Twitter and Advertising Standards

It’s a sign of the times that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have acted against a Nike advertising campaign that used the Twitter accounts of two premiership football (soccer) players to send out links to Nike content. The issue that the ASA have is that it was not clear to users that the tweets were adverts and have suggested using the hastag #ad in the future to ensure that the were ‘obviously identifiable’ as adverts.

Whilst that simple solution may appease the advertising powers that be, I think Twitter are soon to solve the issue for marketers whilst monetising the practice of celebrities/power users/social media-ites “selling” their accounts to be used to send adverts or endorsements  Services like adly and sponsoredtweets have been around for some time and offers users with large follower counts the ability to make money in exchange for allowing advertisers to send endorsements on their behalf at any time.

Promoted tweets currently display the same account name as the account that posted the tweet and it seems a bit of a waste to display the same account name twice on a tweet, which makes me think that this has to be the next logical step for Twitter to monetise their platform. If it’s not they’re missing a trick as it not only acts as a revenue stream for them but also encourage users to use their platform.

Twitter could offer the service along side the regular promoted tweets to allow brand marketers the opportunity to use power accounts and be the first(?) social network that allows power users and celebrities (verified only?)  the ability to monetise their online presence (whilst simultaneously selling their soul to the social media devil).  Any tweets that have been posted as an endorsement (or an en-dorsey-ment if you will) would have a badge appended to it in the same way as promoted tweets but have copy that implies it is an endorsement on behalf of the brand.

Image

 @jack, @biz, @dickc – you can have the idea for free – but I want recognition for the use of ‘Endorseyments’.



pult – simple fuss free internet tv

I rarely get excited about technology these days, in fact I can’t remember the last service that launched which made me say “wow”, but Pult has done just that.

Coming out the recent Seedcamp and based in Tallinn, Estonia, the team at Pult, have created a really simple way to display video on an internet connected screen and then control it using a smart phone all without the need to install any software.  At the moment the content available is somewhat limited, but it’s not the content itself that that really interests me here, its the concept and the fact that this is all done in the browser, with no apps to install and no need for devices to support protocols like Apple Airplay or DNLA.

How It Works

Navigate to the pult.io website in the browser of your large screen (internet connected TV, PC, iMac etc) and you will be presented with a 4 character code

Pult setup process

Pult setup process

Now navigate to pult.io on your smartphone and you are presented with a different screen that allows you input the 4 characters shown on your large screen, via the connect button at the bottom.

Pult mobile device web app

Pult mobile device web app

And that’s it…. your phone is now connected through the magic of the internet to your large screen. So you can chose to display anything from the options presented. It’s just using websockets behind the scenes which in laymans terms means your large screen maintains an open connection to the Pult  servers, so when you tell your phone what to play it tells the Pult server and they tell your large screen.

Here’s a rather dull, sorry, video here demonstrating how it works:

And Now The Interactive Part

The code showing for my laptop right now is GDPC, as shown above, which means you should be able to play something on my screen using your phones. I’ll keep it open for most of today (1st March 2012) unless I get sick of being Rick Rolled

UPDATE – My code is actually now AEQT as I closed my browser.


Torrenting vs Buying according to the Oatmeal

I love The Oatmeal and this is another perfect way to sum up my views on movie dowloads..

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal

Torrenting vs Buying courtesy of The OatMeal


Don’t stay out of my territory

I’ve just finished watching Breaking Bad seasons 1&2 on Netflix to find that the third season has yet to air in the UK despite the fourth season having already aired in the US and the fifth and final season being due to air later this year, it’s also not available on physical release presumably the studio are waiting for someone to buy the rights to air it on TV before releasing for physical distribution.

This kind of s**t makes me angry when we have the TV and film studios trying to get the US government to introduce futile laws that aim to impede their customers from trying to enjoy the content that have produced. Yes studio people, they are the customers, they are the people who actually want to watch it, the people who enjoy the programming that you make and commission; they aren’t downloading it to ruin your business or to profit from it – ok a few might be, but they are profiting from the fans who can’t legally get hold of the content that you made for them to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I think copyright theft is bad, I believe that everyone should be paid for what they make/do; my point is that if the content is harder to get legally than it is illegally then people won’t make it hard for themselves. In fact, this tweet sums it up nicely:

I’ve spoken about this before, but it still surprises me that the TV and movie studios have yet to realise what the music industry learnt after requiring DRM on their content for so many years (it was around 5 years after the launch of the iTunes store before DRM was dropped across the board). If it’s easier to get the content people will pay for it. It’s 2012, the problem isn’t a technology one, it’s a human one, it sits with lawyers and executives, the kind of people who don’t have a clue what the internet is and think it’s just for ‘geeks’, the same kind of people that wanted to push SOPA and PIPA through.

