The Rise of the ‘Connected Viewer’


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Pew’s recent research shows that half of all adult cell phone owners in the US, now include their mobile devices into their television watching experiences. Television viewing is being supplemented by multi-screen interactivity. Half of all adult cell owners (52%) have used their phones recently for engagement, diversion, or interaction with other people while watching TV. Pew’s Research measured the importance of these multi-screen viewing experiences by asking the 88% of adults who are cell owners, whether they had used their phone to engage in several different activities while watching television. The findings are as follows:

  • 38% of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching
  • 23% used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same program in a different location
  • 22% used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true
  • 20% used their phone to visit a website that was mentioned on television
  • 11% used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a program they were watching, and 11% posted their own comments online about a program they were watching using their mobile phone
  • 6% used their phone to vote for a reality show contestant

Taken together, 52% of all cell owners are “connected viewers”—meaning they use their phones while watching television for at least one of these reasons.

Smartphone owners use their devices to interact with televised content at far higher rates than owners of more basic cell phones. Fully 74% of smartphone owners reported using their devices in one way or another while watching television in the preceding 30 days, compared with 27% of non-smartphone owners.


Download Pew’s complete report here

Life Through a Lens–Photos and Videos Rule Online


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Pew Internet surveyed 1,005 adults (aged 18+) during August 2012 and discovered that photos and videos have become key social currencies online.

  • 46% of adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created (Creators).
  • 41% of adult internet users take photos or videos that they have found online and repost them on sites designed for sharing images with many people (Curators).

Pew’s creator group is made up of those who have shared photos that they have taken themselves (45% of internet users) and those who have shared videos they have created themselves (18% of internet users).

The curator group is made up of those who have taken photos they found online and posted them on a site that is used for sharing images with others (35% of internet users) and those who have taken videos they found online and posted them on a video-sharing site that is used for sharing videos with others (25% of internet users).

The proliferation of smartphones, and online sharing apps have created a boom for users who wish you share their real world experiences online. Today, photo sharing websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr and their respective smartphone app versions, make sharing phones easy and a frictionless experience.

The continued growth of Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr

Of Pew’s sample size, they additionally found:

  • 12% of online adults say they use Pinterest, the popular social photo sharing site. Nearly a fifth of online women (19%) actively use Pinterest daily.
  • 12% of online adults say they use Instagram, a popular photo sharing site used by young adults. Some 27% of the internet users aged between 18-29 actively use Instagram.
  • 5% of online adults say they use Tumblr. 11% of young adults use this social blogging service.

The web has indeed become a more richer and colourful experience and marketers who able to find ways to connect to these trends will gain competitive advantages over those that still insist that apps such as Instagram are a passing fad. Women are more likely than men to use Pinterest, while Instagram and Tumblr attract equal shares of men and women

Social and Connected Devices Are Influencing Purchases


New research findings from a Nielsen online survey of respondents from 56 countries around the world provide insight into digital influences on grocery shopping behaviour. In the graphic above, trends show that consumers are using social media to help purchase decisions often through recommendations from friends or online reviews..

Nielson reports that one-third of the world’s population is online, an increase of 528 percent over the past 10 years. While Internet penetration rates vary by geographic region; North America (79%), Australia/Oceania (68%), Europe (61%), Latin America (40%), Middle East (36%), Asia (26%) and Africa (14%), they continue to climb steadily—especially in the developing countries of the world.

Connected devices, such as computers, mobile phones and tablets have become a way of life for many, but shoppers are digitally engaged to varying degrees depending on the products they buy. Nielsen examines how shoppers use connected devices (computers, mobile phones and tablets) to aid in their household grocery shopping.

Digital’s influence on grocery shopping is on the rise

  • Online shopping intentions for food and beverage categories
    increased 44% in two years
  • 6-in-10 global respondents used the Internet for grocery shopping research
  • Nearly half (49%)of respondents purchased a product online
  • Globally, 46% used social media to help make purchase decisions
  • 37% purchased from online-only stores most frequently

The influence of social media on purchase decisions is growing across all regions, albeit at varying levels. Globally, 46 percent of respondents said they used social media outlets to help make purchase decisions, a rise of three percentage points from 2010. North Americans were the least reliant on social media at 21 percent, but have increased their dependency by seven points. Asia-Pacific respondents were the most active social media users to aid purchase decisions at 63 percent, an increase from 60 percent two years ago.

