Saturday, 31 January 2009

Spotify: Not losing a battle but winning the war

For all the love that Spotify has had from the tech and music community in its 4 months of beta, this has seemed a pretty tricky week. Basically some bands have been pulled from the service, mainly due to geographic issues with rights in different countries. From what I can see there isn't one particular label that has thrown toys out of the pram: user comments from the Spotify blog suggest that this mainly at individual bands' requests (in the same way that bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones are particularly anti C21st music distribution) - Led Zeppelin are one of the quoted parts of the archive that has been removed. However most of the unsupportive comments appear to be from fans of niche genres - Spotify is a Swedish company, and there are a number of references to Scandinavian synth music and metal being removed. As no-one could have predicted the rate at which Spotify has grown in the UK (200k subscribers) since December, you can understand that international rights will have become an issue that bands may not have considered. If these bands find that after consideration that they would prefer not to reach an audience growing at quarter of a million music lovers a month, then that's fair enough. It's clear from the blog comments that people will go back to Piratebay rather than Amazon if Spotify is taken away from them though.

None of this should detract from the fact that this application is adding tunes at a rate of 10,000 per day, and is on the verge of mass appeal in the UK with hugely positive Guardian and NME features this week. The most important news for Spotify is not in its content though - it is a distribution platform, and has taken a huge step this week in becoming a viable competitor to iTunes by employing a Head of Mobile,
Gustav Soderstrom from Yahoo. Mobile is the ultimate destination for music content, and the speed that which the application spreading makes an ad-funded business model viable. Could a tech startup really save both the music and the mobile industry from Apple?
(thanks to Zia George at Spotify for audience data)

Written whilst listening to Airborne Toxic Event, MGMT, Killers and Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, who are all still available on Spotify)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Cigarettes and Alcohol

We tend to avoid the issue in this industry. We call things 'sticky' or 'engaging', when what we are really trying to do is invent stuff that is utterly addictive. So music really helped (see every kids' cereal ad ever). Now 'advertising' can be applications that make people's lives easier, we should be trying to create things that you really can't live without, things that compete with the best applications that aren't 'advertising'. This got me thinking about how applications become addictive. Facebook is a bit like alcohol: it facilitates social interaction, its all really good fun, but you don't want to spend all your time there after you finish Uni. First reactions to Twitter tend to be more like those of a first cigaratte; people don't see what all the fuss is about. It takes a bit of practicing to understand why people do it, and by the time you've put that effort in, you realise that you can't live without it. Not because it does anything flashy - it isn't a Saturday night site, it's a quick break from work for 5 minutes site. Break after break after break. I'm not suggesting that we should build another Twitter, rather that thinking small, building little things brilliantly, is the lesson that I'm learning as I explore Twitter.

Monday, 26 January 2009

IPA Future of Advertising and Agencies - the presentation and the blog

A week later....
This is the presentation from last Monday's IPA 44 Club, which caused a bit of a fuss. There were a few more people including me being relatively critical on Twitter. And the IPA might very well have ignored it, and carried on trying to sell the research to people who needed it (and lets face it, there are plenty in our industry and those that we work directly with). But they didn't. Respect to Nigel Gwilliam, Head of Digital at the IPA, who joined in with the comments
and has now started a blog that aims to take the report as a starting point from which to share knowledge for the industry - an open communal IPA resource.

Although the IPA were criticised for the way this project was launched, I think that this response shows a real understanding of how brands are going to have to change their communication models. (full details of my views on that here) - it is also the way that brands like Dell and Comcast 'came across' dialogue as a marketing tool as a response to negative publicity.

So please visit Nigel's blog, whether or not you are an IPA member, and add your views on how we can help our industry develop.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Cadburys' Difficult Second Album

I've never really thought that you could properly be a fan of a band that had only released one album. The more you like the first one, the greater the potential let-down if everything goes down hill from there. I think it's technically know as Stone Roses syndrome. So I've always reserved judgement, and most of the bands I have loved are ones who have really delivered second time round - stuff like Massive Attack, Goldfrapp, Arcade Fire (NB. I'm not linking to anything here. The point isn't really about my personal music taste).

