Nike is the first brand to have its Twitter campaign banned

In a significant ruling the UK Advertising Standards Authority found that the Tweets from the likes of Wayne Rooney were not "obviously identifiable" as ads. As far as we know the US has no similar limitations and stars being paid to Tweet is rife without their Tweets being marked as ads.

Likes are not what they used to be

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Yesterday Facebook announced their brand new Like. It's not a new button, but an API 'action' that allows you to build your own button. This time, it works on mobile too. The main difference between your custom like, and the embeddable blue thumbs-up, is that users will have to give your custom like permission to publish to their timelines. This allows apps like Instagram to send your 'Hearts' as Likes to your Facebook feed. Facebook is also phasing out custom like action verbs (like 'Watching'). We are not sure why they're doing this – perhaps it added noise to the 'Like' signal. 'Watching' something does not mean you 'like' it after all …

The only way is up

Not too long ago every second post in the tech press was about how directionless Twitter was. It had no vision, no new features and most importantly, no revenue model. Not anymore: we recently reported that the company – unlike Facebook – makes more money from mobile ads than desktop ones. Last week we reported on a raft of new features. This week is no different with news that its ad platform is rolling out to 50 countries and revelations of ambitious plans in search.

Race to riches

Not so fast. Facebook wants to jump on the ebulient Twitter bandwagon, which they might just do, after releasing some eye-watering counter punches. If true. According to them their mobile ads are clicked 13 times more, and earn 11 times more money than desktop ones. Take that! In other news, Facebook has also launched the ability for users to be able to edit their comments. Is that a good thing?

Crossing the freaky line

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Facebook this week purchased Face a company at the bleeding edge of facial recognition technology. Here at RAAK we are rather sanguine about all the numerous claims about the erosion of privacy. But facial recognition technology will be a step too far if it is not implemented with user control and protections.

No terminator – just tea

What if you could dispense drinks via Tweets? Yes you can. We just built – in conjunction with the smart guys at Cow Africa – a vending machines that does exactly that. And it got covered by the BBC and Forbes. A story to warm even Sarah Conner's heart.

Facebook Pages are becoming destinations?

Reports of Facebook Fans not returning to Pages are two for a penny. And here is a new one. Has the Facebook Timeline feature changed the nature of Pages, effectively turning them into destinations, much like blogs? Econsultancy argues convincingly that that is the case. We will certainly keep an eye open for more evidence of the same.

It's the medium – not the message

As if it has not enough ways to monetise its user base, Weibo in China is giving Twitter some more to ponder. Weibo just announced a raft of new features only available to paying customers. Other news from China is that a Havard study has analysed how the Great Firewall filters content. To everyone's surprise, it is in fact a lot more open than expected. In fact, it seems the Chinese have taken Mcluhan to heart. They don't filter for specific content as much as try to block collective action on any topic. You can criticise the government to your heart's content as long as people don't collectively organise. The interactive communication abilities that are inherent to the Internet is indeed the 'problem'.

Shame shame – hands off our vaginas

Talking of collective action. This week saw several examples of social media's ability to activate people. From protecting a young girl blogging on school meals, to vigilante generosity to an abused elderly bus monitor, to a silly-silly brand's propensity for calling vagina's anything but.

Creatives of the Week – Jeroen Van den Bos & Davy Landman

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Nerd alert! Because this week's cool creative project involves both Lego and utter computer geekiness. There's a whole community of guys out there who haven't gotten rid of their inner child yet and use Lego to build all kinds of stuff, but these 2 guys have created a Lego Turing Machine. The Turing Machine is a theoretical model on which most computers are based, but Van den Bos & Landman decided to build a physical one – using Lego. As we said, nerd alert!

