Razorfish Outlook Report 11 (vol 10)

November 11, 2011

Our new global Razorfish Outlook Report 2011 (vol 10) is out people.

If you’re not familiar with the report it is compiled by Razorfish in the U.S. and provides an in-depth analysis of emerging trends in media, technology and creativity.

A major theme from  this year is collaboration, content and relationships defining a new approach in media.

The year in digital media is reviewed here and other hot topics include:

Game Mechanics

How the Social Cloud can Accelerate Brand Interactions

Forget Mobile, Think Multiscreen

The Importance of Agency Collaboration

The Report is also available in presentation format here and you can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #orv10.

Happy reading.


The end of The Gruen Transfer?

January 4, 2010

One of my less exciting daily digital pastimes is keeping an on expired .com.au domain names. Today I noticed that one of the domains that just became available on 01/01/2010 was www.gruentransfer.com.au. So it appears this might be the end for that particular URL (unless somebody forgot to renew it). So what does that mean for the show and a third season? Read on before you jump to conclusions… 

image

Below: The URL… www.gruentransfer.com.au nothing to see here.

 image

 

Why abandon a URL?
Firstly, there is no obvious record that the ABC actually owned this domain in the first place or that it was actively used. In the instance of The Gruen Transfer, the primary URL for the show is a subdirectory off the ABC website (here) but in my experience it’s usually a good strategy to keep relevant domain names in the back pocket no matter what. Most often, the excuse given for letting a domain lapse is “we weren’t using it” but there are a few reasons for keeping URLs which relate directly to something that is active even if it is not the primary domain such as protecting intellectual property and to form a part of an SEO/SEM and Link strategy. In addition digital consumers are known to occasionally go for a direct punt on a url into the browser address bar so a DNS redirect or meta refresh is an easy tactic to handle traffic from this.

Recommendation:
Regardless of past ownership ABC should register gruentransfer.com.au and thegruentransfer.com.au. $55 for two years is a worthwhile investment for them (if the show is to continue).

Stats:
Every month hundreds of .com.au URLs expire without being renewed in Australia. Here’s some stats from AuDA for 08/09 – hopefully the 2009 results will be available soon.

image

Note: There are several services that provide information on expired domains which can easily be found using Google or Bing:

~@eunmac


Historical Moments of Internet Social Power Changes

October 27, 2009

I was just checking my folder where I keep interesting screenshots of stats (ok, I admit they’re probably only interesting to me but hey… I just like sharing). So here’s some ‘interesting’ moments where power shifts occur in the world of social and UGC. (Note: Stats are from the publicly available Alexa site). Note that I screen grabbed these at the time and saved them because there’s not always a guarantee you’ll be able to get the data in the same state in the future. Currently Alexa now only goes back 2 years since they changed their data analysis so the first screenshot below is something of a collectors item (if you collect screenshots of stats that is).

~ @eunmac

Below: Jan 2007 YouTube clearly passes MySpace.

image

Below: What has happened since (in a little under 3 years)

image

Below: Another change in global domination in 2009. Facebook passes YouTube in July.

image 

Below – What’s next? Despite the hype surrounding Twitter it’s got a long way to go to catch Facebook which continues to grow at a phenomenal rate with YouTube appearing pretty solid – although interestingly Twitter appears to be now on par with MySpace and looks set to pass it next month.

 image


Top 100 most valuable brands in the World? Why they got it all wrong.

May 6, 2009

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac)

Each year Millward Brown puts out it’s index of the top 100 brands every year (here). I’m going to offer a different opinion (and yes, it’s only my opinion) on why I think it’s a load of old-school corporate phooey which is sending a financially skewed perspective on the value of brand compared to the modern consumer REAL thoughts about brands.

