twitter boosts world cup integration

Twitter is making a real effort to stake out real-time conversations around the World Cup. While I don’t think anyone would debate Twitter’s status as the go-to social network for real-time discussions around live events, over the last few days Twitter has taken steps to enhance the platform’s ability to service these conversations with the following updates:

  • A step-by-step supporter’s guide to Twitter that walks users through how to follow their team – This appeared on both desktop and mobile versions (screenshots below from desktop)

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 2.09.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 2.09.58 PM

  • Upcoming match call-outs that link through to dedicated pages housing match-related conversation, a scoreboard, and links out to player handles (although it appears as of today that the pages aren’t as “customized” as they were earlier in the week)

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.25.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.28.45 PM

  • Team “hashflags”

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.31.01 PM Why I’m Curious? This move is all about usability – It’s awesome to see Twitter go to such lengths to ensure it’s as easy as possible for users to navigate/enjoy the one thing they know everyone will be talking about. For a platform who’s core strength is real-time conversation, the move seems a no-brainer, which makes you wonder why they haven’t pursued similar modifications, say for the Olympics. It’d be interesting to get a sense for how they’ll be gauging the success of the new features. I’ve got to imagine they made the move to facilitate more conversation, and to increase usage on a user-by-user basis…it’ll be tough though to say that the features impacted either KPI without any kind of baseline for comparison…Perhaps they didn’t roll the features out to everyone? Anyway, assuming the features are a success, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they decide to do stuff like this for future big events, and whether or not they’d ever consider handing the reins for something like this over to an advertiser.

Advertisements

it’s hip to be hair

Old Spice continues to get weird with the launch of the microsite “That’s the Power of Hair.” To promote its new line of men’s hair care products, the brand created an interactive site where you’re greeted by an Old Spice pitchman. After a short exposition on the virtues of Old Spice’s hair care products, the pitchman’s hair crawls off his head and into position at the foot of an old school looking keyboard. From there, you’re invited to type in the Huey Lewis song of your choosing, and the hair artfully rattles off its best rendition.

Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 3.19.38 PM

 

Why I’m Curious?

Old Spice has firmly staked its claim on this particular type of bizarre humor…A humor that succeeds on the power of seemingly random combinations of niche/cultish pop-culture touchstones (see also: Wolf Dog).

Executionally, the full-screen video is pretty slick, and I thought it was a clever turn to ask users to type in a Huey Lewis tune versus having them simply select from a library…You gotta dig deep! Also presents the illusion that that hair piece knows his whole repertoire (versus the still impressive 29 songs it actually can play).

a teaser for a trailer for an ad

True to their irreverent brand personality, Newcastle Brown Ale calls BS on the convention of Super Bowl ad trailers. So far, the campaign consists of a teaser (for a trailer), a microsite (http://www.ifwemadeit.com/), and a social extension under the hashtag #IfWeMadeIt.

Teaser below:

 

Why I’m Curious?

The overblown hype around Super Bowl commercials is (and has been) ripe for parody, and I’m glad somebody stepped in and acknowledged it. The execution fits perfectly with the “No Bollocks” stance/personality that the brand has been working towards in recent years, and it’s seen pretty solid response in the day or so that it’s been live (#IfWeMadeIt: http://bit.ly/1c7UYZF).

block stuff you don’t want to see

Browser add-on, rather, replaces the things you don’t want to see on Twitter and Facebook with things you’d rather see. The add-on is currently only available for Chrome, but they have plans to make available for Safari, Firefox, and mobile in the near future.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.27.59 AM

Why I’m Curious?

This add-on gets at a very real problem for a lot of people…That said, you wonder whether replacing the thing you don’t want to see with something else is really the best solution. Wouldn’t it be better to just have it not appear?

Replacing undesired content with something else lends this feature some serious quirkiness…Definitely something I could have seen Old Spice doing with their Wolfdog campaign.

