Monday, 20 December 2010

Online's Big Brother

With the Christmas break fast approaching and the adverse weather causing havoc, the last few days at work have been really busy as my team and I are trying to implement all the digital campaigns in time for their January 'Live' date. Like most things in life there is more to a display ad than meets the eye and a lot of behind the scene work is carried out in order for it to exist.
An example of this is creating and layering the advert with tags which track how well an ad is performing. This is one of the reasons online has become so popular - it offers increased measurability. Being able to track a campaign's performance is extremely desirable for all parties (the client, the media agency and the media owner). Every display ad you see on a site whether a standard banner, a video or expandable ad has a tracker to measure how many people view and interact with it. Therefore ads which are not reaching a great enough audience can be optimised so that the client achieves the results it desires.

You may not think it but most, if not all the ads you see online are targeted to you directly in some way depending upon your online behaviour. Targeted display or 'behavioural advertising' is exploding and is getting more personal than ever before particularly now that audiences are even more fragmented. Another way to think of behavioural targeting is when you use online shopping at Tesco.com. It tracks and remembers what you have previously purchased and offers you a list of your most popular items so you don't have to trail through the pages and pages of groceries to find what you're looking for. It is applications like these which make using online so appealing. The implementation of such services make using the internet a breeze.
Ultimately this is what display advertising aims to achieve. Rather than be seen as obtrusive, it aims to be identified and used as a useful tool to minimise the stress and lengthy process of surfing the world wide web.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Shimmy Right, Arm Sway, Shimmy Left

This week Microsoft came to our office to demonstrate the new Xbox Kinect technology. For those of you who, like me were skeptical about it's technological competence, fear not. I tried it out for myself and although losing a Kinect boxing match to one of my colleagues, I left feeling excited about the thought of actually buying one. The motion sensor is extremely accurate and picks up your every move. I particularly enjoyed cutting some shapes to Rihanna when playing Dance Central and you can even watch yourself back - not the best showreel if your moves fail to match the dancing talent of pro group Diversity!

On the business side of things, the kinect has officially set the record for selling the greatest number of units in the shortest space of time. Since it's launch just under a month ago Microsoft has seen sales reach over 2.5million, over taking the benchmark that Nintendo set in 2007 with the release of the Wii.

With consoles increasingly appealing to a wider audience, more and more people of all ages are kitting out their homes with the latest gaming technology. You only have to watch Saturday night TV to see Dame Helen Mirren boasting about how she's improved her balance using the Wii Fit. As a result I predict that in-game advertising will actually be a more important part of a brand's advertising strategy. Although in-game advertising is not new, it is rarely considered a crucial part of a brand's overall campaign. I believe this will soon change.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Taking Over the Home of Online

I am now half-way through my rotation in the digital department and I can now talk the language of cyberspace.

A lot of my time has been filled doing reports and PCA's (post campaign analyses). Although reporting is not the most thrilling of tasks, it has taught me a great deal about how to measure the success of a digital campaign and especially what works well for particular clients. The higher the CTR (click through rate) the more efficient the campaign has been and the cheaper the CPC (cost per click) the more cost effective the campaign has performed. Put this together and you can work out the overall best site placement. This could be an expandable MPU on MSN's homepage or a leaderboard on the guardian.co.uk. However it's not just choosing the format of the display because the placement of the display ad is actually most important. Targeting consumers at the right time in a contextual environment is key. This brings up an age old debate about creative agencies and media agencies and who has the most important role.
Personally collaboration is what constitutes great advertising and working together to maximise the ad creative so that the right consumers are exposed to it is where an idea turns into results and ROI.

In relation to online advertising I had to put together a powerpoint deck for all the different Home Page Take Overs (HPTO's) available on the digital marketplace. Who would have thought there was so much scope to be creative with display advertising on websites. From my research and speaking to different media owners I found a HPTO for the film Avatar which is to be particularly engaging.
Click on link to see:

Once on the page the user is instantly greeted by a rich media MPU (multi-purpose unit) which when clicked on, glides the whole homepage down to reveal an interactive trailer page.
(Note: on the MPU there is a text button to enable the Avatar skin on/off)

Before being exposed to the variety of display possibilities I was unsure about the future of display advertising. However I do believe that as an industry we have only scratched the surface of display ads and it won't be long before we see video display ads that change their copy (message) to speak to the user directly as soon as they land on the webpage.

