Old Spice did become New Spice

First things first: the numbers. Last week The RAAKonteur suggested that Old Spice’s approach to incorporate Social Media into their ad campaign would result in sales. Figures just in: according to PR Week it’s increased the monthly sales of their Body Wash by 107%. Case closed.

Finally a killer app for the iPad

Just over a week ago Robert Scoble Tweeted that he was to write a blog post about a revolutionary app he had seen for the iPad platform. Knowing Scoble, that was high praise indeed. The ex Microsoft tech evangelist, knows his stuff and is renowned for his honest assessments. That evening Scoble broke the story of the Flipbook.

Flipbook turns out to be an app that wraps your social media feeds – like Facebook & Twitter – into a slick magazine-type presentation. Scoble calls it a social magazine. If your Facebook updates contain a link to let’s say the Guardian, Flipbook sucks in the underlying information, complete with pictures – but in an oh-so-stylish way.

What we RAAKonteurs find interesting is this. Newspaper and magazine owners have been hailing the iPad as the saviour of magazines and publications. But the Flipbook points to the inherent weakness of most single publications.

Individual titles might have one or two articles that are bang on target. But no editor can match the personalised content curation of the web, done by the reader’s friends and contacts on sites like Twitter.

Jeff Jarvis wrote an article two years ago for the Guardian called Do we still need editors? Controversial stuff, but so far he has only been proven right.

Is this the best Foursquare special so far?

Last week we highlighted Domino’s Pizza’s success on Foursquare. This week we’re wondering whether reserved parking at a mall is the best Foursquare special yet?

A bar code isn’t just for scanning

We’ve always been fans of the QR code, that weird matrix-type square barcode that you scan with your phone and then opens up a bit of web content. It’s a versatile way of linking your surroundings to online (museums anyone?).

Despite some creative applications like The Living Book, the code has never shaken off its geek association. But this Mashable article reckons it’s getting close to becoming more popular.

One reason is a new service called StickyBits. They’re bringing the barcode into the social realm by allowing people to add their files and comments to the code. To any barcode. So you can upload a picture of what exactly you did with that pot of Dulux paint. Great twist, so we’ll be following that closely.

From Facebook cash…

A few days ago Facebook announced the launch of Facebook credits. Leaving many to muse if this will become the world’s first truly global currency, surpassing Paypal’s achievements.

…to Facebook Free.

Facebook has also announced Facebook Zero, free mobile services offered with more than 50 operators around the world, mostly in developing countries, particularly Africa.

And how Google is just as social as Facebook

Facebook is now the biggest referrer of traffic to many news websites, beating even Google. It is even urging journalists to set up their own Facebook Pages and embed their content into Facebook.

But webmasters, PRs, journalists, ignore Google search at their own peril. In fact, if you’re interested in how the web works, you need to understand at the least the basics of how Google’s page ranking system works. It is that fundamental.

On this blogpost RAAKonteur Wessel explains Google’s PageRank in a 3 minute video. And guess what? At its core Google search is social too.

Grow, internet, grow

In the US ZenithOptimedia expects spending on mobile advertising to grow an average of 43.2% a year from 2009 to 2012, while ‘ad spend’ on social media would grow at 30.2% a year.

The way things are going, by 2012 the Internet will account for $82.7 billion of global ad sales, 17.1% of all spending on major media – and poised to pass newspapers which then will account for 19.2% of spending. That’s a big change from 1987 when 40.6% of all major media ad sales went to newspapers.

In the UK ad spend on the web surpassed newspapers in March 2007 already.

Creative of the week

Only edition 2 of The RAAKonteur and there’s already a new item. Each week we will point out a creative worth knowing, following or admiring.

This week it’s director Tom Haines, who’s made fabulous music videos for the likes of White Denim and Tunng as well as documentaries for London art institutions like the Tate, the Barbican and the V&A. Particularly check out his profile on legendary set designer Ken Adam.

Tom is now using the Kickstarter website -a favourite here at RAAK- to get funding for a lovely short film idea called Bow & Arrow. We’ve pledged and so should you.

Tech insight of the week

Last week we wrote about the upside of Facebook’s revised extended permissions model. All is not rosy coloured in Facebook’s security departement though, and this week we explore one of the more obscure security issues lurking within the new permissions model.

You can subscribe here.

