Beacons Set To Change The Way We Shop

iBeacons - BaseballPicture the future when we’re greeted upon walking into stores with tailored offers sent to our phones. The future of retail is coming and I’m excited by the opportunities this provides to retailers and entertainment venues.

Proximity marketing broadcasts messages to Smartphone Apps using Wi-Fi and Beacon sensors. Beacons have become the preferred technology with Apple investing in the technology with its iBeacons software.

Beacons send messages to Bluetooth Low Energy enabled devices, including iPhone 4s and later, iPad 3rd Gen and Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). The small wireless Beacon sensors have a range of 30 metres. Apple’s iOS7 operating system has the Beacons built into the phone meaning it can transmit and receive. It’s predicated that Beacons will supersede the clunky QR codes.

Major League Baseball was one of the early adopters of this technology. They’ve used the technology to enhance the fan experience at stadiums. Fans can check-in to receive offers and locate their seats quicker. No more waiting in queues to get food and beer as it can be ordered and delivered straight to their seats via the App.

In retail environments, Beacons can offer retailers big opportunities to improve the customer experience.  Marketers are always trying to personalise the shopping experience for their consumers.  By making consumers feel more special, they’re more likely to spend more money.

Beacons can be used in many retail scenarios from location based offers to loyalty programs. Customers can save money with discount coupons sent to their phones as they walk past products in-store. With loyalty programs shoppers can earn points every time they enter the store. By making their store maps interactive, customers can save time by pinpointing products in-store. Paypal has ecommerce covered with its Beacons that allow users to authorise payment via their mobiles.

Museums and art galleries are using the technology to improve the experience.  In January I visited Hobart’s award winning Art gallery MONA, and was given an iPod and headphones. The iPod was part of the virtual tour and helped us discover interesting things about the exhibitions.  At the time I wasn’t aware it was using iBeacons.

At a recent Mobile Monday presentation on iBeacons it was discussed phones in the future will be able to detect Beacons and turn on Bluetooth which will be a great advancement.

With more and more of our lives conducted via our mobile phones, Beacons will provide businesses with some exciting possibilities.

World Cup Facebook Stats update

SocceroosWow, what an awesome start to the World Cup! The Brazilian way of playing football must be rubbing off on teams as we’ve seen some high score lines.  I think we’ve already had more goals than the last World Cup. Australia’s Socceroos have performed gallantly and hopefully will finish off with a strong showing against Spain later tonight.

I’ve been curious to see what’s been happening off the pitch on Facebook. Looking at a bunch of countries Facebook pages I’ve done a quick breakdown.

Top Fan growth

Mexico’s Facebook page has had the biggest fan growth in the last 3 weeks adding 600,000 new fans, followed by Italy with 370,000, England with 350,000 and US 141,000 fans.  The Socceroos have added 42,000 new fans.
fan growth

fan growth chart

Engagement rate

All the action on Facebook has occurred in the last week. Mexico’s page from a pure numbers perspective is most active with 1.3 million people engaged (19.3%) on the account. Italy is a close second with 1.2 million (50.6% engagement) of its fans active on their page.



In my next blog post I will analyse which Facebook posts have resonated most with fans.

Data provided by Social Pulse



Brazil 2014 World Cup TV Commercials

In just over 24 hours time we’ll be glued to our television sets for a month of football action from the FIFA World Cup. The global TV audience for the World Cup is estimated at 4 billion viewers, making it more popular than the summer Olympics. FIFA will make $4 billion AUD from this tournament with the bulk of money coming from advertisers.

For advertisers the World Cup is a big opportunity to create buzz and excitement in their products. Adidas has paid $215 million to be a partner for the last 4 years in the lead up to the World Cup. Visa, McDonalds, Coke, Emirates, Bud, Hyundai and Sony have all paid large sums of money to be involved in the event.

In my last blog post I touched on the fact that I hadn’t seen many ads. As expected this has changed the closer we get to the event. Present and past football stars dominate the commercials with many of them being brand ambassadors.

What TV commercials will we be watching this year?

SBS’s The World Game has posted a lot of the World Cup commercials on their website. See below for my top 5 commercials. Some of the ads released are quite long so am expecting shorter versions to appear on TV. What’s your favourite ad?

