Monthly Archives: January 2010

Real-time fantasy football…to real-time betting

Came to this last night from Phil Nash via Ben's re-tweet .

It's Football3s: real-time in-game fantasy football. Basically, it works like this. Before a game being shown live on TV (like last night's FA Cup replay between Liverpool and Reading) you sign up to Football3s and select three players from the 22 playing in the match. You get points for different player activity (scoring, assisting, tackling, saves, completed passes, shots, etc etc) and you can make three substitutions during the game. Your game screen shows you others that are also playing and you can chat with them live. The highest points scorer at the end of the match wins £100. Simple, and genius. Social TV.

It's easy to see how online gambling could become a core part of the commercial face of social TV. We're already seeing virtually real-time odds being given during the half-time commercial breaks of live TV football matches and companies such as Betfair promote fan-to-fan betting exchanges which cut out the bookies. It's not a great leap to see real-time in-game sports betting taking place not just about the final result, but what's going on at the time. Penalty gets awarded…within seconds I've found someone who'll give me odds on it being missed, or which way the keeper will dive. It's not just football of course, and live sport (or live event) could become a huge real-time betting exchange (general election night could be huge).

It's a massive potential revenue-generator and, as we all know, it's often gambling (or porn) which drives development of online innovations.

Posted via email from The Social TV Project

Five days, 700km along, 10km up (and down)

I'm off cycling again this year. Close followers will know that for the past couple of years a bunch of friends and I have spent a few days each spring cycling a few hundred kilometres for charity. We've become know (at least between ourselves) as Les Veloistes Gentils. It's perhaps the most rewarding thing I've ever been involved in.

2008 saw us ride from London to St Emilion. Last year we crossed the Pyrenees, dipping our toes in the Med near Perpignan and plunging in the Atlantic at Biarritz six days later after crossing some of the most famous mountain passes on the way. The full story of that epic little adventure can be found here and pictures here.

But 2010's ride looks like it'll be our most challenging to date. At just over 700km it's longer than last year's ride, and we're planning on doing it in five days rather than six…so that's an average of 140km a day. More than that, however, are the spiky bits. The picture above shows the ups and downs of the entire route, which starts in Geneva and ends in Avignon (more detail here). The first big spike – which comes fairly early on day two – is the legendary Tour de France climb to Alpe d'Huez. The second big spike, which comes later the same day (gulp…) is the Col du Galibier (as Wikipedia tells me "often the highest point of the Tour de France"). The spike right at the end, and the reason we're crossing country to finish in Avignon, is the awesome Mont Ventoux, for many cyclists the biggest challenge of them all.

It's going to be immense.

I'm really pleased that we'll be an even bigger group of riders this year. 10 of us tackled the first year's ride, we had a dozen last year and it looks like we'll have 18 this year. Plenty of apprehension; loads of excitement and the start of quite a bit of hard training right now.

We've got a while to get in shape – the ride starts on June 20th – and once again we'll be raising money for charity (which one we'll confirm in the next couple of weeks). If you're a business that would like your name emblazoned across our jerseys in return for a modest amount of cash then I'd love to hear from you. We'll also do our best to give you plenty of publicity for your support.

Surely time for the PR v. advertising battle to end..?

Reading Jackie Cooper's latest essay I agree with a huge amount of what she says. Almost everything in fact. And why not? Having worked for Edelman in both freelance and permanent roles, I've had a bit of contact with Jackie and have enormous respect for her. As you'd expect, as founder of Jackie Cooper PR she's a true doyenne of the consumer PR world.

But the headline (and also the first line in fact) really jars: "Why It's Time for Ad Agencies to Admit Defeat".

The PR industry has a real complex about the advertising industry – and it's one which isn't generally reciprocated. I can't quite work out whether is an inferiority or superiority complex…but it's a complex. The industry seems to clutch desperately to anything that might sound the death knell for advertising agencies, presumably so PR can nab all the budget that it believes has always been PR's by right. I don't get it. It often reminds me of the desperation in this…PR's Kevin Keegan to advertising's Alex Ferguson.

In the first line of her essay, Jackie says: "When ad agencies are rebranding themselves as "short form content agencies", and media agencies are suddenly sprouting production arms you know the jig is up."

Hardly. The world of marketing is changing. Marketing services agencies of all types are having to adapt to a world dominated by conversation, community-building and engaging content: advertising, PR, media planning, direct marketing…it's a challenge for them all. But to think that there aren't very smart people sitting in ad agencies working out how they can remain relevant is crazy. And the changes that Jackie points out above are evidence of that.

It's true that many advertising agencies haven't traditional been skilled in creating and delivering on-going consumer engagement campaigns; campaigns that start, develop and manage communities in which brands can participate. Their focus has been on 30-second spots, full-page ads and billboards. But that doesn't mean that they can't learn how to adapt (or, more likely, hire the expertise, as many are currently doing). They have the resources to do so and, more importantly, they often enjoy a direct line into the senior marketing decision-maker within brands and already have their hands on the bulk of the budget. 'All' they need to do is convince the client that they've re-engineered their business and crack on with the job.

Unfortunately, despite arguably having an existing set of skills that are ideally suited to an 'engagement' marketing model, PR agencies are (generally) a step away from the marketing director and often pigeonholed as providing a specific set of services at a certain proportion of budget. The barriers to changing that are significant.