Note: I take the point that not all brands in this list are consumer facing per-se, but when publishing a list of the “Most Valuable Global Brands” I believe the word ‘value’ and ‘brand’ needs to take a deeper dive into broader consumer data and well beyond “highest margins and the most recognisable logo”.

image

In my humble opinion the power of a brand should mostly be judged by how well it is able to reach, interact with and influence a consumer, in particular with regards to their decision making process (which has a lot to do with ‘Trust’). It’s a big subject area and worth a lot of $ when you look at the $ad spend invested by these brands. Millward Brown have their ‘formula in a bottle’ to compare brand power but I believe the only place this list belongs is in a Sunday-Financial-Pullout-Section and that it is not indicative of a modern day ‘powerful consumer brand’ particularly in today’s digital world.

As a footnote I should say that my core interest lies in understanding the ever-evolving ‘digital’ consumer, (which of course is now an every day consumer too). I spend most of my day listening, observing (some might say spying), engaging in real conversations as well as looking at a lot of quant data and an array of third party research. I’m of the school of thought that you can define a brand by what consumers actually think and feel about a brand – I do not believe a brand is always what the CMO says the brand is so when I see a list like the one above it makes me squirm slightly. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Firstly I do recommend reading the full PDF of Millward Brown’s Top 100 Brands (here) and come to your own conclusion – hey… you may just love it and agree with their definition of ‘brand power’ 100%. That’s ok by me – I’m just offering another way of looking at things.

image

The first problem for me is right here below an excerpt from their report:

“Customer Opinion
The secret ingredient is WPP’s BrandZ
database, based on an annual quantitative
brand equity study in which consumers and
business customers familiar with a category
evaluate brands.
Since BrandZ’s inception over 10 years
ago, more than one million consumers and
business-to-business customers across
31 countries have shared their opinions
about thousands of brands. It is the most
comprehensive, global, and consistent study
of brand equity.”

As you can see the above plays a critical part within the formula below used to calculate the list.

image

So why do I have an issue with this? For a start I’m not a big fan of anything that tells me they have “secret ingredients”… especially when I believe the raw data is available elsewhere in digital channels already and in much larger quantities. Secondly I do not believe the final list reflects the actual brand sentiment or evidence that can be seen daily by the interactions consumers have in the digital landscape, which as a source of information offers a lot more qual and quant data than any one study a single company can undertake to produce in a ‘comprehensive study’.

Search Trends – An alternative way to measure Brand Power
When you have enough data, the signal usually rises above the noise. Search trend data (which Google makes available here) gives us some critical insight into ‘real’ Brand Power pull and arguably the biggest source of data available on a brand. In this instance if a brand is unable to PULL its consumers into active search through it’s spend on marketing, comms, PR, CRM, new product innovation etc then there is probably an issue in here that needs to be addressed. I know some will question if search is relevant to all brands, but I would argue that even with ‘low interest categories’ the global data is there. Example: Here’s Wrigley’s in amongst the category mix for Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum over the last 4.5 yrs.

image 

The argument against the top 100 brand power list:
Let’s take some of these brands in the top 100 and look at search trend data from the last 5+ years in Google as well as the last 12 months. (Note: I’ve chosen unique brand keywords to look to keep the data more ‘pure/clean’ for my examples). Given that the growth of the Internet during this period you would expect to see a brand in good health showing positive results in search and an upwards curve. This is NOT the case with many of the brands listed in Milward Brown’s top 100. In fact IBM (#4 on the list) has seen a steady decline in search traffic, yet it is listed as being 20% more valuable than the previous year. Sure – they are not focussing efforts on the consumer these days, but that to me means they are not as powerful as a global brand as I see it. IBM belongs in a list which talks to corporate, finance, and niche brand power and does not belong at #4 on a list which defines Global Brand Value/Power. To the image below – in general when it comes to consumer facing brands my own opinion is that when search data trends down it usually represents negative brand health.

   image

In fact many other brands in the list (and yes, I include Porsche in here) are flat-lining which in real terms represents a relative decline given the growing internet usage and penetration occurring. (Please note I’m keeping data simple here and concentrating on Search  – I have actually taken time to look at plenty of Buzz/Social media trends and available traffic data as well and most trending data is in line with search data).