Twitter ups the Revenue Streams

Have you noticed how Twitter dominated the news last week? They're going for gold. For starters, they aired their first TV ad, aimed directly at advertisers, saying little more than a url showcasing a keyword page (a hashtag search, displayed on a branded page, with some handy consumer widgets). On top of that they announced expanded tweets, which pulls bits of content from links to partner sites, and displays it right in the tweet, along with links to the author and the publisher's profiles. Cha-ching! It doesn't end here. Somewhere in between they announced tailored trends, which means, instead of seeing worldwide trends, #justinbieberallthetime, the trends you see will now be based on your location, and who you follow. Handy. Aaaand … apparently, quietly, under the radar, Twitter have been updating their Facebook cross-posting functionality, to include link metadata and thumbnails on your tweets auto-posted to Facebook. What a busy little Blue Bird!

Networking for Two

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From exploding social networks to deliberately small ones. Path paved the way to the smaller social network, but the smallest social network we have yet seen is the Pair app: a private social network for two people. You share a timeline with just one other person where the app lets you share photos, videos, text messages etc. The "thumbkiss" is currently our favourite feature (it vibrates when both touch the same spot on the screen), but who knows when you'll be in need of another of its unique features: to "un-pair" or "re-pair" at the click of a button!

More authenticity than we can handle?

Sweden's Twitter initiative, where a different citizen takes control of the country's Twitter account, @Sweden, every week, has come unstuck, as many said it would. This week's account holder has certainly come across as unedited and unreflective, with Tweets that might be interpreted as offensive accross the sexual preference and race lines. However, not much more than people you would meet in everyday life. We still think the initiative has been a resounding success, precisely because it is so real. At times, however, exactly what makes the internet so exciting, goes way too far. A Californian blogger, Anita Sarkeesian, launched a Kickstarter project to make a web video series about "tropes vs women in videogames", but the hateful reaction she received in return is shocking. Still, this story has a silver lining.

Why Cats? What makes stuff go viral?

Nieman Journalism Lab has a brilliant story about the dynamics behind virality. What makes things go viral? And is this the face of modern journalism? To augment that, the Atlantic ran a very interesting piece on the success of a tweet. Apparently researchers can predict the success of a single tweet with 84% accuracy. We do think, however, that the Atlantic got it wrong: the fact that news titles without hyperbole ("boring" titles, in their words) perform better than others is due to the nature of the content, and not because the title was straight faced.

The Oatmeal vs Funnyjunk – a web side story

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Talking about viral: this one is straight from the department of WTF. And ridiculously funny. Matthew Inman aka "The Oatmeal" is a web cartoonist. Funnyjunk is a forum where people post funny stuff. As it happens, a lot of Inman's cartoons ended up on Funnyjunk, and he wrote a blog post about it. A year later, Funnyjunk suddenly claimed $20000 in damages, threatening to file a federal lawsuit. So, Inman responded. And he responded well. TL;DR: He told funnyjunk (in a legal retort):

You want ME to pay YOU $20000 for hosting MY unlicensed comics on YOUR shitty website for the past three years? No, I've got a better idea.

  1. I'm going to try and raise $20000 in donations.
  2. I'm going to take a photo of the raised money.
  3. I'm going to mail you the photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear. (picture above)
  4. I'm going to take the money and donate one half to the National Wildlife Federation and the other half to the American Cancer Society.

He called this "Operation Bearlove good, Cancer bad" – it ended up raising more than $100000! Thank you Internet, for providing!

The Google Keywords tool, inside out

This might seem very old school, but until we find a way to use a more direct medium for our thoughts than language, keywords will stay important. Besides, this is the most in-depth article on the google keyword tool we've seen in a long time, and we think it belongs here. There you go!

Massive input – the anitidote to same old?

Many TV sets are already connected to the Internet (20% by 2016, we're told). Thus far, the net's famous interactive capability has yet to show up in the type of content we see on TV. One blogger might have shown us the content form of the interactive TV future. Ze Frank's "A Show" is not about him. It is about the viewers. The formula marries a scavenger hunt and an art class, with some slick editing.

