Thursday, 27 November 2008

Fresh Digital Awards

I attended my first digital awards ceremony last Thursday, the Fresh Digital Awards.

I've been to other awards ceremonies in the past during my time with Cohn & Wolfe so it was interesting to see how this one compared.

The venue, Manchester's Hilton or the Beetham Tower as it's known locally was spacious and modern and the room used for the awards I thought was good and perfectly suited.

The nominees I thought were a little mixed, some entrants I thought well deserved of their place there, others I thought a little poor. But it's always hard to judge the quality of an awards ceremony when it is only still relatively young. You never know how many entries they had to choose from for each category and it certainly seemed a few of them were short of quality.

Equally, it's hard to judge the benefits of awards ceremonies from an agencies perspective. While it's always good to get your name out there, they can be expensive affairs and you need to ensure that the cost and effort is worthwhile.

That said, I thought a number of agencies shone through as leading the way for agencies outside of London, which is good to see. Both The Neighbourhood and Fuse Digital had good nights with both picking up the top prizes.

I thought my favourite works of the night were The Neighbourhood's Stories of the Neighbourhood, Love Creative's WeLoveBread, Bluecube Interactive's BTBlack site and Fudge's Creative Times.

After the awards, the red wine was flowing for me, so it all became a slight blur sadly. But, as James Hilton from AKQA implied, its good to see the creative digital industries far more than just alive and well outside the media hub of London.

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Social Media - It's All Semantics

I've always been an advocate of getting to the point, plain English and a direct approach.

Everyone knows there are people in the work place, who spend their time ensuring they are up to date with the latest developments in their industry sectors. Social media and the pseudo industry that exists around this term, is a perfect ground for people to create new areas of expertise on a day by day basis.

In my previous life of IT management and network design, I'd never find the time to read the latest industry magazines or news sites, partly because my interest was waning in IT but equally because I believed that completing the work itself on the shop floor was as likely to keep me in tune with the industry as I sought to find solutions to existing and new problems that confronted me daily.

I'd speak to colleagues who would talk back to me in abbreviated terms that were being invented by the day. IT was becoming an abbreviated industry, I think it might have been down to its past in electronics where this obsession was born. Each day a new abbreviation was created and usually it was for a technology or method we'd been using for months but had addressed it as something else, something simple.

When I left the IT industry for good about 3 years ago I'd just finished an ITIL implementation project. ITIL was actually a very sound business approach for IT or for that matter any business, but as I got to know the subject better it became more apparent that all ITIL was actually teaching people was how manage work loads and customer relationships, something which I'd been doing off my own back for over a decade.

Reading Steven Hodson's post "Letting the hot air out of Social Media" made me think back to my IT days and the semantic obsession for a new name for every process we performed.

Social media, as Steven states, is after all just a term for a process that has been around for a long time, communication. A process that I was involved in day to day communicating to staff about what we were doing with the technology that they worked with.

What has changed in this arena has been the continued growth of the internet, which in turn has attracted more and more interest from marketing sectors as a potential hitting ground for advertising and communicating.

The world is becoming a smaller place and we all communicate a lot faster. Have we become more social, I'm not sure, we probably spend more time speaking to like minded people now, but even that I'm not sure of. One hundred years ago, your sphere of influence probably spread to a few villages or communities down from your own. Now, on a platform like the internet you can communicate with the world in a moment. But has this made us more social?

Sarah Mistein speaks in the NY Times today of the benefits being reaped of corporate adoption of micro-blogging. Something that I can believe is effective, but surely its just replacing something that had been there for years?

Business has been through a massive social upheaval over the last decade or two, we now all spend much longer in the work place and while we're there we need to talk, it's a human imperative. For many years companies/corporations thought it inappropriate for employees to chat whilst in work, now they are waking up to the realisation that this is essential. The corporate Twitter has probably replaced the tea room chat or the fag break.

What I do believe this new "social media" platform has created is an engagement with a wider variety of individuals than we have ever experienced before. This, used correctly, can create a better product market, hey who knows, perhaps something even better like more effective politics and social environments.

