Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pope Benedict To Launch A Savvy New Vatican Web Presence

The Catholic Church is planning to take another step into the Internet age. On Wednesday, it will launch a news information portal that aggregates the Vatican’s various media into a one-stop site for all things papal.
Pope Benedict XVI will launch the site with a click of a tablet device on June 28, the 60th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood.
The pope has overseen a number of the Vatican’s new media efforts since he was elected in 2005, including the launch of a YouTube channel, the creation of “Pope2You” mobile and Facebook apps and encouraging priests to blog.
According to The New York Times, the new social-media equipped portal, will at first aggregate Vatican news in English and Italian with other languages to follow. It will also livestream papal events, play audio feeds from Vatican Radio, and give access to texts of papal homilies, statements and speeches.
While the rather-drab-by-comparison main Vatican site launched under Pope John Paul II in 1995 will remain active, Vatican officials are hopeful that the portal will help the Church better communicate with itself and the outside world alike.
“I think that we must educate the Roman Curia of what is the real meaning of communication,” Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli, who will maintain the portal, told The Times. “Little by little they will perceive that this is the real meaning to be present, to have a relevance.”
“sneak preview” of the Vatican’s new web portal, to be launched on Wednesday.
The Vatican’s main website, launched in 1995.

Exploding screen strategies

Conversations about three screen strategies became conversations about four screen strategies this year. It looked like tablets would be used concurrently with PCs and mobiles, at least for a while, so fashionable jargon received an update.
Where are we now? Five screen strategies? Five and half screen strategies? The number of screens may explode in the not too distant future. 
The three screen strategy referred to the growing tendency for the TV to be on in the living room, with a PC or laptop available in addition to internet capable smart phones.  
Those TV ads that urge you to befriend a packet of crisps on Facebook are the baseline example of a three screen strategy; using attention media on one screen to provide an intention media interaction on the other. 
It probably is not a mistake to talk about four screen strategies. It looks as if talk of an immediate “post-PC world” is a little premature and that tablets will not be replacing laptops this or next year.
There are also significant differences in the presentation capabilities of laptops and tablets. The most popular tablet will not run Flash, for example, and most laptops can. User-agent detection systems tend to count tablets as mobile but not laptops.
It is incredibly important to recognise how people will interact with marketing content. It’s certainly key to understand how the presence of multiple screens in a living room or household will impact that but I suspect trying to count the screens will be a distraction. 
There’s no first screen. I’ve seen some of the traditional agencies, those who specialise in TV ads, trying to push strategies that are “first screen led” – the suggestion, the plan, being that TV generates the wow, the interest, the zip-bang-splash and that the humble internet performs the important but less showbiz task of harvesting leads.
This is not right. This is a failure to recognise just how people want to interact with brands.
I’ve suggested that screen counting isn’t a wise idea but I did mention something about the fifth screen, didn’t I? There are a number of contenders for the fifth screen or the next half screen.
There’s the Wii U and its remarkable but not yet market proven controller and there are “smartpad” handsets too. 
The Wii U and controller are interesting because the controller’s screen is sympathetic with the TV set. It is not yet proven but if we can speculate we might look at a number of possibilities.
The Wii U can stream games to the controller’s screen. If it can do that then it may well be able to stream movies and TV programs to the controller’s screen. 
A lot many depend on the Wii U’s ability to interact with the web. A Wii U that allowed us to watch TV and tweet via an on-screen widget would be interesting as would a controller that tapped into the growing Augmented Reality trend of providing an additional layer over the broadcast.
I said the Wii U would be sympathetic with the TV because it is likely the controller screen will be used in conjunction with the TV screen rather than competing for eyeball attention with it.
Imerj’s smartpad is just one of a number of devices that is looking to be as handy as a smartphone but also as suitable for video consumption as a tablet. Sony’s s2 tablet; which folds closed, is another example of a “half screen”. 
In common with the Wii U, the Imerj does put a focus on interaction. Increasingly people want to be able to dial up more information, at the very least, as they watch content. Interacting with or discussing content will be popular too.
I think it’s this transformation that’s far more significant than the number of screens in the room. That’s what marketers should focus on. 
Andrew Girdwood is Head of Strategy at bigmouthmedia and a guest blogger for Econsultancy. He can be found on Twitter here (and also here).