How else could a feature like this serve an advertising function? Would it really only work for a campaign based in humor?

buy stuff on instagram

Unknown to me, lots of stuff gets sold on Instagram…or is at least put up for sale using the hashtag #forsale. A new company called Hashbag has stepped in to capitalize on the trend, and presumably bring a bit of order to the marketplace.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 2.58.45 PM

From what I’ve read, the selling process seems to go something like the following:

1) Post item you want to sell with hashtag #forsale

2) Hashbag emails you (not sure exactly how) for pricing info, and you oblige

3) Your item goes live on a personal Hashbag seller’s page (e.g. hashb.ag/yourhandle)

4) Somebody chooses to buy your item, and pays you using PayPal

The logistics of the process seem a bit hazy…Unless you call out your email in your profile info, I’m not 100% sure how Hashbag emails you in the first-place given that there’s no DM/PM functionality on Instagram. On the transactional end, same thing goes…not 100% sure how buyer/seller exchange PayPal info unless it’s directly in the comments section, which seems uncomfortably high profile to me.

Why I’m Curious?

Had I not known that lots of people were already doing this, I would’ve ripped on this idea more than I already am going to…Why not use eBay, an established, respected, and reliable marketplace, where you’ll likely get a better selling price, to sell whatever it is you’re selling on Instagram? Logistically, it also seems like a pain to buy/sell anything.

But, hey, the site is nice-looking, it makes it easier to sift through things that people are obviously already keen on selling, and, if the seller is registered to the site, mitigates some of the transactional difficulties. Maybe people will use this? I’m interested to see how it does.

take immersive to the next level

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto V, was released a few weeks ago…Among the game’s many cool features is an accompanying mobile app called iFruit.

GTA-V-iFruit-app-meets-Android-user-fury

From the app store write-up:

iFruit hooks directly into your experience of Grand Theft Auto V with some fun activities to further postpone the need for real social interaction. Keep up-to-date on the latest Grand Theft Auto V news, log into the Rockstar Games Social Club, stay connected on LifeInvader and launch other Rockstar Games apps.

As far as the game is concerned, the two most compelling features of the app are the ability to customize your in-game car and teach your dog, Chop, new tricks…As your in-game sidekick, these tricks can come in handy during gameplay.

Why I’m Curious?

Second-screen experiences have of course been on the rise over the past couple years…I see this as a solid example of how they can be made meaningful.

While not everyone who plays GTAV will download the app, the sub-segment of gamers who do (a sub-segment that is likely heavily invested in the game) will have their gaming experience made that much more immersive.

When done well this seems like a fertile territory for brand to play in…Red Bull, Mountain Dew, any car company that wants to take a bit edgier of a stance, could all have been viable partners on this project.

Projection Mapping Evolved

Design studio Bot & Dolly shows off their live, motion-accommodating projection mapping technology with the short film titled, “Box.”

All effects in the film below were remarkably captured in-camera:

Why I’m Curious?

I just thought this was incredible…Mind-blowing that everything in this video was captured live without any post-production work, and a prime example of what can be achieved when the boundaries of creativity and technology are pushed.

Looks expensive, but if the budget’s there and the brief calls for something huge this could feature in a pretty awesome event-based activation.

A phone made out of blocks

Two things…First, a phone you never have to throw away. Second, the explosive social platform the phone’s inventor is using to promote it.

Phonebloks is a concept that looks at the mobile phone as a constantly upgradeable, constantly renewable device.

Thunderclap is a platform for building support for a message, and then broadcasting said message with massive scale (we first picked up on it here). Think of a Kickstarter for a message…reach a certain threshold of support for a message, and that message is then blasted out across all of your supporters’ social channels.

Why I’m Curious?

Phonebloks is a very disruptive idea…in order for it get off the ground, however, consumers really need to rally around it. Is the prospect of a perpetually upgradeable, customizable phone, albeit one that will basically look like everyone else’s, sufficiently appealing? One thing’s for sure…OEM’s are certainly not going to help this along.

To the rallying around…Thunderclap seems like an immensely powerful way to get your word out there. As long as you have something that your peers will feel passionate about (be it socially- or commercially-minded), this platform can go a long way towards raising awareness around it.

Thanks Tony for the tip!