Going Up or Down?
Millward Brown states that Vodafone’s brand value is up 45%, IKEA is DOWN 21% (at #95 in the table) and Tesco is down 1%. (Strange?! IKEA attracts double the search volume of Tesco but is ranked 74 places behind on the list which begs the question: Does Tesco’s financial performance really make it that much more powerful as a brand?). In fact all of these three brands are seeing marginally positive search growth when adjusting for seasonal trends and economic factors so I would suggest a positive brand increase overall for all three.

image

I’m the Chairman of IBM what do I do?
Now, I’m sure Millward Brown’s report probably makes a few CEO’s feel a little better about their business (and no doubt helps WPP’s advertising empire too), but personally I cannot agree with these results as a definitive list of modern day brand power. The reality is that the consumer of 10 years ago does not exist anymore. Today’s consumer connects, shares, evaluates in entirely different ways which of course is another blog post for another day. If you are the Chairman of IBM and you’re reading this, then my advice, “It’s time for you to rethink your brand strategy – your consumer has shifted and you as a brand haven’t moved and are certainly not moving with them at the moment” and if you think that the only people you need to impress with your brand is the CTO, CMO, CEO and CFO then I would beg to differ.

So… what are the most powerful brands?
As a start point I believe the most powerful brands are the ones which consumers trust the most, identify with and feel comfortable enough to share with others. Yes of course financial stability is important and plays a big part when it comes to “Trust” which is possibly the single most important word when it comes to Brand Power.

I find it amazing that there was no section in this report on ‘digital brands’ especially when you look at the search data below… now  you start to get an idea of how BIG these new digital brands are in peoples lives. Facebook has actually outpaced Google in search trends by almost 3:1. YouTube is the worlds second biggest search engine, and ranks higher than Google itself in trends.

image

On the chart above none of the top 100 brands make a dent on Google, and even Microsoft looks small next to that. I could go on and on… but I’ve probably made my point and this is supposed to be a blog post not a thesis.

My Conclusions:
– The top 100 brands in Millward Brown’s list do not match available trend data on brands from independent sources such as Google, Blogpulse, Alexa etc.
– Digital Brands like Facebook clearly belong in any Power Brand list if sheer volume of interaction plays a part in establishing the power of a modern brand.
– IBM and many other brands on this list that were given positive brand health in 2009 by MB are in fact declining (from a consumer perspective).
– Big brands are still not investing enough in digital as a channel as a proportion of overall marketing spend.
– Traditional agencies still selling too many brands ‘the old way’ – not investing in digital relationships with their customers.
– Reports of this kind should include public sources of data. Why not include search data, twitter mentions, blog posts and semantic data in forming these kind of studies?
– Brand Power should not be based so heavily on financial data. Some of the biggest brands are also the most complained about brands.
– Lack of competition in a category yielding financial success should not be mistaken for positive brand sentiment.

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac) – feel free to drop me a comment!


Why TweeterGetter will not and does not work.

February 16, 2009

The site Tweetergetter.com offers a ‘pyramid-like’ system suggesting that from a single tweet you could net 19,530 followers within 5 degrees of retweet from a single tweet.

image

In the last 7 days GaryMcCaffreys message has been retweeted over 11,000 times. This Retweet is a “forced” tweet that occurs when a user enter their twitter name and password. The verbatim message below is delivered to your followers with your name inserted at the end of the tweet.

“RT @garymccaffrey has a crazy idea. 19,530 new twitter followers in 30 days? Check it out http://tweetergetter.com/username

image
Shown above: RT Data from Retweetist.com on the above retweet: (http://www.retweetist.com/users/garymccaffrey)
Note that the decay has already started in terms of the viral effect with the retweets peaking on Feb 12.

