Links of the day | 在网上找到

When Strong Encryption Isn’t Enough to Protect Our Privacy | Alternet

Edward Snowden Citizenfour: The former contractor sparked a movement that’s winning the surveillance argument. | Slate – interesting analysis of the dynamics of the US privacy movement

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Here are some of the things that made my day this week:

The Singaporean Police issued this video where a cardboard cut-out sign warning shoplifters is brought to life, hilarity ensued amongst Singaporean netizens


Guns n’ Roses Welcome To The Jungle for two cellos. It sounds more of an emotional roller-coaster this way

IAB on how to get consumers to actually use an app rather than just download it

Amazing ‘flow motion’ video that showcases Dubai

The soundtrack of the week was this great mix by DJ Rolando

Links of the day | 在网上找到

#StateOfPR – Research report – stagnation in budgets, however this maybe due to the CIPR member skew towards NFP and public sector

David Shing’s vision of a world united by tech: Media360Summit – Campaign Asia – the sixth biggest contributor to stress is media overload

Why has ASOS removed its guest checkout option? | Econsultancy – they must have data to back this up surely? Or they don’t value drive by custom?

Adult content policy on Blogger – Blogger Help – Google looks to clean up Blogger which has become a bit of a spam nest

Philip Kotler on marketing

My college days were dominated by a blue book published by Prentice-Hall that sat on my bookshelf and looked down at me. Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing seemed to be omnipresent during my studies. I eventually donated it to a charity shop a couple of years ago when I had a big clear out. Thankfully his public speaking is more engaging than his text books.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

NHK unveils 8K tech | TelecomAsia

Avicii and Other DJs Produce Hits Using Pirated Software | Torrentfreak – interesting connection to Universal Music’s Per Sundin

Where’s Britain spending? Barclaycard – interesting Q4 data (PDF data)

Apple – Press Info – Apple to Invest €1.7 Billion in New European Data Centres – data centre for Athenry, County Galway, hopefully the area will get a backbone upgrade to match

London is changing – interesting experiment by Central St Martins

Pages – Update on the SIM card encryption keys matter | Gemalto – Initial conclusions already indicate that Gemalto SIM products (as well as banking cards, passports and other products and platforms) are secure and the Company doesn’t expect to endure a significant financial prejudice – if the hack was that obvious surely it would have been picked up before now and of flagged? If the security services dd their job well there would be few fingerprints

An Everton Fan On Why Scousers Hate The National Team – Sabotage Times – the complexity of national identity played out on a small scale

Wine fortunes take off for labels featured on inflight menus | SCMP – inflight cuisine is a great marketing opportunity for wine brands

Foreign manufacturer exodus from China | Quartz – however a lot of business isn’t moving because of the depth of expertise and clusters of related businesses that they rely on. This has been a bit overwrought and there is also further inland opportunities

Hong Kong’s unwanted HK$1,000 banknote is the money launderer’s medium of choice | SCMP – intersting that cash usage has increased by 6 per cent in real terms. Something to ponder on in the face of cryptocurrency and electronic payments

An experiment on fake Twitter followers

In 2013, I worked with a number of companies and executives that has used services to inflate follower numbers on Sina Weibo (a Chinese micro-blogging service). Often this was seen as a cheap way of getting an ego-boosting metric on their account or showing a positive delta relatively cheaply. Look at the front cover of magazines and the value of a celebrity is often measured in the number of followers that they have.
Take this Elle magazine cover and interview with Kim Kardashian. Kardashian’s social media presence is as much a mark of status as a Hermès Birkin bag.
ingrid's birkin
However with Birkin bags going for as much as £55,000 online (holds head in hands and rocks slowly back-and-forth), getting Twitter followers might be a bit easier. If Twitter isn’t your thing, there are a number of suppliers for Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers and Facebook likes too.

I want to reiterate this here, acquiring fake followers is a cross-platform issue, Twitter is just a handy canary in the coal mine.

Looking at the variety of services, it seems to be a thriving business. A quick search on buy twitter followers cheap gave me over 31,100,000 results according to Google, and who am I to argue with their maths? De Micheli and Stroppa estimated that fake accounts used as fake followers accounted for 4 per cent of the Twitter user base, whilst Twitter claimed that the number was 5% in the S-1 document it filed prior to its IPO. The estimates of fake accounts on Sina Weibo are thought to be as high as 30% of the user base – it is hard to tell because Chinese Weibo consumption tends to be largely passive using it as a news stream rather than a ‘social’ channel.

Politicians and celebrities have both been caught out using fake followers to bolster numbers (presumably to add credibility to their social presence).

So what are the benefits and how does it work?

I added 55,000 fake Twitter users so that you don’t have to.

The process itself is really easy. The fake follower services generally accept payment by PayPal and have easy-to-use e-commerce services. The followers are generally delivered over two-to-five working days.