Middle Eastern/African respondents increased their dependency on social media the most, rising 10 percentage points to 50 percent in 2011. Forty-four percent of Latin American respondents and 32 percent of European online users relied on social media to help make purchase decisions, an increase of five and two points, respectively.

Social media is levelling the playing field among the competition, allowing smaller brands to compete.  Marketers and brands need to focus and drive  satisfied customers to use online ratings and reviews to share positive experiences, but it is a two-way communication conversation and marketers must engage in active dialogue in keep customers engaged.

Shopper marketing tactics are changing and there are several ways to grow positive engagement levels. Whether customizing the message for the shopper, more narrowly segmenting shoppers, or delivering more ‘authentic’ messages in brand communications, savvy digital strategies must help personalize and integrate value-added content to improve the user experience. First, focus on the right shopper. Not everyone is going to use digital. Nielsen research finds that one-of-four shoppers are considered ‘Trendsetters’.

These are generally shoppers that love to keep ahead, try new things and tell others about them. They are typically younger compared to other segments, have children in the household and are a bit more affluent compared to the general population. Second, engage shoppers with the right message. ‘Trendsetters’ tend to be more digitally engaged, but that is still dependent on what they are buying.

Determine what activities are important to core shoppers and customize the offering. If shoppers are more dealcentric, provide coupon promotions. Third, connect with shoppers via the right medium. An increasingly complex landscape provides consumers with a wide array of choices. Marketers need to focus on the medium that provides the best return on investment. Think about product usage and devise strategies that speak to the needs of consumers.

Pair mobility with need and create apps that, for example, make it easier to create a shopping list, refill prescriptions or navigate a store. Whether the platform is online, mobile, social or in-store, prioritise the medium based on the impact it drives and the feasibility of deploying it.


Read and download Nielson’s full report below:

Social Media is Broken and HBRs Report Proves It

2,100 firms participated in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, said they are either currently using social media channels or have a future social media deployment occurring. However, many still say social media is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategy.

Despite the vast potential social media brings, many firms seem focused on social media
activity primarily as a one-way broadcast channel, and have yet to engage, listen or analyse customer conversations and turn feedback into insights that impact the bottom line.

Clearly, most companies are still searching for the best practices and metrics so they can understand
where to invest and target their social media activities and build their own competitive

Google’s Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, says “Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers,” he said. “There needs to be a generational shift”.

The highlights of the report follow below:


Graphic: Business Insider

Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, only 12% of surveyed firms feel that they are using them effectively. These were the companies most likely to deploy multiple channels, use metrics, have a strategy for social media use, and integrate their social media into their overall marketing operations. The “smart firms” are using social more often to promote their brand, monitor trends among customers, and even research new product ideas.  They don’t broadcast and spam, they engage!



Graphic: Business Insider

Two-thirds of surveyed firms have no formal social media strategy, and just 7% have social media into their overall marketing strategy. This is scary, and does show that some firms are still not serious about social. Even though 69% stated that their use of social media will grow, 61% admitted that they need to overcome a “learning curve” before adopting any kind of social media strategy. Sadly, 32% view it as a VP level priority – and nearly one in ten of the executives surveyed dismissed the business use of social media as a passing fad.



Graphic: Business Insider

Linking social media efforts to ROI, and understanding how it can bring competitive advantages still seem to be a challenge for many firms.



Graphic: Business Insider

Just 12% of the companies surveyed have hired dedicated employees to social media activities. Instead, social is mostly delegated to external agencies. “At the C-Suite level, they don’t want to talk about social media because they don’t understand it,” one executive admitted.



Graphic: Business Insider

Social is still seen as an experimentation.

As one executive put it, “Social media is a big ocean and we are pulling in a little bay where we are most protected.” The majority of these efforts (50%) are geared towards increasing awareness of the organisation or brand.



Graphic: Business Insider

The best firms understand that social is a conversation, not a broadcast monologue . Successful social media deployments examples include firms creating online customer groups and monitoring trends. They are twice as likely to use social media to poll their community and research new products.

Read Harvard’s complete report below.

Why Do Some Social Media Projects Fail?

View more presentations from BSI.