But all this said, its still down to the individuals using these platforms to utilise it effectively. B.L.Ochman's blog today talks of successful usage of the social media platform. But without the effective use and skills of the individuals that were behind the campaigns the social media platform would have been irrelevant. Additionally, all they were effectively doing was communicating with their consumers and adopting the feedback. Something you would hope they had been doing for decades.

In summary, I think we can probably justify the use of the term social media for what we are seeing on the internet currently, but this has only been so since private and public organisations started to utilise it for customer engagement, marketing and advertising. We will likely see a whole plethora of new terms and tools come out in the next few years claiming to be ground breaking in one way or another and some may well be. But, all of this considered, it's down to us all as individuals to make it effective, we can call it whatever we like but that by itself is not going to guarantee success.

Equally, lets hope that the platform does provided successes in other areas other than corporate gain. With the alignment of our work and home lives becoming increasing closer, listening to our employees and customers can help us all to try and make better decisions that are not only going to create better market gains but also, hopefully, greater human harmonisation.

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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Rewards Of Finding Time - Online personal development

Rather than my usual combination of current thought and developments in digital media, this post is going to take more a personal approach and cover my experiences to date with my own blog.

My blog has evolved from my own gradual absorption with digital media and all of its facets. When I first started using the internet with dial-up access to Black Dog Towers bulletin board through to my current involvement with the internet, which is pretty much 24/7, thinking of ideas, creating and delivering new products and generally complete immersion.

With this obsession come a number of required pressure releases, one of the best of these for me is this blog. It's an outlet for all things digital on my mind, but it doesn't always come easy. So, what follows are a number of personal findings I've adopted since I started writing Digital Signals.

I've read a number of blog posts on Twitter Tips, FriendFeed tips. This isn't necessarily what I am intending to do here, just personal observations.

1. Align your online presence. I've been a member of websites forums, e-mail newsletters and online social network services for several years. When I started getting my involved in social media, I had to go through a process of tying up all of the loose ends. You need to present a defined presence, people need to be able to find you and generally find the same "you" when they do. There have been countless stories of Facebook nightmares with prospective employers rescinding offers of employment on the back of their online profiles. You may find the account name you want is gone, in which case you need to pick a suitable one to use in it's place, I use Glannaventa (the Roman name for a village I used to live) when my name is no longer available.

2. Listen and learn. Subscribe to and monitor as many blogs, Twitter accounts and other social feeds as you feel appropriate. This will increase your knowledge in your chosen area significantly. You will inevitably go through an editorial process on your subscriptions and followings, dropping some and gaining others and even then you might need to work at scanning the chosen sources for truly relevant stories. Suddenly you will find you'll learn about breaking news as it breaks, you'll hear the insider gossip and dismiss it as nonsense as quickly as everyone else does!

3. Online tools. Play around with some of the online tools that are available out there to help you with this above process. I am currently using Google Reader (how old school I hear you cry) to scan my RSS feeds for interesting news. It's taken me a while, but I now have them all sorted into folders and the whole process is a lot better. I can quickly glean appropraite information to get my mind onto a particular aspect of my work, whether that is coming up with new creative ideas for a pitch or writing a new blog post. I also use Twirl and Friendfeed, and I hear and intend to test the theory that TweetDeck is very good at organising your Twitter feeds.

4. Your blog writing interface. Following on from the above point is the approach to writing blog entries. I often have several ideas bowling around my head at anyone time, some never see the light of day thankfully, others develop over time. I use Google's blogger as my interface to write my posts. They usually start with a title and some brief words or links that are the start of the thought and then save it for later. Then, when I get a moments respite from my project management and client work I'll elaborate from there.

5. Developing and finding ideas. Keep your eyes open while your out and about, follow the above steps with the RSS feeds and other social platforms and these ideas should come to soon enough. Start to develop your own style, something I am still doing, this will develop with time, he says hopefully. Try and blog about subjects that genuinely interest you, anyone who has read any of my posts in the past will know I took a career change a few years back now from IT management to digital media, I love my new industry and anything new I learn and then share is generally a pleasure.

