The Week’s Digital Highlights – 27 May

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Everything was put in perspective this week with the bombing in Manchester, and there was also one in Jakarta. The senseless loss of innocent lives will scare families, friends and communities for a lifetime.

There were 2 things from the digital world that stood out for me this week. The first being trolls who circulated fake images of people missing from the Manchester bombing and that 43 children were been held at a Holiday Inn. I can’t understand what possesses people to do these wicked acts of cruelty. While social media gives users an opportunity to voice their opinions and have positive conversations, it’s also used by some to spread negativity and pain, I suppose that’s a reflection of our society.

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The other thing to standout this week was the publishing of Facebook’s content moderation guidelines. The Guardian got their hands on 100 internal documents detailing how Facebook moderates content from child abuse to revenge porn, suicide and terrorist related content.

Looking at the documents, it does raise eyebrows on how things are moderated, and the time moderators have to review things (10 seconds to make a decision). With 2 billion users, the amount of content Facebook has to oversee is insane, so it’s not surprising some things slip through the cracks.

Facebook claims not to be a publisher just a conduit platform for users to share content. It would be a minefield if Facebook had to manage all the content from all the different languages and interpret local government laws.

Facebook plays a tightrope of protecting freedom of speech while protecting the innocent and vulnerable, particularly children. Facebook’s global policy management boss, Monika Bickert, says that Facebook is committed to providing a safe environment and encourages users to report inappropriate content. It will be interesting to see if any of the moderation guidelines or processes are change based on the publishing of the leaked documents.

 

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The Week’s Digital Highlights – 19 May

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Two things caught my eye this week in the digital and advertising world.

The first being how Coca-Cola used image recognition software to target users based on images users shared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Digiday reported that Coca-Cola’s ice tea brand Gold Peak targeted users who shared images of drinking glasses and jugs of ice tea, including images of competitor brands. Ads were served across 40 mobile and app sites. Having used social listening tools for about 8 years, I’ve noticed the steady decline in

Having used social listening tools for about 8 years, I’ve noticed the steady decline in the number of conversations people are having on social, with the trend moving to image and video sharing. It looks like the Toronto based software company Cluep, behind Gold Peak’s campaign is on the right path with its facial recognition software. I would seriously consider testing the software for an awareness campaign.

The other thing that caught my eye was from the UK with McDonald’s pulling its bereavement TVC (Dad ad) featuring a child discussing his deceased father with his mum over a Filet-o-Fish burger. Looking at the backlash on social, McDonald’s probably wishes they didn’t take the purpose-driven ad route, which is all about brands expressing their values and beliefs. Heineken took a similar approach with their 4 minute ‘Open Your World’ ad, which challenged people’s way of thinking. As Mark Riston expressed, there’s nothing wrong with the ad, similar to the McDonald’s ad, but does it ultimately sell more products? I probably say no. Advertising helps in building mental availability, but you want ads to showcase your products in a memorable way. Leave the beliefs of the company to the mission statement.

My mother passed away from a long battle with cancer when I was 11, my brother was 7. I remember the following day after my mum’s death dad took us to McDonald’s, my brother was happy to be going to the golden arches. At the time it pissed me off, but looking back I now realise it was a place my brother associated with happiness, which in a time of death was comforting for him.

I can see why some people are angry with McDonald’s for their ad, labelling it exploiting childhood bereavement, but I can see what they were trying to do. For many people, McDonald’s is more than a fast food burger joint, it’s a place where families come together. In saying that, seeing as the topic of ‘death’ is so sensitive I would’ve stuck to selling burgers.

 

Energy Crisis – Time to get serious about Renewable Energy

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Last September South Australia was hit by a state-wide blackout as the result of a massive storm. The state’s main power supply from Victoria was cut which left Adelaide in darkness overnight and some towns without power for up to 3 days. The crisis that succumbed the state sent dire warnings around the nation that our energy grid was vulnerable and in crisis.