In reality (or the very near reality) there should be no PR v. advertising discussion. Some PR agencies will thrive, some will fail. Ditto for the ad guys.

So can we stop it now?

Boxee…internet on your telly…RC-J’s gadget of CES

Well would you believe it. Rory from the Beeb thinks that Boxee – the gadget that allows you to bring the internet to your telly – was the highlight of CES (or at least the best from the Last Gadget Standing bit of CES).

He said of Boxee:

"…a device that could do what few in the tech industry have managed – make Apple's rival product look distinctively second best. The Boxee Box does something that is going to be a big obsession in 2010 – it takes the internet and puts it in your telly. There are plenty of other ways of getting internet content onto TV but they are either hopelessly complicated or, in the case of Apple TV, much too restricted. The Boxee Box lets you take all sorts of good web video stuff – from YouTube to the BBC iPlayer – and view it on your television using an interface that, in the words of the firm's marketing man Andrew Kippen "even a zebra could use." Plus there's a remote with a full keyboard if you really want to do your e-mail from the TV. He told me afterwards that the device was going to launch at $199 in the US in the first half of the year. But when would it come to Britain?

"We see all the developments that are going on in the UK and the movement of media online in that country makes it easy for Boxee to work there and we're eager to get there and start selling devices soon."

Posted via email from The Social TV Project

Microsoft’s vision of the future of TV

Pop over to the Microsoft Blog for its take on the future of TV (which is obviously very much in line with the capabilities of Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0, as unveiled by Steve Ballmer at CES this week).

Essentially the vision is the TV you want, when you want it, wherever you want it (i.e. on any device – TV, PC, mobile, etc). Makes a huge amount of sense, obviously. It does seem a bit crazy that our current television viewing is largely tied to the box in the corner of the lounge. And often specific TVs – in my house, we only have Sky+ in one room so that's where we have to watch anything we've recorded. Seems a bit daft. Of course there's the brilliant iPlayer, but the idea that you should be able to get all the TV you want across all devices whenever seems the obvious next step.

Given the focus of this little project, I got all excited when I read this bit…"consumers will be able to enjoy TV experiences that combine traditional TV content with rich entertainment experiences, drawing on content sources from a variety of places including the Internet." Ah, yes…the social media/telly mash-up…my real-time Twitter stream integrated into a sidebar while live cricket plays on the screen…that sort of thing.

And then, this: "Examples could include outtakes, social commentary, behind-the-scenes interviews and much more.

"Social commentary"…now that's what we're talking about.

Posted via email from The Social TV Project

Chat and watch…not just yet it seems

In relation to my little post below, I notice on Neville's posterous that it's not quite as exciting a social TV development as it at first seemed:

"A TV program will stop playing once a Skype call is made or answered; TV processors are not yet powerful enough to allow people to chat while they watch a show, the companies say."


Posted via email from The Social TV Project

Vote winner: does this work?

I've been meaning to post this for a while but have only got round to it. I reckon it could a bit of a vote winner for one of the UK political parties in the run up to the election this year. Some context first…I'll try and keep it short.

In France – where I own a property – the government is keen to encourage people to make their houses as energy efficient as possible. It does this by giving you money back when you install specific types of energy efficient or environmentally beneficial stuff. The list is long…from wood-burning stoves to double-glazing to heat-exchangers to solar panels. The cash you get back from the government can be up to 40% of the cost. It's a genuine incentive.

To add to this incentive, my French bank, Société Générale, will offer a 10-year, interest-free loan to anyone that can demonstrate that they'll use the cash to do two or more energy efficient things to their property.

So, get this. We've been talking to Société Générale about a loan to cover the cost of installing wood-burning stoves and double-glazing. Total cost is about 30,000 euros and it seems the loan's not a problem. So an interest-free loan of 30k spread over 10 years. Not bad. Even better, of course, when you consider that we'll be getting a cheque back from the French government for somewhere around 10,000 euros, which we can obviously use for anything we like (including paying off a chunk of the loan).

It's bloody brilliant, and I'm already thinking about what else we might be able to do to make the place a bit more green. Which has got to be a good thing, no?

From the bank's perspective it's a great way of deepening a customer relationship and enhancing reputation. It also means that people are adding value to properties many of which will probably also be mortgaged by Société Générale, which must reduce the bank's exposure to negative equity in the future.

So, here's my UK vote winner.

Why doesn't one of the UK political parties commit to making the Royal Bank of Scotland put aside £1 billion to be made available as 10-year interest-free loans to people making energy efficient improvements to their homes? That would be 50,000 loans of £20k, by my reckoning.

This would be good for a number of reasons:

1. It would be a decent thing for RBS to do, given the public owns it
2. People would increase the value of their properties
3. The environmental/energy efficiency benefits would be significant
4. There'd be an economic boost to the building trade and it would create some jobs

Or am I talking rubbish?

Skype on the telly

'Social TV' (as I'm sort of talking about it) is currently a two-screen affair (at least). Watching the telly with a laptop on your knees or a mobile in your hand. One of the interesting things for me this year will be to see the impact that Internet-enabled TVs have, effectively allowing more people to integrate social media with their TV watching on the same screen.

And then this story pops up from CES: Skype will be available on Panasonic and LG internet-connected TVs.


Posted via email from The Social TV Project