Social Media Revolution - Fascinating Facts & Super Video

One in five divorces are blamed on Facebook. And 69% of parents are friends with their children on social media. Those are just two of the facts included in the latest installment of “Social Media Revolution.”
The video is produced by Socialnomics author Erik Qualman, who has created several similar videos and has updated them as new data surfaces.
The latest video in the series is updated with data up to June 2011 and contains several interesting highlights:
  • Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Israel, Greece, Chile, North Korea and Australia.
  • Groupon will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history.
  • Social gamers will buy $6 billion in virtual goods by 2013.
Check out the video below and tell us in the comments what you think.

Recommendation is a window onto the digital soul

Amazon‘s ‘People who Bought… Also Bought’ feature has become something of a modern totem. If you don’t have recommendation you are not truly digital.  You might sell online but you don’t cross-sell and upsell and you don’t get your customers to sell.  In fact you don’t appear very social and nor are you in tune with big data.  Recommendation is a window onto the digital soul – yours and your customers, how we appeal to people and how people influence each other. Selloscope, the new SaaS, data crunching recommendation engine out of Dallas, is an aptly-named guide to this religion and CEO Jeb Stone is both fun and a source of insight on what we do when we buy. Our paths crossed on the subject of Netflix and theNetflix Prize, a landmark in open innovation.
In the mid 2000s Netflix launched a grand prize contest – improve the Netflix movie recommendation engine by 10% and win $1 million. Thousands of teams pitched in with their ideas and the award went in 2009 to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos.
Jeb Stone noticed that the ideas in the Prize tournament were driving along a similar path. In fact constrained by the competition’s rules those thousands of teams were in danger of proposing a solution that would not be optimal, in part because they were driving after error reduction in the existing system rather than developing a new understanding of how people share information about products, likes, services, content. A winner might improve Netflix’s recommendation engine by 10% but what if it could be improved by 100%, 200% or more. Why close the door to exponential improvement?
The result of that thinking is Selloscope - Stone’s start-up recommendation engine in the Cloud.
The web takes away the cost of sharing information about what we consume; it brings out the gossip mongers in us – on an historic scale; we embrace sharing like we’ve never done before. And we can do more than we every dreamed possible.
Stone’s observation was that consumption doesn’t stop with the act of watching a movie or dabbing on the perfume or taking the shot with a new camera. It is at least as much about the post experience story, the tall tales we tell each other and the passions that those experiences inspire in us.
Sociological experiments show that whatever group you belong to the people around you influence your purchases. When assigned to random groups to select music with people you do not know, for example, you will collectively create a shared favorites list that is likely to be quite different from the lists of all other groups that might form for a similar task. In other words social pressure is an essential ingredient in shaping what we like or favorite and what gets to be the most popular is a consequence of who you are with. Somewhere along the line we need to get under that influence system to understand what people really do enjoy.
Selloscope tries to deal with it by using co-purchasing patterns – Stone uses the absence of things in our shopping cart to tell us what we are missing in our buying process that is not missing in others. Recommendation engine technology though is a mystery to me – but setting innovation challenges is not.
Selloscope joins a small army of start-ups in the recommendation space, maybe a few who were also inspired by the Netflix Prize but not the way we might have expected. An unintended consequence of the Netflix challenge though is more knowledge on how we think and act together, as well as more recommendation engines. But it has also spawned an important lesson in designing challenges and open innovation projects. We should never set the rules in stone.

5 Ways the Advertising Industry Is Preparing for a Digital Future

Chris Schreiber is director of marketing at social video advertising company Sharethrough. A leading expert on social content strategy, Chris recently presented a two-hour workshop on viral video at the Cannes Lions festival, entitled “Making Videos Go Viral: Creative, Social, and Technological Techniques.”
Last week, the world’s top brands and agencies descended on the Cannes Lions festival to discuss creativity in modern advertising and to anoint the campaigns that most effectively captured our imaginations. While the conference was renamed this year to the “International Festival of Creativity” (previously the “International Advertising Festival”), it featured an unprecedented amount of participation from blockbuster technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Over the course of the week, the significant relationship between the powerful new forces in technology and the creative output from the advertising industry became quite clear. As the web increasingly empowers us to choose and share the media we care about, brands genuinely commit to creating content and experiences that thrive in our on-demand culture.
Here are five key themes from the conference that point to major changes in the world of advertising.
Image courtesy of iStockphotoalengo