Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Crowdsourcing ideas

Idea generation

Is crowdsourcing the future of business innovation?

The rising phenomenon of crowdsourcing is bringing strong, profitable ideas to market at a pace previously unimagined. Crowdsourcing is a unique way of obtaining research and feedback for product development or seeking out innovative solutions to a range of problems. Success stories born from crowdsourcing include the pebble smart watch and a Veronica Mars feature film.

Popular crowdsourcing platforms

Two popular crowdsourcing platforms are  Topcoder and Innocentive

Topcoder’s mission is “to reward and recognize the world’s best designers, developers and data scientists for honing and improving their skills” this crowdsourcing platform is based upon a community of competition. The members, or ‘competitors’ work on challenges faced by Topcoder’s customer base, a mix of Global 2000 companies.

How does crowdsourcing ideas work?

Topcoder creates challenges that are broken down into three ‘tracks’ – design, development and data science. These are further categorised into specific disciplines such as graphic design, algorithms and code development. The site operates on its own rating system that rates competitors on their solutions and reliability. Each solution submitted is subjected to a peer review as a means of quality control and a way of providing feedback to contributors. Entrance into the ‘Winner’s Circle’ and merit badges are awarded to those who win the challenges.
Topcoder provides an innovative way for those working in the web design industry to collaborate with each other and improve best practice across the trade.
Crowdsourcing works by taking advantage of the collective intelligence and opinions of as many people as possible. Innocentive, a crowdsourcing platform, aims to provide research and development, innovation and product development through “engaging thousands, or even millions of professionals who provide solutions and novel ideas”. Users can submit ideas for feedback, problems for solutions and questions for research.
Innocentive has also developed ‘Innocentive at work’, a cloud based application that is designed to create ‘innovation communities’ from groups of employees, partners and customers. This allows private crowdsourcing within corporations and agencies, giving them a cost effective way of collaboration and a much larger outreach.
Again, as with Topcoder, Innocentive has a community of competition approach whereby contributors compete to provide solutions and ideas in their respective fields. Innocentive also prides itself on standing apart from other innovation providers in that customers only pay for results, not for work undertaken or failed ideas. Innocentive calls this a ‘fundamental change in the economics of innovation’.


Who has used crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is also an inventive way of developing new products. Threadless, a t-shirt printing company asks artists from around the world to submit designs for their products. Members of the ‘Threadless community’ review and score the designs and the best ones are printed and sold earning the artists royalties from the sales.
Still a relatively new way of problem solving, product development and market research, crowdsourcing has a lot of potential for future application. Recent developments have seen it being used by government officials such as New Zealand’s Green Party MP Gareth Hughes. Hughes used crowdsourcing as a way of gaining feedback and improvements on a draft of an internet rights bill that his party was to put forward to its government.

And if you have a great idea, but no cash to finance the next big thing, read about crowdfunding here.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Top 5 reasons for Uber’s success


Read how Uber rocketed from an idea to a service in over 450 cities

In 2008 two guys were in Paris and stuck for a lift. No taxis, no public transport and as necessity is the mother of all invention, Uber was created. The company was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. Uber has achieved that elusive thing, an app that was an idea has gone mainstream and become part of everyday life. So how have they done it?

#1 Uber’s success – More than a gap, a real need

The first thing was to spot the gap in the market. While it may have started as an aspirational lifestyle item – being the guy who has a cab at his disposal – it has fulfilled a very real role in a functional market, with normal taxi services being a little shambolic, relying on you having a cab firm’s number, having the right money with you or having to ask to go to a cash machine, not being quite sure who might pick you up. However, Uber has removed those problems in one fell swoop.

#2 Uber’s success – Adopt technology at the core

In 2010 Uber started with three cars in New York and used Twitter to hire a product manager. It had the potential to be a great service, but that’s true of many start-ups. Uber cleverly based the business on technology at its core.

#3 Uber’s success – Embrace marketing

The revolutionary cab service embraced marketing, equally in a non-traditional way. Their digital marketing strategy focused on raising brand awareness – sponsorship of relevant major events and publicity ‘stunts’ such as the motorcades on President’s Day, where their tagline was “This President’s Day, take a trip in the UBERcade”. With social media images being shared with millions simply by the tap of a screen, the brand became instantly familiar in people’s minds.

Clearly the marketing team have had classical and digital marketing training. What’s more important is that they’ve applied the marketing theory to the business need and remained agile.

#4 Uber’s success -Harness the crowd

As Uber’s numbers grew, they utilised the classic ‘recommend a friend’ tactic, encouraging existing users to spread the word about their service. They did this with reward vouchers – if you referred a friend who signed up you both got a discount voucher for use against a future trip.