Watch the online space!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Goodbye Traditional...Hello Digital

It's been a few weeks since my last blog and the reason for this is because I have recently moved departments as part of my rotation. I completed my first 8 weeks in Communications Planning and am now working in MEC Interaction our 'Digital' department.

Within digital there are a number of sub-departments including Social Media, Search (SEO - Search Engine Optimisation and PPC - Paid for Search), Brand, and Acquisition (digital direct response). So far I have found digital to be a real eye opener and a completely different experience to Comms Planning. Having not had any experience working in digital before there is so much to learn and understand, let alone getting to grips with the digital jargon.

Everyone I speak to about working in digital says the same thing: It's the most exciting place to be and the most rewarding in the long term future. If you specialise in digital media you will be highly sought after. I haven't yet got my teeth stuck into any really interesting digital campaigns but I think this will come the longer I spend in this department. I think until I fully understand and appreciate the extent of what brands can do with digital media I will be naive to it's capabilities. However I am both intrigued and excited about my future weeks in MEC Interaction and look forward to blogging about what is to come.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Never doing a Jagerbomb again...

The end of another busy week in the life of a media graduate and the early mornings, daily commute on London's unreliable underground and my lack of sleep is beginning to catch up with me. However, I have to admit it's been another interesting week from visits to the Yahoo offices, after work training sessions at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and coping with my first work hangover!

I could go into detail about my new found knowledge of the digital industry and the new services that Yahoo provide but in all honesty it would probably bore you. All I will say is that I found out you can do a lot more than just display ads embedded on web pages. Something that you may find of use is my after work series I attend every Wednesday for 6 weeks at the IPA. It is a workshop set up for those people who are new to the world of marketing and communications and an excellent opportunity to network. You will almost certainly hear it is not what you know but who you know and how important the role of networking is in getting your foot in the door. Don't underestimate the power of this. Each week the session is themed and we hear from a panel of professionals in the advertising industry. Topics include: The Future of Advertising, Client Services,  Strategic Planning, Creative and Digital. Although it is an effort to attend these after a day's work, they have been extremely interesting and beneficial and to make it even more appealing there is free drink and buffet food!

Talking about free drink slightly turns my stomach as I suffered with my first work hangover on Friday morning. Not a good look or one I intend on taking to work very often, although working in media is an extremely social industry so maybe I need to just figure out the best way of disguising my suffering. Or maybe I just need to turn down the Jagerbombs which seem to be a popular death trap. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 17 October 2010

"I want to play a game"

The title of this post relates to two separate work instances. The first reflects a series of chilling, gruesome and downright disturbing films. First clue is there have been 6 released so far and the 7th is about to be released in 3D? Any guesses?
I'm talking about SAW!

Saw 3D is due to be screening in our cinemas in a couple of weeks before Halloween and I have been (un)lucky enough to be working on Lionsgate Films which is one of our film distributor clients. Part of the perks of working on a film client is that you get to go to previews and premieres of the film releases you are planning and buying the media for for the advertising campaign, although in this case I was having nightmares of the film before I had even seen it. I went to a special preview screening of Saw 3D and I have to say it wasn't as gruesome as I had built it up to be, although I did spend most of the time watching the film through squinted vision.

The second instance that my post title reflects is that I actually did play a game...a cinema/film quiz game as part of our cinema immersion day at MEC. Two cinema media owners DCM and Pearl & Dean came to our offices to give our agency a series of presentations on how to best target audiences through the cinema medium including families and 15-34's and to introduce a range of new cinema innovations for engaging with audiences pre and post screening. The day finished with a film related quiz night. I had high hopes for my team coming first until we had one too many glasses of vino however the night was a great bonding session and I got to know people in my office who I hadn't previously met or been introduced to and not forgetting the added bonus of free wine and nibbles!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

ABSOLUTEly Fabulous

"Good morning, this is DJ Robbo and you're listening to Absolute Radio"... If you're wondering what all this is about then read on!