In my previous post on Facebook Extended Permissions I focused on the positive aspect of this much-debated (and much-hated) aspect of working with Facebook’s API’s. After all, they are there to make things clear and secure, for both the developer and the user. The road to security in Facebookland is not paved with yellow bricks all the way, though, especially not for the user.

Facebook Extended Permissions: the downside

The offline_access extended permission

This permission allows an application offline access to all of the data the user has given the application permission to read. Why is this a problem? When the user clicked on Allow in the connection dialog, they have already allowed the application access to the information, right?


However, without the offline_access permission, the application is not allowed to store the user’s information, and the user’s information can only be used while the user is using the application (ie while the user is online). Which makes the offline_access permission more of a meta permission.

The offline_access permission gives an application the ability to request information on the user’s behalf, while the user is offline. Allowing this permission sounds serious, Orwellian even.

For developers this might be bad news. It is very likely that fewer users will click Allow when seeing the offline_access permission in the list of permissions than otherwise.

But what is the real world implication of this permission?

Imagine a developer with malicious intent gets the offline_access permission from a user. Most users do not check their installed applications very often, if ever (especially since it’s so well hidden within the Facebook settings).

The user then (for instance) gets spammed to bits by the malicious developer (or clients of the malicious developer). Upset user decides to change their email address. It’s a big hassle, but worth it, if the user stops getting spam. The user also updates their email address on Facebook, to receive Facebook notifications in their new inbox sans spam, and voila, the malicious developer gets their new email address, because the user has granted them offline access. In fact, the malicious developer can, in stead of 1995 style email address lists, sell self-updating email address lists to their clients for ten times the price. Pretty nifty, huh?

The power of Facebook’s Newsfeed to spread information is legendary. The good news for users (a bad news for unscrupulous marketeers) is that while a facebook app with the offline_access permission can query as much information about you as it wants to, whenever it wants to, it can not post to your Profile on your behalf, while you’re offline. Your friends won’t receive any updates in their feeds, unless you were part of the process.

Next week: Facebook Like Button – The real bad one

Facebook might refer more traffic to news websites than Google these days. But any digital marketer ignores Google’s search engine at their peril.

Yet there are still many that are oblivious as to how Google’s Pagerank works. In this video I explain how PageRank works.

Google themselves defines their ranking system, called PageRank like this:

‘PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.’

Note Google does not talk about domain rank. It largely ignores domains – like wewillraakyou.com – but looks at the value of individual pages like wewillraakyou.com/hoes-does-google-page-rank-work/

Every page has a value merely for existing on the world wide web. When a page links to this page it transfers Pagerank to it. If a page has two links it splits the value it can transfer between these two links.

Google's PageRank formula

Google's PageRank formula - makes the web a meritocracy

In other words, links are like votes. But not all voters are equal. Voters that have received many links themselves can transfer more voting power.

Therefor the BBC site, which has a lot of amazing content and to which many people link, has pages with tremendous PageRank. If one of these pages link to your webpage, you are guaranteed to get a major Pagerank boost.

This system has meant that web search acts largely in a meritocratic fashion. If somebody does something remarkable, it tends to rise to the top.

It also means that if you have a mediocre website, content, service or product you will have to spend top dollar to get eyeballs. In other words, just as with social sharing the rule applies for search: advertising is a tax on an unremarkable product.

Welcome to the first edition of The RAAKonteur. Every week we will compile all the best bits of news from the ever-changing media world. Which new Social Media tool is worth knowing about? Which campaigns show a great understanding of the media shift?

With a bit of our own analysis thrown in, for free.

You can subscribe here.

Pushing products with Social Media

Old Spice’s new tv advertising campaign won its agency Wieden + Kennedy a Grand Prix in Cannes. Still, the sales of the tainted ‘man freshener’ apparently went down 7% year on year.

This week they launched an amazing earned media version of those commercials. For a few days they scripted and filmed reactions to actual Twitter messages, both from high profile Twitter influencers as well as punters. A perfect implementation of traditional campaigning with what Brian Solis calls connecting to ‘an audience with an audience’. We have a sneaky feeling that if they continue this way, it will re-position them as a younger brand and eventually increase the sales.

Apart from the 40-odd million YouTube views (!), a most exciting by-product of that campaign was the Old Spice Voicemail Generator. Interestingly, this wasn’t part of the agency’s plan. It was devised and developed in a few hours by a few guys on Reddit who got excited about the YouTube videos. Not every brand manages to engage people in such way and Utku Can has a good post about how this is an example of the importance of making awesome stuff.