Creative of the Week – Douglas Coupland

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Yes indeed, Douglas Coupland. The Canadian writer has moved on from Generation X and has recently applied his wit and vision to data visualisation. Coupland has a track record as a visual artist, but while on a research trip to the Bell Labs department of Alcatel-Lucent he got bitten by the data bug. One thing led to another and Coupland got invited to make Electric Ikebana, a piece of interactive data art that takes into account elements like your IP address and time of day to create a digital data flower arrangement.

Robo-ice-teashop in South Africa

What if you could Tweet and a vending machine dispenses a drink? That’s exactly the set-up we just built with Cow Africa, an agency based in Cape Town South Africa.*

 

We have built several Twitter apps over the last two years, but this is the first time we built an application that interfaces with the ¬†physical world. Was it hard? Not really. RAAK’s chief techie Adriaan Pelzer is a qualified electronic engineer. So watch this space for some more manifestations of social media in the ‘real’ world.

* The project was for BOS, a South African ice tea brand that’s known for its innovative approach to marketing.

** The Bot that powers Bev – as the Vending machine is called – can be location enabled. In other words one can set it to recognise if the the person sending the Tweet is standing next to Bev before dispensing. It also has a web based interface where the LED screen’s responses can be pre-programmed.

Bev the Vending Machine that works with a Tweet in a SA Shopping Mall

Bev has already been featured in a number of publications, including Forbes and the BBC.

So, exactly how does Bev work?

She displays a preconfigured hashtag on her front panel, along with some taunts at passers-by to tweet something with the hashtag in it. At the same time, Bev connects to the Twitter Streaming API, and listens for tweets with the displayed hashtag. When she sees one, she dispenses a refreshing ice tea, and send the person who sent the tweet a friendly message!

For more details, watch the “making of” video below:

I checkin therefor I am

We have been sceptical about Foursquare in the past, to say the least, but this week's new release might mark a turning point in the location based service's life. Who you are as a person can be deduced from the sum of everywhere you've been and everything you've done. That is the premise of the new Foursquare. It claims to base its functionality on a massive amount of data points, "like what sandwich shops you've been to before, what time it is, where your friends have been, where the deals are, if you're new in town, if you're outside your neighborhood, and where other people like you tend to hang out."

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Too cool for…

It's not that teenagers in the US are not signing up to Facebook anymore. They are. But with older folks, including parents, spending more time on the big blue network – kids are spending more time on platforms like Tumblr. Facebook is losing its cool. No wonder then that Facebook is rumoured to be launching a new version of their service to under 13's. Catch them young, they say …

The Pied Piper of San Francisco

Twitter is one of those services to which young users are flocking. Its growth in the 18 to 24 year old demographic in the US has been astounding, from 18% in May 2011 to 31% a year later. The theory is that with the rise of smartphones, the spartan Twitter is at a better placed advantage – particularly since Twitter is baked right into Apple's iOS operating system. That seems plausible. Lucky for Facebook, Techcrunch reports that Facebook will join Twitter in iOS6. Not a moment too soon!

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Rubbing salt into mobile wounds

This week Twitter's Dick Costello boasted that Twitter is already – on specific days – making more money from ads on mobile than on desktop, declaring that they are primarily suited to an ad model. Facebook meanwhile announced easy mobile payments (already available accross all US & UK mobile network) for its new mobile app platform. Does that show a lack of focus or a sensible hedging of bets?

From the niche content works department

The Wall Street Journal can't produce enough video streams to keep up with advertisers' demand, while Slate is doubling down on its podcasts, because of growing audiences and ad revenue. Who said publishing is dead?

Food for thought

"Curation only exists because this is an incredible time for creation." A good blog post by Longreads founder Mark Armstrong asks a few important questions, like who are curators, and whether curation has and should have a viable business model.

What does the Internet look like today?