It got me thinking that if the UK’s TV channels weren’t going to license the films or tv shows that some many people want to watch, maybe it could be possible to crowd-fund the licensing of this kind of content in a kickstarter fashion. If a streaming service was set up in such a way that all interested parties could register their commitment to certain TV shows and movies and agree an amount that they would be willing to pay to watch it, maybe we could buy it as a cooperative and then stream it beyond that point. Although the problem here is timing, I imagine it would take much longer to get enough interested parties and then negotiate the license agreements with the studios in which time everyone has got it quicker off of MegaUpload BTJunkie Pirate Bay. I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this idea though.

And for those that haven’t seen Breaking Bad it’s well worth watching


Lovefilm vs. Netflix vs. Sky Movies vs. Blinkbox

I love watching movies. I could quite happily sit and watch 2 or 3 back to back on a Sunday as long as the F1 isn’t on. I’ve been a Sky Movies subscriber since getting Sky about 5 years ago and was always pretty satisfied with the service. In late 2010 Sky launched a partnership with Xbox which changed the game completely as it meant I now had access to 100’s of on demand movies at no extra cost.

The improvements to the Xbox dashboard released in December (2011) to include apps from third party movie streaming services such as Blinkbox, Lovefilm and as of today Netflix has drawn to my attention to the possibility that I could get rid of my £16 per month Sky Movies Subscription if it could replace the quality of service currently offered by Sky. Whilst the £4.99/£5.99 price point seems pretty convincing I was interested to see exactly what movies each of the services had available and which movies they were missing. In a recent article I read that Netflix had negotiated exclusivity deals on new movies with Lionsgate and MGM so it would be interesting to see how much the catalogues actually differed.

I don’t have time to do a full cross reference (although I was tempted to script something up to scrape them) so I’ve chosen a selection of more recent films that I know have been made available for online streaming and a selection of much older films. I have checked each film on Sky Go, Lovefilm and Netflx as well as on Blinkbox which is not a subscription service but I thought was a useful comparison for streaming library completeness. I have ignored Lovefilm offerings where they are available on DVD but not for instant streaming.

Lovefilm Netflix Sky Movies
Blinkbox (pay per view)
New/Recent Movies
Super 8 NO NO YES YES(£3.49)
Cowboys and Aliens NO NO NO * YES(£3.49)
Rise of Plant of the Apes NO NO NO * YES(£3.49)
Twliight NO NO YES YES (£1.99)
Harry Potter (8) YES(£3.49) NO NO * YES(£3.49)
The Hangover YES NO NO ** YES (£2.49)
The Hangover 2 YES(£3.49) NO NO ** YES(£3.49)
Four Lions YES NO NO** NO
Old Movies
Harry Potter (1) NO NO NO ** YES (£2.49)
Plant of the Apes (1968) YES NO NO NO
The Godfather NO NO YES YES(£1.99)
The 39 Steps NO YES NO YES (FREE)
Blair Witch Project NO YES NO NO
Con Air YES YES YES NO
Home Alone NO NO YES NO
Being John Malkovich YES YES YES NO
An American Werewolf in London NO YES NO YES(FREE)
Unlimited Streaming Subscription Price per month £9.99 £5.99 £16.00
N/A
* available on demand. £3.99 each
** were previously available

As we can see Netflix has pretty poor coverage at the moment compared to Lovefilm in terms of newer releases while Netflix seems to be better in terms of back catalogue. Out of the three subscription services Sky has the best coverage across the board, one limitation of the Sky Go service is the total number of movies that they have available at any one time which does change regularly, I have marked those movies which I know that I have watched on Sky Go on my Xbox previously. The Blinkbox pay per view model would work out expensive to watch 10-15 movies a month although they do have a large selection of free movies available – the quality of which does vary. Blinkbox also announced today that they were making streaming available for free on some titles if you buy the DVD in Tesco stores and provide your clubcard details (Tesco own Blinkbox).

I’m not planning on moving away from Sky yet, but it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months and whether Netflix start to strengthen their catalogue with more studio deals. Meanwhile Lovefilm’s new owner, Amazon, will be sure to strengthen their streaming business in light of the Kindle Fire potentially getting a UK release later this year.

UPDATE – Blinkbox have got in touch to say that some of the movies that were marked as unavailable are actually available. I’ve updated those that are available to stream (some are only available to purchase)


Goodbye wallet – the phone will take it from here

Just announced right now at their NY offices,  Google’s NFC payments system – Google Wallet. Expected to launch in September this year, the service will allow Google Andoird users to pay using their phone at a number of retail stores.

Google Wallet

Google have partnered with Citibank, MasterCard, FirstData and Sprint for launch meaning that only Sprint users with a Citbank credit card will be able to use this from the start. This is being billed as an open platform and other payment providers and banks are being encouraged to get involved. Launch retail partners include Subway, Duane Reade, Footlocker and ToysRus starting in New York and moving San Francisco shortly afterwards.

