Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Apps are the new Pogs

Ooo, it’s been awhile. I must have overslept.

Do you remember Pogs? What about those Premier league/WWF (WWE for the young uns)/Street Fighter 2 Panini Stickers? They were the collectible, pocket money eating "thing" of a time twice gone. I think mobile Apps have become their digital successors. Here is why.

Blank Calories

According to these lovely SD snaps, 48% of Smartphone users are "enthusiastic" about Apps, have tons of them and think their Smartphone has improved their life - great, I am SO one of them! However, 26% of Apps are only ever opened once... I can vouch for this many a post install too! SO... we love Apps, download tons of them, but we don't have the time nor interest to use them all - fair. So what makes an App a "reopener"? It sure as heck isn’t just “functionality”.

I actually think it’s more the visual and novelty of certain App that make them keepers and "reopeners". From that icon that sits on your screen, and the Apps coolness/smoothness/eyeball service when you interacting with it. Exclusivity is also a nice icing on that cake is it not? Remember iPhone owners banging on about Angry Birds and Android owners showing off Google Goggles for the sake of exclusivity before they both crossed over? I wonder how often they used them (ok, no replies on that one from Angry Bird fans please!).

So Pogs/Panini Stickers and Mobile Apps? Well, I haven't even played Angry Birds past 8 levels... How many times have you got that Pog collection or Panini Album out to admire since you *almost* completed them? If only I had that last top right sticker of a 6x6...

This is what Apps are for me: short burst use, time killers, things to show off, not essential but nice things to have if you can; trinkets that are in themselves digital currency for their visual presence when executed properly.

Apps & Brands

Now brands and Apps... mixed bag. Take HTC sponsoring the Onion App, nice brands with no relationship or relevance, and somewhat meaningless as a partnership to me (screams MARKETING, SALES) Vs. Rotten Tomatoes sponsoring the Movie App logical, useful, adds credibility to both parties.

I wonder if brands their agencies will start to think of App sponsorship from the perspective of "Why would I want an App from this brand, what would it do, and why would I want it over the other App without the branding that probably does it better". So far, it’s looking like most branded Apps are still being created from the requirement to fill a missing Campaign component > fill it with an App approach.

Remember that Carling iPhone App? A visual treat, yet utterly pointless - how many times did you show it off or have it shown off by one of your iPhone buddies, hmm? YEAH.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tweet® tweet© baby™

Do you use Twitter? Do you even like Twitter? If the answer is yes to both, here is one more – do you follow a brand on Twitter? If so, do you give a tweet about what they have to say or are you following them for a chance to RT for some goodies? Well, whatever the reason for following them, they will be relevant to you in some way – be it in personal interest or in that you find their tweets informative in a beneficial way.

Very few brands have managed to find a real useful… use for their brand to be on Twitter. We have the broadcast streams, the customer service streams, and the campaign streams, yet the majority simply seem to be tweeting sub 140 character editions of their Press Releases – #Zzz much? Frankly, most seem to focus too much on follower numbers than the importance of engagement - do you really want 100k followers who don’t give a crap about your brand or 10 that will advocate it? It’s no surprise that dang whale keeps making an appearance at the rate that new “dud” streams are appearing!

Some streams however, for me anyway, have hit the proverbial nail on that Twitter whale’s head – examples? Go on then, but I’m not going to mention the Habitats or Starbucks of the Twitterverse because I am sure you are already clued up to them (if not here’s some help -> http://tinyurl.com/34ld28d):

The Good - marvelvscapcom – With a dedicated cult following, this cross cultural gaming franchise has announced its long awaited third iteration. Capcom have set up an official Twitter stream for fans anticipating the games release, tweeting the latest news on the games, having Capcom cult game chatter and offering promotional competitions on their stream – it’s interesting, engaging, not spammy and tweets are clearly written by people with a passion for games and all things Capcom – it even looks the part too. Great stuff!

The Bad - marvelvscapcom – erm what?! Yes, well this is a great example of a brand using Twitter in a campaign by campaign manner – new streams for products from parent companies, in this case for a game by Capcom that appear all the time but are seldom supported past the products release or campaign conclusion. It’s a pity – if brands with multiple streams were able to engage followers on one stream, a community would be in the making. Sadly, examples such as this are akin to Google Wave Beta – nice entry, quick Buzz kill (yes I did). That said, time will tell whether this stream will remain active after the release of the game (I would still assume not after initial weeks of release… Bad times).

And as a Sugi bonus… The weird - national_grid:

Possibly the most logical and direct use of a Twitter stream I’ve seen from a brand – instant updates, pure information and completely relevant to what the company does – also downright boring for the most of us but it made me “lol”. I won’t describe what they tweet, you will have to look for yourself – suffice to say that if national rail provided a stream for train spotters, this is the format they should adopt (and if Ronseal tweeted like this, they would do their adverts of the 90s proud)!

I hope you all follow shitmydadsays, and oh yes, mine too! J #ftw etc.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Retro Bar Baking

I had a random start to my night of fun last Saturday. It began with a few calls from some friends about a quirky and cool sounding night at a bar in Central London organised by Hand Baked Arcade – the event of sorts comprised of a bar, DJs playing Drum & Bass and Dub Step, and the deal maker - RETRO GAMES ON FREEPLAY!!! So, it’s safe to say I was interested in going.