A ground breaking report was released this week by KPCB, detailing current Internet trends. As can be expected, the US is reaching saturation point in terms of Internet users, and the developing giants, China and India, are taking the spotlight in a very big way right now. More interesting is the explosion of mobile, and specifically 3G, which now stands at 1.1 billion subscribers worldwide. This is, however, only 18% of the total mobile subscriber count, so the global saturation point is by no means near yet. Year on year growth in the US and Japan is easing at 31% and 9% respectively, but China and India are exploding at 115% and 841% respectively. Yes, that's not a typo – 841%!

So how much money should we spend on Mobile?

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Mobile Internet traffic hit 10% of all Internet traffic in May 2012, and at the same time in India, mobile usage surpassed desktop usage for the first time. There is a dampening factor to these stats, however. Revenue per 1000 impressions (eCPM) on mobile ads are only $0.75, compared to $3.50 on desktop. Furthermore, Average Revenue per User (ARPU) on mobile is between 1.7 and 5 times lower than on desktop, as reported by Pandora, Tencent and Zynga. Google reports an increase in click volume driven by mobile, but a simultaneous lowering in cost per click. Facebook reports that mobile drives more users, but doesn't grow ARPU.

So, what's the problem with Mobile then?

Well, nothing. There is, however, still a problem with mobile content. One Japanese Mobile Game maker, GREE, reported a sudden skyrocket in ARPU when they introduced the "right game" (a game called Tanken Driland). This effect was confirmed by another Japanese mobile game maker, CyberAgent, whose mobile ARPU surpassed desktop ARPU (not due to a drop in desktop ARPU, mind you, but solely due to mobile ARPU growth). What's special about Japan? A 95% 3G penetration, in other words, a mature market. If we look at stats of media usage (meassured by time spent on media), versus ad spend on that media, we see the following:

TV: time spent: 43%, ad spend: 42%
Internet: time spent: 26%, ad spend: 22%
Mobile: time spent: 10%, ad spend: 1%

The combined potential ad spend market opportunity in Internet and mobile amounts to $20 billion! Mobile opens a new world of opportunity; it's a blank slate. There's a lot of media evolution that has to happen to accommodate mobile. This goes beyond screen optimisation. This means rethinking means of consumption. There's way too little happening in audio, for instance. The average American spend 52 minutes per day in a car, largely untapped. It's time to rethink the Internet, again.

Facebook Like buttons cost you Facebook traffic

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This is an interesting one. This post on SimplyZesty references a tweet by UX guru Vitaly Friedman, aka @smashingmag, which stated that, since removing Facebook Like buttons from Smashing Mag's blog, Facebook traffic increased. According to Friedman himself, this is due to users sharing it on their timelines, instead of just liking it. Furthermore, it entices users to speak about your content in their own words, which makes it more likely for their friends to react to. Point: it all still is about good content, and there are no silver bullets. (It is interesting to note, however, that Friedman has since deleted the tweet. We wonder why?)

The real reason behind GM's pulled Facebook ads

A while ago we reported on GM pulling $10 million worth of ads from Facebook. At the time, they said they just didn't get their money's worth from the ads. It seems, however, that there's another version of the truth. Apparently GM wanted to do a so called page takeover. You might have seen examples of these on YouTube, where a brand gets total control of an entire page, to apply their branding to it, or do creative campaigns. Facebook said no. Or, to elaborate:

We have 900 million-plus people on the platform, and our job is to make the advertising on the platform as good and as compelling as content from (users') parents, or their friends, or their boyfriends or girlfriends. So when a marketer asks for something like that, that's just not what works on Facebook, so we would say no.

At this point GM threw their toys down, and left the room (taking their ads with them). If this is accurate, we'll have to agree with Facebook on this one.

Amex partners with Foursquare

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Yes, you've heard right. Foursquare. That location-based checkin service. The one you used in 2010. We recently reported on Amex partnering up with Twitter, and now they're offering their users discount at several UK high street brands if they check into the brand's venue on Foursquare. We can't help but wonder if Foursquare really has enough active users to make this worthwhile.