Links of the day

Popular Social Networking Websites Around The World – thanks to Steve Rubel

‘Buzz’ finds favour in the UK – Coca Cola and Kelloggs leap on buzz marketing

Featured Mac Download: Add Keyword Search to Safari with Keywurl  – key word tool built into Safari

apophenia: Where HCI comes from (and where it might go)

SyncWizard – SyncWizard takes your contacts, appointments, music and documents and zaps them onto the Net. You get a MyStuff page. Using this web site all your personal information is in one password protected place available from any net aware device.

Two takes on essentially the same data set about Google’s clicks Google’s Paid Click Business Slipping – ComScore – Seeking Alpha

BIL Conference – Minds Set Free. – TED meets barcamp

What Consumer Technology Companies Can Learn From Apple Product Launches | Joshua Weinberg | Voices | AllThingsD

Tim Berners-Lee Says the Time for the Semantic Web is Now – The interesting thing about Berners-Lee’s interview is that he thinks that the semantic web will be closer to Google’s vision through database manipulation rather than folksonomy

The Global Race Among Social Networks Heats Up. Keep an Eye on Hi5, Friendster, and Imeem

MUJI Book 2007 – ‘This Exclusive and Unique Publication Looks at The Extraordinary Success Story of MUJI Includes MUJIs Story. Its Introduction, History and Founder. MUJIs Philosophy Products and Exhibitions. Interviews With International Designers Such as Ikko Tanaka.’

KUNG FU PANDA – Po the kung fu panda comes from the same school of hard knocks as gangster olypmic mascot JingJing, though he prefers hand-to-hand combat to JingJing’s use of firearms

Open Tech 2008 – 5th July in London. – I went along to OpenTech2005 which was inspirational and there was great discounts on O’Reilly books

Chinese Websites Sign Internet Video Agreement – ChinaTechNews.com – The Technology Source for the Latest Chinese News, Information, and Commentary on Internet, Computers, Digital, Science, Electronics, Law, Security, Software, Telecom, and Wireless Indus

Estimates Put Internet Advertising at $21 Billion in U.S., $45 Billion Globally

The Chart: Google clicks filling more shopping carts – interesting stats on Google’s click-through rates

RTÉ Business: German consumer confidence stable – Gfk

TweetVolume : Home – nice really simple zeitgest measurement tool on twitter

Customer insight

Open (Subway Sandwich Restaurant) on Villier Street

I have been thinking a lot about customer insight recently. Part of this thought process goes back to when I was at college I was told the story of instant coffee’s launch in the US. The story went something like this: instant coffee granules were successfully launched in the US, and then sales dropped off. Conventional marketing support tactics such as in-store sampling and discounts didn’t work out.

Meanwhile, the advertising agency on its own initiative took a different tack, by interviewing the target purchasers and watching how they interacted in their homes. It seems that the housewives felt that a key part of being a good homemaker was brewing coffee through more traditional (presumably a french press). Women that used instant coffee were perceived as being slovenly and sluttish. So a programme of advertisements and sponsored programmes was developed showing instant coffee being used as part of life within a happy and healthy family.

The rest as they say was history until Starbucks managed to get us to drink coffee on-the-go and pay 5 USD per cup.

A more personal example happened to me on Sunday, I got called by Stuart, the owner of Mainline Menswear, who followed up with me as I was a first-time customer. Part of the reason was help prevent card fraud but by the end of the call he knew I had a specific interest in adidas’ original line and had told me that if I could get an adidas part number for an item and dropped him an email he could plug in directly to adidas and get the item.

PR as an industry is shockingly bad at getting decent quality research done like that adverting agency to gain real customer insight, developing a big idea based on the findings and building our programmes on top of them. Part of the reason for this is that PR spend is only a fraction of that for media buying or advertising and PR people only really get paid for implementation. Our research tends to be secondary data and very media content focused rather than looking at the audience itself.

We can understand the media, we can understand the problem from the clients perspective like the coffee problem, but we don’t have a real tap into audience motivations. Digital channels allow us to do research to find out what people are saying, but anybody who has been in a relationship knows that what people people say and what they mean or the reasons behind what they do often don’t match up. For example, you have an argument with a loved one about the last incident that tipped a scale, rather than all the factors that have caused discontent.

Is customer insight research a more important resource for the PR agency of the future than digital skills?