So for all the well deserved praise for Fallon's Gorilla work for Cadburys, the Glass & a Half Productions idea has seemed a little tarnished for me by the pointless truckracing follow-up (an ad that would have made more sense had it been audio only, as Don't Stop Me Now is the only joyful thing in it).

But there has also been a part of me that will reserve judgment on a band that suffers from difficult second album syndrome. You can always turn it round with the third, as The Killers have recently proved and hopefully Kasabian and Franz Ferdinand will soon. So it made me very happy to see the new Eyebrows work that breaks tonight. Just as warm, arresting and generally daft as the Gorilla, and with much better music (Don't Stop the Rock by Freestyle, since we're talking about tunes).

And apart from being witty and likeable, there's a couple of other things that stand out in this spot. First one is pretty obvious - Gorilla was copied, mimicked, mashed up and responded to, and that took a bit of work - hiring Gorilla suits and drumkits were pretty much a prerequisite for any sort of YouTube homage. This one is clearly designed to be mimicked in offices and playgrounds across the land with a minimum of effort. A sort of visual 'Wassup!'. Second thing is that this is a 60" ad that will get funnier the faster you view it - ie it is virtually DVR-proof. Having only seen the clip posted here I am guessing, but I'm setting the Sky+ for it this evening to see whether it is best at 1x, 6x or 30x normal speed. And as anyone who follows my TV writing will know, that makes me think it is very special indeed.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Transmedia Movies and things that Facebook could do on telly

Right this is inspired by Scott Brown's post on Wired, about the death of the linear story in movies. Ok there's a lot of backstory as well: I'm not going to do Faris Yakob the disservice of trying to condense Transmedia Planning into a few sentences, so if you haven't read about it, go there now. Anyway, the ideas that Brown talks about are based around the movie as a combination of multiple experiences and points of view, which deliver a far more deep and engaging experience than traditional storylines and special FX. So this is how a classic action movie linear narrative such as Die Hard might look in a post-convergence era:

John McClane, NYC cop, arrives in LA to reconcile with his estranged wife—but we already know all about their failing marriage from the ARG we've been obsessed with for the six months leading up to the movie's release. (McClane's potemkin Tumblr blog was especially illuminating.) With exposition rendered obsolete, we open instead on a Sprite commercial, which transitions seamlessly into furious gunplay. We don't even see McClane in the flesh, but our handsets are buzzing with his real-time thumb-tweets: "in the air duct. smelz like dead trrist in here lol." The film then rewinds to McClane Googling "terrorists" to read up on his adversaries. We then flash-cut to the baddies' POV, which we're familiar with (and sympathetic to) thanks to the addictive Xbox hit Die Hard: Hard Out There for a Terrorist.
and so on.....

The idea of an ARG offering a rich backstory to bring fans of a genre into the world of a new movie isn't a new one - Cloverfield is my favourite case study (which I think I annoyed everyone else in the cinema by explaining during the movie. But then the marketing IS much better than the movie). Neither is an Xbox spin-off (although a $0.99 phone app might be quicker to build and reach more people). What caught my attention was the idea of live updates from other characters points of view - not neccessarily tweets, but something that engages all handsets in the cinema (RFID?) to deliver a richer experience.

And that got me thinking about how this then might translate into smaller screens, of the kind in our living rooms. Broadcasters love stuff that has to be viewed live, like football and evictions. If some of the TV experience relied on live multimedia
action then they might be able to hang on a bit longer to those linear schedules that they love so much. If you know you'll enjoy something more live, you are more likely to watch it live. Doesn't matter if the enjoyment comes from not knowing the result or from a richer experience. And then they can sell more ads around it.