6. Capturing ideas. Combining the last three points, is process of getting these ideas down when they come to you. Often I get into the office in the morning, only to find that an idea that was developing has gone, or at least the juicy bits. I've been looking at getting a new laptop, but my current economic clampdown family unit budget won't stretch to the Powerbook I want! I've been delving around the netbook arena recently and I think I'll invest in something soon to help me capture thoughts more often while I'm out and about. I've been following Steve Rubel's netbook research into this matter, hopefully this will save me the foot work when it comes to picking one!

7. Market your blog. Drive interest in your blog, unless you're Barack Obama it's possible people may not of heard of you. So, you need to let people know what your talking about, with any luck once you get the content to a quality level people find engaging, they'll come back for more. In the meantime, the best way to drive interest is to use links back to other relevant blogs. I always follow my blog visitors links back to their sites and if there's anything interesting going on there I'll start following their blogs. This is a two edge sword that not only increases your awareness of your subject matter, as discussed in point 2, but increases others awareness of your presence. In my industry this is like an ongoing client project as I work out what works best and integrate my blog into my other online micro-blogs etc, presenting a search engine marketing challenge.

There's lots more, but I think the above points have covered the main areas I'm concentrating my energies on at the moment. I've still got a lot to learn myself, but at the moment I am absorbing it all like a sponge day by day, and then try to ensure I take these new lessons I've learnt and adopting them into my work.

There's been a lot of talk about the blog fading into oblivion, personally I think we are a long way off this, as I've discussed before. For me, writing a blog tries to ensure I stay as current as I can but also (hopefully) improves my writing skills accordingly which only benefits my work.

Equally, whatever the future holds I am sure it's going to be engaging, where individuals communicate between each other rather than the distant announcements of a corporate news release.

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Microsoft Joins The Social Networking Battle

Microsoft showed their colours last week when they announced the release of their new Windows Live site, incorporating many of the social media components that we have come to associate with Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and the alike.

They are using the interface to utilise the largest instant messaging network globally in the form of thier Windows Messaging, this is a hefty network of existing contacts.

It's an interesting time to reveal their hand in this market area, at a time when Microsoft have been closely linked with an interest in buying Yahoo!. The fact that they are choosing this moment to cash in on this vast social network of messenger clients is perhaps an indication of the life they expect to get from the Messenger network in it's current form.

Only last year, Microsoft took a share in Facebook, in doing so they ensured themselves to be the sole supplier of advertising for the site.

How, if they envisage rekindling their interest in Yahoo!, they see this fitting into their overall online offering I'm not sure. To date, Microsoft does seem to have missed the party on the social networking scene some what. Perhaps because they were never going to be perceived as cool enough to attract a significant following?

Microsoft seem to have been spending some "focus time" with Microsoft Live recently, their cash back scheme still seems to be reaping it's rewards, and now with this latest step towards making it more of a social portal, I see some significant move on their behalf in the near future.

Were Microsoft to now rekindle their interest in Yahoo!, the combined numbers that they would to own on certain market segments is very significant. Combine these with an increased interest in the Microsoft Live portal, if they can generate enough cool chips with their messenger network users and get them to start using the site as a social engagement portal, and Microsoft could enter the social network scene with a bit of a bang.

But I see this as more than just a move towards a large social network presence, this I suspect is the start of concerted campaign by Microsoft to increase its general presence in online activities, something it hasn't hidden it's interest in recently. Perhaps also an attempt to ditch its uncool hat, with more of a social engagement program, increased open source involvement, why it's even going to start giving stuff away for free. Combine this with a mature (can we use that word yet with online media?) Yahoo! advertising platform and Microsoft might start to appear ever so slightly more competitive it's battle with Google.

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Monday, 17 November 2008

The Rapidity of Online Decision Making

I read about the Motrin mistake over the weekend on B.L. Ochman's Whatnextblog yesterday.

It reminded me of a similar incident that I was on the periphery of a few years back with a previous company.

It's a fast paced world this global community thing. While I am tapping away at my screen in Manchester, England, people from around the global can all have access to what I'm typing the moment I click the "Publish Post" button.