As part of our training on the grad rotation scheme we embarked on a radio tour of Absolute Radio (formerly under the virgin radio name) where I discovered my talent for radio presenting.
Upon arrival I sat in reception with my fellow grads staring at the wall mounted electric guitars signed by various artists. We were then greeted by our Absolute Radio rep who took us on a tour around the building and showed us the studios where the DJ's and presenters record their live shows. It felt quite surreal to be walking the same hallways that famous music artists had walked. After playing a mini game of table football in their live lounge we were given a presentation overview of Absolute Radio and where it sits within the radio industry. If I'm honest I had never really listened to Absolute radio before but since finding out that they have two different stations dedicated to pure 80's and 90's music I was won over and immediately downloaded their iphone app.

The best part of the tour was getting the chance to record our own radio show in one of Absolute's recording studios. I took the role as lead DJ presenter and the other grads took on newsreader, co-host and weather reader. We had some real radio banter introducing each other with comical names such as DJ Robbo (myself) and Rozzy D (newsreader) and had such a laugh just making up random chat. The mini show was recorded and will be sent to our office for us to listen to. Major cringe as I hate the sound of my own voice especially when we used ultimate cheesey lines such as 'In da house' and 'a big shoutout to..'

However the whole experience was priceless and I think if all else fails I will try my luck at being the next big radio presenter, so watch this space!
You have just been reading the blog of DJ Robbo, hope you enjoyed the script.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Immerse Yourself

The only way to learn is to become immersed in the subject you are studying and this doesn't just apply to the educational environment. As part of my training programme at MEC a number of events and training days have been organised. I'm now half way through my time in the communications planning department and everyday I have learnt something new. On Wednesday CBS Outdoor advertising took myself and the other rotational grads out for a tour around some of their key outdoor advertising sites.

Standing opposite Waterloo Roundabout we were given all we needed to know about outdoor poster/billboard sizes and bus panel advertising. I never knew there were so many different ways to advertise on buses whether its a t-side a superside or a rear panel or an all over bus wrap. Whatever or wherever you want to advertise, more often than not there is always a possibility however bespoke or crazy the idea may be. The idea of outdoor advertising is to completely immerse the consumer with the brand campaign and one of the most visually impressive methods is to do an underground station takeover.

After looking at 48 Sheets, digital escalator panels and cross track projections (those projector screens you see while you're waiting for a train) we were taken to Westfield shopping centre. We were given a guided tour around the whole centre and briefed on all the possible advertising opportunities and platforms available. As our tour came to an end, we finished the day with a free lunch! Amazing!

The following day was another full days training but this time it was conducted by all of the departments within MEC who each had a an hour to talk us through their roles and the kind of work we could expect to be doing if we joined their team permanently at the end of  the rotation. This was a really insightful day, one which may have been better placed during the first week of our rotation in order to fully understand the company set-up. However listening to talks and viewing presentations on each of the departments really helped me to identify the areas I was most interested in pursuing at the end of my rotation and a number of my preconceptions about certain departments were in fact challenged.

To end a great day we were able to get our hands on invitations for a private party hosted by Spotify (free online music) and partied the night away at one of Camden's great clubs Koko.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Friday, 1 October 2010

Hop, Skip and a Massage

In the last few days I have been involved in a whirlwind of tasks and activities working on a number of different client campaigns. I am being given more responsibility and am becoming more confident in leading my own projects. I am currently putting together two powerpoint presentations, one related to my previous blog on X box's Halo:Reach and another on the history and future of 3D TV and film.

3D TV in the home is fast becoming a reality as TV manufacturers begin to advertise and sell 3D TV's and Sky prepares to launch its first 3D TV channel this autumn. After reading 'Life in 3D' in The Guardian I thought it would be beneficial to collate the information to show to our film distributor clients. The film industry has witnessed a surge in 3D film releases in the last year excelled by Box Office smash hit Avatar.
In addition over half of theTop 10 UK Film Releases in 2010 were 3D. Providing clients with interesting and relevant industry developments is part of MEC's core value 'Active Engagement'.