Upon my approach I would be lying if the scary image of a sweaty room filled to the brim with hygienically challenged men wearing HMV Retro games T-Shirts to “make a statement” did not come to mind, but to my (relief) delight the place resembled a chic London bar with artificial beams of pixels and fun looking people around the place – #Win.

Upon finding familiar faces the first thing I clocked onto was Street Fighter 2 Turbo running on the SNES projected onto a wall screen – done deal, I made my way over. After over 7 years of not playing this game I felt back at home with that (now competitively) tiny pad and began dragon punching people. I remembered how walking up to a random stranger playing Street Fighter in the arcade and challenging them with your 30>50p to try and kill their winning streak felt. Awesome.

Within minutes of looking around an overwhelming surge of nostalgia filled my mind. It wasn’t just that there were retro games there – no, I have almost every console made and too many games to even attempt playing. Thinking back, I think it was because of the genuine ambiance of the place – nice gamer people who were sociable and a venue that had a relaxed lock in feel to it (possibly helped by the random TV screens and consoles lying around).

It reminded me of being back at uni and ending a session at the student union with some gaming until today became tomorrow; I remembered being 15 and mastering Street Fighter again; I even remembered having to blow into cart to get them to work sometimes, and how I would happily pay full price for Street Fighter Gamma edition; I remembered why I loved and still love games so much even though I no longer have the time to play them (bad times)! Oh and I like drinking too so the bar was nice.

Given that gaming (however much “mainstream” has changed it over the years) has become a bigger industry than film and music how about PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo made friendly and open up a bar somewhere together? A day time “Family zone” filled with Wiis and a bar with two rooms separated by riot doors to stop Xbox/PS fanboys from pulling each other’s hair with some dub step, DnB and Hip-Hop to chill to – be cool I think! How events such as these are niche (or otherwise non-existent) is beyond me! C’mon, even if you aren’t into games that much, admit it – when you see a retro arcade machine in a bar around Old Street or along Brighton beach, you know you turn your head and smile… even just a little… right?

So here is my hat tip to the boys and girls at Hand Baked Arcade for organising such a great night! More to follow right…? They had better make it a regular or I, quite frankly, may cry. You won’t like me when I cry.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Shows over

I saw a statistic in the lift at work last week (random stats are our graffiti). It said “1 in 10 people watch TV in bed on their laptops” (or something similar). This shocked me – not the part about 1 in 10 blah blah – no, it shocked me because seeing this stat as a poster in 2010 indicated me just how shockingly divided consumption cultures must be. Ask any student where and how they watch their TV most, I bet my £6 sushi lunch that 8 of 10 would say online and on their computer (downloaded).

Being a complete serial US TV show addict, I have seen many a good show start off, pick up momentum only to be cut short (quite irritating really). I read recently that the viewing figures that networks such as Fox, MSNBC and ABC(edfg) use to decide show success (failures) still only take into account broadcast television figures. By this point some of you may be thinking “well duh, TV channels are the source of revenue for the networks”, and yes ok fair point... in a way. However, with the world now logging on more for their viewing consumption than tuning into TV, shouldn’t the networks be keeping up with the times and taking into account the massive hordes of show audiences that watch online and adding them to the pool of television figures to judge a shows success?

Channel 4 “recently” moved gargantuan chunks of their library online and even onto a fully branded YouTube channel, BBC iPlayer can be widgetted via everything from PS3 to iPhones and “independent” online video streaming sites are (have) become the young and connected audiences preferred port of call for their latest episode fix. I think its high time networks started to get strategies in place to adapt ways of monetising without charging audiences (#fail much? Many a brand would pay to speak to your aggregated masses), and supporting new creative ideas by accepting dominant online viewing trends?

I overheard a conversation by some “media types” on the tube the other day (the underground is that boring when I forget my music on the go…). These guys had JUST discovered the “new way forward” (yes, quote, unquote) way of watching TV – on the iPod ladies and gentlemen! I was blown away by this revelation! Now as slow as these guys were to “discover” the on-demand media world around them, they had still embraced it (hurrah!).

If TV networks can learn from past mistakes of being slow to react to change, and adapt in a way that connects their audiences, both on and offline, with shows they love then the vicious cycle of the “industry suffering by online consumption” and audiences feeling let down by the networks can be remedied. No more of this “online streaming is killing the industry” nonsense – word of your shows are mostly spread by people discovering them online and sharing them online! Some cool augmented reality marketing usually works a treat and the odd adverts here and there won’t piss the majority of us off. Let us choose to watch latest episodes of 48 and Found online, show me an ad from a brand I probably like and give me a “gift” to share with my friends… or something. C’mon, the “revolution” is here after all right?

Here’s an exit thought from me to solve the excuse-come-problem with show airing slots that networks benchmark ratings upon. Is this not technically remedied online, with people streaming or downloading shows as and when? How about experimenting with measuring viewing figures based upon how many times a show is streamed and/or downloaded within 24 hours model than the old and tired battle of the prime time slots on broadcast television slots? Just a thought…