It's truly global audience, and while perhaps only a few dozen people may read this post, there is always the possibility that something you say/insinuate might become of interest to more people than you could believe. It may become viral.

The creation of viral networking is something that mathematicians and marketeers alike have theorised for decades, but in recent times the degree of connectivity has increased exponentially. Something I've covered in previous posts about Duncan J Watts work on network theory.

Buzz Feed and Hashtags already have the Motrin ad/mistake at a viral level and every post like this is only going to exaggerate the case further.

Before yesterday, I'd never heard of Motrin, now I've visited their site, read numerous posts and generally feel like they're part of my life. Pitched correctly, Motrin's could recover from this, collaborate with the feedback they are receiving (and take it on board) and find that this ends up being a very fruitful experience for them. Although I am sure there are several people at Motrin at the moment that can't believe this will be the outcome.

Todays viral news (actually less viral and more just major news) that I am sure will spread quickly is the news that Yang is stepping down from the helm at Yahoo, just before I got round to buy some Yahoo shares(I am sure we will see a gentle rise in their shares today on the news).

This is interesting, although not wholly unexpected news that I'll probably chat about in a while in my next post.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Blog Is Dead, Long Live The Blog!

I responded to a blog post by Jeremy Baka, on one of ex-employers, Cohn & Wolfe's Project Mayhem blog today after Jeremy posted an entry that was, in his own words " what this has to do with PR, creativity or anything remotely related to communications … absolutely nothing", unrelated to communication.

I enjoyed the post, it was irrelevant and slightly obscure, but irrespective of what Jeremy actually said (and I am sure he knows this) it had everything to do with communication.

Recently, I have read numerous articles on the foreseen death of the blog and equally as many disputing this, I'm going to add to the already burgeoning support of the blog.

Blogging, if we haven't already guessed is a fantastic piece of boundary less communincation, whatever is posted. It engages with it's readers on a very social level. While I am in agreement that blogging and micro blogging will evolve, the format of the blog I suspect, will be with us for a very long time.

I've written a few times in previous posts about the evolving life of media and advertising , with a particular focus on digital media, due to it being my chosen line of work. If there is anything I have established in my work it's that there is a requirement for all of us, as individuals and as promoters of clients and brands, to engage more directly with our fellow consumers and commentators. Digital media demands it of us.

Another subject I've "engaged" with in past posts has been collaboration. Blogging and micro-blogging encourages collaboration. Since I've started taking my blog a little more seriously it has involved me in several other individuals engaging blogs or micro-blogs. With each blog I become acquainted with, my knowledge and insight into this industry grows and hopefully with my evolving knowledge, my own unique vision of where we are can further assist more seasoned bloggers.

While I am still getting up to speed on a number of other insightful micro-blogs tools such as FriendFeed, good old fashioned blogs have a greater content and at this moment, for me, provide greater engagement than any other of the more traditional forms of media. The likes of Steve Rubel's use of FriendFeed has been revolutionary for me in this engagement process.

On my commute home tonight, I was chatting to one of my other regular commutee's, who works for an on-line research company, about their use of Twitter as a corporate communication channel with their clients. Something I know many brands are spending much time pursuing now, getting better engagement with their consumers.

Social engagement and the tools we use to encourage that are the future of advertising. Increasing brands ROI by ensuring the ads placed are reaching their intended audiences much more accurately but also opening a two way communication channel from which both brand and consumer can benefit.

Returning back to Jeremy's post, while it may not have been PR directly, it was almost certainly about communication. Jeremy has engaged me with a thought, that however frivolous, was on his mind. I now, in a not too creepy way, believe I know a little bit more about Jeremy than before I had read his post. With this, comes a small degree of respect and certainly some engagement, something that were I a client, Jeremy could count as a positive to take from a days work and certainly from the work invested in the writing of the blog entry.

So, in summary, as a many have said before, I believe the blog to be far from dead and while it will inevitably evolve further, there will be plenty of space for short succinct micro-blogs and more comprehensive traditional blogs to exist alongside each other in this ever busier digital world.

