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Honing in on iBeacons

In the last few years we have certainly learned that hype and natter don’t necessarily mean that new technology will take off – just take a look at Google Glass which is “resting” as of earlier this year after a tidal wave of disappointment and unenthused reviews.

If you’re not part of the conversation however, you can’t expect to be in the know, and if you’re not in the know then you’ll soon be using yesterday’s technology. We’re hearing a lot of noise recently about iBeacons and thought we’d add our two-cents for those unaware of the potential of Beacon technology – our team makes up several of just 40,000 devs tapping into it.

iBeacons are certainly nothing new, Apple has been using them in store since 2013 with their Apple Store app. What is new however is the understanding around what they can do for businesses, and the technology to support increased functionality.

What are iBeacons?
An iBeacon is a small, wireless sensor capable of broadcasting signals which your smartphone can read. Your device then produces content via an app offering a contextually richer experience, whatever that may be.

iBeacons are powered by coin battery and have built in antennas, running on BLE (Bluetooth Smart) technology. They are highly sensitive devices, monitoring location, temperature and motion, and work on any iOS 7.0 device onwards, as well as Android.

How can it change user experience?
Retailers are the primary example used to demonstrate the use of iBeacons to offer a richer experience to customers.

Imagine walking down the street and being pulled (reluctantly of course) into your favourite shoe shop by a push notification via the brand’s app which tells you there’s 10% off selected items today only. Based on your previous online purchases and perusing, with help from the beacons your smartphone can direct you to the stand which stocks your preferred style of shoe.

Not impressed yet? Well, stand there too long – perhaps it’s the shade or the shape you’re not quite sold on – and the beacon could instruct your app to offer you an additional 10% off since you’re clearly umming and ahhing. What’s more you could even pay for the shoes without waiting at a till, without even pulling out your wallet or purse.

From events to directions, the limits of iBeacons are nowhere in sight currently. The technology could single-handedly erase the need for audio guides in museums, internal maps, and welcome information packs as you enter an event.

The video below shows a brilliant example of using beacons to aid hard-sighted people to navigate busy or potentially hazardous environments:

Even in the last 12 months, battery life has been extended from 2 to 3 years, showing the pace at which this technology is advancing to meet future demand. Whether this demand materialises remains to be seen, however with names such as Macy’s, Virgin and Nivea all exploring the uses of iBeacons, we’re glad we’re on the iBeacon radar.

Social Media and The 2015 Election

A week on from the general election, we’ve been reflecting on how social media has impacted the campaign, or should we say #GE15.


Social media has seen enormous growth since the last campaign in 2010. According to the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, then, just 34% of people in the UK were active on social networking sites. Now, well over half the population have become social media junkies, meaning the political parties couldn’t ignore the reach of the platform as a method of engagement with potential electorates, particularly those that may not have been old enough to vote in the 2010 election. 


The election was a great demonstration of how journalism has changed now that people’s views are more readily available, therefore influencing and often making the headlines. Social media was a way parties could get the press to amplify their message; for some this worked in their favour, for others it backfired.


There was the cringe-worthy Joey Essex meets Nick Clegg interview which went viral. The hilarious, if slightly nauseating, rise of #Milifandom. The brilliant Green Party boyband-esque campaign video; plus on the day we took to the polls, the ‘I Voted’ button on Facebook was used more than 3 million times, with #iVoted tweeted 2.2 million times.

 


All this activity was a way of the parties convincing those of us who weren’t sure that they were ‘the right’ choice to make. It also gave politicians, or their PRs, a platform to show a more human side to the party.

So who were they pitching to? There were three types of listener during this election:


1.    The bystander –33.9% of the UK didn’t vote, and we’re betting the majority of these would have social media accounts.  Social media alone isn’t going to change someone’s ideologies, but this group of people could become more and more important to politicians as the social aspect of elections increases.


2.    Stuck in their way  - the people who voted but for the party they always intended to vote for, irregardless of social media.It is likely that they saw little content from parties other than the party they planned to vote for, given outreach budgets from parties other than the Tories, whose £114,000 Facebook bill was leaked to the BBC with Labour reportedly spending a mere £10,000 a month. The graph below shows how viewed content was largely constricted to parties’ immediate audiences. In short, very few voters were interested in seeing content from more than their preferred party.
 