Personally I think that that is all a case of decline management in the long term, but it did make me think some more about the CNN/Facebook Connect linkup. If you could friend characters from a TV show and get live updates on your phone's Facebook app, giving you more insight into what a character is thinking..... we could do that now, and it doesn't need an internet enabled TV (although of course if we had one of those then the internet is our oyster....).

Of course, for those programme marketers who actually want to increase engagement with their shows rather than simply sell more advertising (reputation vs ratings anyone?) there is also the prospect of doing this more openly on other platforms. I'm trying not to use the 'Tw' word, but this deck from Aki Spicer from Fallon is worth a look

PSP - live football streaming

(from Engadget)
I get to live football that rarely now that I'm used to just looking for the replay after every contentious incident, so it's great to hear the the first close-circuit live streams are being introduced at Arsenal. Only available on a PSP at the moment, but if there's enough take up you can see this being widened out across devices - particularly phones. I'd guess that most clubs will just see this as something to charge even more for (and also that we won't be seeing it at Pride Park any time soon). Still, with the amount of mobile networks sponsoring live events, there's a huge value ad opportunity here. And yes, Orange at Glasto, and 02 everywhere else, I'm thinking of you.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

So how do you like social TV?

Welcome to the FutureWhen the idea of social viewing first started becoming reality last year, I questioned what the big social networks were doing to join in. Even then I saw it working as an application rather than through Facebook Connect, but this afternoon really highlighted the potential for integrating your social graph into your viewing. Yes, the streaming was a bit patchy, but to be fair CNN had served 13.9m streams by the end of the inauguration ceremony according to Mashable. The NY Times has some more background on the rise of social TV, and Le'Nise has lots more info.

Of course, the main benefits of Facebook Connect are all about bringing your own personal social graph into other environments. Unfortunately not many of mine were watching, so it was a straight choice between watching the constant chatter, or actually having conversations on Twitter (actually it wasn't, I was doing both). Having then gone home to watch the football though I was really begrudging of having to actually pick up my phone to text and tweet. Bring on the future!

Monday, 19 January 2009

How to generate word of mouth....FAIL

Belkin's horrible cock-ups that came to light over the weekend are a timely warning of how not to use the internet to generate conversations. If you are the sort of person who doesn't spend their weekend reading Mashable and you've missed the story, this is the gist of it
(Screengrab nicked from Engadget, as the original has been swiftly deleted)
Someone employed by Belkin posted the above on Amazon's Mechanical Turk developer marketplace, essentially offering $0.65 per post to write 5 star reviews of Belkin products, and rate down any less positive reviews. Besides the obvious dumbness of not even trying to disguise the deception, this does raise a couple of other issues:

First, tech companies have less room for mistakes when learning in public, as the po
tential customers they are trying to influence (often by way of tech bloggers) are so aware of marketing generally and social media ethics in particular.

Secondly the brazen nature of this request (even using his real name - not that hiding it would make it any less wrong, just less dumb) suggests that he really may not have been aware of what he was doing - potentially thinking that this might help Belkin rather than being his last act in their employment (probably). As a firm believer in Rohit Bhargava's thoughts on the power of the accidental spokesperson, I think this really highlights the importance of training throughout an organisation on dealing with power of the internet. While there are lots of examples of best practice, I'd recommend the version of Porter Novelli's that Mat Morrison shared last year as a good place to start.

For what it's worth, this is the grovel/apology from the president of Belkin. And this is the proof of how easy it is to generate online conversations if you screw up

Social Media Marketing

with apologies to Jessica Hagy

Friday, 16 January 2009

The story of a newspaper on death row, as told to the executioner

(from Time)
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, losing $14m a year and put up for sale with virtually no hope of finding a buyer, has turned to running a company-wide blog about the 60 day countdown to closure

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The best Tourist Board ad in the World?

How's that for a view on the way to work?
Huge respect to the Queensland Tourist Board, whose job ad for a "Caretaker" for Hamilton Island on the Barrier Reef has so far delivered 850,000 visitors to the recruitment site for the so-called 'Best job in the World'.