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Monday, 10 November 2008

Digital Marketing and Technical Integration

I am currently re-reading "The Online Advertising Playbook", a great read that helped me improve my understanding of the on-line market place. They also have an online community site that I hope will further increase my awareness once they enable my account (nudge, nudge).

During the book they discuss on-site search capabilities and their importance in ensuring customers complete their purchase task whilst on the site. It's a very interesting chapter that also lays down some statistic relating to the opportunity to change peoples minds while they shop on-line right up to the last moment.

Citing a number of studies, the percentages were high for people changing their original purchase intentions after on-line research, but also changing brands after visiting stores on-line, the numbers being talked about being in the 40%-45% range.

Returning to the on-site search capabilities and its importance in the equation, something I whole heartedly agree with from both a professional and personal perspective.

We spend a significant amount of time planning search capabilities when designing sites, ensuring that not only is all content available to be returned as we desire in results, but also ensuring the results are displayed clearly and intuitively lead users to their interest area.

Considering the developments Google have made with the presentation of their results, ensuring that marketing opportunities aren't wasted when a user visits to search for specific subject matter should be an indication of where we should be aiming for on-site search facilities.

I've touched the subject of the various approaches of industry bodies towards digital media before on my post on avoiding disintermediation. Relating this now to the on-site search subject highlights the requirement for all involved in digital media to be much more aware of the media format than perhaps would be required for more traditional media formats.

Working within a digital media agency that provides all of its technical solutions in-house, gives the business here the ability to integrate the technical solution with marketing requirements. Where marketing is an area that our skills and knowledge are growing, all of this knowledge is being gained from an on-line perspective rather than being adapted from previous formats, hopefully giving a clear and less confused approach to digital marketing.

Ensuring these kind of technical specifics are implemented during a sites development, or in fact that they are even considered, could produce nightmares for clients when approaching their traditional agencies for marketing advice. Equally, from a traditional agencies perspective, trying to get development companies to consider marketing strategy during the development could be headache to say the least.

Either way, the approach all agencies need to take when dealing with digital project development is to ensure that a holistic perspective is taken with the project components. This is something that we are all trying improve our awareness of, if from nothing else than a selfish perspective of ensuring a greater revenue stream for a given project.

This can either be achieved by ensuring your staff have a good grounding in all things digital, rather than just their particular field. Or as some of the larger media groups are doing, buying in expertise on all areas of digital production and marketing. From a smaller full service agency perspective, its something that all digital project/production managers should be ensuring they actively pursue, allowing appropriate integration into projects under their management.

If you haven't read "The Online Advertising Playbook" I'd highly recommend it. To date it has been one of the most informative and well thought out books I've read to assist my professional development.

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Search Marketing Tools

Whilst performing a search today, I noticed a new feature appear above my search results.

A small text statement above the search results below AdWord placements with a hyperlink off to a site.

Curiosity and business interest got the better of me and I clicked. It resulted in a squashed navigation banner appearing between the two areas identified above.

After some investigation I discover it is SeoQuake's new AdWord rating tool called SEMRush.

It sounds like an interesting research tool to add the already existing SEO and SEM tools that are available on the market. Adding PPC tracking and AdWord tracking to their already handy browser add-in.

Although, I am assuming they will resolve the issue that I was suffering from with my browser where all that was displayed is the navigation bar.

After mentioning it to one of the guys in the office, he put me onto Wordlabs, another handy site that assists with the development of appropriate words and naming around specific task or campaigns.

Anyway, I just thought I would share these two little pieces of the puzzle that I gained today.

On another note, I noticed this tool (ClockingIt) being listed in on LifeHacker. Looked interesting, I'm always interested in new collaborative project tools that extend the capabilities of just using Google Doc's. Anyone used it?

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Thursday, 6 November 2008

Google Leaves Yahoo! Negotiations

After a long drawn out tactical battle, it seems Google is walking away from any possible ad deal with Yahoo!

It will leave Yahoo! wondering what to do next as it seeks its future direction. The deal would have seen Yahoo! ad income grow significantly without the need to manage the new growth, something it seemed to have conceded Google were better at doing than themselves.