A New iPad Browser That’s Worth a Try

This week Opera released Coast, a browser crafted specifically with the iPad experience in mind. Making maximum use of the iPad’s screen size, and tap/swipe navigational features, the browser eschews standard elements like the URL bar and back/forward nav buttons in favor of more “iPad-friendly” interactions. The app has been met with stellar reviews.

Here’s Opera’s pitch:

Number one, every design element in Coast has been carefully crafted for iPad. It’s not just a mobile interface scaled up to fit a touchscreen. 

Number two, it’s comfortable to use, looks great and is based on intuitive swipe gestures.

Number three, all the stuff you don’t see. We have invented a lot of technology that works under the hood, keeping you safe and secure.

screen480x480screen480x480-1

Why I’m Curious?

With all of the discussion around optimizing experiences across devices, it surprises me that it’s taken so long for someone to take another look at the tablet browsing experience. I unfortunately haven’t been able to give Coast a try, but given the reviews, I’m led to believe that the experience is quite the improvement.

Unfortunately for Opera, it’s tough to see Apple really allowing this to take off…Expect to see a new-look Safari in the near-future.

An Integrated Campaign that Could Have Been

Two brands, two takes on acceleration.

In the first, Volkswagen goes the TV route:

 

In the second, Hyundai takes it to Vine:

Why I’m Curious?

Take the teams that hatched these ads, put them under one roof, and you’ve got a solid integrated team…Great examples of how different media can be used to their strengths to say essentially the same thing.

NBC Teaches Americans About the Premier League

Last weekend, NBC began their exclusive coverage of the 2013/2014 Barclays Premier League. This season marks the first year of their 3-year US broadcast deal, having taken the reins over from their network television competitors at Fox (who had split coverage rights with ESPN since the early 2000’s).

In the lead-up to last weekend’s season openers, NBC have been putting (what seems like) significant support behind promoting NBC Sports, the channel they set-up to broadcast most of the games, as the new home of the Premier league.

The campaign is multi-channel, covering OLA, OLV, TV, OOH (most notably the huge Gareth Bale billboard in Times Square), and print.

See one of the excellent online video’s they produced below (was also cut into a TV spot):

And a particularly well targeted banner ad on Seamless.com…

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 12.47.46 PM

Why I’m Curious?

It’s been interesting to watch this campaign unfold. As I see it, NBC Sports has two fairly distinct targets to speak to with this campaign – Diehard Premier League fans, who presumably already know that NBC Sports is the new go-to station, and new converts…people who are interested in soccer, might not know where to watch it, and might be somewhat daunted by the task of learning the ins and outs of a very foreign league.

A few notes below…

  • The viral video starring Jason Sudeikis is impressive…The video speaks very pointedly to both targets. Leveraging Sudeikis’ star power, the video follows an American football coach who has somehow found himself the coach of Tottenham Hotspur (one of the PL’s elite clubs). The video features the squad’s actual players, which is awesome, and the jokes are spot-on for anyone well-versed in both the PL, and American sports. For the new fan, Sudeikis as an American football coach has immediate appeal, and, cleverly, the video teaches the viewer through having the characters in the video teach Sudeikis about the league/sport.
  • Continuing with the “Educate” approach that partially characterized the Sudeikis video, NBC Sports produced a series “what you need to know” videos for each PL team (can be seen here). In watching these you get a very firm sense that these are for uninitiated fans, and in teaching the target about the team/sport, they continue to use the American sports references that made the Sudeikis video so successful. It’s difficult to determine what information is relevant to someone new to something…especially something as rich in history and information as the PL. I’m curious to know how helpful new fans have found these.

All in all, I think they’ve been doing a good job…will be very interesting to see what viewership looks like compared against this time last year.

TBWA’s CoCreator

TBWA unleashed a new app to identify promising start-up opportunities. The app itself, called CoCreator, functions much like an online dating service – Entrepreneurs are encouraged to join the service using their LinkedIn accounts, and log a short description about an idea that they require assistance in seeing through to the next level. The app stables a field of TBWA experts in the fields of Branding and Communication, Business and Product, and Marketing and Partnerships that users can select from. Assuming the expert sees potential in the idea…a partnership is born.

Why I’m Curious?

This is just one more in a long line of examples of established businesses dedicating resources to identifying and incubating new ideas.