Image from www.bbc.co.uk


3.    Changed voters  - Those who engaged on social media and therefore voted differently as a result, better still they encouraged others to do the same. Although such advocators are what parties are aiming for across the board, this is probably the smallest demographic of potential voters on social media, as well as the hardest (and therefore priciest) to win over.

What must be realised however, is that the election was not a social-centric event. Manifestos aren’t there directly from the horse’s mouth, they’re shared by a carefully put together campaign team. But will ‘social politics’ come to life in future elections just as social journalism has? Only #GE20 will tell.

OTT Advertising: a Review of Protein World's Campaign

Several times a year it seems, an advertising campaign sets consumers on the warpath by overstepping a line. The agency or brand (?) behind the campaign may or may not have been aware of this line, however what fascinates us is that the boundaries are never fixed, and therefore can never be 100% respected. With changing consumer behaviours, trends and marketing methods it’s not an easy line to see, and some would argue that it grows fainter by the day.


The latest storm comes from Protein World’s now infamous Beach Body Ready campaign, which is so in-your-face and populous it’s impossible to miss. The posters, calling women to weigh up - no pun intended - their bodily satisfaction with the cost of Slender Blend, have resulted in more than 200 complaints to the ASA, defaced posters, the viral hashtag #EachBodysReady (born from vandalised poster text), and the posters ultimately being removed on Wednesday 29th April.


As consumers, we all know that our heartstrings are pulled hundreds of times a day by adverts in an attempt to boost sales, awareness, and profit, but at what point do we mind? What, I ask, is the difference between the ad above and countless millions showing women with picture-perfect skin, lithe figures and other enviable traits? We delve a little deeper.


It appears that our bodies, unsurprisingly perhaps, are a difficult topic for advertisers. If we’re not fitness-minded, we celebrate our independence from an arguably superficial industry. If we’re on the fence, we don’t mind gentle, supportive prods. If we enjoy a good sweat fest, we love the strength behind campaigns like Nike Women or Fitness First Team GB that push us to reach goals which we already set for ourselves.


All three segments seem to have had standout campaigns in recent years, and even recent months. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has been going for a decade and still continues to give that feel-good-factor to ‘real women’. ‘This Girl Can’, launched in January 2015, shows a series of women committed to fitness and health for empowerment and enjoyment, not for aesthetic purposes. Nike Women challenges women to push themselves harder to achieve their goals, featuring strong and determined athletes. All three campaigns harboured tremendous support from their targeted segment and outside it, so where did Protein World get it wrong? So wrong that people are willing to risk their lives walking across tube tracks to rip the posters down!?

 

 

Targeting


Firstly, I would go back to my point about ads pushing us to reach goals we have already – even subconsciously – set ourselves. One of the largest problems (in my opinion) with this campaign was the lack of targeting. Anyone using the Tube at any time of day, any day of the week, would be bombarded by images of a physique that is near-impossible to gain for the vast majority, and for many, undesirable.


It informed us we should be pushing to reach a goal we have not set ourselves, and reminded us of that goal on our way to work with our Friday Feeling caramel macchiato, on our way home, and after drinks out with our friends. Find a concentration of people who have set the goal of having the perfect body, and you’re on to a winner – it certainly isn’t on the Tube.


Tone


With different text, this ad could have come across very differently. Posing the question “are you beach body ready?” serves just one purpose – to make us question how comfortable we are in our own skin. As a woman, the ad said to me “you might think you’re admissible for the beach, but then again there’s that bulge just above your bikini strings, and your arms could definitely benefit from a zero-gluten-fat-sugar-sodium diet”.
In short, Protein World are telling us we’re not good enough, and we resent that. Accommodating for the difference in opinion regarding beach body readiness was all that was lacking.