This will likely now return to the battle for Yahoo! to team up with one of the other major players, such as AOL or Microsoft.

Google seems to have fined tuned their ad approach over the last year, with ComScore stating Google as the only major player in the field to increase their share of the market.

While I tend to see the market as almost totally dominated by Google, it would be good for all concerned to see some healthier competition in this field, even if it comes another monopolistic power such as Microsoft in league with Yahoo!

As Ad Age mentions in their article what this might have done, without intention, is actually focus some unwanted legal attention on Google's already strong position.

The next news I am sure we will see in the long drawn out story of Yahoo!'s future will be the next set of prospective partners lining up a bargain basement deal to work with the second largest player in this growing market. While now might not be the best time to achieve the market value that Yahoo! might wish to, on the back of the current gloomily economic times is inevitably going to be a period of reasonably rapid growth. Yahoo! will want to ensure that it is in a stable position to ensure it takes advantage of this recovery growth.

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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Advertising Observations

On my wander into work every morning I pass several advertising hoardings, but one in particular is unavoidably in my line of sight.

I watch it's posters change, I always used to wonder why there was a large billboard up what I thought was a reasonably quiet street. After walking that street now for nearly half a year, I've realised how busy the street can be, being used a short cut onto a main road nearby.

The adverts have been odd, each time I've looked at the billboard and thought "what the hell were they think of".

The first billboard was a Lufthansa billboard, with a message something along the lines of "It was all worth it for this moment" and then a photo of two ladies kissing each other. This advert was obviously designed for the European market where women can be found kissing each other (and men kissing men) without any stereo typing occurring. Sadly in the UK this is not the case . . .

The current billboard is an advert of TK Maxx, it seems to be a girl in a semi-Santa/Festive outfit crawling across a false snow floor to a box of gifts that has spilled out onto to the floor.

Strangely between these two adverts was another billboard, for another brand, which for the life of me I couldn't remember on my way into work. It seemed that the two adverts which I thought inappropriate or just poor in concept seemed to have lodged themselves in my consciousness and yet the advert that was reasonable and of a more standard look, had slipped my consciousness.

To be honest the other brand has come back to me, but it took some brain racking to remember that it was Turkish Airlines.

On a similar vein I just can't seem to get the displeasure out of my mind of the Orange website, which in comparison to their shop website is very poor. It feels like a casino website, which isn't helped by the flashing banner from Ebay at the top. It just seems cluttered and well, not appealing. In comparison to the Orange Shop, which is much cleaner, sleeker and generally more appealing and without external advertising. I am assuming they are developed by different agencies and not by i-level that handles their digital account.

As they say, there's no such thing as bad press . . .

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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Renault-Nissan Awards Global Account to OMD

I was reading Mediaweeks and Ad Age's articles on Renault-Nissan awarding all of its consolidated advertising account to OMD, taking what business it had with Aegis-Carat for Renault in Africa, Europe and the Middle East under the same roof. The combined account is one of the largest media accounts in the world.

This has come on the back of the combination of R.N.P.O. (Renault Nissan Purchasing Organisation) being handed the management of advertising and marketing earlier in the year and additionally the Renault European contract being due for renewal in 2009.

A previous post I have published spoke about Duncan J. Watts book Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, during the book Watts covers the Toyota Aisin crisis in 1997, a fantastic study on the recovery of company under extreme production pressures to work in co-ordination with numerous other partner companies.

The study revolves around a fire that destroys Toyota's P valve manufacturer's, Aisin, plant. The valve controls braking in the Toyota car range and is essential to production, due to efficiency programs Toyota only hold 4 days worth of stock of this valve. With the factories reconstruction planned to take months to complete, Toyota has to pool resources to find a solution.

The long and short of it, using the Japanese keiretsu system they collaborated with all their existing partners to get production back up and running within 4 days of the fire, an astounding feat under the circumstances.

Anyway, this long drawn out lead-in to this post makes me wonder the benefits or dis-benefits of this decision by Nissan-Renault to bring all advertising under one groups management. Leaving behind a long relationship (8 years) with Aegis that the group had with the Renault brand.