In an ideal scenario, one where people sign-up in droves, the approach seems particularly savvy – The app will serve to extend the agency’s pool of ideas beyond the confines of their immediate employee network, and as a potential new business generator and/or talent identifier.

But, it would seem to me that there are a fair amount of hurdles standing in the way of a rich, diverse user base…

You’ve got to wonder to what degree potential users will be skeptical of sharing their ideas with agency professionals…because, you know, who’s to say that the idea won’t surface “on its own, organic accord” from within the agency itself several months down the line? More skepticism…to what degree does the “expert” take ownership of the idea? As a user, I’ve got to be comfortable with sacrificing a potentially significant degree of control over the future of my idea…In following with the tone of the app trailer, the whole thing seems a tad naive.

We’ll see…my hunch is that many of the app’s users will be OK with the above, but it’ll dilute the purity/quality of the ideas on offer. The app hinges on there being a certain degree of cache in the TBWA brand, and I think that that cache will attract a certain type of prospect – One who is likely already an industry professional, or one who aspires to become one…I don’t see this app attracting bona fide entrepreneurs with ideas for which they’re willing to fight tooth and nail.

People Use Citi Bike!

The New Yorker recently published the results of an analysis of the first month of Citi Bike use. Along with a handful of bulleted insights, the team has designed an interactive data visualizer that offers users a view of program use patterns in real-time.

Click through to launch full interactive Citi Bike map:

citi-bike

 

Why I’m Curious?

While not entirely surprising that the most discernible use pattern is commute-related, it is somewhat surprising how quickly this pattern emerged – Within three weeks of launch (fast-forward to 6/24), the program had been adopted and embraced to the extent that the pattern is observable like clockwork.

A few more of the team’s insights:

  • Temperatures and precipitation also influence bike use, so the map displays weather information alongside bike movement. For instance, the weaker commuting pattern on Thursday, June 13th, can be attributed, in part, to colder temperatures and over an inch of rain.
  • It’s possible that the Citi Bike system may be too successful for its own good. As the program becomes a more popular method of commuting, the workday leaves some areas bereft of bikes, making it more difficult for those with reverse or off-hour commutes to participate in the program. Citi Bike crews do redistribute the bikes, but the empty areas on the map show how challenging it is to balance their availability across the stations.
  • On weekends, the commutes are replaced by patternless, recreational movement, in which bikers meander around the city. The continuous weekend use also results in more over-all activity than Citi Bikes see on weekdays. Greg Estren, who compiles data on Citi Bike, calculated that over the six-week period from June 8th through July 19th, there was ten per cent more station activity on weekends than on weekdays.
  • July Fourth was a bikers’ holiday. As the night grew dark, Citi Bike members pedalled to the Hudson River to see the fireworks.

MIT Immersion

This is from earlier this month, but didn’t see anyone post, so figured I’d share…

A team out of MIT Media Lab launched a data visualization experiment called Immersion – Working through Gmail (and Gmail only), Immersion provides users with a web-like representation of their email interactions. Users can manipulate the time periods, as well as highlight individual contacts (represented as bubbles) for a more detailed look at the webs of interconnectivity that stem from each one.

Video below:

Why I’m Curious?

I’m always surprised by the ways in which data visualization is able to offer new perspective…It quite literally provides you with a different way of looking at something.

This tool I found particularly interesting given how clearly it lays bare all of the relationships I’ve cultivated or unfortunately let fall off over the last several years. It’s not often you’re presented with such a stark portrayal of your social interactions.

From another standpoint, it’s also pretty remarkable how quickly Immersion is able to process and analyze the data inputs, and then adjust the outputs as parameters (e.g. time period) are modified.

IFTTT

If This Then That, a service that allows you to connect two different apps or services, is now available for iPhone. The service has apparently been available as a web app since at least December of last year.

The service allows users to specify parameters (termed “recipes”) by which an action in one app will trigger an action in another, e.g. “when friend X posts a picture in Instagram, send me an SMS alert.” The amount of possible recipes is seemingly limitless, and by most accounts I’ve come across, the service works pretty smoothly.id660944635

Why I’m Curious?