Now on to the best part of the day - receiving a hand massage while sitting in a presentation by CBS Outdoor Advertising. Yes, I did just say massage, and I know it's slightly odd but it was a great added extra for a Tuesday morning. However behind all the gimmicks and smiles the ultimate goal of any media owner presentation is to sell advertising space. On average I can attend around 3 media owner meetings a week ranging from TV houses, radio stations, outdoor and digital companies all trying to promote their services and sell their ad space. Being a new starter any interaction with media owners is beneficial as I have found the meetings to provide a great insight into the various forms of advertising platforms and how they can be utilised for each client campaign.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Scene 4 Take 8: On Shoot with Olly Murs

What better way to spend a working day's afternoon than on a film shoot for our new ad campaign. Yes that's right, I managed to bag myself a place on a shoot for Nintendo and if you think that's exciting, imagine how I felt when I was told that Alexandra Burke and Olly Murs (from the X Factor) were going to be featured! I couldn't believe my luck. Celebrity sightings asside, it wasn't all fun and games and I did sit on a really hard wooden chair for 3 hours watching take after take after take of the same scene. During the break I was able to mingle with the stars and actually spoke to Olly who is a genuinely nice guy. I was dying to get a photo with him but considering I was in a professional environment and representing MEC, I thought it would be best not to. Damn that would have been a great photo!  

On a more serious note I felt privileged to be at the shoot and I also learnt so much about the production side of advertising and how ideas on a piece of paper translate to an actual filmed TV ad. There were so many people at the studio all looking more important than the next, not to mention the 5 people who were there just to cater for Miss Burke's needs, making sure her hair and make-up was styled and applied to perfection. I now appreciate the sheer amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes of a 30 second ad shoot. After every scene take the shoot director would speak to the client to ask whether the brief had been covered and all mandatory points about the product had been raised. This was an ongoing communication to ensure that the brief was being met and the tone of voice and actions were appropriate for representing the product.

Overall attending a shoot for my Client's advert was an overwhelming experience and one which I really enjoyed. Fingers crossed it will not be my last!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Friday, 17 September 2010

Everyday is a New Experience

As my second week draws to an end I feel like I have been at MEC for at least a month, I feel really settled and everyone on my team have spent time talking me through what client campaigns they are working on and how to use a number of analytical and comparable media report programs.

I have also been lucky enough to start working on a brand new campaign which means I will gain a real insight into the communications planning role from start to finish, from being given the initial brief to signing off the media plan. I sat in on my first briefing session which outlined the product details, target audience, creative stapline, business objectives and the communications objectives. In short the communications objective is to generate as much awareness as possible within the target audience because the product being advertised is a completely new product.
Being a creative thinker I remember lying in bed and suddenly a rush of flashbulb ideas filled my head so I got up and wrote them down in a notepad. The next day I took it upon myself to put together a short power point of my ideas (which went down a treat with the account manager).

The grads who were on rotation in the year before me are currently working on a final project. In teams they have been given a live client brief to work on and produce a complete media plan which they must pitch to a panel of judges. I was asked to sit it on a brainstorming session for the campaign which I found extremely insightful. I felt energised by people's creativity and enthusiasm and it was interesting to see how other people think. However I also learnt a lot about the roles and appropriateness of using certain media platforms for best communicating a brand message and engaging an audience. For example, creating brand collaborations and partnerships to enhance trends and facilitate behaviours and celebrity ambassadors to drive awareness and create buzz around a product or campaign. It is experiences like these which make working in a media agency so diverse and enjoyable. Everyday I have been exposed to something new and I am continuously learning.

To conclude, I now feel more integrated within MEC rather than a new starter because I have been immersed into my team's current projects and have been able to get my teeth stuck into some live campaigns.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Monday, 13 September 2010

All Hail for 'Halo: Reach'

The release of anything new is always exciting, especially in the world of gaming and dedicated fans will go to extreme lengths to get their hands on a copy of their favourite game. To avid gamers, video games are not just games they are a kind of lifestyle - a hyperreality parallel to their everyday lives.