    1. Adidas –  Becks, Zidane, Bale and Lucas Moura bring new meaning to indoor soccer 
    2. Kia – Adriana Lima Transforms a Man Cave. A great way to convert non football fans. 
    3. Beats By Dre – Staring Neymar the ad feels more like a mini movie with an awesome soundtrack. 
    4. Nike Football – one for the Football purists 
    5. World Cup on Twitter – Will Twitter dominate the social media landscape at this World Cup? 

Are you excited about the Soccer World Cup?

soccerWith less than a month to go has the Soccer World Cup grabbed your attention? If you’re living in Australia than the answer is probably a no!

We’re coming into our winter months where the local Footy (Aussie rules) and Rugby competitions dominate our media airways and attention.

I’ve been really surprised with the build-up to this Soccer World Cup. Granted we’ve got a month to go and fewer superstars in our national team, but I would’ve expected more buzz. To date, I’ve only seen one TV commercial by the official partner Hyundai promoting the World Cup and no Social Media campaigns or competitions.

Similar to Super Bowl ads in America, Soccer World Cup TV commercials by the main sporting brands are eagerly anticipated. Nike and Adidas have released YouTube ads showcasing the soccer stars of the upcoming event. We haven’t seen them here, but shortened versions of the ads may have been shown on TV in overseas markets.

Being a football (soccer) fan, I’ve been following the Socceroos every move, our 30 man squad was named last week. Australia is in one of the groups of ‘death’, with games against Spain, Netherlands and Chile. We’ll be happy with a draw!

FIFA strictly controls the marketing of the event. Unless you’ve paid millions of dollars to FIFA to be an official sponsor you cannot reference ‘Soccer World Cup’ in your advertising activity. There’s actually over 10 variations of the words ‘World Cup’ you cannot use in your advertising, including logos, click here for the brand guidelines and go to page 8 for the restrictions. The advertising restrictions are similar to the Olympics.

Looking at FIFA’s World Cup website and Google’s Play store it is hard to work out if there’s an official App for the tournament. There’s the standard FIFA App, but you think they would make one for the tournament. If there is one, they’re not making it easy to find. There’s no shortage of unofficial World Cup Apps.

The Technical Lead at work has been playing with Adidas’ FIFA World Cup App, which adds wallpapers of the soccer fields and gives score updates. I get the feeling the developers had a field day with the features in this App. There doesn’t seem to be any other World Cup Apps by the other major sponsors.

Expect marketing activity from Qantas, Coke, McDonalds and other brands to kick-off shortly. With the other footy codes controlling the purse strings it’s hard to see the Soccer World Cup dominating the back pages of the papers until the event starts. History shows us the country unites behind the Socceroos (Aussies) and the ‘world game’ once the tournament begins. Bring on the Soccer World Cup!

Drug companies not connecting online with sick people

Drugs from the weekOver the last 9 days I’ve been suffering with the flu! Yes, it’s been a time of reflection and feeling sorry for myself. It’s been a while since I’ve been this sick, but apparently it’s going around Melbourne. I’ve quickly learnt that cold and flu tablets do nothing except mask the pain. One of the drug company’s tagline ‘solider on’, makes me cringe because it’s encourages people to get back to work, but in reality it’s helping to spread the virus!

Over the week I’ve spent a fair bit of time on Google looking for remedies and cures. I’ve tried to include garlic and ginger in every I eat and drink. Last night I even drank a glass of water with Apple Cider Vinegar.

While searching Google for ‘how long does the flu last?’ (one of many search queries) I was amazed to see none of the major drug companies on the first page of the results. The first page was full of health and news websites. This is a missed opportunity for the drug companies to be connecting with sick people.

Not only are we looking for tips on how to get better, but looking for validation that we’re not the only people going through this! Sponsored forums would be an excellent place to start, where people can share and have experts (doctors) occasionally moderating the page. At the very least, the drug companies should have content on their sites that captures what people are searching online.

Google trends is one way governments and organisations are tracking the flu season and it looks like I’m not the only person searching for help this April!