Response to the backlash


Social media presents a plethora of options for companies to get their message heard. If Protein World CEO Arjun Seth had recognised this, or had any tact in responding to offended audiences, we missed it, and so did they. Protein World clearly has very set views on what is and isn’t okay when it comes to our bodies. Seth responded to protesters "and it's ok to be fat and out of shape instead of healthy? We are a nation of sympathisers for fatties. #DoesntHelpAnyone". He also responded to comedienne and writer Juliette Burton, proving that it’s more often than not a good idea to take complaints or criticisms offline when it comes to social media management.
 
Protein World-gate is a perfect example of how all news is definitely not good news. Yes everyone may have been talking about their brand this week, but for all the wrong reasons. Their handling of the situation is also an example of how integral crisis management is to the PR and marketing mix. Often when companies have a “we can handle anything” attitude is when they should really question their reputation management strategy.

ID Recruits Laura Wiles

Interdirect is pleased to welcome Laura Wiles to our client services team as an account manager. With a passion for digital marketing, Laura joins the team with 10 years’ experience working for marketing agencies in B2B, B2C and internal capacities.


Laura will be part of our client services team and will strive to create innovative lead generation strategies through emerging technologies, ensuring that offline and online campaigns work seamlessly together.


We took five to get to know a little bit more about Laura…


Born and bred: I was born in Milton Keynes and grew up in Newport Pagnell. I spent much of my childhood volunteering, fundraising and promoting the charities I worked with…marketing was an easy choice of career.

Favourite food: Any with cheese or maple flavoured! 

Pub-Friday beverage of choice: Whiskey and ginger (we’re going to have to try this one!)


Name one thing on your bucket list: I would love to travel Europe and the United States on a motorcycle.


First impressions of ID: We’re such a passionate bunch! We’re evolving all the time and I feel really at home here as I’m able to be a part of how to change and grow. It’s great to be part of an agency that values skill and experience.


The thing I love the most about my job is: Being able to inspire. I enjoy finding new methods to get my client’s message in front of audiences. It is a huge thing to have a client trust you to try something new and unknown.


When I’m not at ID, you’ll find me: At a gym class or watching something awesome on Netflix.


Something you might not know about me: I’m a computer gamer – I particularly enjoy World of Warcraft!


Contact Laura at laura@interdirect.co.uk or on 0345 121 5566.

The Aftermath of Mobilegeddon

Few of us go to work fearing a meteor shower of intergalactic smartphones, but last week this was a fear I shared - on Tuesday 21st April, to be precise. If you’re at all familiar with the world of online marketing, you’ll know that this isn’t because stock from alien Carphone Warehouses was entering our atmosphere, but because Google’s “mobilegeddon” roll out began on this day.


With promises of “significant” shakeups to SERPs on mobile devices, at Interdirect we were prepared for instantly radical shifts in traffic levels, and widespread SEO chaos. What we saw, as I’ll explain below, was a spread of results that were neither shocking nor uninteresting.


The two month notice gave businesses (and agencies) some time to prepare, seeing a 4.7% growth of mobile friendly websites in this time frame alone. With the data we’re seeing, if your business relies largely on traffic, we hope you were one of these early birds! Let’s take a look at the impact of the mobile search update over the last week.


Winners and losers


Depending on the responsive/unresponsive status of your competitors, there were doubtless huge gains to be made if you were ahead of the game. To get an idea of who “won” and “lost” the most in the immediate aftermath of the algorithm update, Searchmetrics did some research on fluctuations in SERP visibility. 
Amongst the biggest losers were Reddit, showing a 27% loss in mobile rankings and NBC with a 28% loss. Searchmetrics also looked at the performance ratio between mobile and desktop rankings, and found that these two sites recorded 36% and 40% declines in mobile performance. Ouch.


On the flip side of the coin were websites such as ForeignAffairs.com, showing a whopping 771% increase in mobile rankings and a 37% increase in mobile to desktop performance.


I don’t doubt that these larger losers are on their way to being mobile friendly, and since the algorithm crawls and tests mobile friendliness on a daily basis, we can predict that the current roadrunners will not keep their speed-of-light pace up for long. Neither will currently unresponsive websites be penalised for not having met the April 21 deadline once they make the shift. Still, when looking at Searchmetrics’ results it’s difficult to argue that the update is insignificant.