One of the more interesting features is the tie in with Google Offers and rewards which has also just been announced. This allows you to redeem offers at the same time as paying and also collect loyalty rewards electronically rather than carrying a myriad of cards to be stamped manually.

Let’s see if Apple make their announcement at WWDC and whether its an “open” platform


Music Beta by Google

It’s official – just announced now at Google IO.

As per all the rumours it allows you to upload your music via a desktop manager, then play in the browser, tablets and mobiles. It’s also able to create 25 track playlists based on audio data and not artist similarity. They are allowing you to upload up to 20,000 songs. Launch will be invitation only for US users. Free during beta.

But, there’s no music for sale….yet.


It’s Google Music … oh, no it’s Movies

The press has been awash with details of the Google music service since late last night. Predictions have been around the introduction of an unlicensed cloud locker service that allows users to upload 50GB of music for free. Just announced now at Google IO was something that no one had predicted, Movies.

Google have just announced a Google Movies service within the marketplace in the next few weeks that allows users to link movie rentals to their Google account meaning that they can rent anywhere and watch anywhere. Works online, on tablets and on mobiles.

Users will be able to “pin” movies to a device to allow them to watch offline when out of streaming range. Rentals will cost about $2 and be standard streaming rental terms of 30 days (reduced to 24 hours after first viewing commences).


Cloud Wars Episode II – The Swedes Strike Back

Back in April I correctly predicted that Spotify would soon offer their mobile service to all customers, including free accounts, following their restrictions placed on non paying users; this is a huge step for them in the ongoing battle to get a full cloud service out there. To be clear, this update does not allow non-paying users to stream music that they do not own – only the tracks they have synced from their personal computer to their device. The desktop version of Spotify has been able to sync a users owned music over WiFi to a the mobile device for some time, a smart move on Spotify’s part to save streaming bandwidth costs. This new update now includes iPod syncing, something that has required the owners to always be tied to iTunes. Today’s announcement is really significant in terms of getting users into the Spotify ecosystem and in my opinion really puts Lorentzon & Ek’s company out there as the leaders in the cloud race.

Apple, Amazon and Spotify already account for 90% of  worldwide digital music revenues for and I think this move could prove to be a significant shift in Spotify’s publicised revenue problems if they can get customers to move away from Apple. This is all the more likely given their pending US launch and the hype around the lack of launch for the last yeat. Having worked on the original purchasing implementation, which was powered by 7digital, it was actually quite interesting to see how many purchases were made through it when users could still listen for free – it really points to users’ preference to own their music over the “rental” streaming model.

I think the most interesting outcome from all of this will be the backlash reaction from Apple. In the past, Apple have changed the way that music is stored on iPods during software updates to prevent third-party software from being able to move music onto the device. It wouldn’t take much for Apple to do this and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next software updates will cause problems for the engineers  over in Gothenberg & Stockholm.

The other question surrounds the iOS app and whether Apple will allow future updates to it or if they will even just remove it from the app store entirely. At 7digital we’ve struggled to get our iOS app through the submission process; an app that does considerably less to compete with iTunes and the iPod compared to that from Spotify. Unless Spotify has an agreement with Apple – which I find highly unlikely, I wouldn’t be surprised if the app store guidelines change to say if your app name contains the word ‘Spot’  and your logo is green then it can’t exist in the app store.

On top of this there is the well documented case of Apple wanting 30% of any app subscriptions which would effectively ruin Spotify’s model as they will not be able to operate on these terms. I guess the ball is now in Apple’s court.


Mobile in China

Seems like today has been a day for inadvertently gathering mobile knowledge, I found out the following:

1) China One Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone company with over 600 million subscribers as of today. In comparison AT&T in the US has around 95.5 million and the largest UK mobile Telecom Everything Everywhere has only 28 million. In China the second and third largest mobile providers still have around 170 million  and 95 million customers each respectively.

2) Apple have sold over 18 million iPhones since Christmas – their largest area of growth was in China at 250% .

3) The Chinese ecosystem for  Android apps is massively fragmented. As there are so many devices on the market they don’t all get approved by Google so don’t get to install the Android Marketplace. There are hundreds of sites offering .APK files for manual installation. This must make updating applications a nightmare to manage and would probably lead to many installed apps never getting updated.  Has anybody created a centralised system for managing the distribution of applications to multiple app marketplaces yet?

4) Of China Mobile’s 600 million users 476 million used it’s wireless music service over the last quarter which offers downloads from 2 yuan – approx £0.20/$0.30. Meanwhile Apple also took over $1.4 billion through iTunes alone which is neither linked to mobile or China directly, but I find it an astonishing figure that cements the importance of a well executed content strategy on any platform.

5) Much of the growth for China Mobile is into rural areas, they have said they will spend up to 132b yuan (£12b) on their network in rural areas to maintain their lead over China Telecom and China Unicom, it’s closest competitors.