#5 Uber’s success – Fuel for social media

Uber encouraged demand by rumours, which spread so delightfully online and through social media! Known as ‘stealth Ubers’ they would hint at their arrival in a city but make no official announcement, letting the rumour and hype fuel the desire to try it out and see what’s around. The political nature of introducing the service, with complicated licensing regulations and protests from established Black Cabs guaranteed media interest too.

What’s next for Uber?

And the competitors have now appeared, Lyft, Heetch and Curb. The difference is that Uber continues to develop the app and crucially to develop the product offer. UberPool, UberEats and more product evolution takes place and continues to strengthen the brand.

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

SnapAds - Advertising on Snapchat

I had an email today from 4C who advised that they have been named as a Snapchat Partner and will develop new self-service software to help brands engage their audiences with Snap Ads.

As we know, Snapchat is a popular social media channel for advertisers given its 100+ million daily active users and 10+ billion daily video views. 

Snapchat user profile

  • In the U.S., 60% of 13-34 year old smartphone owners use the app
  • Gender composition is approximately 50% female and 50% male 
  • Half of all Snapchatters are based outside the US

“The ability to advertise on Snapchat has been one of the biggest asks from our clients over the past year,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C. “Snapchat Partners will provide that access while allowing 4C to continue to build innovative solutions within our own product suite. Being a Snapchat Partner also gives our clients confidence that Snapchat has identified 4C as a partner that will be able to help them achieve success on the platform.”

“Snap Ads are different than what is currently available in the market and will be big for brands,” said Alok Choudhary, founder and Chief Scientist at 4C. “The Snap Ads format is full screen, audio is usually on and the demographic is great. Both Snapchat and 4C share an intense focus on innovation and user experience and being a Snapchat Partner will allow our clients to evolve in parallel.”

Introduction to YouTube advertising

Introduction to YouTube Ads

Read our introduction to YouTube advertising.

Why YouTube Advertising?

Google recently claimed, controversially, that YouTube ads are more effective than TV ads. With their findings based on analysis of 56 case studies, Google suggested that advertisers should be allocating six times more of their advertising budget to YouTube than they currently do.

The booming success of YouTube has played a huge part in the rise of ‘Team Internet’, the social media influencers taking the internet by storm and carving a career from self-created content. YouTube ads are one of the ways to make money from the online video platform.

How do YouTube ads work?

YouTube ads typically play at the beginning of a YouTube video. Viewers often have the option to skip after five seconds, while shorter ads must be played through for their 30 second duration. YouTube recently added the option for content creators to place ads in at intervals throughout the video, as well as at the start.

Benefits of YouTube Advertising

One of the key benefits of YouTube marketing is how it allows you to connect with your audience in a way that is becoming increasingly fundamental to online marketing and social media advertising as a whole. Consumers want to interact and YouTube provides a great way to do this.

Plus if a viewer doesn’t see enough of the ad, you don’t pay. YouTube understands that a minimum view time is required.

Customise YouTube ads

YouTube ads are also customised and tailored towards the individual who is viewing them, which is one big leap from traditional advertising. The adverts shown will be related to a user’s search history and the content they are currently viewing, meaning that ads are relevant. On live TV, all viewers see the same adverts, which may cause users to switch off from them. On YouTube, your ad is more likely to be seen by people who are actually interested in the product or service.

YouTube Statistics

YouTube’s stats are impressive. It is the third most visited website in the world, behind only Google and Facebook. One billion people visit YouTube each month and over 100 hours of video are uploaded every 60 seconds. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, YouTube reportedly reaches more US adults under the age of 34 than any cable network does.

The reach of YouTube is already large and is getting bigger. Advertising on Youtube will soon be the norm and it is an exciting market to tap into right now.

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Facebook Canvas

Facebook canvas

What is Facebook Canvas, and how does it work?

Facebook Canvas is a response to the way that mobile browsing has overtaken desktop for the first time. A number of trends suggest that the growth of mobile is set to continue in the future.

While the Facebook mobile app serves those with personal pages well, many businesses struggle to relate to mobile users and offer the same immersive experience that a user would get on a desktop. Never ones to be behind a trend, Facebook have adapted and developed a new tool built for companies and businesses using the mobile platform.

Facebook Canvas essentials

Facebook Canvas, an app for Android and iOS, provides a full screen experience for the user that can be interacted with and allows brands to tell their story and develop lasting relationships with users when on their mobile.