The premise is that the island needs a resident caretaker/publicist, who will need to explore the land and sea over the course of their 6 month contract, and blog, video and generally show off about the fact that this comes with a £70k salary. Applications will be judged on the calibre of writing and video as well as knowledge and general suitability. 10 candidates will be flown out to Queensland to interview.

So basically, this is a UGC competition with a great prize. Ok, a prize that is better than most. But still, not out of the ordinary as competitions go. The sheer genius is the 'recruitment' spin that gives newspapers, radio stations, etc an easy hook to hang a great story on. This was all over the BBC and the national press on Monday, and back today with the news that global interest has crashed the recruitment site
I had a look at the impact this has had on UK interest in Hamilton Island in a few places. On Google Trends, I looked at the impact on the campaign across searches for Queensland as a whole, the Barrier Reef generally, and Hamilton Island specifically. Although the news volume is not really registering, search volumes show a huge spike for each of the destinations, showing that the campaign is having a halo effect across the whole state.
On Twitter, we can use Streamgraph to look at the key sentiments the campaign is generating. Interestingly 'pay' is the key outtake: not sure if this says more about Twitter's 20-40 year old professional user base than about the campaign itself though. Forum posts are showing a similar trend worldwide. In the time it has taken me to write about this post, I still haven't managed to get the Island Reef Job site working, so assuming that the demand took the QLD web guys by surprise as well. One of the beauties of Addictomatic is that by searching for this campaign alongside web developer terminology is that it took me straight to the team behind it discussing it on Twitter. So great work @xcommedia and @ckjchambers.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Twitter is bigger than the Recession

Approaching the Twipping Point
I'm trying really hard not to get sucked into the general hyping of Twitter, particularly Twitter lingo (Twingo?) usage, but it is noticeable that more and more non planner or geek types are talking about it. I've only been hooked for the last few months, so I'm a bandwagon-hopping novice myself (albeit an addicted one), but I'm sure
it is reaching much further into the real world than even a few months ago.

I started looking at what we can compare it to on Trends to see if there is any truth to this, and while it has nowhere near the volume of Facebook,
as you'd expect, Twitter is officially bigger than the recession in the UK. Which is good news.... all they need now is a business model

Monday, 12 January 2009

Television: The last ten feet

I had a look back at some 'what media will look like in 2010' predictions that I wrote about 2 years ago (before I started publishing them for posterity....) to see how I was looking. Obviously the less said about my mobile industry predictions the better (I didn't see the iPhone coming, therefore I'm wrong. To be fair the same thing happened to Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Palm, so I'm in good company)

The TV views struck a few chords though, as there are a couple of wild guesses that 2009 is already starting to make reality.

By 2010 there will be no such thing as TV as a media channel
Ouch! Not something borne out by viewing figures or advertising. What I mean though is that there will be no difference between the various different screens that we have in the home. The PC screen will become outdated as we are able to stream TV directly from the internet..... yes, I know we can do that at the moment, but the spate of internet-ready TVs announced last week at CES shows that the hardware manufacturers know this is an idea whose time has come. This will allow us to cross the 'last ten feet' between the computer and the TV screen. Interestingly they all seem to be doing deals with content owners to create bespoke IPTV set-ups rather than just sticking WiFi in. So packages of Netflix, Boxee, Hulu, YouTube etc will be pre-installed, but in some cases there won't be general browsing. To do this you need to connect a computer to the back of your TV. Which for most people means either knowing how to install cards, fighting with Windows, dealing with hardware incompatability, or buying expensive Apple gear. And have big fat computers lying around in your lounge

Fortunately for those of us who can't afford Apple systems to audio-visual up our homes, it looks like Windows 7 might solve many of these problems by Not Being Shit, which is a radical departure from much of Microsoft's recent work. This will give us the possibility to simply connect the computer to the back of the TV and browse/listen/watch away. And the computer in the lounge is far less of a problem now that manufacturers are listening to what we want and making them smaller.