This just sounds awesome to me…endlessly convenient for users, and a great example of technology being harnessed to make life easier.

It may also have potential as a tool for advertisers to target users during particularly relevant times, though I wonder about privacy/allowing users to opt-in…I suppose the app could house stock, branded recipes during promotional periods…? Ultimately, the output of the recipe has to be an interaction that users want…Might be an interesting platform for deal distribution or contests.

Kia’s Techathlete Games

The 2014 Kia Forte is the car for geeks – Prove your geekiness in the Kia Techathlete Games, and be entered to win a Forte yourself.

The Techathlete Games are a series of five Facebook-based mini games that incorporate different items in your tech arsenal: the webcam, microphone, smartphone, keyboard, and mouse. Each game is based on demonstrating a “mastery” of each individual piece of hardware.

See video for more detail:

Why I’m Curious?

Key does a pretty good job here at nailing this target. The tongue-in-cheek sense of humor is pretty spot on, and the gameplay (at least for the keyboard game that I demoed) is smooth, responsive, and actually kinda fun.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Goes Digital

The Royal Shakespeare Company and Google have teamed up to take A Midsummer Night’s Dream digital…What does that mean? Had a tough time figuring it out myself, but I found this video to be pretty helpful in explaining:

In short, the project is attempting to harness the de-centralized, multi-dimensional nature in which stories unfold online to add further depth to a work of fiction. Here’s Google’s Tom Uglow (Project director) with an illustrative example:

“Remember Charlie Sheen’s dramatic online breakdown in 2011? No one was in control of that story, and yet the world followed an electric plot that twisted and turned and looped back on itself. Most significantly, we found ourselves telling and re-telling Charlie’s story. Collectively we moved the narrative forward from multiple viewpoints, with differing degrees of accuracy. All via a deceptively simple mechanism – putting a hashtag [#] in-front of a word: #winning.” Read more.

The project is called Midsummer Night’s Dreaming – Click through for the project’s hub experience.

Why I’m Curious?

The project sounds incredibly innovative in theory…ultimately, though, its success will rely on whether or not its able to rally enough participation to make the digital experience rich enough.

Assuming it’s a success, it’ll be interesting to see if the format is adapted to suit other sorts of live events.

NYTimes Innovations Issue

Last weekend the NYTimes put out their 2013 Innovations Issue in print and digital editions. The digital edition is fully-responsive, and covers the issue’s 48 noteworthy innovations with clear and simple horizontal navigation. On top of the issue’s written content, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Photoshop, the publication also created a interactive, web-app called You Made That.

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 2.54.31 PM

Why I’m Curious?

The site is very thoughtfully designed, and looks like an enjoyable reading experience…on any device.

Generally speaking, it’s refreshing to see a company behave innovatively rather than simply pay it lip-service.

Words for Wi-Fi

Scrabble recently implemented a cool, albeit somewhat small-in-scale program…In an effort to give the brand a bit of a jolt, they set-up free wireless networks in areas of Paris lacking in free connections. But, in order to access the free wi-fi, users were asked to play a tray of Scrabble tiles…a user’s point tally amounted to the minutes of free wi-fi they were entitled to. Minutes were doubled if you shared out your word submission over Facebook.

Why I’m Curious?

People will do anything if given the right incentives. Here Scrabble did a great job of matching their ask to a commensurate reward. In effect the wi-fi “cost” the user the time/effort of entering in (and perhaps sharing) a Scrabble word…And that’s a pretty good deal if you ask me!

Volkswagen Start-Stop

Volkswagen launched another clever bit of technology this week in support of its Start-Stop engine feature. The tech comes in the form of a Chrome Extension, and it more or less mirrors the car feature it was built to promote – In the same way that the engine feature will cut/restore the engine at appropriate moments (e.g. at a stop light), the extension acts through Youtube to start and stop the video you’re watching based on whether or not you’re facing the screen.

Why I’m Curious?

Simple and direct, but also fun and innovative, this feature will leave an impression on a user in a way that, say, a banner ad simply cannot do.

The one concern with projects like this is…how to ensure your audience experiences it?