Social Media Week Bingo - Play NOW!

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It's Social Media Week! To celebrate, we've put together this very special print-out-then-cut-out-then-keep-then-throw-away-after-a-few-days SMW bingo card. The rules are pretty simple:

1. Click to enlarge the image below.

2. Print out then cut out then... you get the idea.

3. Attend as many events as possible at your friendly neighbourhood conference.

4. When you see things, tick them off on your card. Not any old things though - just the things featured on the card. Don't tick off a pretty rainbow or a worrying mole on your forehead.

5. As soon as you've ticked off all 16 things on the card, shout "I'm a winner!"

6. Feel very good about yourself.

7. Contact us about about your prize.

8. Feel sad about there not being a prize.

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Enjoy, and we'll see you down the front, moshing to Gartner's keynote on big data.


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"Native advertising is evil", unless...

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An extremely thought-provoking article appeared in The Guardian this week, written by the advertising analyst, Bob Garfield. Via a rather delicious Faustian metaphor, he accuses the publishing industry of selling its soul in its acceptance - possibly even its celebration - of native advertising: sponsored content which serves a brand agenda masquerading as editorially created copy. Or, as Fleet Street's finest used to call it, advertorial.

We'll not explore the ethics of native advertising here. Bob Garfield makes a tremendously compelling case, so compelling in fact that Dr Paul Marsden of Digital Intelligence Today sums up his argument as "native advertising is evil". Certainly, there's a sizeable wolf-in-sheeps-clothing hue to the whole practice, a tacit industry understanding that most advertising is so grubby every possible measure should be taken to ensure that the public doesn't recognise an ad as an ad.

Which seems thoroughly barking to me.

If you're worried that the public will find your adverts underhand or conniving, surely the answer isn't to disguise them as something fluffier. The answer is to make them less underhand and less conniving. To do that, you need to address two fundamental problems with just about all advertising, branding and marketing today:


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Currys got this so wrong. Tesco got it so right.

Currys & Tesco

We're living in pretty cool times. We've invented duster socks for cats. Science has blessed us with bacon-scented cologne. Even advertising's started to move with the times - Twitter's new TV tie-in represents some serious joined up thinking. I'm a big fan of the clever remarketing Facebook's now offering via its FBX platform (there's some golden potential for Social Commerce in them there hills).

So, when I see dumbo, dumb-ass, dum-dum advertising like the Currys Adwords example below, I just despair:

Currys advert

First, I was served this ad in early June, a massive 82 days until the next bank holiday (thanks for reminding me - guh). Secondly, it's Officejet, folks. Capital O. Like you might find in the sentence: "Oliver worked on the Currys account but now flips burgers for a living." Thirdly, how much is it again? "xxx"? I'm not sure I can stretch to that much. And finally, perhaps worst of all, the link leads to a search results page on the Currys website which doesn't even feature the HP printer in question. Or, in fact, any printer.

Ah well. Balls-ups happen (although it doesn't take a genius to proof-read an ad and set it to expire). But that's


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HMV's £50m social-commerce turnaround plan

HMV’s £50m Social-Commerce Turnaround

It's not often we're treated to a bona fide good news story in retail, but Hilco's rescue buyout of HMV most definitely qualifies. First, Hilco have an excellent track record with these things and, secondly, hopefully some of HMV's amazing team will be retained to help paddle the boat back upstream. I worked at HMV for a short time and, take it from me, some of the people there are the most extraordinary, passionate and gifted folk working in retail today. We wish them the best of luck.

But - and you knew there'd be a "but", right? - if HMV wants to rise from these ashes, some pretty critical things have to change. And we're not convinced that refocusing on music and entertainment is the be-all-and-end-all solution some people are suggesting (remember: HMV was forced to trade in tech and other lifestyle items because entertainment was effectively being sold as a loss-leader by its rivals). Nor is some mad dash to catch up with old technology the answer. It's easy to say that HMV missed the boat with ecommerce and downloads, but that's not strictly true: for every Spotify, HMV had an HMV Jukebox. For every Blinkbox, it had


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Are your Facebook adverts getting it totally wrong?

Are your Facebook adverts getting it totally wrong?

Sky would like to sell me broadband. I know that because I clicked on this ad on my Facebook timeline and arrived at a Sky Broadband landing page.

Sky broadband - poor advert

Here’s the thing, though. Were it not for the fact that I wanted to discuss it, I would never have clicked on that ad… even if I did need broadband. Why? Well, there’s two reasons:

1) Why the unbranded anonymity? Sky are a highly reputable provider, but disguising who’s doing the advertising makes me think I’m being sold broadband by Acme Internet Inc.

2) There’s no such thing as free. I know that. You know that. And Sky know that. And yet marketeers keep insisting on using this ‘free’ message – a message that’s so tiresomely familiar, it can only ever devalue the product they’re trying to sell.

Wouldn’t it have been music more intriguing if Sky had run something like this?

Sky broadband - much better advert

This is basic human psychology. If someone is giving something away, you can’t help but question its value. But, if someone asks you to earn the same reward – and the harder you work, the better that reward gets? Well, that sounds infinitely


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