Today I witnessed the run up to the release of highly anticipated Xbox 360 game 'Halo:Reach'. For those of you who are new to gaming, Halo Reach is a video game set in the year 2552 where humanity is locked in a war with the alien covenant on the human colony of Reach.
I was sent to Westfields shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush where there was an outdoor display advertising the new game. 3 giant pictures of characters starring in the game were hand painted onto the exterior walls of Westfields. The display had a stop-in-your-stride kind of effect as many passers-by were greeted by these wall paintings as they entered the food terrace of Westfields shopping centre. This shows great innovation and creativity especially since these were not billboard ads, rather they were hand painted wall art creations in Europe's largest indoor shopping centre.

To add to the hype of 'Halo:Reach' a live stuntman wearing a jetpack was seen soaring into the sky towards Nelson's Column during a 30 second flight to further publicise the game release. This was a great PR stunt which added to the overall anticipation of the new game. For me this further indicates the fine line between reality and the hyperreality of the gaming sphere, where the two worlds seem to co-exist.

Summer Fridays - Gives you that Friday Feeling

Towards the end of the week I presented back the work I had carried out which was a great way to demonstrate my understanding of it. I was then lucky to get a one-on-one demonstration of how to use a program called Ad dynamix (a great online tool allowing users to find out everything there is to know about advertisers, brands and their media advertising spend). I was given a project looking at the pastt 4 years of cinema box office sales which I had to then compare with the media advertising spend for the top 10 film distributors (Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal etc). Through this I was able to identify trends and engage with the media used to advertise film releases and explore how advertisers have changed their communications strategy in the last 4 years (the main trend witnessing the introduction of online advertising). However I will be interested to see how the next 4 years differ and I predict that the industry may see a growth of online advertising but displayed via outdoor platforms.

To conclude, my first week at MEC has been great and to top it off I was taken out by my team for lunch - bonus! I used the opportunity to get to know the people I will be working with and also to gain more insight into the current projects the team are working on (not to mention the ins and outs of office gossip)

Finally, not that I want to brag but my first week ended in the best possible way with a little benefit called Summer Fridays. The whole company is invited to leave work early at 3.15pm instead of the usual 5.15pm! And a little bird told me that Summer Fridays was extended into the end of October last year. A good idea really because it gets darker much earlier in the autumn months, so finishing earlier will mean we get to leave work in daylight!

Monday, 6 September 2010

My 1st Day at MEC

If you have read my previous post you will know that I have started my first job in the media industry at MEC. I am going to use this blog to document my journey as I complete a graduate rotation scheme at MEC. Hopefully this will give you an insight into the various departments and roles within a media agency whilst reflecting upon my personal experiences.

I started the day at 11am which was a welcomed late morning start to the day. Upon my arrival at MEC I met the four other rotational grads who were also starting. The scheme enables us to rotate around 8 different departments within the company within 9 months. After receiving our welcome induction we were appointed 'buddies' and 'mentors to act as a guide and support - I like to think of mine as an extra lifeline.
The first day kinda resembled my first day at secondary school or 6th form - taking in the new environment and looking at all the other employees thinking wow don't they look grown-up - I felt like a total 'Newbie'.

Due to my morning nerves I hadn't been able to enjoy my daily bowl of cereal that I religiously chomp on, so when we were told that we had lunch reservations at a nearby Thai restaurant - ALL PAID FOR I thought Christmas had come early! It was a great chance to meet a few people that we would cross paths with in the near future and a relaxed environment where we were welcomed into the team.

After lunch we got a mini tour around the office building and were then separated into our individual departments. In the space of a couple of hours I felt I had got to know the other grads quite well so it was daunting to be separated from them. My first department on the rotation scheme is Communications Planning - one of the key departments I am interested in settling in. I will be working here for 8 weeks and I am really excited about the tasks I will be getting my teeth into and soaking up all the new information and knowledge I will gain.

Bring on day 2!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

You're Hired!

Since my last blog so much has happened. I got offered a job at Mediaedge:Cia on their graduate rotation programme and accepted their offer. I am due to start on the 6th September so not long now. I'm so excited to actually be starting a paid job and I think it's going to be strange at first not being a work experience intern.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Success! My first Job offer after University

So as you can see I haven't posted anything in quite a while. I know it's no excuse but I have been dedicating all my time and attention towards getting my first job out of Uni. I finished Uni around 4 weeks ago and since then have been applying for jobs in the media. My first round of success was with Mediaedge:CIA. I sent a speculative email and attached a cover letter and my CV. To my delight I was responded to almost immediately asking whetherI would be able to come down to the office for an interview, which I did of course. In the mean time I had also been contacted by GroupM and was interviewed for a role within Mediacom.