The Brand Science Institute (BSI) conducted a study lasting seven months and was conducted
in twelve European countries to understand what “What goes wrong?” when launching a social media initiative. 563 marketers representing 52 brands participated and this is what they found:

  • 81% of all companies don’t have a clear social media strategy!
  • Corporates tend to take twice as long as start-ups for social media projects
  • Only 7% understand the real value of customer interactions
  • Only 27% have a clear understanding of their customers
  • Social media projects are there times more under control
  • 73% had to show money after 12 months
  • 76% feel that legal departments hinder social media projects
  • 87% had to correct their social media expectations
  • 72% thought social media must be viral
  • 68% never heard of the 1-9-90 rule
  • 84% compare social media performance with standard media measures
  • 76% don’t moderate social media projects accurately (if at all)
  • Only 7% understand the CRM value of social media
  • 91% allocate budgets the wrong way!
  • 37% think that social media is a media buy
  • 53% were stepping into the geek-trap
  • 92% are not aware of their FB dependency
  • 71% take expensive upfront investments to secure technical functionality
  • Only 11% have social media guidelines
  • 86% don’t have a clue how to handle a social media backlash
  • Only 4% share their social media experience throughout the company

Personally, I am not too surprised with these results. It does go to show however, that a clear lack of planning and goal setting can result in poor results. If you had to benchmark your company with these results, how would it stand?

Top 100 Social Brands–How we came 15th!


I’ve always regarded working in social media a gift. A gift that allows us to work directly with customers and the wider community at large. In my current role as Head of Communities for AVG Technologies, the team and I have worked very hard to build an environment where we can make it easier for our customers to directly connect and engage with us. Our social outposts on Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn are all designed to listen and speak directly with our customers and together they form part of AVG’s Community.

In Headstream’s recent Social Brands 100 report, our community efforts are starting to get recognised by the industry. The Social Brands report ranked us 15th, and  puts AVG as the number 2 technology company behind Dell. Our social engagement efforts have outranked every day brands such as Amazon, Sony Playstation and Nokia to name but a few. We are incredibly humbled to be nominated by our community and also delighted to be recognised. Page seven of the report demonstrates in a small way how we drive Advocacy at AVG. We don’t just have followers and fans and vanity metrics, we have a real People Powered Community!




I would like to say a big thank you to Headstream for commissioning the report, the esteemed panel of judges and especially Steve Sponder for coming up with the idea!  My co-conspirators within the #TeamAVG community team:  John, Cappy, James, Charlie, Ema, Maria, Javier, Dirk, Bridey and Kate for being some of the best people I have worked with. The AVG Management team for letting a bunch of passionate crazies go out with a vision to disrupt and a belief in the power of community.

Finally, I would like to thank (and hug) the awesome AVG community, we pride ourselves in offering People Powered, Protection in the world of computer security protection. We strive to build products that you all love, your trust and respect drives us to serve you harder. Next year we aim to be in the Top 10!

P.S.  Here’s a video we shared with our community last year, the stats are old now but it does go to demonstrate how we connect and engage at AVG.

You can read a  copy of the report below and click here to download your own copy for offline reading.


Britain’s Digital Time Bomb – A Call for University Funding

Yesterday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined a series of initiatives for Britain’s digital future.

These initiatives can be summarised as:

  • The creation of a web portal called MyGov, that will allow individuals to personalise their experience to public services.
  • £30m worth of funding to create an “Institute of Web Science”, which will focus on the economic and social benefits of the web.
  • The publication of an online inventory of all non-personal datasets held by departments, creating a modern day "Domesday book".   
  • All public service contracts over £20,000 will be made available on a free online portal by the end of 2010. Thus allowing any suitable business to bid for them.
  • Roll out broadband access to all, with digital champion Martha Lane Fox broadening her role to set up a Digital Public Services Unit in the Cabinet Office
    Quoting Brown

I want Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020; the world leader in public service delivery where we can give the greatest possible voice and choice to citizens, parents patients and consumers; and the world leader in the new politics where that voice for feedback and deliberative decisions can transform the way we make local and national policies and decisions.

Underpinning the digital transformation that we are likely to see over the coming decade is the creation of the next generation of the web – what is called the semantic web, or the web of linked data”.