To be honest, I expect to see something from Apple this year that means this will soon all seem as outdated as cd shops. Don't know whether it will be Snow Leopard, a new generation of Apple TV, or iTunes as a PVR rather than a store, but this is a category so ripe for innovation that Jobs and co must be about to shake it hard.

So basically we will not talk about TV any more, because where the TV used to be will also be the internet - probably called video (?). And because TV will also be on the smaller screens in our pockets that used to be called mobile phones. I'd expect that using a much more integrated and intelligent version of the technology powering Slingbox, which beams AV content from your TV or computer to whatever device you want to view it on, that the TV and the mobile will be talking to each other. So for instance if I had been watching a football match at home but have to go out before the end, I should then be able to pick it up where I left it when I get on the train.

And what does this mean for advertising?
The current system of TV advertising is starting to buckle under the strain of increased DVR ownership. I have written in the past about why I don't think that we really understand viewing of TV ads in DVR owning households, but there is real potential in some of these technological developments to dramatically improve the role and impact of what used to be called TV advertising.

Personalised ads
The developments being made by Virgin and Sky appear to be based on behavioural targeting as well as demographic information (the danger with demographic targeting that isn't based on a BARB-style panel is that it confuses family members who are all viewers of the same screen). While not a perfect system, as the classic Tivo targeting dilemma My Tivo Thinks I'm Gay shows (link to the article text rather than the original WSJ piece, as get this, the WSJ is still subscription only. On the internet!), this is still an improvement on current TV targeting.

From a media planning perspective, there are times when I want to broadcast 30" in the old-school style. However, there are also many times when I'd prefer to have the option of showing 120" of great content to people who I know are interested in it (ideally I would know this because they had told me - by saying 'I really like the stuff this brand makes, please show me more of it as it is often better than the programmes' rather than 'I don't not allow you to not use my personal data for marketing purposes (tick here if you disagree)'. In almost all cases I'd rather invest in ads that are going to appeal a lot to fewer people than not appeal to the large number they are seen by (see Digital Mindchange for a more detailed analysis of the trade off between scale and involvement). Untargeted advertising leads to boring ads, which contributes to boring brands. As we are able to filter out more and more ads, there is no need to watch boring advertising. Personal targeting will allow more good advertising to get on air, as we all have different views of what constitutes 'good'. Adding geo-demographic data to behavioural would start to build a more rounded picture of individuals, so merging the three systems together would give us something significantly more accurate than we currently have, and should allow more enjoyable advertising to be created.
(see here for more on my thoughts on what might happen to advertising in future: it is a long post, but points 30-32 are the relevant bit)

The role of the broadcasters is an interesting one in this debate. Virgin already have a lot of personal data as they know what on-demand programming has been watched by their households. As there is no reason why you wouldn't have their superfast internet access as well as their TV services, you would expect they would have rather a lot of IP data too. While Sky have been slow off the mark with advanced internet access (as their infrastructure is so satellite-based), I have a sneaky suspicision that they know more about us than they are letting on. That phone socket that runs out of the back of the Sky+ box is apparently to update the EPG. Because this can't be done over the satellite dish which is busy streaming HDTV? Sounds unlikely. In fact, when I unplugged the phoneline the EPG was just fine. In fact, it has been working just fine for a month without it! It is used to buy movies etc, but there seems to be a lot of data coming OUT of the Sky+ even when you aren't buying movies. The media planner in me hopes that this is marketable data, while the normal person in me thinks it is a bit suspicious.....

And where does that leave the terrestrial players? Let's leave Kangaroo to one side, as nearly a year after launch it still shows no signs of being out of court any time soon, and in any case is likely to have been eaten or beaten by the UK launch of Hulu when it finally does. What is interesting is that this shows that they are all able to play nice together when it suits them to do so. As ITV, C4 and Five (not too mention the commercial juggernaut that is the modern day BBC) are all missing the viewing data that Sky, Virgin and BT all have, can we expect to see them pooling data when they launch? As revenue will come from audience numbers and these are different to actual viewing habit data, maybe the answer will come with a swift reform of BARB that shares viewing data across all (ex-) terrestrial channels.

