Monthly Archives: May 2009

Online lead generation is well sexy!

Ok, well maybe not in
the traditional sense, but it’s a massive market, and growing all the time! Last week the IAB released its first guide to online lead generation, our first step into this important tool for digital marketers. My colleague Amit Kotecha runs the Lead Generation Taskforce responsible for the guide and discusses the background to the project below…

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Editor’s blog: Why this new Puritanism is pointless

Those of you who don’t live or work down in The Big Smoke may be unaware of the joys of the capital’s Metro. Metro is a freesheet distributed to London commuters who – if they have nothing better to do – take on average about two and a half minutes to consume it cover to cover. It is not high-end editorially. It’s cheap, tries to be cheerful and makes ‘Take A Break’ look like the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway this morning it has a screaming headline about – you’ve guessed it – MPs’ expenses. The headline reads ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous…’ and under it are the contrasting stories of Anthony Steen, the pompous MP for Totnes who’s been caught milking his expenses for his Devon mansion and Laura Moffat, MP for Crawley, who’s taken to kipping on a camp bed in her Westminster office because she has, ‘always believed it is wrong for public servants to make money out of the public purse’. Quite apart from the fact that it’s an illiterate headline, even for the sub-Daily Mail outrage they are trying to express, this story is so wrong-headed it’s hard to know where to start.

The new Puritanism currently taking the nation by storm, in which everyone tries to outdo the next man in acts of self-denial, is both tedious and daft. Puritans are a short-sighted, monotonous lot. If you wish to be ruled by a bunch of incorruptibles like Robespierre and Lenin – bloodless, witch-hunting technocrats with no sense of imagination, creativity or humanity, then fine. I don’t know about you, but my reaction when hearing that Esther Rantzen was planning to stand for parliament was one of dumbstruck horror. What has this woman ever done apart from introduce the great British viewing public to carrots shaped like the male reproductive organ? I’d take Anthony Steen with his rabbit-guards or Sir Peter Viggers and his duck island over Esther any time.

Sleeping on a camp bed in your office is not the answer to anything. It’s a dumb, symbolic act that is uncivilised, impractical, demoralising and will probably mean the sublime Ms Moffat winds up totally exhausted and unable to work properly for the benefit of her constituents. But she has a wafer-thin majority of 37, so she’s clearly absolutely desperate to be seen to be doing ‘The Right Thing’.

The same applies to Puritanism in business. If you send your people economy-class half way across the world for important meetings at which big contracts are at stake, they are going to feel firstly hard done by and secondly like death warmed-up when they spill out bleary-eyed into the arrivals hall at Mumbai or Los Angeles. It’s a false economy. Likewise, if you remove biscuits from meetings it might save you a few quid, but it makes everyone feel miserable. But misery is what seems to be in demand at the moment. We all have to don our hairshirts and suffer. We’ve all been very bad and have to sit it out on the naughty step. But naughty steps are as ineffective and unproductive for adults as they are for boisterous children.

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Would you give up email for £500m?

For all his company’s progressive attitude to online, the seasoned publisher-turned-poet Felix Dennis remains a resolute technophobe. In an interview earlier this month, he told me he’d never had an email address, and for the sake of staff morale perhaps this is just as well.

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The Sun v The Guardian

When my daughter was about thirteen, she went to boarding school. After a term, I got a phone call from her housemistress.
She said my daughter either wasn’t handing in homework, or she was handing it in late. So I drove down to Dorset, to the school.

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Make millions with Twitter

It’s the eternal dream – turning everyday Tweets into pounds and pence. Well, Kogi, a little known barbeque company in the States may have the answer. Basically they’ve got BBQ juggernauts chugging around selling fancy tacos to hungry pedestrians. The big trouble is that they only have two vehicles and no one quite knows where they’re going to pop up next.

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Google Options and Wolfram Alpha are significant, but for what reasons?

Google
Options
and WolframAlpha are two significant announcements from the search
world this week… kinda.

Google
Options

First up is
Google Options which joins the ranks of images, maps, video, blogs and more
channels for finding content. To clarify, I don’t think search is too
complicated for consumers – consumers get it. What this post is referring to is
the other side, the complexities that website owners now face.

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This is definitely the week of mobile

For me this has been the most exciting week in mobile for some time. We unveiled, for the first time, ad spend figures measuring the size of the UK market, the results and the response have both been better than I think anyone expected and at last we also have a stake in the ground to measure mobile going forwards.

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Editor’s blog: Twitter? Twaddle, Part Two

I did warn readers that my last attack on the ludicrous Twitter twaddle wouldn’t be my last. Well, two pieces of news give me a chance to return to the fray and toss more ordure in the Twits’ general direction. Firstly, there’s the hilarious outburst from Kanye West, reacting to the news that an imposter has been posing as Himself on Twitter.