The digital space on Canvas is fully customisable, and companies can be as creative or as minimalistic as they want, adding features such as video, images, and texts to their advert if they choose. The tool is simple to use and the design allows marketers and advertisers the chance to use a new, highly-tuned platform to their advantage. Users, in turn, can interact with the tool, swiping images and playing video to gain a fully interactive experience on a platform that they are familiar and comfortable with.

Why use Facebook Canvas over Facebook Adverts?

While many businesses currently use Facebook adverts, the development of Facebook Canvas offers significantly more benefits to companies than Facebook ads. Adverts on Facebook often revolve around one post or one piece targeted at a specific audience. While the concept of Facebook adverts can boost individual posts, Facebook Canvas is not centred around one article or one post, but rather around the entire brand. Companies can use Canvas to show where their product comes from, or to advertise a new concept.

Canvas can allow a number of images and grants the user the opportunity to click through the advert, rather than simply being drawn to one post based on related topics. As well as this, many Facebook adverts do not seem as attractive on a mobile platform. However, Facebook Canvas allows companies and business to capitalise fully on the ever-growing mobile market.


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Friday, 3 June 2016

Why we are too scared to adopt driverless cars

We keep hearing about driverless cars and Erica Herrero-Martinez from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers sent me this information about a new survey.

UK Government and companies such as Google, Ford and Uber are all championing driverless car technology, but according to this latest public survey much more work is needed to convince the public of the benefits of driverless vehicles.

According to the survey, carried out on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 55% of the 2002 people surveyed said they were unlikely to want to be a passenger of a driverless car, with 40% said they were very unlikely to want to be a passenger. Just 21% of the people surveyed said they would be happy to ride in a driverless vehicle.

Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:
  • “The benefits of driverless vehicle technology are huge, with estimates that it could be worth as much as £51 billion a year to the UK due to fewer accidents, improved productivity and increased trade. Furthermore with 95% of all vehicle accidents being the result of human error, it makes sense to look at how we can use this new technology to help save lives.
  • “UK Government and industry is increasingly aware of these benefits of driverless technologies, and Government’s pledge in the Queen’s speech to ensure insurance is available to users of driverless cars is encouraging. But clearly there is still a long way to go to increase public confidence in the effectiveness and safety benefits of driverless technology.
  • “Many vehicles already feature driverless technology, such as a self-parking functionality and automatic braking, so public perceptions are likely to change over time. But if we truly want the UK to become a world leader of driverless vehicle technology we need to get the public on-side and championing the projects like Greenwich’s GATEway Project and the Lutz Pathfinder in Milton Keynes.
  • “Government and industry must work together not only to better educate and inform the public about driverless car technology but to make sure that they are developing the products that the end users want.”

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Programmatic advertising and Google AdWords

RTB and adwordsDiscover the difference between real time bidding (programmatic advertising) and Google AdWords

Programmatic advertising or Google AdWords?

Real time bidding (programmatic advertising) and Google AdWords are two of the most prominent digital marketing strategies in today’s market. You might have heard of one of them, both, or neither, but if you have any interest in spreading your brand using tactically aware online strategies, you should understand the difference between the two.

Real time bidding (RTB) also known as programmatic advertising

If we start with real time bidding, commonly known as RTB, we see an advertising avenue that is essentially an online version of old school ‘pay per page’ advertising seen in print publications, but dealt in terms of ‘impressions’, instead. Impressions are essentially views of online spaces on busy websites and apps that are sold as part of inventories via a bidding process – if you win the bid, you win the space, and you pay according to how many people see it. It’s a simple bidding format, with the highest bid coming out on top.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords also has a bidding process of sorts, allowing you to name a price, and a budget, for the keyword of your choice – naturally this will be a key phrase connected to your brand, and words which users of the Google search engine would enter if they are looking for your service or product. If you win the Google AdWords ‘behind the scenes’ auction, your link will appear when users enter in the key phrase you have searched for. Google only takes revenue – based on the price of the successful bid – when a user clicks on your ad from the search engine results page, hence the name of the ‘pay per click’ bracket that Google AdWords comes under.

The challenge is that it’s not an equal playing field as some businesses pay more than others for the same keywords!

Should I use RTB or Adwords?

In general terms, RTB is a good way to spread your brand as far and wide as possible, offering potential for a huge amount of views from the various websites and apps with a large footfall. Evidence suggests, however, that if click through and possible purchase is your intended customer journey, rather than attracting as many eyes as possible, Google AdWords offers the opportunity to direct more visits to your landing page. This is probably down to the nature of the platform – if used correctly, search engine users that enter one of your keywords are likely to be looking for your kind of service.

Read about RTB, programmatic advertising in this earlier post.

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