Links of the day

Judge on privacy: Computer code trumps the law | CNET News.com

Michelin Gives Stars, but Tokyo Turns Up Nose – New York Times – if I go restaurant hunting in Japan, I want to be told by by the Japanese not some French interlopers the best places to go. Also Japan is more wired than most other nations on earth, why the dead tree edition instead of using viaMichelin’s much vaunted mapping on a mobile service?

FT Executive Membership Forums – Homepage – the FT’s answer to A Small World for executives or another way to sell attendees at its conferences? The page is shockingly badly coded

Brand persuasion wheel – Ulli Appelbaum – Six most common principles of human persuasion that can be used by marketers reward, threat, expertise, liking, scarcity and social proof

Who watches the movie-makers?

Watchmen movie website screenshot

Some things are special to you. For me there is a wide range of works of art that stand very nicely on their own without people trying to improve on them like the original 3:10 To Yuma, Sergio Leone’s Dollar’s trilogy and Once Upon a Time in The West, anything Akira Kurosawa shot with Toshiro Mifune, Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter, Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and Alan Moore’s comics.

I grew up with V for Vendetta and Watchmen so there is a strong emotional attachment for me in those comics. To give you an idea of the cultural impact that Watchmen had on its release; Bomb the Bass used the smiley image above for the sleeve of the single Beat Dis and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons is thanked in the sleeve notes of the Into the Dragon album.

The Beat Dis single sleeve was co-opted and that was how the smiley face became the inane grin of acid house and raves appearing on record sleeves, event flyers, t-shirts, bandanas and the blotting paper of LSD tabs.

As a reader I found that the first time I enjoy the multi-layered plots and action, each time I then revisit Moore’s comics I see a further layer of connections and what some people describe as ‘Easter eggs’, though in fact they are right in front of your eyes all the time.

This means that Moore’s works don’t translate all that well to film. V felt very ‘choppy’ where an obvious editors hand had tried to compress the film and many of the crucial plot devices that sewed the story together were lost – most noticably the reason why Scarlet Carson roses were so important. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was virtually unrecognisable from the comics and looked like a drunken fancy dress party.

It is with considerable concern that I await the film version of Watchmen. I am sure that the green screen techniques can render a passable visual interpretation of the comic: film adaptations of Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 proved that, but will the ‘soul’ of Watchmen transfer to the screen or will the film be a shallow interpretation of the comic? in the comic the following question constantly appears on graffitti and protestor banners which ask ‘who watches the watchmen?’ I think we need to change it out and ask the more pertinent question of who watches the movie makers?

The film is due out in March 6, 2009 according to the official website.

Links of the day

How to Succeed in an Ever-Changing World – O’Reilly FYI – one for the Amazon wishlist

Friendster – Rexteen Rexy – Unilever social media work on friendster aimed at Malaysian teens. It has a widget that allows you to furnish a virtual room. The more deodorant you buy, the more stuff you can have in your room. I really like the real-world / online integration of this campaign. Its a great idea that drives forward on marketing  the brand and fuelling demand and goes to show the best social networks never die, they just find a niche like Friendster has done in Southeast Asia

Shopnik – experiment in data organisation (thanks to my colleague Nathan for flagging this one)

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Leadfoot | PBS – interesting post on the false green measure of lead-free solder

BBC NEWS | UK | Tate & Lyle sugar to be Fairtrade – In terms of size and scale, this is the biggest ever Fairtrade switch by a UK company, will the company get held to a holier than thou status and get beaten up on big food issues the way the post-Prius Toyota got beaten up by environmentalists about the conventionally powered cars that it still sells?

Small Dog Electronics Burlington Retail Store – a photoset on Flickr – I love the touches that Small Dog, an independent Apple reseller have in their store at Burlington Vermont. If you are a Mac user they also do really handy weekly newsletters and a relatively new blog with with tips on troubleshooting and getting the most out of your computer.

Akinaiblog Japan Shop – Buy or request Japanese products online – more online fuel for my obsession with all things Japanese

Translation Browser Buttons – from Google, click to get translation of the site that you are on. I can’t believe that people don’t know about these, they are so handy and kick the crap out of Yahoo! Babelfish (sorry Gina and Salim) in terms of ease-of-use

Japan to Door – Personal Shopper, Auction Agent and Personal Forwarder in Japan. – DANG! as our Rachel would say, this service is both awesome and scary at the same time I could see me blowing all my cash and then some.

hotpress.com Home – Ireland’s equivalent of NME, with the occasional investigative article that’s worth reading, however all the good content is behind a paywall.