Now, whilst I applaud the Government’s efforts in each of the areas above. I do have serious concerns about our IT future in 2020.  For Britain to be a true world leader in the digital economy, the Government must invest in universities for tomorrow’s IT graduates. Funding cut backs are already causing big problems and the disruption is only going to get worse.

Yesterday morning, I was alarmed to read Dr Black’s tweet on the lack of support for Computer Science courses. The link she provides leads to a report on the decline in computing graduates. (Read the full report below).



The report states:

The UK is currently sitting on a ticking time-bomb – all of the evidence shows a significant and increasing gap between supply and demand for IT professionals in the critical IT sector of the UK economy which, if left unchecked, will severely damage the competitiveness of UK industry in the global marketplace, and will hit smaller employers and the public sector particularly hard”.

The recession has caused many jobs within the IT sector to evaporate. This, coupled with the proposed closure of many computer science departments, is only going to make a bleak IT future for Britain. We need the best and brightest computer scientists to help deliver the wealth of opportunities that will appear on tomorrow’s digital landscape. Without a dedicated and passionate IT workforce, we risk a “brain drain”.

I completed my Information Systems degree in 1998. My course was more than than “a short journey into IT”. It has proved to be a true life skill. I’ve been lucky to work with a number of global businesses, in a continued cycle of learning and delivering value. My IS degree gave me the passion for that. Working alongside talented IT colleagues gave me inspiration to work harder, and to provide simplified business solutions.

Making sense of technology, and sharing that with the world is a wonderful and enriching feeling. IT graduates push the technology envelope further each day. Not only in the worlds of coding and architecture. But many, in the worlds of business, engineering and even geek marketing (Just like me!). IT graduates don’t think in black and white, they dream in colour.



Dear Gordon Brown,

Please don’t forget that Britain needs thousands of IT graduates for 2010. To provide them in sufficient numbers, computer science departments need adequate funding. Don’t allow them to close. Overseas expertise will eventually costs us dearly. 

Here’s a worrying paper, with a specific list of recommendations for you to consider.


The Decline in Computing Graduates: A Threat to the Knowledge Economy and Global Competitiveness

The iPad and the end of free online content?

After two months of promise and hype, Apple will finally ship its iPad tablet in the US in early April, and to other markets shortly afterwards. Apple’s new device hopes to make the consumption of digital media easier. The iPad is able to browse the web without the need for a keyboard or mouse. Movies and music can both seen and heard on the device. Even eBooks can be purchased from Apple’s new iBooks store. Marvellous.

However, from watching the video above, are consumers really willing to pay for online news and entertainment, that they currently get for free on the web today?

Nielsen recently asked more than 27,000 consumers across 52 countries, and the answer was ‘maybe.’ 85% of surveyed people prefer free content to remain free. However, participants did report, that many would consider paying for certain categories of digital content.

Looking at Nielson’s graph below, consumers are most likely to pay for movies, music, games and current TV shows. This is good news for Apple and other developers of Tablet devices. In contrast, consumers are least likely to pay for ‘user generated content’ such as podcasts and consumer generated videos and blogs.


The success of the Apple’s iPad, will likely depend on whether everyday consumers are happy to trade in their existing books, magazines and newspapers for digital equivalents. These items have become somewhat of a commodity, and many people are happy to access content from a variety of online sources for example, Google News for free. However, Rupert’s Murdoch’s News Corporation, will soon charge for online newspaper content, ending the “free online news” culture that many observe on the web today. This will likely have a big impact on Google News, which currently aggregates free news content from Murdoch’s news empire.

It is interesting to note from Nielson’s research, that there is indeed a place for “paid digital content.” However, the content will need to be of a sufficient standard before consumers are willing to hand over their hard earned cash.

  • 78% of participants felt that if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or TV service, they should be able to access the online version for free.
  • 79% of participants stated that they would stop using a website, if it started levying charges to access content online.
  • 62% of participants stated that they should have “full control” over their purchased content. In other words, they want to be able to copy and share it with their friends and family. 

2010 will indeed be an interesting year for hardware devices and the content that powers them. Whether consumers are willing to ditch their newspapers and magazines for their digital counterparts, and pay for news content is still yet to be seen.  Newspapers and books are cheap, portable and don’t require batteries to power them. The same can’t be said about tablet devices! Also, I wonder how many people will actually travel around with these devices? I suspect many will end up living at home.

Will you be getting a tablet device this year?