For more on this, check out Simon Kendrick from ITV's more objective take on the subject

Media Trading
The real value to broadcasters and content owners here is twofold. Firstly, if all devices are synchronised and personlised then they should be able to serve totally personalised advertising to individuals across multiple platforms: so once I have seen a set number of ads for a new product (and I mean 'seen' not 'been exposed to'. There is a fundamental difference that we don't seem to get in the UK in the way that they do in the US) then a money-off ad will be served to me the next time I'm near a suitable shop (or SMS-ed if I subscribe to a service like Blyk, or as an audio ad if I'm listening to Spotify, etc). The main point being that it doesn't matter what 'media channel' it is being served through, as everything is transmitted in the same way, and appears on either a large screen or a small one.

So far that isn't a particularly radical idea as it is only taking what ad servers do now and synchronising it across multiple screens. Where I believe media owners have a chance of making their scale relevant in the future is by assigning value to individuals. Selling large numbers of eyeballs belongs in the last century, but the thoughts behind those eyeballs are worth plenty.

WTF is he on about?

Well let's take the concept of a personal CPM, as proposed by Marian Selzman at JWT (and as I can't find a link to it, here's one from Charlene Li that refers to it). This assigns different value to individuals based on their influence across networks: how many contacts and how much online authority they have. It will no doubt be the ad model for Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. But there are only certain categories like music and technology where this is really relevant to advertisers, and the really authoritative individuals would likely know about things that interest them before an ad agency even has a brief. However, say a broadcaster could use behavioural targeting to work out what I am likely to be buying soon, and can then sell the potential of my attention to the highest bidder. If I was starting to research buying a new car, then my price to auto brands will go through the roof. As I start comparing prices, I should only be seeing the latest discounts from all my local car dealers. They will be paying through the roof for these ads, and they will be worth every penny, as I will be interested in watching them and will imminently part with a large amount of money to the one with the best combination of product and price. However the ads for say a beer brand that I see in the same break will only cost a fraction of the price that the auto brands did. And rightly so, as my attention is worth so much less to them.

So I think there are enough ideas, launches and rumours coming out of CES to suggest that we will be crossing the last 10 feet in the next couple of years. We are clearly going to see the initial tests of personal targeting of 'TV' advertising, but I think that it will be very hard in future to see the difference between TV and online ads. This raises the threat for the current big players of the arrival of some much bigger ones. Those that innovate now stand a chance of maintaining a distribution and ad sales platform in the face of direct competition from Google, Apple and Microsoft, while those that don't will just be content manufacturers.

Meerkatting - joins in

Respect due to, who reacted straight away to the public support for VCCP's genius work for Compare the Market with this SEM copy

Want Cheap Car Insurance?
Meerkat happen with
No Meerkating gimmicks

Very much in the spirit of the original - joining in with the joke, and making a subtle dig at their competitors as well.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Free sheets are unsustainable....

Media agency people? This stuff is our fault. There is no justification for this waste of paper. There's plenty of more elegant solutions to stop people from getting bored on the Tube (surely installing mobile networks couldn't cost much more than the recycling bill for this)
(Photo credit)
Smoking was only banned on Underground trains in 1984 - there's still people working in London who will remember commuting on smoke-filled carriages. I hope that photos like these will seem as disgusting while I'm still a commuter

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Meerkats and Virgins

'Tis the season for new ad campaigns
New year, new TV shows, new ad campaigns, hello 2009. And although the news isn't great, the quality of the advertising definitely is. You may have noticed I don't talk much about TV spots much on here, and claim that that is because I am so tech-ed up that I don't watch them. To be fair, I do watch enough to know that they are very very rarely worth talking about, so it's great when two run in the same (Celeb Big Brother..... yeah I know, but it was the first day back and I didn't fancy thinking) ad break.