While from a management perspective and perhaps from an economies of scale perspective, you can easily see the benefits of amalgamation of the account. But from a creative and valued relationship (and the benefits and understanding that comes from that) perspective its going to take time and money to rebuild those levels of understanding again.

Speaking from a small agency perspective, but also from the perspective of working for a smaller cog in a much larger machine (my time at Cohn & Wolfe, part of WPP) collaborative working can see everyone gain on all sides of the fence. While I understand the cut and thrust of winning new business from competitors, at the end of the day we are all in the same game and where appropriate should aim to assist each other for the better of all parties.

You wonder if the same efficiencies could not be met or bettered by asking the two agencies to work together to reach the same targets for the one client. Obviously this wouldn't be the same good news for OMD.

On a day like today, where really no one in the States will be watching any news but the election progression towards what may turn out to be a historic day for U.S. politics, this thought has homogeneous characteristics.

The U.K.'s political stability is currently about to hit the same testing ground as the U.S.'s does today, with all indications pointing towards a possible party change at the next election.

But what benefit will this really bring to the voters of either country? While we all can see the signs of a tired leader, or even the over confidence/arrogance of an incumbent government (or even agency) the cost of a change of leadership is vast. At a time when we are all watching our money and our central governments are funding a greed driven credit gap/scare, the last thing we need is an expensive readjustment while a new party tries to stamp it's mark on policy and agenda.

(This is a post publish edit, at the time I published this I knew this post was getting distorted from what I was really trying to convey. Change, can be an expensive event, but that doesn't mean that sometimes its needed. The political analogy above is far more relevant to the U.K. political state rather the U.S., which was well overdue a change of leadership. On this note, congratulations to Barack Obama and the people of America, he's going to have a hard job ahead of him.)

At the end of the day, maybe, just maybe I am an idealist, but in this world of fast moving global turmoil we could all just try and get along together a little more and save everyone a bit of money.

Anyway, I am going to leave this convoluted post alone now as I am starting to digress in my mind as to the multiple reasoning and justification for all of these above actions and equally as I have some pitch tactics I need to hone to ensure we "do over" our competitors at our next pitch in these testing times!

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Monday, 3 November 2008

Google Configuration Download

After reading Loren Bakers post on Google disabling his Gmail account, it got me thinking, surely Google must be able to configure accounts to allow us to download a copy of our configuration settings?

This would allow you to save all the settings of your Google Reader, GMail, any analytics's you may have configured for websites, Blogger set up details and other configurations. If your segment of services goes offline, the service provider offers you the facility to get back online on another segment while they resolve the internal issue.

While it wouldn't resolve the biggest issue of inaccessibility during times of downtime, it could pass some of the responsibility of continuity back to the user. So, should their be a catastrophic loss of service/information on users accounts, those that had taken this action could at least restore their configurations if not their content.

Perhaps this is an indication of the decade or more of infrastructure planning in me that thinks like this, but any additional resilience I can add to my business technology I generally use if affordable.

When any major change happened to server infrastructure, I never fully relaxed until the backup tapes had finished their evenings job. Writing everything that had just occurred onto some flimsy magnetically pathetic wafer thin tape for posterity.

Don't get me wrong, I love the embrace of cloud and other web based applications, with their availability following me where ever I go. But sometimes you can't beat having the hardware (and it follows your software) within your sight/grasp.

Additionally I am sure Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, Microsoft and all the other big players have multi-tiered B.C.P. plans with backups and resilience abound already, but this is from a users perspective and our dependence on these services for our day to day business.

I can envisage a future where individuals help corporations in return for some form of financial or service reward with this type of redundancy, call it RAID X. A global sharing of the responsibility for uptime. While one segment of a large corporations public service offering goes offline, it's resilience is found with its customers while the service is brought back online as quickly as possible.

The social networking boom has brought down international borders creating a truly global social platform that may have existed previously, but not with such great participation. But with that has come a dependence on web based applications as these social networking platforms integrate our work/home life into one cabled mass.

We now all need to ensure we don't tie ourselves inextricably to something entirely out of our control and Loren's story only illustrates this.

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