Goole Trends - flu virus

Goole Trends – flu


Global Marketer Conference – Highlights – Sydney 26th March 2014

AANA - GMCLast week I attended the Global Marketer Conference in Sydney hosted by the Australian Advertising Network of Australia (AANA). The event was attended by marketers from all over the world. A cocktail party with views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge kicked off the event in style. But, the global line up of speakers was what everyone came for, this included Marc Mathieu from Unilever, Michael Birkin of Acer computers, James Thompson of Diageo Reserve, Michelle Froah of Kimberly-Clark, John Kearon of Brainjuicer, Ed Sanders of Google, Colin Currie of Adidas and British advertising legend Sir John Hegarty of Bartle Bogel Hegarty (BBH).

Like at all events, there is always so much going on and lots to take in. Looking back at my notebook the scribbles resemble something you would find at a kindergarten. Luckily the insights were memorable making it is easy to document.

The underlining theme of the event was to remember we’re marketing to ‘humans’ not consumers.

This point was repeatedly mentioned by the speakers one-way or another. Making human beings the ‘hero’ (central focus) of products is a big focus. And personalisation should not be just for the rich and famous. James Thompson from Diageo Reserve mentioned that users are looking for meaning from mass produced products. Online content is one way brands are making this personal connection with clients.

Having a purpose other than monetary was another big talking point at the conference. Purpose motivates human behaviour. Marc Mathieu from Unilever said ‘A brand without a purpose is just a billboard’. Unilever’s Dove soap helps women feel more self-confident and empowered in much the same way Lynx’s deodorant does for men. In Lynx’s latest TV commercial, the brand is encouraging peace not war.

Behavioural science was another area discussed. John Kearon from market research company BrainJuicer challenged our thinking that humans don’t actually put a lot of thought in to our decision making. In reality, we think less then we think. In time sensitive situations we are more inclined to revert to our instincts (unconscious behaviour) and use our left-side of the brain.

John challenged the marketers in the room to look at things differently. Consumers thought process is made up of 3 steps:

  1. Framing – no decision made out of context. Luxury car makers sell more cars at boat shows because cars seem cheap compared with boats.
  2. Copying – we copy everything/ everyone (herd mentality). E-commerce websites do this very well with ‘recommended buys’.
  3. Feeling – if people feel nothing, they will do nothing. The importance of brands having a purpose. It’s important to make people feel something.

Sir John Hegarty closed out the conference with his insightful and entertaining talk. It was refreshing to hear him say that he doesn’t understand why marketers don’t want to make things better! John left us with 5 tips:

  1. Broadcast – branding is remembered by the person who doesn’t buy your product.
  2. Risk – forget the word, it should be exciting.
  3. Consistency – avoid changing the message.
  4. Tell the truth – self explanatory.
  5. Passionate – believe in the product.

Sochi’s Winter Olympics – Is it Social?

Like many lovers of snow, I’ve been watching the winter Olympics with much enthusiasm. Coming from Australia we don’t get a lot of snow so maybe that’s where the fascination with snow comes from. Actually we’re currently in the middle of a summer heatwave so shots of snow-covered mountains are very soothing!

London was named the first Social Media games with 150 million tweets and 1 billion Facebook impressions. While the Winter Olympics are niche, I was curious to see how Sochi’s Winter Olympics compared.

Over the last 7 days the keyword Sochi has had 2,680,262 Social Media mentions followed by Olympics 909,311 and #sochi 497,603. Traffic peaked during the opening ceremony with 283,763 mentions.

US Olympic TeamAmerica is winning the Social Media gold media race. USA has produced 2 million Social Media mentions followed by Canada with 200,000 mentions. In Australia we’ve only had 27,000 mentions, which probably sums up in interest in the games here. Team USA’s Facebook page is the most active with 200,000 engaged users. Their opening ceremony post had 27,800 likes and 8,800 shares.

Granted the figures are not as impressive as London, but we’re only 4 days in and we still have the popular sports still to come, including Snowboard Half-pipe, Downhill Skiing, Ski Jumping and Ice-Hockey.

Go Aussie! Bring home a medal or two!

The above data only includes public Facebook posts.

Bitcoin is everywhere, even in Tasmania!