You can read Nielson’s full report below

Nielson – Paid Online Content

Engaging The Top 100 Global Brands – Report


The Engagementdb 2009 report was released earlier this week from Ben Elowitz of Wetpaint and Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group. The excellent report ranks the world’s most engaged brands, that are using social media tools. It’s a beautiful report to look at (see below) and they also have a great accompanying website, where you can rate your own business social media engagement.

The goals of the study were to measure how deeply engaged the top 100 global brands are in a variety of social media channels and, more importantly understand if higher engagement is correlated with financial performance.

The researchers found that brands fall into one of four engagement profiles. Depending on the number of channels and how deeply they are engaged in them. There four specific profiles include:


Mavens. These brands are engaged in seven or more channels and have an above-average engagement score. Brands like Starbucks and Dell are able to sustain a high level of engagement across multiple social media channels. Mavens not only have a robust strategy and dedicated teams focused on social
media, but also make it a core part of their go-to-market strategy. Companies like these could not imagine operating without a strong presence in social media.

Butterflies. These brands are engaged in seven or more channels but have lower than average engagement scores. Butterflies like American Express and Hyundai have initiatives in many different channels, but tend to
spread themselves too thin, investing in a few channels while letting others languish. Their ambition is to be a Maven and they may get there — but they still struggle with getting the full buy-in from their organizations to embrace the full multi-way conversation that deep engagement entails.

Selectives. These brands are engaged in six or fewer channels and have higher than average engagement
scores. Selectives like H&M and Philips have a very strong presence in just a few channels where they focus on engaging customers deeply when and where it matters most. The social media initiatives at these brands tend
to be lightly staffed — if they are at all, meaning that by default, they have to focus their efforts. These are
beachheads, started by an impassioned evangelist with a shoestring budget.

Wallflowers. These brands are engaged in six or fewer channels and have below-average engagement scores. Wallflowers like McDonalds and BP are slow to or are just getting started, dipping their toes into social media waters. They are still trying to figure out social media by testing just a few channels. They are also cautious about the risks, uncertain about the benefits, and therefore engage only lightly in the channels where they are present.

I have highlighted several key takeaways below, but there are many others. I highly suggest that you read the report for yourself, to gain some great insight into companies such as Starbucks, Dell, Toyota and SAP

Selected best practices from the report include:

1. Deputise people throughout the organisation

When Starbucks launched The company ensured that every department impacted by the site (practically every one) had a representative who was responsible for being the liaison.

2. Find champions who can explain and mitigate risk

Starbucks had one major advantage in its entry into social media – CEO Howard Schultz personally introduced and championed from the start. Apart from the CEO, there was also an "everyday" champion. Someone who not only gets social media but can also translate it for the organisation.

3. Pick channels carefully

From the start, Toyota’s social media team realised that there would a lot of resistance to having a Toyota blog. So they started with a YouTube channel first that showcased video content that Toyota already had handy – it was simply a matter of uploading the content to YouTube. Twitter came next and then Facebook.

4. Be in it for the long haul

Toyota realised the key to successful engagement is to commit to a relationship with customers in new channels and convince your customers that you will be there for them. "If you are going to engage, you have to have a plan and make sure that resources are available. Because you can’t gracefully exit – once your’re in, you’re in”.

5. Encourage employees to tap into social media to get work done.

With 1500 SAP employee bloggers and 400 employees actively publishing content to other forms, SAP clearly has few control issues about allowing employees to engage. Product managers are using social tools to communicate information about their new products and to get feedback even down to product documentation.

My personal favourite best practice from the report is from Dell:


As Steve notes, "[Make social media] just one of the tools of a daily diet of information. it’s often what people get wrong – they create a social media department and it thus becomes ‘someone else’s job’”.

To succeed, social media need to become pervasive within the organisation, just like email is today. Social media not only can bring opportunities for rich engagement with customers and potential new customers. The organisation itself can benefit, where social media works to fulfil a ‘knowledge management’ function.

The world’s top brands are learning what it means to be social, but it is important to note that by "social", reference is made to deep engagement not merely having a presence. And what exactly does deep social engagement mean? “Going Social” requires more than just being there – you have to interact with others, instigate discussions, and respond during conversations.

You can read the full report below (Click the full screen button)

The world’s most valuable 2009 brands.Who’s most engaged?