Links of the day | 在网上找到

Getting to know: Perkbox – TalentRocket blog – great profile of my hombre from Yahoo!: Chieu’s joint

EU Space Agency’s Galileo satellites stricken by mystery clock failures • The Register – hacked?

Theresa May’s speech: The view from Europe – University of Liverpool News – University of Liverpool – playing for the peanut gallery

Qualcomm: FTC Alleges Special Deal with Apple – Tech Trader Daily – – Extracted exclusivity from Apple in exchange for reduced patent royalties. Qualcomm precluded Apple from sourcing baseband processors from Qualcomm’s competitors from 2011 to 2016. Qualcomm recognized that any competitor that won Apple’s business would become stronger, and used exclusivity to prevent Apple from working with and improving the effectiveness of Qualcomm’s competitors.

WSJ City – CPI Hits Two-Year High – UK price inflation due to currency devaluation is going to put a pre-Brexit squeeze on the economy prior to the post-Brexit tumble

Uber and Seamless ads reveal how Silicon Valley is screwing us – Sandpaper Suit – Medium – Silicon Valley’s gateway to serfdom

Instagram Live Stories officially lands in the UK | The Drum – now be able to officially go live within its ephemeral content service

The Problem With AMP | 80×24 – behaviour worthy of antitrust player

Google RAISR Intelligently Makes Low-Res Images High Quality | – whats the difference between this and a near lossless compression algorithm?

Microsoft Veteran Will Help Run Chinese Search Giant Baidu – Bloomberg – Qi Liu from Yahoo! to Microsoft and of to Baidu

Rubicon Project Reportedly Exploring Potential Sale | Media Post – ad tech is taking a beating

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #337  – interesting data on SnapChat and brand abandonment of the platform

EU: Robot Workers Are ‘Electronic Persons’ – Robotics & Automation – Products

Greggs to trial delivery service in London | London Evening Standard – unfortunately only in the Square Mile at the moment

Korean duty free shops rely on online Chinese celebs | SCMP – when will the duty free trade be weaponised by China to deal with THAAD

Brexit Max

Teresa May’s speech this afternoon was neatly lampooned by the Financial Times on Instagram

Throwback gadget: shareware

Back before the internet became ubiquitous, software was distributed by bulletin boards. It was expensive to dial into a board, so magazines uses to have storage media pre-loaded with applications on the front of them.

For much of the late 1990s and early 2000s my parents used to use MacFormat magazine CDs and floppy disks as coffee coasters. One disk may come with bloatware such as the installation software for AOL, Demon or Claranet. The other disk would be full of free or paid for software.

The paid for software was often written by a single developer. It was a labour of love / cottage industry hybrid. Often the developers wrote the software to deal with a real need that they had, it was then passed on as they thought others would benefit as well.

Open source software the way we understand it now was only in its infancy in terms of public awareness. Packaged software was big money. As recent as 2000, Microsoft Office for the Mac would have cost you £235. Quark Xpress – the Adobe Indesign of its day would have cost in the region of £700+ VAT.

Into the gap sprung two types of software: freeware and shareware.

Freeware was usually provided as is, there was little expectation of application support. It would become orphaned when the developer moved on to other things

ChocoFlop Shareware Style


Shareware usually had different mechanisms to allow you to try it, if you could see the benefit then you paid a fee. This unlocked new features, or got rid of nag screens (like the one from image editing app Chocoflop).

In return you also got support if there was any problems with the app. Shareware hasn’t died out, but has become less visible in the world of app stores. One that I have been using on and off for over 20 years is GraphicConvertor by Lemke Software. It handles any kind of arcane graphic file you can throw at it and converts it into something useable.

Kagi Software were one of the first people to provide programmers with a way of handling payments and software activation. Kagi provided an onscreen form to fill out, print, and mail along with their payment. it was pre-internet e-commerce.

I can’t remember exactly what utility programme I first bought for my college PowerBook, but I do remember that I sent the printed form and cheque to a developer in Glasgow. I got a letter back with an activation code and a postcard (I’ve now lost) from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Later on, Kagi were one of the first online payment processors.