I recently found out that I had been successful in getting through to the final round at Mediaedge:CIA for their bespoke graduate rotation scheme and had to prepare a powerpoint presentation for the assessment day. I currently had a part time job although I was working most days in the week including weekends, so trying to focus all my attention and energy into this presentation was stressful to say the least, but it gets more stressful. I received a call two days before my Mediaedge:CIA grad day asking me to come in for a first round assessment day for Mediabrands owned 'Initiative'. The day started with a 1:1 interview with HR followed by a quantitative reasoning maths test - eek i hadn't used maths properly since 5 years ago when I did my GCSE's so this was slightly challenging!

However, after attending the Mediabrands assessment day I was called back that evening as I had been invited to the final round of assessments; my dream for landing my first job in media was almost close enough to touch. The second round consisted of a group task and then some more formal interviews with hiring managers. To my sheer surprise I received a call that evening offering me a choice of job, as all of the hiring managers who interviewed me wanted me for thier role!! It felt so rewarding to be valued by all the managers, however I knew deep down the role I was really pining after - 'Media Planning Assistant'.

I knew that I had my final grad assessment day for Mediaedge:CIA the next day so I didn't accept the offer straight away. Initiative knew I had this to and they said that I could have until end of play Monday to let them know my decision.

Dilemma! I was not going to find out for another week after the Mediaedge:CIA assessment day as to whether I had been successful or not.

Find out next week what I decided to do!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Customer is the Key

At university my degree entailed a heavy amount of theoretical standpoints about advertising, the media, and cultural consumption. From the dated Marxist notion of capitalism to postmodern notions of psychoanalysis and emotion, these theories have played a huge part in my understanding and analysis of our contemporary consumer culture.
The consumer is increasingly becoming the most powerful figure in the world of integrated communications. I like to think of the consumer as the Queen on a chessboard - the most influential piece, threatening the decisions and moves of the others. If advertisers make a wrong move then the game could be over.

The key is understanding the customer's journey in order to deliver a more targeted and relevant delivery. With the visually saturated world that the digital phenomenon has evoked, simply creating eye-catching ads on any platform particularly online is not enough to keep consumers engaged. Creative brand experiences should be implemented after the first point of contact with an ad in order to support the communication strategy. One element I believe to be key in fulfilling this role is blurring the boundary between fantasy and reality. Creating an experience which takes the fantasy concept from the TV or online and making it a physical experience in the everyday life of consumers. In addition, consumers should be given a motive to interact and engage with brands to create an emotional and personal drive. The Nike Human Race (North vs South) is a great example of this .

It is important to keep the consumer engaged at every point if contact with a brand to build a strong connection and to facilitate a conversation between individual consumers and consumer clusters who share the same values, ideas and beliefs.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

'Twinfomercials' a twitteriffic idea?

Like with any new advance or feature in the digital world Twitter has attracted mass debate. Even more so now with its introduction of advertising. Since its launch in 2006 Twitter has yet to real in any profit, but the time has come for Twitter to raise its bar. Competition in a sea of hungry social media has meant that Twitter needs to generate money to add more features and keep it as a main player in social media.

My initial reaction was quite neutral if I'm honest, I don't really see what major harm ads on Twitter will do. There are a number of formats for advertising on Twitter which vary in levels of intrusiveness. Some examples include the following:

Sponsored Tweets - Tweets would appear in your stream with a text-based ad and link.
On-Page ads - areas on the Twitter home page to place spot ads (a web page or banner ad)
Mobile ads - adding a small sponsored ad to the end of a mobile twitter text.

Obviously if Twitter users have opted to receive mobile Twitter texts then they should have the right to choose whether they receive ad-free texts, but the problem with this is surely the majority of people will opt out of Twiiter texts with ads. Undoubtedly then Twitter will have to make ads on its homepage and stream feed compulsory if brands are to witness ROI from their ads placed within Twitter.