The logic as shown at retweetist.com.

image

Of course like most pyramid schemes the offer seems logical, but it of course is flawed – the maths require perfect conversion with no dropoff at any stage in order to get close to the numbers shown. No matter how early you jumped in on the chain, the slightest splintering drops users out of the pyramid as quickly as they came in.

The Evidence:
We took a broad sampling of around 30 users who signed up to the scheme early on and tracked their results through http://www.twittercounter.com. Results showed that in most cases the growth was limited to a handful of followers usually around 15-20, nothing like the dozens, hundreds or thousands of followers that tweetergetter suggested was possible. The fact that the curves we see level off very quickly in each case is evidence that the model is not sustainable. If tweetergetter was working, the curve should actually be accelerating upwards fairly quickly, especially with the nature of fast burnout that naturally occurs with tweets which have a very short shelf life. Viral behaviour is normally recognisable as a distinguished ‘J’ curve and indeed the tweetergetter chart above suggests that is what ‘should occur’ “even with conservative estimates”.

Illustrated Samples:
The examples below are a random sample base from some of the 30 that we checked from Feb 11 to today:

Growth of these accounts are provided by TwitterCounter which monitors twitter account growth on a daily basis.

image 

image

image

image 

image

image 

To sample these results for yourself follow the twitter search here then take the user name and append it to the end of the twittercounter url  http://twittercounter.com/ insert_twitter_name

Conclusion:
In a nutshell, the only likely recipient of any mass following is Gary McCaffrey himself (who by default gains a new follower from every transaction). Of course TweeterGetter is essentially an opt-in campaign – so it is simply a case of ‘buyer beware’. It’s up to you if you decide to use the site.

Of course it is also up to you who you might “unfollow” at the end of it all 😉

I’m sure each and every one of you reading this will find many great follows with or without TweeterGetter.
Regards,
@eunmac


Beautiful data : visualization links and examples

December 4, 2008

I’ve said in the past that some of the best Creative Directors of tomorrow will be those who also appreciate the usefulness of data and analytics. This may seem to be a contradiction in terms but in a digital world, a creative mind that is able to find meaning in spreadsheets, graphs and data may discover ‘gold’ that can compliment, add to, or even originate new ideas.

Unfortunately creative people are usually visual beasts who thrive on imagery, not numbers. (Ugghh!) It would be nice if we could decode ‘matrix style’ data into meaningful insight that allowed us to see patterns and trends. The good news is that there are tools and people that see data in a different way – I’ve listed some of my favourites below:

Data visualisation examples:
image
http://www.number27.org/work/maps/index.html

image
http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/

Other resources and examples:

http://marumushi.com/
http://infosthetics.com/
http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager
http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/
http://demo.qlikview.com/
http://www.neoformix.com/Projects/TwitterStreamGraphs/view.php
http://blog.instantcognition.com/
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2008/06/citysense-reality-mining-iphone.html
http://www.setpixel.com/
http://www.swivel.com/
http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/treemap-history/index.shtml
http://www.issuecrawler.net/

I know there are those who disagree with me on this, and I understand their viewpoint as I am also a huge believer in the expression “Knowledge does not always give you Insight”. Despite the difficulty in adapting to thinking in this new way I have become quite happy spending time in Excel etc and after a few hard years it has become my friend not my enemy.

Iain
(Exec Creative Director, Amnesia Razorfish) – (
twitter/eunmac)


Monitor coverage and issues online with Perspctv

November 5, 2008

Perspctv is a web service that shows and compares online coverage of up to five issues across twitter, news and the blogosphere.

Currently the site is automatically tracking coverage of the US Election going on right now, but users can make their own dashboards by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

image

That’s the first one I made, comparing "android”, “blackberry” and “iphone”. Coincidentally, that’s the first one that TechCrunch tried.

Check it out at http://www.perspctv.com/