From the late 1990s FTP sites and the likes of began to replace the magazine disk mount covers. Last year Kagi died, making life a little more difficult for the worldwide cottage industry of small software developers. it was inconvenient, but now with PayPal developers have an easy way to process payments and there are various key management options.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 – UK Findings – trust in business, politicians and media all dropped precipitously

Stealing passwords from McDonald’s users – Tijme Gommers – weakness in angular.js

Xiaomi stops disclosing annual sales figures as CEO admits the company grew too fast | TechCrunch – a couple of things. Smartphone manufacturers need to move as a metric from market share to share of market profits. Secondly Xiaomi makes many more products than smartphones now. Finally they seem to recognise that they need to dial down the hype engine

China Orders Registration of App Stores | – Also partly down to the proliferation of Android app stores in China

A Beginner’s Guide To Iconic House Vocalist Colonel Abrams – Electronic Beats – amazing tracks, even a couple I hadn’t heard of previously. As a 14 year old Trapped alongside The Conway Brothers Turn It Up and 19 blew my mind

Science AMA Series: I’m Joanna Bryson, a Professor in Artificial (and Natural) Intelligence | Reddit – great AMA on AI

Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About Automation – will the Luddite fallacy be proved right again? Don’t count on it

It’s time that we talk about micro-influencers

Much of the social marketing today for consumer brand is done through what is called influencer marketing. For a number of these influencers who have a large social following, working with brand has become very lucrative. But one of the hottest tickets at the moment within communications agencies are ‘micro-influencers’; Edelman Digital lists it as a key area in Digital Trends Report . There is widely cited research by Marketly that claims there is an engagement ceiling (at least on Instagram). Once a follower count gets beyond that, engagement rates decline. This micro-influencer sweet spot is apparently 1,000 – 100,000 followers.

What are micro-influencers?

Brown & Fiorella (2013) described micro influencers

Adequately identifying prospective customers, and further segmenting them based on situations and situational factors enables us to identify the people and businesses – or technologies an channels that are closest to them in each scenario. We call these micro-influencers and see them as the business’s opportunity to exert true influence over the customer’s decision-making process as opposed to macro-influencers who simply broadcast to a wider, more general audience.

Brown & Fiorella wanted to focus on formal prospect detail capture and conversion. It sounds like an adjunct to integrating marketing automation from the likes of Hubspot and Marketo into a public relations campaign.

This approach is more likely to work in certain circumstances:

  • Low barrier to conversion (e-tailing)
  • Business-to-business marketing – for instance Quocirca did some interesting research back in 2006 that showed endorsements by a finance directors peers at other companies was likely to have a positive effect on a prospective supplier

Brown & Fiorella’s thinking tends to fall down, when you deploy their approach to:

  • Consumer marketing
  • Mature product sectors
  • Mature brands

Brand preference and purchase is much more dependent on reach and repetition to build familiarity and being ‘top-of-mind’ as a product.

Most money in influence marketing is spent in the consumer space as B2B marketing tends to struggle with:

  • Reach
  • Volume of conversation interaction

(At least outside of the US).

Brown and Fiorella are 180 degrees away from the approach of consumer marketing maven Byron Sharp and his ‘smart’ mass marketing approach. This means that PR and social agencies are often out-of-step with the thinking of marketing clients, their media planners and other agency partners.

Engagement matters less than reach or repetition of brand message for mature sectors or brands. For many consumer brands the drop off in engagement amongst macro-influencers is a non-issue, a red herring.

The only part of the engagement measure that I would be concerned about in that case would be content propagation amongst my defined target audience – how widely had it been repeatedly shared as this would affect total reach.

If the client and planner are using Sharp’s thinking then this audience would be wide, but a certain amount of the propagation would be wasted – for instance outside targeted geographies.

From the perspective of communications agencies I can understand the obsession with engagement being part of their DNA. These businesses are in the offline world are engagement agencies; whether its politicians, regulators, fashion stylists, movie set designers, editors, journalists, TV producers or DJs.

Why are micro-influencers a hot topic now?

The most obvious reason is that more popular ‘macro-influencers’ are well informed about their commercial value which has been driven up to a point where they look expensive in terms of cost, even if you charitably look at it on a ‘per follower’ basis.

On the supply side of the equation influencer representation benefit from having more ‘inventory’ that can be sold at various price points to marketers.

Challenges in influencer marketing

From a marketing perspective there are a number of issues in influencer marketing – these factors are either unknown data points or represent an issue with the brand experience

  • Quality of brand placement
  • Cost per reach
  • Consistency of reach (how confident is the media planner that the influencer will achieve a certain level of reach)
  • Message repetition amongst the audience that I want to reach

Which makes it harder to factor into an econometric model that would help justify the investment in influencer marketing as a contribution to sales.