However I am struggling to understand how ads for brands and businesses will work effectively as surely such brands will have to have a large fan/follower base for users to actually see their ad. Will this method only target consumers who are loyal to the brand and a follower of them on Twitter? What about targeting new consumers? I think if the new strategy is to work then Twitter should use its homepage to leverage brand Tweets and ads, but this still fails to overcome users who are constantly logged in to their twitter account and do not need to navigate through the Twitter homepage.

Due to Twitters informative and snappy nature I do believe that branded Tweets and ads could definitely add value to businesses and brands but do not believe that Twitter ads will be a long term strategy for brands and advertisers. As more brands warm to the use of Twitter as a marketing strategy in a shift towards going digital, I can see competition for placing ads on Twitter increasing in the near future. I hope that Twitter doesn't become too corporate and greedy. Twitter should remember its growth to success in its early days: the public! Don't forget your grass roots Twitter!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Forsquare? Not another social network...

I recently became aware of a social media network 'Foursquare' which enables users to 'follow' celebrities in the same way Twitter allows people to 'follow' business, people, industries rather than actually becoming a 'friend' on a network such as Facebook.

My initial reaction was are we not already a culture obsessed with celebrities? There appears to be a growing fascination with the lives of others especially celebrities and consequently how celebrities are managing and manipulating how the public see them. The media is a feeding ground for the narcissism of celebs and this new social network facilitates a growing frenzy of celebrity culture and obsession.

However, the idea is that Foursquare also acts as a recommendation tool for celebrities who can leave posts about restaurants, bars, places of interest, and venues in their city sparked a thougt about its potential. In this respect I can see how Foursquare may become hot property for brands who are looking for celebrity endorsement. If brands and businesses alike want to increase their profile then all they need to do is compromise a way of integrating their name and/or recommendation into a chosen celebrity's status post. However whether or not celebs would do this for a minimal fee would need to be negotiated, as ultimately what would the celebrity actually gain from this?
I do think however it is a new area which should be explored by brands and advertisers, but effectiveness will ultimately depend upon the growth of fans using the site.

Although I do believe we are a culture indulged by the movements of the celebrity, I cant say for certain how well Foursquare will evolve. If I'm not uploading photos and updating my status on Facebook, I'm scanning all the latest tweets or checking my hotmail, or uni email, or reading/writing a blog. So with all these online touchpoints many people are already devoted to, the idea of yet another social media network seems a little unnecessary.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Virtual Reality or just Reality?

I have never really thought to deeply about the role that virtual reality plays in creating ones identity, however since deciding to write an assignment on the subject for my Media Studies course at Uni, have begun to consider the 'reality' of virtual reality.
Take a look at Xbox's 'Project Natal'
This is the first games console which has both face and voice recognition enabling the user to create a virtual self. You can connect with friends using the device in a completely different location and you can interact with them through your TV screen. What's more impressive is your movements are picked up by infrared sensors enabling the first free from controller gaming experience.

To me this is extraordinary. We are entering a world where our reality is becoming virtual as we can co-exist in such computerised games while playing them in the real space of our homes. Project Natal reaches far beyond the interactivity characteristic of the noughties. Not only are gamers becoming part of the experience, but their whole body is immersed in the virtual-ness of the TV screen giving them total empowerment.

My criticism of this technological movement is that the westernised world is fast becoming totally dependent upon the fantasy of the virtual. People become so entangled in their online persona and gaming avatar that when faced with the reality of what would appear in contrast, a mundane life, they are suffering from what has now been diagnosed as 'Post Avatar Depression'.
I was shocked to recently find out that there are actually people suffering from this after watching James Cameron's 'Avatar', as they see their own life as inferior in comparison to the world of Pandora featured in Avatar. In a sense the 3D glasses cinema-goers put on to watch the film, transports viewers to the fantasy world where they feel so close to reality, that when the film ends and they remove the glasses they are faced with a not so exciting world.

With technology continually progressing and people increasingly subjecting themselves to the virtual world, how long will it be before we are all living our lives through a virtual platform?
In this sense, we are living in a hyperreality where the boundaries of the real and the imaginary are blurring to almost become a reality.