First I tried buying a big batch of followers, 50,000. The supplier delivered 56,000+ followers, but the number declines by about 100 followers over a week or so. This number seems to be pretty consistent. I can’t work out if this is just a common business practice or a part of Twitter’s ongoing conflict with fake accounts.

The purchase didn’t:

  • Move my Klout score
  • Improve the quality or number of organic followers that I received

I made a second purchase with a different vendor for 5,000 fake followers. This was delivered over five days, again an extra 10 per cent of followers were added on the top by the vendor and a similar decay pattern of about 5% of the followers occurred. This small increase had more of an effect on Klout causing a temporary bump in the score.  It has a more pronounced effect on Sysomos authority measure bumping my authority from 7 to 9 out of a possible 10.

It didn’t improve the volume or quality of followers that my account got organically.

With both vendors at least 5 per cent of the accounts that they used seemed to real people’s dormant accounts that had been co-opted into the fake follower game. There obviously seemed to be a market in taking over accounts that had been dormant for over 12 months. None of the fake follower accounts were set to private – this could factor into developing a heuristic for looking at fake follower accounts?

My overall conclusion on the fake follower business is that it almost purely about personal vanity rather than gaming a system.

More information
Pay up and embrace Twitter’s fake followers | Marketing Week
Fake Twitter followers: An easy game, but not worth the risk | The Next Web
How the market in ‘fake’ Twitter followers works | Yahoo! News
Rihanna Loses 1.2 Million Instagram Followers After Spambot Purge | Gigwise
Instagram makes teens and celebrities angry by killing millions of spambots | The Verge
Twitter and the underground market by Carlo De Micheli & Andrea Stroppa at 11th Nexa Lunch Seminar, Turin, Italy (May 22, 2013) – PDF
Inside a Twitter Robot Factory | WSJ
Twitter Admits 5% Of Its ‘Users’ Are Fake | Business Insider
I Bought 10,000 Fake Twitter Followers. Why Didn’t Klout, Kred (or Others) Notice? | Ignite Social Media

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Press Releases : DOCOMO and ZENRIN DataCom Develop New Indoor Navigation Technology | NTT DOCOMO – really interesting move on indoor where2.0 services catalogs the active human-made machines that freckle our solar system and dot our galaxy – beautiful site

YouTube makes a move against brand-sponsored videos | Digiday – this is huge for the likes of PR agencies and networks like Nuffnang

The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle | The//Intercept – that completely screws Gemalto

Daring Fireball: Thinking About the Split in Apple Watch Sales by Model – basically the WSJ numbers are rubbish, especially with luxury consumption down in China

I like: Ritson vs Social Media

Mark Ritson’s critique of social real-time marketing is really good. Here he looks at the wider social media and takes an objective approach to it as part of the marketing mix rather than as a silver bullet.

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week.

This is the first time I have shared a native Facebook video, I didn’t realise that they had an embed code. Now this presents a real threat for YouTube. Anyway the video itself is actually about a great experiential marketing idea by Walt Disney World

A Price is Signal Wrapped Up in an Incentive – is a great video explaining basic economic theory

Amazing Japanese TV clip that shows the Tokyo police with ninja like skills to subdue an armed gunman

Amazing documentary on the Apache break, which you probably know from records you’ve heard and haven’t realised it

I am a sucker for great haptic feedback which is the reason why I invested in a traditional loud keyboard with ALPS electro-mechanical switches, which is the reason why I was impressed by Phorm (no not the advertising company) and their morphing keyboard

Marketing singularities

This post was prompted by a couple of conversations over the past few days.

Conversation number one

A friend pointed out that they’ve got a new job, just received a document on what we’re doing from my global social agency ‘X’. What’s your opinion of them and where do you think client and agency responsibilities should lie? Question number two didn’t really get answered as ‘X’ is a social agency? was a much more interesting talking point. Would they be any good, when did they become a social agency? What just happened? The upshot of it is that social is a thing that everyone is now an expert in.

surveillance sticker art

Conversation number two

I was in conversation with a potential technology vendor for a specific project and I outlined the point solution that I liked about their product, which was something that made them a particularly good fit for said project. They then explained to me why they were so much more than the point solution I required and were in fact a complete CRM-type solution.

Other peers (let’s not call them competitors, as they have a slightly different world view and do slightly different things) have been acquired by CRM or software vendors. Those that were too big to buy have done deals to integrate their offering as a kind VAR-like partnership.


What these two conversations are indicative of are a pair of distinct singularities in the marketing sector.

Think of marketing as a broadly horizontal industry sector rather than the vertically integrated leviathans that are often brought to mind by the words Martin + Sorrell or the letters W, P +P respectively.