Let’s have a look at data around a campaign for a smartphone manufacturer that has been touted as successful by the agency involved. We don’t know the cost as its likely to be client confidential.

  • 2 million YouTube views (we don’t know how many of these were driven by advertising)


  • 13,587,159 impressions driven by 6 influencers

  • 10,689 clicks from 90 posts

  • 10 million impressions for the promotion of a colour variant of the smartphone model and 92,320 engaged

  • 4.6% engagement rate (which we’re assured is 41% higher than the industry average for branded content)

What this doesn’t tell us:

  • Reach amongst target audience
  • Repetition amongst target audience

Which could then be used to provide an estimate of its contributory factor to sales if you had an econometrics model. You can’t access how it works next to other tactics and there are limited outtakes for the learning marketing organisation.

Quality of brand placement

Many brands have struggled to get their brand in the influencers content in a way that:

  • Represents it in a meaningful way (for example beyond unboxing videos, one smartphone looks rather like another)
  • Doesn’t feel ad-hoc or awkward

Some luxury brands have managed to get around this by keeping control of the content; a good example of this is De Grisogono – a family-run high jewellery and luxury watch brand. They work with fashion bloggers that meet their high standards and invite them to events. (It’s obviously an oversight on their part that I haven’t had an invite yet.)

De Grisogono provides them with high-quality photography of its pieces and the event. They get the best of both worlds: influencer marketing but with a high standard of brand presentation which raises the quality of the achieved reach.

There is a school of thought that micro-influencers will be easier to manage in order to assure quality of brand placement. However, micro-influencers are likely to be aspiring macro-influencers and each will have a clear line of demarcation in their own head that they won’t cross. The reality is one of complexity dependent on:

  • Brand power
  • Relationships
  • Credibility of proposed idea
  • Impact on aspirations – could they get more followers by taking a stand and strategically burning a brand?

Cost per reach

Influencers tend to talk about themselves in terms of the number of followers that they have. However many followers seldom engage with the influencers content. This happens for a number of reasons:

  • The follow button is often used as a book mark or a like button
  • Algorithmic changes to social platforms and the volume of the social firehouse itself drown out brands (and these influencers are all about the brand of ‘me’). Whatley and Manson’s research at Ogilvy on the decline of organic reach in Facebook pages  is worthwhile having a look at

Followers as a data point is not the straight analogue of reach that the industry and influencers would have you believe based on how they present their data.

Reach numbers that are presented are often not that much more useful:


(Data via Golin, TapInfluence and Marriott)

Consistency of reach

So influencers may give us follower numbers or ‘total reach’ calculations but how do we know what reach their brand placement content is likely to achieve? At the moment, I don’t know how consistent influencers are, I have a ‘personal time’ data project currently in progress on it. More on that hopefully in a later post. There isn’t off-the-peg data that I know of, so I am pulling together a data set.

Message repetition

Until we understand the ‘quality of brand placement’ we wouldn’t be able to understand whether a piece of influencer content was a point of content delivery. We’d also need to know do audiences of influencer A also look at media channels or other influencers that we have in our overall media plan. There often isn’t an overall media plan and there often isn’t sufficient quality of audience data for influencers.

More information
Edelman Digital Trends Report – (PDF) makes some interesting reading
Instagram Marketing: Does Influencer Size Matter? | Markerly Blog
Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing by Danny Brown & Sam Fiorella ISBN-13: 978-0789751041 (2013)
Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Amazon, Microsoft Face Tough New Limits on China Cloud Market — The Information – why aren’t companies lobbying the US (and other governments) to hammer China on the WTO?

China’s answer to Quora now worth a billion bucks | Techinasia – it pisses me off that the way this is phrased. Knowledge search Q&A type sites have been a staple of Asian web for over a decade: Naver being a classic example. Baidu has had a version for years.

What Comes Next Is the Future (2016) on Vimeo – great documentary on the history of the web and where it going in the future

Journalism, media and technology trends and predictions 2017 – Reuters Institute for the study of journalism – interesting issues that will affect media planning and creative (Facebook Live, VR, AR). Social becomes a policy tool as politicians use social for campaigning and dialogue (PDF)

Netflix is even more popular than porn in hotel rooms | Quartz – it doesn’t look as douchy on your credit card statement?