From Crisis comms in US to Champion comms in UK

If Old Spice does not shake your doubt about the effectiveness of Social Media in raising the bottom line, then how about this.

Last winter Domino’s Pizza in the US had a nightmare when videos appeared on YouTube showing an employee sticking cheese up his nose and then putting it on a sandwich that was to be delivered to a customer. They were slow to react at first, but as this article explains, Domino’s did a whole lot right to fight the crisis that threatened to engulf them.

But Domino’s UK have gone on the offensive. Mashable reported that the company has increased its pre-tax profit by nearly 29%, which equates to £17.5m (roughly $26 million). The pizza retailer attributes social media initiatives and its Foursquare promotion for the gains.

Is PR starting to eat King Advertising’s cake?

While the Old Spice story is an example of the ad industry starting to understand ‘sociall’, last week Wolfstar’s Stuart Bruce claimed in a talk at the CIPR that the PR world is best placed to ‘do Social Media’. That’s true from a building relationship point of view, but if anything the PR industry will have to become more creative (or team up with people who are).

And PR moguls Edelman seems to agree. They’ve gone all creative themselves and created an Augmented Reality app for Ben & Jerry’s. From the demo video (terrible voice-over by the way) it looks on the gimmicky side of things. But we can only salute Edelman (and Ben & Jerry’s) for a move like this.

Mine is bigger than yours…

Looking for an audience with an audience? A while ago we mentioned why we thought Klout is a better indicator of Twitter influence than Edelman’s Tweetlevel or Hubspot’s Twittergrader. Because unlike many other services, Klout takes into account the difference between the amount of people you follow and those that follow you. Plus your follower’s Klout scores as well as the amount of actual Retweets and mentions you receive.

Hootsuite – our favourite Social Media deck – this week introduced a way to filter Tweets by Kloutscore. And amazingly Dirk Singer of Rabbit Agency tweeted that a client has worked Klout scores into a contract!

PS: Another influence service we think is on the right track is trst.me.

Rabble rousing crowds and Cameron’s “Big Society”

The Treasury announced they will crowdsource ideas with the Spending Challenge website on to how to cut the massive government deficit. Unfortunately the quality of many of the public suggestions and malicious attacks forced them to take down the public ideas.

One commentator opined on the suitability of crowdsourcing for this type of public endeavor and referred to Churchill’s statement that “the best argument against democracy is to ask the opinion of the average voter”. Others (including us) felt that if you ask the right question to the right crowd using the right tools, crowdsourcing can indeed deliver good results.

Co-write the best book about marketing ever

Another example of Collective Engagement. Earlier this year, smart man Bud Caddell wrote one of the best posts about the changes in the advertising/marketing industry. He’s become even smarter now and used the social funding site Kickstarter to raise cash for a book he wants to put together.

We love Kickstarter as site, but Caddell has smartly taken the project further and has made his backers and integral part of the project. If you pledge $100, you become part of the Editorial Board. So if you want to be involved in his Bucket Brigade project, get out your wallet too. You have until tomorrow morning to join.

F@*ck me!

“Twitter is the fastest growing video referrer and its users watch a stream for 63% longer than a Google user.”

The social media word is full of eyewatering stats – like Facebook crossing the 500 million user mark last night – but this one in Judy Sim’s excellent post of why social media has one up on newspapers, was next level.  Why could that be? She says: “Trust: we don’t send our friends crap to read. Relevance: we’re more likely to have common interests with our social network and therefore our links are more likely to be relevant.”

New member at RAAK

We now have a real Creative Technology Dude in our midst. This will now allow us to react quickly with Beta tests & incorporate technology even more into our creative thinking.

His name is Adriaan Pelzer. He dreams in code. He launches websites using Terminal. He reads API documentation for breakfast. But more importantly, he makes music, films and understands creativity. Say hi to him on Twitter and read his full profile.

Tech insight of the week

The Facebook API suite has recently undergone quite a few major changes, one of which is a revision of the way extended permissions work. Countering one of many criticisms against Facebook’s approach to security, the new model requires apps to tell Facebook which permissions Facebook needs to get from the user on the Application’s behalf. Facebook then asks the user for these permissions in the connection dialog.