Yes, someone on Twitter has been taking the great Kanye in vain, posting the usual moronic 140 character updates. And he’s so pi**ed that he’s posted a rant on his own website with the caps lock on. Amid the narcissisms and expletives you’d expect, West wisely declares, ‘EVERYTHING THAT TWITTER OFFERS, I NEED LESS OF’. There are just better things to do with one’s time – ‘I’M TOO BUSY ACTUALLY BUSY (sic) BEING CREATIVE MOST OF THE TIME AND IF I’M NOT AND I’M JUST LAYING ON THE BEACH I WOULDN’T TELL THE WORLD.’

I feel you, Kanye, as they say in ‘The Wire’. Too much data, too many worthless opinions, too little insight. We’re being engulfed in a digital Tsunami of useless noise. The simple babblings of a two-year-old learning to speak are charming for its parents but do not require broadcasting to the world. Indeed, a little ‘hush now’ wouldn’t go amiss. I think this is what the saintly Maureen Dowd of the New York Times was hinting at recently when she dared to suggest: ‘I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account.’

Which gets me onto reason two. This is the hot news that the government has hired a Twitter Czar (Nero and fiddling, deckchairs and the Titanic, all come to mind). Andrew Stott is to be made the UK’s first director of digital engagement (and he’ll have no need to fiddle his expenses – he’s getting paid an exorbitant 160,000). You couldn’t make it up, could you? Maybe this means Andrew will be given the ticklish job of masterminding the PM’s next appearance on YouTube. The first, you will recall, plumbed new depths of the gruesome as Gordon was told to try ‘smiling with sincerity’. What came out was something truly ghoulish, as if Tim Burton had been given the director’s gig. If Mr Stott wants something valuable to do in the digital arena, why not start with trying to work out how the government blew all those billions on the failed NHS IT system?

I got a minion to check out Andy Stott on Twitter, and apparently he was: ‘Sat in the office doing nothing. Joy.’ (A typically helpful and enlightening Twit.) Maybe this isn’t the right Andy Stott, and merely a Kanye West-style vile impersonation. Who knows and, indeed, who cares? Actually, it must be another Stott – because the Twitter Czar will undoubtedly have been attending numerous high-level meetings in Whitehall with his two Blackberries and GCHQ-approved laptop, discussing digital engagement and how to get down politically with the youth. Going forward. Lord give us strength.

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Hitler’s socks

Years ago we used to do animatics, to test commercials before they ran. The best illustrator for this was a guy called Harry. Harry had a rep called Al Spartley. Al was from Essex, and drove a BMW.

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Editor’s blog: MP expenses are a dangerous distraction

I steer clear of politics in MT, and not simply because our boss used to be Deputy Prime Minister and now sits in the Lords. But this diabolical hoo-hah about MPs’ expenses requires some small comment.

1. You pay peanuts and you will get manipulative monkeys. The MPs’ stipend of sixty-three grand a year wouldn’t persuade a GP, small-town solicitor or even middle-to-upper-ranking social worker to get out of bed in the morning. If you regard being a Member of Parliament as an important role in society – which I do – you have you pay them properly. You cannot make them fiddle – within the daft existing rules – to gather together a proper wage. It’s a bad system.

2. The run-of-the-mill out-of town MPs I’ve come across lead fairly miserable lives, separated from their families during the week and kicking their heels in the shark-infested Westminster hurly-burly. Taking part in tedious votes at all hours of the evening. They have to lay their heads somewhere. and there is no MPs’ dormitory. They cannot sleep on the Embankment or occupy the odd free bed over the river at St Thomas’s.

3. It is in nobody’s interest that the democratic process in Britain is regarded by the general population with contempt and ridicule. Just ask those in Zimbabwe or Burma or China who cannot vote freely what they think about us behaving in this way. Sneering at and turning our backs on such a privilege. The expenses mess needs sorting out, but it is time-wasting indulgence to allow ourselves to be so completely diverted by it while there are infinitely more important things to attend to. There are plenty of UKIP nutters and BNP boot-boys who are regarding the furore surrounding Oliver Letwin’s tennis court repairs with sly glee, and who will be looking to reap a rich electoral reward at the polls.

By an amusing coincidence, I spent yesterday morning with a journalist who used to work on the Telegraph, which has paid a large sum to buy all this stolen information (300,000, some say) from a disloyal miscreant, and is now expecting a visit from the boys in blue. This now ex-journalist was reminiscing about the days when he was able to add 250 each week to his – very reasonable – salary by making up billable meals with fictitious contacts and filling in blank taxi receipts. The sort of behaviour that would make even Barbara Follett and Alan Duncan blush.

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