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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Forget Second Life - focus on This World!

Another Thinktank think-piece published in New Media Age recently - this time on augmented reality mobile apps for kids. The neat thing is that technology that's becoming more commonplace (far later than what the mobile industry might have expected...) really is now starting to 'unlock' another dimension on the world. In this case, iPhone app "Hidden Parks" overlays a magic world on top of various parks, letting kids explore the 'real world', only enhanced!  
Clearly, augmented reality is not just for kids - digital, location-based 'tags' may start to tell us much more about our surroundings overall, if we choose to switch them on. And clearly, there are ample opportunities here for brands to get a look in, too...

Focus Groups and Real Life

Here's a postscript to a couple of our entries on this blog - very nice Times article on how politicians confronted with focus groups are a bit startled to find that most people don't care about policies and don't even taken notice of any of the big media stories.

Good on the old focus groups for giving politicians a dose of reality! Whilst it is true that conventional' research does lends itself less well to observing 'naturally occuring' conversations, groups are just quite effective at unearthing attitudes that otherwise would be under the radar. Let's face it, it's pretty unlikely that the silent majority will go online explicitly stating the depth of their ignorance and disengagement.

Trouble is that politicians just like many marketers and media people can live in a bubble in which everyone shares similar preoccupations and there is just a chance that observing online chatter may further feed into this.

Our role as researchers should be to ground strategy in people's real life... using whatever research method is best suited to do so.

Sad but true - politics is a 'low involvement' sector for lots of people - so by all means use 'pull 'research methods to find out what the influential interested minority think but don't forget the 'conventional' push to check out views from those people who don't talk about your subject without being asked first…

Or you'll never find out they have Ed Balls and Ed Milliband down as prominent Tory brothers and name Whoopi Goldberg as a figure in British public life ...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

We're in the Media...

Well, anyway we're being quoted twice at brand-e.biz - once on social media monitoring... as we said before on these pages, really great but in the end not the Holy Grail of research methods either...
Then there's also an article with reference to our report on Branded Entertainment (which may actually be better be called 'brand engagement') on brands being nice and helpful.  The example here is an iphone app from Virgin which is meant to help against flight phobia.  Whilst there may be a recent trend towards nice (and ethical - as per Jessica's post on Monday) we did idenitify perceived 'altruism' as key in generating positive emotion around a brand quite some time ago.
In our 06 research people tended to feel closer to brands that gave 'something back to them' - and that didn't need to be high fallutin' stuff but could be really entertaining advertising, innovative products and services that fitted into people's lives.  Conversely, there was real annoyance about brands that seemed to be in it 'just for the money'.   As with so many things, the Internet and observable WOM are likely to have highlighted this for brands - hence more niceness which can only be a good thing, surely!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mobile doing more good than you might have thought

We've been tweeting an interesting story on CNN about using mobile to crowdsource micro-tasks in voluntary work. (Surely you're already following us? Thinktank_Int ) It's far from the only 'good' that mobile is doing, though.  While for us in the developed world, mobiles have helped make life easier, for many in the developing world they have provided much more than convenience. 
Often what seems to us to be simple applications can make a massive difference. A vast number of people who have very little can use mobiles to check which market gives them the best price for produce before they decide where to go to sell, find work and so on. In markets including the Philippines and Kenya, mobile is the most convenient way to send money for many people. 
Closer to home, mobile devices can make a significant difference to people with disabilities. Devices like the Nokia Communicator and BlackBerries, for example, often proved transformational for the deaf or hard of hearing.
These are just a few general examples - there are many, many more. The surprising thing, perhaps, is how little we actually hear about these from the mobile industry - especially since consumers are increasingly keen on companies that are genuinely doing good. 

Amsterdam Dance Event, part I

Bit of a belated first blog from the Amsterdam Dance Event, where I participated in a panel last Friday.  I love ADE for many reasons. Partly it's the buzz and friendliness that's so great. A lot of the companies in the electronic music industry are quite small and there are masses of business discussions going on in a way rarely seen in the mobile business I used to work in. 

Another plus point is the location - the conference part of ADE is held in the lovely Felix Meritis building, with creaky wooden floors over several levels (no faceless conference hotels here!!).  Not to mention that ADE is accompanied by a huge club festival, with some serious DJ talent in clubs across Amsterdam. What's not to like??

Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of passionate people working in this field - to a great extent, they're in it to a because they live and breathe the music. 

That can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the potentially negative side, it can be tricky to get enough input from the world at large, with new impetus, to get to really new ideas, concepts or solutions if your life is completely meshed with your work. You might need to consciously go do something completely different now and then just to see your own world from a different perspective. 

There was also some interesting discussion on my panel (which was all about problem solving) about how many smaller labels getting their music onto the important download sites (Beatport being key for this market) but then not doing much further to market it. But for all its emotional appeal, even music doesn't speak for itself - you've got to get out there, understand the market and make your potential customers aware of what you've got. Really key (again) not to assume your customers are just like you. 

Few more things to say from ADE; stay tuned...