Google Maps now displays Uber drivers in real-time | TheNextWeb – is this real data though?

Apple Sets Its Sights on Hollywood With Plans for Original Content – WSJ – its about competing with Spotify; not Netflix apparently

Gartner Says 2016 Marked Fifth Consecutive Year of Worldwide PC Shipment Decline – PCs aren’t dead, but they aren’t the general purpose device; instead their are a serious computing device where more computing power, more focus or better ergonomics are required rather than the casual or glanceable computing of mobile and tablet devices

MacFarlane quits Sonos | TechEye – Amazon on the low end and Bose alongside other hi-fi companies now in the market

Future Health Index – interesting resource on future of health thinking

Collett Dickenson Pearce | BraveNewMalden – how to ruin an ad

Sterling’s Plunge Spoils FTSE 100 Record Winning Streak – MoneyBeat – WSJ – sterling’s drop shows that the FTSE gains are mostly illusory

Russia’s D.N.C. Hack Was Only the Start – – interesting if a bit self-serving op-ed by Robby Mook who managed Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign for president. His distinction between leaks versus doxing is a relatively week argument. Where would he stand on whistleblowers?

Alipay User Overview 2016 – China Internet Watch – the spend sounds high given China’s average wage

Yahoo! remainder to rebrand as “Altaba”, CEO resigns – the truly sad bit is David Filo’s resignation, despite being one of the largest shareholders

WeChat is morphing so Chinese smartphone owners will never have to download an app again — Quartz

Venture capital is going to murder Medium – Business Insider – $132 million in funding…

TV anchor says live on-air ‘Alexa, order me a dollhouse’ – guess what happens next • The Register – epic

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

I’ve been a bit quiet here, working on a post that isn’t writing itself and requires a lot of data. If I don’t crack it soon; I’ll move on and service will go back to normal.

Things that made my day this week:

Ventusky global wind, rain and temperature map – mesmerising

Usually the luxury industry uses Instagram as a marketing channel. Omega have used it to inspire product development and tap into a ready made market. More on the Omega Speedster Speedy Tuesday

NEOMECHANICA – the best Tumblr account ever

I love sleep so Under Armour’s new performance pyjamas are ideal for me

I have been listening to Stone Throw Records’ Peanut Butter Wolf who put together a mix based on artists that we lost in 2016, check it out

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Sony’s New OLED TV Emits Sound From Screen – Nikkei Technology Online

Hackers threaten smart power grids – POLITICO – really interesting data that shows for many countries the cost benefit analysis of smart metering wasn’t proven. Guessing security costs weren’t considered seriously by many who thought it was a good idea

Theresa Maybe, Britain’s indecisive premier | The Economist – unflattering comparison with Gordon Brown

How Social Cash Made WeChat The App For Everything | Fast Company – if you look at WeChat you have some idea where Facebook Messenger is trying to go

The Blueprint | The Expectations Game – managing expectations

Cellulose Nanofiber-based Engine Cover Exhibited at Show (1) – Nikkei Technology Online – lighter than current GRP (glass reinforced plastic) covers

Tommy Mottola Pens Open Letter To Mariah Carey | Idolator – “I would never have encouraged her or guided her to do something like a reality television show!!!!! I don’t get it!!… that does absolutely nothing for her integrity, her credibility, or her massive talent!! She should take a step back, think carefully and figure out what to do next.” I still don’t get why the music industry continues to go along with reality TV

Edelman Digital Trends Report – (PDF) makes some interesting reading

Visvim Dissertations: Boro (Aomori, Japan) | Union Los Angeles – great read

Babylon Health partners with UK’s NHS to replace telephone helpline with AI-powered chatbot | TechCrunch – Working with a number of health authorities in London, Babylon will begin a six month trial starting at the end of January to offer its AI-powered chatbot ‘triage’ service as an alternative to the NHS’s 111 telephone helpline that patients call to get healthcare advice and be directed to local and out-of-hours medical services.

Foxconn boosting automated production in China | Digitises – it would be interesting to see how they cope with the fine motor work required for iPhone assembly (I suspect not very well)

Daring Fireball: Why Chris Adamson Bought a New Mac Pro Last Week – capitulation – the word a power Apple customer used to describe his purchase of a new Mac Pro. When you’re customers resent you there is a problem

Apple’s 2016 in review | Chuqui – a great read

The polity that is Singapore cybersecurity | Marginal Revolution – go analogue

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

What made the first week of 2017?

