addition to connecting with audiences through existing brand websites, Bauer Media are looking to target readership through Facebook and capitalise on the large numbers in that community. Joseph Eva, head of creative digital at Bauer Media, explains that “..if FHM has a 400,000-strong Facebook community and they’re constantly on there, we need to be able to offer advertisers access to them.” A strategy for maintaining high levels of engagement with Facebook pages after users have Liked the page is by producing creative and compelling content, which Bauer Media is hoping to achieve with these new sponsored advertorials. Bespoke tabs will be sponsored by brands in an attempt to entice Facebook users to engage more with the page, which essentially will act as another advertising platform on Facebook.  With the existing Facebook advert system in place, how the revenue of these new advertising platforms will be negotiated between Bauer Media, brands and Facebook remains to be seen. But what is clear is how campaign objectives are increasingly being based on social media.

Black Out for BlackBerry

If, like some of us at Fast Web Media, you’ve got a BlackBerry you’ll know only too well what a tough week it has been. BlackBerry’s massive service disruption this week prompted an even bigger outcry when the company failed to communicate effectively early on over what was plaguing its service. Today, as the EMEA service was still crippled, the Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has issued this service update, apologising for what’s happened. The service disruption has had BlackBerry users tearing their hair out as they struggled to access email, BBM and internet browsing services since Monday, although a press conference at 3pm today tentatively announced the service had been restored.


FWM Digital Bytes

Fast Web Media Digital NewsGoogle comes to MediaCity

Matt Brittin, chief executive of Google in the UK and Ireland, was at MediaCity on Monday and revealed some interesting tidbits about the company, its current projects and its future. Ostensibly in town to visit the BBC’s new offices, Brittin also gave a talk and Q&A session during his time here, and while he didn’t touch on any specifics, he did cover most of the company’s core products. One of the most interesting revelations was that Google has access to two billion people through their data, which Brittin says now focuses strongly on social, a stat that firmly establishes them as the most powerful advertising platform on the planet, ahead of even Facebook. Brittin also discussed the role of social media during the UK riots (coming down on the side we argued for in FWM Bytes) and also, rather embarassingly for the BBC, revealed that the corporation’s default search engine is not Google. They’re Bing people at the Beeb.

Brittin also discussed the company’s future, reminding the audience that Google TV and mobile offerings are still very much a part of their plans. Search, however, remains the business’s centrepiece and Brittin insisted that content is, and will always be, king for search success. He touched upon the continued slow demise of print media and told newspapers that they must look to create consistently high quality content to encourage users to keep reading. This combination of art and science is the secret to innovation, Brittin said.

Finally, what are Google’s thoughts on MediaCity? Brittin was impressed and refused to deny suggestions that the company could look to set up a base at the site at some point in the future. “We’ve got small team in Manchester, but not at MediaCity,” he said. “Having seen the offices here, I don’t think we’d need too much persuading. I don’t think we’d say no to coming here. We just haven’t got around to it yet.” This was another standout day for MediaCity and at the speed the site’s profile is increasing, they’ll need to get around to it pretty soon…

mCommerce is going places

A few weeks ago, we wrote about some good news for mCommerce, with revenue increasing and user acceptance improving. Now it seems one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets is jumping on the mobile bandwagon by announcing the launch of instore Wi-Fi. Tesco, which has over 2,000 stores nationwide, this week revealed they are set to trial a free Wi-Fi service for customers in four stores, with an eye to rolling the service out across the rest of the country if the initial trial is a success. This would allow users to browse the web as they’re browsing the aisles, picking up online deals and offers. Tesco’s Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara told the Financial Times: “You can stand Canute-like and pretend nothing is happening … or you can say it’s happening, and I am going to help it happen.”

Tesco have plucked for the second option with some gusto. This announcement joins a May trialling of an in-store Sat Nav system that allows users to track down their favourite items using their mobile. Both services are designed with the customer in mind, but will the customer respond? The global tech company NCR Corporation has mixed news. A survey of 1,600 European shoppers found that when considering their weekly shopping 92% of customers across the continent do not use social networks and 94% do not use mobiles. However, 57% of UK shoppers said they would be happy to receive personalised information on items they often buy, while a further 43% and 37% would be happy to be sent information on new products and their preferred brands respectively. Clearly this kind of strategy may prove successful in the UK, but European markets may need a more tentative approach. Nonetheless, social and mobile technologies offer a platform to engage with customers that major brands would be wise to take advantage of.

Google goes to Hollywood

Hollywood studio Miramax has announced that it is looking to agree terms with Google over the right to stream their films online as the relaunch of the search engine giant’s Google TV platform gathers pace. Miramax CEO Mike Lang told New Media Age that they are looking to expand their content into the digital realm and Google’s strength in the advertising market makes them an obvious choice for a partnership. “We’ve had lots of conversations with Google, not only about its TV platform but also YouTube and its Android platform,” Lang explained. “It would be an incredible partner. It would bring significant scale and a great ad platform, and we like the idea of providing more free, ad-supported content on digital platforms.” Google TV stuttered on initial release, but it is thought an American relaunch is imminent with an expansion into Europe expected next year. Miramax’s catalogue includes Oscar winners like The English Patient, Good Will Hunting and Life Is Beautiful and cult classics such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting, so it’s clear that the partnership would not only benefit Miramax but give Google a rich source of content to entice online movie lovers to Google TV.