In the past this was not necessary for a basic set of user interaction, and thus breaks some old applications, unless the application developers implement the new model. This has caused much confusion and a bit of an outcry on the developers forums. In retrospect though, this is a very good decision, one of the few that Facebook will celebrate in future. Read more »

Whether you love the Facebook API, or hate it, this week Facebook will welcome its 500 millionth user, making it impossible to ignore it.

Much scrutiny of late was directed at the social media giant’s security policies (or rather, lack thereof), and Facebook responded by stepping up their approach on security, at least as far as extended permissions go.

Let’s take a step back. In the past, users, by connecting to an application, allowed Facebook applications access to an implicitly specified amount of their profile information. Now users are confronted with an explicit list of permissions the Application is asking for.

The list of permissions prompted for by Facebook

Facebook Extended Permissions (user dialog)

Of course, change is always opposed by proponents of the status quo, and the reception of Facebook’s decision to try and sort out their permissions policy is no exception.

The change has caused waves of dispair in the Facebook developer community, especially amongst members of the DIY mashup community. For instance, click here to see what a search for “extended permissions” on the Facebook Developers Forum typically returns: Click here

While the extended permissions clearly proves to be a stumbling block to many developers, it is actually one of the few well designed aspects of Facebook’s suite of API’s. (no, I’m not generally a fan of the Facebook API, quite the contrary)

Ease of Use

A comma-seperated list of extended permissions is passed as a GET variable to the Facebook login URL, redirected to when getting the user to log in. It couldn’t be more simple. For some bizarre reason, though, Facebook decided to use different variable names for the graph API and the normal API. And, as usual with Facebook, this “feature” is extremely poorly documented. For your own reference, it’s scope in the graph API, en req_perms in the normal API.


Clarity of Permission Names

Permission names are simple and self-explanatory; you don’t have to consult the list time and again to remember them. email, for instance, gives you access to the user’s email address. publish_stream allows you to publish to a users stream, and read_stream allows you to (guess what!) read from a user’s stream.

User Friendly Dialog Descriptions

The way each permission is translated to the user in the connection dialog is also simple, complete, and makes perfect sense. It’s amazing how often big software companies fumble with this step. For instance, read_stream is translated to the user as Access posts in my news feed. Pretty self-explanatory, huh?.

Next Week: Some security concerns, and the silver lining.

Content is reasserting itself as King, the Search Engine Optimisation industry is moving into the ‘content’ business, a domain Public Relations – who specialise in ‘earned’ media – previously saw as theirs. That was the conclusion of a talk / debate I attended at the CIPR yesterday.

But not only that, PR is not countering. The industry has not moved into doing lucrative SEO either. Philip Sheldrake put it eloquently:

Has the PR industry missed the boat on the optimisation of web content to attract the attention of Google, more commonly known as search engine optimisation? The emergence of the multi-million pound search industry during the last decade suggests that may be the case.

Search agencies are increasingly packaging planning, content development and analytics, into a payment-by-results model. It’s a compelling proposition for a marketing director that is seeking guaranteed outcomes.

Now search agencies are starting to use PR tactics such as press releases, bylined content and wire distribution to drive their campaigns prompting the scrutiny of the role of PR versus SEO.


Are PR and the SEO industry in fact playing the same field?

A distinction was made by Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility (an SEO company), between technical SEO and link building SEO. The former, I have argued on this blog, is actually dying a slow death. When I repeated this assertion yesterday, it was greeted with nods and disagreement in equal measure.

The point was made that SEO is the science and PR the art of using content to build reputation. And as such, said Wilson McInnes, Managing Director of NixonMcInnes, they come from two very different perspectives and even appeal to different kinds of people. PR was strategic, while SEO was merely tactical. PR was concerned with brand, SEO was not.

Good and small agencies are starting to offer an integrated solution. But all this was academic, was a consensus of sorts. Clients, particularly big ones, still have separate budgets for PR, advertising, SEO, digital. And until this changes, agencies will have to pitch specific services, even if there is a lot of overlap.

Still, it was felt that SEO in particular was moving in to eat PR’s lunch.

In that respect social media and PR are much closer related than PR and the SEO industry me thinks. Social media is about brand too. It is strategic, not just tactical. Because good integration of social media into a business is likely to fundamentally change the way the business operates.