I would consider the marketing groups to be more analogous to conglomerates than integrated marketing creatures. Competing clients and bespoke client needs create the need for different marketing brands and single purpose agencies but for many parts of the business they tend to operate independently from a day-to-day operation. Collaboration and genuinely integrated working are journeys to be yet taken rather than destinations that they will be soon arriving at.

WPP are an interesting organisation in that as a conglomerate they have tried to build a vertical stack of agencies and technology vendors. They own a variety of technology companies particularly involved in the purchasing of online advertising (programmatic advertising or real-time bidding as it has been called in the past).

There has been concerns amongst amongst the ad worlds largest clients that groups may use their privileged position as vendor and agency to play against their clients. Major brands seem to have developed a distrust of both agency trading desks and the lack of transparency into market data. Instead of giving agencies an unfair advantage and allowing them to play both sides of the trade, they are bring the trading desk in-house.

So there is both client pressure and expertise factors that come into play which suggest the horizontal model is likely to be dominant for some time to come – now matter how many spreadsheets using a Monte Carlo method are developed by investment banks predicting a sure-fire success.

However within this  horizontal model there some consolidation happening. On the one hand tools are rushing towards total customer information awareness. The key problem is one of structure, tools are used to selling into one kind of person (someone like me), not re-engineering a business from the ground up. Secondly relationships with agencies are not going to provide the kind of trust and access that would be required to fulfil the full potential of this vision.

You could imagine the conversation in the board room

Hi Mr CEO, Sterling Cooper Draper Price, the marketing agency the last CMO appointed want to re-engineer our business with their social software.

Wait a minute Mr CTO, when did we have Sterling Cooper on board? What happened to McMann and Tate?

They were fired two years ago by the last CMO, who left six months ago

Our current CMO handed in her resignation yesterday, to start her own yoga retreat franchise. No doubt the new one will want their own agency…

Ok, so a bit of poetic license is used in this thought experiment, but the point is suppliers like marketing agencies tend to be changed more frequently than the vendors of key business systems. Something has to change radically for this work.

Whilst on the agency side of things everyone has tried to ‘own’ the social space as there is client fatigue over what that now means. And while social is now something everyone does at a marketing agency level, there are less individuals who are willing to admit that they have a specialism in it; as it seems to have about as much long term career growth in it as being a CB radio operator.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Introducing TweetDeck Teams | Twitter Blogs – tries to win back against Hootsuite

Why the Internet of Things matters – and what it means for marketers everywhere | Percolate – (PDF)

Krispy Kreme ‘KKK Wednesdays’ Facebook ad – Business Insider – doh

Things look a little different around here

If you visit this site on a regular basis you may have noticed that it went through a couple of recent design changes. I was prompted to change the site for a number of reasons:

  • Site traffic via social channels seems to have surged in comparison to feed traffic, for a number of readers, the demise of Google Reader has lead to a use of Twitter as a substitute. Twitter is definitely the platform for this blog, referrals via Facebook only account for about 25 per cent of the traffic in comparison to Twitter
  • There are still a third of readers coming in via RSS, that still works for me and you’re welcome to keep consuming the content in whatever way works for you, but the web design became more important
  • Consumption of content using mobile devices (with a slight majority of the mobile device traffic coming in over wi-fi if the network domains can be believed). Mobile traffic to the blog has gone from essentially nothing in 2008 to 27% of visitors by the end of last year
  • Whilst mobile screen pixel counts have grown, there hasn’t been a merging of desktop and mobile experience in the way that I expected back when I used a Nokia E90 Communicator, which implied a laptop type view point with its 800-pixel wide screen. Whilst we seem to be happy to watch Breaking Bad in landscape, web consumption seems to be done in portrait
  • Having large content: big pictures and video is less important than it seemed to be in the past

Links of the day | 在网上找到

‘Mustang’ More Popular Than ‘Superman,’ ‘Batman’ According to Research by SplashData | Ford Media Centre – just bad PR

We Need to Break the Mobile Duopoly. We Need a 3rd Mobile OS | Andreessen Horowitz – there are more than three, but there seems to be barriers to adoption

Liveblog: Xiaomi Explains Itself To Silicon Valley | TechCrunch – contextual aspects of the OS is really interesting

Hoping Google’s Lab Is a Rainmaker – – interesting the impatience. However if you go back to Google’s red herring you can’t say that they weren’t warned

Three of Tech’s Top CEOs to Skip Obama Cybersecurity Summit – Bloomberg Business – snub due to Snowden revelations

Tim Cook at The White House Cybersecurity Summit

Whilst on the surface this is a puff piece for Apple, but Cook uses the Obama administration’s call to cooperate making life easier for the intelligence industrial complex get access to consumer data and lays out an opposing vision.

He basically kicked Washington DC in the teeth, other significant companies just decided to turn up with a significantly less senior representative to send the same message.