On last week’s ABC’s Four Corners, they reported that household energy bills are set to increase in the coming months by up to 30%. They asked the question how did the lucky country, rich in natural resources get to this dire situation. As expected the finger was pointed at politicians who have made short-sighted energy policy decisions over the years.

Traditionally Australia has relied heavily on fossil fuels for its energy with coal and natural gas being a cheap and reliable resource. But with the focus on reducing emissions, ageing coal power stations around Australia have been closed down with renewable energy solutions replacing them. Government and opponents have always challenged the credentials of renewable energy power as a true replacement for coal. This is mainly due to renewable energy’s capacity challenges and its reliance on Mother Nature.

Australians are one of the highest proponents of solar, with 16.5% of households having Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs. The majority of units are between 1.5kW – 5kW. For comparison, the average AC unit consumes 2kW in operation. One of the challenges facing renewable energy has been the storage of power. As Mother Nature can be unpredictable the ability to store power is key. The much-reported Tesla Powerwall 2 battery, which has storage capabilities of up to 14kW is not cheap, costing approximately $10k including installation (not incl the Solar PV panels).

A study published by CME compared the cost of using solar and battery storage vs taking power from the grid, the solar option was ahead. With energy security, such a hot topic and the impending energy cost rises, the above solution is looking even more attractive. However, the cost is beyond most Australian households. We can’t expect the same uptake of batteries, especially after households have forked out several thousands of dollars on solar panels.

Businesses are struggling to deal with the rising energy costs with some facing a doubling of their energy bills in the coming year, on top of the already rising bills. The other challenge is the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG). We’re one of the biggest exporters of LNG, but the issue is we’re exporting too much and not leaving enough for our local manufacturers.

While Australian households have embraced Solar PV panels, very few businesses have invested and or have the capital to invest in the technology (the size of the project is one challenge). However, community renewable energy projects are now starting to pop up in Australia with investors getting a very healthy 7% return. In just 6 hours $388,000 was raised for a 230kW community solar panel project in Sydney on top of a wholesale bakery. Of course, government red tape is holding up more community invested solar projects.

Having worked in the Solar PV industry back in 2008 in New York City for SES, I’ve watched the renewable energy debate from afar, but have become increasingly interested and concerned with the direction in this country.

Talk of the government doubling the Snowy Hydro scheme to 400MW is impressive, but at a cost of $2 billion and with a 10-year wait, the upgrade is not as attractive as it sounds. Other sustainable energy solutions need to be implemented in shorter time periods. It’s encouraging to see South Australia talking about building a 100MW battery storage facility (they have an urgent need). The CISRO has announced they have found a way to export renewable hydrogen taken from solar and sea energy. This has the opportunity to be as big as the LNG export market with many Asian and European countries moving to hydrogen power.

While there’s no doubting the fact we need a balance of fossil fuels and renewable energy, we just can’t flick the switch to sustainable energy sources. Now is the time to stop the bickering between government, big business and industry, and start investing in renewable energy.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Flowers

IMG_9783 - FB cover imageThe year is flying past with Mother’s Day already upon us this Sunday. This year takes on extra importance as it’s my wife’s first Mother’s Day. Hard to believe our baby girl is turning 5 months old this week.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, our side business Flowers By Night is running a special flower offer for mums. We have partnered with Paper Style and Co to create a ‘Love you Mum! flower bouquet wrapped in their beautiful Magnolia gift paper for $45. The flowers will be delivered Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, most likely I’ll be the courier (say hello)! Paper Style and Co create prints and invitations, checkout their website for more info.

This collaboration has given us some great insights into the challenging world of e-commerce. Hats off to the online flower companies out there. To promote our offer, we’re running some Facebook and Google ads, and using Instagram. Flowers By Night normally focuses on styling weddings and special events, and FB Carousel B&Wfrom time-to-time we create special bouquets for our clients. Doing this Mother’s Day promotion has been a good opportunity for us to get some insights into the online floristry world.

Here’s my plug, avoid stressing out this week and let us deliver a beautiful bouquet of flowers to your mum, click here to order. Mother’s Day is the one day we can say thanks to mum for everything she does for us.