Epic mix put together by Noodle of the Gorillaz on Soundcloud. Great collection of female performers, check it out

This video by Malaysian agency Naga DDB was one of the most jarring things I had seen in a while. They used the Mannequin Challenge meme as a hook to increase awareness of child sexual exploitation, which explains its title ‘The sickest Mannequin Challenge’

An epic traditional Japanese rendition of Pen Pineapple Apple Pen (PPAP) by Masashi Sada. Sada san is a well loved Japanese actor / performer who was at his peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s

Speculation grew online that the KLF would return to create more music due to this video. It is an engaging documentary on the band, even if fans quibble about one or two of the facts


Audi turns UGC into fine art | Luxury Daily – art imitating life

Jargon watch: lights out production lines

If you are of a certain age, ‘hand made by robots’ brings to mind the Fiat Strada / Ritmo a thirtysomething year old hatchback design that was built in a factory with a high degree of automation for the time.

Fiat subsidiary Comau created Robogate, a highly automated system that speeds up body assembly. Robogate was eventually replaced in 2000. The reality is that ‘hand made by robots’ had a liberal amount of creative licence. Also it didn’t enable Fiat to shake off its rust bucket image. Beneath the skin, the car was essentially a Fiat 127. Car factories still aren’t fully automated.

Foxconn is looking to automate its own production lines and create products that truly are ‘hand-built by robots’. Like Fiat it has its own robots firm which is manufacturing 10,000 robots per year.

Foxconn has so far focused on production lines for larger product final assembly (like televisions) and workflow on automated machine lines: many consumer products use CNC (computer numeric control) machines. That’s how Apple iPhone and Macs chassis’ are made. These totally automated lines are called ‘lights out production lines’ by Foxconn.

Foxconn is looking to automate production because China is undergoing a labour shortfall as the population getting older. Foxconn uses a lot of manual workers for final assembly of devices Apple’s iPhone because the components are tightly packed together. It will be a while before Foxconn manages to automate this as robotic motor control isn’t fine enough to achieve this yet.

More information
Foxconn boosting automated production in China | DigiTimes – (paywall)

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Britain’s view of trade with China sounds fanciful | FT – TL;DR version – UK will get fucked by China due to Brexit. Asset stripped, no negotiating power in any trade agreement,  expect nominal sovereignty in return for expected compliant behaviour. The Chinese may load up on UK treasuries for use as a financial cosh if necessary. Expect lots of Chinese immigrants

2G or Not 2G | CCS Insight – on GSM network shutdown

U.S. companies want to play China’s game. They just can’t win it. – The Washington Post – “When I think about Facebook in China, I think, ‘What’s their advantage?’ ” said William Bao Bean, a Shanghai-based partner at SOSV Ventures and the managing director of Chinaccelerator, which invests in start-ups. “Their product is so outpaced by the local companies.”

Quanta to make next-generation Apple Watch, says paper | DigiTimes – battery efficiency focus but little consumer-facing innovation apparently

A Turntable Reborn Turns Its Back on Its Hip-Hop Legacy – The New York Times – The biggest competition is second hand 1200s because they are so robust and user serviceable. Technics need to do a lot of work to get hifi afficandos on board so if they want to grow the market and let it scale, you put your money on the hifi buffs and let the product be the marketing for the turntablist fan base. I am just glad to have it back

Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence | Quartz

Belated Christmas Gift: updated set of marketing data slides

I started pulling together and publishing different data sets focused on online marketing from social platforms to the size of mobile screens. I think that it might be useful for strategists and planners. Feel free to use. If you do find them useful drop me a note. You can scroll through the embedded version below and download the PowerPoint version here.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Indonesia and India set to ‘steal the show’ as APAC tipped to lead global ad growth in 2017 – Mumbrella Asia

What’s really behind Thailand’s hostility to Chinese tourists? | South China Morning Post – instructive article on what happens when Chinese culture goes abroad

How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers for Its Cyberwar – The New York Times – the bit that I found most interesting is how Russia now relies on a series of private military contractors, rather like the US

Happy new year

It’s going to be rocky, but all the best for the new year.