These days online marketing is holistic, and as such we advised all our clients to work towards being mobile friendly, whether we host or built their site or not. Being both a costly and time consuming process, we have a small number of clients who unfortunately could not meet this deadline. As a result, we also have a spread of winners, losers and those in-between.


So what did we see?


We’re still keeping our eyes well and truly glued to the statistics, since Google has reported that the rollout has not been implemented at all data centres. This is what we have seen in the last week (compared to previous week) for organic users on mobiles:


Clients who do not have mobile friendly websites saw anything up to a 33% decline in users. Whilst some did not see dramatic dips, the overall trend is downwards, and this doesn’t look set to change. Whilst a 5% drop may not seem significant, you may change your mind when you realise your competitors are reporting 15% growth!


We saw anything from a 10% to 37% increase in users for responsive sites with regular SEO activity. These were among the most fortunate of our clients, especially the ones whose competitors are not mobile friendly or maintaining good SEO practices.


A small number of our clients showed steady data, consistent with growth patterns prior to April 21. This was seen mainly for clients whose peers have similarly advanced websites, meaning competition in SERPs remained relatively unchanged, or for those with responsive sites but without regular SEO activity. As their peers change, however, these clients can expect to see their site falling on one side of the fence or the other.


The skyline after “Mobilegeddon”


The update certainly isn’t a storm in a teacup, and even if you’re surviving for the time being, we can bet you’re going to start feeling the lag in the coming months. We’ll post an update in several weeks’ time to show how things have developed.


What it boils down to is that Google cares about its users and their user experience (UX), unsurprisingly including the 50% who are searching on mobiles. If you’re smart, so should you be.

Mobile Applications Explained

2015 is ‘the year of the mobile’. Didn’t we hear that in 2014? #justsaying.

Anyway, the fact is mobile is the platform that people are using to interact with brands and businesses due to its very nature – accessibility anywhere.

We’ve had a number of clients come to us in expectation of the shift in user behaviour, asking about what mobile-ready solution we can develop. For many of them, this means a mobile application.

To the uninformed, there seems to be a plethora of options out there when it comes to mobile apps. And you’d be right, there is. But each one has its specific purpose and ‘best-fit’ depending on the client, their industry and their objectives.

Our senior developer Tom Jenkins explains:

Mobile Applications
The umbrella definition used for native, hybrid and web based applications. Simply put - an application that can be used on any smartphone, tablet or portable device.

Native Applications
An application which is designed to run on a specific operating system, so must be adapted to work on different devices. These include iOS, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile applications to name but a few, and are sold by their own stores, such as the App Store. The BBC News app, Shazam and Angry Birds are examples of these. These apps can access the majority, if not all, of your device's capabilities to enhance the user experience.

Hybrid Applications
These are applications that are designed and built using standard web languages and processes, but then enclosed in a ‘native wrapper’ so to speak. This means that it can be installed on your device and then access some of its capabilities such as the camera, contacts and calendar. The main advantage of hybrid apps is their flexibility, as they can be used on every type of operating system without change from a developer’s point of view. However, many companies are choosing mobile or repsonsive websites or native applications as the best solution. The BBC London 2012 Olympics App still stands as the best example of a hybrid application the ID team has seen.

Web Applications
Web apps are sometimes designed to look, feel and behaved like apps but are written in web languages. All of, or some parts, the language are then downloaded from the website each time it’s run (like a normal website). It can usually be accessed from all mobile devices and is designed to perform a single, specific function. These can be quick to develop and effective, yet sometimes simple in terms of functionality.

Mobile/ Responsive Applications
These are versions of a website which have been optimised to be accessed on a mobile device and contain content also found on the main version of the website. If you’ve ever seen a ‘mobile version’ of a website, that’s what we’re talking about. A mobile application takes you away from the main site to the mobile version, whereas a responsive application responds to the size of the device and adjusts the design accordingly –clever. We’re developing more and more of these for our clients, including; David Hunt Lighting, Millbrook Venues and St David’s Dewi Sant Shopping Centre.