PX Tapas - bitcoinI just got back from a 2 week break in Tasmania. The island is an amazing place. The scenery, wildlife, food and drink are all divine. I was last there when I was a wee lad so was excited to visit the place and it didn’t disappoint.

We were lucky enough to catch the end of the Taste of Tasmania. In its 24th year the food festival celebrates local produce. Working in the digital industry I was excited to see the promotion of the event’s hashtag #tasteoftasmania it was posted on all signage. Instagram looked to be the most popular platform with 1,411 posts. A suggestion for next year’s event is to have free wi-fi and run a photo competition.

Driving around Tasmania I wasn’t expecting the state to be fully digital. But I nearly fell off my seat in Launceston when I saw the cafe (PX Tapas on George st) I was eating breakfast at was accepting Bitcoin. Not sure if many people know much about it, but it was great to see the sticker! ABC’s 730 TV show had an informative segment on Bitcoin last week and featured a couple of cafes and businesses in Australia using the digital currency.

With limited tourism budget, Social Media is definitely the channel the Tasmanian government and local businesses should be utilising.  Now that I’m back on the mainland I’ve researched some brands using Facebook and there are some tourism pages doing a good job posting fan photos, but overall it seems to be underutilised. With so many tourists from all over the world, the opportunities to get free/low cost publicity is untapped. Sure you will need to spend some money on advertising, but this will help with the reach of content. While it’s fresh in my mind I will write a couple more posts on my Tasmanian trip.

Is this the best billboard ever?

Probably not, but with the cricket score on it last weekend it sure would come close! Just in time for the Ashes cricket series (Australia vs England) a new billboard appeared on my drive to work.

Victoria Bitter (VB), a classic Aussie beer has launched its summer campaign with a live cricket scoreboard billboard – drivers passing by get live cricket updates. The design of the billboard looks like a vintage cricket scoreboard from the good old days (eg. Adelaide Oval). The company is giving away mini versions of the billboard that give live updates with special purchases of VB cartons (slabs).

The billboards are in Melbourne (St Kilda), Sydney and Brisbane. I think it’s a brilliant campaign! Let’s hope the rest of the series continues like Brisbane. #cmon #aussies #ashes


To be or not to be controversial in advertising

ImageIt’s been a while between blog posts, but a billboard has propelled me to write.

To launch a new line of bras Australian garment manufacturer Bonds has rolled billboards with the word ‘BOOBS’ on them! As you can imagine the billboard has raised a few eyebrows and strained some neck muscles! Not only has Bonds taken over prominent billboard spaces across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney; they have also landed themselves in the headlines across all forms of media.

The brief for Clemenger BBDO was to announce to the world that Bonds was a serious player in the bra industry.  This ambitious and aggressive campaign has certainly gotten everyone talking!

Sections of society would find the campaign funny, while others offensive. Reading on the forum, Essential Baby users complained of it being sexiest and others are waiting for the male version.  Children have taken joy in repeating the advertising when they see it, making it tough for some parents to manage. I don’t have kids, but I could see how this could be a problem.

Going for the controversial angle is nothing new in advertising. Sportsbet in July pushed the boundaries when the Lions Rugby team toured Australia. The company’s tagline was ‘Rooting for OZ’. They painted the world’s biggest outdoor sign, a 170 metre wide and 90 metre tall sign on a field near Melbourne’s airport. The sign was very visible for passengers flying in-and-out of the airport. Uproar over the controversial advertisement forced the removal of the sign before the British team touched down in Melbourne. Similar to the Bonds example, Sportsbet received a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

In addition to the media attention controversial advertising attracts, it appears that pushing the boundaries commands a high brand recall. It may not be the best coverage, but getting mentioned in the media can do wonders for brand awareness.

However being controversial does not suit all brands, but some can get away with it more than others. An example of one controversial advertisement that backfired was the ‘Where the Bloody hell are you’ television ad.  Developed to promote Australia, it did the opposite on the world stage. I think the ad got lost in translation and didn’t result in an influx of tourists.

As it gets harder to be noticed, more and more brands will continue to create controversial advertisements as a way to be a step ahead of their competitors.