Archive for category Localisation

A music video, the LOCAL way

An oldie (gosh, was this really only 9 months ago?) but a goodie. The Wilderness Downtown is a collaboration between Google Chrome and Arcade Fire that personalises (read: localises) the music video to the place you grew up.

Here’s TechCrunch’s explanation for the technical bits. What I love most is the connection – online to offline. The Wilderness Machine was created to physically reproduce the postcards users wrote to themselves online in The Wilderness Experience. If you plant the postcard, it will compost and liberate birch tree seeds from which a tree could grow.

You were encouraged to install Google Chrome for it to work. 24.1% of users now use Chrome, as opposed to 15.9% at launch of this experiment. There doesn’t appear to have been a significant spike in browser usage though!

I’d love to know if Google have mapped the addresses entered and gotten a heat map of fans’ hometowns. Not altogether useful as it’s inevitably at least 20 year old data with a lot of non-fans playing with it due to the viral effect, but come on Google, let’s review!


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Think BR: Are big agencies failing to engage in local?

The Local Social Summit, hosted for the second year last week by co-founders Dylan Fuller (Ebay’s UK head of adcommerce) and Simon Baptist (group head of syndication and social media at European Directories), was billed as “an independent platform for knowledge sharing and networking for global thought leaders driving local social innovation and success”.

Local Social SummitAn international audience from local search, local social, vouchering, business directories, tech start-ups, trend analysts and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the intersection between local, social and mobile.

Or to put it another way, to understand how local sales outlets can make use of the increasingly available location-aware, social and mobile platforms to enhance their sales and deepen their relationships with customers.

That the event is happening, the content insightful, speakers passionate and tweet count high (#lss10) is no surprise – the mounting movement behind the convergence of the elements explained above is clear and unavoidable.

I read around this subject daily but still learnt a great deal. What did surprise me, though, was the lack of mainstream representation at a conference discussing an increasingly important and effective space.

No big marcomms agencies, no big media agencies, no big brand advertisers. Come to think of it, no small or medium sized ones either.

I’m troubled by this. It feels like a ’head in the sand’ approach to a complex yet effective route to building closer ties and real relationships with customers, as well as more effective sales in the channel.

Due to their absence, there was little opportunity for counter points or arguments from the brands and their trusted advisors as to the application and intricacies of the technologies and techniques discussed and their real world applications. Which is a shame, but in no way the fault of the organisers.

What do I take from this? In part, I think there is some inevitability about it. This is an area of hard graft and, although transformational results are possible, it currently requires big companies and their sales networks to think and act like small, agile, passionate SMEs (we heard from three such case studies during the day).

Scaling local is hard, measurements come in micro-integrations and small incremental engagements, and empowerment of local staff is often required.

These are all challenging things for large organisations, whose natural tendency is to centralise not devolve, and to those whose metrics are share of voice and volume of page impressions.

What was clear from the Summit was that success in the local space (where big brands’ customers actually live) will be driven by the passionate, driven and authentic actions of empowered employees working in the sales channels, acting like owners of their own businesses.

Sales networks that currently shun empowerment will need to embrace it. Staff that currently might not even have a marketing budget may soon need to have a voice and some control over their own promotional, tactical destiny.

They need training, guidance, help and content support, but they are the ones that will create a personality for otherwise faceless, voiceless corporations. And they will make a difference, locally.

The pace of change in this area is such that predictions are almost impossible, and brands need trusted advisors to be investing time to help them understand and execute within their sales channels.

One prediction I can be certain of however is that, as these devices, tools and techniques become more recognised and understood, the mainstream will be well represented at Local Social Summit ’11.

Originally published in Brand Republic –

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Get your Places Page right, or miss a trick.

How important is it to get your Google Places page searching well?



See this heat map, how this eye tracking study shows the focus of the viewers view and length of view on the local listings held next to the map. What I’d like to see, if anyone can find it is some research to show how long people look at the search results page, and what percentage of users ‘just click’ the first link irrespective of what else is being served. For those of you involved in advising dealers/branches/services make sure that not only they have claimed their Google Places page but that they have optimised it by putting it in the right categories (they can be in more than one) and that their titling and support content help drive the right sort of traffic.


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Are location based services the next bubble to burst?

This article from Ben Bold on prompted Andy Edwards to ask me, “Thoughts?”, so having written mine to him, I thought I’d share mine here too.

My take is:


  • It’s lots of bubbles waiting to converge
  • Real time ROI will be the killer app (imagine local store manager creating vouchers, pushed in real time, and turned off when sales target reached – actually better than that, imagine automated vouchers from the stock system)
  • If Facebook gets it right, they’ll clean up. But I don’t think they’ll get it right because I think they’ll use advertising dollars ahead of conversion as a metric – which I’m willing to be wrong on.

I like the idea that this is “the final big gold rush of Web 2.0.” but I don’t believe it is, because there is always the next thing. For example, nothing much being done with “time” as the connector – we’ve done data, relationships, location, time is next, but don’t ask me how or why…

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Location-based coupons

Link to 8Coupons ( This is from the US (home of the coupon), where a simple and effective mapping interface shows you all the coupon offers near your location.

Logo for 8

Sharable, printable, textable (show to cashier) coupons that are easy to find, and easy to use. As coupons become more and more a reliable and expected way of driving store traffic in the UK, the next time you find yourself in a city centre and aren’t sure where to have lunch, a version of this sort of site might help you decide.

Good write up here from ReadWriteWeb

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The dangers of being too open about your locale

With the increasing availability/affordability of Smart Phones (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Pre etc) and 3G data connections, Location Based Services are becoming a) possible, and b) popular.

A great example of this is Foursquare ( Foursquare is a piece of software which sits on your Smart Phone and ‘checks-in’ to share your location with friends and contacts – and to promote proximate businesses and social activities (e.g. events, restaurants, eateries). Happy, social activity to some; dark, evil big brother to others. Naturally it’s been made nice and open to be shared across the web via other social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter et al.)

And maybe some day soon we’ll be including this as an opportunity to our clients.

And the downside? Well some friendly people have decided to launch a site which capture people’s Foursquare ‘check-ins’ particularly when they leave home, and put them in a single place called – (see this link for news articles on the site)

Proof, if it were needed that one man’s openness and sharing is another man’s open window and helping themselves.

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