Facebook unlikes Likes

Having announced major changes to their profile pages at the F8 conference a fortnight ago, Facebook has now revealed a significant revamp of its page insight offering. Among the new metrics that will be helping brands make more informed social decisions are ‘Friends of fans’ (the total number of friends your fans have – essentially your maximum possible organic reach) and ‘Virality’ (which aims to give an idea of how strong a post’s word of mouth quality is). Most significantly though, there’ll be a ‘People Talking About This’ metric that will add up various engagement types, such as likes, comments, RVSPs, @mentions, Facebook Places check-ins and photo-tags, and produce an overall engagement figure. This information will be publicly available on a brand’s page, meaning your competitors can see how popular you are and you can see how popular they are. This may not sound like great news, especially if your brand is struggling on Facebook, but Craig Stoe, Context Optional VP of Product, says it’s all designed to give advertisers a more accurate set of metrics to base major decisions on. “We’re moving away from the era of ‘likes’,” he explained. “We’re now measuring what people discuss on Facebook and a brand’s total reach.”

RIP Steve Jobs

And finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the sad passing of Steve Jobs. The Apple co-founder has had a profound effect on the digital industry, his company, like Google, attempting to find new ways of blending art and science to innovate and evolve. He’ll be sorely missed. Wired and Mashable are among those leading the tributes.

FWM Digital Bytes

Blippar, the QR Killer?
Digital news from FWMThe digital interactive print advert hasn’t been around for very long and during its short lifespan it’s been dominated by one thing: the QR Code. But that could be about to change. The QR Code finally has a challenger in the shape of Blippar, a new form of interactive advertising that is easier to use and is certainly a lot more attractive to look at than its rather ugly counterpart. Blippar essentially performs the same duty as a QR Code – point your smartphone at the ad and the ad will interact – but it has two major advantages. Firstly, it doesn’t require any kind of actual code. The whole advert is responsive, so the user doesn’t need to point at a certain space and the advertisers don’t need to add that little black and white code to their design. Secondly, the ad doesn’t just take you though to a website. It responds on the screen, with interactive elements popping up on your smartphone screen. Effectively it’s a site in its own right.

Ads from brands including Tesco and Omega have been rolled out in newspapers and magazines and they’re certainly impressive. Tesco’s ad highlights price drop offers, Omega’s allows the user to see how a  watch would look on their wrist, while a promotion for the re-release of ‘Jurassic Park’ allows the reader to watch the trailer. Some don’t even need an advert. Point your phone at a Vimto bottle and Blippar will recognise the bottle’s shape and start interacting. Will these features be enough to make interactive advertising really take off? It’s certainly an encouraging development, but the technology still suffers from a lack of exposure that means it will be slow to take off – if indeed it takes off at all. As econsultancy notes two thirds of consumers don’t know even what a QR code is. As the technology matures though, Blippar is certainly the emerging app for brands to keep an eye on.

Stand out with Google
Google is making it easier for news organisations and websites to get content noticed in their search engine by launching a new ‘Standout’ feature that will attract the attentions of its spiders. According to Wired, Google will be putting special emphasis on their News service over the coming months and is hoping to enrich it by giving organisations the means to flag up “critical types of coverage: exceptional original reporting, deep investigative work, scoops and exclusives, and various special projects that quite clearly stand out”. This means that if CNN has just broken a significant piece of news or the BBC is featuring an in-depth investigation, they can simply include the special ‘Standout’ tag in the content’s header and Google will recognise it as significant and possibly display the article with a ‘Featured’ label on the Google News homepage. 

Naturally there are limits. Google has made sure organisations can’t tag everything they post by adding a cap – only seven pieces of content a week can be ‘Standout’. If that limit is exceeded, the tagged content will be downgraded or simply ignored altogether. Google will also be encouraging organisations to ‘link’ to competitors’ content by allowing them to tag other companies’ stories. There will be no limit to the amount of competitors’ content you can tag and it’s likely a tag from someone else will be more valuable than a tag generated by you, thus making tag sharing beneficial. Journalism is a cut-throat world though, and whether this takes off remains to be seen.

Re-kindling the tablet wars
The latest threat to Apple’s dominance of the tablet platform has come from an unlikely source – not a tech company, but Amazon. Best known for selling books, DVDs and music, the retailer first took the plunge in the waters of technology a few years ago when they launched their e-book reader Kindle. The product was a huge success and now they’re hoping Kindle Fire is a similarly big hit. They’ve certainly got a mountain to climb to better the iPad, whose name is synonymous with portable computing, but the Amazon Kindle Fire has a couple of key advantages over its competitor. With its 7″ screen, it’s smaller and more portable than the iPad, and with its $199 retail price, it’s cheaper too. The device will run on Google’s Android operating system and use a new browser called ‘Amazon Silk’. Apple, we’re sure, will be watching with interest to see how their latest competitor fares…

If this then that
This is the simple but baffling but really quite simple mantra of ifttt, a way of coding that’s designed to make the internet so easy a child could use it. The plan is to reduce complex code and tech jargon to a simple command. Under this scheme, there’s a trigger (the ‘this’ of the above statement) and an action (the ‘that’), so as they explain on their website, iftt will allow you to state ‘If I tweet then create a status message on Facebook’. Along with Facebook and Twitter, multiple channels and apps such as Instagram can be incorporated, so if you were to take a photo using the Instagram app it can be automatically added to Dropbox. Further details can be found the ifttt.com website, and while its success is far from assured, it certainly has huge potential. If this can make the internet more accessible then that can only be a good thing (see what we did there!).

The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls
They’ve spent most of their lives in caves and museums, but now the Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to the internet, courtesy of Google. Earlier this week, the Search company put the ancient texts online in a searchable format, meaning they are now easily available for anyone in the world to browse through. “It’s taken 24 centuries, the work of archaeologists, scholars and historians, and the advent of the Internet to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to anyone in the world,” Google said. “Today, as the new year approaches on the Hebrew calendar, we’re celebrating the launch of the Dead Sea Scrolls online; a project of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem powered by Google technology.” The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible dating back to between 150 BC and 70 AD. They were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in what is now named the West Bank.