Virgin Atlantic's stylish cheery recreation of the 80s stopping to scrape its jaws off the floor as Virgin 2009 walks past is not only a gorgeous visual metaphor for Virgin's 'ahead of the pack/BA' positioning when it launched, and a hat tip to how valid that position will have to be this year, but it also made me smile. On the first Monday back to work in the month of Depressing that was no small feat.

But not as much as comparing meerkats has!

This is a lovely piece of work, and you can just picture the lightbulb mome
nt.... a brief would say something like 'undifferentiated market, low recognition and awareness - create personality and warmth', and then someone realised that 'Market' sounds a bit like 'Meerkat', especially if you say it in a Russian accent. Great concept, brave client (Disclaimer - although this is a Zed client, it's not one I work on), and top work from VCCP (see Amelia Torode's take on the VCCP view). Rick from Zed has more detail on the campaign itself.

The little touches that really made made me smile were how this idea has been carried over into other media. There is obviously a spoof 'Compare the Meerkat' site, which does allow you to compare meerkats based on size, location and sporting prowess (can't help thinking they missed a trick in not allowing you to export these to use as social network badges or even avatars. Still, hindsight is a great thing when you see 3,000 people friend a made-up character on day one of the campaign). There are multiple opportunities to reference the more traditional side of the category - £s saved on your car insurance, % of people who will save money, etc, but the tone of the ad (ie Aleksandr's frustration at being constantly asked about car insurance) allows this to be done in exactly the sort of frustrated & bored way that you or I would talk about price comparison sites, rather than the over-excited marketingese that usually passes for copywriting in these sorts of ads.

And yes, his name is Aleksandr, I know this because I'm friends with him on Facebook (along with 3,500 others), where among other things he points out upcoming TV ads, and comments on them in real time. As far as I know this is the first TV ad listing on Facebook
He also appears to be the first meerkat on Twitter - although not apparent first thing yesterday morning, he quickly joined in and started following people like me who had been tweeting about him earlier. On both networks he is acting like a human (okay, a meerkat), and talking about advertising only when asked about it (to be fair this is most of the time). He's also favouriting stuff on YouTube and becoming a fan of other FB brandsNice work too both campaigns, and thanks for cheering me up - let's hope this is the first of many 'great advertising' posts this year.

Monday, 5 January 2009

2009 - the year of Spotify

Not sure if I missed some hype about Spotify in 2008, but one of the benefits of having 2 weeks off doing anything is the chance to catch up. What I really wanted to do was catch up on lots of music I'd not got round to downloading over the year, but what I found was basically all the music you could want (well, nearly) completely free. I'd intended to check out loads of bands I'd only heard on the radio to see if there was more to them than singles (and whatever the iTunes lovers say, a quick blast isn't enough). Turns out I just need to log in to Spotify and put a playlist together.

Looks like this is ad-funded (although there are hardly any ads currently - I've heard two in two weeks - expect that it would need more ad inventory once it moves public to avoid a purely subscription model), and currently in private beta (only took me a few days to get an invite though - I've got a few more, so email/DM me if you want a go). There are subscriptions available, but I'd need a lot more annoying advertising to make me think about paying. Buffering is quick and smooth, and the app is very low impact, even on my most underpowered netbook. This suggests that it will be easy to port to mobile: should see an iPhone version imminently. The software itself has an iTunes feel to it, only without the clunkiness and latency that you get running iTunes on a Windows machine.

The real beauty of this system is that the major labels are already signed up - EMI, Warners, SonyBMG & Universal already buy into the business model. I reckon the mobile version could be this year's killer app - question is whether it will be a partnership with a mobile brand or network (in a ComesWithMusic sort of way), or whether they will release applications for the huge range of devices that are going to be open to 3rd party software this year. The quick win (if ad-funding starts to fail) would be the first option. The killer app would be the second.